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In my ideal world…

…every day begins before my children wake up, with a quiet breakfast, a time to read Scripture and a conversation with my God.

…my house is clean every night when the lights are turned out – dishes washed, floors swept, laundry put away and all toys in their place – allowing a fresh start to each morning.

…my life is organized. My home stays organized.

…all, or at least most, of my family’s meals are organic and nutritious, prepared at home and served at our dining room table.

…I have the wisdom and the vision to homeschool my children well – to fill their minds with knowledge and their memories with experiences that will equip them to do anything, to be anyone.

…I have the wisdom and the patience to train my children well – train them to pursue righteousness and purity, to love God deeply and to honor Him by loving and serving people and by telling His story to anyone who will listen.

…my children know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I adore them, that I want what is best for them, that I accept them and that they mean the world to me.

…my husband and I have – and consistently follow – a clear and intentional plan for our finances – for how much and to what we give, save and spend, including a clear and intentional retirement plan.

…I have passionate sex with my husband several times a week, every week.

…I read two good books a month – the kind that inspire, make you think, make you see the world a little differently than you did before.

…I never stop growing or learning or improving.

…I am an injury-free ultra-marathoner.

…I am a world-traveler (as are my husband and children!).

…I am a published author.

…I love my husband, my children, my family, and my friends well – that is unconditionally, loyally, with deep compassion  and no judgement.

…I have my very own Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.

…the romance never dies.

…my purpose is clear, my calling known, my direction steadfast, my path straight.

…I have unwavering Faith (you know, the kind that moves mountains).

What is your vision for your ideal world?

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“I was young and pregnant by a guy I’d only known a few months. I remember crawling into bed between my parents one night, about three weeks before my wedding, and begging them both, “Please don’t make me marry him. I don’t want to get married. I don’t want to marry him,” and my mother patting my knee and saying, “It will be fine. It will all work out.” Much sadness and disappointment and neglect, many fights, some abuse, several children and a dozen or so years later we divorced.”

“I tell my wife I love her everyday. My family didn’t do that. My grandfather was the only one that I felt any love from as a kid and when I was a teenager he left my grandmother for another woman and denounced my grandmother, me, my entire family. So I wasn’t really sure what love was until I met and married my wife. I tell her that I love her everyday. I don’t want my children to grow up in a home where no one says I love you.”

“I moved here because I am going through a midlife crisis of sorts. I’ve been taking care of my parents for the past thirty years and they both died recently so I am looking for a fresh start. I have eleven siblings. They all figured that since I wasn’t married and didn’t have any children and thus “didn’t really have a life” that I could just live with mom and dad and take care of them. I had the honor of being the last person that my parents spoke to before they died. “Thank you and I love you.” were both of their last words to me. They had never said that to anyone or to me before that. Those two moments were the greatest gifts I have ever been given.”

“Her husband died suddenly a few weeks ago. I’m not sure exactly what happened. She is in her mid-forties. He was too.” another mom told me about the teacher in the classroom down the hall from my daughter’s classroom, the teacher who always has a smile on her face and a kind word for each child that passes her doorway. My shock, that such a great tragedy had occured in the life of someone I see and speak to every week, without me having any idea until a month later, was apparent. It is a moment I have thought of often since.

“I had several one night stands while my husband and I were dating. I was young and stupid. I don’t know what I was thinking. Sometimes I can’t even believe that I actually did that, that it actually happened. That was a decade ago and I’ve never told anyone until tonight. I’ve been so afraid that people would judge me and reject me. I’m afraid if I tell my husband, he will leave me. But I can’t live with this guilt any longer. It is eating me alive.”

“My second miscarriage was at sixteen weeks. We discovered at my doctors appointment that the baby had no heartbeat. They sent me home. I spent several days waiting and knowing that the baby inside me was no longer living. I never did go into labor. I remember laying in bed beside my husband, that last night before I was to be induced the next morning and thinking, “This is the last time our baby will lay between us.” My heart was broken that night. It took a lot of years to mend it back together.”

Listen…

Such a simple word. Such a simple act. But with the power to transform a life.

So let us slow down. And listen. And have compassion.

Because everyone has a story.

They just need a chance to tell it.

