Saturday, August 31, 2013


So... tonight I actually said what I was thinking, out loud.  I know to most of you this comes as a shock since I seem like I say whatever pops into my head immediately.  While that's true about my attempts at humor and encouraging things, I usually don't give unsolicited advice to complete strangers.

Here's how it went down.  I was at a restaurant with my BFF and her beautiful almost four month old daughter.  Our waiter commented on how cute the baby was and as he was walking away he said, "I can't wait to have kids.  I want five."  I was so surprised that when he came back around I asked if I had heard right.  He launched into this five minute explanation of how he's ready to settle down and have kids and he just has to find the right girl and all the girls he's met just want to play games.

Now, normally this is the part where I smile and nod and maybe say something about how I hope he finds his soul mate.  Tonight I took a leap and told him, "If you want to find the right kind of girl you need to go to church.  That's where the girls are who are ready to settle down and have kids."  I was expecting him to blow off my comment, but instead he agreed with me.  My BFF recognized his upstate NY accent and commented on it.

After he checked on his other tables he came back and pulled up a chair and told us all about how he had moved here on his own and was looking for a new life and all that.  I asked him where he lived in the area and recommended a good church near him (he said he didn't have a car).  Before we left the restaurant he told us that God must be really trying to get a hold of him, because there have been a bunch of times in the five months he's lived in the area where random people have told him to go to church.

Tonight I'm praying that Patrick will find God, and if he's already found him once, that he'll be re-infused with passion.  I pray that he does find the girl who's willing to get married and have five kids with him, but not until he's ready to support her spiritually, as well as financially.  I'm praying that tomorrow morning he'll wake up earlier than he thought he would, with more energy than he expects (he's working until 1:00 am) and that he'll remember the recommendations he received and try out the churches I mentioned.

One more thing... Any of my friends at the Harbor... let me know if Patrick shows up tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why I Exercise in Front of My Children

I used to hide from my children when it came to exercise.  I got up earlier than my children so I could get in a work-out before they awoke. This only ended up with me collapsing into bed exhausted without any energy left to spend on my husband.  I used to wait until they went to bed before getting out the elliptical.  This gave me a burst of energy right before bedtime but made it impossible to get up the next morning.  I tried going to the gym after dinner and leaving the kids home with my husband.  This sucked time away that I could have been spending at home with him.  To work out as consistently as I should have, it just wasn't good for our relationship. 

I didn't want my kids to see me all hot and sweaty.  I didn't want them to interrupt my workouts. I was trying to get healthy for their benefit, after all.  According to the experts, a healthy mom has more energy to help her family.  I even justified that if I wasn't getting my form right, they wouldn't see it and try to copy my bad habits.  

That all changed when I hired a personal trainer.  I wanted to get healthy, and I was willing to hire a professional to help me achieve my goals.  I gave myself a year to gain control of my regimen.  I checked out the personal trainer at the gym and the cost was way out of my budget, so my other option was to hire someone to come to my home.  I did a quick internet search and sent out a request for someone to help me.  Within a week I had a call from a guy in Miami.  The only hitch... the earliest we could meet was at 10:00 in the morning.  

Within a few weeks my three year old decided to join us.  We were working out in my garage and front driveway, in the blazing heat, but still she persisted in joining us.  The older kids had chores and independent schoolwork to do, so they only came out if they had a question, but the three year old wanted to be by my side the whole time.  It got to the point where she would be dressed with her shoes on within minutes of the doorbell ringing.  

At first I was annoyed.  Why was she so intent on following me around, trying to copy me.  She was getting in the way.  She was interrupting my workout time.  Then one day something clicked.  I decided to pick-up a few things from the fitness department at Wal-mart so I could do some workouts on the days my trainer wasn't there.  I was comparing the 8 lb and 10 lb work-out balls when my three year old asked if she could get "this one."  It was a smaller orange 4 lb weight ball.  She was carrying it gingerly and trying to put it in the cart.  

In that moment I realized allowing her access to my exercise regimen was teaching her a positive side to exercising.  From that moment on I made sure all my children understood that as long as their chores were finished they could join my work-out.  They couldn't take it over, but they could do what I was doing and learn from "Mr John" alongside me.  

Here are a few of the benefits children receive from watching their mom exercise:

1) They see that exercise is normal.  It's not an activity saved for special occasions.  It's a part of daily life.  

2) They learn that you're willing to step outside your comfort zone.  When you push yourself to complete five more reps than you did the week before, they learn to push themselves farther.  They see that you must challenge yourself to get results.

3) They find that maintaining good health is not easy.  They discover that people on TV who have healthy bodies and lean figures don't just magically get that way.  They know learn first-hand what it takes to maintain their health.  Hopefully this will, in turn develop some compassion.

Children can even learn positive lessons from what may seem like negatives:

4) They may see inconsistency.  Children need to see role models fail.  They need to realize that life isn't just a series of successes, but a mountain of difficulty to climb.  Perfection is for heaven, and until we get there we must be over-comers.   Managing failure is an important step to success.

5) They learn that it's ok to rest.  They need to see mom take a break now and then.  There were several times I had to cancel my appointment with my trainer due to illness or because something else came up that was more pressing.  But they also saw that the next week I was right back on again.  

