Monday, December 30, 2013

What this past year taught me (beauty in chaos)

It's true. Each moment flies by a little faster as you get older. Or maybe the moments are just blurrier because we're constantly chasing mosters that are less than 36 inches tall. I don't know, but either way can we just pause for a moment and wonder where the h e double hockey stick 2013 went?!!?

instagram @love_laurabeth

Crazy town that 2014 is upon us. From what I remember, 2013 was great and I'm thankful for the visual reminder that technology can provide. This year was truly a year of transformation for me.

This year I became OKAY with the fact that my post partum anxiety will not be going away. The little red devil is here to stay. But. BUT. BUT! This year I learned to accept that sometimes, God's Grace comes in the form of a little white pill. He Loves Me. EVERY PART OF ME. and I'm so grateful for His grace. I plan on sharing a lot more of this secret struggle more in 2014.

This year I finally got rid of the weight that was holding me down. Those 45 pounds that I was holding on to were preventing me from living the life I wanted.  Facing my insecurities, naming them out loud, and deciding that God and I were going to do this TOGETHER were what helped me begin. Feeling success, weight watchers online, Godfit devotions, and running were what kept me going.

Goals for 2014?
I want to live FREELY in the GRACE God has extended to me. I want to live imperfectly knowing that I'm loved and that I'm able to love what's all around me. I want to listen more. I want to be a good friend. I want to have a clean house for more than 24 hours at a time. I want to eliminate the clean clothes pile in my bedroom. and I want to run a half marathon. eep!

Cheers friends!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Weight Loss Devotion ((My experience with GodFit))

This was me in June. Happy, loved, but screaming  for help on the inside. I'm  the blonde with two chins in case you had doubts.  Lost and defeated I allowed myself to gain 70+ pounds between  my two pregnancies.  I never lost the weight and had honestly GIVEN UP on enjoying the reflection I saw every day. I made excuses. I lied to myself. I divulged in self-hate and eating to solve my everyday stresses and worries. I got a large Dr. Pepper everyday as a "treat" and ate fast food at least 4 times a week. I did NOT exercise. I was dying on the inside while trying to create the "everything is wonderful" image among my family and friends.

 This past May I had a melt down on my back porch while thinking about who I had allowed myself to be. Was I really just agreeing to be unhappy for the rest of my life? Was I really just giving up?

Searching for a way to motivate myself I learned about GodFit. What really got me interested was the hashtag #fitforChristfitforlife. Catchy, right? I decided to give it a try.

Can I get specific with you? The first thing that drew me to this program was the idea that it wasn't a weight loss "program". I had already  failed lots of those.  Two weeks in  and motherhood, crazy schedules, and craving comfort I'd give those programs the slow fade and brush it off that it just wasn't for me. What gave me hope that perhaps this could stick were the words staring at me on the front cover:

"Six weeks to pursue God through spiritual disciplines, healthy choices, and physical fitness."

Pursue God? Pursue God. Pursue God!  Had I ever really pursued God in my past failed endeavors? The answer plain and simple was no. I decided that perhaps there was something to this idea that showing devotion in God's faithfulness would in fact help me get over my hurdles of being obese, low self-esteem, self-hate, and feeling defeated. I had given my life to Christ--why couldn't I give him my biggest struggle? Because it was embarrassing?

I knew I was prone to fail. However this time would be different. I was going to view this journey to reclaim my health as an act of worship to the Lord. I would seek strength through Him and I would  DEVOTE my  habits and health to God in a way that would please Him. GodFit set me in the right direction from the start.

As a mom of two toddlers my life can be pretty hectic. Squeezing in time for myself is a struggle and one of my biggest excuses was that I simply did not have time to get to the gym. The workouts in GodFit helped me debunk that myth that fitness happens in the gym.  For me, fitness now happens in my living room with two children mimicking my every move and often hanging from my appendages. The workouts in this program are INTENTESE and easy to fit into my schedule. I love that.

The Metabolic Acceleration workout is my favorite. My four year old loves the names of the moves and yells out to me "More Sumo Squats Mommy!!".  By the end of this 20 minute circuit I'm sweating, laughing, and feeling great.  Let me share this awesome secret -- my one year old naps like a champ after helping mommy get fit (can you hear the angels rejoicing?)

This journey has been hard work. Besides wading through four year old emotions, its the hardest thing I've ever done. There were days when I wanted to quit. There were weeks I didn't see any loss. There were curse words muttered. There were tears of pain. But. BUT I was devoted this time. I stuck with it and those prayers that I prayed before every workout, run, and session were answered. The Lord gave me strength like He said He would. He was faithful. God is such an awesome and powerful God who cares for His children.