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This is the list of goals that I handed to a friend, Sunday night of last week, before asking her to keep me accountable to them:

1) Be out of bed before 7 a.m. Mon-Fri

2) Workout in the a.m. at least 5 days this week

3) Keep a daily food journal

4) Drink at least 64oz of water daily

5) Go to bed with a clean kitchen every night

6) Finish one load of laundry daily

7) Plan (and execute!) one sex date this week

8 ) Have one couple over for dinner this week

9) Keep the tv and computer time to a minimum

10) Make doctor and dentist appointments and order oils diffuser

 

And this is what I learned from them:

1) For me, getting up early really is…better. The night owl side of me hates that this is true. But it is. Getting out of bed by seven changes the tone of my entire day. And there is something delicious about early morning air, early morning light, and the quiet and peacefulness and productivity of being the only one in the house awake.

2) A.M workouts are also, I am slightly hesitant to admit, better. Starting the day with my blood pumping seems to keep that blood pumping till bedtime! And it guarantees that the workout will happen cuz the later I wait, the more complicated fitting in a workout seems to get.

3) 64oz of water (or more) makes me feel lighter, healthier, and more energetic.

4) Keeping a food journal helps me eat better. Knowing that what I’m putting into my mouth will be recorded on a piece of paper makes me stop and think, “Do I really want there to be evidence that I ate this?”

5) Going to bed with a clean kitchen every night is…hard.

6) Washing, drying, folding and putting away one load of laundry every day prevents Laundry Mountain from growing big enough to take over my laundry room, my laundry baskets, the top of everyone’s dresser or chair, my thoughts, my energy and my couch.

7) I don’t care who you are, how old you are, how long you’ve been married or how much sex you are already having- if you want to improve your sex life with your spouse, having weekly sex dates is the way to do it!

8 ) Having one couple (at least) over for dinner each week is a true blessing to us (and hopefully to them). I don’t know why we ever get out of this habit. It’s benefits are too great.

9)Turning off the TV and limiting internet time is worth the challenge. At times it takes all of the self-control I can muster to stay away from these time suckers.

10) Nothing really. Other than, it is such a relief to knock items off the to-do list that have been on there for weeks!

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“You awake yet?” my husband asks, far too energetically, from his workout mat positioned a few feet from mine.

“………….No,” I answer begrudgingly. “It will probably be two or three more hours before I’m awake.”

He laughs at me, his “not a morning person!” wife.

It is six-thirty in the morning. We have just begun our p90x workout. I have been awake since six, giving myself enough time to change into my workout clothes, wash my face, eat a bowl of oatmeal and drink a bottle of water.

We begin our workout with a warm up and some stretching before moving on to yoga, kenpo, plyometrics, core synergistics and ab ripper x.

About fifteen minutes (into our sixty minute workout) later I am in plank position,  and still yawning. I do my pushup into upward dog and another pushup into downward dog…runners pose…warrior one…warrior two…reverse warrior. I am still yawning. My eyes are heavy (though I went to bed at eleven. Seven hours should be enough, right?) and for a moment I think, “Why am I doing this? Why am I doing pushups in my cold den, while it is still dark outside, when I could be in my toasty warm, cozy soft bed, still asleep and dreaming about flowers and butterflies and candy (cuz that’s what we always dream about, right?) Why am I wearing workout clothes when I could be wearing my pajamas? Why am I doing squats and lunges when I feel like I could literally lay down on this cold den floor and within minutes be right back asleep?…

But as quickly as these negative thoughts come, they are gone.

And I remember- I do this for me… for my health and my peace and my frame of mind. I do it so that the rest of my day can be better! I do it to make climbing our stairs easier, to make carrying around my thirty-four pound, one-year old son less painful, to make running (one of my most favorite things to do) that much more effortless. I do it to age well, I do it for my quality of life, I do it for my blood pressure. I do it to be a good example for my husband and my children, my family and my friends. I do it for the moment when I pull on my favorite pair of size four jeans…and they actually fit! I do it because it helps me sleep better, eat better, have better sex. I do it because it gives me more energy while somehow, also, making me more relaxed.

I workout because the five hours a week I spend doing it makes the other hundred and sixty-three so much better!

And I do it for those minutes of time when, with my blood pumping, my chest heaving and my muscles burning, I know, in every cell of my body: I am alive!

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