Think On These Things

A good memory from a warm summer day years ago… I wonder what caught our attention?

Last night the kids and I ended up at my computer watching videos from when they were little.

Yes, it was bedtime; and, no, I didn’t plan to make it a hang out time with the kids… I was simply on a mission to find a photo one of the kids has asked me for.

But all of a sudden, there we were: my boy on my lap, my girls leaning on each of my shoulders. We were scrunched into a 2×2 foot space, bodies touching, breaths warm… and we were laughing.

Laughing! Free!

Closeness and kindness and joy was filling us up and overflowing and we were swimming in good memories and sweet thoughts.

The kids were saying things to each other like “you were so cute when you were little!” and “oh my gosh, you still make that face!”; and, they find lots of opportunities to mock my ‘mom voice’ (you know, the voice that comes out when we moms take videos of cute things are kids are doing).

We laughed until we were literally crying.

Honestly, though, it was an experience I don’t get much of these days. Yes, we love each other. Yes, we’re close and bonded and thankful to be a family. But here’s the reality: family life can be tough.

There’s bickering and fighting. There’s complaining for space, lots of ‘leave me alones’, and a struggle for independence that comes harder and faster each day the kids get older. There are things to do, places to go, responsibilities to be responsible with. There are stresses, and tears over homework, and yelling, and door slamming. And, while we don’t mean it to, all the day to day messiness often blurs our minds to the truth.

What truth?

The truth that we are human and broken… and all in need of grace….

The truth that we love each other madly and deeply…

The truth that we are who we are because we are together…

The truth that we couldn’t get through life without one another…

The truth that we are each God’s greatest gift to each other…and

The truth that sometimes renewing our joy in the journey begins with stopping to remember where we’ve come from.

Going through the photos and the videos of the ‘good days’ reminded us of where we’ve been: we’ve shared pillows for naps, had dance parties in PJs, made up songs about hot sauce, and taken baths with so many bubbles we thought we’d lose each other. We’ve kissed at monuments, had soggy diapers, cried when we dropped cookies, and helped each other up when we’ve fallen. We’ve made forts out of flowered sheets, set out buffets for stuffed animal families, and squished into beds together because being alone in our own was way more uncomfortable.

We’ve cried… but we’ve also laughed our way through our lives together.

One of my favorite verses in the bible says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is TRUE, and HONORABLE, and RIGHT, and PURE, and LOVELY, and ADMIRABLE. Think about things that are EXCELLENT and WORTHY OF PRAISE. (Philippians 4:8).

Let’s do that today. Let’s rebel from the thoughts that tempt us to bitterness and let’s fill our minds with GOOD things. Let’s go through old photos and videos, put new pictures in our frames… let’s surround ourselves with the TRUTH about our lives: we are blessed.

We are blessed. We are needed. We are right where we are supposed to be.

Be the Change You Want To See

I love the gym. Not the floofy classes or the cushy easy-glide equipment, but the plate weights and the dumbbells and the free bars. I love the ‘real’ stuff – the stuff that I grew up with. The stuff that I know… that I understand… that I am comfortable with.

I got out of bed early this morning and hit the gym for the first time in weeks. The reality of my life is this: if I don’t steal the time for myself before the house wakes, I don’t make it happen.

I get tired.

I get lazy.

The ‘things’ of the day begin to suck at my skin and I just can’t get my mind right to put for the energy for a workout.

So, when a morning begins like it did today… me awake, the house asleep, iPod full of the best tunes, lots of sweat, 64 ounces of water before 7:30am, and tingling in my muscles, I am sooo thankful for my early years:

  • I’m thankful that working out wasn’t an option – it just was.
  • I’m thankful that my dad didn’t talk fitness… he lived fitness.
  • I’m thankful that my parents raised me so my body would never be a burden; I was raised to be in control of my physical being.
  • I am thankful the gym was home to me and, no matter how much time passes between my visits, I always return with comfort and ease.

