when it is time to rest

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It seems that our bodies are made to go on strike even when we don’t want them to. We are too busy, too much is going on for our bodies to sit and say “I’m done. I need rest.” But, against our will to keep going, doing, and being, our bodies declare that it is time to stop.

Last week, three hundred kids gathered at my church to attend Vacation Bible School. As the coordinator of our Children’s Ministry, I had been working for months, weeks, and countless hours each day on making our VBS the best experience it could be for the children attending. But, the weekend before everything began I woke up unable to swallow and could barely get out of bed. My body was exhausted and I knew something was terribly wrong. After a morning spent at the doctor’s office, I was declared to be contagious with strep throat.

To read more about how our bodies need rest and respect, head on over to The M.O.M. Initiative. 

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what makes mama turn gray

It happened.

The day that I thought wouldn’t happen at least until my thirtieth birthday finally happened.  It happened so quickly that I couldn’t even prepare for it, much less stop it.  To say it was a shock is an understatement.

I found my first gray hair.

Gasp, I know.  I discovered the fate of my future earlier this month as I was getting ready for work.  I’d been trying to style my hair despite not having a haircut in over four months and I saw this light strand poking out all funny as my Chi glided through the rest of my dark hair.  I stopped, mid-straightening, with the steam poofing from the hot iron and thrust my scalp closer to the florescent light.  At first, I thought my eyes had deceived me….it was just a strand of blonde peeking through my winter coif.  But no, it wasn’t blonde.  It was gray, in all of its going-against-the-grain instead of blending in, your-getting-old glory.  I must say, my heart had palpitations, but they certainly weren’t out of love.

Can I just get a big ugghhhh?  I mean, talk about ruining a girl’s day!  I didn’t know what to do about my current predicament so I did what any sane person would do…I pulled it out and put it in the sink, allowing the water to whisk it down the drain where it most certainly belongs.   I tried to just let it go but throughout the rest of the day I kept looking a little bit closer at my hair every time I saw a mirror.  Call me vain, say that I’m in denial but whatever…it seriously took the pep out of my step.

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Because once you find that first gray hair, all the questions that come with the gray hair starts to explode.  Am I really old enough to have gray hair?  Do I need highlights again?  Are three gray hairs going to come back where I plucked the one gray hair?

Then, the never-ending  monologue begins in my head about how to live healthier:

“Well, this just goes to show that you are not in college anymore, nor are you young enough to be wearing those dresses that look like shirts.  You need to go to that kick-boxing class this afternoon instead of going home.  Maybe this wouldn’t have happened if you haven’t been so stressed this year with the move, the new jobs, and starting over in Dothan.  Or, maybe this would have happened even if you were in Montgomery.  Remind myself to make a haircut appointment and go into great discussion about how to avoid more gray hair or at least start the conversation about if I need more highlights.  Seriously, Christen, stop making such a big deal about this!”

I’ve tried not to make a big deal and just face the facts that this is something that happens to everyone, some people a lot earlier in life than their late twenties.  But, finding this gray hair doesn’t make me feel more mature or wise…it just makes me very aware that time is passing.  Matters such as these make me wonder if I’m really way too self-absorbed or if I’m just a little sad that I can’t get that time back.  Do you ever feel that way too?

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This week my girls are on Spring Break and we’ve officially eaten our way through half a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and turned the toddler shoe aisle upside down at Target looking for a size eight in the purple shiny shoes.  Maralee and Adeline have rescued baby Jaguar from the jungle (aka our driveway) and I’ve finally cleaned up after the tornado that swept through my closet early March.  Life has been so frantic and rushed this month that this break, if only for a few days, has never come at a better time.

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The past few days haven’t had a schedule nor have they been wasted.  We’ve just been hanging out and it has been so nice to forget about all the million reasons such as stress, age, health, and vanity for why I have gray hair.  Being a mom is reason enough to discover gray hair so the fact that we can move past meltdowns over clothes and who-stole-whose-cracker and just be three girls that like to spend time with one another is truly a greater gift than anything mother nature brings.

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Since the initial discovery, I’ve yet to find another silver stand.  I don’t say this boasting, I say it because I know that there are more out there but I’m choosing not to see them.  Getting worked up over gray hair, getting older, and the stresses of life aren’t nearly as much fun as eating a chocolate doughnut with my soon-to-be three year old girls with crazy morning hair.  I’m choosing to enjoy today despite the fact that it is one day closer to getting older instead of younger.  When I find another gray hair, it will be a reminder for me to slow down, cook instead of eating out, play in the afternoon sun instead of stare at a computer screen. 

