Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What's Your Hoodie? (Or, what happens when a chubby, Jesus-loving girl joins CrossFit)

Yep. That's me. Deadlifting 190 pounds.
I joined Five Forks CrossFit in November.
I know. I’m surprised, too.

My husband’s been doing CrossFit for years, but when a new box (that’s what a CrossFit facility is called) opened a few miles away, he finally convinced me to give it a try.
I love it.

Well, except for the 8-20 minutes of the WOD (workout of the day). During the WOD, I hate it with every twitching muscle fiber that is begging me for mercy.

But other than that, I love it and I keep going back. All through our renovation, even one day in the snow, I’ve dragged myself out of bed well before dawn, pulled on my compression pants and my dry-wick shirt, laced up my CrossFit nano 3.0 shoes, and walked through those doors.

My sweat has dripped on the mats, my shins have the scrapes, my collarbones have the bruises, and my hands have the callouses that come from Olympic lifts, and my body has changed enough that people have noticed.

So why is it that every time I pull on my Five Forks CrossFit hoodie, I have to remind myself of all of that? I have to talk myself into putting it on and wearing it out the door?

Because there’s a part of me—the deepest, most insecure part of me—that wonders if I have any business portraying myself as a CrossFitter, because I don’t look like a “CrossFit Woman.”

Have you seen these images on Pinterest or your Facebook feed? The pictures are almost always of women in sports bras and boy shorts, with knee socks and chalk on their thighs. They’re doing pull-ups and one-armed handstands and no one can question that they are physically elite.

I just can’t compete with that.

I look like a woman who has three children and a serious sweet tooth. I can’t do a pull-up or a handstand, much less with one arm. And I try to keep as much of my skin covered as possible, because no one wants to see me in boy shorts.

With that said, there is another part of me that knows that I’m just as much a CrossFit Woman as those elite athletes are. Not because I can do what they can, but because I’m in the game. I’m learning. I’m using muscles I never knew I had and I’m not the same woman I was four months ago.

So I remind myself of that, put on my hoodie, and walk out the door. And when someone says, “You do CrossFit?” I look look them straight in the eye and say, “Yes! And I love it!”

I’m wondering if you feel the same way about your Christian walk? I know I do.

Sometimes I’m terrified to speak truth into a situation. I feel sick to my stomach in the first few hours after I post a blog. And when I’m with friends, sometimes I know I should say, “Let’s stop talking about it and start praying about it,” but I rarely do.

Why?

Because I don’t look like an elite Christian Woman. Have you heard of these women? They always do the right thing. They never yell at their kids, their husband, or dog. They don’t cuss when they burn dinner. They know exactly how to respond to every parenting dilemma or family crisis.

I just can’t compete with that.


I’m a woman who has a temper. Who likes things done the “right” way—by my definition of “right” thank you very much. I fight my pride, my fear, and my tongue.
EVERY. SINGLE. HOUR.

Satan loves to whisper in my ear that I have no business claiming I love Jesus, especially after that fiasco of a morning we just had.
But the Holy Spirit says different.

He reminds me that while I have a long way to go, I’m in the game. I’ve been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. My sins are forgiven. By His grace, I’m not the same woman I was ten years ago, or even ten months ago. I’m learning, changing, becoming more and more like Him every day.

I know when I wear my FFC hoodie, there may be a few people who look at me and think, “There’s no way that chubby thing does CrossFit,” but what I’ve discovered is that most of the time, it opens a door. Someone who might be nervous about trying it looks at me and thinks, “If Lynn can do it maybe I can, too.”

My FFC Hoodie
Maybe that’s all the Holy Spirit is asking of us.

Just to put it out there. Not because we are elite. Not because we’ve achieved perfection.
Precisely the opposite.

If God can speak to us and through us when we are such a mess, then maybe He can do that for them, too.

I don’t know what your “hoodie” is. Maybe it’s telling a co-worker what God showed you this week or sharing a book you’re reading with that mom who sits beside you at gymnastics. Maybe it’s as “simple” as getting out of your house and meeting your neighbors, asking God for the opportunity to be a light in your cul-de-sac. Whatever it is, God wants you to put it on now.

Be brave enough to let His light shine, and when someone says, “So, you’re a Christian?” you can look them in the eye and say, “Yes! I love Jesus! He’s changing my life.”

