Monday, November 4, 2013

A Road Rally Bar Mitzvah

Yep, we had a bar mitzvah.
Nope, we aren't Jewish.

Clay has been referring to Micah's 13th birthday party as his bar mitzvah for the past 6 months. 
So when it got closer to the actual day, I started researching this Jewish 13th birthday tradition. 
A Bar Mitzvah is an initiation ceremony for the transition from boyhood to manhood. The teen boy is required to take personal responsibility for his own spiritual walk, knowing that he must answer to God for his own choices.
Wow! What a great opportunity to challenge our son AND celebrate at the same time! 

Because we can't do anything serious without infusing a little fun, we started the party with a Road Rally. (If you aren't familiar with this phenomena of awesomeness, it's somewhat like the Amazing Race. If you aren't familiar with the Amazing Race, you need to get out more - and you can think of a Road Rally as a city-wide scavenger hunt...which requires cars.)
Clay and I had so much fun planning the day. The teams had to solve riddles, accomplish tasks, find objects...and take pictures or videos of each event. No proof? Didn't happen.

Here are some photos (and pdfs) of our Road Rally paperwork. 
My kids have already done it. I probably won't use it again. 
That's a lot of work for a "one and done" activity. 
PLEASE USE THIS STUFF and make it work for your own rally! 
(It can be adjusted to work for most towns.)
Even if you have no intention of ever doing a road rally, you may want to click on some of the tasks just to giggle about our day. (Then keep reading the rest of the blog to find out about the bar mitzvah.)

The first page of fun tasks.

You know you want to read them...
The teams had to make three cornhole shots before they could leave the "Crack the Code" house.
If you don't know what cornhole're missing out.

I want to post so many of the funny videos, but I will protect the privacy of the other party attenders.
Here is a quick video of my youngest son "weezing the juice" for Bonus Points.
I know it's a tease.
(Oh well, it's not the first time I've been accused of that.)

The last stop of the road rally had each car picking up pizza, so we all came back together to watch the videos and eat. (Clay made a spreadsheet to quickly add up scores. It didn't go as quickly as we hoped. We learned that we should have made the teams do things in a certain order or keep their own score sheet that coincided with their photos.)

After pizza, we served cupcakes and coffee for the bar mitzvah portion of the night.
It all started out as Clay's "joke"; but when we decided to add this spiritual element to our day, he surprised me. He took the religious initiation seriously! 

Normally I am the one who gets put in charge of anything that requires speaking (or words and planning in general), but HE wanted to do this. He wanted to set this example for our son.
He poured through photos and made a slideshow. 
He chose the approach to take as we introduced this stage of life to Micah and decided to focus on the verse written on Micah's bedroom wall (Ephesians 6:10-11). It speaks of putting on the armor of God. Clay challenged our new teenager to put on his own armor instead of depending solely upon ours. My creative husband even bought Micah a Leatherman multi-tool as a physical reminder that we have many tools at our disposal, but we must CHOOSE to use them. 

I don't think Clay has ever said so many serious things at one time. (He even got choked up a bit.)
I am always spouting spiritual things to our boys. I'm sure it had a MUCH BIGGER IMPACT since Clay took the lead on this one. I'm so very proud of him.

Finally, we ended with this video. 
A teenager took part in a poetry slam and spoke about his Judaism.
He talked about how he's been "brainwashed" by his parents. 
I hope Micah feels the same way.
It was the perfect "send off" for the crowd. 
It is a powerful three minutes.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Unintentional Hiatus

Once in a while, I go a month where I just can't manage to finish a blog.
That month was July. No big deal.
Then came August.
August was NOT funny, witty, or encouraging.
I'm not even sure that I LEARNED anything the entire month.
sidenote: I WAS on a destructive path that would bring wonderful learning opportunities soon.
sidenote to my sidenote: I did actually write a blog about the new Online Public School K12 Curriculum that we started, but I need to make it more funny and less snarky before I post it. You may be waiting a while for that to actually happen..or I may just post the snarky one. We'll see.

Anywho, I walked around most of the month feeling heavy.
(For once I'm not talking about the scale!)
It was as if someone was sitting on my soul.
I am good at pointing everyone else to God when things get tough - but I didn't really FEEL like turning to Him. Sure, I would go through the motions on occasion. Bible study, accountability partners, and church attendance helped the fog to dissipate for a moment or two; but on a day-to-day basis, I mainly "did my own thang".

In one attempt to feel less heavy, I started inhaling eating comfort foods.
(Yes, I am noting the irony, and thinking that maybe the scale DID help with a little heaviness.)
Oddly, *sarcasm font needed* the eating didn't help.
(I'm pretty sure any stirring that happened deep inside me after munching jalapeno poppers, Kit Kats, or ice cream had more to do with indigestion than God.)
Comfort eating did more harm than good, but I kept at it (just to make sure).

I also started reading - A LOT.
I tried to escape my apathy and daily struggles with entertainment.
I picked up a book series that was a Kit Kat for my soul. Temporary satisfaction, nothing healthy or worthwhile. The characters were funny. It was an easy read; but the language, lifestyle, and libido of those quirky characters were NOT filling my life with hope or proper perspective.
Again, it did me more harm than good.
Again, I kept at it for a while...

Throughout August, we had many situations where I could have used God's guidance; but I just wasn't able to still my mind and hear Him. I tried a few times, but issues kept getting in the way.
I wanted to RUN from them.

As I ran, I quit fortifying areas in my life that had previously been strong. I gave over to selfishness and distraction in the smallest areas of my life. I wasn't connecting with God, AND I wasn't connecting with my kids or my husband. I neglected the things that are meaningful in my life and unconsciously replaced them with ESCAPE. The computer... or an audio book... or a doughnut...became my solution (which solved nothing).
EVERYTHING started to feel out of control.
Our marriage. My parenting. Our house. The boys' school. It was a spiral of crazy.

