Creatures of What Comes Easy

I am an overall healthy eater. When I first read about the military diet, I was a sceptic. “Lose up to ten pounds in three days,” was translated, to me, that if you are a hundred pounds overweight and live off cheeseburgers and coke, then you could possibly lose ten pounds. Living my life sugar-free and limiting the grease, I figured I had already made those changes. 

For some reason, I kept reading the article and I confirmed, “no way!” One slice of toast and a boiled egg for lunch?  Not the diet for me!  That sounds….HUNGRY!

But I have this problem, it is called a human body. I want to be healthy and I want to look my best in summer clothes, and as the days get warmer and warmer, I wanted to make some improvements. I needed something extreme. What is more extreme than the military?

So, I gave the diet a second glance and considered it. (I preface diets by saying that I believe in a lifestyle not a diet, per say, but sometimes I do believe in a cleansing to boost to the next level. So, from now on, read the word “diet” as “cleansing.”) I gave the diet a second glance and I took it to the expert….my sister. 

So, Ellie and I decided:  Three days?  We can do anything for three days!  

Here we are, two days down and on the last day of the military diet. And I have already lost FIVE POUNDS!  Five pounds in two days ain’t too shabby!  I am spending the last day crying and starving with my sister…I mean laughing and talking about how easy this diet is. 

When those extra five pounds poke through my outfit and torture me day after day and month after month, WHY IS A THREE DAY DIET SO HARD?!  Because I LIKE EASY! 

I like the easy road, the life of comfort, the all you can eat buffet and the fat wallet!

But the older I get (and I’m not THAT old yet) or the more mature I get or the more God graciously gives me a little more wisdom, I see that that Easy Path ain’t going where I want to go. And when I look at what I want my finished product to be, I’m talking of the physical and spiritual, it is a little bit of an upward climb.

So, here is to one more day of not eating what I WANT to, and just a little bit of that, and here’s to thinking of something other than what I WANT, because honestly the here and now desires most often lead astray. 

I want to be healthy more than I want comfort. I want to give more than I want to receive. Give me eternity vs. the here and now.  And I value a challenge more than fading pleasures. 

Satan’s Greatest Lie is That Sin Keeps Christians From God

What is the barrier between us and anything of value?  THE PRICE. I see an expensive, designer made, sparkley, super hot shirt hanging in the mall, what keeps it from being mine?  PAYING THE PRICE.  My girl drools over the newest Build A Bear addition, why can’t she just walk away with it?  THE PRICE MUST BE PAID. A brand new house stands on a ten acre lot, upgrades throughout, marble entry, fountain into the pool, detached five car garage. Sitting there waiting, just waiting for someone to move in and make it a home. Everyone wants it, everyone loves it. What will it take?  PAYING THE PRICE. 

One beautiful summer day, I changed my girl into her swim suit, packed some essentials and we headed to a local water spot. The city designed a long flight of stairs in the middle of the city with water flowing over them. On a hot day in July, hundreds of children gather and splash and play. Slip on sunglasses, lather sunscreen, playing commences. After the initial energy is used up, I spread a towel for Madison to sit beside me. I pull out two lunches and we have a little picnic. And then for the grand finale, a Tootsie Pop appears. Shouts of glee and happiness follow. This is her version of the perfect moment. The lollipop is popped into her mouth. But then, all of the sudden, from the throng of children, a face appears.  “I want a sucker.”  The voice demands.  I understand childhood plees and respond, “Oh sorry sweetheart. That is the only one.”  I am a bit shocked with the tantrum and stamped feet that march away complaining. Now, without going too far with my imperfect analogy, there are two things that I want to point out. One, the treat belonged to this certain child because she was my child. I did not scan the audience for the best behaved child. I did not look for the hungriest child. I handed it to MY child. I had prepared that surprise in advance for MY child. Secondly, the Bible tells us to be like children. CHILDREN ACCEPT. When Madison saw me pull out that tootsie pop, it was her’s. She did not say, “Mom, let me first earn this.  Watch me be kind to all the children here and then you can give it to me.”  She did not say, “Wait. I can pay for this. Let’s go home and get the money out of my piggy bank.”  NO!  She took it and enjoyed it as a gift.  