Just as Dawn from My Home Sweet Home says, God looks at our insides, not our wrinkles, waistline, or in my case, a-hem, gray hair.

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Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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P31 – Are You In?

So back in January, I secretly asked the Lord from the still quietness of my heart to teach me to be a Proverbs 31 woman. I told no one, maybe in hopes that if I failed miserably, no one would know and therefore the world would be none the wiser to my failures.

Well, ladies (and gentleman), beware of what you ask for! I thought that since the year is well past 1/2 way over it was time for an evaluation of my progress to becoming a Proverbs 31 woman. I figured since I had asked the best educator in the business, that maybe I’ve actually learned something in these 7 or 8 months. So here is my honest review of how my transformation into at P31 woman is going…

First, lets review the scripture passage (taken from The Message translation):

10-31 A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day. She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile. When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!

Right off the bat, this passage is very clear that this is not an easy task! It states that “a good woman is hard to find”- this my friends is an exclusive club full of women that want to be set apart and used by God. If you aren’t willing to be set apart, then don’t expect to be called a P31 woman.

I love the part about the woman shopping around for the best yarns and fabrics and loving to knit and sew. If you’ll remember a few posts back, I confessed that I had not been using my sewing machine, but instead used the sewing table to hold a computer. I am proud to say that shortly after that post, I dug out my machine, dusted it off, and signed up for a class!

Although I’m pretty sure I was the slowest sewer throughout the course of the class, I passed with flying colors! I successfully sewed many adorable clothing items for my children! I even shopped around for great fabrics, patterns, and notions! So I would like to say that I have done well in this area of being a P31 woman.

Check out the next set of verses, “She’s like a trading ship that sails to farway places and brings back exotic surprises”; while I don’t travel much outside of my regional area – I like to believe that when I bring home fun, unexpected snacks, or goodies from my trips of weekly household shopping, that I am doing this well. This used to be a task that dreaded – but I’ve grown to enjoy my trips out shopping both with my children in tow, and when I go alone.

I giggled as I read, “She’s up before the dawn, preparing breakfast” because in our house, my amazing husband does this. I’m not sure if this means I fail at this task or not, but it’s what works for our household, and my husband seems ok with this. The next few lines reference to the P31 woman “farming” land to grow food for her family. I also am not the one that does this in our home, but I do support my husbands ventures to garden and have proudly and creatively used all the harvest from our home garden this summer. So maybe that still makes me a P31 woman?

I am not a big fan of the part that says the P31 woman dresses for work and rolls her sleeves eager to get started. In fact, I have spent the last 8 months trying to figure out how to get out of having a daily job – the Lord however has remembered the secret cry of my heart and has made it near impossible for me to do so. And today I can proudly say, I enjoy my job and am eager for the upcoming fall schedule that will allow me more time in the office. This truly is a major change of heart and what I would call a success in the transformation into a P31 woman, I don’t work because I love work, I work because right now that is what’s best for my family.

So, the next set of verses reference that the P31 woman designs and sells dresses – this was probably the “work” the previous verses were referring to. I do not design clothes, but I do have a “side” business I dabble in with my Beach Body venture, helping people reach their fitness goals through supplements and home workout programs. So maybe I could swap out making dresses for building strong bodies?

Check out the next set of verses about being diligent in homemaking! Boy do I struggle with this one! Mostly due to the time and effort it takes to care for two little ones, and work, and sew, and, and and…but I manage to at least do a full thorough cleaning about once a week. Chances are if you drop by unannounced there is laundry lying around somewhere that needs to be folded…but hey – at least its clean! I do manage to cook almost every night of the week and provide a well-balanced meal for my family on a regular basis.

I would hope that I am “quick to assist anyone in need” but I am sure I am lacking in this area – as most days I’m the first to admit that I don’t allow my eyes to see everyone and everything going on around me. So I think I need some work in this area. I would like to think I’m always available to help my friends, but what about strangers?

I try to only speak what is true, necessary, and kind, and usually if I don’t, I realize it quickly afterwards and feel the pain that I may have caused another person. This year I have learned the hard way what power the tongue has and hope that I have truly learned from that experience, that sometimes its better to just love than “be right”.

