Friday, February 21, 2014

Spencer & my health

I've been waiting awhile to post this blog because I wasn't sure how Spencer would receive it. You see, Spence is a very modest man and does not ever want someone to mistake him as being boastful or conceded. But as his mom, I have a right to be both on his behalf :-)

About 8 months ago Spencer decided he was going to get "healthy". Now, if you know him then you know he was never considered "unhealthy". He has never been overweight, has never smoked or drank in his life & he has always been athletic and played sports. But still, he felt like he needed to make a change. Before I go on, here are some pictures of Spencer "before" & now.


The difference in those pictures is funny to me now. Look at his little pudgy belly on the left...haha! I can't wait until he sees this and actually sees how much he has physically changed.

Over the last 8 months he has dedicated his free time to running, lifting weights and overall gaining strength. He's a busy boy (I can still call him a boy since I'm his momma) with a full time job, full time college schedule, a wife, his weekly life group where he meets with other Christian couples their age to study Jesus and His word, his home and of course his large family that includes 5 siblings and his parents. But despite all that, he still finds time to be active and stay healthy. He told me not to long ago that not only has this helped his body, but it's also helped his mind. He stresses easily and has found that the workouts actually help him clear his head and stay focused. I really took that to heart because of course he got his stressing from me.
So 6 months into his journey he shares with me that when he began he prayed that he would be a roll model to his family, a leader of sorts to the rest of us to get healthy. Seriously??? this kid of mine is near perfect. He is using his own accomplishment and extending a grape vine out to us, to lead us. And so it began....we all joined the gym!!!
Will, Spencer & Chloe started Crossfit. In case you aren't familiar with Crossfit, Wikipedia defines it as below:

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program with the aim of improving, among other things, muscular strength, cardio-respiratory endurance, and flexibility. It advocates a perpetually changing mix of aerobic exercise, gymnastics (body weight exercises), and Olympic weight lifting.[6] CrossFit Inc. describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains,"[7] with the stated goal of improving fitness, which it defines as "work capacity across broad time and modal domains."[8] Hour-long classes at affiliated gyms, or "boxes", typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity "workout of the day" (or WOD), and a period of individual or group stretching. Some boxes also often have a strength focused movement(s) prior to the WOD. Performance on each WOD is often scored and/or ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress. Some affiliates offer additional classes, such as Olympic weightlifting, which are not centered around a WOD.[9]


Spencer, Chloe & Will at Crossfit.
This has become a family challenge, all of us loading up every evening and going to the gym. Now, I don't know how long this will last, for me I mean. I've not proven to stick to anything that was good for me for any length of time. I am aware that at any given moment I may fall flat on my face and miss a gym day. I may not succeed, but I truly have given it all to God and am only following His lead. I know that I am not doing this alone, because only through my heavenly father will I succeed.

Random pictures of family working hard under Spencer's direction...LOL!

 Thank you Spence for lighting a fire under us. Thank you for loving us enough to care if we were healthy or not. I look at you everyday and am so proud of who you are. Leading your family to a healthier life is just one more thing you can add to your portfolio in life. I love you!!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My new friend Marion

Yesterday evening my family and I were on our way to the gym in Sallisaw. We were exiting off I40 into Sallisaw as we noticed a homeless man holding a sign that read "JUST HUNGRY". It's about 20 degrees outside at the time, wind blowing and the sun was going down. He was wearing a coat and had one small bag with him. Will & I looked at each other and without saying a word, my dear husband pulled over and rolled down his window.

Before I go on, I need you to know that we had 3 of the kids with us. Spencer, Paxton and Chloe. I'm completely focused on the homeless man and not thinking about my kids in the back. This is important because later I realize that them being there to witness all this unfold was very valuable.

Going back to the story, my hubby rolled down the window and the man approached our truck. Before he could talk I asked him what he wanted to eat. Now I know I could have brought back anything and he would have graciously taken it but I wanted him to have whatever he wanted. He slowly said "Well ma'am, KFC is my favorite". As I was focused on getting this man fed, my husband was focused on his deeper needs. Will asked him where it was that he needed to go. The man then told us that he needed to stay in Sallisaw as recently he was arrested and had a court date coming up. SHOCK??? No, not to me. I was already guilty of assuming that he had some sort of criminal past. I know that's not Godly, Jesus would not have immediately assumed the worst in this man. But we all know that I am not Jesus...I'll tell you what did shock me though, his truthfulness and his willingness to reveal that he had recently been in some trouble. Again I'm assuming here, but I think some people may not be as willing to help if they knew of this mans criminal past. So realistically he was taking a chance of missing out on a meal by telling us. After a bit of further discussion, we left him there as we headed to KFC.