That’s what growing up in bodybuilding did for me: it built a foundation of health. No, I’m not a bodybuilder – and, no, I have no desire to spend four hours a day in the gym… even if I had that kind of time in my day. BUT – growing up in bodybuilding grew a foundational desire in me to never let my body get away from me.

I learned from eating and breathing bodybuilding, day in and day out, that my body will be exactly what I feed it and train it to be. Period.

The funny thing is I’m positive my dad wasn’t intentionally training me all those years. He never pulled out a notebook with goals and milestones and ‘things I must teach my daughter before she’s 18’. He never sat me down and delivered bodybuilding sermons, or pontificated on the value of multiple reps and sets for each muscle group. No – my dad just was who he was and I learned by simply walking through life by his side.

Proverbs 22:6 promises that what we teach our children in their youth is what will stay with them:

“Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost.” (The Message Bible)

Or, another way it’s said is: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (NIV)

Today, just as I am reminded of the importance of the example I am living for my kids, I hope you’re reminded of the same.

Who WE are is who are children will become.

  • Our view of food will be their view of food.
  • How we handle trials will be how they handle trials.
  • How we value our bodies will be how they value their bodies.
  • How we love our spouse will be how they love their spouse.
  • How we respect ourselves will be how they respect themselves.

What WE do and who WE are matters far more than what we say.

  • We can’t preach ‘be kind’ if we ourselves are unkind.
  • We can’t preach ‘be healthy’ if we ourselves are unhealthy.
  • We can’t preach ‘be modest’ if we ourselves are immodest.
  • We can’t preach ‘be humble’ if we ourselves are full of ourselves and puffed up with pride.
  • We can’t preach ‘have faith’ if we ourselves are faith-less.

So today, mamas, let’s walk strong with eyes wide open. Let’s be the women we hope our girls will become.

Let’s be kind so they will learn kindness.

Let’s be generous so they will learn generosity.

Let’s be forgiving so they will learn forgiveness.

Let’s be patient so they will learn patience.

Let’s be bold so they will learn boldness.

Let’s be joyful so they will learn joy.

Let’s be thankful so they will learn thankfulness.

May our homes be where our children eat and breathe life and love and Truth, day in and day out…. so when they grow old, they will not depart from it.

Raise and Release, Part 2

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At the beginning of last school year, my 12 year old baby girl went off to outdoor school… and I thought I was going to break. Why? Because this ‘raise and release‘ thing we  do is emotionally overwhelming.

We raise them – teach them, comfort them, coach them, guide them, nag them, feed them, remind them, stand beside them, stand over them, love them, tuck them in, and wake them up. We pour all that we are into these little ones and then, before we know it, we are standing with them at the tip of a branch surveying the field of life and, even though we want to snuggle them close sheltered from the heartache, and fear, and discomfort, and mistakes that come with walking boldly through life, there is nothing more we can do but stand behind and watch as they fly.

Because that’s life, right? Every season of life brings new ‘work’ – a new flight into new territory… a little longer, a little farther. The work of facing fears – of taking chances, overcoming obstacles, of letting go of mama’s hand and grabbing for His instead. And, without the work, we stay stagnant, wimpy, and unusable for the greatness God calls us to.

So today, in spite of the pit in my stomach and my own deep seated fears of letting go, I did it to my girl again.The branch was a little higher, the view was a little vaster, but the process was the same: I signed her up for an adventure, walked her to the edge, stood behind her with our breaths almost as one, and I said, “Okay, girl, you can do this: fly”.

She was hesitant to jump and test the strength of her wings. We stood for some time in the church parking lot and quietly watched other campers arrive and mull around. I could tell she was nervous; she didn’t know anyone and felt totally out-of-place. The one person she recognized we approached and said hello to, but the girl and her mom quickly turned to other friends and left us to fend for ourselves in the sea of giggling girls and mamas.