I love this line, “She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.” Isn’t this stuff that Mom’s are made of? As exhausting as it can be, I love playing with my children and teaching AK the ropes of being a P31 woman! I also pray that this next verse will ring true throughout my life, “Her children respect and bless her”. I believe little AK does this now, but will she when she is 16? 21? 31? What about Lucas? He needs me now, but will he respect me for it later?

And finally, the final part of the test for becoming a P31 woman…is my husband saying this about me, “her husband joins in with words of praise: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!”? At the end of the day, my husband does tell me what a good job I’ve done, even when I feel like I’ve failed miserably.

I think if I had to grade myself on the journey to becoming a P31 woman I would have to give myself a C. I know I have tons of room for improvement. Some things I have down pat and can do with my eyes closed, while other things are a major struggle! What about you, how would you rate your journey to becoming a P31 woman? Have you even decided that you want to be a part of this exclusive set of woman? It’s never too late to learn, and seek God about doing what it takes to be set apart for the sake of your family. These verses talk about how our husbands and children will call us blessed and respect us if we do these things – so in our effort to earn their blessings and respect, why don’t we show them how much we honor and respect them by blessing them with our best P31 behavior?

The year isn’t over yet – and I have room for improvement, but I’m pleased to see that I have made some progress in my journey. I’m even proud that I secretly sought for the Lord’s gentle hand of guidance in this process. I hope that by the time AK is married and is a mother, that I will have set a good example of P31 living for her to follow, and when Lucas is old enough to choose his wife, he will seek out a P31 in the making.

Until Next Time Be Blessed, and Be a Blessing

 

 

Mud Mania

Oh, the crazy things I get talked into doing.

It all started after we finished the triathalon last September.  Raleigh and JW were working out together one day (they just started P90 X and R says that he is seriously sore!) and decided that we should all do another event together.  Somehow, they thought we should do an event called Mud Mania.

I didn’t think that they were serious.  I mean, who wants to go run in the mud?  For fun?  And pay real money to do it?

Not me.

But, somehow….I did. This is what I get for marrying a guy that once did a break-dance routine in a crowded Auburn building.  He’s the type that will try anything and would love to compete on one of those crazy-Asian obstacle courses on the weird nerd channel.  It didn’t help that KC was all on-board too.  So, last Saturday, my negative bootie was dragged 45 minutes down the road to a farm in Auburn where the event was taking place.

Part of me was hoping it would be called off because just hours earlier we had severe weather.  Apparently, that just made the people in charge even more excited because once the bad weather moved past us, the course was extra wet and muddy.  When we pulled up to the site, all I saw was mud and wet grass.  I groaned really loud and seriously gave everyone the evil eye until it was time to begin.

The course was a 5k loop through the woods and had 20 different obstacles set up along the way.  We went in the 9:30 heat and the very first obstacle that we did was walk through waist-high water.  It was like they were initiating us right from the start.  Then we did a slip-n-slide (I was brave and went head first!), wall climb, maze, and jumped through some tires.  The first half of the race wasn’t that bad….then we got to the creek walk.  We had to walk through a creek for a really long distance (at least a quarter of a mile…it seemed!) but since it had rained, the creek was up to our chests at some points and we were going against the current.  Y’all, it was HARD.  Thank goodness we had the boys with us to help pull us along.  Finally, we reached the end of the creek and then it was time to get seriously muddy.

The last half of the course was all in mud (it seemed).  We had to army crawl through mud and walk through mud and do other obstacles that some people lost their shoes in it was so muddy.  By this point, all I could do was accept the fact that I was doing this dang thing and try to enjoy myself with my friends.  I have to admit…it was kind of fun.

As we all jumped over the burning charcoal of obstacle #20 and crossed the finish line, I was proud of my mud-clad body.  It was proof that I had completed something just down-right crazy. 

Riding home that day, I was glad that I got talked into running in the mud.  Four years ago, there was no chance I would agree to something like this.  I’ve lived a very safe, serious life and this would have seemed just too dangereous or weird.  I would have had no fun at all.  I need people like Raleigh and the Godwin’s to convince me to have a little fun in this life.  If that means crawling in the mud, then I guess I’m game….

Because I want to be a participant of my life instead of a spectator.

Question: What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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I’m a Tri-Athlete!

This past weekend, I accomplished a huge goal of mine.  I finished a triathlon!!!!!

