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Momercise: Budget, Health and Body Image

I knew that my short grocery list was not going to remain short. My husband and I work very hard to keep the grocery budget at the same amount every week. Whenever I try to look up a healthy, cheap meal on the Internet, when they label them as “budget friendly,” I question to whose budget they are referring? Usually if the recipe calls for taragon, it’s a budget breaker. Week after week I buy spaghetti, mac and cheese, and frozen nuggets, because they are affordable. There is a guilt about sticking to these meals, because without a side of veggies, it isn’t very nutritious. I am very thankful that both my kids (that’s right I said BOTH) like broccoli, so I claim that as a little victory every once in awhile. But when it comes to buying healthier food for my husband and I, it seems that we can’t have our cake and eat it to, (even the gluten-free kind). Chicken breast can go a long way, when it comes to healthy meals, but ground beef fits the budget. Lasagna has a lot of calories, but try to make it vegetarian and it racks up the dollar signs. I know a good number of my mom pals will back me up when I say, convenience will almost always win vs. healthy meals. And yes, I know there are these wonderful things called coupons and cashback apps that can change everything. Yes, salads are easy and affordable. It is no secret.

You all know, I’ve made the decision to slowly focus on a healthier lifestyle. Yes, it keeps getting slower and slower. Life happens. It is a struggle to teach the kids to be healthy, and at the same time avoid certain language so that they don’t view food in a negative way. Fat is a four-letter word in my vocabulary. I know that if I call myself fat or obsess over counting calories, my little spongy kiddos will absorb the attitude and learn from it. They are not at an the age where they should be worrying about pounds and calories. And what age is okay, while we are at it? It doesn’t matter how many years go by, we still hold on to the lie that image is everything.

The picture above is from my senior year of high school. I remember it vividly. It was 60’s Day. As the picture snapped I was sucking in my poochy belly, thinking that my little 110 lb. self was fat. That day there was a variety of tie-dyed beautifully sculpted flower power girls walking through the halls. On the outside I said things like, “They’re violating the school dress code, but whatever.” On the inside I was envious. I longed to have a body that would be worthy of hip-hugging bell bottoms and fringe lined belly shirts.

I thought all of that was behind me, but just a few weeks ago while I was getting ready for church, that high school mentality came roaring back to life. Outfit after outfit felt snug on me. Every time I looked in the mirror, my insides screamed, “Frumpy! Frumpy! Frumpy!” The clock was ticking closer to the time we had to leave and the piles of clothes on my floor grew bigger and bigger. Then the tornado of emotions spewed out. “How ungrateful am I? I have clothes while others have none. I’m made in God’s image after all. Who cares what others think? But this wasn’t snug on me last week…I’m so lazy…I’m fat. Don’t let your kids hear you cry. I will never be healthy…what time is it? AUUUUUGHHHHH!”

There is a chapter in the Bible that has comforted me since that day. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he urges them to “Put on” things like: “tender hearted mercies, charity, forgiveness, kindness, meekness and longsuffering.” These are the clothes that matter. He goes on to say “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts…and be ye thankful.”

I want to feel healthy. I don’t need a six-pack and I don’t need to eat kale 3 times a day for this to happen. I’ve felt healthy before and I can do it again. I know I promised updates every week, and now that both kids are in school, I hope to have more time to write and get back to my healthy goals. I urge you all, don’t give into societal body image expectations. If you make a decision to be healthy, don’t make it an idol. Don’t give into the guilt because your bank balance won’t allow for nutritious food. Be fed and feed your families as best you know how.

Spoiled Mom

Mother’s Day has come and gone. Many times before that special holiday I heard, “Are you ready to be spoiled?” or “I hope your husband has plans to spoil you.” I have heard these innocent comments before. I am sure they are meant to be compliments. After all, mothers work so hard, and a holiday is appropriate to take a moment to show appreciation. However, this year was different. I suddenly recalled all the years of having fantastical expectations for myself. All the times I thought, “Yeah. I better be spoiled this year. I have earned it,” I immediately stopped myself, because I realized that these thougts and expectations can become detrimental to my self-worth as well as to those closest to me. It is certainly not fair that these innocent comments by bystanders (and highlights on Facebook) could put pressure on my husband to go above what is necessary to make me feel appreciated. What are our beloved family members supposed to do? Go into debt because it is the second Sunday of May? And what about the word “spoiled” for that matter? Are we rotten bananas who yearned to be put in a banana split, but instead had to settle for being baked into bread?

If your family has the means to show extravagant appreciation, that is wonderful. Generosity can certainly produce genuine joy and appreciation, but we must remember, that not everyone has the means to do such things for their mother, whatever the circumstances may be. If I am visibly giving into societal-driven entitlement, what am I teaching my kids? That people should feel guilty for not giving them the things they “deserve”? or that maxed out credit cards are no big deal if it is all in the name of building somene up on their special day? I look at my children’s playroom and see the toys that have accumulated over the past 7 years. So many times, I have fantasized about lighting a match to these possessions in the name of teaching my children gratefulness. I wouldn’t call my kids two Veruca Salt clones, but the idea of gratefulness does get lost on them sometimes and their parents certainlly aren’t immune to the concept themselves.