I kept telling myself I had NOTHING to complain about.
"My life is GREAT. I am blessed in so many ways!"
And then I would cry.
I was overwhelmed, and I had to admit that I was oppressed.
It wasn't LIFE that was getting in the way, it was the way I was VIEWING life.
I was numb. I was negative. I was deceived.

It had to change.
I had to make a choice...and I was finally miserable enough to make the RIGHT one.
That's how it tends to work with me.
For instance, I only start exercising or dieting when my pants don't fit, my energy leaves, and the idea of living that way seems even scarier than the effort of self-discipline. The HOPE of smaller pants and renewed energy makes it WORTH the work.
That's the point I reached within my spirit.
I missed God.
I missed peace.
I was a wreck, and I knew their was HOPE IN CHRIST - so I pursued Him.

I started confessing and emptying out all the selfishness and fear.
I changed my focus and started PRAISING God for the blessings He heaps upon me.
I started WORSHIPING God for WHO HE IS.
I kept reading God's word and filling my mind with TRUTH.
Even in entertainment, I started choosing items to reminded me that life is bigger than my difficult moments.

In the process of pursuing God (even when I didn't "feel" like it) the heavy weight lifted.
More accurately, the strength needed to carry the heavy weight was provided.
It may have taken an extra month of (non-blogging) recovery to get here, but I feel light again.
I am laughing again.
Marriage, family, and school (kinda, maybe) are better again.
So glad to be with you again,

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Psalm 66:10-12 
For you, God, tested us;
    you refined us like silver.
11 You brought us into prison
    and laid burdens on our backs.
12 You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tortilla Pizza

I was looking in our fridge for something easy to throw together for lunch.
"Let's see, what on earth can I make with  tortillas, a partial bag of shredded cheese and that half a jar of spaghetti sauce that is lurking in the back shelf?"

Brilliance. That's what I made.
(a.k.a. A Tortilla Pizza)
It has less bread than a regular quesadilla and less calories than a regular pizza. 
It has TOMATO sauce on it so my boys (almost, kind of) get a vegetable!
Each kid can pick his own toppings. 
My boys make them all by themselves with ingredients that I always have on hand.

If they are still hungry after their individualized pizza is gone, I can make them eat fruit and vegetables.
I mean, they ate a "whole pizza"! (They can't even argue with that logic. Good stuff!)
I am just irritated that I didn't do this before.
(Feel free to make a comment and brag about how many YEARS you have been making these and how they have made your life so much easier...and how it's ABOUT TIME that I put two and two together and joined in the fun.)
*sidenote: My friend, Tami, told me a month  ago that she makes pizza on Flatout bread because it is thin crust and lower calorie. I thought, "I'm too cheap to buy Flatout bread." It DIDN'T EVEN OCCUR TO ME to use a tortilla. 

Cooking instructions: (Becky style - which means vague)
I broiled them to melt the cheese.
My boys sometimes bake them for 10 minutes or so on 350 (because that is the temperature the oven automatically goes to).

Now that I blogged about this...I'm off to buy more tortillas before my crew discovers the shortage and decides on mutiny.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Daddy's Day

My brothers used to send me to persuade our Dad when they wanted him to buy pizza.
"Just climb up in his lap and do your thing, Beck."
They knew I had a good chance of convincing him.
It's hard not to melt a bit when your only little girl calls you, "Daddy".

I still call him that...when it's just him and me.
He has loved me too deeply for the stuffy title of "Father".
"Dad" could work, but all five of his other kids call him THAT (2 original sons and 3 newer siblings that married in).
I'm the only one who can snuggle into the term "Daddy" without feeling I play that card every chance I get. It reminds him of the girl who used to crawl up in his lap and ask for pizza...and it reminds me of the first man that held my heart in his hands.

We have a special connection, him and me...probably because I am so much like him.
I irritate him. I challenge him. I "get" him.
God is funny that way.
He took many of my father's qualities and wrapped them up in a pink bundle... then my parents named the tiny package Becky.

He is hard on himself, but he sees beauty in me. He has always made that clear.
I think I'm like my Dad so he can better see and appreciate how God made HIM.
In some ways, God has allowed me to be a mirror for my dad. I get to reflect some of his qualities back at him so he sees them from a different perspective. Sure, it's not always pretty, but Dad sees how it CAN be beautiful when the quality is filtered through pink and draped over his daughter.
I pray that he knows that those same qualities are FANTASTIC even when they are blue.
(Oh wait! God gave him a couple of boys to help with that one too!)

Dear Dad(dy), know that the pride you have for your children doesn't go just one way.
We are all so proud of the godly example that you are.
We are proud of the way that you minister with passion and energy and spunk.
We are proud of the sacrificial love you show to your family and to others. Your love runs deep.
We are proud to be like you in so many ways...because you reflect our Heavenly father into this world - and HIS qualities are the most important no matter WHICH color they are being seen through.

"Parents are the pride of their children." Prov 17:6 
Yes. Yes you are. Thank you for that.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

It Seemed Like a Good Idea...At The Time

In honor of Father's Day...

Children: Ages 6 and 8
Soccer season was blending right into baseball season, and Clay, being a good dad, was in the front yard playing both sports with our boys.
Clay, also being Clay, decided that it would be GREAT fun to pitch a soccer ball to our small children so they could hit it with their aluminum baseball bat.
Micah, our cautious and thinking child, questioned the "brilliance" (and safety) of his father's new brainstorm and refused to be the guinea pig.
Evan, the apple which fell right at the foot of the proverbial tree, jumped up to volunteer.
The soccer ball SOARED across the yard as Evan's bat made contact.
Oh, what fun they had discovered!
Micah soon decided that success had been proven and that he needed to join the crazy.
(He may be cautious, but he knows not to miss out.)
He stepped up to the plate, swung away...and his bat bounced squarely off the soccer ball and ricocheted back into his head. The resulting bump grew so big and so fast that little brother broke down into tears at the sight of it. ("WHAT happened to Micah's HEAD???!!!???")
This mother's heart sank as wails reached her ears.
My family of boys entered the house, father holding one weeping child, little brother still traumatized.
My eyes met the eyes of my beloved. Mine questioning. His eyebrows raised...and I heard his famous phrase, "It seemed like a good the time."

