5 Things I’m Loving Lately

I thought I’d update you on a few things I’ve been totally digging lately!

1.  My stroller fitness class.  

My friend Heather and I started going a few weeks ago and man, we are having a BLAST! We meet with 8-20 other women in a mall before it opens.  Over the course of an hour, we are led by an instructor through each wing of the mall doing running, power walking, and sprinting intervals, plyometric exercises, mat exercises, and resistance band training…while pushing our strollers and involving our babies in our workout with songs and other activities.  It’s an awesome workout and so much fun!  I bought a package of classes intending to go once a week (it’s kinda pricey and 25 minutes away) but I’m having a difficult time practicing moderation.  I want to go every day!!

It makes me so happy to involve Zoe in my workout and to be in such a supportive, positive environment with other moms.  The class is truly focused on building strength, energy, and health so that you can be a hands-on mama.  I find that so many exercise programs don’t value health as much as they value a specific body shape, and that mindset just isn’t appealing to me after some of my life experiences.  I’m thrilled to find a workout that really resonates with my heart and my core values.

Heather took this fun little picture of Zoe and me working our other core 🙂

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After class, Heather and I settle into the “family area” of the mall and feed our babies while we chat.  Sometimes we’ll grab a coffee or a snack from home and hang out for an extra hour while the babies play and grab each other’s faces and toys.  By the time I get home, I’ve already had a great workout, fun time with Zoe, and an uplifting conversation with a friend, and the day is only halfway over!

And the other moms in that class are so inspirational.  On Wednesday, a woman was breastfeeding and still doing the warm up.  If that didn’t sink in, I’ll say it another way…a baby was LATCHED TO HER BREAST and she was doing squats with perfect form.  Inspirational!

2. Date nights.

We have been super blessed by people that want to babysit Zoe for free, which means David and I can make date night a pretty regular occurrence instead of a once-in-a-blue-moon thing.  On Wednesday, a mom and daughter from youth group babysat for Zoe for free AND gave David and me a gift card to go out to dinner.  We had delicious sushi and wine, great conversation, a walk by the water, and (most importantly) connection.

Parenting means that you spend a lot of time working side by side but not as much time looking into each other’s eyes and having real conversations.  Having the chance to put on a dress, wear foundation, hold hands, and actually have a real conversation about goals for the upcoming year was priceless.  I’m so beyond grateful that we have this support from our church family!

3. Cadbury Milk Chocolate with Roasted Almonds Bar.  

Cadbury Roast Almond

Normally, I’m like “STAY AWAY FROM MY CHOCOLATE, NUTS”  but my mom bought this for me and I didn’t want to be rude, so I tried it.

Thank you, mom.  And if you try it, thank me.

4.  Zoe’s first word!

She can say the word “dog!” Well, what she actually says is “daaah” or “di-gggah” but she says it consistently when she sees our dog Java or other people’s dogs, so I’m counting it!

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Zoe and my parents’ “di-gggah,” Rudy

I suspected that “dog” would be one of her first words because she’s obsessed with dogs, but I had hoped that by giving up my hard-earned career and being a stay-at-home mom who pours 24/7 effort into her I might get to hear “mama” first.  Apparently that sacrifice went right over her head.  We’ll see how that works out for her when I move out in a huff and she’s left in the care of a bichon poo.

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Sleeping on the job? Better learn my name pretty quickly, Zo.

5. Not-so-quiet quiet time.

For the last 9 years, I’ve been really intentional about creating time in the mornings to study the Bible, pray, and journal for 20-60 minutes.  It was always one of the best things about my entire day.

Since becoming a mom, though, my quiet time has changed.  Some mornings I get it in, but other mornings I’m working from 5 am on (and my boss is pretty demanding!)

Motherhood makes me SO aware of my need for God and desirous of growth.  So, I’ve tried a few different methods to ensure that I’m still connecting with God.

The kicker is that what works one week may not work the next because babies and their needs are always changing, but I feel a whole lot of grace in this area.  I anticipate and appreciate the times that I get to devote my full attention to a “quiet time,” and I desire that connection with God so even when I can’t do the “ritual” I still invite God into my day and experience His presence.  Here are a few other techniques that have been working well for me:

-listening to sermon podcasts while playing with Zoe or doing household chores (I love North Point Community Church’s podcasts)

shereadstruth.com.  The study consists of a short Bible reading followed by a meditation and a community forum where other women share their perspectives on the passage.  Right now we’re doing a Women of the Bible series that I LOVE.  I read the Bible passages out loud to Zoe (I do voices!) and then read the meditation and community forum on David’s iPad while I sit next to her on the floor.  She doesn’t seem to notice that I’m distracted as long as I occasionally make animal noises (e.g. “God is love.  MOOO!”)

