How to lose 20 lbs overnight.

15 Nov

I’m about to tell you a true story.

A few weeks ago, I’m lounging around the house, dinner done, comfy in my robe and fuzzy socks. And my dear husband asks if I can help him with something, which these days often involves doing something for his online science class. So it means holding up a yardstick while he bounces a ball, or rolling something that was never meant to be rolled or him making knots in my hair to build up static electricity or something like that. So sure, whatever.

This time I’m informed that we each have to weigh ourselves, and then time each other running up the stairs.

Great Idea, Beav!!!

That girl in the back left? Just weighed herself with an Ikea scale. For SCIENCE.

For the sake of my husbands education, I subject myself to this torture, despite the fact that I was already comfortable in my PJs and robe with a cup of tea. I had to actually put shoes on which sucks after you’re already in robe-mode. And then there’s the part where I have to weigh myself, something I’ve managed to avoid the last few months.

Blurg.

Anyway, so I get on the scale and…..

TWENTY POUNDS.

GAINED.

What the WHAT?!?!

"Mystery solved! Liz ATE the cigarettes!"

I’ve never gained that much in such a short time. I was totally confused. My clothes weren’t really fitting any differently. I didn’t feel much different. I got off the scale and back on. I checked to make sure it was at the “0” when I was off. Nothing. I couldn’t argue with it.

So I cried instead.

I’m not generally one of those girls who obessesses about weight or wearing the perfect face everytime I leave the house but for heaven’s sake, you’d have to be the mother of Jabba the Hut (presuming his issues are genetic) in order to not think much about 20 lbs in such a small amount of time. I’m not a emotion-less robot, nor am I the overweight blobmom of a fictional character from an overrated sci-fi trilogy (YES, I SAID OVERRATED, AND YES I SAID TRILOGY. I STAND BY MY STATEMENTS.) Hence my tears.

Jabba the Hut Cake. Irony. Or something.

Ben felt awful. He felt like it was his fault, for making me get on the scales. I told him it wasn’t his fault that I (cover the ears of the children) was a fatass. At which point he gave me that “stop it” look and told me that stuff that husbands say about “no, you’re not” and “beautiful” and blah blah. I know he means it, but it was hard to hear in that moment.

Oh, and when I thought about it the next night I cried again.

So that was a few weeks ago. I’ve been charging up to get my fatass in gear and lose those 20 that appeared without my paying attention. (But my birthday was last week, so I wasn’t going to start THEN. Der.)

Fast forward to this morning. This morning I have the dreaded yearly lady-doctor appointment. (Though this is where I mention how much I really and truly love my OB-GYN and his AMAZING Nurse Practioner, Jodi, who I actually look forward to seeing at said appointments. She is so wonderful, I must be the only woman on earth who doesn’t REALLY these things because I get to catch up with her.)

I fill out the forms and they copy my new insurance card, call me back and ask me to get on the scales. I raise my chin with the attitude of a woman WHO IS NOT ABOUT TO CRY AT THAT NUMBER. I got on and….

Wait, what?

WHAT?!

The 20 lbs NEVER FREAKING EXISTED. I weighed in at my normal weight.

Damn you, Ikea*, and your $5 scale. I knew you were too cheap to be true.

Imma hafta go all Office Space on you.

Imagine yourself as the fax machine record**. Because I AM COMING FOR YOU, LYING SCALE.

-M-

*I like lots of Ikea stuff, and we have appreciated many items that we have bought during our yearly visits to Cincinatti to go there, but I may have written this in a bout of well-placed anger.

**I linked the Family Guy parody of the Office Space scene, because the song on the original is unedited and I didn’t want to offend anyone. I mean, any more than usual.

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Home again, home again.

13 Nov

Just a normal day, five years ago.

I woke up this morning feeling far better than expected. Yesterday I was definitely coming down sickly (really sore throat, swollen glands, but otherwise feeling okay), and so was fully expecting to wake up completely miserable. Instead, I woke up (around 9ish) and felt…much better! I suppose I owe this to the massive amounts of ecanachea, zinc and vitamin C I was downing all day yesterday.

But for good measure, I figured I’d lay down a bit longer. We went to bed late after having a few folks over to roast marshmallows for my birthday, and better safe than…sicker.

Anyway, I tried, but soon found out…I had Scotland on the brain.

When I was a kid and couldn’t sleep, I did what most girls do: I planned my wedding.

Let’s just say, Thank you Jesus that my wedding didn’t end up like THAT.

