Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Family accountability

When setting goals, making a living, taking care of your family's needs, etc. isn't it tough sometimes keeping an eternal perspective. It often--too often--is for me. Because of this, I've announced to the kids that they have full permission to keep mommy accountable (Mom and Momma to the older kids as it's been a long time since I've been Mommy to them). They can say, "Hey, why aren't we reading the Bible and praying together anymore?," "Mom, did you pray today?," "Mom, let's not skip church today." I need that and they are benefitting from seeing me admit that I'm not perfect and need accountability.


Monday, January 24, 2011

So, what's new

Wow! So much going on....

Over the past few months, our lives have been absolutely non-stop!

Throughout the Fall, I learned the reality of what so many of my friends who'd gone before me with teenagers had told me, "Gretchen, you think you're busy now...Just wait til they're teenagers." Three girls cheering, one son running cross country, a super-energetic and creative husband who'd easily give the Energizer Bunny a run for his money, a full-time career as a personal trainer, and a drive to reach some personal fitness goals are all the things that kept me from remembering to write. So many beautiful things have been happening that I've just gotta keep writing!

So, here's what's been going on in our busy household and in my busy life.

Football season:
Sophie, Abigail, and Bethany all were cheering this Fall. Gone are the days when I believed that cheerleaders weren't really athletes, that cheerleading didn't serve any "real purpose", or that cheerleaders are stuck-up, mean girls who just want to look cute and be popular. Watching my seven-year-old cheer with about 4-5 other little girls, I was amazed at how her hand-eye coordination and ability to memorize using patterns and rhythms were enhanced. She also learned long-suffering, compassion, and understanding as a couple of the girls had behavior issues (one of which specifically related to severe ADHD). Sophie learned that we're all very different in how we learn and interact. She displayed a lovely disposition and an accepting attitude toward everyone. She also learned the importance of working together as a team for a common goal. She learned the importance of doing things even when they're difficult. There was one game when only two cheerleaders showed up to a game, Sophie and her friend Arianna. The other team had a whopping 25 cheerleaders. At halftime, Sophie and Arianna went out on that field and perfectly performed their routine. They were in sync, delightfully loud, and had a good attitude. As a result, they received a standing ovation from BOTH sides. Coaches and parents were near tears because they knew how difficult it must have been for two little girls having a few hundred people watching (all football players, coaches, parents, cheerleaders, etc.). There were extraordinarily hot and cold days when Sophie, for the first time in her life, was in a position to stick with her team because they were counting on her. With such a little squad, it was important to be there and not quit. Mommy pride just swelled in my heart week after week for my little Sophie.

Abigail, my 10 year old, also cheered for her first time. For Abigail, this initially was something to do because her big sister, Beth is a cheerleader. Abby is one of those kids who just loves trying new things and has a hard time wanting to stick with any one thing. As a mom, I still struggle with what to "make" her do and what to "allow" her to do. She's a kid who, in many ways, has a Midas touch of sorts. It seems that just about everything she attempts, she nails perfectly. It's always a concern to me that she remain humble and cheerleading was a good place for her to learn this. Abby was definitely the smallest girl on the squad and as a result was just about always a "flyer" for stunts. She really displayed a lot of compassion for the other girls who wanted that opportunity but couldn't. It was a joy to see her show such compassion. Abby often didn't enjoy practice because she had to be still for long periods of time or because there were many re-do's so that everyone could perfectly perform their cheers, chants, stunts, and dances. She'd pick them up quickly and just wanted to move on to the next thing. This was probably the one activity which forced her to develop empathy for others and patience. I'm not sure if she'll do it again. Selfishly, I'd like her to cheer again next Fall because I felt it was good for her to have that kind of discipline. But frankly, she's just not into it. She'd rather play her violin and is now talking about running track again (she'd done that a couple of years ago).

This was Bethany's second season cheering for football (and this winter she's cheering for basketball too). Boy has she come a long way. A year ago, her confidence was nil. She'd hear over and over, "Bethany, I can't hear you," "Bethany, we really need you to be louder," "Don't be shy." Now, it's an all new Bethany. She's much more confident, her motions are sharper, and we can hear her. Who'd have the thought that the little girl who once literally could not bring herself to say even ONE WORD in the presence of anyone other than her mommy and her daddy would be standing, week after week, boldly cheering and doing stunts in front of a few hundred people. As a parent, this is a huge blessing.