Satan just can’t compete with that.



TWEETABLES:

What happens when a chubby, Jesus-loving girl joins CrossFit. (Click to Tweet)

What's your hoodie? (Click to Tweet)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Finishing Is Hard

It’s finished.
Well…for the most part.

Nine weeks and two days after the pipes burst (that’s 65 days folks - not that I've been counting or anything), the construction has been completed. 

I’m ecstatic.

I’m also exhausted, and a bit apprehensive, because there is still so much to do.

Oh, the construction is finished. The tools are put away and the trips to Lowe’s have come to an end slowed to once or twice a week, but that doesn’t mean we are done. Part of me wants to kick back and hang out in the rooms where everything is completed. They look nice and it’s easy to pretend the rest of the house is in the same state.

Trust me, the rest of the house needs work and lots of it.

Last week, I focused on rooms where the payoff was immediate. The half-bath. The laundry room. Small rooms that needed a few hours of effort to be declared “done”. My husband pointed out that I like tackling the smaller jobs because I can finish them and feel like I’ve accomplished something. Which is so true.

It’s the larger jobs—the unpacking of the kitchen and the bedroom—that are harder to tackle. They won’t be done in a few hours, or even a few days, and I need to find the mental fortitude (and my fortitude is too tired to help much with this) to keep at it, even when it feels like I will never finish.

I’ve been thinking a lot about finishing, and it seems to me that finishing is a lost art.

Diets, books, budgets, sports, committees, savings plans, educations, marriages, relationships . . . when the going gets tough, the typical American kicks back in their recliner and watches Netflix. We can’t be bothered to do the hard stuff. We want to be comfortable and we’re willing to ignore a certain amount of chaos if it means we don’t miss an episode of American Idol.


Gulp.


Finishing is hard. It requires discipline, effort, and intentionality. It also requires a healthy dose of love for the people involved. The children who will benefit from that college savings plan, the spouse who needs you to hang in there when they are being a Class A Jerk, the friend who’s desperate to still be welcome in your world, even after you find out about that SUPER HORRIBLE THING he did . . . you get the idea.


It was while I was enjoying the ambiance of a newly finished room that God nudged me.
“I like finishing things, too.”

Ah…yes, I guess He does.


Have you ever thought about this? The millions of works-in-progress God has all over the universe. He manages everything from galaxies to moss, and He continually works in the lives of those He loves. That would be me and you.


Right now, with the desire to quit weighing heavily on me, I’ve found a new appreciation for these words.


Philippians 1:6 ~ And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

I know how much work He has to do in my heart, with my drama, my flaws, my selfishness, my pride. Left up to me, I’d call it. Throw in the towel. Put the whole show on indefinite hiatus.
Thankfully, it’s not up to me.

He won’t quit. He won’t get bored. He won’t decide it’s too hard or too expensive. He won’t bail when everyone else says it’s not worth it or when everything He’s done hasn’t made an obvious difference.

He knows the work is good.
He knows the final result will be spectacular.
He is the Alpha and Omega—the first and the last—the beginning AND the end.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 ~ Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (ESV)
AMEN.



TWEETABLES:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

It Snowed on My Renovation

It snowed on my renovation.

Twice.

I live in South Carolina. This kind of winter weather occurs maybe once a decade. But just let my house get torn apart, let me be waiting for paint and granite, let me get to a point where people are watching me for signs of imminent implosion, and then, baby, we will have snow. We will have a storm worthy of a name. Winter Storm Pax. Pax? Doesn’t that mean Peace? Who makes up these names anyway?

In a part of the country where we had ZERO snow days last year, our kids have already had eight. EIGHT! All eight of them, you guessed it, in the middle of my renovation. And that doesn’t include the early dismissals and late starts.

I confess that there have been more than a few times when I’ve lifted my eyes to the heavens with one profound question.

“Really?”

(You need to try to get the full effect. Look at your ceiling. Infuse your voice with annoyance. Roll your eyes. Twice. Then say it with me.)

“Really?”

(Now huff and shake your head. You’ve got it.)

It’s a wonder there were no lightening strikes to go along with the snow because if I’ve learned anything during the past eight weeks, it’s this.

I am addicted to comfort and I am spoiled to convenience.