"Listen, Bridesmaids. You will wear it AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!"

But I already had my wedding, and it was beautiful and amazing so…well, planning over.

"Eh. Well, I guess so."

So I’m far more inclined these days to think about house rehab stuff, or cooking (yes, really), or, if I have a fun trip coming up…planning for the trip. Yeah yeah, I know this makes me old.

Anyway, fingers crossed, but we’re planning on going back to Scotland next summer.

This is not Ireland. I never lived in Ireland. That was Chrissy.

Well, it’s “back” for me, but will be the first time for Ben. For the probably two people who read my blog who don’t know, I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland from 2002-2006. For three of those years, I went to college, and one year I stayed and worked. For a long time, I thought I might just stay and live there. It was the only *place* I’d really lived as an adult (I’d lived two years out of high school on the Doulos, travelling Asia and Africa), and I knew how to function there. I knew the bus routes and how tariffs worked and where the good take-away was. (BTW, I cannot express to you how much I miss the doner kebab from the chippie on Ratcliffe Terrace. Lordy, that might be the first place I go to when I go back.) I could give the tourists directions. It was far more comfortable living there that it was in America. It was a daunting idea, coming back to the States and getting used to living here again. As an adult.

Of course, you know the end of the story. I eventually did come back, and moved to Indianapolis. Indy and Edinburgh are worlds apart in most every way (except both places have good Indian food and a plethora of men with facial hair). I love my life here, and wouldn’t change it for anything. But I do miss what still feels like “my first home”. I grew up there. I figured out who I really was and what I believed and what was important to me.

So I’m happy that I’ll get to share it with my dear husband next summer. Butterflies-excited about it!

(Of course, he’s equally excited….especially to go here:)

Just a dram. Or two.

“…that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Or: On Mentoring.)

9 Nov

My dear friend Kathy took me to breakfast this morning. Yes, it’s my birthday, but she didn’t take me for my birthday. She didn’t even know it was my birthday til I was there. (I may have mentioned it.) She met me at Four Seasons for omlettes (Gyro and Feta, so they called mine…it was divine!) not to celebrate another year I’ve made it around the sun, but to be a listening ear and loving friend. It’s been a hard weekend (though it was wonderful to have my very best friend Chrissy here, and to share life and love with my dear sisters at the New City Church Women’s Retreat), and when I texted her yesterday to ask if she could meet for coffee, she didn’t reply “Sure, next Friday”, or “maybe tomorrow”. She was available within a few hours. (Kathy has a pretty fancy in-charge kinda job, so it’s no small thing to up and be somewhere…even the same day.) It ended up not working out on my end, so we met this morning for breakfast. The coffee was bottomless, and I wish we could have stayed longer. Meh. Jobs.

Kathy isn’t the only woman who has been such a wonderful mentor to me. Women such as Chris, Kathy, Joanna, Alice have all, at different times in my life, moved toward me in love, being willing to support and love me even when they hardly knew me. Boyfriend breakups, job changes, marriage difficulties….each of these women faithfully, lovingly, walked beside me with love and laughter and truth. I pray often (though not often enough) that I can be that kind of a friend to women younger than I. I don’t feel very old. I don’t feel very wise. But they have often been humble enough to admit that even at their ages (which has varied!), they don’t have it “all figured out”, and it’s okay if I don’t either. I never felt intimidated or talked down to. I was viewed as a daughter, or sometimes a peer, even if the age difference was 20 years or more.

Did I mention that these women moved TOWARDS ME? They have invited me places, taken me to coffee or dinners, had me over to babysit or watch movies. As a young woman (at least for now) , I don’t often feel I can move towards older women to ask for help. I feel like the 5-year-old, tugging at the hem of a skirt while “Mom” (whoever that may be) is too busy doing laundry and baking bread to have any time for me. I should mention here: My mom was never like that – I never felt she was too busy for me! Just that I feel like that now…at the ripe old age of 29….now that I truly understand how busy the lives of these women are. I don’t want to stress them out or add to their worries. They are surely too busy, right?

I forget this when I fail to move towards women younger than me. I’m still trying to figure out how to do this without seeming like a total goofball, or feeling like I don’t have anything to contribute. Middle schoolers? Sure. High schoolers? I got this. But 20-somethings? Uuuuggggh. I can’t even figure out my own crap, what could I possibly contribute?

I suppose the secret is in what my dear (older) friends have said: “I don’t have it all figured out yet either, and that’s okay.”

Maybe I should practice this in the mirror a few times. And then have someone over for coffee.

