Thursday, January 24, 2013

Boom Boom Pow



There's a "Top Ten" list for everything these days. I did my research. Everything. And at the tippy top of my own personal list - most often not in this order - you'll find God, hubby, three pre-teen/teen kids, and my gym life.

But for now, let's put gym life at numero uno and discuss workout music. And since it is the beginningish of the year - peak fitness resolution time - top ten lists for workout songs are all the rage. Even the workout-once-but-talk-about-it-all-year crowd have their say in it.

Okay, here it is. Top Ten Workout Music for January 2013. Be prepared to only know a couple, if any:

1. Nicki Minaj - Va Va Voom
2. Coldplay - Charlie Brown
3. Icona Pop & Charli XCX - I Love It
4. Pitbull & TJR - Don't Stop the Party
5. 50 Cent, Eminem, & Adam Levine - My Life
6. The Wanted - Chasing the Sun
7. Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Wanz - Thrift Shop
8. Fun & Janelle Monae - We Are Young
9. Will.I.Am & Britney Spears - Scream and Shout
10. One Direction - Live While We're Young
  
Turns out I have a few on my aerobic playlists. And my classes really do scream-and-shout when Scream and Shout comes on. But I'm surprised by a couple. Not to name any names, but some of the above-mentioned songs have the same momentum I use when eating oatmeal every morning. Shouldn't there be rules to this sort of thing?

It's all in the music (and my orthopedic shoe inserts). If good music doesn't bring my workout to the next level, then I don't know what will. Gotta-get-that-boom-boom-pow is essential if I'm going to even consider adding arm movements to my double-squat-tic-tocks.

Now what about life? Work life. Family life. Target life. Dog park life. All sorts of life. What's that one thing that keeps me going once the coffee wears off, and I'm all out of Sees Candies lollipops? It's GRACE - amazing grace. What music is to my workouts is what grace is to my life.

So to keep things on topic, what about my gym life as a fitness instructor? Because no amount of boom-boom-pow is going to help me cope with, for example, the lady in my strength class who I caught rolling her eyes while mouthing the words, "This is so boring." (Okay. I get it. My strength class lacks pizazz. I've got to get new stories.)

Or...or...what about the day I noticed my pants were inside-out and I had two different shoes on...with still 45 minutes left of step to teach...so I make a joke of it...but it came out wrong...inappropriate even...in front of over 50 people?

It's grace, people. Grace comes in handy in those moments when I look around the room and think, "Who's going to laugh with me, not at me? Who's going to turn their pants inside out, too - anyone?" And not only is it nice to be at the receiving end of grace as it soothes my self-loathing soul, but to also throw it around a bit - like a rap star with his cash money. (Boom-boom-pow.)

Because certainly my class needs a little grace themselves - especially the newbies. The ones who take each and every move I make extremely literally. I scratch my head, they scratch their head. I bend down to tighten my shoelaces, they bend down to do who-knows-what. I wave to a friend in the back, they wave to...well, they're not sure exactly. But it must burn calories, right? (Gotta love the newbies.)

So what makes this grace - God's grace - so amazing? Could it be that it's a greater grace? (James 4:6) What does God's greater grace mean in my life anyway? Howz-about I sum it up in a "Top Ten" list:

1. Greater Victory
2. Gladder Joy
3. Freer Freedom
4. Unlimited Forgiveness
5. Forgotten Failures
6. Immeasurable Mercy
7. Unconditional Love
8. Deeper Depths
9. Higher Heights
10. Promised Redemption

So what if you can't fathom doing one more single stinkin' back-lunge-kick-out? (The pain!) All you need to do is Scream and Shout with Will.I.Am and Britney Spears. But what if someone told you that you were doing it wrong? God's soul-satisfying, for-YOU-not-against-you grace will come to the rescue, time and time again.

Gotta get that!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to Ruin a Weekend



Everybody's working for the weekend. Or if you're like me, working hard at eating healthy from Monday morning until around 3:38 Thursday afternoon, the time my brain begins its switch to weekend mode. And it's true, a person can only "count" coffee creamer and measure their Special K for so-many-consecutive days before he or she can no longer be my friend.

But whether it's an ordinary Tuesday morning or a wild-n-crazy Saturday night, I do like Ezekiel bread - especially cinnamon raisin. Lightly toasted and decently buttered? Oh momma. Add a little raspberry Smuckers? Now you're playing my jam. I used to think I could eat about a hundred slices, but it turns out the correct number is seven.

But enough of my Saturday night party habits, because no amount of cinnamon raisin toast could make boo-boos-all-better this past weekend. Those two days could be summed-up in a typical 6th grade paragraph, titled "How to Ruin a Weekend," in which transitional words are used to put ideas into chronological order:

     This is how to ruin a weekend. First, have a kid stop-up a toilet so that it spills over and makes it "rain" from eight different locations in the living room, causing the "cottage cheese" ceiling to pry away in spots (if it wasn't ugly enough). Secondly, save money by buying garage sale furniture that your bad-backed husband attempts to move - all by himself - bringing him severe pain and a bedridden 48 hours. Thirdly, see if your sixteen-year-old, after bending over to get something, can swing her head up fast enough to pop her eyebrow open on a cabinet. And if she does this after the urgent care closes, you'll get to pay the exorbitant ER fee for one little stitch - or fancy surgical glue. Lastly, if your nine-year-old gets to the point where she throws-up 16 times in a ten hour period, things are looking good if your goal is to say "I Heart Mondays." In conclusion, should any of these circumstances happen to you and your loved ones, your weekend will definitely suck*.    

