Pretty?

So, It was another workout morning, like any other.

Today I wore pigtails.

They kind of look like firecrackers with that purple flairing out all spikey. I think they helped me get through my first ride on the eliptical pedal thingy. I could feel them swaying back and forth as I pushed through.  I felt spritely.

Robert liked them. That was a plus.

Nate did not. He said I needed to take them out so I would look normal again.

He said it was too raggity.

Adding 6 pounds to the weights you use for arms is significantly harder. Self coached labor breathing and doula talking helps. ( breathe…don’t tense your face…that is one less contraction…er….I mean rep)

Earbuds! I will never forget them again thanks to my bestie Maria! Look what she made me for my birthday!!!!

I just clip them to the strap of my purse and Ta-Da! They never get left at home!!! (She knows me sooooo well)

So, in the earbuds today, there was a little Brittney . I didn’t think I liked her till I started (sort of) running. Yeah, still at the sort of stage, but I did make it a full 5 minutes today with out dying.
There was also a little ZZ Top. “She’s Got Legs” was strangely motivating, especially since that lump my husband found in the back of my thigh is not a tumor, but actually my long lost hamstring. Who knew it was still there? This after finding my bicep again just last week.

And, if you know me at all, you know there was some Aerosmith. “Permanent Vacation” is the only reason (well, that and my pig tails) that I made 8 and a half minutes (I KNOW I AM A TOTAL WIMP) on my first ride on that eliptical thingy. You’d think a woman that survived 72 hours of labor with her first child could do a full 10 minutes on an exercise machine….

My  friend Adam (long distance work out buddy who keeps me motivated) says I need a new playlist. I’m taking suggestions. I’m stuck in the 80’s and 90’s apparently.

There will be more epsom salts today.

You know, I read somewhere that if you still look pretty after you work out, you didn’t do it right.

Does feeling pretty count?
I did not take a picture to confirm this.

Okay, actually I did, and the saying is totally true and for the record, I did not look pretty when I was done. I’m just not going to show it to you.

But…I did feel pretty.
….Once I started breathing on my own again that is.

Regal Accountability

“Your head crowns you like Carmel,
and your flowing locks are like purple;
a king is held captive in the tresses.”

This is from Song of Solomon 7

As I was preparing to write this blog, I did some word searches for the word “purple”.

Who knew! There is actually a verse about purple hair!  And the context involves a king that is captivated.

As I have mentioned recently, last year was all about Joy for me. I knew the difference between Joy and Happiness, but last year was about living that difference.

This year, already, something else, a different kind of theme has come along. I was expecting a word…an idea…a….philosophy?

But what I got was something different.

A color.

(quick! guess which one!)

What’s more it’s been a long time coming. It was something that I had been considering, and just as always things started coming along that confirmed that I needed to get cracking. These things will be follow up blogs hopefully throughout the year if the trend continues.

Here is a little background on how I got to the “root” of this theme.

I have a friend.

Stephanie Cann. ( I love this picture. She looks so fierce and sassy.)

We met very casually in 2005 at a MOPS conference in Nashville. About a year later, we ended up working on a major MOPS fundraiser in Atlanta and got to know each other just a little better. During that time, we both turned up pregnant. Our boys ended up being born 18 days apart…hers first. Both had very traumatic births, (my story on that at another time…and it too has a purple thread to it) but God allowed a much longer journey for her. You can read her story here.

After her second time facing cancer in five years, she decided to start dying her hair purple. Stephanie did this for a very specific purpose. It gave her a segway into sharing her grace journey. She shared a message of royal adoption, mercy, grace, and favor. She did this in the face of uncertainty and all the things that scare each of us the most.

The first time she posted pictures of her purple hair (and her whole purple posse of friends that supported her and took on that grace story challenge with her) I remember thinking, ” I wish I was brave enough to do that, but what would (enter a whole list of people here) think of me if I did that?”  So I held her in high esteem, and even though she inspired in me, a certain longing for some spunk…I shelved it.

…but it kept niggling at my brain now and then.

I can’t tell you the exact moment I decided I was going to do it.  I did get a small patch done just after Christmas, but it bugged me that it wasn’t noticeable enough.  When I got it done, my stylist, the fabulous Molly Barksdale at  Morgan Ashley Salon (whispers, go like them on facebook) ,  told me about a product that I could put on it myself to keep it up when I wanted too.  Something about that quiet little patch behind my ear though gave me the chutzpa to go crazy and color my fun blonde stripe that I’ve had the last year and a half.

This became clear after hearing another sweet friend share her story about her grace walk…a story I will again share in part later because of it’s unexpected purple thread.

So…here I am now, with this regal accountability in my hair. This reminder to myself to share that my life is good, and it’s good because of nothing I did, but because I have a king who finds me captivating, and he gives me good gifts when everything seems wrong.