For weeks, we operated with a make-shift kitchen. The refrigerator was in the garage. The kitchen sink was in a box upstairs awaiting the granite so we used the sink in the laundry room. The dishes were in boxes in the basement, so we used a lot of paper. There was a stretch where the oven was also in the garage, so we used the stovetop, microwave, and we ate out. A lot.

Does anyone else see the problem here?

I’m complaining, because my refrigerator (one of two, I might add) was in the garage. I had power, running water, heat, food . . . And a bad attitude.

But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (I Timothy 6:8, ESV)
Do all things without grumbling or questioning. (Philippians 2:14, ESV)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (I John 1:8, ESV)

What I want to call a justifiable annoyance, understandable aggravation, or reasonable frustration, God refuses to condone. So let’s lay it out there with a little less finesse and a whole lot more truth.

It’s called sin.

SIN.

This renovation exposed more than studs and sub-floor.
It exposed the moldy mess of my heart.

Laid bare, for weeks. Layers of gunk and grime that I’ve never had to deal with before. And every time I tried to short-circuit the process or make it less frustrating, God cut me off. There was no getting around this lesson. No quick fix. No express lane back to comfort and convenience.

I’m sure God had many purposes for Winter Storm Pax, but there’s no question in my mind that part of the plan was the overhaul needed in my heart.

I’m writing these words on one of the final days of the renovation. There are a few rooms that make me smile every time I enter them. There are lamps, rugs, pictures, comfy chairs, and the kitchen island of my dreams. There’s fresh paint and new curtains and a general sense of things being as they should be.

Then there are the other rooms.
Sweet mercy.
Hot mess doesn’t even come close to describing the chaos in my bathroom. Or the laundry situation.

A hot mess, just like me.

I’m pretty sure as God looks around my heart, He sees the rooms that aren’t too bad. The places where He is reflected well. But He sees all the other spaces, too. The filth hidden behind doors, under floors, or covered up with glossy paint. The difference is, that while this girl doesn’t want to see another renovation for a decade, He’s already spotted a space that can’t wait. He can picture it, how it will look when He’s done. How His glory will shine. How He will be put on display in that spot.

The question is, when He gets to work will I fight Him every step of the way, or will I trust that He knows what He’s doing? Will I call sin, sin, and allow His forgiveness and cleansing to wash me clean, or will I wallow in my own muck?

There’s one thing I know for sure.

He’s not done.
Not even close.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Because the Second Half is Exhausting

I love figure skating. It’s one of my favorite parts of the Winter Olympics, right up there with curling, because let’s face it, curling is cool.
Anyway.

Figure skating has seen its share of drama, some of which led to a complete overhaul of the scoring system a few years ago.

Now, the skater sits in the “kiss and cry” section and waits with their coaches for the score. A voice comes over the speaker and says, “The score, for fabulous skater from cool country is, 63.7.”

It really lacks the drama from the old days. You remember how it went, don’t you?

5.8 (dramatic pause) 
5.7 (dramatic pause) 
6.0 (wild cheers from the crowd) 
5.3 (hissing and boos) 
5.8 (skater bursts into tears of joy or grief)

Yeah, those were good times.
Anyway.

I have to confess that I don’t understand the new scoring system, but it has one feature I find fascinating.

Skaters can earn bonus points.
Each jump is given a certain number of points, and when they land that jump, they get those points. But if they land that same jump after the halfway mark of their program, they get a bonus.

Because it’s a lot harder to land those jumps when you’re tired.

Oh baby, don’t we know it.

We take the ice and we’re skating our hearts out, but somewhere along the way, everything gets harder. Legs tremble. Breaths spasm through our chest. Arms quiver. We try to maintain our form, our speed, because there’s more to come. More twists and spins. More fancy footwork. More jumps.

It’s exhausting.

If this makes perfect sense to us when we think about an ice skating routine, why do we forget it when it comes to this crazy free skate we call life?

We started out great. We opened our hearts to people in need. We sacrificed—our time, our money, our desires—for the sake of the Gospel. We knew He had a great plan even when it didn’t make sense. Then it got harder, and for some reason, this shocks us.

Every. Single. Time.

We’re struggling to get enough oxygen to our brain to think clearly, and we can’t figure out what happened. When all that happened is we got tired. We’ve been at this for a while, and it’s exhausting.

