The pictures above are some before and after shots.
“Oh, Jo. Jo, you have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life? You’re ready to go out and – and find a good use for your talent. Tho’ I don’t know what I shall do without my Jo. Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it.” -Marmee from Little Women, 1994
No joke, this week, I was driving along just minding my own business, humming away to You Don’t Think You’re Beautiful by One Direction. Yes, that’s a junior high girls’ dream boy band. Don’t judge. 😜 And, one of my lovely daughters, with gold strands of hair down her back, with a feminine way of pushing her hair gently behind her ear, and the one who always picks peach, turquoise, glitter and tulle, made the throaty noise of collection in the back of her mouth and spat out the car window, like she was a beast of a defensive end who just played a 2 hour game. I couldn’t believe it! My boy dominant family was creeping abruptly into my little girls’ inner world. I mean, it’s not attractive on a good day when it’s my defensive end son spitting out the window. But, my little girl!?!
So many hilarious things are said and done in our car. Just this week on our school drives, I have been heard saying, “Acting like a monkey is not socially acceptable among humans.” Or, one day, my daughter said, “Do my eyebrows look even? I just tore one of them off, because it was itching.” 😳 Or, there was the time Joseph asked me if I was born on the 4th day of creation. Great, I am seen as 8,000 years old. Fantastic. In honor of my childhood in ancient times, I should just do a “no shave November” and pray to be the first woman to grow a beard that would give Moses a run for his money.
Along with the humor, some frustrating things are vocalized in the car too, such as the incessant sibling bickering, like a woodpecker on the wood siding of our home in April, drilling on and on. Or, when I had to say, “Joseph, please get off the roof of the car and wait on your seat for your brother to get out of the store. You aren’t Bo of the Dukes of Hazard.” There’s also the sound of one of my sons who says, “Trust me” to the sister he fights with every minute, as he grins, about as predictable as a crocodile telling someone, “Don’t worry, go ahead and take a nap.” Lol. Brothers! These are the happy sounds of mothering that go on daily. They make me laugh, sometimes cry, drop into bed at night exhausted and smile too, when I see them sleeping peacefully, sacking the quarterback of the opposing team or, suddenly and quite miraculously, expressing a kind word to a sister/brother.
I have all this energy, passion and drive bound up inside me that feels like it is on pause sometimes, because of my stage of life. On tough weeks with motherhood, I wrestle with that more. We all have a drive, placed inside us by God, to do something worthwhile, something bigger than ourselves. Often, along the way, our passions get waylaid, lost or, worse, transformed into something artificial that doesn’t matter much in the whole scope of human life, such as the desire to just make money and store it away around us. I mean, heck, I would love to do well financially too but money is one tool in the belt of a 7 am-7 pm construction worker, with cracked, rough hands and a t-shirt that says, “It CAN be done.” Money just for money’s sake, just for the Pottery Barn house, the lawn clipped to perfection, the bi-yearly trips to Maui and the kids without a hair out of place who always answer “Yes mother dearest” (Ok, creepy), wearing the latest from GAP Kids is just…….. well, vanilla and flat. Give me authenticity any day! Ok, I will take the trips to Maui. And, the Pottery Barn house. If you want to come make sure my kids are in tip top condition (good luck) and slip in the rest of it too, I will take it! LOL. I can be authentic AND have Maui, right? 🙂 To live purely for money is like saying, “I am living just to get a shiny, gold hammer that I frame.” It would sit on the wall and be purposeless! Money should be a well worn tool among many, generously used to help others. I mean, most of the above description is good and we should rejoice, share and enjoy every good gift but, the point is, I want to discover and live out that unique passion that God himself placed inside me. Don’t you?!? 🙂
This week, in addition to the intensity of parenting, I had a wave of frustration with my kitchen tile that is peeling up like shells coming off parboiled eggs, creating water damage, windows that cannot open because the cranks are all broken and have to be twisted painfully by hand and a floor that makes me blush when we have company because the previous owners put in a wall-to-wall cream carpet downstairs, which gets beaten to a pulp by the three teenage, football playing boys who live down there. I mean, let your imagination run wild on this one and you will probably be just about right. Think socks post-football, cleats trekking daily across, late night “Bourne marathons” with platters of food and the attitude of, “why should I clean when I will just mess it up later,” etc. I rarely venture into the belly of the house, because I would rather just be an ignorant but joyful Mom in regards to how boys live. Lol. I send down the big guns, instead, to make them clean – Dad numero uno. 🙂
One of my tools, my income, is going towards my children right now. I have many other tools at my disposal, some are waiting in the green, tin roofed barn down by the woodshed and others are in my soul- my passions, giftings, time, love and words. I often feel I am waiting for some sort of monumental convergence- the point when I see these things come together in a holy, explosive moment and I, as the hippies of old used to say, “find myself.” But, while I certainly long and pray for my passions, giftings, callings and reality to come together, like a wild river that breaks the icy surface and then out of its boundaries on a spring morning in the mountains, creating new pathways, gullies and edges, pulling rocks and trees in with it’s force, it has occurred to me recently- what if all of life is smaller expressions of that moment. What if the toils and joys of motherhood aren’t just a season but a part of that calling, to be treasured and thoroughly enjoyed, not rushed or ever seen as something “I once did.” What if cleaning the house isn’t just a chore but a part of my calling? Ok, I am having a hard time getting my thick head around that one! 🙂 But, if I were to serve kings and generals with my writing, for example, would it matter more than the quiet expressions of love to my children, as I wipe out the refrigerator or make them beef vegetable stew? Which will matter more to me when my last breath comes? And, maybe all of these daily, small moments of faithfulness lead to the “big” things we do for generals and kings; maybe they cannot be untangled from one another, like siamese twins who, to survive, need to stay together and share their one heart.
