Category: Daily Life

Simplicity: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Tiny house, less stuff, minimalism– simple living is a booming industry these days. When looking for an image for this post, I searched “live simply” in google images. I came across a large number of totes, pillows, posters, necklaces, coffee mugs, cell phone covers, etc. encouraging others to “live simply” (you know, because we definitely need more totes, more jewelry and certainly more coffee mugs!).

Everywhere we look, someone wants to tell us how we can live more simply. Oddly enough, we like those kinds of articles and posts, even if we really don’t WANT to live simply. I guess because we know in our heart of hearts that less is more, but getting “one more thing” feels so good (at least for the moment).

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One of my personal struggles with simplicity as it is espoused in popular culture is that simplicity still says that it’s okay to buy whatever we want– just make sure that when we buy something, we get rid of something else. So, I have a drawer full of sweaters. I see another one that I really like. I don’t need it, but go ahead and buy it. Just make sure I get rid of another and I’m still “living simply.”

I see the cutest “live simply” poster on sale for $116.90. Buy it, put it up, but just be sure I take something else down first and give it away or sell it or something.

Does this unsettle anyone else?

To me, this sound like consumerism dressed in disguise. Continue to buy. Continue to give in to the new, the fashionable, the whatever. But just be sure to get rid of the old so it doesn’t look like I have a lot.

I have a different kind of simplicity challenge:

Just don’t buy anything we don’t need. 

When we see a new scarf that we like, but don’t need, we say to ourselves and others around us, “I really like that scarf!” and keep on walking. It’s a strategy that I use with my kids, and have found it to work with myself too. We are acknowledging the scarf’s beauty, admiring its uniqueness, and then we get to recognize that we don’t have to own it just because it’s beautiful. We have enough. I also try to thank God, in that moment (Because often I REALLY WANT to take that scarf home with me.). I express my gratitude for the scarves in my closet that keep me warm and that I enjoy wearing.

It’s a different kind of simplicity, but perhaps a more honest one, especially for those of us who really want to own less, give more, and wriggle free from the grip of consumerism that we all struggle with.

 

 

52 Books in a Year…. barely.

Nearly 365 days ago, the kids and I came up with a plan to read 52 books in a year. And while Asante and Aly finished up back in October, I spent much of the last week reading :). BUT, I’m so EXCITED (and grateful) that I can say I did it, and I’m also resolved to not do that again for awhile. While I do love that I was able to read so many books on “my list”, I felt like I had to move too quickly through them and couldn’t really absorb and think about the implications of what I was reading. So, 2015 will be less books, but closer readings. Lesson learned. 🙂

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In case you’re interested, here are the lucky 52 (in the order I read them), and I’ve provided links to reviews where applicable.

  1. Free by Mark Scandrette
  2. Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey*
  3. Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford
  4. The Artful Parent by Jean Van’t Hul
  5. Miss Brenda and the Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell
  6. Restless by Jennie Allen
  7. Wonder Women by Kate Harris*
  8. The Air I Breathe by Louie Giglio
  9. Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel*
  10. Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
  11. Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons*
  12. 20 and Something by David H. Kim
  13. Hyperlinked Life by Jun Young and David Kinnamen
  14. Fighting for Peace by Carol Howard Merritt
  15. Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown*
  16. Greater Expectations by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
  17. Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther
  18. Faith Forward, edited by David Csinos and Melvin Bray
  19. Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker*
  20. The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith*
  21. When We Were On Fire by Addie Zimmerman
  22. A Child’s Work by Vivian Gussin Paley
  23. Hand in Hand by Jenny Doh
  24. Tinkerlab by Rachelle Doorley*
  25. Soul Keeping by John Ortberg*
  26. Slow Family Living by Bernadette Noll
  27. Sacred Roots by Jon Tyson
  28. A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves
  29. The Brainy Bunch by Kip and Mona Lisa Harding
  30. Found by Micha Boyett
  31. 50 Women Every Christian Should Know by Michelle DeRusha
  32. Simplify by Bill Hybels
  33. Talking Taboo, edited by Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro
  34. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
  35. Lean on Me by Anne Marie Miller
  36. Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
  37. Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by Avi
  38. Faith shift by Kathy Escobar*
  39. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigon*
  40. Still by Lauren Winner
  41. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins* (LOVE THIS SERIES!)
  42. Not Yet Christmas by J.D. Walt
  43. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
  44. A Good and Perfect Gift by Amy Julia Becker
  45. Small Talk by Amy Julia Becker
  46. Making All Things New by Henri Nouwen
  47. Exploring and Engaging Spirituality in Today’s Children, edited by La Verne Tolbert
  48. Teach Us to Want by Jen Pollock Michel
  49. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins
  50. Love Does by Bob Goff
  51. The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting by Brene Brown*
  52. The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible by Eugene Peterson

The ones with a little star behind them were my favorites! There were a few that I struggled to finish but in all, it was a good reading year.

