Friday, May 27, 2011

Unrelenting Changes

I have never been good at transitions in life. I am quietly sitting here this morning with a "preschool end of the year program hangover". This is our 5th year so I thought it would get easier with each child, yet somehow I always feel so sad the next morning. We had an amazing year with incredible teachers and the entire school has been a blessing beyond measure for both of my children. Even with all the good that has happened this school year, I still have such a hard time transitioning to the next season of life. Don’t get me wrong, I am ecstatic to have a summer filled with pool trips and PJ's, but I still wonder: Did I soak up the moments? Did I enjoy each of my children along the way? Did we laugh enough, love enough, play enough, and learn enough? Ugh! Why do I do this to myself? I can justify that it’s all a part of life; however, my heart tells me differently sometimes.

My earliest memory of struggling though the school transitions was when I completed 5th grade. It would be the first time to move to a new school and I remember crying uncontrollably the last day of school because of having to leave my friends, my teachers and the only school I had ever known. Now fast forward to the present and I still get emotional over the cars driving around town that say "Congratulations Class of 2011". In fact, after seeing all of the cars, it gave me the idea for a home work assignment….one that I hope you may consider as well. I am going to write a hand written letter to each of my children that can be given to them when they graduate high school. My first thought is to include messages to each child about who they are now, what their personalities are like and what our hopes are for the future God has planned for each of them. Really, I don’t know all the details yet, but I thought it would be a great gift to be able to give to each of them when they graduate (Parker Class of 2022 and Cooper Class of 2025). Maybe this “assignment” will help put the pieces into perspective and realize that even though we don’t always know the next step, God has been preparing the path for each of us, not just long term but even for today.

I have a friend, Laura, that has 3 children of her own and I can remember over hearing her say at a birthday party once that her youngest of the 3 children had just moved out of his crib to a big boy bed. She said that it was the first time in 9 years that her home would be without a crib. Well, the females standing around did what we all do. They put their hands to their hearts, gave the compassionate deep sigh and then asked how she was doing. Her response surprised me and has stuck in my mind ever sense that day. It would have been very easy to go along with the overall feel of those standing around her and fall into the self pity and sadness knowing that her children were growing up; however, she confidently replied, “I am not sad. I have thoroughly enjoyed my children at each stage and this is just the next step of life”. Huh? Did I hear that right? I couldn’t believe it. I was awed by her confidence and loving response. Way to go Laura! My first response would have been “option 1” with the self pity and poor me approach. I knew at that moment though that I wanted to have that kind of confidence to know that we did it. We soaked up the moments and we squeezed all the life, love, lessons and memories we could’ve gotten from that experience and now it’s time to move on to the next step.

In my sadness this morning, I heard a still small voice, just like I do most mornings to go and open up my devotion because there was something that I truly needed to hear. I received my current devotional, Jesus Calling, from my mom for my birthday last year. It truly is a gift as it seems like the Bible lessons have coincided with my life experiences for the last 4 months. God just has a way of reaching you with the exact reminders you need for each day’s journey. So this morning was no different. I ran out the door yesterday trying to fit in “all of the life” that was planned for a busy day, which meant the devotion was pushed to the side. As I was getting ready to jump in today’s to-do list, I heard that same small voice, “go read the devotional from yesterday, I have something for you.” When I opened the book to May 26th, this is what I found:

“In a world of unrelenting changes, I am the One who never changes. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Find in me the stability of which you have yearned…….”



Our wonderful 3's teacher: Mrs. Hader!!! Thank you for loving my children as your own. You have been such a gift to our family! Our time spent with you has been a treasure that we will never forget. "I thank my God every time I remember you." Philippians 1:3

Parker on her last day in 3's Class, 2008 

Cooper on his first day in 3's Class, 2010

Our 3's assistant: Mrs. Willis! Thank you for your giving spirit and unconditional love!
You are such a joy! (1st Day of School 2010)

Celebrating after the end of the year program, 2011.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Strong Beyond Measure

"You are strong beyond measure" were the words I kept my eyes focused on this morning as I threw the medicine ball up the gym wall. My "gym journey" started just over 1 year ago after Mother's Day 2010. Blane had given me money as my present with the instruction that it was to be spent to do something nice for myself (i.e. no gas, no groceries, nothing for the kids and no bill paying). There happened to be an add that caught my eye in the paper for the Hard Exercise Works 5 week boot camp. I cut the add out and put it on my fridge for sometime to contemplate if this would be the proper way to spend my money. After all, I could just use the money to go and buy a cute outfit in a larger size. The night before my first day at boot camp, I barely slept a wink. Then I arrived at the gym 30 minutes early to sit and stress in the parking lot on whether or not I could even go inside. I look back and think that it was probably the fear of failure or the idea that this would be one more failed attempt at losing weight. Now a year later, I am proud to say that I am 20 pounds lighter and 15 inches smaller. Although, I am quickly discovering that it is the mental, emotional and spiritual strength that I have come to appreciate the most.