I tried to get this blog out to the internet before we went out of town Friday…but being a mom, and chief trip packer, and laundress, and John’s family chef…it just didn’t happen. Guess what…that is good. I had several chances to try it out. It’s pretty noticeable, the tips are pretty much ultra violet. I was able to start with friends, but then there was the waitress at breakfast. … the moment of truth. I had to make it quick and powerful and not hang her up from doing her job.  It tumbled out of me awkwardly when she asked if it was just something fun for the kids…”oh no! I had a kind of rough year last year, and this purple stripe in my hair is there to remind me that life is good, and God is the one that makes it that way.”

Then it was a young woman in the public restroom.
Her: ” I love that splash of color in your hair.”
Me: ” Oh (blushing) thank you.”

Yep, dropped the ball on that one.

But right after that, I got to sit down with Stephanie, as well as some other friends, and she was so encouraging! She knows it’ll come.

I love too, that this first picture of my hair covers my face pretty much…another reminder to be transparent. It’s not me but the Light shining through me that matters. His light is the one that provides the Abundant Life (John 10:10), and that is exactly what I have…the Abundant Life.

Raising Geeks

Let me start this blog with a disclaimer:

Do NOT, …I repeat, do NOT take this blog too seriously.
Only maybe….just a little seriously, but not too seriously.

Now that we have that out of the way,

You might be raising a geek if …

your daughter poses as a zombie in family pictures.

You might be raising a geek if…

…your kid makes his own costume for Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week”.

You could possibly be raising a geek if…

If you daughter not only knows what a “chupacabra” is, but wants one for a pet.
(funny side note, she corrected me on this image, apparently this depiction of a chupacabra does not have enough hair and is therefore too nekkid)

You might be raising a geek if…

…your kid has his own pair of Ferengi ears.
(ok, really, these are the “listening ears” he made at church but I totally could not resist)

It is a pretty good clue that you are raising a geek if…

…your son sees a sub sandwich, and pretzel sticks and thinks, “stegosaurus sandwich”.

You are quite possibly raising a geek if….

your oldest child cuts the umbilical cord of your youngest child…in her pajamas no less, in your bedroom.

This one though….

I fear he may be turning jock….

before I’m 40….

So I had this conversation with myself this morning.

“Myself “, I said, ” Now that you have started working out, you should post a before picture.”

“Uh, negative.” I replied

“No really, you already posted that flabby belly picture so this would be nothing.”, I argued.

“Fugetaboutit.” I was firm that time.

“And you could explain why you are doing this and what your plans are.”, I prattled on.

“I forbid it.” …and I crossed my arms and turned my back.

Next thing I know, I’m handing my camera to my 7 year  old…I let her take the picture. Let me see myself from her perspective, because she thinks I’m beautiful. (that is the BEST thing about kids, they always think you are pretty)

It took 5 shots before I could handle her perspective. …and I had to suck in. I didn’t do that in at least the first 3.

Overall, I think I’m pretty ok. Aside from the unflattering way I turned my hips, and the slouchy shoulders, I’ve never truly just hated my body. I’m actually amazed at what my body has been equipped to do. I mostly hate that I look tired and messy in the picture. It was about 6:45am on the way to the bus stop, and let me tell ya…she could not take those pictures fast enough. It was quite chilly. I was glad to get that polar fleece back on.

So here is the thing. I want to feel strong again. Strong like I did in labor. (Well except for that transition part where I told everyone I was going to die) So I have a plan to accomplish that.

A few years ago, I wrote a “to do before I turn 40” list. I have accomplished most of that list.

I learned to belly dance.

I had two more children at home.

I sang a solo in church.

…and several other things too.

I think though, I must have been drunk or something when I wrote “run a marathon”.

I have no idea why I wrote that. I have NEVER enjoyed running.

But I did. So, I’m going to give it a go. I have two years to complete this one. So this year, I plan to run a half marathon in preparation for the whole marathon next year.

This is not a new years resolution. I’m not doing it to lose weight.

I’m doing it to get that high. I’m doing it because I want to finish something big. I’m doing it because I need a new challenge.

And now, I have put it out there for everyone to see…so…I have to do it!

Loss

I have friends that know God gives them a theme for a year…and they have inspired me to watch for the theme He has for me.

I didn’t catch last year’s theme until it was almost over.

Joy.

I truly, finally, and absolutely learned the difference between joy and happiness last year. It was a very ugly year on paper.

Lots of loss.

Loss of family, mentors, and deeply close friends.

Loss of a new life I never got to meet.

Friends whose own losses made my heart ache deeply,… as deeply as my own losses did.

Loss both financially and materially.

If there is one thing I’ve learned last year, it’s that to have Joy, you have to have perspective.

As I’ve said before, I don’t do New Year Resolutions, but I do value old year revelations. Here is some of the Joy that came from putting a perspective spin on some of that loss.