On the ride and wait in the drive through we (remember 3 of the kids are with us) were all talking about the homeless man. What had he done to get arrested? Where do you think he sleeps at night? Did you see how dirty he was? And the unspoken questions that was going through my head, Should I help this man? What if he was arrested because he had hurt someone? What if he did something that I just couldn't wrap my mind around?

The drive through took awhile because there were cars in front of us, but we ordered the man a chicken dinner and something to drink. On the drive back to him I asked my husband if I could get out of the truck and pray with the man!! WAIT, wasn't I just questioning if I should help this man??? And now I want to pray with him??? Understandably Will wasn't comfortable with me getting out on the side of the road with this man so he said he would drive up as close as he could and I could roll down my window. So that's just what we the man comes to the truck I asked him his name, it is Marion.

I reached my hand out to Marion, and he took my hand in his dirty rough hands. I grabbed my husbands hand on my left, we all closed our eyes and right then and there my family and I prayed with and for Marion.

Heavenly father, we lift up our new friend Marion to you. We ask for protection from the cold. We pray for his safety and for his health. We thank you for putting us in his path allowing us to help him tonight and we pray that you place others in his path that can help him more then we can.
Short, sweet and a first for me. I can now think of all the specifics I should have asked the Lord for on behalf on Marion. Things that I have never, ever had to personally pray for...a warm place to sleep for him, because I have a home with central heat and a bed with soft warm blankets...for inner warmth or the ability to build a fire somewhere to protect him against frost bite, because I have never been so cold that frost bite was an option....for the ability to bathe soon in order to keep his skin free of infection &/or bugs, because I have never been that dirty....for the ability to eat everyday, because I have never been that hungry...for someone in his life to love him and care for him, because I have always been surrounded by an immense amount of love!! I could go on...
I'm thankful that the Holy Spirit took over and lead me to help him in the small ways that we could. I'm thankful that the Holy Spirit did not allow me to judge this man by his appearance or any of his past actions, I can now see clearly that it is all irrelevant.  
I handed Marion his food and a blanket which we kept in the truck. Oh that blanket was special to him, he teared up when we gave him that blanket. We said our goodbyes and headed on our way! 
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. 37 Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? 40 "The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Matthew 25: 35-40 
May the good Lord look after Marion! And may He always use me as a vessel to teach my kids!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Long journey home

358 miles from Gore America, or approximately 6 hours of drive time is the place where I call home, St. Joseph, Missouri. It is where I was born, raised and lived for the first 28 years of my life. It is where most of my history is, where I have a lot of memories and most importantly it is where my sisters and their families still live.

I don't get to visit nearly as often as I should or as often as I'd like, so when I get the opportunity to go, I'm all in. We left Friday evening and arrived around 11pm and came back Sunday arriving home also around 11pm, so it was a whirlwind trip.

I spent the entire time I was there with the sisters. I have two, both older. Kristen is the oldest and Melissa is the middle child. We all have families and lives that are going by way too fast. But we had a great time catching up.

These are the sisters and me. Kristen on the left and Melissa in the middle.
Back in October Kristen became a grandma for the first time. Actually she is the first of us girls to have any grandchildren (and yes, I'm jealous). Her granddaughter's name is Kenzlyn and she is beautiful. This was my first time meeting her and I fell in love. If you know me at all, then you know I am not so patiently waiting for a grandchild of my own, but for now I will live vicariously through my sister.
Kenzlyn O'Meara, I told you she was beautiful!!
She has the darkest brown eyes and full head of brown hair. My sister is in grandma heaven!

Kenzlyn and her daddy, my nephew, my sisters son!
The sister's and I didn't always get along perfectly when we were growing up. But then, I'm not sure any siblings really did. It wasn't anything major, we were all 2 1/2 years apart, so there was a lot going on in our house usually at the same time. But as we've gotten older and started our own families we have found a way of really appreciating and enjoying each other. I find myself wishing I was closer to them all the time. I really miss them.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Teenage girls!