Sorry to keep y’all in the dark about this, but I was so nervous that I didn’t want to share and then back out.  For those of you that have been following our blog, you know that last year I started training for the Montgomery half-marathon in honor of the girls.  Well, that just didn’t work out.  For the longest, I have always wanted to participate in these kind of events but my mind would always tell me that I couldn’t do it.  At the beginning of this summer, KC asked me if I would start training with her to do a tri-it-on triathlon.  Honestly, I brushed off her request in the beginning because I knew that it was not worth my time.  But, after some convincing from Raleigh, I told my sweet friend that I would start training with her.  In my mind, I just kept saying that I was going to work-out and keeping track of it.  I didn’t want to psyche myself out.  When it finally came time to register, KC registered both of us so I didn’t have to log on and actually commit.  I still didn’t think I was really going to do this, I was just “working out.”

Then, race week approached.  We started planning and packing.  It began to feel a little more real.  I kept telling myself that I was going to do this and have fun doing it.  I think that had been my problem in the past with other 5k’s that I have done…I wasn’t having fun.  My mind was open to negativity and it convinced me to stop trying during these kind of events.  That attitude really translated itself into the rest of my activities.  It was a terrible spiral downward that I couldn’t get out of for the longest.  Athleticism had always been an attribute that I had prided myself on having and suddenly I couldn’t convince myself to run half a mile down the street.  For a brief moment on the eve of the race, that negativity crept back inside of me.  I was trying so hard to make it stay away but I got extremely nervous the night before.  We were staying with seven other people and they all seemed to be having so much fun but I couldn’t put a smile on my face.  I went to bed praying that I would feel better the next morning.

We woke up on race day at 5 a.m.  I haven’t been up that early since the girls were brand new.  I adorned a great amount of Spandex, ate a quick power breakfast of peanut butter toast, and headed out.  There were over 1,000 people racing in this event.  The vast age range and physical fitness level of the contestants amazed me.  On one side of the transition area were Iron Man participants and the other side had scared little girls like me hoisting their bikes onto the bike stand.  Even though I had pre-race jitters, I was excited to be doing this.  The day was finally here and I was going to finish this race, even if I came in last!!!!!!

As we stretched on the beach, we saw the sun rise.  It was a reminder that the Lord is in control and that I could do all things through Him who gives me strength.

With our sleeping crew before the race began

Cuttin’ up to stay calm

A small group of dolphins swam by the event, as if wishing us good luck.  The water was calm and lukewarm, which was nice for our early morning.  Soon, we lined up and crept toward the start line.  It all happened so fast.  The race staff said, “770, Go!” and I was off!

We swam 300 yards in the ocean.  That was the part I was most nervous about but soon it was over.  As I got out of the water, I heard our friend Laura scream my name.  I had finished the swim and was now off to the bike!

Raleigh and I with Laura’s husband and dad.  Her dad, “Coach” lost his arm to a shark while training in this location for a triathlon twenty years ago.  This was his first time competing in a triathlon at this very spot. An amazing story of victory!!!!

KC and I got on our bikes at the same time but she soon got ahead of me.  We had to bike for 10 miles and as people passed me they kept saying, “On your left.”  I heard that so many times that I started singing Beyoncé’s “To the left, to the left” song.  :)  Whatever it takes to stay positive, right?!  Whenever I passed someone on the bike, I would try to say something positive like, “good job,” or “halfway there.”  Me and this one girl were going about the same speed and kept passing each other.  When it came time to run, I saw that she was walking a little ahead of me.  Even though my legs felt like jello, I told her that we could run together.  Maria and I soon became fast friends, encouraging one another to keep going.  I was so glad to have found a running buddy!!!!

As the two miles came to an end, I could see the finish line.  Picking up speed, I held my head high and felt this amazing rush as I crossed the finish line and heard my name called out.  I did it.  I had finished what I started!  It was such an accomplishment.

Coach finishing with his grandson

Friends, we all have fears that need to be accomplished.  After our girls survived their premature birth and came home from the NICU, I challenged myself to be fearless in this life.  Being fearless isn’t about not feeling fear, but it is allowing those fears to not consume us.  Life is just too short to be afraid.  Conquering our fears brings such personal satisfaction.  Whenever I feel like I can’t do it, I’m going to look back on this moment and tell myself, “If you could run in a triathlon, you can do this!”

Finished!

Couldn’t have done it without y’all!!!

What is a fear that you would like to accomplish?  What is a goal that you would love to finish?

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen