I’m Not Brave…yet

I would do anything for my kids.  What parent wouldn’t?

My heart breaks for my boys when they struggle in life. When your kids are hurting you hurt. When they overcome something, you celebrate with them. When they’re in pain, you feel that pain even deeper than they do at times.

My youngest opened up to us a few weeks ago that he was sneaking extra food from his friends lunches. After eating what we packed him, he would take leftovers others didn’t want to eat. We knew something had been going on when his clothes had stopped fitting him and we were forced to move to sizes well beyond his height and age.

We had a heart breaking moment, when our baby sat in tears feeling ashamed and confused. He didn’t know what was driving him, but he felt he was doing something wrong. He was embarrassed and crushed. This was so tough for me to watch and hear.

I remember how I felt the day Jeremy (my hubby) walked into the bathroom and caught me mid-purge. I remember the shame that I felt. I remember the fear I had as I wondered what he was thinking. I remember how exposed I felt as the light switch was flipped on to something that had grown in the dark since I was 10 years old.  All of those memories resurfaced as I watched my boy sitting on the side of the bed in tears and unable to speak. I was gripped with fear. I know how God carried me into freedom. His perfect strength and the support of my family helped me but how do I now help my boy?

PAUSE . . .

Toward the end of every December, I ask God for a word for the coming year. It’s more than a theme.  It’s like a mission for the next 365 days of my life.  I take it serious. I focus on it. I push myself and trust God to lead me.

BE BRAVE

Funny thing about those two words is as I did my best to embrace them, I immediately became fearful. I prayed to God and said, “Ok God, Ill be brave. But what are you throwing my way this year that I need bravery for?”

Don’t get me wrong, bravery sounds awesome and it’s gonna look good on the t-shirt.  But we only need bravery to do scary things. So what scary things should I expect to face this year God?  My attitude was less than brave. “Sure Jesus, I’ll be brave as long as you don’t make me face anything too hard. And please don’t make me give up any of my things.”

But he reminded me of my biggest promise in 2015. I chose to live “palms up” recognizing I’m all his and nothing belongs to me.  I chose to give up control and stop possessing my own life.  My life is His. I’m anxious about 2016.  Bravery is scary!

 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.

Philippians 4:6

BACK TO MY BOY:

And right out of the gate we had our first Nicks Family “Be Brave” moment. How do we help our baby to put down guilt and shame? How do we help him live a healthy and happy life? How do do all this without him becoming obsessed with looking down at the scale before looking up to God?  I’m not really sure but God knows and we’re all in His care.

In that moment, I did the only thing I knew how to do. I went to my quiet place and pleaded and begged God for the health of my baby. “Please God, don’t allow him to suffer in shame. Protect his spirit. Tell me what to do. Don’t let our fears affect his growth through this circumstance.”

We’ve been doing our part and trusting God to do his.  There was a time fear would have won. I would have ignored the problem or ran and hid from it.  Instead we are taking little steps to help our little guy embrace who God made him and help channel is love for food in healthier ways. He helps with dinners, he gets to choose what we make for dinner, and we get to focus on WHOLE health and not on appearance. I’ll share more as we go but for today my encouragement to you is

Be brave by taking one step each day through the circumstances that would normally scare you.

This past week, we went back to our plan. The plan start everyone of my new clients with gives freedom to my son. He doesn’t feel like he’s dieting. He actually gets to tell us what he wants to eat and he’s in charge!  We work out OR get active EVERY DAY.  We haven’t discussed pounds. We’ve talked health. We’ve talked about handling life. We’ve talked about living in the light so the stuff that scares us has to fear us! So what’s happened?

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It started with screaming and ended with tears.  The screaming came from my boy after he got out of the shower.

“Guess what?!” he yelled at me.  “I lost 4 pounds this week.” There was such pride and confidence as we celebrated his win. In that moment he shared an area where he had struggled last week.  This was a win too? My boy isn’t scared to talk to me. That’s more important than 4 pounds! It was my moment to remind him it isn’t about being perfect, its about progress and effort.

Being brave is scary.  But I want to grow. I want to be more who I was meant to be. Isn’t that the goal?