This idea has been spinning in my brain for the past week as I near the end of an unplanned free skate. After weeks of demolition and construction, we are in the final stretch. When the last pile of sawdust is swept away, my home will be more beautiful than it was before.

But it’s been exhausting, and even though I can tell from the music that it’s almost over, I’m faltering. I’m not sure I’ve got another jump in me.

So when a friend shot me a text this morning, reminding me that this is just a slice of time, that this will end, and that it won’t be like this forever, it came as both a gentle reproof and a much needed boost to my morale. 

And it got my mind twisting a little more. Because if you're reading this, I know you're in one of two places. Maybe even in both at the same time.


1. You’re exhausted. You’ve been pursuing the dream, the friendship, the child, the spouse, the number on the scale, or the boss you can’t please, and you’ve got nothing left.

If this is you today, can I remind you that Jesus is the one who said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Your fatigue doesn’t shock Him, and He’s not looking down on you in disgust, wondering how you could be so weak. He likes weak, because when we recognize our weakness, that’s when His strength can pour through us. In His strength, not our own, the jumps we land near the end of the program will be the ones that glorify Him most.

2. You know someone who is exhausted. The friend who gave up her bedroom to care for an aging parent a year ago. The co-worker who’s wondering if the cancer treatment is going to save her life or just kill her faster. The couple who’ve been waiting a decade to announce a new baby. The family who opened their home to foster or adopt. The people next door who don’t know if they’ll be able to pay the power bill. Or maybe it’s closer to home. Maybe it’s the spouse who dreads leaving for work each day, or the child who withdraws more every week as she navigates high school.

They need someone to remind them that it’s okay to be exhausted. It’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to need help.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that since they’ve been “handling” this situation so well for so long, that they don’t need anything. Recognize that they are operating in bonus point territory. If there’s a way to provide tangible assistance, by all means, do it. Take them a meal or take their kids for an afternoon or invite them to a movie. Call them or text them with a little bit of perspective, even if it scares you to do it, because it may be exactly what they need.

No matter what, pray for them. Better? Pray WITH them.

Maybe you could pray this…

I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

(Ephesians 3: 14-21 ESV, emphasis mine)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Every Good and Every Perfect Gift

I saw it in his eyes. The flash of confusion followed hard by disappointment.

His five-year-old heart sank as he examined the new Lego Fire Truck complete with firemen, hoses, and a house with the roof ablaze.

He looked at me and my heart melted when he said, so low I could barely hear him, “But . . . It isn’t the one I wanted.”

He wasn’t ungrateful for what he had, but I knew he was trying to process why I would have bought him the wrong one. In that moment, it didn’t matter to him that the Lego set he held in his hands was more expensive and had more parts, more people, and more accessories, because it wasn’t what he’d been expecting. And he’d told me which fire truck he wanted. Repeatedly.

It took every ounce of parental strength I had not to promise him on the spot that we would hunt down that set he’d requested and have it on our doorstep the next day, because his disappointment hurt me in places I didn’t even know I had.

Now, as my husband was quick to point out, it’s hard for a five-year-old to mask disappointment, and I’m not sure I would have wanted him to. It gave us a great opportunity to talk about being thankful for the twenty other gifts he received over the holiday, and how if he still wants the one he didn’t receive, he can save his money and buy it himself.

What was most interesting to me was not how my son reacted, but how I reacted. I had to fight to keep my sadness at his disappointment from shadowing the day. I had to preach a lot of truth to myself about how blessed we are and about how this was a teachable moment, etc.

But watching his face, knowing how confused he was by this unexpected turn of events, it ripped me up inside because I love that child, and his unhappiness is hard for me to watch. I may know it’s necessary, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.

Of course, it didn’t take long for God to turn this into His own teachable moment, because this mama, she’s got a lot to learn. It was just a soft whisper…“Doesn’t feel good, does it?”

Ouch.

Because how often do I look at the gifts in my life and say, “But, it isn’t the one I wanted.”

God, the ultimate giver of good gifts, listens as we gripe to Him (and anyone who will listen) about the job that doesn’t pay enough, the house that isn’t nice enough, the spouse who doesn’t help enough.

He hears us complain, knowing we don’t understand His decision or grasp the extent of His plan, but knowing He’s given us what is best for us. He loves us so much that His response is not anger toward us, but more love, more grace, more opportunities to trust Him.