“It’s her birthday today! She’s 29! The real 29, not like ’29’ like the rest of us.” – Kathy, to our 50-something waitress at breakfast today.

Whoops.

7 Nov

OK, so here’s the true story of why I didn’t blog Friday or Saturday:

1) I thought there would be internet access at our retreat center. There wasn’t. (Or, there was, but I couldn’t access the computer that it was on. Apparently.)

2) When I did finally get internet access, my WordPress iPod application crashed every time it opened (thanks for the update, WordPress! BLURG).

So that’s the truth. But it was a bit of a blessing. I was running (my first ever) a women’s retreat for the women of my church. It was a hugh honor, and it was such a blessing to be with those women. Plus, my best friend Chrissy was in town for it (she was a GREAT speaker, and a gifted teacher), so I loved spending time with her. She is the best possible friend I could ever ask for, and I love seeing her (she lives in St Louis with her hubbins and goes to Covenant Seminary).

I came home after the stress (and honor) of all that to a bit of a mess at home I have to deal with. So I’m sorry if I’m out of sorts a bit for a while. It’ll be fine. But I’m a little cranky.

Also, I’m cranky because I can’t get the Colts game on TV. What’s that about?!

I got nothing.

4 Nov

Workin on my night cheese!

Ok, all my deep thoughts are spent. I have a Women’s Retreat happening TOMORROW that I’m finalizing and my BFF is coming into town and I’m super excited. Also, 30 Rock is on and it’s kinda a big deal. So is this Pumpkin Dunkel (Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale), and the leftover Halloween candy I’m eating/drinking here at the Shattucks.

So I think we can all agree that these things are very important and I should get back to those things, and that yes, this still counts as not breaking my NaBloPoMo streak, SUCKAS.

“Liz Lemon, Man … ninjas are kind of cool … I just don’t know any personally”

*Asterisk

3 Nov

My confession is that I think I owe you an amendment from yesterday’s post.

The end line read: ” How much more can I do when I stop believing in the lie of perfection apart from Christ?”

While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that statement, it needs an asterisk. One of *these.

The problem with it is that you are so much more than what you can DO or accomplish.

Let me say that again, in case you still believe that a kitchen that lacks a dirty dish, perfectly behaved children or a Master’s degree defines who you are:

You are so much more than what you can DO or accomplish.

Part of my problem is trying too hard to DO and not hard enough to BE. I know that’s one of those cliche sorts of things that are said at women’s retreats and before we all go walk a labrynth and hold hands and talk about Thomas Merton. Look, I know. But it’s true.

Stop DOING.

(Reminder to myself and others like me: all your DOING, apart from Christ is dust. Quit worrying so much, Control Freak. Quit the illusion that you are a god. The Unwinnable Contest is painfully and destructively concieved in that place.)

There will be pulls in many directions, perhaps more than what you even realized. But here is the secret….I think. I’m not sure. But I think this is it.

We too often talk about the “being” as if that means “being alone” or sometimes “being alone with God”. And while I think these are important things, I also see a strong Scriptural argument for “being”…with each other, in community.

But instead, we are busy DOING in community. Rush here. Schedule there. Plan this. Have dinner with these people. Remember to talk about this with so-and-so. It’s a rare moment of beauty when we allow ourselves to just BE in the presence of another human, despite our flaws, instead of trying to prove something to that person and to ourselves. It’s rare because it’s risky. It makes us vulnerable. It’s scary. (I don’t like to admit fear, though I fear more often that I think I’m even aware of.)

I don’t know how to do this NOT DOING very well yet. As evidenced by my post yesterday, I am very good at keeping up with the “doing”. The “being” doesn’t come as naturally or as comfortably for me. (I wonder if that is true for other women? Or men as well?) And I can easily do “The Freeze” (you know – the one that happens when you get overwhelmed and do nothing, but you justify it by saying you’re meditating, when you’re really just looking up mindless celebrity gossip?). Yeah, that’s not what I mean by the NOT DOING.

This NOT DOING is intentional, whether alone or with each other, for the sake of renewal and growth and rest.

But I guess this is a good place to start to practice this “being” while not insisting on doing it perfectly first.

(See what I did there?)

This weekend, I will intentionally practice the presence of others, *being* with them, to the Glory of God. Even at the risk of doing it imperfectly. May grace abound all the more.

BRING IT.

