Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Beauty and the Beast Within

I woke up this morning and found an email that featured the new Dove video.  If you have not seen one, they are incredible.  I have seen this one floating around FB for days now and have never taken the time to watch it.  This morning, I did, and I cried.  I am feeling a bit lost these days in my walk with the Lord.  I know it is because I don't make the appropriate time for Him and I over-schedule myself.  He patiently continues to push me to think every day.

Today, His "think on this Heidi" moment was in this Dove Real Beauty video about women and self image.

I wrote an entire recap of the video, but then decided you are going to have to watch it instead.  If you can't find three minutes, then come back when you can.

I work with an amazing group of ladies whose goal is to help empower women in vulnerable countries.  I am also raising one, soon to be two, gorgeous daughters and two sons.  I teach young children, including my own and my nieces, to be disciples of God and love themselves wholly.

The fact of the matter is, I suck at telling myself the same.

I grew up the scrawny kid.  I was always shorter than the other girls.  I did not hit 5 feet tall until I was a junior in high school (I am 5'7" now) and I didn't have boobs until...well until I was nursing our babies!   The only thing differentiating me from the boys was my long hair.
I have also been an athlete my entire life, and unfortunately I have battled eating disorders and body image issues since I can remember.  Despite it all, I had a mother who always told my sister and I we were beautiful and that good things come in small packages (mind you, my younger sis was taller than me and had a rack). My Dad told all three of us, daily, how beautiful we were.  I never had a reason to doubt who I was or how I was made.  Satan told me otherwise.  

When I gave birth to my daughter, I looked at her and swore I would do everything in my power for her not to grow up thinking like me.  

I am incredibly conscience of the way I critique myself in front of my children.  I mean seriously, kids retain everything!!  I do not hide anything from them, including my so-called flaws and imperfections. I laugh at things they innocently point out to me.  I definitely do not step on a scale in front of them.  Behind the bathroom door and in the company of my husband, I can tear myself apart like you would not believe.

We, as mothers, teach our children that they are perfect in God's image.  So, why do we show them otherwise by telling and showing them that God created them perfect the way they are...but not us, Mommy has this wrong and that wrong and this wrinkle and on and on.  The more I think about it, I am not as good at secret self bashing as I think I am.  It is not just in me, it is everywhere and their brain sponges are just soaking it up.

Why is it that as women, we are never good enough, pretty enough, enough like "those other women"?  Why do we constantly need reassurance from our husbands and friends?  Satan has been everywhere since the beginning of time.  We see his works in all areas of life, but this my friends is an epidemic!

This blog tends to be a venting ground for me and it also helps keep me accountable for things in my life that need to be changed.  Maybe you are relating to these thoughts as well.  I am not saying all this to make you feel guilty.  A wise woman once told me, "There is a fine line between feeling guilty and feeling convicted."  Today, my friends,

I am convicted.

Our children look at everything and see beauty.  They never know anything is not beautiful until we tell them.  Who are your children around that might influence this? Maybe it is you?  Who and what are you critiquing in the company of spongelike minds?   This issue is not isolated in our daughters.  My husband tells me every day how gorgeous he thinks I am.  You know what I noticed in my 12 years with his family?  His Dad does the same thing to his Mom.  More times than not, our sons will love their future wives in the same way our husbands love us.  Likewise, our daughters are much more likely to be able to take a compliment and/or like what they see in the mirror if we are showing them how.

I look at my mother, grandmothers and mother-in-law and see gorgeous women. I can not find even one of their flaws they now feel comfortable pointing out to me as an adult. I am confident this is because nobody ever told me different.  It is about time we did the same with ourselves.

If I go to live with our Lord, as an old woman with freckles and wrinkles then I will thank him for the awesome sun and all the laughter that I had.  If I still have a little extra soft skin around my middle, I will thank him for the two rather large children that I was able to grow inside of me.  If my hair is still a dirty blonde color, I will thank him for the gorgeous red hair that was given to our daughter.  And, hey, if I still have no chest by then, I will thank him for the rockin' strapless dresses I wore without worrying about falling out of them or the lack of back pain I don't have!

I am positive that, like in the video, my husbands sketch, my sisters sketch, even my best friends sketch of me, would not look like the rendition that came from my mind.  I can also know that I am blessed to have a family and friends that "love me like Jesus does" (thank you Eric Church).  It is about time, I loved me like he does as well.  How about you?

This ad has been next to my treadmill for over 10 years, I thought this was a perfect place to share it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Thankful for His Nudgings.

I would be lying if I said that during this past weekend I did not wish that I was in Boston getting ready to race the marathon instead of watching it snow in Bozeman. I mean I did the training and made the cut right? Wait, I also prayed, listened and prioritized my life. Getting our twins home and being mentally available for my family made the cut, The Boston Marathon did not.

Today I woke up and had the honor of substitute teaching eight remarkable first graders. I didn't even run this morning and these kids made me smile and laugh all day. About lunch time, I checked my phone and the screen was flooded in green iMessage symbols. I was wondering what I did that made me so popular all of a sudden. Come to find out it was what I hadn't done. I hadn't started the Boston Marathon.

At the finish area of the worlds most well known marathon, at least two explosions took the lives of three spectators and injured dozens of spectators and athletes. Upon reading the news, I immediately called my husband and we figured out that with the delay in wave starting, I would have (if all went well) finished and still been in the finish area when this act of terrorism occurred. Josh may or may not have been in the finish area with me by then. Our kids might have been there as well but,

I never started.

Today I woke up frustrated that we hadn't received a picture of our twins since we started our adoption process.

This afternoon, those twins may have saved my life, maybe even the lives of my husband and bio children.

This evening, before our family got in the hot tub together, a brand new picture of the twins came through on my iPad screen.

Before bed tonight I will be on my knees, with Josh, thanking our Lord for saving me, for filling my heart with His glory and for being patient with me for the last 34 years of my life. I spent 34 years hearing but not listening to his nudgings on my heart. When I finally grew up enough to realize that His word is truth, I was truly saved in every way there is.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mothers Day/Noonday Giveaway

Mothers Day is coming!!!!!  I just love Mothers Day. I am not sure if it is because I am a mother or because I am so intrigued by all the other mothers out there or the fact that Mothers Day means Spring or what.  Wait, I remember, it is because my stove gets cleaned on Mothers Day!!  Me and this stove, we have a love-hate relationship that gets cleaned by someone other than me ONE DAY A YEAR.

I was sitting down, last night, making notes about all the brilliant words that I have read, heard or conjured up myself, lately and was exhausted.  I proceeded to regurgitate all my notes to my hubby who is so patient with my constant verbal thoughts and almost started bawling.  So instead, I thought I would share them with you and then give away a $50 Noonday voucher that can be used, just in time, to buy something for you (or your Mommy) for Mothers Day!

  • I was incredibly blessed to be born and become an American mother. Period. My children will never worry about being hungry, cold, education, sex-slavery, preventable illness, worshiping our God and the list goes on.
  • 1/2 of the worlds population lives on less than $2 US a day.  Uh what?
  • 27 million people are in modern-day slavery.  This statistic includes sex-trafficking
  • Over 2 million children are being sexually trafficked world-wide. 300,000 are in the US
  • 3,000 children a day will start prostituting themselves just to eat!  We have got to teach His Word to these children!
  • 30,000 children die each day from a preventable, treatable illness.  This means an illness that could have been prevented with a $1-$2 vaccine or health education.
  • Mothers who do not receive proper education on how to manage and live healthy lives with HIV are giving up their children and dying every day.
  • There are between 142-210 MILLION orphans world wide.  Did you get that?  142-210 MILLION!
"To whom much as been given, much is required" Luke 12:48

I have always been a "save the world" kind of girl.  I was "that one girl" that when we all crowded in the basement to watch the forbidden VHS tape of Dirty Dancing, I was excited that Baby wanted to send her leftover dinner to southeast Asia.  Yeah, Patrick Swayze was pretty damn dreamy too.  I must admit I am from the "Nobody puts Baby in the corner" generation.

Sophomore year!!

I am constantly reading about world poverty and being educated about how others are struggling while I have so much. I am always praying about where I fit in His Kingdom.  That may sound odd but the truth is I want to learn how to help fix it all,  I want to adopt every kid that does not have a home, I want to feed everyone who is starving, I want to go on missions even though I have never been on one. All of it is just not ok with me! 

Worst of all I wonder, every day, if our twins' mother had been taught a life skill enabling her to make a living or been educated about healthy living if they would still be orphans.  I wonder if she had been taught the word of our Lord about how incredibly important and worthy she is,  if she would have found a way to escape being a statistic.

You still with me?

So, here is my proposal for this week.  I want to give you a $50 voucher to buy something from a company based on Christian values.  Noonday employs artisans (many of whom are mothers) from around the world giving them life skills, education and employment.  These artisans are no longer living on $2/day or selling themselves into prostitution, or relinquishing their children as orphans.  They are living healthy, prosperous lives, together as families, with the words of Lord in their hearts.

There are a few ways to enter...  The winner will be announced Thursday the 11th (in honor of my Mommy's birthday) and I promise you will have your voucher with enough time to get that special gift delivered in time for Mothers Day!

1) Mosey over to  this Noonday link and tell me who and what you would spend your voucher on.

Me, I am partial to this bracelet handmade from recycled artillery found in Ethiopia  
or these bone carved leaf earring handmade from bone in India 
or these killer Sseko sandals that can be worn a bazillion different ways and are made by recent high school graduates in Uganda who are putting themselves through college

or the Inca steps necklace, handcrafted by Ecuadorian artisans of nuts from the tagua palm.  Yes, you read that correct, NUTS.

2) Go over to the site Elegantees and read about how Katie is empowering women who have escaped sex-trafficking with sewing jobs and a bright future.  Tell me your favorite style in the comments section.

3) Like Elegantees or Noonday on Facebook and let me know that you did.

4) Share this giveaway on  FB and let me know you did!

5) Head on over to the Moore Family Blog.  For every dollar you donate to them to help them get their little princess home, I will give you one entry.  Be sure to let me know that you did!

6) Sign up to participate in the Bike-a-Thon to support the Duffin Family.  They are in the process of bringing home their little girl from Ethiopia and it is going to be a great family event!  You can find that information below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Identity Crisis...courtesy of Satan

This is a pretty speak-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace post for me. It came to me on the combination of a run and a bike ride and I just had to get it out there.  You may relate, you may not. If you do, then that is why I am putting it out there.  If you don't then I want some of your pixie dust sent my way!

Ten years ago I made the decision to stay at home with our kids.  Since then, I have;

hated it, 
loved it, 
been in tears, 
felt like a housekeeper could take my job and no one would miss me, 
been under-appreciated in a HUGE way, 
been able to train, sometimes 3 hours a day, for my crazy sport
loved it again, 
listened to countless books on audible so that I had another person talking to me,
held crying, sick, puking kids and been thankful for my decision, 
been available to retrieve a sick kiddo in the middle of a school day, 
created a beautiful home that is usually clean(ish),
wondered how all the moms at school pick up look so good,

starting to sound familiar to anyone?...

...I made our kids' clothes because I am at home all day and I figured that is what moms do, 
then wondered how my mother and my working friends can do it all,
I generally keep the fridge stocked and dinner on the table,
have become a short order breakfast cook,
volunteer at school,
thought I would enjoy a multi-level marketing business because I could do it at home,
quickly realized I didn't,
become a den leader and a girl scout leader,
given up a lot of myself and not regretted it (most of the time), 
watched other moms struggle and 
was thankful that I was able to stay at home with our kiddos,
felt totally overwhelmed
and generally tried to do the best job that I could. 

I know you are out there with your hands in the air wanting to yell "me, me, me, yep!"  Hmmm, if you aren't then I am just going to assume you are, it makes me feel better about myself.

Our daughter just turned ten and I cannot believe that our time with her at home is over half gone.  Although I do not doubt that being a stay-at-home mom was/is the correct choice for our family, there has always been a part of me that longed to be working, especially if I wasn't training and/or racing.  Satan has constantly crept in telling me that I should be filling every second of my "spare time" with something that can monetarily benefit our family because there is NO possible way that I am doing enough if I, for some reason, have this so called spare time.  Luckily for me, these side jobs usually involve my art or cooking or some other activity that I enjoy doing.  My coach would beg to differ, but generally, I overwork myself with stuff I enjoy (or have convinced myself that I enjoy.)

Since I retired from run racing and we decided to double our flock from two to four I assumed I was supposed to go back to work.  I grew up with a working mom who was nothing short of Wonder Woman, my sister is a professional and well, it seemed like the right and natural thing.  What I did not realize was, although I am a college educated and talented woman, I have been out of the work force and am unfamiliar in experiences that employment opportunities consider important.  Apparently, there are no paid positions for a stay-at-home mom with character references from Team USA and my cycling team

This week I received my third "sorry but..." phone call.  I sat there and thought, "well, shit." Then I cried.  I felt totally defeated, like what I have been doing all these years just wasn't good enough. I didn't really want to hear the "don't worry, God has a plan" speech because I know that is the truth and damn it that just was not going to make me feel better.  So, I did what all people do, I got my dog and went for a run.  Ok, so maybe not everyone does that but we endorphin junkie, torture inflicting, crazies, we run.  Don't worry, when I am done running, then I eat, sometimes before and after.  My band aid food is peppermint ice cream in case you were wondering and we did not have any that day!

In my world, there are very few things that a run, no matter the weather, with my dog and my headphones plugged in to the kick ass mix that my girlfriend Katie made me, to make everything better more bearable.  Plus, there is something about Christian rock that clears your head.  It funny how that works.  Combine that run with todays ride in what could quite possibly be the most beautiful road cycling on God's creation and this is what I have come up with:

  • I cannot base my identity on what I do, get done or achieve.  For me it is my athletics.  That is a hard one for me.  I am trying to get over it, just be patient and give me time, I really am trying.  Over this past week of celebrating the resurrection of Christ I am reminded that, as the song says, I am not loved and forgiven by Him because of who I am but because of what He has done, not because of what I have done but because of who He is!  Therefor as much as I want it to be about me, it just isn't.
  • My job, which I chose ten years ago, is important.  I may feel like it is menial but 416 menial tasks throughout the day make for a pretty big job.  
  • Make a mental note to keep reminding myself that I chose this job, no application, interview or experience needed. 
  • I cannot compare myself with the other mothers.  I have no idea what their day entails and they mine.  Yes, totally easier said than done but damn it, I have days where I just cannot pull of Montana Momma Barbie.  If you can, you rock! I choose to surrender myself to His word and know that I can only do what is motherly possible during my days.  This also means that you cannot be mad at the people that are out on gorgeous days riding their bikes or running on the road in front of your house while you are reviewing spelling words with your fourth grader or scrubbing bathroom floors.  Just me again?  My bad, at least I know my BFF feels the same way.  You know who you are.
                               "Make a careful exploration of who you are 
                                       and the work you have been given, 
                                        and then sink yourself into that... 
                                    Don't compare yourself with others."  
                                                                                                           --Galatians 6:4 MSG

  • Make time for yourself and for your friends.  I am the WORST at this, it drives my coach crazy. I sit down for lunch now and consider that "me" time but ask me to be social and that is a WHOA horsey!!!!   Even if they are cyber friends, girl friends are a fundamental key to a woman's mental health.  Suck it up and get out of your comfort zone once in awhile if that is what it takes.  I am so thankful that I took that leap this year.
  • Your husband is not a woman, we cannot expect them to listen, answer or care like a girlfriend does!  Go back to the statement above and reread. 
  • Put "Who Am I"  by the Casting Crowns on your playlist.  Jot down the lyrics for your mirror, your fridge, whatever.  The words speak to me and remind me of, well, everything!  I am so thankful that I opened myself up to the friendship that I made with Katie or I would not have been introduced to them through the killer mix she made me.  Yes, I did just make a 1980's mixed tape reference, but it's true.  
What?  You want to read these lyrics that inspired the genius behind this incredible post?  Well, I have included some of them for your reading leisure at the bottom of this post.  As for me, I need to get to the grocery store.  Our gigantic fridge is empty.  No, seriously, I cannot think of one meal that includes a frozen chicken, jam and buttermilk powder and I have a family to feed.  

That is part of my job after all and if you ask my family, it is a pretty important one.


Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth

Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt.
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart.

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You're 

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again.
Who am I, that the Voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me
not because of who I am
but because of what You done
not because of what I done 
but because of who you are