Growth demands the temporary release of security.

Gail Sheehy

 

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NOTE TO SELF: YOU ARE YOUR OWN BULLY

Comparison is the thief of all joy.- Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve seen that quote about 1 million times. No matter how many times I see it or hear it, the meaning is quickly forgotten and I allow the thief back in. Comparison begins the second you turn login to Facebook and scroll your newsfeed. We have the luxury of connection with childhood friends, family from the other side of the country, business partners from across the world. It’s a gift and that can be a curse. That choice is ours!

We’re all aware of brilliant filters that erase wrinkles and blemishes. We know people post their best photo for every ten they took. We aren’t stupid enough to believe their world is perfect.  Why do we allow ourselves to be tortured by stalking all these people.  Why do we buy into the lie that says “Their lives are so much more blessed than mine.”

I played the comparison game a lot this summer. I watched people in my network who had the same starting point and timing as mine out earn me 5x over. I found myself with my toes in the sand, covered up because my girlfriends were rocking tight tushes and six packs while my body was covered by stretch marks and saggy skin. And the tipping point was when SHE (my biggest comparison pain point) hit that title that I wanted so bad BEFORE me.

During our summer trip to Lake Tahoe and after a tearful session with my SIL I made the choice to TRUST and BELIEVE that I am enough. Comparison feeds the insecurity and the lie we tell ourselves. It’s the lie that says, “You will never be as awesome as ______. You are not good enough. You wont succeed ENOUGH.” We do it with our appearance. We do it with our parenting. We do it in our marriages.  We do it at work.  THIS SUMMER I GOT FED UP WITH BELIEVING THAT LIE.

I was sick and tired of missing the blessing that is me and my life.  I was tired of thinking I wasn’t worth it. It was time to roll my eyes at those nasty thoughts. It was time to kick the comparison bully’s butt. I made a choice to stop being pushed around and to become the bully. When you stop feeding the lie, you start to muscle up against that bully. That’s right! YOU ARE A BULLY.

We all have desires, dreams, expectations and hopes for our lives. I realized this very important truth: My good plan is not always the best plan God has for me. I rest easy trusting His plan is so much greater than mine. I don’t want good.  I want BEST. Not your best. I want my best. I want what HIS best is for me.  And that will look different for each of us.

We are unique. I will never walk a day in your shoes and you will never walk a day in mine. How can we compare our lives to each other? We shouldn’t. We must do our part to stand up to the comparison bully. When we spend our time focusing on the good others appear to experience we miss all best things He’s trying to do in ours.

HERE’S WHAT I’VE STARTED TO DO TO GET GOD’S BEST FOR ME:

HIM FIRST: Every morning I wake up and spend my first moments with God. I focus on Him and being grateful. It sets the tone for the rest of my day and my life.  I choose to recognize all He is, all He does, and all He’s blessed His kids with.

OTHERS NEXT: Then I turn my thoughts to my family.I pray for my husband that his mind would be focused on truth. I pray for his safety and thank God for the gift that he is to me. I pray for protection for my kids. That they would be strong, and courageous lights for HIM. I ask God to lead them to good friends and help them to be the kind of kids who others can trust and count on. I turn my thoughts to my friends. Those I know and love deeply, those I’m trying to grow in relationship with, and those God will put in my life. I ask for opportunity to be a friend and blessing.

ME LAST: I’m learning last place is often the best place.  Comparison is about beating someone else.  It’s about being first.  But his desire is to be my first and for me to be last.  I’m good with that. So I pray for me. . . last. I ask for his best for me and trust He’ll take care of the rest. I pray for contentment. I ask for help with the insecurity and comparison bullies. I promise to brave in my choice to follow wherever He says.

That’s the formula to kill comparison.  Change your focus.  It’s not about figuring out how to stop looking at others. It’s about starting to look more to the one who created us all. It’s about recognizing what He has for us is greater than anything we may see in someone else’s life. Because it was created perfectly for us. That gives me confidence. That truth reminds me with His help, I can do it.

