Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thanks, girl :)

Lately, Neva is my biggest fan. Which is nice, because I can really use the love right now. She often impulsively hugs me, rough and tough as always, and says to me, “You’re just the best girl in the world.”

Also: “I just love you the best.”

She’s full of strong affections:
“This is the best day EVER!”
“I LOVE Auntie Erin. She’s SO beautiful.”
(Hearing me absentmindedly humming “O Christmas Tree”): “I LOVE that song.”

When she was a baby, I wrote her a song. Between then and now, I nearly forgot it, but this summer, I scraped it out of my memory (to her utter delight) and now sing it to her every night. “Can you sing ‘Neva-Mae-where-we-say-goodbye’?” And when I’m finished, every time, she sighs. “I LOVE that song.”

Hello, little Neva Mae
Oh I hope you had a wonderful day
And I hope you never feel alone
Mama’s home with you, Neva Mae

Neva Mae, Neva Mae
Oh, what a day
When I saw you for the very first time
Oh, you cried, and you cried, 
But then peacefully lay
In my arms
My little Neva Mae

Hello, you spunky little girl
Oh, I know you’re gonna light up the world
But even sunny girls like you encounter rain
And when there’s pain, 
I’ll be there, Neva Mae

Neva Mae, Neva Mae
Oh, what a day
When your heart breaks for the very first time-
Oh you’ll cry- we’ll both cry-
But then Mama’s gonna say,
“You are strong and you are perfect,
Neva Mae”

Hello, you dear and mighty girl
Why don’t you go and take on the world?
But no matter how far away you roam,
You have a home with me,
Neva Mae

Neva Mae, Neva Mae
Oh, what a day
When we say goodbye for the very first time
Oh, I’ll cry and I’ll cry,
But you’ll smile and you’ll say,
“I’ll always be your Neva Mae”

Yes, you’ll always be my Neva Mae

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

You are enough.

This is what I would say to my child, if he or she felt desperately alone or unwanted:

(I have four children; undoubtedly at least one will inherit my fear of falling short.)

You are good enough, just the way you are. You are enough.
If you never progress in any area for the rest of your life, I still love having you in my life.
Even if you believe you are failing harder than ever, you’re not.
(But even if you were, I wouldn’t care.)
I can’t imagine loving anyone as much as I love you.
I wouldn’t trade you for anyone else in the world.
Even if you feel like all you are is “a thousand problems,” I take them in a heartbeat, because I am crazy about you.
Don’t turn away from the ones who love you most, believing you’ll never be enough for them.
I expect nothing from you. The things I try to teach you- they are just lessons. Not expectations.
You might think everyone would be happier without you. That’s an absolute lie.
I would be devastated to lose you. I’m not sure I would recover.
You, with your quirks and failures and flaws, and all your fears- you are perfect just the way you are.
There’s nothing to “measure up” to- the standard is nonexistent; you “measured up” the moment you were born, and you’ve never fallen short since then.
You are perfect just the way you are, and I love you more than you know. 

Hmmmm. I believe I will start telling them these things now.
Who wouldn’t want to hear, you are perfect the way you are?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Put your big girl pants on.

I’m learning a life lesson I never thought I’d have to learn. Stick it out. I didn’t think I’d have to learn this because I’m a responsible human being and DUH, I finish what I start.

Except when I don’t, which, as it turns out, is often. Commitment, apparently, doesn’t come naturally and easily to me. I’ve always been a beginner of projects... not a finisher of them. I grow so frustrated with myself- “can’t you just finish something?” I hear the accuser roar of the things I haven’t done, and I know them well- and a thousand more... When the initial excitement wears off and the tedium sets in, the project finds its way into the basement. I don’t ever throw it away. I just focus on something new. 

I worried this would happen with my barbell and plates, if I’m being honest. I worried that they’d eventually become just a heavy reminder of “that time I was into lifting.” For the past two weeks, since testing my max, I haven’t touched my equipment. I’ve been playing Insanity videos in the kitchen (pausing them for a break way too many times). I’ve hardly gone into the basement at all. I went back and read my recap of testing my 1RM: “You spend so much time on something and it ends abruptly, without the outcome you expected. That’s life.”

Why does it have to end, Maegan? Why throw in the towel when the fight has hardly begun?