What I have discovered is that I am already spoiled. I am spoiled by a husband who loves me and breaks his back for me. I am spoiled by two healthy, happy kids that continue to impress family members, friends, and even strangers at a restaurant. I am spoiled by the roof over my head, the food in my pantry, the clothes in my closet and a functioning automobile. God has given me everything I want and everything I need. I am spoiled, because I forget about the blood that sets me free, but Jesus doesn’t hold it against me. I am spoiled, because I have never been whipped, beaten, and mocked. I am spoiled, because I don’t have nails driven into my hands. I am spoiled, because I have never been forced to drink sour wine from a dirty sponge. I am spoiled because I have not been hung on a cross left to die. I am spoiled because the veil was torn and I refuse to pass through it.

This world can make us believe that we are hollow and need the external things to feel fulfilled, but God made promises that he has no intention of breaking. We are moldy pieces of fruit, but Jesus can wash us clean, and we can still be bountiful.

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 1 Peter 1:18 NLT

They will neither hunger nor thirst…For the Lord in his mercy wll lead them; he will lead them beside cool waters. Isaiah 41:17 NLT

God cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. John 15:2 NLT

My Apologies…Someone said “Mom!”

As I was packing my kids’ bags, I made sure not to forget my daughter’s eyedrops. Her eyes had been irritated for a few days, and I was determined not to let it get worse. I had the bottle of drops in my hand, and maybe some sunscreen in the other. At the same time I was calling for my kids to get their shoes on. In a matter of seconds I looked and the drops had disappeared. Impossible! I just had them. Did I pack them or not? I traced my steps. I thought to myself, Becky asked to wear her high heels, and you said yes, but she couldn’t find them. I remember grabbing my sunglasses, perhaps on the counter? No. I cleaned out the cat’s water, maybe by the sink? No. I must have turned her bag inside out a dozen times looking for the drops. They finally turned up in one of my purse’s little pockets. Funny, how determination and sanity can be overthrown so quickly. Someone innocently says “Mom” and everything changes.

Well, it has been awhile. It’s almost like every single utterance of “Mom” has kept me from blogging these past 3 months. I had a full blog written months ago, but have yet to publish it. Wanna know why? Because of a delay caused by a mixture of pride, terror, and a sea of mom duties. First, as I gazed at my writing, I hesitated. “This could be so much better, “I said to myself. Granted I didn’t say this in a low self-esteem way, but my head was swimming with the potential the message held. I decided to percolate. Before I knew it, it was Mother’s Day, and I had moved on to another idea that was appropriate and blog worthy. That particular idea, is still chicken scratched into one of my many notebooks. It seemed like every time I sat down to type, I never got anywhere because of either a runny nose, or a phone call, or (to be perfectly honest), the games on my phone were more appealing.

When it came to writing during the summer, conflicting thoughts and emotions ensued. “Excuses, excuses.” those little voice inside me trilled, “If writing is important to you, you need to make the time.” And sometimes the tone would change to a more serious baritone , “Your children are more important. You have plenty of time to write later.” So much time had passed by, that I had less of a desire to write, and the thoughts turned into this: “I have 11 followers. What’s the point?” “Nothing is ever going to come of this.” “Just give up. You’re not a writer.”

Now, summer is about to come to an end and I wonder what happened to all of my time and ideas I had. I feel like I have committed the Writer’s Cardinal Sin. I didn’t write consistently and now I am doomed. I think about whether I have lost all my accountability or let my followers down. I worry that my blog has become tainted, and even occasional visitors will glance at my time stamp and decide that I havent been writing presently enough to care to read. Thank God for my husband who keeps me sane and reminds me why I started this blog. I started it to rekindle my passion for writing, to help others, and to share the love of Jesus. I will definitley have more time to write once the kids start school. Everyone keeps asking me what my plans are. I pray and hope that my second year of bloggng will be more fulfilling and lively than the first. Hang on…I think someone’s caling me.

Do not whithold good from them to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it

Proverbs 3:27

*The featured image is of my darling loves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, here in New Mexico.

Flowers for a Grave

The sun peaked over the sandy hill behind our house. The last frost of the year had melted away, and now a   blanket of dandelions covered the very top.  She was so excited to finally wear her favorite pink sundress. She twirled and danced, skimming her feet through the plush grass, proving that it was absurd for me to ask her to

wear shoes. She started to pick the dandelions. Some were plain yellow, while others were white and fluffy. She was very meticulous.  With every pluck, a new singsong echoed from her lips. She trilled the dandelions with her fingers and clasped them to her heart.


“Mommy, where is Jesus buried?” she asked.

“He isn’t buried. He is alive, remember?”

“But he was in a tomb?” she asked.