Child: Age 10
My youngest boy, the animal lover, desperately wanted a pet he could snuggle.
Fish just weren't cutting it anymore. With our allergies, he knew he was fighting a losing battle if he tried to push for a furry he focused on the reptile family.
A snake.
Clay caught a snake as a boy...and permanently lost it somewhere inside the old farmhouse.
Clay's parents never knew about the arrangement, but since Evan's wishes were on our radar...Clay was NOT going to repeat that particular scenario in our suburban home.
No pets at the Rassi home - except fish. Conversation over.
Clay doesn't like to be mean. He prefers to lighten a tense mood with a joke.
Knowing this about my husband, please give him a LITTLE grace when you hear what happened next. (That's what I have to do - daily - as I remember that his heart is pure even when I don't agree with his methods).
***The next day***
I was walking down the hall, Evan behind me, when he started whining, "Dad told me I couldn't have a snake! He didn't even talk to YOU. He just said, 'NO'. He said the only snake I'm am allowed to have is a Trouser Snake."
I stopped in my tracks and lifted a prayer, "Please God, let there be an ACTUAL SNAKE called a Trouser Snake."
I slowly turned to look at my son and innocently asked, "Um, what's a Trouser Snake?"
He fought very hard to stay upset (he was trying to manipulate his way into his mother's sympathies after all), but a smile peeked through his eyes as he pointed to the place in his trousers that covers the natural "snake" that God attached to all Y chromosomes.
I sighed and responded, "I'm sorry you can't have a "real" snake, but that's just how it is...and you probably shouldn't tell your friends about that OTHER snake. It is kind of like Santa Clause. We'll let THEIR parents tell them all about it, OK?"
Then I shot off a text to my other half: "A Trouser Snake? Really?"
I could almost see him wince as he realized he was "caught". His response?
"Sorry. I wanted to distract him from the pet. It seemed like a good the time."

Now, let me share with you how the previous scenarios support that Clay is actually a GOOD father:
  • Clay makes these parenting "faux pas" because he gets carried away HAVING FUN WITH HIS CHILDREN. He adores them. They are two of his very best he sometimes forgets that they don't have 30 extra years of life experience and maturity to be able to handle his humor. That's why there is grace. God gave these boys to my man. He is the VERY BEST THING FOR THEM. I'm not worried.
  • As he jokes, our boys learn to rise above each situation and look at it from a higher (big-picture) perspective. They learn that laughter can get us through an awful lot of long as we remember where our joy comes from. It's not from following rules and jumping through hoops. Joy is not found in perfection. (In fact, their dad shows them that we can LAUGH when we make mistakes...and learn from them rather than be defeated.)
  • Clay teaches my boys to be leaders who forge their own trail, not followers staying in someone else's tiny little box. (Boxes are boring...unless you turn them into pirate ships or spacecrafts...or stick your brother inside of them...ahem.)
  • He is teaching them how to take risks - ones that require God's help to navigate.
  • They are also learning how to get back up when they (quite literally) get knocked down.
  • Clay does everything authentically, without pretense...even being a father. My boys see who he REALLY is, not a facade. They hear him acknowledge (and sometimes even apologize) if he realizes that he crossed a line. They see him mature (honestly!) in areas of his life and lead them in brand new ways. Authenticity is one of the character traits that most drew me to this mate of mine. And even if it's a quality I question at times, it's one that I want my children to model.
I wanted to honor Clay this special weekend.
I could write a whole other blog about the things he is teaching my boys about being a godly husband, but our 15 year anniversary is next month so you can read about that then.
Instead, I hope I made you laugh and pointed you to God at the same time. That is how Clay was made to impact this world - and (in my eyes) he is beautifully living out that purpose.

Dueteronomy 6:5-7 
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

(And when you play Legos with them, or when you are jamming on musical instruments, and when you coach their sports teams, or when you are wrestling in the dining room, and when...) 

Friday, May 31, 2013

How I Decided I Was "Fat" - part 2

So, the last time I blogged about battling weight and my self-image, I told you about my childhood and my detrimental first trip to the evil gynecologist before I got married at age 25.

Enter: The Child-bearing Years
I gained 42 pounds with baby #1 and promptly lost it all.
I even remember bragging about it a little. (Feel free to hate that Becky and know that it all came back to humble her me when she I quit nursing.)
The battle of the bulge became real, so I joined my very first diet program. Within a few months, I got pregnant with baby #2 (because that's how it works) and I was "released" from the nuisance of dieting.
*sidenote: I did eat a lot more fruits and veggies with my second to avoid excessive weight gain...and he is the child that willingly eats salads...and broccoli...and cauliflower. Coincidence? I don't think so.

When this new addition had his first birthday, Clay videotaped the party.
We sat down that night to watch the recap and my mouth fell open, "Do I actually look like THAT?"
Crushing blow. Tears. Motivation.
I jumped right back on the weight-loss wagon.

I actually LED a "diet" program for a while.
It changed my life.
Not only did I get thin, but it was a Christian-based program where I "had" to read my Bible everyday. (Since I was the leader and had to set a good example, I actually followed through.)
I'd like to say that it changed my whole mentality toward weight...but it didn't.
It did, however, show me the path of ACTUALLY getting to know God and His Word (which, I am convinced, is the only way I will ever achieve a healthy mindset about my temporary, physical body).