Can I be entirely vulnerable? As you see, I’m a serial starter. And having a fresh realization of this fact has made me question everything I thought I was. It’s one thing to find myself unable to finish the intricate needlepoint caribou Christmas stocking; its entirely another to find myself mentally withdrawing from my role as a wife and mother because it feels so unmanageable. A few months ago, I read this verse: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9.) I’ve always loved this verse; I sing it with the kids, I’ve taped it on my wall, I’ve texted it to Brian. But when I read it recently, it drove a blade of fear. I knew then that I was weary, and I realized that some give up. And I wondered, am I going to give up?

You see, I don’t stop my projects because I grow bored of them, or because I don’t want them anymore. I stop because they’re not coming out perfectly, or because I run into a difficulty I’m not sure how to surmount. Because I suddenly realize, I’m not up to this task. Why did I decide to do this? 

Hoo, boy. This was supposed to be a post about powerlifting.

Stick it out, Maegan. 

First, lean into the hard. Don’t give up, or change course yet. Find a new approach, maybe, but embrace that this will not come easily, and adjust your expectations. Nothing that is worth having comes easily. 

(At this point, I laugh that I’m spouting trite motivational quotes. It’s funny how these simple phrases can really speak to you in your moment of need.)

Second, believe that you can change. You can learn to accept less than perfect- to be comfortable with being less than perfect. (Have I ever been perfect? Oh no, but I’ll settle for looking that way.) Your marriage, your children, your relationships, your home, your body, your holidays, your traditions, your projects and endeavors- none of them will be perfect- and at some point, they won’t even look perfect from the outside anymore. Even if you took on one project- just one- it wouldn’t turn out perfectly. So stop berating yourself for every decision along the way. It’s not perfect. Do it anyway. Own it anyway. 

Finally, take a minute. Take a month. Be still. For years, you’ve been waiting for the moment- striving frantically for the moment- when everything is finally right (read: “perfect”) and you can enjoy all you have. But the harder you push yourself, the more “perfect” seems to be slipping away. And you look around yourself in frustration and disillusionment and you wonder, honestly, how much more can I push myself? For a while, that question is an open door for suggestions for changing approaches, new routines, finding new drive. But then it changes, and that question becomes an admission of defeat. I can’t push myself any harder, and it’s not helping anyway. 

I’ve had a sticker planted on my coffee maker for years: “The best never rest.” It’s been reapplied to new coffee makers after their predecessors have bit the dust. At first it served as a silent rallying cheer as I drank a cup of coffee at 9PM before heading down to the basement for a late-night workout in those post-new-baby-Mac months. Recently, it’s become an ironic reminder that the less I’ve rested, the less “best” I’ve actually become. 

Back to powerlifting. Let’s use this as a pattern for life’s bigger issues. 
I love powerlifting. I don’t want to quit.
I am resolved to not give up. 
I am not the strongest person in the room by far, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.
I think, with time, I’ll become stronger. 
It’s going to take hard work- but I’m okay with that, because I plan to give myself more grace along with the work. 
There’s nothing wrong with a new approach. A new approach is a thousand times better than quitting. 
I may never attain my goals. They’re lofty goals, and they seem impossible right now. But someone recently reminded me that setting “unreachable” goals allows us to make remarkable strides in their pursuit. I didn’t accomplish all I set out to do, but look at what I have done. 


It’s okay to be proud of what you’ve done. Silence the nagging voice that constantly, painfully reminds you of everything you lack. That voice sometimes grows so loud, I find myself desperate for anything to disprove it, to make it leave me alone. 

I think I am finding that anything. Slowly but surely, after many empty, exhausting detours, I am learning to silence that voice. Or rather, to let that voice be silenced. 

Be still, and know that I am God. 
My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. 
Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:31-39

Monday, August 12, 2019

Blood drive

July 18 was one of those days- a day when you frantically claw for any distraction- and I certainly was doing that. I was listening to one of a string of podcasts when I heard an advertisement for the American Red Cross, issuing a call for blood donors. I immediately paused the podcast and made an appointment to donate blood. I don’t have a rare blood type. Do it anyway, I told myself. 

The following weeks dropped in like a load of gravel, one rock at a time, until August 5, when I hauled all four children to the blood drive at 1 PM. I set the kids up in the waiting area with tablets and suckers and sat down for my little preliminary interview and fingerstick. 