“Yes, but it is far away…and empty.” She looked down at the dandelions and her face fell.

“What’s wrong, honey?”

“I wanted to put these on his grave.” she sniffed.

My heart swelled.

“You can still give them to Jesus. You can put them anywhere, and he will know they are from you.” She perked up. “You know, sweetie. Those aren’t really flowers. They are weeds. Don’t you think we should find some real flowers?  Maybe some that are more colorful?”

Tears sprung to her eyes instantly. What had I done? How could I turn such a beautiful, innocent moment, and stupidly destroy it with intellectual drivel?

“But…it is all I have,” she whimpered.

I scooped her up in my arms and kissed her cheek.

“And it is the greatest gift Jesus could ask for.” I whispered. “Let’s go give your beautiful flowers to Jesus.”

Joy overcame her face once again and she raced down the hill, her dress flipping with every bright, skipping step.

We said a short prayer. She took one white dandelion from the bouquet, stuck it behind her ear and placed the rest of the flowers at the foot of the hill. She then held that last dandelion in her hands for quite some time, like she was waiting for something wonderful.

“Are you going to make a wish?” I asked.

“Oh, no!” she exclaimed, “That would be very selfish of me.”

Still, she blew on the flower, until the seeds were whisked away by the spring breeze. “I want everyone to have Jesus’ flowers.” I squeezed her hand and told her that she was kind and wise.  I hadn’t noticed that a solitary, fuzzy blossom clung to the stem. It drooped and fought against the breeze. She plucked it, and put it in my hand.
“And one for you too!” She beamed.

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
John 19:41 KJV


The flowers appear on the earth once again; The time for singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Song of SOLOMON 2:12 AMP

The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed. Matthew 28:5‭-‬6 MSG

Wait on the Lord

I wrote this skit years ago, in hopes that I could someday present it in church. I had forgotten about it until now, so I decided to share it with you all.

SCENE 1

Stage Right: A family appears to be on a car trip. There is a sign that points to Disneyland.

Child One: Are we there yet?

Father: Not yet.

Child 2: How much farther.

Mother: Not much longer. Be patient.

Child 1: I’m hungry!

Father: You should have eaten more when we stopped before.

Child 2: Are we there yet ?

Mother: No, sweetie.

Child 1: Ugh! This is taking forEVER

Child 2: I have to go to the bathroom.

Child 1&2: Are we there yet?

Blackout

Stage Left: Lights come up. Jesus is leading a young woman by the hand. There is a sign that points to “Blessings”

Woman: Are we there yet?

Jesus: Not yet.

Woman: How much longer?

Jesus: Not long. Be patient.

Woman: But, Jesus! I give and I give and I give.

Jesus: You’re doing well. Almost there.

Woman: It’s not fair. Ugh! This is taking forEVER.

Jesus & Father : (in unison) I WILL TURN THIS CAR AROUND!

SCENE 2

Stage Left: A little boy and his mother walk by a candy store.

Boy: Can I have a candy?

Mom: Not today, sweetie.

Boy: But I want a candy!

Mom: And I said ‘No’.

Boy: But whyyyyyyyy?!

Mom: It’s too close to dinnertime and you still have candy at home from your birthday piñata. I know you’re going to stuff your face with more later. You’re going to get sick.

Boy: No, I won’t. I promise.

Mom: Yes, you will.

Boy: Nuh-UH! I don’t care what you say! I’m gonna get a candy ANYWAYS!

Blackout

Stage Left: A teenage boy greets Jesus. They fist-bump, hug, etc.

Boy: Hey! Jesus! Love you, man! How’s it going? Listen, I met this girl-

Jesus: No

Boy: But she is SO-

Jesus: No.

Boy: Oh, come ON! Why not?

Jesus: Because you don’t know her, you’re parents raised you better, and she doesn’t even know me.

Boy: Sure, she does.

Jesus: Nope.

Boy: Well, I’m gonna! I don’t care what you say.

Jesus and Mother: (in unison) You’ll be sorry.

SCENE 3

Stage Right: A little girl is playing with her doll by her father’s feet. The father is scrolling constantly on his phone.

Girl: Daddy! Look at my dolly!

Father: (not looking up) Mmm-hmm.

Girl: Daddy? Look!

Father: (still not looking up) Yes. Pretty.

Girl: Daddy, can you play with me?

Father: Later, honey.

Girl: Hey, daddy. Remember the time you took me to church and the pastor told us about Jesus, and how he is coming very soon?

Pause

Girl: Remember? We are going to live with Jesus soon. In heaven. I can’t wait! Daddy?

Father: Not now, honey. I have to do a thing.

Blackout

Stage Right: Same father is on the stage by himself, holding the dolly in his hands.

Father: God? God?! Where are you?! Where is everyone? What happened? Please…Can I pray? Can you save me? Jesus? Anyone?

Jesus enters and strolls right by the father. The father runs to him and grabs his hand with a pleading look.

Jesus: I have to do a thing.

END