As of the beginning of December I've lost 45  pounds. I'm so stinking proud of those pounds that I lost, but I have to tell you I'm more proud of what I've gained.  I'm stronger. I'm devoted. I'm proud. My happiness oozes from the inside out. I'm so thankful for the tools that GodFit set me up with.  My God and I did this together and so can you. I pinky promise.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Always Statements at Christmas

Tradions are probably one of my favorite parts about Christmas. I love the "WE ALWAYS..." statements.We .....meaning us- meaning a tribe- meaning a family. How great is it to reflect back on the fact that we have a WE. I'm sorry that seems confusing typing it out. Dang it, here I go again making no sense. I have people. You have people. Your people are the ones that you make the WE ALWAYS statements with. For me my WE is my family, my small group at church, my friends that do life together. My people----who make up my we. You have people too----and you make traditions----and you do them at Christmas---and that is one of the reasons I love the holidays.

Growing up my favorite tradtions were that:

We ALWAYS had a real tree.
We ALWAYS had the messy staticy magical tinsel
We ALWAYS had cheese, sausage, and crackers after the Christmas Eve Service
We ALWAYS sang to the Carpenter's Christmas Portrait Album
We ALWAYS ate my grandmothers taco dip before opening presents

It is the ALWAYS statements that make the holidays so meaningful and also a little melancholy when remembering Christmas pasts.  This year someone else will make the taco dip. They no longer make the messy magical tinsel---someone probably suffereed from a major electric static shock from it and shut. that. company. down.

I'm sure you have always statements from your past that don't always happen anymore either. And while I'd be fibbing if I said that the fact that my old ALWAYS statements don't ALWAYS happen anymore doesn't make me sad---it's okay.

 It's okay because Scott and I are creating new ALWAYS statements with our own little family. I didn't understand the meaning behind the traditions my parents created for my brother and I when we were younger. But I understand that now. Creating traditions creates security and solidarity in a child's world. It's something that every child can benefit from. I know I did. You did as well. So while reminicing on old tradtions I see the importance of the new ones.

I want my children to be able to have ALWAYS statements.

We ALWAYS have a fake tree and light a pine candle because mommy hates the mess.
We ALWAYS bake cookies together and decorate them however we want.
We ALWAYS make a family ornament
We ALWAYS open one present Christmas Eve
We ALWAYS eat Strawberry Waffles Christmas Morning

But I also want them to know without a shadow of a doubt that our family

ALWAYS loves them no matter what

ALWAYS has fun

and ALWAYS laughs a lot.

Because the Christmas Chaos can easily get the best of me---but relying and remembering our ALWAYS statements help me make what matters---MATTER MORE to my family and my precious little chicken nugget children.

Merry Christmas friends! I hope you are enjoying you tradtions both old and new.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

4 x 6 Christmas Memories

My grandmother passed away this summer. It still doesn't feel real at times. I've scrolled through my phone several times getting to her number and then remembering. She won't be on the other end. While processing through her death our family has been going through boxes and boxes of old photographs that she kept in her basement. I don't know why she kept every picture ever taken in her lifetime---but she did. At first it was a daunting task to think about how much TIME it would take to clean out her photos alone--now? While we are in the middle of it? It doesn't seem like a chore at all. Sifting through decades of photos brings back so many wonderful memories at a flip of  photograph.  Birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, holidays, Christmases, concerts, family reunions full of sights, sounds, smells all flooded back in 4x6 memories.  She might of been just a pack rat. Or she might of known that the photos would've done just what she wanted them to. To make us stop. Allow us time to reflect and remember  the love and legacy she left behind.

** please know that the guns in the second collage photograph are wooden that my grandfather made. We are wooden gun people. Not gun gun people.  Felt the need to clarify that. #thatcouldabeenawkward

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sticking to a Budget this Christmas. Wee. Woo.

Budgeting. I don't know about you but just the mere mention of that word makes me want to karate kick things and eat copious amounts of chocolate. I hate that word. Why? Because I enjoy spending money--der. Giving gifts is a love language of mine. It's how I show love--I give things to people. So Christmas time? Is the time of year that I spend ALL OF OUR MONEY and send warm, fuzzy, candy cane scented love gifts to everyone. It's a time of magic, glitter, and twinkling eyes. It's so hard for me to reign in the reckless abandonment that I have because Christmas! jingle bells! happiness! children!

Our experience with Dave Ramsey and his class Financial Peace University has taught me that sticking to a workable budget will get you out of debt and create a peace in your daily life that living with my money--to-the-wind tendencies will. not. Eleven months out of the year it isn't that  hard for me to stay on point. However when December rolls around I blow it. Big time.

If I stick to a budget I will avoid the after Christmas guilt of knowing that I put our family in a position that makes things tight.

If I stick to a budget I will make my husband happy. Budgets make his heart sing.

If I stick to a budget I will be proving to myself that holidays can be happy even if you don't spend all your money.

So how can I ( and maybe you too)  resolve to sticking with our budget this Christmas? 
Cash Envelopes
This year we sat down and wrote out an exact budget for each person we'd like to purchase gifts for. In the past this was more of a guideline rather than an end all be all. This year, we really need to be strict with it. So to curb my over spending tendencies we withdrew the exact amount for each person and placed it in an envelope with the receivers name on it. Yup, currently carting 13 envelopes around town #mommysizedpurseforthewin. This will prevent me from going over budget. The only way I would be able to would be dipping into someone else's gift envelope. How terrible would that be!? Sorry for the $5 gift honey.....