The Unwinnable Contest

2 Nov

Everyone in their lives, no matter who you are or where you are, knows that one person who does everything. Whether on the 36th floor at “Corporate”, or that one overachieving mom who is raising her 27 kids in the tent next to you in the jungle….we all know at least one. It’s easy to hate them. They have a tendency to give you lectures about how to raise your kids or what kind of car you should drive, or what kinds of books you should read/write. They make it look so easy, and you never hear them complain, or tell you what they struggle with.

But once in a while, you’ll find the ones who “do everything”, who aren’t hateable. These are the Wunderpeople, the ones who sit on every board of every one of your favorite non-profits, while acting as CEO of a great, world-changing company, raising 5 kids, and throwing great weekend parties that aren’t shallow. It helps if they share your taste in music and art. When they talk to you, they genuinely want to be with you – they aren’t faking it, or using you to widen their “network”. You can leave feeling loved.

I know one of these people. She’s wonderful, and intimidating. She does really great things, loves Jesus, and loves people well. She is an older women, with wisdom and kindness. And so, is completely non-hateable.

I recently had a conversation with her about church things and commented on how she seems to do EVERYTHING.

She quietly paused and said to me: “Well….I realized….I don’t have to do everything perfectly.” She shrugged her shoulders.

I should probably let her know that her small comment was a big deal to me. I’ve spent the last few months trying to do everything perfectly. I have a new job, a new house, and I want to do these things WELL. I hate feeling incompetent, but not nearly as much as I hate feeling like other people can see any incompetencies in me. I certainly awknowledge to myself that I am not perfect, but I am always trying to live up to this standard – especially at home – that is often impossible. Will my house be clean enough? Will they enjoy our party? Is my dinner good enough? Will I get enough things done to be able to be satisfied with myself?  In my head is the echo of thousands of women, none of whom are actually my friends, but they live in this imaginary judgement world, where women are constantly in competition with each other, in a contest no one can really win.

I know people say they have epiphanies all the time. But her words made me feel like I could breathe again. This woman is not only looked up to by me, but by many others, including civic and church leaders. And her secret? Not having to do everything perfectly. Novel. Belief in the inevitable. A woman who actually dares to believe that Christ’s strength is made perfect in her weakness? And here I am, trying to fill in the gaps of my own failures with a mortar that holds up as well as toothpaste, when the strength of an Eternal King is offered.  What an idol I have made for myself.

I have watched  myself freeze at the prospect of not “doing everything perfectly”. So what do I do? Nothing at all. What a waste. What a dishonor to who Christ has made me to be – as a woman, as a wife, as a sister, as a friend. I may as well carry a sign that says “I do not need God.”

I desperately need God. I will fail tomorrow at something. I may even fail you.  I don’t have to do everything perfectly, because Someone Else already has. And his Grace? It is sufficient. Yesterday, tomorrow, and forever.  Even when I do not believe it.

How much more can I do when I stop believing in the lie of perfection apart from Christ?

November 1st is Here Again.

1 Nov

Every year, on November 1st around 8:33 PM I am slightly disappointed with myself. It’s because for the last several years, I have wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo, despite the fact that fiction has never really been my forte. I could make up a whole lot of decent excuses, but fact is, November is a pretty busy time for me. I know it’s probably true for everyone, but it would be difficult. So another year goes by and I don’t do it.

This year is no exception.

This year I have been feeling particularly writer-y, and this is the first year that I’ve ever actually had an inking of an idea of what to write about. But I have a new job that I’m trying to keep up with, a new house to try and keep up with, and a bunch of other stuff going on. So I decided to do NaBloPoMo instead. It’s far more practical and, I think, more beneficial in the end. I’d like to get back to an actual regular blog with readers, which means getting back into the blogging habit.  So, I am committing to the next 30 days of blogging EVERY DAY. This even includes my birthday, and next Saturday (when I’m running a women’s retreat and my best friend is in town) and all those other days. I won’t promise you 50,000 words, but I can promise you one thing each day.

(Though I sorta admit I wish the NaBloPoMo website was as great as the NaNoWriMo site…..)

You with me?

I really really tried.

27 Oct

So I went to Aldi tonight, because I was running very short on one of my five food groups: cheese.

I walked past the Halloween candy aisle. Calm. Collected.

I don’t need Reeses. The Reeses do not control me.

*five steps*

I stopped.

Turned around.

Picked up the bag of Reeses.

I told the lady next to me, who had been staring at the whole case of candies for at least 30 seconds: “I tried. I tried to keep walking. I failed.”

Nope, I’m not pregnant, but it would be hard to tell by my blog reading.