Now. I love my girl. I love my daughter no matter what. Why do I love her?  Because she is mine!  She can make perfect grades, be a sweet friend, give her all in sports, and sleep in on Saturdays and I will love her. She can struggle and flop out of school, be selfish, unkind, lack ambition, wake me up at 4 am, and spill my coffee and SHE WILL STILL BE MY DAUGHTER AND I WILL STILL LOVE HER!

THE PRICE IS PAID!  Christians, we are God’s children. If we sin, it hurts us in the here and now but as far as God is concerned, IT IS IRRELEVANT TO HIS LOVE FOR US AND HIS FATHERHOOD. WE ARE HIS CHILDREN. NO SIN CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF OUR FATHER!

The world knows “Christians” by people who don’t cuss, don’t drink, does not wear certain clothes, and judges everyone else who does. 

NO!  Believers in Christ screw up just as much as everyone else!  THE AMOUNT OF SINNING IS IRRELEVANT TO BEING A CHILD OF GOD!  Can I say that again so the non-believers will say, “Say what?!” And so that the believers can breathe a sigh of relief, THE AMOUNT OF SINNING IS IRRELEVANT TO BEING A CHILD OF GOD. The only difference in a Christian is that they realize they sin and that they need Jesus. In fact, Christians can be the biggest sinners there are!  Look at the people that followed Jesus!  They were sinners, big ones, like prostitutes and swindlers!  

Christian, THE PRICE IS PAID!  YOU ARE FREE!  THE DEBT IS PAID!  THE TOOTSIE POP IS YOURS!  All you have to do is ENJOY it!

Do it ALL and Let it ALL Go

There is so much I want to do and so much to be done. There is a philosophy of “how to be perfect” and a religion of “let it go.”  The judgemental wars commence, if your home is clean then you must not have played with your children and if you don’t pack a Pinterest lunch then you must not care about their little body’s health. 

LETTING IT GO TURNS INTO ONE MORE THING THAT I HAVE TO GET DONE!

Do I make the bed or have breakfast with the fam?  Do we go for a lazy walk around the pond or cut a fruit salad?  Will the ironing stack disappear or will the new puzzle be opened?  Is it more important to linger at bedtime and cuddle with my daughter or just sit on the couch and be with my husband that has been at work all day?  Will the floor get mopped or Shepherding a Child’s Heart be reread?

And I believe the answer is this: YES. Hmmm, rephrased:  Do it all, every bit of it. Clarified:  Don’t do any of it. Meaning:  none of it is important. Spelled out:  this is what life is all about. 

OK. OK. funny, funny. How do we know what to do and what not to do?  

Yes!  Spending time with our children playing SORRY  or Legos is crucially important but so is having dishes clean for dinner and clothes to put on in the morning. 

There are lots of little practical tips: Do it together. Invent cleaning games. Take double the time washing sudsy dishes with your two year old playing in the soap and “helping.” Be together. Do together. Include them in the things you have to do vs the games they want to play. Then they are learning and will soon be able to take over some of the chores. 

And there are the facts of life:  Work hard!  Life is not easy!

But still, HOW, WHY, and WHEN?  

And here is what I myself am still trying to learn and apply, the real answer is:  LOVE.  Make a perfect cookie cutter shaped sandwich and homemade cookies for a school lunch if it is showing love, scrub the floor and wash and iron the clothes to welcome your husband into a restful home, turn off the TV and play Monopoly, learn together, do together, DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR FAMILY AND WHEN YOU GET JUDGEMENTAL EYES FROM THAT FREAKIN PHARISEE, LET IT ALL GO!

No. I think you absolutely definitely shouldn’t. Go for it, not yet. 

I want answers. I want to know what to do to be healthy, make money, raise a successful citizen, be a stellar friend, and how clean my house should be!  

When I said, “I do.”  I really meant I did.  But sometimes, more often than I want you to know, I looked more like I didn’t. I was, am, grumpy, rude, self serving, and just plain done. But I loved him. I still do.  

And when the nurse laid that 7lb 9oz miracle on my instantly smaller tummy, I cried and smiled and instantly changed, because she was everything, and meaningful, and poetic, and beautiful, and soft as beautiful. But sometimes, more than I want you to know, I get frustrated with a messy room, and stepping on pink Legos, and a sassy attitude. But I love her. I always will, even through the teenage years. 