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.-Psalm 33: 4-5
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My Friendsgiving Flaws

Have you ever sat around a table with you all eyes on you? What about a situation where all eyes are on you and you have nothing to say? That’s what happened last Thursday at my “Friendsgiving.” If you have no clue what that is, let me explain.

Ready? It’s a Thanksgiving celebration with friends. Genius right?!

I love this holiday. It has my favorites things. Food, family, and food. Our family tradition involves each person sharing one thing from past year they are extremely grateful for. Friendsgiving did not disappoint.

12274470_10153816462368623_173124918441850657_nMy sister in law made guilt-free eggs cups with a side of yogurt and berries. The table was set beautifully with turkey shaped candles! We did what we’re best at…WE TALKED. My sil(sis in law) started with a bible verse and then posed questions for the group.

The questions prompted some silly responses. “Chocolate and peanut butter. Yup! Those are foods I am thankful for.” Here are a few in case you want to pick up our tradition and spark some convo around your table this week:

  • What are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?
  • What challenging experience has ended up changing your life for the better?
  • What place do you feel most grateful for? Why?
  • What act of kindness has made the greatest difference in your life?
  • What, from this year, do you feel most grateful for?

AND THEN….the question that stumped me and caused me to sit quiet at the table.

Is there a personal limitation or flaw that you’ve come to appreciate?

Woah, hold up! Are you really asking that? Pull out the therapy couch and start the timer. “I am not sure you want to open that can today Jen.”

You might have read that question and immediately had a response. If you are like me, personal limitations can be painfully obvious. But if I answered out loud I was admitting to something everyone else already saw in me and would probably confirm. That would have been hard. I know these things about myself but it will hurt if they know them too. I actually thought of several limitations, but I wasn’t sure I had accepted them yet. I sat silent, and took a pass.

I left Friendsgiving needing to reflect. I turned the radio off as I drove home and thought, “Why do I have such a hard time accepting my flaws?”

My mind immediately went back to my childhood. HEAR ME: I had a beautiful life. My parents both loved God and loved me and my sister unconditionally.  Life was good. But I’ve learned that every childhood comes with some sort of adult baggage.

We had more good days than bad. But the bad days involved a lot of screaming. That screaming affected me more than I realized. I am not a yeller. I do not like disorder or chaos. When the screaming between my sister and mom began, I retreated to my bedroom to hide. I cleaned and organized my room. I stared into my fish tank. I did whatever I could do to escape the craziness on the other side of the door. I couldn’t fix it, so I mentally and physically hid from it. When our family was attempting to work through it, I refused to share my feelings.  I chose to ignore those moments hoping that meant they never happened.

Some of those screaming matches would occur on the way to church. It was amazing how inside the 4 doors of our Ford Taurus it was a war zone and yet the minute we stepped out and walked into church our faces were all smiles. An outsider would look at our family and wish for what they thought we were. I knew the secret. We were not perfect.

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I learned something at a young age I carried with me into adulthood.  It’s okay to be imperfect.  Just don’t let anyone know. What they don’t know, wont hurt. Our family actually worked out those issues together. Years of counseling did help. But I clung to the need to hide my problems. I remember leaving a local therapist at 9 years old and hiding under my sweatshirt so no one would recognize me. I was ashamed of my family’s dysfunction. If no one knew, it never existed. DING FREAKING DING.

That 20 minute drive from my SIL’s house allowed for this aha moment and I was finally able to answer the question I passed on earlier. My flaw? I’m a hider. I run from conflict and I have a really hard time embracing my imperfections. BUT GOD IS FAITHFUL.

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new- 2 Corinthians 5:17

I have hope because I can grow from my sin, accept my flaws and become a new, better, version of me. Did he say perfect? No! I can release the expectation of perfection and walk with imperfect confidence. How have I learned to accept this flaw?

I decided a few years ago that I would live my life out loud and on line. I’m learning the “social media me,” is a few steps ahead of the “face to face me.” I have the opposite problem that most folks complain of when they talk about social media posting.  I share the good, the bad, and a lot of what I find is ugly in me. I’m all about sharing and showing my imperfections ( I do believe in great filters and apps that help smooth some of my pimples and wrinkles.-hey, I am a work in progress). But as I learned at Friendsgiving, my face-to-face me isn’t willing to share it all with those closest to me.