-for a while, I did a workbook study because if I got interrupted, it was easy to find where I was in the workbook and just pick back up.

-listening to Christian music and Christian radio

-thanking God for His presence as I see and experience it throughout the day

If all else fails, put your daughter in a onesie with a Bible verse on it.  You may not have actually connected with God that day, but you LOOK pretty spiritual.

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What is one (or five!) things you’ve been loving lately?!

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Grace in Unexpected Places

For the last 1.5 weeks, I’ve been in Minnesota on a working vacation.  And I’m kind of having a love affair with Minnesota right now.

Here’s why: I can sit outside without risking immediate death from suffocation.  I’ve been eating delicious veggies nonstop (who knew swiss chard was so amazing?! The geniuses who put my CSA box together, that’s who!) Wild turkeys and their adorable babies.  Bunnies.  Deer.  Wildflowers.  People gardening in their own yards (someday, we’re going to visit and Zoe is going to incredulously say “people garden without getting paid for it?!” Heavy sigh…)  People biking everywhere.  Outdoor markets.  People who have known me for years (this morning, one of my mom’s friends called me just to say that I am a great mom and that she has had so much fun watching me grow over the years.  Seriously.)  Popcorn from our favorite popcorn spot, the one Google can’t find.  Coffee from Caribou.  Getting to see my best friend.   Newspaper headlines about rattlesnake bites and a grocery store remodeling instead of rape and murder.

And the casualness.  Oh, the casualness.

Usually, the lack of glamour in Minnesota makes me roll my eyes.  But after spending the last 11 months in my proudly pretentious area with no real break from its constant drum of “look cool” and “act cool” and my constant inner drum beat of “I will not give in to this, there are more important things, gahhh maybe my life WOULD be better if I had those Tory Burch flats…” let’s just say that I find the silence and lack of inner conflict refreshing.

People, I’ve been taking daily walks in ugly T-shirts and a freaking camouflage hat advertising an exterminator that I stole from my brother and no one even looks at me funny.

I’ll pause and let you re-read that sentence.  And then maybe look for return tickets for me because I’m clearly going a little too far with my newfound freedom.

Anyway.

In the past I haven’t always been as charitable towards Minnesota.  At times, I’ve referred to being here as “doing time” or “being trapped.”  And it’s true.  Minnesota has never been my choice.  My parents moved me here against my will three days before I started high school.  I never felt very attached to the state, even when I grew close to the people.  I got out of here as soon as I could and came back only for what I viewed as forced periods of time in between exciting adventures.  After my freshman year of college, I didn’t even bother changing my laptop clock back to central time.  All summer, I calculated two hours difference instead of having to admit that I was here.

But there came a time when I HAD to admit it.  I had to come home for a while to deal with some really ugly things in my life.  And even though I didn’t want to be here, I eventually had to face the truth: I was in the place I least wanted to be in, in a situation I didn’t want to be in…and maybe there was a reason for it.  Maybe there were things for me to learn that only this place, these people, could teach me.  And so I stopped running and stayed still.  Finally.

That year, I watched the frozen ground turn soft again.  I watched the dead come back to life. And I slowly felt my heart thaw.  As winter turned to spring and then the warmth of summer, I walked these hills on stronger legs and marveled at the salvation I had found here.  When it came time to leave, I actually cried.

A few days ago, I went through a box in the basement.  A box from that time.  It would have been triggering at one point, and at another point it would have made me cry in sadness, but this time, I just pulled out item after item from my life and smiled.  Here was the photo of my best friends from our junior year of high school and the shawl a friend gave me on my trip to Greece.  Here also were the letters my friends wrote me during that winter.  The books I wish I never had to buy.  The photos that show a girl so in need of grace.  The journal, full of punishing writings I no longer feel condemned by.  And a pair of jeans I had forgotten about.

I tried them on.  Perfect fit.

I’m not wrapping this post up in a bow because…life is not like that.  But those jeans made me smile.  This place has surprises for me still.

He has surprises for me still.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a middle school baseball game to attend.  I’ll be the one in a camo hat.

Want more? This song says it all.