I share all of this to not only make you feel better about your weekend and your non-cottage-cheese ceilings (and to maybe show off my expert paragraph-composition skills), but to also recognize God's presence in each little incident. And I say little because our problems were small potatoes compared to what some people have to endure.

However, Jesus says, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Matthew10:29-31)

But it's not easy seeing God while holding a throw-up bowl. It's in those times I have to intentionally look for him. And last weekend, he was indeed there, providing a cozy home for my husband to rest his back. He was there, making sure we were home to stop the toilet from flooding endlessly. And he was certainly there, giving my teen daughter an ER doctor who looked a lot like a super cute Ben Stiller..."Hold still while I move-in real close to apply this surgical glue." Perks, I tell you.

*Sorry, Mom. I know you hate that word.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Little Girl Blog


They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. That can be bad or good. Bad if your kid has the same propensity as you have to memorize questionable lyrics to current pop music. (Prince's Erotic City, circa 1984, anyone?) And good if your kid wants to start a blog - just like her momma.

And speaking of 1984, plus or minus a few years, my darling children have to patiently endure hearing about my youthful adventures as I daily relate them to their modern, plugged-in lives. But there's got to be some common ground, right? How far off is Polaroid from Instagram, really? Not far. And games like Temple Run and Angry Birds? Same as Atari. Or what about Draw Something? Because, well, I drew things back then.

But back to my blog-tastic nine-year-old. Love that girl. After reading her first blog entry a couple weeks ago, I decided she can do no wrong. Judge for yourself, read the excerpt below and notice how - just like her mom - she parallels life and faith:

In this lesson we are going to learn about things God didn't make, but how he made the person to make the tool to make the thing. And how God gave the person the right stuff to make the thing.

Okay. I think she's blogging and playing teacher at the same time, but check this one out:

Today we are going to talk about the Holy Spirit. There is God the Holy Spirit, God the Son, and then there's just the Holy Spirit. You can't see the Holy Spirit, but you can see him changing lives.

She even added a suggested prayer at the end:

Dear God, Please help me to help the Holy Spirit a little more so I can show the world I'm a Christian. Amen.

Now, I became a big fan of this girly-girl the moment I pushed her into the world. And she really sealed the deal when several years ago she asked, "Mom, can I have another brownie because I wasn't paying attention when eating the first one." But this!? I gushed. I giggled. I smelled her sweet head. Talk about warm-fuzzies. So proud.

As for the critics out there - sure my daughter seems to think there are two Holy Spirits and that at least one of them needs our help. But not for one single itty-bitty second was I about to correct her theology. There's a time for that, and that was not the time. I was too busy swooning. (Does God swoon over me in all my ignorance? Patient with me when I'm slow-to-catch-on? You betcha.)

Look at King David. He missed the mark once or twice, and God still called him a man after his own heart (Acts 13:22). And my daughter has a heart open wide to the things of God. What could top that?

So as she shifts to blogging about Bufflehead ducks - "the smallest diving duck in North America" - for her 3rd grade classroom's blog, I look forward to what she thinks-up next as she relies on God to "make the person to make the tool to make the thing" and everything in between.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On


Jeff and I are T.V. trendsetters. Make that telly savvy, for we were among the first of our generation to hop-on the British show bandwagon. So when it was Ross-and-Rachel-this and Dylan-and-Brenda-that way back in the 90s, we were busy "ardently admiring and loving" Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet - a la Colin Firth.

Okay, fine. We were also watching Friends and 90210. But our discovery of English dramas so captivated us body-and-soul that we named our firstborn child after a Jane Austen character. Oh, and our first cat, "Willoughby." (RIP, my sweet Willoughby.)

Sixteen years and several fortnights later, we could fill a scullery maid's pantry with the amount of Masterpiece Theater we've seen - everything from period dramas (Forsyte Saga, Cranford, Wives and Daughters, etc.) to every adaptation of Emma, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility known to mankind, not to mention the I-think-this-might-be-too-scary-for-me Charles Dickens classics. Even the new stuff, like Sherlock.

And finally we come to...(drum roll please - with some bugle, flute and fife - compliments of the British Regiment, no doubt)...the third season of...(da-ta-da-DA)...Downton Abbey! But a word to the wise, it's not "Downtown, things will be great when you're Dowtown Abbey," but rather Down-ton, as in "I just ate a ton." Oh, but things are great when you're watching Downton Abbey. Positively great.

And now it seems the entire world is watching. At last! Jeff and I are not alone. You know, I always felt our sophisticated tastes in television were meant to be shared. But I'm amazed at the type of people getting sucked into the goings-on of the Lord Grantham and Crawley families. And by type of people, I mean men. Sure they'll tell you it's because it's set during World War I or because the 1911 Renault parked in Downton Abbey's garage is super dope.

But whatever, right? Who cares it's called a "British feelings" drama. I think the average bloke likes it for the same reasons as the rest of us, with all its costumes, genteel ways, and politeness. But I'm sure dreams of inheriting an estate like Lord Grantham's helps a little. A dream that will actually come true in heaven (John 14:2).

And it turns out I'm not just a sucker for the accents after all, for I find that English period dramas - the ones dealing with strength of character amidst heartache - tend to slow me down, making me a more ponder-ish and reflective person. And I like my ponder-ish side. That's Downton Abbey for you. Keeps you calm and carries you on.

Now that's brilliant.