24 Hour Wait Period
Something happens to me when I get in the gift giving mood. I lose all sense of reason and tend to fill my bag with everything that my loved ones will love. I do this because Christmas! Glitter! Music! Candy Canes! SALE! Clearance! BOGO! Ah! Happy!  I'm a marketing dream because those shenanigans totally work with me. We talked about ways to curb this without stealing my Christmas Sunshine and came up with a plan for me not to purchase impulsive gifts immediately. Think on them for 24 hours first and if after time has passed it still would be the MOST! PERFECT! GIFT! EVER! then game on friends. Game on. I'm thinking this will help a great deal once the popcorn scent and jingle bell music is out of my head.

Avoid Guilt Add-Ons
I have a Christmas fairness police that's been hard wired into me. Christmas gifts MUST be of equal price and quality for a holiday to be successful. I get holiday gift giver anxiety over it (me, anxious?!come on now!).  It always results in me wanting to give MORE because I'd rather be the giver that spent too much, than the one that didn't spent enough. So hours and minutes before I know an exchange will take place I often run for a "quick trip" and pick up random things to UP the gift.  This means I'm spending more money and derailing the budget. again. This one I just need to stop cold turkey.

I hoping these three things will help me stay on budget this Christmas. What strategies do you use to keep on track? Mind sharing with me? I'd say I need an intervention.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December Goals

Let's revisit November first. Okay.
My November Goals Were:
1. Eat dinner together as a family at least four times a week and be PRESENT during these dinners.
We rocked this goal. I asked Scott to make getting home in time for dinner a priority and he did. I tried to focus less on the hustle of the evening crazy with toddlers and listen to what my family had to say.
2. Keep riding the weight loss train. I lost 5 pounds this month. Slow and steady wins the race.
3.Make a new friend. No one new this month. However I was able to get together with a girlfriend who was a pivotal relationship in growing up. Sometimes the girls that know your history are the BEST KIND of friendships.
4. Find a great Bootie for under $100. I bought a pair. Super cute and 30 bucks from Target. I had to take them back. I thought I was ready --- I wasn't.
5. Stop using empty threats when parenting. This was hard. I have a post in the works discussing this in more detail.

1. Stay in our budget when purchasing gifts this Christmas.
2. Allow myself more grace. Perfection will not make for a meaningful holiday for my family. Being fully present WILL.
3. Maintain weight during the holidays. The average American gains 7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years.  I'm giving myself grace and not expecting weight loss---but gaining weight? not acceptable. I've worked too hard.

Linking up with The Tiny Twig again, because she's great.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Finishing is fun.

If you follow along on instagram (love_laurabeth) you already know this.
I finally FINISHED my first race. No fake sprained ankles. No being carried off the track. I did it.
and it felt nothing short of AWESOME.
I could write about how nervous I was (!!!!!!!!!). I could write an entire post about the freak out I had the day before. Or about how I made an intricate playlist timed to the minute to keep me motivated and ended up NOT using it and talking with my brother and husband the entire time. I could write about how flippin cold it was (14!!!!! with WIND!!!!!!). I could write about a lot of things today but all I want to focus on is the finish.
Months ago when observing friends train and run races I didn't get it. I questioned why anyone would want to pay to get up early and run a long distance with people they didn't know. I could think of 12 reasons why THEY were crazy . Traffic. Sweating. Tight clothing. Seemed like torture not a hobby.
The decision came for me to try to run a race on Thanksgiving out of pep talks from my brother. I wanted to do it for myself and I wanted to prove to myself that I'm stronger mentally and physically than I give myself credit for. The past six months have become AS MUCH of an internal transformation as a physical one. My struggles have always been one in the same.
My knees were hurting. The slow ache of doing something repetitively that I've grown accustomed to once realizing that I'm no young chicken anymore. I kept thinking about them and bouncing back and forth between thoughts of
"push through" and
"I hope this doesn't result in an actual injury"
Scott kept pushing me with words of affirmation that I was doing great and that he was incredibly proud of me. John was three strides ahead pushing my pace and distracting me with random completely falsified facts about running on Thanksgiving and working the pace group we were with by shouting "MASHED POTATOES!" and  "PUMPKIN PIE!!"
I was enjoying this. I was loving every single second. My knees were hurting, my hands were cold, but I felt completely ALIVE. I had made a goal, and in this moment I was completing it.  I am a sucker for a hopeful story and I was writing my own.
I turned onto the final straightaway  leading into the chute and I heard cheering. Cheering from complete strangers not meant for me, but it didn't matter. Tears started flowing ( and promptly freezing) because of the pride and success I was feeling for myself.
Six months ago I was crying on back porch feeling empty, defeated, and alone.
Today, I was FINISHING a 4.6 mile run.
My brother and husband slowed down the last few strides of the race and let me pull ahead. My strides were long and my heart was racing. I had the largest smile on my face as I pushed through the finish line and let myself enjoy the fact that I had done it.
I now know why people do races.
So they can finish them.
because finishing? it's really fun.
I'd like to finish a lot more in the days and years ahead.
Because now? I know I can do it.