25 Oct

(No, I am not pregnant. Just to reiterate.)

I have this sort of weird addiction to mommy-blogs. After going on five years of a mostly-hiatus (though I was sure it was more like the Arrested Development kind of permanent hiatus, not the Parks and Recreation kind, just waiting to come back, because weren’t blogs on the way out anyway?), I now am a regular visitor on a dozen or more blogs.

It didn’t really start with all the mommy stuff, (though some of that is interesting for reasons you can read below,) but honest-to-goodness, those blogs have all sorts of good information about general life-organization and planning. And I seriously don’t know what’s happened to me. I used to be pretty disorganized and carefree about it (much to the annoyance, I’m sure, of roommates, friends and family), but somewhere along the line I got all systematic. I realized that systems and organization can save you some time and energy (though not always, but most of the time), and when I’m running around like crazy-pants from morning til night, it would be impossible to function as an adult without some sort of systems in place.

And so I read said blogs (not all “mommy-blogs”, it’s just that most of them are moms), and I envy them greatly. I know the grass is always greener and such, but fact is, I long to be at home with my (currently-non-existent) kiddos, making a home. Some of you probably think this sounds very unlike me. Sometimes I think it does sound very unlike me. But it’s not. I’m turning 29 in a few weeks. I remember my mom when she was 29: I was 7 years old. And while I’m infinitely thankful that I didn’t have kids at 22, I’m a little sad that my kids won’t really know me as a younger adult. And we haven’t even started on our first. What about the last of the kids (assuming we have a few)? Gracious, I’ll be that old mom that begs the “is that your grandma?” questions. Eek.

Fact is, we aren’t at that place yet. Ben is still working on school, and we’re waiting – which we realize is only kinda partially up to us, God can do what he wants –  til he’s done with his degree, and can better support a family.  I am in a job I really enjoy.  I get to be a mom to 50+ kids who need some extra mom in their life. We have a new house, and heaven knows the house still needs some love! And no kids means that we are able to have friends over like James today, who just spent the day hanging out with us while I cooked for tomorrow night’s Soup Swap (which I’m excited about!). Not that kids mean that can’t happen anymore, but it allows us to minister in ways we won’t always be able to. I realize that.

So in the mean time, I read blogs. I file them generally under “homemaking” in my bookmarks. Most of them are about that. And I can do that without kids. I can make my house a home for the people we love now, and for the husband who I dearly love being a helper to. I can cook up a storm, repaint stuff, remodel stuff, organize and plan. I don’t need kids for this. And maybe I will be thankful for having read the words of those who have gone before me.

I did think….Why are so many of these blogs (Simple Mom, Small Notebook, Inspired to Action, Passionate Homemaking, Fly Through Our Window, Life…Your Way….and so many more of my favorite blogs and meta-blogs) ONLY by moms? There are several DIY/home blogs by single/kid-less women, but it’s hard to find homemaking blogs (that aren’t just cooking or something specific) that aren’t partially mommy blogs.

And then I realized – It’s because we have jobs. At least, I think this is the culprit. Which isn’t to say moms don’t – they have much harder jobs. But, speaking only for myself, having a job (one that I go to, one I get a paycheck from), means that I often feel like I do my “homemaking” job…poorly. Or at least…less professionally. I don’t have time to bake bread from scratch when I get home at 7pm, need to cook dinner and then go to bed, squeezing in time to prep for weekend women’s ministry planning or thank you notes that I owe people from August, and oh-please-gross-ew-what-happened-to-the-bathroom-I-JUST-cleaned!? Lots of the best homemaking blogs (I have no better term for them…if you have one, let me know), are great because their writers confess their lack of perfection. But what if you feel like you can’t really speak with any authority because you literally don’t have the time to invest in your work? And what kind of readership can you get if you readership is all hard at work at their own jobs (assuming they aren’t reading blogs at work!), and feeling they aren’t exactly adequate at their “home job” either? Why feel worse about it?

I don’t know the answers. I know that it can easily become an idol, and I have to keep it in check. There will always be things that will try to pull at my heart that are disguised as good things (and some are), but they compete in my heart for the space only Jesus was meant for.

For now, I wake up each morning, grab my coffee, Bible, Jesus Calling app (thanks, Darby!), and comfy robe, do my best to complete my Hello Mornings challenge for the day, and do my best to say prayers of thankfulness that I have no crying babies yet to interrupt that gift of solitude and joy and time for growth. Nothing is wasted, especially not times like these.

And please stop asking when we’re planning to “start a family”.