Do you know that this takes an hour? Well, yes. Because they can’t come back with you. 

(I immediately grow very concerned that Mac won’t sit happily in his stroller, unattended, for a full hour.)

Have you eaten a good meal today? Umm, well, no- actually, I haven’t. You’re supposed to eat first. Didn’t you know that?

Your iron level is too low. You should be taking an iron supplement two weeks before your donation. I didn’t know. Well, we can’t take your blood today. 

We’re in Oxford often, so take some iron and make another appointment. Leave the kids home, though. 

I left in embarrassment. I berated myself: “You just totally wasted their time and your time.” 

The next day, I totally forgot Luke’s first birthday. And didn’t remember for six days. 

You think of all the things you’re not doing, but as it is, you’re too depleted to even do the things you do

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Desert

When Moses arrived in the desert, he was fleeing the law, yes- but he had promise. He was a statesman, an educated orator, a leader of soldiers, and a bearer of a dream- a would-be deliverer of his people.

But he spent forty years in that desert. And when God finally called him back to Egypt, he had become a stuttering shepherd. That didn’t matter to God, we all know- that stuttering shepherd was made “a god to Pharoah," and with his staff commanded the greatest wonders of the Bible.

The greatest heroes must first have their time in the desert. Can you think of even one - Biblical, mythological, historical - who broke directly from the starting line and made a constant blaze of glory, without experiencing a premature end?

A desert might feel like stagnation, but it doesn't have to be. A butterfly spends a significant portion of its life wrapped in its chrysalis. A seed puts down many roots before its leaves ever emerge into the sunlight. An outside observer doesn't see the growth happening within, beneath. "Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24)

The desert can feel dark and isolating, a place of death. It can also be a hiding place. A refuge. 

A desert feels aimless. Your pace is slow, your destination unclear. The time isn't right for "hustling" and "makin' it happen." This is the time when questions and doubts abound. You feel lost. Your dreams and goals feel ambiguous and unreachable. You settle for daily goals. You make hash marks in the sand. You recognize that this is the time and place to build character - but you don't see that growth; you must be content to merely hope it's happening... despite what feels like copious evidence of the opposite. 

It feels lonely. No one else around you seems to be there with you. Everyone else seems to know where they're going. Of course, that cannot possibly be true. We all walk through many deserts at many different times. I wish that those of us in the metaphorical desert could, in reality, simply look at each other and recognize that we're in this together. I feel lost. You want to be lost with me? There is, after all, so much beauty to enjoy here.

And there is hope. There is always hope. Hope is a beautiful, precious thing. Hope whispers, "It won't always be this way." Hope reminds you that God knows- and is there in- the desert. Hope enables you to believe that, when you are called out of the desert, you will be ready for the journey.

"Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (Isaiah 43:19)

Saturday, August 3, 2019

PSMF/Weight Cut Week Review

Day 1 (July 29) Weight: 136
PSMF. Easy peasy today. Bloat from the weekend has set in, as well as irritated skin (my body doesn’t react well to sugar), but so has energy from all that food. My afternoon lifting was GREAT; I decided to redo a session from last week in which I’d had fallen quite short, and today I hit all the lifts pretty easily. Broke my fast at dinner with 12 oz. grilled venison steak and a final cup of black iced coffee with some Jordan’s Skinny Syrup. The two keys to fasting are 1. adequate sleep, and 2. stay busy!

Five days until I test my 1RM!

Day 2 (July 30) Weight: 133.6
PSMF. Harder today. Did Insanity Max30 first thing in the morning, which was a good idea, considering my energy lagged as the day went on. A poor previous night’s sleep and a challenging overall day in general, combined with an afternoon-onset headache, led to me sipping some black coffee after dinner, while staring longingly at the bowl of cold watermelon on the table. Now that dinner is over, I’m looking forward to an early bedtime. (Broke my fast at dinner with 3.5 oz. leftover venison, 5.4 oz chicken breast, and 18g collagen in my final cup of coffee.) The third key to fasting: COFFEE.