6) If you allow it, they may even become accountability partners.  When you know that your children are aware of your regimen, you are much less likely to skip because you "just don't feel like it."  

So, don't hide from your kids.  Invite them to exercise with you.  Include them in your successes and let them see your failures.  Allow them to interrupt you, but teach them boundaries.  Show them by example that there are parts of life that aren't fun, but are necessary and beneficial.  And get your little girls smaller versions of your equipment, because watching a four year old do adult exercises with tiny pink exercise equipment is just priceless.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

A New Perspective on an Old Problem

The following story is fictional, and intended to prove a point.


I'll never forget the day he told me.  There were tears in his eyes as he bared his soul.  My heart beat heavily in my chest as I saw him draw up the courage to get it out.  They were words no mother wants to hear, words that meant my comfy spiritual life was over.  I didn't want to believe it, I tried to pretend it was just a phase.  He would grow up in a few years and get over this nonsense.

I tried to handle it well.  I said, "Thank you for telling me this.  I'm glad you were honest.  I want you to know you can tell me anything."

He wanted to talk to his father, and I had to convince him to wait until he got home from work.  I shot off a text warning my hubby that our son was having a very bad day.  I hoped it would alert him enough that he wouldn't come home cross.  .  

I asked him so many questions.  "When did you start to feel this way?  How do you know it's real?  You know what the Bible says about this lifestyle, right?"

He answered confidently.  He knew what he was talking about.  He knew it was wrong, but he was powerless against it.

I told him I needed some time to think.  I walked to my room and quietly shut the door.  This couldn't be the fate of my child, my beautiful boy.

We had home schooled him, taught him Biblical values, kept him separate from the world.  He hadn't had any of the brainwashing "You're born this way" crap from the government schools.  He had asked Jesus into his heart when he was young.  He read his Bible and prayed.  Every indicator pointed at a growing relationship with Christ.  He wasn't perfect, but he was normal.  Or, so I thought.

I didn't realize how long I sat there, staring at an invisible point on the wall.  When I heard the front door open I looked at the clock on my bedside table.  How had the time flown?  I walked out to greet my husband.  Suddenly I felt the pain in my throat that comes when you're trying not to cry.  I tried to call him out of his room, but my voice came out all funny.
He must have heard the door too, because he came out a moment later.  He asked us both to sit down.  I held my husband's hand as I listened to him repeat the story he told me earlier.  Then it was silent, painfully so.

My husband looked into my eyes and the tears were too painful to hold back any longer.  They streamed silently down my cheeks as I tried to swallow.  I hoped he had better answers than I did.  He didn't know what to say.  He sat there with me breathing heavily for several minutes.

In that silence I knew that there was nothing we could do.  Our son was going to be outcast.  He was abandoning our faith and siding with the enemy of our soul.  This deception would surely lead him down a path that would end in premature death.  He would never know the kind of loving relationship we did.

He was... Gluttonous.

In the weeks to follow he decided he needed to let people at church know.  It wasn't fair to the other kids in the youth group to pretend he was normal.  The youth pastor preached a lesson on the evils of gluttony.  He asked everyone to pray to break the power of gluttony over their lives.  He read from passages like Philippians 3:19 and Proverbs 25:16.

The pastor had a meeting with the three of us to discuss this issue.  He said our son's influence in the youth group could be disastrous.  He wanted our son to get up and publicly denounce his sin and tell everyone that he was no longer going to choose to be gluttonous.  Our son was adamant that he couldn't lie to everyone.
Eventually the pastor asked us to leave the church.  He went over the passage about church discipline and explained that he had to do it to "save our eternal souls."  We found out through a friend that he later denounced our family as wolves in sheep's clothing.

We lost so many people we thought were friends.  They just couldn't get over the fact that our son was openly gluttonous.  It broke my heart.  I could see the bitterness developing in my son.  He had been taught about the love of God.  About the forgiveness of sin.  He mocked our pastor for his catchphrases like "Love the sinner hate the sin," and I couldn't blame him.

I certainly didn't feel like I could help him.  I had never been in his position.  I mean, I had my faults, but gluttony?  I just didn't understand how he could be that way.  He was such a good looking boy too.  How would this affect him physically.  I knew it was only a matter of time before his health was affected.

I tried to find ways to help him, but every Christian I talked to just sort of clammed up and acted like they were sorry for my loss.

That was so long ago.  We've been coping with this so long now that I'm used to it.  I've made peace with the fact that my son is a glutton.  He even found a partner.  Someone who understands his side of things.  They've been together for many years.  What did I learn?  The church has no idea how to handle this kind of thing.  They put it in a little box and file it away under the "excommunication" label.  There are no help groups.  At least none that I can find.  I've heard the same verses quoted over and over that my son is in sin and since he chooses to be in sin there's nothing we can do but shun him until he repents or dies.
The sad thing is, if he had fallen into some besetting sin like pornography or alcoholism we would have received more support.  It's too late now.  He has diabetes and has already lost some toes due to poor circulation.


The moral: Just as we wouldn't realistically shun someone for being gluttonous, and would try to help them overcome this sin, we shouldn't shun someone who's gay, but rather rejoice that they are bold enough to be honest about their position and help them understand how to live a victorious Christian life.