There have been so many a-ha moments, struggles and complete victories that I have experienced at Hard Exercise Works (HEW) and this morning was no different. Today's workout (WOD) included 4 rounds of a 400m run, seven 75lb. dead lifts, seven 35 lb kettle bell upper cuts and 21 16 lb. wall balls (throwing a medicine ball onto the wall and then doing an air squat). The ladies goal is to throw the medicine ball 8 feet high to a red line that goes throughout the gym. The red line is adorned with different inspirational sayings and words like: faith, believe, and strength. When I am struggling with a workout, I try to focus in on one of the words to get my mind off the "pain". Today, on my 4th and final round, I was completely exhausted with the wall balls when suddenly the ball hit right on the words "beyond measure". I was curious as I had never noticed those words before. My eyes followed the words around the corner of the wall to the beginning of the sentence, which read "You are strong beyond measure". My mind instantly went to Ephesians 3:20, which says,

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us".

I just love it when a God moment strikes you when you least expect it. Between tired muscles and dripping sweat, I heard exactly what I needed to hear. "Kelly, you can work with all your strength and power; however, until you come and truly lay yourself down and allow me to be at work within you, you are running on borrowed time that can only produce a lot of sweat and exhaustion along the way."
Will both paths get the same results? I would like to think so; however, I know that that is just the control freak side of me wanting to jump in and take the reigns. If I reread Ephesians 3:20, the words "immeasurably more" sticks out to me like a neon sign. God's ways are not our ways and his plan is immeasurably more than anything we could ever hope or want for in our own lives.

I couldn't resist looking up the definition to immeasurable. According to Webster's Dictionary it means vast, limitless, too large, extensive, impossible to measure, incalculable. Are you settling for measurable or are you allowing God to work within you... now... today? He wants to give you a life that is too impossible to measure and a love that is limitless.

So as much as I would like to measure my success each day by the scale, how my clothes fit, my clean house or even how my kids behave, I choose today to live a life that is IMMEASURABLE....Thank You Jesus!!


One Last Thought....
Anyone looking for a good challenge? Come join us for the Memorial Day Workout at HEW next Monday, May 30th at 8am or 9am. The workout is affectionately known as "The Murph" named for a fallen soldier. It consists of a 1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 air squats and then finish it off with another 1 mile run. Shew! I'll be reporting back to let you know if I survived.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Broken Records

Have you ever been told something as a child, or maybe even as an adult, that replays over and over again in your mind and holds you back? I was reminded of this idea after a conversation with a dear friend this morning. One “blessing” of being a female is that you hear these broken records play again and again, good or bad. We would like to say that it doesn’t bother us, but let’s get real. The words tend to echo back at us at some point or another. Like toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube, once the words are out…there’s no putting them back and the damage is done.

We can easily and quickly tear down another woman’s feelings quicker than we know by the words and tone we choose to use. For me, it was when I cheered for Tampa Bay Storm (hmmm, have I failed to mention that detail to many of you? Funny what you can learn about someone the more you get to know them – but that’s a whole other story for a later date). We were at a photo shoot for a team poster and calendar and the coach continually tried to discretely hide or disguise parts of my body that she didn’t want seen in the picture. The group was set and poised and the shoot began, until finally she got frustrated enough that she stopped the pictures and shouted out across the group, “Kelly you’re ruining the picture, just cover up your stomach so we can’t see it.” And there it was, the record started playing. Her words cut across the buzz and excitement of the girls on a photo shoot and created an immediate silence that was almost too intense to stand. It was as if at that moment time stood still so much so that I’m not sure I could even hear anyone else breathe. There were no stares as the awkwardness was almost too much for the rest of the group to bear and they couldn’t even look at me to give me that sympathetic, “everything is gonna be ok look”. I’m sure that the memory is only my own and no one else from that day would even remember it, including my coach. For me though the words were etched in stone and placed on the record player to be played over and over again. Now fast forward 16+ years…I have a new found confidence (belly covered or uncovered) in the woman that God has so delicately knit together (Psalm 139). I may still hear that statement from time to time, but it no longer has the same power over me. In fact, I can find humor in it now, especially, when I think about how “thin” I truly was at that time.