(It’s usually the second day that the devil on my shoulder starts prodding: why are you doing this? On Day 2, temptations loom everywhere, vacation bloat is still present, energy is lacking, and honestly, there hasn’t been enough “fasting time under my belt” to dissuade me from saying, forget it. Once dinner is over and the day draws to a close, however, there’s never any regret in sticking to the plan.)

Day 3 (July 31) Weight: 129.2
PSMF... ish. Skin has cleared, bloating down. Broke my fast at dinner with 11 oz. braised venison shank and a plain can of tuna, as well as collagen and Jordan’s in my dinner coffee. (Then... half a serving of sweet potato chips and a peach. I justified those carbs by this morning’s unexpected scale dip.) Overall, I felt good today. Fantastic workout (no missed lifts), few tears, and no headache. 

Day 4 (August 1) Weight: 128.6
Reverse Day 1 (1200 cal goal). This was a great day- a day for focusing on things more important than nutrition. It was also, however, an untracked day. I’m pretty sure I went over 1200, but not by too much. Brian and I had a couple afternoon appointments to take care of, so my wonderful mom took a workday to babysit. When we finally made it home (unexpectedly late) at 6:30, I broke my fast with an entire watermelon. (Well, almost.) Insanity Max30 in the AM. I’m solidly within my 60kg weight class again, and very excited to test my 1RM on Saturday. My personal powerlifting meet. 

Day 5 (August 2) Weight: 129.2
Reverse Day 2 (1500 cal goal). Honestly, another untracked day. Broke my fast at dinner with… dinner (chicken parm casserole). I’ve been trying to get used to Lifesum for tracking macros. It’s not a bad app, and I think I’ll get used to it after a while, but MFP was like breathing, and dozens of my recipes were stored there. But if I really had a meet tomorrow, weigh-in would have been this morning, and I would’ve nailed it, and I would’ve been going heavier on the carbs tonight anyway. No workout today, just resting for tomorrow. 

I’m looking forward to crushing some numbers tomorrow. I definitely think I’ve made progress in bench. In May, my form was dismal and I couldn’t get comfortable with getting full-body tension until Brian showed me a different way to position my feet and... yes! My squat progress... meh. I’ll be happy if I can hit the same number I could in May. As I’ve leaned out, my squat seems to have suffered most. But as for my deadlift, I’m really hoping for an increase. I’ve worked hard for it. 

Day 6 (August 3) One-rep max test day!

Wow. Talk about disappointing.

Here were my numbers in May (~138 lb bodyweight):
Squat: 225 lb. 
Bench: 150 lb. 
Deadlift: 265 lb. 

Here were my numbers today, after another 9-week prep block (~130 lb bodyweight):
Squat: 225 lb. (failed 230)
Bench: 150 lb. (failed 155)
Deadlift: Attempted 265 and then 255. I could barely get either of them off the floor an inch. 

So... stayed the same, except for my best lift, which got weaker. 

Oh, gosh. When I struggled with that last 255, I felt like crying. Which would be stupid. I did not cry. But I’m not exactly sure where to go from here. Here are my random thoughts. Am I too old to gain strength? I’ll be 32 this September. Maybe I’ve peaked. If so, I certainly haven’t peaked at a competitive spot. So there won’t be any meet in my future. Still, I can’t say this was wasted effort. It was hard work; it did something. Maybe it kept muscle mass while I leaned out. It wasn’t wasted. Was this week’s PSMF too depleting? I certainly felt good during my workouts. I hardly slept on Thursday night- Will couldn’t sleep and kept panicking, so I laid next to him as he talked to me all night- maybe that caught up with me today (Saturday). I’ve been all over the map emotionally lately; maybe this wasn’t a good time to go for new strength goals. Maybe, maybe, maybe. 

You spend so much time on something and it ends abruptly, without the outcome you expected. That’s life.

I’m going to have to reassess my goals; I don’t want to lose sight of more important things. Fitness should enhance my life, not make me feel like a failure. This wasn’t failure - it was feedback. That’s all. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Barrett

We’re pulling slowly out of the library parking lot, and Barrett laments,  “Ohhh, I wish I could look at one of our new library books, but they’re on the floor by my feet.” 

I say, “Go ahead and get them, buddy; I’m not on the road yet.”

“You mean,” he asks incredulously, “to uncklebuck my seatbelt?!”