What was your favorite book of 2014? What are you looking forward to reading in 2015? 

Open House Drama

While kids were excitedly running around the hallways with their parents in tow, I was trying to find a quiet place to almost drag my limp-because-i’m-angry 5 year old to a quiet corner to get her under control.

Open House. The night when kids and parents are visiting classrooms, getting to know their child’s teacher and classroom and other parents. Oh they got to know us alright.

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To be fair, the night started out well. We visited the Kindergarten class and it was fine. She showed us her book box, everyday jobs, sang a couple songs, and happily helped me choose what to bring for future class parties. Next we visited the 2nd grade class and she quietly looked around the room and listened as Asante explained his various notebooks and what they work on in each. After we left, they both insisted we go see the special rooms. Although little sister was having some tummy trouble, we decided to make a quick stop.

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Some little girl was pounding on the piano in the music room, which of course made Aly want to do it too. It didn’t seem like the appropriate thing to be doing for that little girl, so I told Aly she couldn’t either. And explained why. She was mad, felt like it was an unfair answer, but left the room decently when it was time to go. Not awesome, but at this point, we know how things COULD be and she was trying.

Upstairs as we rounded the corner to start down the hallway that leads outside, Aly spied kids in the gym. With jump ropes. She rushed in, grabbed a jump rope and started jumping. Jumping. Jumping. Not forwards, but backwards. Whatever. I can let her do this, I thought, just for a few minutes. “Just for a few minutes,” I hollered over the noise of the crowd as she jumped away. After a couple minutes, I gave a one minute warning. Then a “3 more jumps and then we go, my sister.”

Rage erupted on that little girls face.

The yells began as we were exiting the gym. “Bad!” she yelled, which she often does when she’s mad, but trying to hold it back.

As we stream into the hallway she begins to unravel. She’s raising her voice. Getting attitude. Doesn’t want me to touch her because “she’s fine” when in reality she’s spinning out of control. I need to get her attention. Parents make room as we move down the hallway. I’m desperately looking for the bathroom that I know is ahead up on the right. Before we get there, she goes limp, I guess in attempts to get me to acquiesce with the grip I have on her. I carry her as best I can to the social safety of the bathroom. I feel embarrassed but I try not to allow that emotion to influence my words to her. I know myself. When I get embarrassed I can say things that would be better left in my head.

We talk. I look into her eyes, hoping that she will see me so that she can snap herself out of the tailspin that just happened. I get her enough under control that we leave the bathroom. She runs ahead of me and out the doors to Jake and the other kids. As we quickly stroll down the sidewalk away from the school, she yells, cries, and refuses to hear us talk to her about her behavior. She covers her ears, saying “I KNOW!” Maybe she does know what we’re going to say. Because this happens more often than it should. Fits. Tantrums. Yelling. Out of control.

I let Jake and the girls go ahead in the stroller and hang back with Asante. The kid who quietly goes along with everything, watching, observing, thinking. I apologize to him- “Sorry buddy, if Aly’s behavior embarrassed you. It embarrassed me.” “It’s okay,” he quickly replied. It’s always okay. He loves his sister so deeply.

We walk home. The moon is full, the sky is growing dark, and the cool wind blows against my face. I breathe deep, trying to process my emotions and get some air. The streets and bike paths are empty, so I relax. No one to impress or to fakely smile for as they judge my daughter or my parenting skills. Asante starts jabbering about the difference between a millimeter, centimeter and inch, and i’m half listening, “mmhmm-ing” at the right parts, but my mind is elsewhere. I’m thinking about Aly and her way-bigger-than-anyone-can-handle emotions. The books I’ve read. The hours of online research. The sensory play we’ve done. The many ways of discipline. The motivation charts. Her sadness for losing control and not figuring out how to tame the storm inside. It’s a lot and thinking about it all often overwhelms me because I feel so helpless.IMG_5056

So I pray. I pray a lot of things. Probably some of them are totally inappropriate and would make parenting gurus and child development experts gasp. But most of them have something to do with begging God to help me parent this beautiful, creative, gifted child. Help me to understand her. Help me to see it from her perspective. Help me to love her well.

 

 

 

How do you cope with tough days?

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That’s what we’re talking about over at the Mom Mentor page this month. Tough days are kinda my thing, so I was totally able to share my brilliant response, right? Here’s to the community of mommas! (as I raise my spoonful of ice cream in a toasting gesture)

Parenting 4 kids, ages 6 and under, leaves this momma weary and tired nearly every day! After the kids are all angelically sleeping, snuggled deep into their covers, I plop down in front of my computer with a bowl of Hyvee Brownie batter ice cream and see who is on Facebook. Not only is this evening routine delicious, but it’s also life-giving to me.

I check in with a friend from Missouri to see how she’s doing and how nursing is going with her brand new baby boy. My not-so-cryptic status update regarding my rough day and need for prayer leads to an exchange of text messages and then a 30-minute phone call from a good friend in Pennsylvania.  Right before I log off for the evening, a friend from across town messages me to share a funny parenting quote and then asks if I want to meet up with her tomorrow at the park.

It’s the community of other mommas- both near and far- who encourage my tired, weary heart– their kind, gentle words and their life-giving prayers that offer the truth and love of God that my heart so desperately needs to hear.

I’m curious– what do you do to make it through those tough days?

How we have happily survived financially for the past 9 years

Either Jake and I have been students for a long time. Nearly our entire marriage thus far (minus a couple years here and there). With one adult being a full-time student while the other one works or stays-at-home with the kids, money is always tight. The bad part of that is there is sometimes stress related to money, and a lot of time is spent figuring out what to spend our money on and what to NOT spend our money on. The good part is that we have become really good at budgeting as well as discovering creative ways to save money here and there. This year has been a pretty stress-less year when it comes to finances, so I wanted to share some of our best tips here, hopefully to be helpful to others who are in a similar situation to us!

1. Rent.

If you already own a house, this will not apply to you, but for those of you who don’t– don’t feel ashamed! Renting is actually a smart way to live when on a tight budget, especially for those who are in school or who move often. It’s easy to budget when it comes to renting- you know exactly what it will cost from month to month. When you own a home, there are more unpredictable cost items that arise that are hard to cover when you are on a shoestring budget. We’ve had many friends who have owned houses, only to find that when they sell, they lose money and the cost is very similar to them renting. So, just know that buying isn’t a necessity during this stage of life.

2. Downsize to 1 car.

If you can figure it out, having only 1 car saves a ton of money. Not only do you only have one car payment, but also one set of insurance, one set of license plate renewals, one set of repairs, etc. It also makes you get out and walk more!

3. Grocery Shop at Hyvee.

Last week I got gas for $1.59/gallon– meaning I filled up my van’s gas tank for $29.12. Unusual? Maybe a little, but I typically save anywhere from $.75-$1.00 per fill-up by grocery shopping at Hyvee. Hyvee has a fuel savers reward program that is NOT a credit card- only rewards card (just like you’d use at other major chains like walgreens, copps, CVS, etc.). Each week when you buy certain items, you get a certain amount of rewards to be used on gas. For example, the other day I was rewarded $.01/per gallon if I bought lunch-size individual applesauce packs. I bought them because we already use them. That’s a little one. But, I also saved $.25/gallon for purchasing a 2-pack of bakery french bread, which is also something I had on my list to buy anyway. I’ve begun to plan my meals around what items are being rewarded, and I end up with $.50-.60 off per gallon each week (I spend about $125/week on groceries).

Right now they have a deal where if you spend $100 on groceries at one time (which we always do), then you automatically get $1.00 off per gallon on top of any other fuel saver items. I’m not sure how long they are running this, but I don’t expect to pay more than $1.00/gallon per gas for the next month or so!

4. Utilize your public library.

We currently have over 100 books checked out from our public library. We LOVE it. We rarely buy books new, and even not very often used. We know that we can go to the library whenever we want and get something to read, so why do we have to own it? There are some books we buy that we can’t find in the public library, particularly of the christian non-fiction genre, but we have been surprised by how many the library will buy if we request them to!

5. Subscribe to Netflix.

We don’t have cable or dish, but we do have netflix! Sure, they don’t have everything, but they have a lot, especially for kids.

6. Get Amazon Prime.

Amazon has some amazing deals from time-to-time, and we are happy to just order what we need without having to pay for shipping– ever. This also saves us time and money because we don’t have to drive all over the place to find items that we’re looking for, AND we just end up buying what we need, instead of getting suckered into buying displayed items that we don’t. You do have to be mindful of what the ordinary store price is for items, though, because sometimes Amazon is asking for way more than it would be in-store. Plus, you get access to lots of free videos and books on Amazon Prime- double bonus!

7. Limit your grocery shopping to once per week.

I grocery shop on Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings, and that’s it. If we run out of something on Wednesday, I don’t run out and get more at the store because I know that I’ll end up buying other things that I don’t need too. So, we just put it on our grocery list and do without it for a few days! I think that’s good for our souls too, to be able to do without something for a few days.

8. Shop at consignment sales, yard sales, and Craigslist for kid clothes and toys.

Kid clothes and toys are so expensive. I try to buy all of our kids’ next size of clothes at local consignment sales– not only are you buying locally and being green by “reusing” but you can save a TON of money. Each season I take out all the clothes I have for each child for that next season, put outfits together, and then write down how many shirts, pants/shorts, skirts/dresses, shoes, etc. that I need to buy, and if there is any particular color that I need. I take it with me to the sales so that I can be focused and not overbuy in one category.

Also, Craigslist has great deals on toys and seasonal items (coats, snow pants, boots, etc.). If I see something on there for a child in a few sizes bigger than they need, I buy it now and store it in a marked bin for later. For example, I was looking for rain boots the other day, I saw a size 13 for only $5. Yes please! They will be great for next year!

9. Shop at Old Navy. 

I have an Old Navy credit card, and I use it to buy items from Old Navy only. When I do this, I get a large discount during the sales they have for card holders 4 times per year (30% off everything). I also get rewards for the items I buy; for 2013, I earned over $50 in rewards that i used to buy those items that are best bought new (jeans for Jake and I, cardigans, and clearance kid items).

10. Sometimes it pays to use credit cards. 

That being said, I also have credit cards from Amazon and Discover– and it truly does “pay” for me. I only use Amazon card for Amazon purchases and receive significant rewards because of it. I use Discover card for all other items that I have budgeted. We probably earn over $200 a year in rewards because of this. This will only work if you ONLY BUY items that you have money for and if you pay it off every month, no exceptions. If you don’t pay for it one month and are charged a penalty, it negates the purpose. I’d only recommend this for people who are Type A and can be sure to do this each month.

11. Only eat out when kids eat free. 

With 4 kids, we hardly ever go out to eat when we have to pay for the kids. Most major chains have a kids-eat-free night. We can eat out at Chilis for $20 as a family of 6 on Tuesday Nights if we want!

12. Borrow from a friend.

Don’t buy items that you won’t use all the time. Tools, small appliances, etc. are great to borrow from neighbors. At first you may feel weird asking your friend or neighbor to borrow something, but after a couple times of asking (and offering your stuff to borrow), it’ll be catching!

13. Just say no.

We say “no” to ourselves and our kids a lot. Nope, not gonna buy that dollar item. No, we’re not buying that T-shirt. No, I’m not buying that book for myself. No, we can live with the computer that we have. We constantly remind ourselves that happiness doesn’t come with having more “stuff”, but it comes with relationships. Saying no and letting ourselves be less financially stressed causes happy feelings and a happy household all around!

12. Find small ways to make money.

Baby-sit for another family. Write for blogs/websites. Tutor the neighbor in math. Walk some dogs. Sell something you love (if that’s your thing). Help others organize their houses. Clean for other people. Make a craft and sell it on Etsy. Offer to read dissertations and copyedit. What are you good at and then find out how other people like you are using their skills to make a little extra cash! We’ve primarily done writing and tutoring to bring in some extra cash each month. A little bit really adds up!

Of course, we’ve also survived by less “cool” ways-  working many hours after kids went to bed, making presents for family and friends instead of buying them, getting student loans (although mine are now completely paid off!), and saying “yes” to helpful state and federal programs when we have qualified (healthcare, WIC, and EBT- whew, but that’s another post, right?!).

Hope this is helpful to those of you who are in a tight spot financially. It took a few years to get into the habit of doing these things, but I think we’re finding our way. In a couple years when we’re finished with school, I think these tips will still be helpful! 🙂

Easter: Parental slacking and God’s grace

I have a confession.

Jake and I didn’t really do much to prepare the kids for Easter this year. We had the best intentions.

No resurrection eggs, even though we have them sitting by the couch downstairs.

No consistent devotionals (only the ones I did for Play Eat Grow here and here), even though I bought this cool looking one from ohamanda.

It was bedtime on Good Friday when Jake and I looked at each other and realized we needed to do something. So we just opened up the Jesus Storybook Bible and read the story of the cross. It started out real innocent– a “nice” bedtime story before tucking the kids into their cozy beds. As I was reading, I got all choked up. Asante said he had to look away from Jesus’ face; it was making him too sad. After finishing, the kids wanted to talk about it. Ask a few questions. And then talked about it on Saturday again. And even again today. God used our smallest, spur-of-the-moment effort and multiplied it; I’m relieved and thankful.

This morning I woke up late (7:45, in case anyone is wondering what late is in our house- ha!), and came down to Asante writing Bible verses on scraps of paper. I asked what he was doing- he said that he had an idea of making a scavenger hunt– he would write ten verses of a passage from Luke and then hide them all over the house. After we found them, we would piece together the resurrection story together. While Asante was doing that, Aly was digging through our craft closet to find a piece of cardboard, some popsicle sticks and a few other supplies because she thought it’d be great to create a picture of the cross, and then the empty tomb. The kids also decided independently that this story needs to be told to someone (that’s what the people did in the story!), so they wanted to find someone to tell the story of the resurrection to. At dinner tonight, Asante told us that he prayed this morning after he woke up- he asked God to help us to have a good Easter celebration.

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All of this happened before I even woke up. My heart swelled inside of me with so much happiness that they are owning this thing. It’s becoming theirs, if even in a small way! I also felt a bit bad- they were creating their own activities because I didn’t create any for them. But, I realized that God was picking up my slack in this one– he has been stirring their hearts and filling it with love for Him.

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Stories of Easter: My Doubts

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24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 20:24-29

I feel a little bit bad for Thomas. He has been and forever will be The Doubter. Poor guy.

Frederick Buechner once said, “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”

During this past week, one of our teaching pastors brought up that there are two kinds of doubts- head doubts and heart doubts. As I walk through this season of Lent, my heart has been feeling this tension.

I have questions surrounding the Holy Spirit’s work in peoples’ lives. How can two people be following hard after Christ but both “hear” two different things? How do large groups of Christ-followers get deceived by a charismatic leader? Where is the Helper that Jesus promised? How can we ever be sure that we’re following the Spirit and not our own whims?

I have questions surrounding the centrality of love in the message of Jesus and the mission of the church. To be so honest, the World Vision fiasco has thrown me for a loop. What is true religion? Being holy or helping the widow and orphan? What happens when these two things stand in stark contrast to one another? Who wins? Who loses? Did God tell people to stop supporting these kids (over 10,000 of them)? Is God more concerned with a theological stance than the everyday lives of thousands of children all over the world? These questions freak me out and make my heart drop to the pit of my stomach.

So, during this Lenten season, I bring these questions to God. I say “I believe” and “help my unbelief” all in the same breath. I so long for God and the hope of His resurrection, but like Thomas, my heart is saying- I need to see you. Not what people think of you. Not what people say that you are telling them. I need to know that you are good. I need to be reminded that you speak to us. I need to know that you are love. I need all of these things to keep moving forward. 

I trust that these doubts are just the ants in my pants to keep me drawing closer to God, seeking Him, reflecting on my heart and my behavior. I don’t have to pretend these doubts do not exist, nor do I need to be embarrassed or fearful of them….after all, they keep me coming back to Him.

 

When We ‘Share’ Tragedy

I’m a big fan of the internet. I love reading stories about people from all over the world. I think it has opened my eyes to both incredible stories of love while also exposing my heart to a sizable amount of tragedies and injustices.

It’s because of the latter that I find myself struggling in my faith at times. Today I learned that a homeless woman in Arizona left her two children in the car in incredibly hot temperatures while she was in a job interview for an hour. Even as I type it, my heart hurts. I feel sick to my stomach for the woman AND for the kids.

I think we’re exposed to more hurt, suffering, and tragedy in the world than our souls were designed to carry.

Back in the day, you heard mostly about suffering and tragedy in your own community, and while very difficult because it happened to family or friends, it was manageable. We could grieve, serve, comfort, and share the burden as a community. Now, we hear about horrible things all the time. The tragedy comes in the form of a 500 word news article or blog post. Perhaps for some, it’s easy to read and move on. For others, you sit and think and pray and maybe even cry as you think about these REAL people with REAL hurt.

I think it can do real damage to our souls…..even when our souls are fixed on Jesus.

The questions start coming — too hard and too often. Why did God let this happen? Why is this situation so helpless? Who is coming alongside that family? What can I do (probably nothing)? Where is God? Why is there so much pain? Suffering? Horrible tragedy? It’s the age old question that continues to come up because our hearts are never quite satisfied with the answers we receive.

God begins to look more absent and powerless when we’re bombarded with story after story after story of hopelessness. pain. real peoples lives. many of them without Jesus.

Sometimes I just decide to refuse to click- I will not read one more sad story that I can’t do a thing about. But, the damage is done. I’ve already been exposed a lifetime worth of others’ tragedies.

I don’t think there is an easy way out of this situation. Doubt and fear and questioning have always been a part of the spiritual journey. We press in, cry out to God with our fears and doubts and questions, and then hold on tightly to the stories of faith, hope, and love.

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Who Wakes Up with the Kids?

For all my married amigos, I have a so serious question–

Who wakes up with the kids in the morning?

And how do you decide?

We’ve used rock, paper, scissors. But perhaps we shouldn’t leave such big decisions to chance.

We’ve said that whoever goes to bed first has to get up with the kids. **laugh** I have a hard enough time making myself go to bed how it is. This idea was not in the best interest of anyone in our family.

We’ve resorted to both of us laying there as kids crawl all over us after their cute alarm clock turns green at 6:30 and they come bounding into our room (which is actually 6:40 in real life, shhhhh, don’t tell them). Whoever gets tired of getting elbowed in the stomach and head sat on first, wins (or loses?).

Okay, well, actually that’s not exactly true. Jake has been getting up with the kids a lot lately. But since we’ve been sharing a lot of “jokes” about me not getting up, I’ve decided to come up with a better way of deciding. So share all of your best decision-making strategies for this incredibly important question!

 

Why Everyone Should Leave Rachel Frederickson Alone

In high school and early college I suffered from an eating disorder. Food and exercise had become my god. At one point, I would dream about food that I had categorized as “forbidden”, only to wake up feeling anxious and afraid– did I really eat that? Oh good, it was just a dream. Sometimes my body reflected this disordered eating. Sometimes it didn’t. I hit a low weight that was scary, but sometimes I was within my “normal range”, but the food continued to be what I thought about all day.

I was subject to a lot of comments from family, friends and strangers: “Just eat something.” “You look gross you are so skinny.” At the time, I prized those comments because it meant I was accomplishing what I wanted to. But, looking back on it, it is strange that so many felt like they had the right and responsibility to comment on my outer appearance. After a while, I got a bit smarter– gaining just enough weight for people to stop talking to me about it, but still struggling with awful and all-consuming thoughts, emotions, and actions surrounding food.

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This being my history, I do feel empathy for Rachel Frederickson. This is a woman who worked very hard to lose a lot of weight. Before coming on the biggest loser, I’m sure she was gawked at and made fun of. And now she is again, after losing all of that weight. Why do we as a culture think that it is not kind to talk about how BIG someone else, but yet we’re fine saying how SMALL they are.

Interestingly enough, my current BMI is very similar to Rachel’s current BMI. While I have left my anorexic ways far behind, I happen to be a nursing momma, meaning I burn 500 extra calories a day. And hence, I have gotten some comments from both family and strangers- You’re getting too skinny. Eat something. Wow, it must be hard to be a size __. While some of them were not intending to be rude or mean, it began to make me nervous to be in certain situations because I didn’t want people to comment on my body. It made me feel self-conscious– like my body is doing something wrong. In some ways I’m eager to stop nursing so that I will gain a bit of weight back and feel less nervous in those situations. I can only imagine how Rachel feels now- thousands of people who don’t even know her, commenting about her body.

If Rachel has developed a pattern of disordered eating or thinking about food, then let those who know her and care with her deal with it. Biggest Loser is not stupid; they will take appropriate action if necessary. Her family and friends who see her day in and day out know her eating habits, her exercise habits, etc. They will say something to her.

Let us not be a culture that holds up a woman’s body and shames her– no matter how fat or thin she is.