Josh ran his second year of cross country. He had to learn balance this year, and I had to learn to "chill out" and parent with tender firmness. This may be the first year (he turned 16 this past Fall) that tenderness was a real challenge, more because of me than him. It's been a challenge allowing him to become the mand God created him to be rather than the young man I want him to be. He certainly marches to the beat of his own drummer which, to me, often seems to be in the rhythm of chaos. And then, I'm reminded that he is 16 years old, not six. Cross country was a bit tough for him because he's got these shin splints that just keep returning. As a personal trainer, I tried the typical things they teach us to do for our clients with such persistent problems, but for Josh, it just didn't seem to work. I'm not a running coach, but I'm becoming more competitive. So, I really had to learn that Josh's running cannot be about me; rather, it has to be about him. Selfishly, I know realize, I wanted him to "win" for my own parental pride. Humbly, I learned that parenting is supposed to be about helping my son realize his potential in Christ. Whether it's harping on him about his schoolwork so that it's the best he can do, competing athletically so that he is the best runner he can be for the benefit of him and his team, or walking in Christ so that he can face the challenges of this world and come otu victorious, I know it has to be about him. How humbling it is to learn that in many ways, I can find myself parenting for my own satisfaction as opposed to doing it for the glory of God and the benefit of my child. Humble pie is not easily digested.

Caleb, he's the only one in the house who didn't play a sport this year. He just wasn't interested. Although he played football last year, he really just wanted to run. He'd recently learned that he's a decent runner and that he has some promise as a long distance runner. If I could've gotten everyone else where they needed to be and gotten him involved in a youth running program, I certainly would have. Caleb was more than satisfied working on his art. What a fabulous ability he has. I say that cautiously, not wanting to just be one of those moms who believes her child is the creme de la creme. He's shown not just ability but a willingness to diligently perfect his abilities. One thing Caleb has really been an example to me in is his focus and willingness to do what he needs to do BEFORE what he wants to do. At 12 years old, he's often put me to shame in that regard. Where I may procrastinate doing what I really cannot stand doing (like cleaning my bathroom) and do what I want to do (go to the gym), Caleb will just about always do what he must do before doing what he wants to do. It is my prayer and hope that he continues that and that he never feels taken for granted.

Now, on to Elon and me...

Elon has been busy at work, really working hard to finally complete his album so that it is ready to go to market and so that he is ready to perform. I don't know how he does it sometimes...running the office for the recording studio, running his mobile entertainment company, DJ'ing and coordinating his other DJ's and performers throughout the year, and still having the mojo and focus to get his album out there. As a couple. this is an all out drive to get our love story--the album "Ever Since..." into the hands of people all over, to get Elon performing his own music which has been his life dream. As his wife, I strongly desire to see his dream fulfilled and to be an active part of this as his helpmeet.
Personally, there's so much going on. It goes without saying that my role as mom and wife are priority number one for me. That being said, the bills have to be paid. Praise God that I can have a career which allows me to share my passion for health and fitness with people. There are times when it's been rocky. Afterall, I am positive that my services are often considered a luxury expense. As such, when expenses need to be reevaluated, I'm often personally affected by this. That being said, I've fared rather well and still train nearly full-time both in-home and in-gym.
I'm still plugging away at finishing my teaching degree through Liberty University's distance learning program. What a blessing it is to have such an opportunity! I cannot possibly stress how fortunate I feel to have this opportunity. Just one generation ahead of me could not have done what I can do...compelete my degree without the confines of a traditional schedule.
For the first time ever, I'm training to compete in my first figure competition. Just less than a year ago, I'd not even allowed myself the dream of competing this way. After a lot of self-evaluation and encouragement from friends and family, I've come to a place where I truly believe that this is something I CAN DO! It may be the first time in my adult life that I'm accomplishing a goal solely for me spiritually, physically, and emotionally. As I've gone through this process so far, I've faced my own issues with self-esteem, self-control, food, relationships, time management, organization, etc. There are things I've learned about myself that I simply would've never learned had I not started this journey. And believe you me...I"m going to finish this journey!