Later, on the way home from the grocery store, I cheerfully remind them that when we get home, it’s time for haircuts. “Oh mom,” he begs sincerely, “can I please have a beard? Can you please give me a beard?” 

Completely caught off guard, I fumble a bit. Meanwhile, Will is yelling, “You already HAVE a beard!” Barrett’s face is naturally a bit hairy (we call him “our little Esau” behind his back, occasionally), but I don’t want to say something that may inadvertently wound him. 

“Barrett,” I reply, “kids can’t grow beards.” 

“Yes they can!” he retorts. “I saw a kid with a beard, once!”

“Are you sure it was a real beard, and not a costume?” I ask.

“Well I don’t know, maybe it was a costume,” he says. “But Mom, please can I have a beard? I really want one.” 

“Barrett, I can’t give you a beard. Plus... you already kind of have a little bit of a beard, on your sideburns.”

“Yeah I know,” he replies quickly and happily, “but I want it to grow over my nose, like dad’s.”



Lately, the past two mornings, Barrett has been helping Mac out of his crib and bringing him into his own bed to “sleep.” Then he dresses Mac (over his dirty nighttime diaper) in Barrett’s own clothes. Mac has come downstairs in giant clothes, with a matching giant, proud smile. This warms my heart unspeakably, because Barrett LOVES to sleep in, and hates to be bothered in the morning in any way. I certainly  haven’t asked him to get Mac ready in the morning. At all other times of the day, he almost always looks after Mac- he’s done this on his own since Mac was mobile- and the fact that he’s taking on this caretaker role even in the morning, setting aside his own desire to sleep undisturbed, and doing it of his own volition, delights me. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Focusing on what is important.

Parenting can be such a tricky balance. There is almost never a clear answer.

I'm standing at the kitchen counter right now, handling some Amazon returns, and I'm looking at William at the dining room table, building a LEGO Star Wars set. He's struggling here and there, grunting and huffing. I stand here wondering, should I go sit with him and help? Or is it best to let him figure this out on his own?

Meanwhile, the bottom three are outside. I hear them happily playing, and then occasionally, a scream of indignation from Neva or Mac. And I wonder, should I run outside to help them navigate this disagreement? Or do I let them figure it out on their own?

I tend to hover, control, and say too many things.

I also tend to be distracted, unfocused, always busy.

And I have this bent, as I'm sure others do: when life is a struggle, when things are very hard, I find an escape - something to focus on - besides the problem. Work the problem, I know - but sometimes things feel too big to grapple with, and I need a smaller goal to conquer.

So instead of helping with the LEGO set, or running outside to settle the dispute over the Power Wheels dune buggy - or even instead of figuring out whether or not I SHOULD involve myself - I focus on the Amazon returns. Package them up, print the labels.

I want to focus on the important things, but I often don't know how.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Yeah, I’m into fitness. ‘Fitness’ whole box of ice cream bars into my body.

I’m in a melancholy mood. I’m laying next to William, watching him sleep. He’s been throwing up for the last twenty-four hours. We are in Charlevoix for the second time this summer, and had big plans for our last day-and-a-half here. Those plans did not include the stomach flu for my little guy. His eyes are sunken, lids half open as he sleeps, revealing bloodshot eyes. I’m waiting to see if the water he sipped an hour ago will stay down. I’ve coped with the disappointment and sadness of seeing him miserably sick, during what should be the highlight of his summer, by eating. I’ve been stuffing my face non-stop over the past twenty-four hours, as though I’m eating Will’s calories for him, or as though I’m just daring my body to also catch the stomach flu. I came to Charlevoix proud of my abs, and I’m leaving looking six months pregnant. 

Throughout the night I dozed on and off, watching William lay awake between bouts of vomiting. I had fitful dreams, the main one being that I invited all of my MyFitnessPal friends to my home for dinner. We introduced ourselves in person and talked about fitness and injuries. I woke from that dream, missing that community something fierce. Recent circumstances required I delete my MFP account. I’d had that account since 2011, and had logged in daily for almost the past three years. I didn’t realize, when I chose to delete, the profound sense of loss I’d feel after some time had gone by. That group had cheered me on after tough workouts, had encouraged me during those hectic days after having Mac and trying to balance fitness and homeschooling and four small kids. It was nice that they were strangers; I could vent about things I felt my real-life friends would find obnoxious (fitness). We were all there for the same thing, and no one grew bored of hearing about things my real-life friends might find annoying (well, fitness). I think about fitness daily, but I’m well aware that no one cares about how much I can bench, whether or not it’s Flex Friday, or why I can’t decide between a hypertrophy circuit or powerlifting for my next training block. 