Then, a few years ago, I got skinny.
(Think: College years, I just lost my freshman twenty, skinny.)
My grandma even mentioned that I should stop by her church and flaunt my new size to church-lady Ms. D who once told her she was "surprised that Becky let herself go."
Even though I was thin when I heard about Mrs. D's remark, the comment stuck.
I realized that others expected me to look like I did in high school...even after having babies....EVEN IN MY THIRTIES.
Oh, you'd better believe I wanted to flaunt my new body to her! Of course the next time I actually saw her, I had gained my weight back (because that's how it works) and I ducked behind the corner when I saw her coming.

Funny thing, I wasn't even happy when I was really skinny and "flauntable". I would look in the mirror at my thin frame and be transported back to junior high with all the flat-chested jokes that were thrown in my direction.
As a 38 year old, I yearned for an extra 10 pounds so I could wear a grown-up size bra again.
It was the wake-up call God used to start dealing with my vanity.
No longer did I have ANY idea what weight was my "ideal"...and I finally started to realize that it didn't matter.

My husband loves me most when I am confident and flirty. He has never cared where I landed on the roulette wheel that my scale had become. *bless him for not comparing me to other women even though I sometimes WANTED him to compare me to other women and tell me I was prettier...because I'm vain and shallow like that. Thankfully, he is not.*
The qualities Clay desires in his wife can't be physically weighed.
And gee, that is how God is too.
God started overhauling my attitude and reminding me that my worth is SO MUCH MORE than a number on the scale.

Then a year ago, I ended up in the office of a back surgeon because I couldn't get off the couch on my own and my legs gave out on me multiple times throughout each day. I had been struggling with back issues for a long time, but they finally started crippling me.
What a learning opportunity.
Looong story short, I have avoided back surgery through physical therapy and regular exercise. (And if I would do the prescribed back exercises I should be doing rather than the less boring exercises I choose to do, I might even get to the point where I could FLY...or at least jog....but that is a whole other blog.)

Now, I am forty...and no one expects me to look like a supermodel. Not even me.
My exercise and healthy diet are finally not about "needing" the approval of others by being thin.
God ALLOWED my back issues (He did, my vertebra problems are congenital) and He had a plan for them - so I have leaned into Him and am trusting Him.

I may not avoid back surgery indefinitely; but I thank God for my issues.
You see, I had prayed, "Lord, help me exercise and eat right because it is THE RIGHT THING TO DO and not just because I am vain."
God answered those prayers without snapping His fingers and changing my wants.
He matured me instead.
He uses all things for His glory and our good.

Thanks to my bad back, my eyes were opened to the love that my husband and children are capable of having - as they helped me out of chairs and beds and stabilized me throughout each day.
I am thankful for every pain-free moment.
I would have taken those for granted had I not experienced the past few years.
I sing praises when I bounce down the stairs to walk with my neighbors.

Thank you, Lord, for providing perspective among worldly expectations.
Thank you for being bigger than any struggle I might face.
Thank you for one more proof in my life (and the lives of my family) that you are here, and that you are able.
Jehovah Shammah.

Friday, March 22, 2013

We Drink Dead People?

recycle please
Photo Credit
Homeschooling Rassi boys leads to some interesting discussions...

Evan: Mom! Micah said we won't use up all the water in the world...but we CAN! Billions of people DRINK water so we might use it all up!

Me: No, he is correct. Water may get dirty or change forms, but it doesn't just disappear. Remember, we also sweat out water and pee. The Earth doesn't gain or lose matter, it just changes a bit during different processes. It all evens out.

Evan: The Earth DOES gain water. Our bodies are made up of 70% water, and BABIES are born! God makes babies and they grow and all that water is added to the world! People have babies ALL THE TIME.

Me: Yes, babies are made of water, but that doesn't mean water is added. They grow by taking water out of the world, but that doesn't mean that the world will run out of water either. You have to remember that people die too. Water from those bodies returns to the ground. It all balances out.

Evan: Oh yah. People do die all the time. Wait! *holding up his glass of water* Are you telling me that I'm drinking DEAD PEOPLE?

Me: Yes. Yes, that is what I'm telling you. Glad we got that all cleared up.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How I Decided I Was "Fat"

As I mentioned, I am on a diet. Again.
At least this time, Clay is joining me (which has its good points and its bad points, but we won't get into that - again.)
I am bound and determined that this will be the LAST time I ever diet. Ever.
After this, I will thank God for an abundance of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, maintain self control, and eat treats only on special occasions.
(Quit laughing and rolling your eyes. Oh wait! That's me.)

I have fought with my weight and my body-image for many years.
It all began when I was in 6th grade...
Actually, a LOT of my body image issues started in 6th grade - when all the other girls got boobs and I did not - but we'll save that for another blog.

In 6th grade, prepubescent me started chubbing up a bit (compared to the stick-thin little girl I had always been). We went to visit my grandfather, and I heard him say (with a somewhat negative tone), "Becky is packing on the weight."
Many questions and conversations followed over the next few days; and all of them started with me saying, "Mom, am I FAT?"
I had much need for my mother's reassurance. Thankfully, she provided it.
"Don't worry honey, if you were fat, I would tell you; and we would work together to make sure you were making healthy choices. You look good."
She's such a good mom.

Then, in 8th grade, we went to Delaware to visit my Aunt Belle.
She was 4 ft. something and had arms the size of toothpicks. (I still didn't have boobs, but I was temporarily past thinking I was fat.) When that dear ol' teeny-tiny aunt gave me a hug, the words that exploded out of her mouth were, "Wow, you have thick arms!"
As my face fell, my mom had to keep herself from hurling Aunt Belle across the room.
Mom saw it coming.
I have had issues about the size of my upper arms ever since.
I don't wear sleeveless shirts.
I say "no" to ADORABLE sleeveless dresses (unless I have a sweater to wear too.)
You can imagine how this has crippled me in the fashion world.
(Are you rolling your eyes again? Oh, wait, that's still me.)
It's amazing how I let off-the-cuff comments of other people impact my fragile self-image.
Can you say VANITY stinks?