So it’s time for me to catch up with me. Running and hiding from the things that are imperfect can no longer be a part of my character.

What about you? Are you aware of your flaws and limitations? I think you are. Are you hiding like I have been? DON’T.  It holds you back from becoming the perfectly imperfect you. We are unique and beautiful, flaws and all.

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Why I Have No Friends

Okay I do have a lot of great friends.  But read on and see if you relate…

Do you have your ride or die girls? As of a few years ago, my answer was no. My sister-in-law is an author, talented speaker and one of my favorite bloggers (JEN JONES DIRECT).

My SIL and me matching on vacation. Yup, we planned it.
My SIL and me matching on vacation. Yup, we planned it.

About seven years ago, I sat in a room packed full of pink carpets, leopard decor and women all looking to connect with other women. I don’t remember a lot about that night but I do remember Jen taking off her dangly earrings because they were clinking on the hands free mic AND talking on how she couldn’t to be without her “Go-To Girls.”

The truth about me: I am a homebody. No I didn’t say “Homeboy” although I love a good gangster flick. I prefer coffee and a movie in my sweats to tight jeans and an uncomfortable night out on the town. I do much of that with my hubby and boys. However,  if I was asked if I had good girlfriends I would reply “Sure I do!” Just look at my Facebook and all the fun adventures I’ve had with different groups of ladies over the years.  Proof is always in the posts. Right? #sarcasm

The question we all have to answer: When you hit rock bottom and you feel like your world is crumbling around you, do you have your “go-to girls” who surround you, listen to you,  and, most important, pray for you?  When tragedy strikes your home, are your girlfriends the first to show up with meals and flowers asking what they can do for you and your family?  When good things happen, are your girls the first to celebrate with you?  When it’s decision time, do you have listening ears and pots of coffee?

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I sat in a girlfriend slump and wondered, “If my husband died tragically and I was stripped of my world here on earth, who would my go-to girls be?” I was slapped in the face with a harsh reality. I didn’t have any real ride or die girls of my own.

When our oldest started school, he struggled to have friends.  My husband would say something to him every morning as they walked to first grade.

If you want good friends you have to be a good friend.

That has been my problem I haven’t done my part to be a good friend.  I listened to Jeremy repeat this mantra every day and I never realized the same applied to me. What took me so long?

Stubbornness and selfishness. There. I admitted it. These two win a lot of battles in my heart and mind. I want people to come to me but I don’t want them to take up my family’s time or my own. What? Who says that out loud on a blog? This girl. I am aware of these qualities I have and realized they were getting me nowhere in the friendship department fast!

Yesterday morning, I got a BIG FAT SIGN. I subscribe to email devotionals and yesterday’s asked if I had an accountability partner. My first response was “Yes!” I have my #fitfam ladies who won’t let me be caught with a milkshake unless we burned 1000 calories before hand. However, fitness accountability wasn’t the point here. Do I have a woman I share my failures, my weakness, my successes and deep longings with? Not really.

In the private fitness groups I organize each month, I partner women up with each other for accountability. They need someone to call them out if they don’t share that sweaty selfie or miss the daily check-in. We are just more likely to succeed together. We need someone who we will lift up and who we don’t want to let down. These women start and finish stronger together. How could I be so ignorant to think that I didn’t also need that in my social and spiritual life?

I decided to pray for a spiritual accountability partner. A woman who will love me for me and is willing to call “BS” when she see’s it. Someone who is pursuing her relationship with Jesus with passion like I want to. Someone with wisdom or who will at least pray for it with me when I’m faced with decisions. Someone I’ll commit to doing the same for. I need my go to girl.

I have incredible ladies in my life. I have a circle of women who would drop anything to be at my side if I was standing in quick sand. I’m grateful for all of them. But God’s given me a desire for deeper friendships. And I’m willing to do my part.