So I’m melancholy, because my little boy is so sick, because I feel disgustingly full, and because my fitness community is gone.

But you know what? This is my void, my space in which to blather on and on. So I’m gonna do that. “Sing to Life and Fitness.

So please indulge me as I think aloud, about my training goals for the remainder of summer/fall. I often vacillate between prioritizing aesthetics vs. performance. However, I recently cut down to the 60kg weight class for a powerlifting competition I was thinking of doing this month, and I’m very happy with my appearance. So happy, in fact, that I have not been too concerned about my lifts suffering (probably helps that I decided to not compete after all). So I suppose aesthetics trumps performance during this time of year, and I’m okay with that. I’ve also seen an improvement in my cardio performance, which is almost as important to me as my lifting numbers, so I’d like to include that as a focus. 

Goals for Summer/Fall 2019
1. Maintain weight
2. Train for powerlifting
3. Continue intense cardio

1. Maintain weight. It has become much easier to stay within my macros since beginning intermittent fasting. Yes, most mornings I wake up and do not feel like fasting until dinner. And many nights, I snack beyond my macros. But overall, I’ve been able to remain consistent enough that staying in the 60kg class is very doable, even with an untracked day each week. The problem at hand, however, is that I’m returning home from this trip well over 60kg. I’ve decided to spend the rest of July in a protein-sparing modified fast (beginning 7/29). On August 1, I’ll begin a three-day reverse into maintenance calories (1200, 1500, 1800) where I’ll stay through the rest of summer/fall, depending on weight changes.
2. Powerlifting. I still hope to compete one of these years. After reading extensively about different intermediate lifting programs, I’ve decided to stay with the undulating periodization program I’ve been using. My issues with it have been the length of time required lately (over 90 minutes most days, including child interruptions), and the fact that my numbers have been dropping. This is most likely because I’ve been cutting weight and probably taxing myself a little too much with accessories and excessive warmups. I tend to go all-out and approach my lifting sessions with a rather rigid mindset (“if a little is good, more is better- and if I could do it last week, I better be able to do it today”). I’ll leave the intense cardio for my alternate cardio days and keep the warmup sets and accessories to a minimum. 
3. Intense cardio. I could definitely stand to increase my endurance, and I like to have three alternate cardio days to offset lifting. Insanity Max30 pushes me more than I push myself, and schedule changes have recently eliminated running as a cardio option, so Insanity Max30 it is. These half-hour workouts are really challenging for me, so they’re a better option than running in a few ways. I’ll miss seeing the fireflies come out during my evening runs, though. 

So having taken the time to read, research, and think out loud here, I guess I’ve decided to move forward without changing much. Ha! That’s probably a good thing- hopefully it means I’ve been on the right track. I’ll be retesting my one-rep max in about a week, and I’ll be taking some notes during my PSMF/reverse, so I’ll include those here later. 

It’s taken me several minutes, here and there, to write this post today, between packing and taking care of the kiddos. I’m happy to report that William did stop vomiting around 10 AM and ate some potato chips at lunchtime (it was all I could find to entice him- nothing else would work!). We left CHX at 3:30 PM, are almost home, and he has slept most of the way. And I’m feeling a little less blue- clarifying goals always helps me perk up. I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep, a solid training session tomorrow, and the memory of those Dove bars and cheesecake to carry me through the next week. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Morning rescue

There’s a small egress in the courtyard garden, and a few days ago, Brian found about thirty tiny wood frogs hopping around inside it, unable to get out. He yelled for the boys: “Hey guys, let’s go rescue some frogs!”

The next day, the kids and I went to weed the garden. “Wow!” shouted Barrett, looking down into the egress. “Those baby frogs are back!” Apparently, not all the frogs had been rescued. 

William rushed over. “Oh boy,” he complained, unable to keep the delight out of his voice, “I guess we’re just gonna have to come out here every morning and rescue these frogs.”