When I hit college, my weight issues quit being a figment of other people's my imagination. I went to school and promptly gained the freshmen twenty. (No, it's not fifteen...I DEFINITELY gained twenty.)

I came home from my freshman year of college to this conversation:
Me:  Mom, are you wearing my jeans?
Mom: Why yes! They are so cute. Is that OK? You left them here while you were at college, so I figured you didn't really care for them.


I dieted for the first time that summer and started the VERY LONG, NEVER ENDING battle I've had with food.
In three months, I literally walked my butt off.
I walked three miles a day while jamming to "Love of a Lifetime" on a mixed tape from my boyfriend (who, ironically, didn't last 6 more months). I also waited tables at Parasson's Italian Restaurant. (Yes, I lost weight while smelling Italian food for 30-40 hours a week. I was motivated and ate tuna fish most of that summer.)
My mom was NOT going to be thinner than me. Even though she is 3 inches shorter and quite thin, it was NOT acceptable to 19 year old me. My mom was OLD, after all, like FORTY. Ha!

Six years later...
I was getting married and had to go to a doctor to get birth control pills. I had never been to a gynecologist before, so this was hell on earth a bit of a traumatic trip for me.
I walked into the office at 4:00 in the afternoon (wearing jeans, a sweater, chunky brown shoes and maybe even a coat), and I jumped right on the scale with no qualms (and with ALL those clothes on). I was there for birth control pills, not a weight consultation; plus, I knew I was healthy and thin. (I caught me a very picky, very handsome man, after all).
I still know exactly how much I weighed that afternoon. It is burned on my brain. I have since looked at weight charts and found that I was indeed in the healthy range for my height. In fact, I was just about "ideal", but the horrible man doctor that I saw that day looked me right in the eye (after making me VERY uncomfortable looking at other parts of me) and told me that I needed to lose 5 pounds.
Can you see the shock on 25-year-old Becky's face?
If I could do it over, I would show up first-thing the next morning with an empty stomach and wearing a sports bra and spandex. I would jump on that office scale and yell, "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, YOU JACKWAGON!" - then give him a dissertation on the damage he is doing to poor unsuspecting women.
But my young, going-to-get-married-and-have-a-man-see-me-naked brain could only hear, "LOSE FIVE POUNDS". So, I started walking again. I didn't manage to lose the weight, but that little trip to the doctor helped solidify the concept that anything above the "ideal" meant that I was fat.

Well, this is getting a bit long and I'm still only in my twenties on this journey. That means I have almost twenty more years of warped thinking and crash diets to share with you. Since I will no longer write a blog series, we'll see if I actually get around to sharing them.
I still struggle with a lot of warped thinking, but I am slowly looking to God to give Him glory in my health rather than comparing myself with the world. I am also learning to focus on my purpose in this world - and that it has NOTHING to do with my vanity or what other people think of my current size.

*Er, at least I THINK I've made some progress (says the gal who is currently boycotting sugar and putting on shoes to go walking...)

Update: I DID write a second part! How I Decided I Was Fat: Part 2

Friday, March 8, 2013

Accidental Pharisee

My Sunday school class has been discussing the book Accidental Pharisee by Lawrence Osborne. 
A few concepts from the book have lodged themselves in my brain - which OBVIOUSLY means I need to blog about them (until a different shiny object deep thought distracts me.)  

Last week, I kept thinking about Osborne's statement that, "God has always drawn straight lines with crooked sticks" (page 130, Chapter 14). 
The Bible is full of God-centered men who climbed through some VERY big screw ups in the Bible - and their mistakes were written down for all eternity. 
God used those sinful moments of not-so-perfect men to teach, to bring change, and to make them into testimonies of His faithfulness.
I can get a bit crooked at times, but I like the reminder that God will still use me. 

This week, we discussed "Unity vs. Uniformity"
He wrote about how we can be unified in Christ without all being the same, and even without AGREEING on many different topics. All Christians are of ONE church...but we don't always act that way. We too often think everyone should be the same. We try to force Uniformity - and end up dividing ourselves. We tend to spend time with the people that think like us, worship like us, and baptize like us.
Until they don't anymore...then we decide they are heretics.
Listen to this joke. It makes the same point that the book makes...but it's funnier.

To paraphrase Osborne's point that I keep chewing on:
We are brothers and sisters in Christ. It doesn't mean that we are going to always agree and always get just means that we are family, and must bear with each other in love. 
Family DOESN'T always get along, but they (normally) keep showing up to the Christmas get-togethers.
We are stuck with each other, so we must lean into grace...and love each other anyway.

I want to be like that.
I don't care if you are Pentecostal, Brethren, Traditional, Modern, or anti-"church"-while-still-being-a- disciple-of-Christ.
If you call yourself a Christian, then you're family.
(Actually, if you aren't Christian, I'm going to treat you like family as well.)
I don't want to focus on how each of us might be a little "crooked".
Instead, I want to work together to seek God and let HIM make our paths straight.

Ephesians 4:2-6
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

10 Reasons I'll Keep Being a Girl

Such cute little PINK. GIRL. SHOES.
(good thing)
Clay started dieting 5 days after me.
He has lost 10 pounds.
I have lost 5.
If being a girl didn't have it's own perks, I'd quit right now.

