Finding Joy in times of Stress

Lately, my stress levels have been very high. You would think after tackling the wedding it would go down. But nooo, its only increased but this time its because of my own doing.

I have taken on alot of freelance design work, am starting a women’s bible study at church on Wednesdays, signed up to attend a gym and am doing a strict diet once again (I gained way to much to do stress eating this year). So of course my stress levels are a bit high. Usually when this happens I handle it two ways. One I overeat or two I shut down emotionally. Neither one is healthy or good for me.

So today I read a verse from my daily verse email that I get from KLOVE. It was: “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Psalms 119:143. My first thought was “yeah, right, joy? where? how? If anything my frustration, anger and sadness levels are more of what I’ve been feeling. So where is this joy?” Then I got a subtle nudge from the Holy Spirit. I was reminded by doing all of these things I am following God’s commands, I’m obeying the calling He has put on my heart and I’m not being lazy. I can take joy in that. Joy that I’m not working for myself, but for someone and something bigger and greater than me. Joy that I am busy (which I do enjoy), joy in that I’m making new connections with people, joy that I’m working towards a goal (which gives me satisfaction), joy in His provision (through the freelance work), joy that I’m creating, building, strengthening many aspects of my life. So yes, there is joy in His commands and I need to remember that.

So, I think this verse is going to make it into my verse journal. It’s a good reminder and great perspective changer. I hope that it helps you too!

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Reviving an old Goal

Everyone has at least one weakness or as I call them handicaps.  It’s something we all have to learn to live with or overcome.  I try to overcome mine but unfortunately for me they often go hand in hand and I struggle with them both.  They are weight control/loss and consistency.

Since I had our first born (21 years ago) I have struggled with my weight.  Growing up I was an average, healthy size but due to a tall gene pool, I never had to monitor my food intake to keep my waistline under control.  It wasn’t until after our first child was born that I realized I had a problem.

Through out the years I learned the skills and techniques of watching what I ate and balancing my exercise levels with my food intake.  In my mid-20s I was actually quite successful at it.  But then life happened and my tendency to stress eat and lack of love for exercise caused me to gain it all back plus some.

When we moved to Reno 10 years ago I was resolved to lose it all.  So far I have been half way successful, even though it took me 4 years to drop the first half of excess.  The past 6 years I have been moving within a 20 lb range and haven’t been able to move beyond that.  Recently, meaning this past year, I allowed my old habit of stress eating (due to mother of the bride stresses) to creep back in.  This unfortunately has moved me back up to the top of that 20 lb movement range.

So, 2 weeks ago, I had a heart to heart with my dear husband.  He has been by my side watching my struggle, encouraging me and trying his hardest to help me to remain consistent.  Unfortunately, I am a very social creature in my habits.  I also struggle with disciplined consistency for long term goals.  Overall, this means that I do better and am more successful when I am working with another person on my goals.  Meaning that person see’s me at least weekly and is going through the same routine/pain that I am. But I digress.  Back to my heart to heart with the hubby.  Through our discussion I came to realize running, as good as it is for my body, was not working for me.  I needed something social, some accountability and something I could really enjoy.

So I went through my choices.  I have done the weight loss clinic aspect like Weight-watchers before and early on realized it didn’t really inspire me much.  I then started to consider social methods of working out.  My last successful weight loss/exercise was at the for women only  health club Curves.  I did very well there and lost the first quarter of my initial excess weight there.  Unfortunately there is no Curves that would work with my day to day routine or in a location that works for me.  I had tried Kaia for a short-term, I wanted to try to bond with my sister in law through it and also meet some other women, but since my sister in law was pregnant at the time and the times for the Kaia classes were difficult for my schedule that failed miserably.  I also felt like Kaia wasn’t a very good fit for me with how they did things.  It didn’t have the type of structure and one on one interaction that I prefer.  Also I felt like a fish out of water in that environment.  Not many of the women who were regulars I could personally relate with.  Then there was the idea to join a health club.  I’ve been hesitant to go that route for monetary reasons, and also preference.  My thought process was that if I was going to go to a club it had to have a pool (I love swimming) and it had to offer classes at times that would work for me, not to mention location.  This seemed like an impossible aspect for me, Reno wasn’t known for its clubs with pools, and money wise I didn’t see how it would work with our budget.