When should I scrub and when should I play?  How many cups of milk should I drink in a day?  Should I sit on the couch and watch a show with James or read “Bringing Up Girls,” that should have been checked off my reading list six years ago?  Should I call up a friend or spend the day at home?  Is this the year to save or enjoy?  A bush or a floral beside the house?  When and how and where? Why?

Daddy, Father God, will you please tell me?  

Because it matters completely. I want to do and accomplish. But I have made mistakes. And I hear you whisper that yesterday does not matter. Right here. Right now. This very. 

One thing is the objective:  accomplish, do, succeed, but the greatest of these is love. Love. 

The Secret to Success.

“My love, you are a rose. I stare at your beauty in wonder I can not comprehend. Your kindness and your gentle touch are beautiful movements among the weary. Your virtues and your morals are not to be found in any other place among this earth. I can not compare to your standards. SO, I WANT YOU TO ACCEPT ME AS I AM AND LOVE ME FOR ME. While I sit and watch TV, bring me a beer. I will eat cheeseburgers and candy while you workout and diet on vegetables. But, I am admitting to you that I can never deserve you, so just because I say that, it is enough.”

The philosophy of our culture is: I get to do what I want to do. And I DESERVE to have everything I want.

The secret to success is one word: WORK.

I know, that is a dirty little word. I’m not telling you that you have to do it, but if you want success, that is the answer. Nobody, not even the government, owes you a house, a car, health insurance, a cellphone, or even food.

The American Dream. It means you have the right to work for these things, it does not mean that anyone has to give them to you.

Do you want a relationship with Jesus? Ok. Dangerous ground here. This is the one area where we get something for free: salvation. Period. It is nothing I do. Being good, reading my Bible, serving the poor…these things DO NOT make me a Christian. I am a raging sinner. It is all of Jesus and none of me. SALVATION IS NOT WHAT I AM REFERRING TO HERE. But do you want a close relationship with Jesus? Reread the above dialogue. Do not sit on the couch watching trash and ask Jesus to bring you a beer and expect to come out of it holy and pure. It takes work. Open up God’s word and read it. Attend church, actually listen to the sermon, filter it through the Bible, and apply it to your life.

Decide what you want to do, decide where you want to prosper, and WORK!

Do you want a good marriage? It takes work!

Do you want to raise polite, healthy children? It takes work!

Do you want to be RICH? Work! I’m not saying everyone that works hard is rich but I am saying that everyone that is rich has to work hard. And no one owes you that reward except yourself!

Shame on Christians that we do not stand out from this world! Shame on us that people do not admire and praise, “You have to say one thing about Christians: they are the hardest workers I know! And their marriages, their children, their careers, their service…are proof!”

Here I speak only to myself and other believers, where is our proof?

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We are NOT Morning People

We are not sugar people. Oh yes, about half the teeth in our bodies are sweet teeth, but in the name of healthy living I have opted to never eat sugar ever again. I’ve seriously lost track, but I believe I am around two years. It just isn’t a temptation anymore. I never eat (processed) sugar. Ever.

Being a Momma, I watch sugar directly entice and then punish my daughter. Prior to Christmas, she was “off sugar.” Healthy 7 yr old girl. Holiday: Cookies, candy, cupcakes, candy, hot chocolate, candy. Everywhere. And I see it. I see her little nose begin to run and turn red from being wiped and wiped and wiped. After Christmas resolutions: Back to limited sugar. Runny nose disappears. Fact: Bodies are weakened by sugar.

All that to say, this morning: Donuts. “Donuts For Dads.” A school sponsored event for the kids and dads of the school to join together and eat donuts.

When a sweet toothed girl, with a mom that limits sugar, found out that she and her Daddy would be attending the sugar feast, she proclaimed, “Tomorrow is going to be the BEST DAY EVER!” Singing and dancing and unable to hold in her excitement.

All in fast forward: Bedtime. Snoring. Alarm breaks the morning. Momma wakes up Madison.

“This is the WORST DAY EVER!” Madison proclaims as she stands in my bathroom, getting her hair brushed, tears streaming down her face.

How did we get here? What changed?

Simply the time of day, my friend, simply the time of day. Us, Hendrys are not morning people.

I am trying to teach our daughter that in the mornings she needs to learn to just stay quiet for a while. But until she learns that, she will walk around crying and shouting out “worst day evers,” and everything else that her Daddy and I are thinking, but we’ve learned to keep out mouths shut….by inserting coffee anytime we think about saying something before 8:00.