Since I want to quit being a girl at least once a month, I have decided to make a "Top Ten" list of reasons that I like being THE girl in my house of boys.
  1. All the boys at my house smell worse than I do (especially the big one). Sometimes it's on purpose, sometimes...not so much. Either way, I'm really glad I stink less than them.
  2. I don't have to lift heavy things. Ever.  This includes suitcases, coolers loaded with ice, and shovels full of snow from the driveway. My 'men' are always willing to flex their muscles and take care of this little lady. (This may be part of the reason I haven't lost as much weight as Clay, but let's not discuss that.)
  3. Boys tend to be hairy. My husband has to shave his face daily. Since his hands are more calloused than mine (and he isn't very observant) I can get away with shaving my legs a bit less often (which doesn't even require a sharp blade scraping my FACE). I also rarely get haircuts (long hair). Actually, my boys rarely get haircuts either; but that's because Clay tells them that "You gotta have long hair to play in a band!" Clay, on the other hand, gets his haircut often (even the few that keep sprouting on top of his head).
  4. Girls have way cuter shoes and coats. WAY CUTER!!! Enough said.
  5. Purses. Not one of my guys carries a purse. I like purses. I always have what I need right there with me, and I never get too fat for the purse to 'fit'. (Honestly, this is one reason I like shoes and coats can gain 20 or 30 pounds and still feel adorable in the same cute pair of shoes, coat and purse that you had when you were "thin".).
  6. In this house, being a girl means I get to blame submit to Clay for the big decisions. He carries a lot of the pressure that goes along with being a family. I get to spout opinions, encourage our gang toward the truth of God, and trust Clay to listen when something worthwhile pops out of me. He, on the other hand, gets the responsibility of leading us. Sometimes I really like that his logical, less reactionary brain has that role. (And I know if I was a man that I would probably have a less emotionally driven brain...but I LIKE my emotions.)
  7. Speaking of emotions...I am the one that my boys come to for sentimentality. They snuggle me (probably because I'm soft due to the weight I can't lose - and less muscle-y due to never lifting anything). They have me kiss their boo-boos tend to their injuries, and they also know I will encourage them when they are hurting (instead of telling them to "wipe some dirt on it and get back in the game"). I get to experience a softer side of them that men don't always get to see. 
  8. My 10 year old opens doors for me. Not sure where he learned this GREAT idea. He must have been watching out the window one of the 4 times a year that Clay and I go on a date. He is much more likely to let a door hit Clay in the face because it is funny than open it for him. Definitely a benefit to being a girl.
  9. I don't have to climb ladders or get on rooftops because my "big, fearless men can do it". I accrued a fear of heights sometime around the age of 25. My husband has no such fear. And my youngest would have jumped from the top of the refrigerator to the floor when he was not yet walking if he could have gotten away with it. (Wait! If he wasn't walking, how did he get on top of the refrigerator? My husband put him there.) Just today, the little one was volunteering to go up in the attic above the garage and chase down long as he got to climb the ladder. 
  10. I texted a girlfriend that I wanted to quit being a woman. I won't tell you her name because she might be mortified when I tell you that she texted this back: "Men have to deal with unintentional erections." I laughed out loud; and in one fell swoop, she convince me that I should indeed stay on my current team.
This post is linked to Many Little Blessings Top Ten

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Slap Jack Times Two

Early in our marriage, Clay and I would play card games at night.
We learned quickly that Slap Jack was NOT a game to play if we were trying to strengthen our marriage.
You see, Clay was not as good at Slap Jack as I was.
Nope, he was not a sore loser.
In actuality, I was a sore winner...and had the bruises to prove it.

The goal in Slap Jack is to collect all the cards in the deck.
We would take turn flipping cards; and when a jack would appear, the first to slap it would win all the cards in the pile.
I would inevitably slap the jack first, but Clay's massive meat mallet hand would end up SLAMMING down on top of mine. He'd blame it on momentum, shrug, and reply, "I guess you just need to decide how badly you REALLY want that jack. Is winning WORTH it?"
I like to think of Clay as a protective, sweet man, who's competitive nature is nothing compared to the love he has for his woman. It's obviously a delusional thought, but it's where I live.
So...we no longer play Slap Jack - for the sake of our marriage and my delusional world.

The other day, Clay and I were spending some quality time. (We have to work at it a bit more now that we aren't newly married and living in an apartment with nothing to do but draw, play guitar, and wrestle around naked after playing cards.)
We took a Sunday afternoon, let the boys play video games in the basement as long as they wanted and chose to INTERACT with each other. We talked and laughed and wrestled around a bit (fully clothed,  unfortunately, but we WERE in the middle of the sun-room and children could decide they needed hydration at any minute and emerge from the stairwell. We have no desire to scar them in that way - on purpose.)
It was a really good day.
At some point, I pulled out my iPhone to make a note. Clay decided to be annoying while I was trying to type and asked, "You want to play Slap Jack?"
Then, he started poking me and picking at me so I couldn't type.
I pushed the 'Siri' button. I planned to SPEAK my note so I wouldn't have to type.
He began yelling, "Slap Jack, Slap Jack," every time I tried to speak into my phone.
This is what I ended up with:
"slapjack flapjack topdeck Merbrook that ended typing slapjack or at the VA back out of me or Woodenshoe" (Woodenshoe? I no longer have any idea what I was trying to say.)

It is now Clay's goal to start a worldwide phenomena...
Every time someone starts giving their phone verbal commands, he wants SOMEONE to start yelling "slap jack" at them. It could be such a great, annoying trend. *shudder*

*sidenote* My husband can not hear the word phenomena or any other similar sounding 4 syllable word without singing it to the following Muppet song. I love that man.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Genesis 4 - The Story of Cain and Abel (A Sunday School Discussion)
Our friend, Nathan, brought up two famous Biblical brothers, Cain and Abel. 
Abel sacrificed a perfect, fat calf on the alter to God; and Cain offered some crops from the fields he had been working. They both were seeking and worshiping God.
Abel's sacrifice pleased God.
Cain's? Not so much.

I've heard all kinds of speculation about why God refused Cain's sacrifice. I was ready for that discussion, but Nathan threw me a curve ball. He didn't want to discuss God's 'why?'
Instead, He focused on Cain's reaction.

God was ready to have a loving, fatherly, teaching moment with Cain. 
Genesis 4:6-7 says:
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
God SPOKE to Cain. They had THAT kind of a relationship.
Cain could have humbled himself and quickly made things right, but he chose to get ticked.
(How incredibly human of him.)