Over the course of the next 2 weeks I discussed some of this (with out all the introspection) with some of my coworkers friends.  One particular friend suggested a club she had belonged to previously but when I looked into the pricing it was a no go.  Then another coworker friend went to the actual club and signed up.  She came back to the office with all the details of her sign up.  The pricing wasn’t as bad as I saw on the internet, they were having a special priced sign up.  But here is where the big bright Go arrow came from God for me.  My first friend received an email that there was a very short term special signup price that lasted only 5 days.  The price was unbelievably low.  I immediately forwarded the price over to my hubby and we discussed it.  So with all that being said I am officially a member of a local health club again and it offers weekly aquafit, aqua-pilates, and aqua-zumba classes, plus I will meeting with a trainer to help me get back on track.  My hopes are definitely up for this place.

I know I still have my handicaps of needing to be socially engaged to help me be successful and also I struggle with consistency, but at least I feel I’m moving in the right direction again.  The past 6 years have felt like I’ve been “static” (as our pastor referred to today) in the weight loss area.  I’m hoping and doing my best to move forward in this area, plus a couple of others which I won’t bore you with. So we will see if I finally reach the 2nd half of my long term goal of achieving my right weight and getting to that 10 minute per mile run time.

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Moving on but still Mom

The past 2 weeks our family has gone through a great celebration but also a huge transformation.  We have now in a sense lost a daughter, but also gained a son.  I’ve always dreamed of this day for each of our children but it seems surreal that it has happened.  Even during the ceremony it didn’t seem real, and last week it felt more like our daughter was just on vacation away from us just like last year.  However, last night was a bit of an eye opener to me.

For the past 6 months we have slowly been prepared with our daughter spending half her time with her fiancee, but yet she was always still our daughter.  However, on her honeymoon she entered into the role of wife, both mentally, physically and emotionally.  As we caught up with the newlyweds over dinner last night and then later throughout the evening I noticed little changes in her demeanor, her body language and even in some of the things she said.  They weren’t bad changes, just changes.  But then I also saw some of the young, naive girl still in her. She had grown up a bit in her week away with her new husband.  She now felt more on equal grounds with me instead of my little girl.  It made me proud but at the same time a little sad.

It also reminded me that I still have my other 3 who will be entering into the adult world soon enough, and soon my role as mother will change again.  I’ll still be their mother, but not in the same way I have been.  To be fair though my role as mother has changed alot in the 21 years since we first conceived our first child.  In the baby stages, I was the provider, the protector, the main caregiver, the teacher, the discipliner, the housekeeper, the cook, and even the playmate.  During the children stage I was those things, but more tasks were added on as counselor, peacemaker, confidante, and advocate.  When the teen years hit some of the original tasks fell away as the kids became more self sufficient, but some of the newer tasks intensified in their roles.  Now I’m entering the final stage of motherhood, as adviser/counselor and friend.  But the ongoing task I always have had and will have is prayer warrior for them.

What I didn’t expect was the sense of freedom that would come with this new phase of motherhood.  Freedom of time I expected, but the freedom of the day to day stresses that come from having 4 young adults under the same roof. That I did not expect.  There is still the stresses or emotions of 3 young people but one less is almost relieving.  I know this makes me sounds bad and may imply that our 4 kiddos are highly emotional, but in actuality they are not.  This is a momma who is just worn out emotionally.  After 21 years of trying to appease, battle, sensor, guide 4 brimming with life people, I’m a little worn out.  Don’t get me wrong, I treasure each memory, each giggle, each hug, each milestone little or big, and each tear but it’s been a definite job of love.  So with that being said, seeing one of my chicks leave the nest has been sad but also gratifying especially in the choice of how she left.

Now as to my 3 remaining chicks.  It feels like time is moving even faster than it was before.  My initial instincts are to hold on to the 3 I still have left.   Yet I know in order to help my chicks fly I need to still guide, prompt, nudge and encourage them.  So in essence even though my job as mother to one of my kiddos has altered a bit the other 3 still need me as the same mom I’ve been since they’ve entered the teen years.  It will be interesting juggling and wading through these mixed phases of motherhood, but probably no harder or difficult than mothering 4 children between the ages of 15 and soon to be 21 years old.

Lastly, I have to say I’m at peace about the place I’m in as a mom.  Each of our chicks are growing into amazing people, and we now have our new addition in our son in law.  I look forward to seeing our once little family blossom and grow.  I anticipate the new additions that God will bring into our home.  And mostly I look forward to seeing each of them strive after the dreams that were placed in their hearts.  One thing I can say for sure is that I know my kids are each other’s friends and companions.  That they truly do love and enjoy one another’s company and even like to hang out with Tom and I.  Twenty-one years ago I couldn’t comprehend what this stage of life would be like.  I couldn’t see how we would be blessed, provided for, how much we’ve grown and changed.  It’s definitely been a journey, but its a journey I’ve enjoyed and am thankful for.  This next stage of the journey should be just as great and just as interesting.

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Eight Weeks and Counting

It’s hard to believe after 5 months of planning, we are only 8 weeks from a life changing, family changing moment in our lives.  An event we have all been working so hard to make special, to make memorable, and mostly to celebrate a special blessing.

We will be gaining another son, but also losing one of our daughter’s to this change.  It will also be the beginning of a new stage for our family, the empty nest stage.  Our family at home will shrink for the first time from 6 to 5.  At times this still seems unfathomable to me.

Over the past 5 months I haven’t had much time to dwell on this change emotionally.  I’ve been busy planning, organizing, working, coordinating, shopping, designing and still trying to maintain my diet/exercise regime.  This has been helpful in that it keeps me from indulging in the emotions that I know will pour out once the wedding is over.

But there are times, times late at night when I can’t fall asleep and my mind won’t shut off.  It’s those rare times that I start to think and feel.  I start to consider the loss that I am going to be facing.  The loss of not seeing her every morning before she goes off to work, the loss of not getting her morning hugs, the loss of not having her home to help critique my hair style or outfit choice for the day, the loss of not having her join me for a favorite television show or new movie to girl-fan out over, the loss of not having her help me cook dinner, the loss of not listening to her sing to herself as she draws her art pieces, the loss of one of my daughters under our roof and one of my dearest friends that I have the privilege to see daily.  I know deep down she will still be around, she still is in Reno, but she won’t be home anymore for the little things.  It’s at those time that the tears come.

As always though, the morning reminds me of the hopes of the new future we will be facing and the tears dry up.  I’m reminded of future vacations that we are planning, camping trips, trips to Disneyland, future holidays, lunch outings, girly outings, and much more.  I’m also reminded of the wonderful growth of our family through this union.  The gaining of a new son, and maybe even new little ones as time goes by.  Most importantly, I reminded of all the prayers, dreams I had for my little girl when she was born.  The prayers and dreams that I am seeing manifested now.

It is a mixed bag of emotions this change is bringing.  However, I think as that special day approaches I’m starting to come to terms with it.  I know part of me will cry, and will mope without my girl-buddy around daily.  But the other part of me is thrilled for her and what this new stage of life brings.  Deep down, I am getting there, getting ready for it.  And ultimately getting ready for when all my chicks will leave the nest.  I couldn’t be prouder of the wonderful people they have become and are becoming.  God has been good to us and I know He is still with us through each stage of this life that he has given us.

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Two Breaths of Fresh Air

Have you ever felt dark inside, where there wasn’t much light shining?  Or felt like life was going to always be like this? No change, no moving forward, no movement?  Or have you ever felt so hemmed in by negative thoughts and feelings you couldn’t see a way out?  Have you ever felt so alone and so shut out by those around you, that you felt like if you disappeared no one notice?

I have.  Some people would call it depression, some call it losing your hope, others refer to it as having no drive, but whatever you call it is a real struggle.  It’s a struggle that I have fought for most of my life and still do.  Some days its so real, I can’t find a smile or a twinkle of hope.  Other times its there as a layer that is deep inside like a thorn or a sliver in a spot you can’t reach and no matter how hard you try to reach it there is no getting to it. It isn’t controlling you or affecting you in such a way you can’t function, but it hurts and pokes when you feel weak.  And other times, those brief glorious times it is completely gone for a window of time.

It is because of this struggle I am so dependent on 3 things.  One is my faith.  Without my faith, without the knowledge, the comfort, the strength, the peace and the unsurpassing love of my faith in my God I would be a mess. I would be dependent on alcohol, food, drugs or any other worldly temptation that caught my eye.  I depend heavily on my faith to get me through all aspects of my life and am so thankful I have Someone greater than me, Someone greater than any person I’ve ever read about or known, to turn to.  And it is my faith that helps me with my struggle of depression the most.

