Tag Archives: Community

Are You Limiting Your Legacy?

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Ladies, let’s be honest. If you walk into a room full of women what are most of us eventually going to be talking about? The latest book we read on leadership principles? The newest scientific discovery? Economic principles? Political developments? No? How about proposals for community improvement? Educational theories? No? Well, maybe we are discussing truths from our recent Bible study? Discoveries of life principles? Or maybe about how we are planning to make a difference this week in the life of the family down the street?

No. We are most likely going to be discussing our latest diet, exercise and food restriction programs. We are most likely discussing our body image and our desire to lose some weight, get slimmer and fit into some arbitrary size that we feel will make us more acceptable to others. I know, this is a gross generalization, but even so it is not too far off the mark.

I’ve recently gotten to meet lots of women in various settings, of various ages and various educational levels. By no means has this been a homogenous group. Yet the common thread with each group was how quickly the conversation turned to weight loss, food restriction and a desire to be smaller.

I get it. There is a lot of pressure on us as women to meet an ideal and it’s hard not to get sucked in, even in the name of getting healthy. There are so many experts out there spouting off what is considered to be the most current understanding of healthy eating and weight. The cultural ideal of beauty assaults us in the grocery store, the gym, the doctor’s office, even the library. The pressure is everywhere and the reminders are constant.

As women we turn to each other for reassurance and support in this rough environment. By discussing our latest struggle, making self-deprecating comments about our ‘extra’ weight we disarm our critics before they can fire disapproval at us and we become part of the tribe. It’s not easy being a woman in a youth-obsessed, skinnier-is-better minded world.

“I so want to have a cupcake right now, but I’m over my calorie limit already today!”
“I have to get my workout in today because I had a slice of bread with my salad at lunch today.”
“I’m not buying any new clothes until I lose this extra weight and get back into size X clothes.”

I have been guilty of these comments, these conversations. I too have tried to be part of the tribe, to fit in (pun intended). I’ve apologized for my size, for eating when I was hungry. I’ve made excuses for having a slice of cake lovingly prepared for a celebration of a loved one’s life. I’ve been there. That’s why my heart aches.

Girls, is that all we are? Is this the legacy we want to leave our daughters? Our very actions tell our precious girls that despite all the dreams, hopes and imaginations within them, all they can truly look forward to is becoming experts on weight loss, calorie counting and food restriction. Whether we realize it or not, this is what our actions and girl-friend conversations tell our daughters!

Are we unknowingly restricting not food, but our potential to leave a mark on this world? Are we limiting our legacies? Short changing our potential by focusing so much time, energy and emotion on controlling our food intake?  Are we letting food control our lives?

For the vast majority of us, food is not something we worry about having enough of. No, in fact we worry instead about eating too much. We are not in fear of starving, but we are starving ourselves in fear of eating more than we deserve. I believe that Jesus addressed this very issue in Luke 12:23 when He said, “For life is more than food…” In the middle of teaching about greed, eternal life, spiritual choices, hoarding, generosity and trust Jesus tells His disciples not to be anxious or troubled about their lives, what they will eat (or wear). Jesus states that life is more than food (and clothes). In the Aramaic-English New Testament this passage is translated as the soul is greater than food.  The soul, that part that is our personality, our uniqueness, our identity. Jesus says that part of us is more important than the food we eat.

Who we are. Who we were created to be. All the potential placed within us has far more value than the ability to control our food intake. Our ability to plan, dream, create, design and implement was intended for far more than managing a food and exercise plan. We were meant to have an impact on this world.

Women are capable of wrestling with matters of greater consequence. We can tackle matters of great spiritual, intellectual, artistic, social and moral importance. We are capable of contributing far more to our homes, churches, work places and communities than just the latest weight loss plan. We are more than a number on a scale. More than a size on our clothing tags!

What could our friendships be like if we encouraged each other to develop and grow our  souls? What if we spent more mental and emotional energy on making a difference in our relationships? Our communities? Our children’s school? What if we were as determined and focused on developing interpersonal skills? Spiritual development? Work expertise?  How could we impact that world if we spent as much time becoming active students of the Bible as we do on implementing the latest weight-loss craze? Imagine how we could impact the world if the focus of our souls was on almost any other thing rather than restricting our food?

This is not meant to be a guilt-inducing lecture lovely. No, I do not want to replace the legalism of weight-loss and food restriction with a different set of rules about the time you spend reading your Bible, or the number of seminars you attend, hours you volunteer or any other program. No my lovely it’s quite the opposite! I would love to see us break free from the gravitational pull our size- and food-obsessed society has created and truly be free to live in the fulness and joy we were meant to have.

When Jesus said that He came to give us a full life (John 10:10) I don’t see an asterisk that says, “Except for women. You women will have to forever contend with watching your weight and restricting your food.” It does NOT say that because Jesus never intended for us to live like that!

Yes we are to develop self-discipline. Yes, we need to take good care of our bodies. Yes gluttony is a sin and yes it can cut our lives short. But so can obsessing over our weight and restricting the food we need to stay healthy and strong. The amount of obsessing, restricting and talking about our food we do says, “God, I just can’t trust You to meet my needs. I’m afraid if I don’t worry about it, You may forget me.”

The One who knew you before you were conceived can not forget you!

Lovely, please listen to my heart. I so hope for your sake that you can move beyond letting your food and your weight determine your legacy. I pray you’ll give up the need to always be on top of every morsel that crosses your lips and instead you’ll learn to eat with gratitude. Eat to fuel your body so that you have the energy to live in the fullness of your purpose and passions. Let go of your need to hit a magic number on the scale or on the clothing tag and instead explore your calling!

I pray you’ll discover the depths of the legacy you are called to leave as you develop and grow in fullness in every part of your being. I pray you catch a vision of what is possible and the difference you can make in this world. I pray as you explore the fulness of the life God has in store for you other women will rise up and join you and find the same freedom!

May our conversations become life-giving, purpose-affirming, joy-multiplying, legacy-creating, sources of encouragement. May we become women of wisdom, courage, strength and beauty. May we be examples of health, peace, unity and passion. May we live on purpose!

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Parenting: It’s not a competitive sport!

If you ask any parent about their child you will hear descriptions that eventually reveal the uniqueness of each child, how they are different (in a good way) from any other child alive, special, precious, amazing. It’s how it should be. I have yet to meet a parent that tells me their child is run-of-the-mill, ordinary, just like every other kid ever born. So let me ask you then, if each of our children is different and gifted and precious in their OWN way, why do we feel the need to compare as parents how we parent?

Why do we say things like “I could never do that” (usually referring to our choice to homeschool), or “wow, that must keep you busy” (referring to any activity we choose to engage our children in). Why do parents ask other parents what they do for discipline, school, vaccination, bed-time routine, feeding, diapering, etc., and then immediately make a judgement statement or an excuse for why “we” don’t do it that way? Seriously? Seriously?!

If each child is unique, gifted, special, precious and full of potential than it stands to reason that the approach you take to feeding, training, teaching, disciplining them would be different. It stands to reason that each set of parents will have to make unique decisions on what is best for each of their children based on who those precious little people are. What fits for my daughter may not fit for my son. They are different people. And if they are different and require different approaches when they share so much in common (genetic ancestry, parents, home environment, etc.) then it seems to me that the approach I take for my children will not necessarily work for yours. I mean they have nothing else in common other than perhaps being born in the same generation, in the same general geographic location. Those are important factors yes, but not important enough to mean they should be raised the same, educated the same, fed the same, engaged in the same activities and presented the same options.

Recently a surprising large number of my friends and acquaintances have opted to homeschool their children. Can I tell you all a big secret? None of us who ended up homeschooling consulted each other, nor did we choose to homeschool our kids because that’s what the others were doing. Sure we talked about it, but when we talked about it I’d venture to say 98% of us had already decided to homeschool or were leaning very strongly in that direction as we were researching our options. There was never a conversation that went along the way of “okay, if you’re all doing it we’re going to do it too, its gonna be fun!” That conversation never happened. Ever.

And yes a large number of our friends have chosen to place their children in a variety of other educational environments. Some are in public schools, some in Catholic schools, some in other Christian schools and some others have opted for other private schools. Truthfully I don’t think any of them should pull their kids out of their schools and homeschool just because that’s what I choose to do. Nope, wrong motivation.

Please, can we as parents do our children (and ourselves) a huge favour and realize that the decisions we make should be based on what is best for OUR OWN unique children and not what the group is doing? Can we stop comparing what everyone else does and seeing how we stack up? Can we extend enough grace to other parents and assume that the decisions they are making are based on the uniquely gifted, talented individuals they have been blessed to parent? Can we just stop competing with each other or treating each others’ decisions as a judgement statement of our own parenting choices? Just because I’m doing something for my child does not mean I think you should be doing it for yours.

Okay, rant over. Time to go take my son to soccer now.

A Little Distracted!

I love this blog post by Angela Doell. I love the parenting tip since my son seems to have hit the age where whining is his go-to communication mode. I love it even more because I needed the reminder to focus on gratitude.

So here is my gratitude list today:
1. My husband who loves me and is committed to our marriage and the generations no matter what.
2. My daughter who challenges me in many ways daily. She gives me new vision on everyday life.
3. My son who makes my heart sing with his tenderness and insights.
4. My little circle of close friends who love me as I am and with whom I can share my heart no matter how long we’ve been apart or how far away we live.
5. A community of brilliant women who challenge me every day to be better, smarter, faster and better. It may sound cliche but they truly challenge me to be the best version of me I could possibly be.

What’s your gratitude list? I’d love to hear it.