Cain thought God had some kind of nerve.
I mean, Cain was SEEKING God. 
He was giving God GOOD THINGS.
He was not living like the pagans. 
He was presenting what He thought God should want (the fruits of his labor)...
And God REJECTED what he offered? 
God wanted something different than what Cain had in mind...and Cain decided He was WRONG.

So...we were having this great conversation when good ol' Nathan asks, "How many of us are living like Cain (on our own terms) and thinking God should accept it as 'good enough'?"
*Oh, SNAP!*
Ouch. Something inside me definitely broke. 

What if I have been living my OWN version of right, but NOT God's version?
  • Could it be? My way looks GREAT on paper. Church people (and even unchurched people) would probably agree that I'm on the 'right' path. I have a good life. I laugh a lot. I get excited about serving others. I do good things. BUT WHAT IF IT ISN'T WHAT GOD WANTS FROM ME? 
  • What if God's way looks different than the expectations that this world, my church, and my imagination have put firmly in place? 
  • What if all the ministry and church-going I've been doing isn't where God wants me? Have I asked Him, or just assumed it was right...because I was seeking God...and because I thought it was 'good'?
My will, my expectations, my church background - none of them matter when it comes to following God.
Only HIS will matters, but I do a lot of things without checking with God first. 
I'm capable. 
I'm smart. 
My actions are (often) logical and even based on Biblical principles, but that doesn't mean they are right.  How much am I missing while offering what I THINK God wants...or what I think God SHOULD want?
It was eye-opening.
It's really a change for me to consult God's word and listen for His direction before every decision, before every word, before every moment.
I'm not very good at it.
In some areas, I've found out that what I've been offering fits more with my culture than with God's Word; and when He disagrees with what I've been offering, I need to humbly correct the situation.
If I decide I don't like what He has to say and keep on the same, comfortable path; then my brothers ought to start watching their back, because I'm really no different than Cain. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I've been up to my armpits this week in...well, armpits.
You'd think it would be a bad thing, but it's NOT.

Armpits have provided my family with HOURS of entertainment over the past few days. 
I'm not talking about this kind of armpit entertainment (which my youngest learned from his father.)

Instead, we found a new, much easier way for people EVERYWHERE to have musical armpit entertainment. (And when I say "musical"...I mean, my kids actually made MUSIC.)

Unfortunately, this discovery happened in the MIDDLE OF A HOMESCHOOL DAY. (I was reading one of my new favorite blogs My Life and Kids while the boys were doing actual work, and I just couldn't wait to teach them!) So, my children were distracted from improper fractions and ancient civilizations as they tried to focus on improper inventive methods for utilizing their new-found ability.

Music and race cars were two of the more creative ways that we smiled due to bendy straws.
I have video of them squatting and making faces and being quite gross as well, but you don't even need imagination to picture what THOSE look like. (Of course, those moments still made us laugh - a lot. I plan to sneak a straw into bed sometime this weekend and shock Clay with odd noises in the dark. It may not sound romantic, but he will be so attracted to me as we laugh...and laugh...and laugh. I just hope he doesn't "pretend" to have a straw...and answer me back.)

Last night we had another kind of  "Armpit Moment".
Evan took the fastest shower ever known to man. 
I had asked him to hurry, but his timing was warp speed. 
So I wondered out loud - to his face - about his success at actually getting CLEAN.

"Mom! I'm probably cleaner than NORMAL. I made sure! Smell my hair!"
*I smelled his hair
"It's clean isn't it? Smell my armpit."
"But it's CLEAN."
If someone asks you to smell his armpit, the answer should ALWAYS be 'No.'
*I'm constantly looking for a teaching moment...and he handed that one up on a platter.

And today, I have decided to quit writing my latest blog series: "Revelation Road: How Becky Is Getting Broken"
My attention span just can't handle it.
This doesn't seem very armpit-y, you say?
Wait for it...
Wait for it...
For me, a blog series is the armpit of my blogging world.
You see, I am only capable of keeping a theme 'fresh' for so long. Soon, all the hard work that it requires to keep my train of thought starts stinking up what started out to be something pleasant (like deodorant failing in an armpit).
I just have to give up, shower off, and start fresh.
(OK, maybe that's a bit of stretch to make an armpit connection; but I had something else to say, and I wanted to include it in this post.)

There were 4 main events that I planned to share in that little blog series.
They all led up to a big, wonderful crack in my bad attitude (a.k.a. Bad-itude) which happened on January 1, 2013. I knew it might not last, so I promptly instated a 2013 motto:
"Let the things that God is breaking, STAY BROKEN." 
(Notice it's not a resolution. My short attention span gets in the way of resolutions. I don't make them, because I WILL NOT KEEP THEM. But a motto, now THAT is something I can pull out of my pocket when I need it...without feeling like a big ol' liar when I don't quite keep it.)

The journey I took to January 1 is still pretty awesome, but I just don't feel like writing about it anymore.
This whole blog is full of posts where God has been breaking my self-centered will and helping it to line up with His; and I've had a all kinds of *NEW* lessons I've been learning in the past 6 weeks, but I haven't shared about any of them because I thought I should finish my "series".
I know I could finish the series later...and write other things now, but I still feel the expectation hanging over me.
So I'm being realistic about the small expectations in my life that I make into big deals...and the blog series qualifies. Bye-bye unneeded, imagined, unnecessary stress.
It's my blog and I can do whatever I want; and today, I want to laugh about armpits.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Broken, Second Stop: Rest?