I'm saving a family member for last in this blog post. That's Shayna. Shayna is my beloved daughter through marriage. She's a senior in college now, truly a young woman. When I met Shayna, she was a 15-year-old girl having to take in the idea of her dad being with, and eventually marrying a woman with a whopping five children. I don't pretend to know what it's like to be in Shayna's shoes, going from an only child of a single daddy to the young lady of a step-mom with five kids. So many changes to digest...sharing the affections of her daddy with so many people. I can remember what it was like hearing my step-sisters call my dad "Daddy" and am sure that Shayna felt those same feelings. Frankly, I believe it probably hurt on some level. And I can only imagine what it was like to suddenly have brothers, little men whom Daddy would be throwing the football or horseplaying with. And then there's me, the new woman in her daddy's life who would cuddle him during a movie or get the last kiss goodnight. I'd been in her shoes in some ways because I'm a step-daughter and I have a step-mom with other daughters. I was the "princess" for my daddy---I still am... It hurt on a deep level to know that there was another place in my wonderful daddy's heart for others. Shayna, handled these changes beautifully and I really sense for the first time ever a true and full acceptance by this beautiful young woman whom I love so deeply.

Shayna has taught me so much about life and there's so much that I admire about her. One thing that stands out above most things is that Shay really seems to look at situations by trying to empathize or at least understand where others are coming from. Her diplomacy is phenomenal. Shayna, I don't know if you'll ever read this, but if you do, I hope that you know that I love you so much; you're a lovely young woman and it's a joy to have you as a daughter! Thank you for sharing your amazing daddy with us.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This was taken by my kids' Aunt Sarah. From left to right--Caleb, Sophie, Bethany, Abigail, Joshua. I cannot possibly imagine a life without them. Some say, "I cannot believe you have five children! What were you thinking???" Well, look at these children---each of them are sunshine in my days. When they are small, they may wonder, "Who is Mommy's favorite?" They're all my favorite! Sophie for her silly dainty ways and her enormous heart, Abigail for her excitement for life and her tenderness, Caleb for his warmth and compassionate spirit, Bethany for her wisdom beyond her years and nurturing heart, Joshua for his soulful depth and unwillingness to merely "be".
Truth be known, I have six... The oldest I am fortunate enough to have acquired through marriage. At 21, she teaches me more than she may know---about myself, about love...
Oh to deserve these blessings! The joy the bring to my days, the compassion they teach me to give to others, the tenderness they show the most callous of hearts....God has given me riches beyond measure by putting each of these beautiful souls in my care. Lord, I pray for wisdom to raise them up to glorify and serve you.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

In Christ...

In Christ, I can be the me I was created to be...
In Christ, my desires are pure and not burdensome.
In Christ, my goals are entirely different yet more clear than ever.
In Christ, my sleep is light.
In Christ, there is not one friend who doesn't have eternal significance to me.
In Christ, my children are a gift-not a job.
In Christ, my husband is more than a mere companion.
In Christ, the disruptions in this life are not disruptions at all.
In Christ, my hope is real.
In Christ, I am to be what I was created to be...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Second Time Around

It's been so long since I've taken the time to write. Honestly, writing requires a measure of vulnerability that I just couldn't handle til now. Saying that, even now, causes me to backspace a little. I mean, really, am I willing to come clean? Am I willing to pour out some of those dark places here? Yes, I am.

I always have assumed that we all come with "baggage", never stopping to consider the possibility of not only unloading that baggage, but of getting rid of the bags forever! Why...why would anyone carry around such heavy, bulky, cumbersome luggage? Why have I been carrying this stuff around with me everywhere I go? My bags aren't the designer Luis Vuitton, Gucci, Coach types. Mine are more costly! Instead of costing me a few hundred dollars, they've cost me my sleep, my peace, my joy, my hope. Here are the labels on my bags: Molested, Neglected, Just Not Good Enough, Abandoned, Falling Short...again, Broke... I just can't carry this crap around anymore. It's time to unload the baggage and then set it on fire.

I've blamed so many people for this baggage I carry. As a matter of fact, I've had to add a couple of other bags around my neck just to catch the overflow of paralyzing emotion produced by the stuff in those other bags. These bags,the ones around my neck,are hideous. They are Bitterness and Grudges! You've probably seen them before; bags don't get much uglier and cumbersome than those! So, where do I unload Molseted, Neglected, Just Not Good Enough, Abandoned, Falling Short...again, Broke, Bitterness and Grudges? I will unload them at the foot of the cross.