The second thing I am dependent on is my family and friends.  Many people don’t know how vital they are to me.  How much they encourage, challenge and inspire me when I spend time with them.  How their love, acceptance, time, and companionship keep me going.  It keeps me willing to face the world instead of hide in my hole of pain.  But sadly there is a down side to this part of my dependence.  When they reject me, hurt me, leave me out, don’t communicate that thorn rises to my heart and soul and stabs so deeply the pain is overwhelming that I do shut down, I do pull away, I do hide.  Because my trust, my heart has been attacked and often I’m too weak to try again.

And lastly (this is a new one for me) I have come to realize I’m dependent on exercise.  I know, I know, this sounds like a “health” reason and clinically it is.  But for me the exercise, the moving of my body, straining my muscles, sweat poring down my forehead, and neck, the working of my lungs.  It does something for me.  It helps me to just be, well be me.  Not a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, a daughter, an employee, a woman but just human.  A human enjoying the gift of mobility from my Lord, to just work my body until there is no longer a care of any type left in my head or heart.

Now back to my main point, specifically the title of this post.  Lately, I have been teetering on the brink of my depression, it comes and goes and often when I’m stressed, when Tom is gone, and especially when I’ve been alone alot it comes in stealthily.  Well, today the Lord knew I needed a boost.  I’ve been alone alot after work and busy with too much to do (mom and job stuff) and to little time, which adds to my stress, plus health issues have added to it.  I received 2 breaths, which have helped lift my spirits both ways.

The first one was at our church today,  we installed our new senior pastor.  Now, I’m not the most devout member of our church, I’m involved and care, but the fact that I’m not a member shows I have my boundaries.  Pastor Todd gave an excellent sermon about fresh starts and building our community up.  I also felt like he gave an almost subtle message about letting go of past grudges, hurts and dissension.  I was impressed by the detail of his message and found it inspiring especially because my heart has been yearning to step back into women’s ministry again and his sermon leads me to believe I would be welcome to do this. It was a definite breath of fresh air that encouraged me.

As to the second one, that helped a deeper spot, one that has been very dark and pokes at me daily for several years.  I was faced by it again today, the lack of acceptance/interest to connect, the feeling of being on the outside and the general wariness of expected yet unintentional pain.  Thankfully, my negative expectations weren’t completely met, but I still encountered the pokes from that particular thorn.  Anyways, I came home, worked on the laundry, cleaned a bit then settled down for some quiet time to do my study while having Indiana Jones playing in the background.  In my quiet time I was gently reminded where I need to go and where my focus needs to remain.  Because true satisfaction, true peace, true joy and ultimately true connection is through my Lord.  I need to keep my blinders on Him and seek out Him as my first source of dependence.  Especially when facing potential heartache and disappointment, when facing rejection, when facing that darkness of being alone and weak.  He is my Light and my Source.  I need to keep that at the forefront of my heart and mind and soul at all times.

So today, those 2 breaths of fresh air came from Him and I am thankful once again for another life-giving breath to face this life He has blessed me with.

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22 years and still going strong

As I flipped the calendar at my work desk this morning I couldn’t help but get tingles of joy.  The reason why?  Well, its March!  I know, I know what makes March so special?  For me its because this is the month I said “I do, forever” to my partner, my best friend and my lover.  I realize most couples probably don’t claim a whole month for their anniversary, and in all respects I don’t either (well, at least out loud I don’t claim it), but in my heart March is our month.  Our month to celebrate, relive, and take pure joy in us as a couple.  Our official anniversary date is March 11th but for me I prefer to think of March as whole, as our anniversary.

When I look back and reminisce about our lives together I can’t help but be in awe of how far God has brought us.  We are in essence still the same couple who love to laugh together, play together, dream together, experience life together and most of all be together, but in many other ways we are different.

Four kids, eight moves, five properties owned and sold, five churches, eleven schools (kids and ours), thirteen vehicles, twelve companies worked at (combined for Tom and I), numerous blessings of friends, countless blessings of laughter and tears, is just a quick summary of all that we have experienced together.  And you know what?  I wouldn’t change or trade it for anything!

(Now I’m going to gloat and get mushy here.)  From our first date Tom has always had my attention.  His beautiful deep blue eyes, his gentle smile, his wicked sense of humor, his oneryness, his logical mind (that at times drives me crazy), his desire and willingness to try new ways and new ideas, his adventurous heart, his deep convictions, his calm-laid back spirit that helps to keep me balanced, his patience to put up with my teasing, my silliness, and my wild imagination.  He has always been my other half, the half that helps to balance me in the weak and in the strong areas of my life.