Photo Credit

Stop #2 on Revelation Road: How Becky Is Being Broken
(Find Stop #1 here)
Mark 6:31 
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Coming, going, no time even to eat. This verse sounds so familiar - except I find time for eating. (Actually, I find A LOT of time for eating...but that is not what this post is about. *ahem*)

Quiet...and rest.
I could have SWORN I carved out some quiet amid the busyness in my why am I not rested?
Well, it could be because I often multitask quiet moments.
Quiet time drinking coffee with girlfriends.
Connection with my hot husband next to Christmas lights and quiet music. 
Curling up with one of my almost-too-big-to-snuggle-boys when they are avoiding bedtime in the quiet evening.
I am very protective of those quiet moments too.
(Read that, "Don't interrupt my special time unless you're on fire!")
BUT having quiet while connecting with friends has not provided the rest I seek.
(I want the kind of rest that penetrates to the depth of my soul, that re-energizes me - even when I have to face the crazy real life again.)

"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place"

The verse isn't talking about just any ol' quiet moment. It specifically mentions quiet time alone with Jesus.
Well, I DO spend time alone with Jesus.
I am not, however, very protective of THOSE moments.
Children wake up, someone calls, I stop reading my Bible to send a verse to someone ELSE...or Facebook distracts me. (Apparently, I think of funny things that I JUST HAVE TO POST during my daily devotions.)
Maybe THAT'S why I'm not rested.
No, even on undistracted days, I have obviously been missing the mark; because I'm too often tired.

And then it hits me. *POW* (like the old Batman TV show)

Jesus was also with the disciples IN THE CROWD.
If they ONLY saw Him when they rested, but faced the crowds and daily work alone...I bet they would be tired too.
I am exhausted because I get sucked into life and leave Jesus back in my quiet time.

If Christ is my focus - even when I'm surrounded by others, ESPECIALLY when I'm frustrated by burden will be lighter. My perspective will be clear. I won't be focusing on myself, and I won't get so weighed down.

Matthew 11:28-30  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I was just reading "Power of a Praying Woman" By Stormie Omartian.
She suggested that we treat our daily frustrations as promptings to open our arms and ask God to fill us with more of Himself.
How lovely! (No really, I'm not being sarcastic.)
It's a great message for me. I really do want to see my anger, my grief, and my confusion as a reminder of how desperately I need God in the midst of the crowds. Those emotions can be a PROMPTING to call out to Him.
Lord, please remind me of this "Aha moment", so I don't blog about it and then promptly shrug it off.

Stop #3 will come soon.
I'm trying to stop writing as each post approaches "too long".
I've realized that my youngest son will NEVER make it through a whole post in one sitting if it's too wordy. On that wonderful day when he is ready to sit down and actually READ this post, I want him to read all of it without nodding off.
I have to keep my audience in mind, and since I already keep forgetting to use bullet points; my husband, Clay (who gave my youngest his short attention span), probably already ended up skimming this post and stopped to read THIS sentence because he saw his name. (I love you, honey...I'll try to use more bullet points in the future.)

There I go making it longer...I'm really going to go.
See you at Stop #3.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Broken, Part 1: I Won't Wear My New Shoes

I found out in September that I'm flat-footed.

I bought (expensive) inserts for my shoes in hopes to correct my arch and take some pressure off of my back. I don't wear them. They bug me.
I just need to get used to them...but I DON'T WANT TO.

So now, God is using those silly shoe inserts as an object lesson in my life.

Let me explain...
We have very limited time on this earth.
You'd think that fact would change how I go about my day, but it hasn't stopped me from daily sitting on my high horse and being critical of those nearest and dearest to me.
I too often let unrealistic expectations blind me to the beauty of those I love.
I too often choose to live in the world that I think "should be" instead of the world that is.
It's exhausting trying to force my husband and children (and myself) into the mold of Biblical and cultural "perfection" that I cling to in my head.

God wants me to change this negativity that I heap on the heads of others. He wants me to let them be different than I want them to be.
I know my life will become less frustrating when I die to my own expectations and love others where they are...but I'm stubborn. I haven't been willing to give up the imaginary world in my head where I always get my way.

Now, how does this have anything to do with shoes? I'm glad you asked.

Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
I keep picturing God giving me this new pair of spectacular and beautiful shoes (that represent all the qualities mentioned in the verse above). He wants me to take off my holey (very comfortable, even if my feet got a little wet) I can be clothed (or shod) in something much better.

I know just by looking at them that they are the answer to so many of my problems. They will complete EVERY outfit. They are versatile and attractive. They aren't too wide or too narrow. They are fitted PERFECTLY to my needs. They even have inserts in them to get rid of my pain!
Inserts. Oh yah, that means I won't wear them.

You see, each time I obey and slip my feet into this new way of walking, it feels weird.
As the insoles correct my step, they work other muscles that haven't been used nearly enough. I get a bit irritated and sore.
This new method of traveling isn't comfortable like my old ways...even if I look SO MUCH MORE attractive.
Let's face it. If shoes are cute enough, I'll wear them...but only until they start to hurt.
It's worth it for a while...just to get the "Wow" effect from my girlfriends.
After the girls have noticed my shoes, the reality that it might take Clay and my boys a LONG time until my shoes actually catch their eyes starts to sink in...
So, I kick them off in the mudroom as soon as I hit the door of our home.
Oh, I think about them, look at them, dream about the relief I would have if I would just wear them...and then I sluff around the house in slippers - with back pain and looking frumpy.

God wants me to TRUST Him, obey, and KEEP them on...even with my family...even when nobody notices them...because they are so healthy and good for me...and I can praise HIM if people DO notice them. *sigh*

The shoe lesson is just the tip of the iceberg.
I'm on quite a path toward changing the way I look at my everyday little world.
I've been walking it long enough that my old shoes (of self-centeredness and expectations) are starting to REALLY feel like they need replaced.

Since I can't learn lessons without sharing them, I'd like to take you all on a little trip.
We'll call it Revelation Road: How Becky Is Being Broken. 
This blog is part one of the journey. I've already written part two, so it is coming soon.
Maybe we'll stroll far enough into truth that we'll BOTH want to wear new shoes of humbleness, compassion and kindness...even if they take a little getting used to.
Feel free to invite friends.