 I'm not a morning person per say, so I move slowly but only have a certain amount of time to get certain things done before we (the kids and I) head off to school. Of my 6 kids, I still have 4 at home and occasionally only have 3 kids to "get ready" as Kelsi is my step daughter and with her mom at times. This morning I had three, Will the 17 year old senior, Chloe the 14 year old 8th grader and Coy the 10 year old 4th grader.

Once I motivated my lazy behind to get moving I made and packed their lunches which is getting more difficult for me as Chloe started Crossfit 2 weeks ago and only eats "healthy". I really run out of ideas on healthy lunches and she gets so tired of turkey on wheat bread with yogurt and fruit. But I'm getting off track once lunches were packed I started breakfast. In between all of this I'm barking out orders to them trying to keep them on track with our schedule.
 "Coy are you dressed"?
"Will are you up yet"?
 "Coy brush your teeth",
"Chloe be quiet and don't wake up Pax" (Pax is still home from college on break).

This morning I made eggs and toast. I have a BFF who has chickens and gives me all the fresh eggs I want, thanks Patsy! I love the farm fresh eggs more then I should, especially since she doesn't actually live on a "farm".
So the kids and I sat down to breakfast...we held hands and I prayed for them. It was the normal prayer a Christian mom prays over her kids..."

"Lord be with them today and protect them from harm and danger. Walk with them in every step they take helping them to keep you at the front of their minds. Give them thick skin for the meanness and ugliness that comes with being in public school. I pray you clear their minds of all distractions so they can concentrate on learning today. Thank you Lord for the blessings you give me that I do not deserve, especially these children. Thank you for your son Jesus Christ through whom I pray...Amen"
We finished our breakfast and the kids were off finishing up their stuff to be ready to leave. Now for the last 2 years we have left for school at 7:50am because we drive to Vian where the youngest two go to school. Will still goes to school at Gore, which was his choice when we moved the others to Vian 2 years ago. At 7:50 I holler out at Chloe that it was time to go, as usual she responds with "Ok, you guys go on out". Which means Coy and I head to the car and she is shortly behind us. After sitting in the car for several minutes with no Chloe in sight, I honk the horn twice. After several more minutes she comes barrel racing out the door, opens the car door, throws her bags and books in. She gets in, looks at me and says..."Don't you ever honk at me again"....PAUSE!!! Before I go on, I want to ask, what would you have done?
Despite the fact that we are Christian parents raising our children in God's grace and mercy, despite the fact that they are for the most part, good, honest, smart, respectful kids... we still have hormones raging in our house and kids, who at times see how far they can push. Because we also know that we all fall short of the glory of God. So I asked what you would have done at this point, and I'm really curious. I'm going to be honest and tell you for half a second I considered back handing her, ok, maybe more like for several seconds...It was honestly kind of funny because as I look back at Coy in the back seat, I can see on his face the sheer horror of what his sister just did...she mouthed mom!!! Coy is an angel who's halo rarely dims...I don't know what he was actually thinking but I'm sure it was along the lines of, "Oh man, you are dead now". But what I did now totally surprised me...I calmly told her to pick up her bags and get out of the car. Of course she sat there and stared at me in a "you're crazy" kind of way so I repeated myself. "Pick up your bags and get out of the car, shut the car door and stand there until you can calm yourself. When you're calm you can open the car door and try again". She's frantic now because she knows we are already running late. But she sees I'm not giving in so she gets her stuff and gets out of the car. After she stands there or what felt like 10 minutes but was actually less then 2, she opens the car door gets in and says "sorry I'm running so late mom"...and we leave for school.
She didn't want to apologize, she didn't want to talk respectful to me at this point, but I think she knew if she didn't, she would be extremely late for school.
Now I know that the above incident is of no real concern to anyone, but it made me think once again that I would take a football team of boys right now to raise over one more girl. Not once have any of my boys gotten up for school and had a complete meltdown because their hair didn't look right, or they had nothing to wear in a closet full of clothes. Or bring home the drama of "so & so said this about me"...blah, blah, blah. We as women are dramatic, we are emotional, we are hormonal and often unreasonable...right?  

My 3 beautiful teenage daughters!
Kelsi, Paxton, Chloe