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much… If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” Luke 16
You know, there was once a little boy who grew up in Virginia. His father tragically died when he was 11. He probably cried himself to sleep most bedtimes in the year that followed. His mother moved him around to different relatives’ homes to give him some time with men in the family to fill the gap in his heart. At 14, he longed to join the army, maybe out of a quest to be around men, but his mother couldn’t bear the thought of parting with him to face such danger at such an early age. Dutifully, he obeyed and used the next two years to study math and learn to survey land. Without a father to guide him, his mother, certainly, often prayed and worried that he wouldn’t be successful or know how to be a man. This youth went on to be the commander-in-chief of all the continental armed forces and to be the first president; his name is General and President George Washington. He said of his mother, “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”
Tonight, as I sit here exhausted from a long week and pondering, “what am I called to,” I feel full of purpose, knowing that this tedious, all day, 24-7, heart wrenching, mind taxing, physical workout called motherhood is the greatest thing I will ever do. And, it is contributing to all I will do down the road. I can still hope and look for my other callings but, also, rest and enjoy the present, with its daily, small, sometimes inconceivable steps that train and prepare me and, all on their own, matter most.
Making Eating Easy, Daily Checklists with Approximate Times & a Protein Smoothy Mix Recipe
Always check with your doctor before following my plan. I am just telling you what worked for me, as an everyday, healthy mother who needed to lose a lot of weight.
To get used to eating in a way that promotes weight loss, I have included a couple daily checklists below. You have to use a wide variety of interesting vegetables and fruits to stick with it because that is where the flavor comes from when you take out salt and sugar. Believe it or not, you will get used to simple, “from the earth” type foods! There is more creativity than is listed below (I have many recipes on this blog under the Recipes tab) but this regimen will get you used to how to eat. If you are in decent health, this type of diet consistently leads to weight loss. The key is in being strict regarding the content of your food, eating small, regular amounts and drinking lots of water. You can do these in any order you wish but remember to save enough of the bigger meals for when you are most hungry; for me, that is dinnertime. When in doubt as to what to snack on, I default to a protein smoothy. You could also look at my list of healthy snack options on the post called, “Making Healthy Choices and 20 Healthy Snack Ideas,” but keep in mind, don’t have more than one fruit a day and don’t have more than 15 raw nuts or 1 teaspoon of nut butter a day. Not all protein smoothy mixes are healthy and many have added sugar and fat. I either mix my own (Berry Green Protein Smoothy and Mango Smoothy are listed under the Recipes tab) or I use Garden of Life, Rawfit, Marley Coffee (recipe below).
8 a.m., Breakfast: Omelet w/ 5 Egg whites, 1 Morningstar sausage, Small handful of grape tomatoes, Handful of spinach _____
10:30 a.m. Snack: Protein smoothy _____
12:30 p.m., Lunch: Spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc.1, 3-4 oz. piece of chicken breast (size of a computer mouse). Basalmic vinegar or lemon squeezed on top _____
3:00 p.m. Snack: One apple with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter on the slice) _____
5:30 p.m., Dinner: Cod fried in 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil with a no salt seasoning, lemon squeezed on top. Normandy veggies. 1/2 large sweet potato plain _____
8 a.m., Breakfast: 2/3 Cup of oatmeal. A handful of blueberries added to it. ______
10:30 a.m., Snack: Celery sticks with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter _____
12:30 p.m., Lunch: Cod with no salt seasoning and lemon squeezed on top. Spinach salad with creative veggie toppings- lemon or Balsamic on top _____
3:00 p.m. Snack: Protein smoothy _____
5:30 Dinner: Grilled chicken breast, green vegetables of your choice _____
Marley Coffee Protein Smoothy:
- 2/3 cup of ice
- 1 overflowing, huge handful of spinach
- 1 scoop of Rawfit Marley Coffee, Garden of Life
- 1 cup of unsweetened, non-Carageenan Almond Milk
Variations: I might add a teaspoon of peanut butter on a day when I haven’t had any nuts or nut butters or you could add a teaspoon of cocoa powder.