God gave us women incredible gifts. We can empower one another. Friendship is a two way street. We (starting with me) need to put down the insecurities, the stubbornness, and the selfishness that so often infects “girl friend” circles and take the advice Cameron’s dad gave him in first grade.  We need to be good friends and we will make good friends. That’s my commitment.

Here’s my favorite girl quote:

Girls compete with each other. Women empower one another.

 

 

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A Letter To My Grown Up Kid

I blinked. It happened that fast. Everyone warned me I wouldn’t see it coming and they were right.  I couldn’t stop it. Those sweet, old, church ladies told me that you would grow up faster than I could possibly imagine. They told me one day I would blink and you would be a teenager. No expectant mommy to be thinks about the day their little baby will begin to transition into a young man. Of course there were days during your toddler years I longed for you to grow to the point you’d stop kicking and screaming in your car seat.  There were moments I just wanted to look at you say “Just grow up!” (I may have actually said that a few times out loud) Sure there were moments I wanted to stop singing songs from the Wiggles and have a real conversation with you as you sat in the front seat of the car.  But those days came way too fast for your mom.  I love you but I don’t like this.

Here’s the cold hard facts: You are growing up whether I like it or not.  Since we’re being honest, it is all very overwhelming to me. It feels like you’re passing me up.  I don’t mean just the fact that you’re taller than me. You’re passed the days I could help you with math (we realized that last night for sure), there are things that only you and dad can talk about now, and you don’t even need me to dress you.  I mean kid you’ve got style.  There’s something else about you that surpassed me.

You have a deeper walk with God than I did at age 12. You don’t meet many young men these days who are so deeply in love with God the way you are.  There aren’t too many kids out there who just “get” what it means to have a relationship with Jesus the way you do.  I love that about you.  It’s always been you.  Dad and I can’t take credit for it and you know that probably bothers him a lot too.CameronKiss

And your personality! How could I write you and not mention your personality? You constantly surprise me with your sarcastic humor and quick wit. You make me laugh the way your dad makes me laugh. I love that about him and I’m so grateful you’ve got that piece of him in you.  It is a gift from God!

You have so many incredible qualities that I admire. You are a true blessing to this family and to me.  You were the first to introduce me to this mommywonderland that has become my life. And because you were the first for me, there are many firsts you will experience that your brother won’t.  So because of that, I want to ask my grown up kid for some grace.  Can you be patient with your dear old mom?

I have never been a mom to a teenager before. This part of life is new to both of us.  I’m just as confused as you are about the changes you’re going through and will go through.  I’m going to mess up with you.  Probably a lot. There will be things we will walk through together that I have to learn from too. I won’t say the right things sometimes.  Other times I’ll probably say too much.  I know for a fact there will be a day you’ll say, “Mom you just don’t get it!”  And you might be right.  I promise you, I’m doing the best I can.  Growing is hard on all of us.  But, if we can stick together, we will grow together.  I know we will learn together and, with God’s help, we will graduate into the next phases of life better together.

You are an incredible kid.  I trust who you are.  I trust in the values we’ve tried to instill and you have embraced. I have every reason to believe the words you speak.  I know you well and I’m proud of who you are.

So now you are asking an honest question: “Okay mom, then why do you freak out so much on me?” The answer is simple. Fear. I fear you outgrowing me.  I fear you not wanting to share every part of your life with me.  I fear going from mommy to mom to mother overnight.  I fear losing my little boy.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you”

Psalm 56:3

You are and have always been God’s kid first.  Dad and I chose to entrust you to Him the day you were born.  So yes, I am scared.  I have lots of fears about you and your brother growing up.  But although it didn’t happen at 12 for me, I do trust in God.  I trust Him to watch you, protect you, and speak encouraging words full of wisdom, hope, and CAUTION to you when I’m not with you.  He’s the parent you’ll never out grow.  And He’s got your back.  And if He’s got your back, I can breathe a little easier and the fears I have about you as you grow will hopefully subside a bit.  This doesn’t mean no freak outs.  This means they will hopefully come less frequently over time.

You’re my first.  I’m your first and only.  So we’ll always have that no matter how old you get.  Now go do your homework.

Love,

Mommy…

Sorry.

Mom.

 

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