After hearing the story this morning of a young girl who was told she couldn’t, I was quickly brought back to that place of how powerful our words are, especially to women and even more importantly to young girls and our own daughters. Do we say things in passing to young women and friends that puts an immediate roadblock up for them? What have I said in passing and in anger that plays like a broken record in my own daughter’s mind? Do I even realize it when I say these things to her? I am reminded that even in the last 24 hours, I have managed to say things to both of my children that in hindsight were completely out of line and in the big picture didn’t matter. For instance, Parker was adamant that she was going to pick up the watermelon from the grocery cart yesterday. I continually said no; however, as soon as she pulled it up out of the cart, it went quickly to the ground. She franticly tried to get the watermelon off the floor only to then bounce the watermelon off the floor two more times. Meanwhile I am saying, “stop, leave it, LET ME get it”…and maybe a few other not so nice things were thrown in unexpectantly. My words cut quickly and to the point, which at the time did not seem like a big deal; however, I saw her spirit fall right there in the checkout line. Then this morning Cooper insisted he would get the jelly out of the fridge for me – might I add, it was a brand new never opened jelly. Just like the watermelon, it quickly met its demise on the kitchen floor. Let me tell you, when jelly jars hit tile floor, the jelly stays in its perfect congealed shape and the jar shatters into an unrecognizable dust on your kitchen floor. Again, the words cut like a knife and I saw him deflate. My mind is racing with dollar signs, messes, frustration, why didn’t you just let ME do it? Ugh! But why oh why can I not see that they just wanted to help and take the opportunity to use it as a teachable moment and say, “oh well, just an accident. Let’s clean this up together and get another one.” After all, big picture…it’s just jelly and watermelon, right?
My mind quickly goes to Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
On the flip side, how can a positive comment in passing influence someone? When someone compliments your outfit, your hair, something you did….do you find that your shoulders are pulled back more and your head stands just slightly higher? In fact, if it wasn’t for a quick passing comment to me on facebook, I’m not sure there would even be a blog. This blog is a hope I have had for a long time; however, the records played enough times making me question “do I have what it takes for a blog? Do people really want to read what I have to say? Who do I think I am? Yeah right, you can’t do a blog”. I am grateful for my friend Greta who said, “you should start a facebook page and then I want to see your blog”. Six short words is all it took to get the record to spin once more: I - want - to - see - your - blog. It was quick and in passing and yet it was spoken with confidence as if the blog was already in existence. There were no questions like, have you ever considered a blog? do you think you could write a blog that people would be intersted in reading?  But rather her confident words were an imprint on my heart and the one more push that I needed to get moving and motivated to create the blog. I am double checking and triple checking myself today to make sure my comments, in passing or conscious conversations, are spirit filled and meant to edify and not tear down.

          Well, I am beginning to realize that my blog writing is very similar to my talking, which means I have been rambling for awhile. So for now…it’s time for his belly covering gal to walk away from the computer and wrap my arms around my jelly crusher and watermelon smasher and let them know how much they are loved! So glad there is grace and an AMAZING God who fills in all my holes!


 Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ready or Not...Here We Go!

Well, it's 5pm on Friday night....what's for dinner at your house? Normally we would be sitting down for dinner at our house; however, tonight Parker and I have adorned ourselves with our number one tool, our aprons! Instead of making dinner, we have opted for chocolate chip cookies. I have been working over time on creating this blog, a true dream come true. So I guess you could call it mommy guilt for all the time spent on the computer that I decided to pull out the cookie dough instead of pots and pans. I have been writing and rewriting, posting and unposting trying to get everything "just right" before I went "live" with my blog; however, I had a major epiphany in the middle of raw eggs and chocolate chips...this blog was created with the idea that All Betz are Off. This is me, real, passionate and not always "just right" or "just perfect". I was waiting for the right post that would  make you laugh and maybe even challenge you or if nothing else, it would intrigue you enough to come back and visit again. I am reminded time and time again (thank you Holy Spirit) that it is the day-to-day moments that seem so common or the embarassing times that you wish you could hide from where the biggest God moments happen. Anyone that knows me, knows that I have a thing for aprons. In fact, I have a pantry full of them and even got excited when I received 2 more for Christmas last year (thank you sister and mom). So why the apron? Maybe it's my last hope of being that "perfect mom" or the mom who cares for her child's every need, never raises her voice and always has cookies for her children when they arrive home from school. Who knows, I like to say it's to protect my clothes from the mess, but who am I kidding? I am a mom of young children, do I have clothes without stains? In fact, tonight the apron is sitting over my workouts clothes that I am still wearing from the gym almost 12 hours ago - yeah, I know, the shower is my next stop after posting this blog (and after testing the cookies of course). So what's on the agenda for the rest of our fun Friday night? We're hoping to move some furniture into our house as we are beginning to look like a furniture store due to Blane's latest hobby of picking up furniture on the side of the road and giving it new life (i.e hoping I can piant, cover or convert the piece to give it a new life in our home). The pieces consist of an armoire, vanity, sink, bed and table. You get the picture, right? So..... the aprons, my kids, the mommy guilt, the gym and yes, even the used furniture are all things you will soon become very familiar with as we journey together in this new venture. But for now, I hear a warm cookie calling my name and some "famous Pa-Pa spaghetti sauce" (as my kids call it) to warm up for dinner part 2. Come on people, you didn't really think I was only going to serve cookies for dinner did you? After all, I have an image to protect! Blessings to you all as we learn to peel back the layers....together!