Now I know at the young age of 17 (when we met) that neither one of us knew how good of a match we would turn out to be for one another.  But I do know in the depths of my heart that we were committed, willing to try, and had 3 main focuses that tied us together.  Those were and still are God, wanting to be together, and wanting a family to love.  And you know what, that hasn’t changed much since day one.

This year I have had to face and look back on who I was as a young bride and wife, especially since our daughter is seeking advice and wanting to compare “notes” with my experiences.  At times it has been painful (looking at the selfish, immature girl I was once), but it has also been joyful too.  Of being reminded of those first stirrings of love, passion, lust and adventure of the unknown.

It’s been these reminders that warm my heart.  They warm it in the knowledge that I still love holding his hand,  I still love feeling his arm wrapped around me as we are sitting on the couch,  I still enjoy teasing and tickling him even though he knows all my tricks, I still love his bear hugs that crush the air out of my lungs and I still love to just look into his eyes and glory in the husband that I am blessed with.

So for those of  you who may think “22 years, wow, that’s a loooong time.”  I can agree, numerically and time-wise it is.  But in my heart it’s not long enough, I treasure every moment I have with him, and look forward to many more.  I look forward to going on more adventures with him, of completing our “bucket lists” together, of creating more simple memories like riding on the back of the quad with him, or holding his hand in the truck on the way to church, or giggling together at the antics of our children, dogs and future gran-babies, of continuing to build a life and live life together.  Most of all I look forward to just being by his side “in good times and bad, in sickness and health, till death do us part.”

I love you Thomas Aaron Beck, my partner, my best friend, my love.

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Blessings and Inspiration

This week I have received blessings, encouragement and inspiration through my friends, the Lord, and challenges from work.  It amazes me that at this point of my life when I’m as maxed out as I can be with tasks and responsibilities through work, family and personal goals that I am still challenged to take on more.  I know, I know I can hear my mom’s voice of concern to not take on any more, that I will get overwhelmed, but when I am faced with a choice to assist in something that is close to my heart specifically my spiritual heart I can’t help but jump at it.

If anything I’m probably more excited about or I should say as equally as excited to be a part of women’s ministry again.  I feel like finally the drought I’ve been in for 12 years ministry-wise may finally be getting some sprinkles of holy water.  To tell you the truth I’ve been needing this.  I’ve been becoming parched and dry so to speak in my soul.  I know that may seem backwards, but when all you’ve been doing is taking in spiritual food and drink and only using it to heal from past injuries and share with your inner circle it has an affect much like unhealthy weight gain.  You get to a point where the healthy foods and drinks no longer help you, that it blends with the unhealthy and becomes excessive fat on your “body”.  That little doses of exercise don’t make a dent and spurts of exercise (or ministry) only alleviate the problem for short bursts.  So in the end you are not balanced.

But this week and actually the past couple of months, I’ve been challenged  to just partake of healthy foods and to use the intake for exercise (or ministry).  I’m learning how to balance once again and searching out more ways to have a balanced spiritual diet of intake and exercise just as I am with my physical body.  Sorry for the weight and exercise analogy but is what I best relate to at this time.

For me this is incredibly encouraging and exciting.  Also not to mention, the Lord has been blessing the area of my professional career and revealing the potential opportunities as we draw closer to the our next phase of life of being empty nesters.  This to has been a blessing for me, because honestly I’ve been mourning the losing of my chicks. For instance, when I take our youngest son to the dentist and realize that he is the last one I actually still drive, sign-in, and talk to the dentist about the condition of his teeth, and I tear up a bit knowing there will be no more of these types of “mom” duties anymore.  Or when I stop at the gas station because my teenage sons are “starving” and need a snack to “survive” the hour long ride home.  Its the little moments when I start to feel the pang, that these are the last times.  So for God to point out the joys, freedoms, and new paths that I can take as an empty nester is a HUGE encouragement for me.

I have cherished every moment of motherhood and still do.  But I am thankfully for the gentle reminders that as always there is so much to my life than motherhood.  I know motherhood will still be there, it just is going to be different.  And to tell you the truth I’m finally starting to look forward to this next phase as it creeps up on me.  This week’s encouragements and blessings have shown me this.

 

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