I’ve been mulling this idea over since Christmas Day. Had a good three weeks of this verse continually jumping into my brain—

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.”

I’ve been thinking about how everything we have is a gift from God. How even the parts of my life that are less than perfect are still part of His plan for me. I’ve been hanging out with this idea for three weeks.

But let me tell you, it all flew out of my brain when I opened my door and discovered that it was raining in my kitchen.

A pipe had burst. Two, actually.
“But God, You have authority over water. You could have…”

I had been gone for two hours.
“God, You are all powerful. Couldn’t You have kept me home?”

The damage is extensive.
“God, seriously? Is this how You want to spend Your money?”

He gave me twenty-four hours before He gently reminded me of that heart-wrenching I received on Christmas morning. The one where the gift wasn’t quite what was expected and the immature child didn’t know how to hide the disappointment. He didn’t condemn my reaction, just reminded me of His truth, His Sovereignty, His never-ending, never giving up, love for me.

It’s been a week. My home is a hot mess. It’s full of fans and dehumidifiers, walls are ripped off studs, there’s sheetrock dust flying everywhere, and the insanity hasn’t even approached the full-on crazy that’s coming when we have to move our entire downstairs into a pod and take the kitchen cabinets out and . . . well, you get the idea.


Sometimes I start crying in mid-conversation. Sometimes I feel like someone is squeezing me around the chest and I can’t quite breathe. Sometimes I wander around the house, so overwhelmed by everything I need to do that I can’t do anything.

But most of the time, I hear Him whispering truth into my clouded brain, reminding me that He knows I’m prone to wander and He’s got me and He will not let go. I feel His arms holding me up. Feel Him speaking peace to my mind and heart.

It's a very, very good gift.

James 1:17 ~ Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (ESV)





Saturday, January 11, 2014

No One To Trust by Lynette Eason

There are only a handful of authors whose books shoot to the top of my to-be-read pile as soon as they become available.

Lynette Eason is one of those authors.

No One To Trust is the first novel in her new Hidden Identity series. I was a little sad to say goodbye to the characters in the Deadly Reunions Series, and I wondered how she would top the twisty plotline that wound through those books.

But she did.

No One To Trust opens with a murder. It’s followed by a blood pumping chase that ends in …well…I won’t say, but by this time, I want to know who David Hackett is, and why Kyle Abernathy is being chased by a hit man.

If you think you’ll be able to catch your breath, you’re wrong, because the next scene comes straight from most women’s nightmares. Summer Abernathy wakes up to find a man pointing a gun at her. He’s not there to kill her, but what he tells her sends her world into a tailspin, and takes the reader along for the ride.

For the next 300 pages, the story unfolds, one tantalizing detail at a time. We meet siblings, clients, former military unit members, U.S. Marshalls, and let’s not forget the mob boss with a snake fetish and his seriously dysfunctional family.

Lynette does a masterful job of introducing new characters and keeping the entire cast distinct. I never struggled to follow along, even toward the end when plot lines and characters were converging and then taking off in unexpected directions.

No One To Trust also gives us a nice spin on the typical romance, because the main characters are already married. The question is, will their marriage survive? Can Summer forgive Kyle for lying to her? Can Kyle keep them alive long enough to convince Summer that the one thing he hadn’t lied about was his love for her?

Underpinning the entire novel are beautiful themes of redemption, forgiveness, and, ultimately trust, making No One To Trust both a thrilling and uplifting experience.

No One To Trust is available from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in January 2014 from your favorite bookseller.

The super fine print: I received this book in exchange for my opinion. I was not required to provide a favorable review. All opinions are my own.




















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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Let Him Decide Where to Put You

Several years ago, my dad made a beautiful mirrored coat rack. I had the perfect wall for it and it hung in a place of prominence in my home where it received oohs and ahhs from friends, family, and guests.

Then we moved.

Our new home has an open floor plan with short walls. Most of the long walls are full of windows. There isn't a single spot in the house that made sense for the coat rack. I guess I could have hung it in the dining room. It would've made a great conversation starter, but it also would've made it functionally useless. 

So with nowhere to put it, I placed it in a hall closet where it sat unused for six months before I realized I was being an idiot.

Because there was one other spot.

But it was so wrong.



I'm blogging today over at The Write Conversation...so click on over to read the rest of this post!












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