Coffee, ahhhhhh, the fuel of us not morning people. I wake up and my first thought is “Coffee.”

So, as James and Madison are driving to school (this was written yesterday, Friday) …..so, as James and Madison are driving to school, I am sitting here with my first cup of hot coffee in my hands, with one profound thought in my head: Hendrys are NOT morning people.

 

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The Opinion Revolution

“Sweetheart, what would you like for breakfast?”
“Class, what is your opinion about this?”
“Baby, what do you want to do today?”

The opinion revolution. Society teaches parents to let kids think for themselves. “Raise a thinker.” No. “Raise a spoiled brat that can not think.”

Ask my seven year old daughter every single morning what she wants for breakfast and, if it were an option, she would pick donuts.

What is the classes opinion about why the sun waxes and wanes? Quite frankly, It doesn’t really matter.

What does a child want to do today? It almost never includes doing homework or making their bed.

Let’s talk Science. A brain is not fully developed until around the age of 19. A child IS NOT CAPABLE OF THINKING WISELY! A child can only learn to imitate. “Mom serves me eggs and fruit for breakfast, I learn to make healthy choices.”

Then, when the child grows up, they have learned to do things that are good for their bodies, things that are kind, things that need to be done INSTEAD of the perspective of ME, ME, ME. What do I need to eat vs. what do I want to eat? Exercising because I need to vs. watching tv because I want to. Reading because I will learn vs. yada yada…

Ok. Ok. Getting labeled meanest mom of the year here. More explanation: children start out completely dependent on parents. They don’t make any decisions. They rely completely on caretaker. Put milk in the bottle, not coke. (And sidetracking here. I believe baby crying needs to be held and cuddled and taught security vs. scheduling nap time. There is a long discussion there, just want to say that that is not what I am saying. I may have just lost the men in that women talk). However, as children grow, they become more independent and begin to learn to make decisions. “Would you like milk, water, or juice?”

And I have to put the precursor on this touchy subject. NO JUDGING! I hope in life to form opinions. Strong opinions to apply to my life. But, I never want to go about telling everyone, or anyone, what they are doing wrong! (The danger of writing!). Madison may be eating skittles because she never eats candy and it is her birthday or we are having dinner with Mimi, or whatever and not because I let her do whatever she wants to do.

Wow! This is taking a short blog post to say what takes a book to explain. Children need to constantly be told two things every second of every day:
1. I LOVE YOU!
And 2. You CAN NOT do whatever you want BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!

To the parents who sue McDonalds for being unhealthy, to the teachers whose rooms are controlled by the students, to the legislators who want to outlaw candy, to the authors that say to let kids make their own decisions: it is the job of the parents to teach children what is right and what is wrong! So, do it. …please

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merry CHRISTmas. It is So Much Bigger Than That.

We counted down the days until Christmas and I realize that it so so much bigger than that. Since the fall of man, believers hoped and counted down to the birth of the Messiah.

I have held a newborn to my cheek. It is not something easily forgotten. A parent cherishes the first moment of laying their eyes on their precious child and the touch of their skin is believing in miracles. And I know that Mary and Joseph were favored and blessed among humans because Mary carried God in her womb and she looked upon his face and she cared for his infant body.

Today is Christmas, but it is so much more than that. I LOVE the magic of first stepping into the living room, carols playing, a fire burning, stockings overflowing. Breakfast will be set out and will be much too much for the three of us to eat: quiche, donuts, fruit, sausage balls, cinnamon rolls, orange juice, and coffee. Presents will finally be opened. I can not wait to play with Madison’s new gifts with her! We will feast for lunch and then open more presents. Then we will gather with family and smile and hug, feast some more, and gather on the best day of the year. But this celebration is all a remembrance. This birthday is of my God. Immanuel. God is with us.

I was lost, and sick, blind, poor, and had no hope. But now I am found, and perfect, and rich, and a child of God. Christmas is everything!

Merry CHRISTmas!