It took the boys a while to catch the tiny amphibians that had evaded their rescue the day before. Every time he captured one, Barrett ran over to me. “Mom, look at this tiny one!” They were all identical, the size of a blueberry, but at each new capture I exclaimed, “Wow! Now that’s a really cute one!”

At one point, William approached me in concern. “Mom, we’re gonna have to take the house apart. The frogs are getting stuck in some tiny cracks.”

Once, during the rescue, I heard Mac’s deep voice behind me: “Fron.” He was serious, intent on the tiny frog he had pinched within in his fingers. (I’m not sure how that particular frog fared in the end.)

I overheard William saying, “Boy, their mom must be really dumb. Why would she keep laying her eggs in this hole?” 

“Oh no,” Barrett lamented a minute later. “I think this one is dead.” After a second, when the frog leapt from his open hand to safety, he exclaimed, “Wow! He wasn’t dead! He was just playing dead! Mom, these frogs love me! They love to play with me! They love to play dead. Did you know a wood frog can play dead, mom? I didn’t know that. And now I know it’s their favorite game!”

At the zoo

“Look at the penguins,” I say. “This one is so close, Neva.” We can see the tiny air bubbles clinging to his feathers as he swims up to the window and takes a fish off the ledge, inches away. On your hands and knees on the ledge on our side of the glass, you peer closely at him, delighted by his proximity. “He likes me!” Of course he’s not coming to peek at you, Neva- he wants the fish. I say, “He does like you.”

“It’s time to move on,” daddy says. I put my hands under your armpits and swing you off with a smile. “Whee!” I say. When your feet touch the floor, you push my hands away with a scowl. “I wanted to do it myself,” you say. 

“Well, I wanted to help you because I love you.”

“Hold me,” you suddenly demand, but a second later you run away to look at the ice display with your brothers. On the way up the stairs, your hand finds my hand, only to pull it away again. You do it a second time- grasp, pull away. You want to know I’m there, but you don’t really want my help. I interpret in that second: you don’t want my company. Frustrated and rejected, momentarily unable to separate you from your childish rebellion, I quickly move ahead a couple of steps and leave you to finish the stairs alone. It’s what you want. 

In the bathroom, I take you potty in the largest stall. Now it’s Mac’s turn, and I let him take a turn on the toilet before laying him on the changing table and giving him a fresh diaper. In the meantime, you meander around the stall. “Mom, I’m touching the wall. Mom, I’m touching the floor.”  I’m determined not to be ruffled. “Nice, Neva.” Despite all the times I’ve encouraged- instructed- you to not touch anything in a public bathroom, you are compelled by a defiant curiosity.  

Then, you move to leave, and as you are about to open the bathroom stall door and walk away, I say sternly, “Do not open that door.” Without breaking my gaze, you slowly lift your hand and you touch the latch again. 

In a swift moment I have reached down with my bare hand and I smack your thigh, the soft part of your leg showing just underneath your short summer dress. “I said to not open the door,” I say in a strained voice. You snatch your hand back and you begin to cry you turn away from me, hiding your face.

I despise myself in that moment. 

I get it. I understand you. I, too, “kick against the goads.” I understand how you are driven to do that same thing you’ve been instructed many times to never do. I understand how you want to know that you can do it alone, how you resent unsolicited help- or rather, resent the fact that you may need it. I understand, when you cling to me, that it’s because you realize you do need me, and it’s for that same reason that you reject me a moment later.

When I was sixteen, I was warned that I had an “independent spirit.” Not long after, there was a healing service at the church, and I asked the elders to pray that I would be delivered from this “independent spirit.” They laid hands on me and prayed, but like others who walked away that day unchanged, I am still afflicted. For better or for worse, this independent spirit remains. 

“Neva,” I say softly, kneeling to your eye level, one hand on Mac as he squirms on the table. “You can’t leave me.” My heart sinks when I see that your eyes are still full of tears. How could I possibly hate your own independent spirit? And yet, I know this world better than you. I want to keep you safe. I want to hold your hand and walk with you, to enjoy your company. I don’t want you to be alone. 

You cannot do it alone, Neva. A life independent of Christ is a frightening prospect. You can do all things, you will do all things- but it has to be through Him. And I am daunted by the responsibility of demonstrating this to you, of being the one to teach you this, when I have not learned it myself.