(It’s hard not to feel rejected, whether you’re 12 or you’re 40. We all want to be loved. We want to be brought in to the laughs and the conversations. We want to be noticed, acknowledged, desired. We want to feel special – all of us do. And yet, there I was with my girl: face to face with real life. The lot was packed with moms and kids – yet, she and I were an island. No one spoke to us. No one noticed us. Moms and kids grouped up – hugging and chatting and laughing. My girl and I? Totally alone.)

As tears welled up in her eyes over the fear of four days away and not a friend in site, I felt her pain. I remember being 12 – awkward, unsure, out-of-place. (When I signed her up I thought for sure she’d know a girl or two, but with a church our size, I’m guess I’m not surprised she didn’t.) I cut the ice with some mama-talk: “Honey, I know exactly what you’re feeling. Here I am 40 years old and I feel a little anxiety in my stomach over not having a friend in site. But you know what? This is the kind of thing that makes us stronger! This is the type of situation God uses to pull us out of our comfort zone and grow us – and new friends are often part of that journey. I know God has something so great in store for you this weekend – and I know He has a perfect friend for you, too. You’ll see.”

“Mom, stop,” she muttered through clenched teeth as she leaned in closer to my side for protection.

All of a sudden I heard His still, small voice say: This is where the rubber meets the road, Elisha. This is where your girl needs to see how to fly by YOU flying first.

The whisper of encouragement made me stand a little taller and I decided to take command of the situation.

“Okay, let’s look for someone else who is alone and we’ll go make friends with them.”

“Mom, no.”

“Seriously, honey, look around. Who looks like they could use a friend?”

Seconds passed. Minutes passed. Not a word. Finally, I heard a peep:  “Fine, mom – how about her.”

I looked in the direction she was looking and about 10 feet from us I spotted fellow wanderers:  a darling girl and two ladies looking just as lost as we felt.  I put my arm around Selah and whispered under my breath, “Okay – don’t be so obvious, but let’s work our way over there.”

We walked towards the small group and around the backside of one of the ladies and still for about thirty seconds. (It would have embarrassed my girl way too much if I would have just walked to them looking desperate. So, I had to be cool – I had to be smooooooth.)

When I sensed a break in their conversation, I went to work.

I put my palm on the arm of the gal closest to me and she turned around. “Hi – I’m Elisha. Do you all go to church her or are you just here for the camp?” Selah was about 3 feet from me, body language screaming discomfort.

“Oh hi,” the sweet mama said. “Yes, we do attend here.”

We chatted for just a couple of minutes about the services we attend, etc, etc, and then I said, “Yeah, we were nervous when we showed up because we didn’t recognize anyone and everyone seemed paired up.”

“We thought the same thing, too,” the mama said with a lighthearted laugh.

“Well, this is my girl, Selah.”

“And this is my girl, Natalie.”

Selah and Natalie looked at each other, said little girl hellos, and I could feel it: in that instant fear has lost the fight for my baby girl’s wings. (Praise God!)

We continued to talk as the campers were rounded up. It turned out Natalie had forgotten a camp chair just like Selah, so the two girls were summoned to collect one from the church office. Off they went, chatting, smiling. Friends. They were instant friends.

Before we knew it the bus was being loaded and off  the two little birds went. Side by side on the bus, and mine totally embarrassed I was trying to take pictures through the window. But you know what? She was flying! She watched me fly before and then, with confidence, she jumped off, too… and how could I not try to snap a picture of her courage?!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for opportunities like today – opportunities that let my girl test her wings where it is safe, and where You are present. I pray your protection over her and all the campers this week. May Selah and her new friend enjoy each other’s company and may they come back stronger than they left us. Finally Lord, may we mamas never forget that our girls learn more by our example than our words, and may we – Your daughters – be women that exude kindness, gentleness, goodness, and love. Should by chance we ever feel insecure, or overlooked, or rejected, which I know You understand is common for us mamas sometimes, may we be reminded You call us by name – You call us Your Beloved; and, may we stand tall and shine brightly as your Love so the women you’ve entrusted us to raise stand tall and shine brightly as well. Thank you for loving us. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Mighty Mamahood

SO DO NOT FEAR, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

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This arrived in my inbox today… and I just had to share it.

I relate – to both the ‘wanna-be-anywhere-else-woman’ and to the fact no matter what mamahood brings, I am convicted: I will not be broken.

I WILL NOT BE BROKEN.

Yes, I will cry. I will yell. I will fall short. I will nag. I will be overlooked, dismissed, and sometimes forgotten.

But… I will rise. I will breathe. I will stand tall in this womanly skin and I will do my best – with the strength and grace of God – to battle for my babies… and be a warrior they can count on.

I hope that today, in whatever battle you are fighting, and with whatever mamawork you find yourself in the midst of, you remember: YOU ARE MIGHTY.

http://youtu.be/Xa-7jtvi7J4

Motherhood: It’s A Tough Gig Sometimes

Lisa Leonard Designs

Mom Necklace by Lisa Leonard Designs.

This morning was pretty typical around here.

I got up a little earlier than everyone… made lunches, made coffee, and folded the clothes I threw into the dryer before bed last night. I let everyone sleep a few extra minutes – but then I handed out morning back rubs and whispered “time to get up” room by room and slowly woke the house.

For some reason everyone needed a shower this morning. So, while each of my girls disappeared into a bathroom, I took a few minutes and did something I rarely do: I made their beds. My heart was simply to surprise them – give them one less thing to do this morning as they hurried to get ready for school.

I returned downstairs and, within a few minutes, the beckoning began. One needed pants; another needed a shirt; one needed an entire outfit. I dug through my freshly washed pile of clothes and delivered the favorites to each of them. And man: there is nothing like fresh clothes out of the dryer after a shower, right?

Soon the tribe filed down, one by one. They ate the breakfast I made with the food I shopped for. They grabbed the lunches I prepared with their favorites foods – and a requested treat of some jellybeans. They were each sharply dressed in their clean clothes I stayed up late and got up early to wash and fold for them. And, as for the fact I made their beds? Not one of them noticed… at least, not one of them mentioned it even if they did.

So, we said our goodbyes as shoes were put on and backpacks were slung and frustration was had because one ‘couldn’t find her ring’ and I ‘must have lost it’. And then – they were out the door.

Peace. Quiet. A dirty kitchen. Aloneness. That’s what they left me.

Why am I sharing all this? Because when mornings like this happen – mornings where my love is overlooked, dismissed, unappreciated – I am not angry, or depressed, or surprised. I am humbled.

I am humbled as I think, Father, do I do this to you? Do I wake up and overlook your kindness and your sweetness and your blessing?

He wakes me in my clean bed with my faithful man beside me and His beautiful sunrise outside… and I rush into the day.

I make the coffee, and breakfast, and lunches He graciously provides; I clean my big house, drive in my dependable car, wear my nice clothes…  all without a second thought.

He is so kind and so gracious and so merciful to give me another day to breathe and be present – and… do I notice these things? Do I stop and see Him? Do I feel His love and His thoughtfulness? Do I notice the little surprises He brings my way – not because I need them, but simply because He knows I love gifts and wants to thrill me beyond belief?

The truth is: I’ve been getting better and better about thanking Him with my every breath. Maybe it’s because now that I’m a parent I see what it’s like to be overlooked; I see what’s it like to be forgotten and dismissed; I see what it’s like to have my children upset with me for no reason; I see what it’s like to lay all that I am on the line – only to have my children say, “Great – I got it from here.”

Motherhood is a tough gig sometimes… but, because of it, I get it.

I see what’s it’s like and I know what it feels like – and that’s what pushes my heart even closer to my Father.

I get why He sticks it out with me.

I get why He he loves me in spite of me.

I get why He continues to show up and help me through the tough stuff… even though so often I’ve pushed Him away with “Great – I got it from here.”

I get why He constantly reminds me, “…I will be with you; I will not fail you or abandon you.”

I get why, even though I turn my back on Him, He loves me unconditionally.

I hope that today you get it, too. Because while mothering can be tough, we have a Faithful Friend to strengthen and love us through the journey.

PRAYER: Father, help us mamas to see the blessing in every breath we take today. Sometimes this mama gig is a tough one: we get overlooked, are often unappreciated, and more often then not, we are exhausted from service. But thank you that You offer us strength! Thank you that when we cling to You, we can be selfless as You are selfless; we can be strong as You are strong; we can love unconditionally as You love us unconditionally. Thank you for being a perfect example of what Love looks like… and thank you for loving us in spite of ourselves. May we serve with joy today – and may we not forget that our men and our babies need our warm arms, our sweet voices, our gentle spirits, and our encouraging words.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

The Queen of Leftovers and Lasts

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will [her]self be watered.

Proverbs 11:25

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One thing most people probably don’t realize about us mamas is this: we are Queens of the Leftovers and the Lasts.

We thrive on the left behinds that no one else wants, like the the burnt toast, the black jellybeans, the half-eaten bananas. We typically care for ourselves last, which means we’ve learned to persevere with cold dinners and wrinkly clothes. And, we don’t skip a beat when we are the last to get a break, the last to take a shower, or the last to hit the pillow at the end of the day.

It’s called Mamahood… and there is no place for selfishness, whining, or feeble knees.

If we have the right perspective, however, not all the ‘lefttovers and lasts’ are a bummer. Take today, for example. I fed the kids, fed my man, made lunches, and got everyone out the door. When all was quiet, it was time for me to get a bite; and, as I surveyed my kitchen to spy what had to be salvaged so as not to waste, here’s what I was left with:

About a half cup of quinoa at the bottom of the pot

About a half cup of quinoa at the bottom of the pot
About a handful of edemame and half an alatufo mango

About a handful of edemame and half an ataulfo mango

Hmmm…

Well, with these random barely-there ingredients, this Queen of Leftovers did this:

  • Put the 1/2 cup of precooked quinoa in a bowl.
  • Diced up the 1/2 of the ataulfo mango (aka ‘Manila mango, or champagne mango) and shelled the 1/2 cup of edemame.
  • Drizzled a bit of EVOO, squeezed a little fresh lime juice, and topped the whole thing with a sprinkling of Furikake, which is a Japanese ‘condiment’ of toasted sesame seeds and nori.
quinoa, edemame, mango salad

And lookie lookie: a beautiful, colorful quinoa, edemame, mango salad

Let me tell you: my ‘leftovers and lasts’ turned into something spectacular I probably never would have thought to throw together otherwise. It was beautiful. It was light. It was fresh and fragrant and exactly what I needed to start my day. Yum. Yum. Yum. (NOTE: This would be an AMAZING lunch for work, or even a side salad for a bbq.)

So, today, as we mamas do what we do best – serve, and love, and serve, and lay down all that we are for our little tribes – let’s do it with heads held high, joy in our hearts, and determination to be a bright light in our homes. Why? Because there is beauty in the leftovers and the lasts… the question is: are we creative enough to see it?

A Call to Rebuild

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately remembering… remembering my childhood, specifically.

For every good memory I have, there’s a jar of heartache that sits beside it. That’s what comes from growing up in a dysfunctional family: laughs and good times are never far from terror and tears.

Thankfully, my heartaches were covered years ago by a gracious God. Now, in my adulthood – in this place where I stand as a woman, wife, parent – I know without a doubt that those that walked me through my early years did the best they knew how. I take comfort in that – comfort in the fact that none of the heartache was maliciously inflicted… it simply came with the territory in a land of brokenness.

Now that I am farming my own land, however, it’s my past perspective that wakes me up to the bitter roots I need to diligently purge from my present ground: chaos, selfishness, envy, fear, pride, separation. These are the roots that shoot up through the toughest of concrete, destroy the path, and cause others to stumble along the way as they follow in my footsteps.

My goal is to be a rebuilder of the broken roads I walked, thereby giving my children steadier feet, brighter eyes, and wider wings than I was ever given. I want them to step boldly, confidently…

I’m sharing this today because I’m in a season where I’m face to face with a 12-year old young lady coming up behind. She is strong, she is beautiful, she is determined… and, for all my good intentions, I often fail at being the love she needs. When struggle ensues, I find old ways of relating well up in my chest: I harden… I get weary… I shut down.

I hate it. I hate feeling like I’m perpetuating the cycle of my past!

But, the good news I’ve learned – and the truth that keeps me going – is this: every moment is a gift and a chance to change. Every moment is an opportunity to be more patient, to love more, to have compassion, to offer kindness, to rebel from the the junk of my past that I swore I would never perpetuate. No matter what I was born into or ‘born to be’… I have a choice: I can continue to walk a broken path… OR, I can choose to rebuild.

I can ask for forgiveness.

I can exercise self-control.

I can be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

I can be love.

Brick by brick. Moment by moment. Word by word.

Rebel on,
Elisha

You Are Wanted…

love your man If you are married, can I tell you something?

Your man wants you. He wants every inch of you. He wants to love on your body and hold your hand and nuzzle your neck and grab you close.

You know what else he wants? He wants you to want him!

He wants you to love on his body and hold his hand and nuzzle his neck and grab him close.

Just like you wish your man would appreciate and respect you, he’s dying for you to appreciate and respect him.

He’s longing for you to say, “You are a good man – and I’m so glad I married you.”

He’s wishing you’d say, “I’m dying for you to put those manly hands all over me and make me feel 25 again.”

He’s dreaming you’d say, “When we put the kids down tonight – we’re getting naked and “watching a movie”.” (Notice I said “watching a movie“.)

Our men need us desperately. They need to know they are needed, and appreciated, and that without them our lives wouldn’t be the same.

I told my man jokingly the other day, “I think you guys are perpetually 15: you just need to know we think you’re really hot, that you’re really good at stuff, and that we think about you all the time.”

“Yep,” he said. “We are pretty simple.”

Why am I saying all this? Because life is hard… and, as a mom and a wife and a friend, it’s really easy for me to get wrapped up in ‘my’ stuff: what I need, and what I want, and what I wish he’d do or not do. (I’m also saying it because we can get all wrapped up into good food and eating well… but then we forget that what really feeds our spirit is LOVE!)

But it’s not about me… it’s about US… and, most importantly, it’s about my kids.

The kind of wife I am to my man is speaking volumes to my girls about the type of wives they should be someday. So, with this in mind, I LOVE MY MAN.

I love him unconditionally.

I love him when it’s easy… but I love him when it hard, too. (Because what good is it to love only the lovable? Anyone can love who is lovable… but the greatest love is shown when we love the unlovable.)

I love him through my tone, through my words, through my time.

I love him by taking care of my body and my mind… and by remembering that just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I need to be ‘a mom’. He married a woman – and a woman I shall be!

Am I perfect? Of course not. None of us will ever be perfect.

BUT, what I never let myself forget is that little eyes are watching our love affair. Little eyes are learning from our example what love looks like; little ears are hearing through our tone and our words what love sounds like. Our love affair is the first one they will ever know… and will be what they take into the world as the standard.

Can I just encourage you today that, if you are struggling with your man, take a minute and remember why you married him.

Remember the tingles you felt when he’d call you.

Remember what your first kiss was like.

Remember the excitement of your wedding day and how you never wanted to be apart.

Remember the woman you were when you married him – and how you captivated him with your smile and your touch and your warmth.

Remember how it felt to be in love… and then – choose to love him. And, keep loving him. One day at a time, one word at a time, one moment at a time.

Rebel on,
Elisha

Children of the Rebel Grain

As you all know, my ‘big girl’ turned 12 recently. The ’12 years old’ of today is not the 12 I experienced. She is growing up in a culture of narcissism and instant gratification; a culture that is sick physically, as much as it is emotionally.

The fight for what is good and right and pure is a tough one.

I bring this up because, as much as I want her to eat intentionally, I want her to live intentionally. Just as I am training her to make the right choices for her physical body, I am training her to make the right choices for her spirit:

I want her to choose kindness.

I want her to choose humilty.

I want her to choose modesty.

I want her to respect authority, always recognize she has something to learn, and understand she was put on this earth for one purpose alone: to bring glory to her Creator through all that she is…. whatever she may choose that to be.

Be careful little eyes what you see…
Be careful little ears what you hear…
Be careful little mouth what you say…
Be careful little hands what you do…
Be careful little heart whom you trust…
Be careful little feet where you go…

I’m not naive. I know I will not always be with her when she’s at the food buffet with plate in her hand – just like I will not always be with her when she’s presented with life’s buffet of choices and temptations.

God will be with her, though. And, if I can train my girl up to keep her eyes on Him, then she’ll be able to rebel on through life with the supernatural humility and grace that we are hard pressed to find in today’s culture.

See, I don’t want my girl – or any of my kids! – to just blend into the sea of humanity. Not physically, not spiritually, not emotionally. I want them to stand out… to shine… to be set apart. I want them be bold – I want them to fight for good, for truth, for purity. I want them to be rebels that live against the grain of this world.

In the world, not of the world.

The Rebel Grain.

Rebel on,
e-

 

 

The Food Pyramid of Common Sense

I don’t listen to “experts” when it comes to how to eat healthy. Why? Because if you’re going to listen to experts, how do you know what “expert” to listen to? “Healthy” to one is not “healthy” to another;  a “proper diet” to one is not a “proper diet” to another. Some say supplements, others say no diary, and others say nothing but protein.

So what’s a mom to do? I go with common sense.

See, if I just look around me and study creation there are great clues on how our Creator intended us to eat – what I tell my kids is the “food pyramid of common sense”:

1) Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds – these are all in abundance and easy to harvest and eat without any processing or preparation. Therefore, the foundation of our daily diet should be based on these things.

2) Eggs, milk. These are animal products that are abundant and, therefore, are a good source of protein on a daily basis. (I put cheeses and yogurt into this category since processing these items can be homemade without a factory.)

3) Fish and chicken. Easy to catch, easy to prepare… but not so easy that they need to be part of our daily intake.

4) Red meat, pork. Based on how difficult it would be to catch and prepare one of these animals if we had to do it ourself, we eat these things occasionally as a compliment to our overall intake.

What I just laid out is the foundation of how we eat as a family. Whole. Real. As simple as possible as often as possible.

Here are some habits I practice in my home:

About 90% of what we consume is homemade.

Not a lot of salt, rarely, rarely much processed sugar. (Unless, of course, we are making a batch of homemade cookies or fresh whipped cream!)

I buy the highest quality food my budget can afford at any particular time; I buy organic fruits and vegetables as often as possible. (I love frozen organic veggies – a little more cost effective if you buy them in the bulk bags.)

I keep what I want my children to eat the most of in plain view: fruit all over the place, nuts in see-through containers at eye level in the pantry.

What I don’t want them eating without permission is kept in our “naughty cabinet”. The “naughty cabinet” is where we keep crackers, chips, candy (if we have it), cookies… the “treats” in our home. If the kids want any of these things they must get permission first. (I’m a big believer in training kids how to enjoy treats in moderation. So, while we enjoy our “treats”, they are “treats” and not to be consumed without thought.)

Common sense eating has served us well – and it has also helped me to raise a little tribe of kids that truly LOVE good food – all food. We don’t have food fights around here, I don’t make separate meals for people, they eat their veggies as happily as they eat an apple. And, best of all, my kids are healthy, lean, strong, smart.

So be encouraged today. Now that 2012 is here I know many of you are probably trying to kick off better eating habits in your home… but don’t allow all the voices out there overwhelm you! Take a step back, breathe – take cues from nature and let simple common sense be your guide.