I lost fear. I lost so much fear. It isn’t completely gone, but it doesn’t weigh me down as it did before. I’m no longer afraid of loss. I have begun to look at trials from a James 1:2-4 perspective.  I’ve stopped trying to get out of things too quickly. There IS Joy in that. With the loss of fear I gained perspective.

I lost some pride. It isn’t completely gone either, but as painful as it was, it made room for more joy. Losing some of your stuff, will open your eyes to what is really important in your life. …and important for me has been shown to be much more different than what I was culturally trained to believe it was. With the loss of pride I gained truth.

I lost indifference. I’ve been shown that I’m needed to make a difference in the lives of others. That sometimes I have to walk through some ugly, so that I can help someone else down the road, …or to even be able to see that there is someone that needs help. I can make a difference, and it is a lie to think otherwise. I think many times we get so caught up in dwelling in our ugly, that we miss that there are folks going through even uglier. With the loss of indifference, I gained empathy.

So, Joy has taught me that loss is not bad. It gives me purpose.

I see this year’s theme. It’s a color. Stay tuned…I have a few things to accomplish before I can tell you, but I can tell you, it’s regal.

Where my mind wanders during work out…

Today, traveling on the treadmill with me were Blondie, Aerosmith, and Billy Joel.

1. Turns out that if you get up and study the prophets in the morning you may still be thinking about them when the song “What it Takes” fires up on the ole Ipod ap, and when that happens you are going to think of Hosea and Gomer.  Ok, maybe you wouldn’t, but I did, and now…if you are familiar with the story you’re probably going to go there too. And if you aren’t familiar with the story…read it. It’s just a short little book of the bible.

2. If you get to the gym early enough there is no one else there but the owner…and if he has to leave for a few minutes to get lightbulbs, then you may not be able to dance on the treadmill at 4 miles an hour, but you CAN sing loudly and play air drums to Blondie.

3. When the first person walks in at 10 after 8, and you try to tone it back down, it’s a good idea not to whisper/sing spontaneously, “I’m gonna getcha getcha getcha.”  It gets you weird looks and makes it harder to make work out friends.

4. Also, sometimes, when you start your TRX work out, the owner introduces you to the jazz album Queen Latifah made via Pandora, and you find that strength training to jazz, Queen Latifah in particular, is a beautiful thing.

5. Cold mornings are AWESOME to walk out into right after working out.

Have a good day ya’ll.

Our Favorite Chicken Enchiladas

A couple of years ago I stumbled across a super easy, super yummy chicken enchilada recipe that my family loved. Pretty much whenever I roast a chicken these days this dish gets made. We don’t always eat it right away though. This is one of those that freeze beautifully for another day. It’s also good to have on hand in the freezer to take to a family that could use a meal every now and then.

Here are the items you are going to need.

Two cups of cubed chicken. You should have at least 4 cups if you used a 5lb bird in the method I posted here.

A cup or more of beans. Pretty much any kind. I used pintos today.

A little over half a block of cream cheese.

A cup of salsa.

As much cheese as you think enchiladas need.

About 10 tortillas. Flour or corn, it doesn’t matter.

Enchilada sauce. (yes, I know. That is a can of processed sauce in that picture and I have some splaining to do…)

And finally things I don’t have listed that you can also use, green chiles, black olives, grilled peppers and onions. I’ve used them all at one time or another. I just did not have any on hand today.

First step.

Pour your salsa into a large pan and add the cream cheese in chunks.

You should mix them together on low to medium heat until they look like this.

Next add the beans and the chicken.

Then just mix it all together until it has warmed all the way through.

Now it’s time to start loading the tortillas. We have used flour, corn, and whole wheat tortillas for this dish. Just pick your favorite and go with it.

Just spoon a bit (a little more than this though) into the center of the tortilla and the roll it up.

Then start lining them up in a pan. I usually can get about 10 of them out of this recipe. Be sure to spray the pan.

Ok, now for my confession of the day. This is enchilada sauce with all the bad stuff that I typically try to avoid.
I have a fantastic recipe here for home made sauce that both Robert and I LOVE, but the children… hate. it. I’m sure I can find one that they will enjoy, I just haven’t looked for another yet, so, if you have one, please, please share.

Finally you need cheese!

Marble is my favorite, but other good ideas are smoked cheddar and pepper jack or a combination of any of these.  I’m pretty generous with the cheese on this dish. At least a cup and a half on top of the enchiladas.

I totally forgot to take a picture of the final product, so you will have to use your imagination. After the cheese you can top it with green chiles, or black olives, or some crumbled bacon, or even a little cilantro.  Be creative.

Then put it in the oven on 350 for about 20 to 25 minutes. The cheese will be bubbly when it’s done.

There are several of you reading this that have probably at one time or another had me show up on your door step with a pan of this if you were moving or had a baby, or just needed a meal for some reason. It is my most given out and requested recipe.

I can’t wait to hear how the rest of you like it! Enjoy.

Next and last. Chicken and Dumplins!