I'm already feeling lighter!Thank you Jesus!

Monday, February 26, 2007


As a personal trainer, I often meet people who feel defeated. More often than not, they are fighting to lose body fat that has slowly crept up on them over the years. These are regular people, like you and me, who have done their best to provide for their families, to be there for their loved ones, and to get ahead in their careers. Most of these people find themselves feeling disappointed that they've let their health and fitness reach such low levels and come to me eager to make a change that will last. They've valued their careers, their families, their homes, their friendships; yet, they put their own physical well-being on the back burner. I tend to believe that it takes most of us a while to realize that we are not invincible. We seem to think that we can go through life, spending no time or energy on our health without any serious consequences. The difficult truth is that in order to feel and look good, each individual has to take action. Otherwise, going up and down the stairs will become a chore, maybe even a painful one. Those jeans we just bought may not fit next year. That lower back ache may turn into all out pain. The cute little beer-belly may turn into a heart attack waiting to happen. Self-neglect turns into a serious problem.

Too often I will meet a mother who has poured herself into her career and family so much that she finds later in life that her own health has suffered. Perhaps, her schedule was so full that there was not even an hour which she could devote to her own well-being. Or I will meet busy middle-aged gentleman battling obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, joint pain, and fatigue after years of pouring himself into a stressful career and family with not time to even think about exercising or healthy eating habits. I've even worked with teenagers whose busy school and extra curricular schedules left little time for much of anything other than eating on the go. It seems that we all are living in a culture that discourages us from taking care of ourselves. And I am here to tell you that you can put a stop to that in your own family.

Take a look at yourself in the mirror when you get out of the shower. Listen to your breathing when you go up the stairs at home or work. Evaluate the time that you actually spend doing something for your well-being each day. Do you like what you are seeing here? If not, perhaps you are a victim of self-neglect. If this is the case, maybe now is the time to make a change for you and your family, especially if you have children. You are worth the time that it takes to be the most fit you that you can be. You are worth the sacrifice it takes to feel good about yourself.

If after reading this, you are motivated to make a change, start with just one or two things at a time. Perhaps, this week you will make the decision to drink more water and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Give yourself that task first. Once you've done that for a little while, maybe you will make the decision to give up fast food or that nightly bowl of ice cream. Whatever changes you make, don't overwhelm yourself; otherwise, you may find yourself wanting to give up.

Go for it! Make the life changes necessary to be the healthiest you that you and your loved ones know that you can be.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

So Very Blessed

Here I am, excited, motivated, and full of joy. Why? Because I've come to a crossroad that is wonderful! My Lord's words have compelled me to consider not only the words that I say but the thoughts that I choose to think. And having followed His gentle, yet somehow firm prodding, I find myself reminded of just how blessed I am.
Having looked over past postings that may lead the reader to feel sad, worried or otherwise discouraged, I decided to delete quite a bit from the blog. In other words, if you as a reader would not be blessed reading it, it was deleted. Why? Well, if through my writing you are not encouraged to live a Christ-filled life, you are not motivated to be the person you were designed to be, you cannot rejoice in the work that the Sovereign is doing in my life, you do not step away from your computer contemplating the significance of your life, then I am truly not doing what I set out to do here.
For a while there, I was stuck in a spiritual rut, wondering when it would end. The fog that was clouding my ability to write, think, pray, and enjoy the blessed life that I have was taking over my life. Little by little, I was becoming scared, bitter, and less enjoyable to be with. That happens so easily when less than perfect circumstances become my focus (and who of us doesn't live in less than perfect circumstances) rather than focusing on the God who created me, who saved me, who sanctifies me...
So here I am, a young and fit woman with five amazingly beautiful children, a husband who is passionate and tender (not to mention quite the talented musician), a great career which allows me to be with my children more often, and the most encouraging friends that a woman can hope for. Did you ever hear the song which starts out like this, "Count your blessings, name them one by one," and ends with "Count your blessings, see what God has done." How is it that something so simple can give so much joy? Well, that's where I am right now. I'm counting my blessings. And I'm hoping that you will do the same. If you are reading this, please respond where you are able to leave a comment, by naming ten to fifteen blessings in your life. Once you do that, take some time alone with God, thanking Him for what He has given to you and asking Him to show you how to use those blessings wisely.