 

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A Little Perfect Moment in December

My fingers rubbed the leather back and forth as I pondered the memory.  I had wanted a new chair for our new living room in the home that was new to us.  From my part time nannying job, I had saved up some money with a purpose.  I was tempted to use the money to buy the furniture I wanted, but never tempted for long enough.  Christmas had rolled around and my plan had prospered to this point.  I had slowly saved up my spending money so that my hubby would never have any idea of the gift I had wrapped under the tree for him.  It was by far the coolest thing that I have ever done as a wife.  The incident is captured on video but, as I write this, it plays clear as day in my head.  I know my husband’s love language.  I had purchased him the gun that he had been admiring for quite a while now.  You should have seen me with a two year old baby girl on my hip and the two of us in a gun store knowing exactly what I wanted and laying down the cash.  At least ten other men stood taking their time admiring guns but I was in and out of there in a flash.  They watched me with big eyes and open mouths wondering what in the hell I was up to.  James had his own Christmas trick up his sleeve.  And now, I sat rubbing the leather with my fingers on the chair that he bought me that year for Christmas, which is much better than anything my money could have purchased.

The brown leather chair sits beside our Christmas tree.  When we sit in the decorated living room, someone always comments that it is the best tree that we have ever gotten.  After twelve years of marriage, this is our thirteenth Christmas together.  This is Madison’s eighth Christmas.  I have finally accumulated worthy ornaments to fill the tree and red and green have filled the house without cluttering anything.

Now, here I am, in my favorite chair, beside my favorite tree, all trimmed for Christmas.  Already, toys are wrapped and under the tree.  Lighted garland lines the mantle and three stockings hang waiting for midnight after Christmas Eve.  The fireplace is glowing and casting shadows around the room on an appropriately rainy, cold day.  Cuddled in a warm blanket, I glance up from my lunchtime reading.  I want it to last forever.  This is how I will always remember Christmas.  I love Christmas morning.  I love the crazy shopping.  I love holiday baking.  I love the family, and the lights, and all the crazy festivities.  But sitting here, just me and God, quietly soaking in the peace of the season, this is how I will always remember Christmas.

Hungry Saints

“Hangry.”  New words have to be invented to explain the feeling of hunger.  Ever worked in the food business?  You will see people at their worst:  hungry.  Due to Addison’s Disease, my body is extra sensitive.  It is better for me to stay on top of a healthy day, instead of trying to fix it after I have messed up.  Example:  If I wait to long to eat, or don’t eat the right stuff, my blood sugar will drop and I get this feeling:  Hungry.  Hangry.  Craving.  Intensity.  Meanness.  Stay out of my way.  There is one thing my body needs and only one thing will satisfy.  Food.

However, I’ve never been starving.  Even in our newlywed poorness, I never worried that I wouldn’t have food to eat.  With the price of food in America skyrocketing, I still have never thought, “Today, we can’t buy milk.”  I have only heard and read about people that die of starvation.  One book stands out in my education of the poor, “Kisses From Katie,” the story of a young girl that travels to Uganda and lives among hungry people.  I mean starving people.  I mean people that do lie down and die because they do not have enough to eat.  I have never known that.  I have never gone an entire day without food, absolutely never gone two days without eating, and I have no idea what it would be like to go a week with no food.  It passes hungry.  It is beyond blood sugar dropping.  It is an intensity I’ve only read about.

Despite the physical, my soul has been in that state.  Daily, hourly, my soul is hungry and my loving father feeds me:  I have the security of waking in a warm bed.  I know the joy of a seven year old playing with her beloved stuffies.  Almost daily, I have time to sit and enjoy a back rub from my husband.  I do not lack the love of family.  Be that as it may, I have seen the other side.  I have been starving in my soul.  I have cried out when only one thing can fill my craving.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.”  John 6:35

He wasn’t talking about sourdough or whole wheat.  He wasn’t talking about turkey and broccoli and corn.  There is something deeper.  There is a starving when more than our bodies are in need.  It is the spiritual, the eternal, it is our souls.  Our souls that long for how things are supposed to be.  Our souls that ache for the perfection they were designed for.  Our souls that are so sick and tired of all the hurt and sin in this screwed up world.

I have been there.  There have been times in my life when I had a home, I had a fridge full of food, I had a family that loved me, and it wasn’t enough.  There was something deeper.  There was a point when I realized I wasn’t in control, a point when I realized there was more to life, a point when I discovered who held the key to my achy heart:  Jesus.  And he called me to his table and I saw the feast that was set before me and I tasted and it was so delicious and he satisfied my soul like nothing else could.