Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Bravest Person I Know

Do you know any brave people? I'm sure you have someone in your life that you look up to, someone that has done great things, scary things, hard things, incredible things, special things, wonderful things, things that are actually pretty much impossible to do.

I know a person like this. Her name is MOM.

My mom had me when she was 20 years old. She was brave from the day I was conceived, through labor and delivery 9 months later, and all the times in between then and now that I made her happy, scared her, hurt her, lied to her, surprised her, made her laugh, brought her joy, and stressed her out. And she's not only put up with me this whole time - she's loved and cared for each of my 8 brothers and sisters as well. Super mom, much?

You better believe it.

Now, for the standard American mom, being a mother is hard, but not super hard. She has battles, but not hard battles. That's not to say that the little issues aren't issues, but compared to some of the stuff my mom has gone through, they're nothing. What we view as inconveniences would have to be turned into massive mountains for us to even get a glimpse of some of the things my mom has been an incredible mom through. She's stayed loyal to taking care of her kids through thick and thin, when friends and family abandon her, when people thought she was crazy, when higher powers stepped in to use scare tactics and make her feel powerless, she came back more wonderful than she was before.

After a woman has a baby, they call her a goddess. They call her fierce and powerful and magnificent and incredible and a miracle and the most beautiful thing on earth. All this is true - but for someone who has birthed 9 children into this world, loved and taken care of them unconditionally, it's even more true. There are no words to describe the kind of woman my mom is.

I could try with a few... incredible, kind, loving, gentle, patient, forgiving, beautiful, selfless, joyful, good, caring...while all true of my mom, they feel so, so, empty.

My mom homeschooled me (and is still currently homescooling most of my siblings!) Do you know the kind of patience and SELFLESSNESS it takes to homeschool one kid, let alone 9?! Especially when said kid hates math and would get grumpy and disrespectful and cry when she didn't understand something? Yeah, I look back on those times and I'm not sure how I could have repaid my mom's valuable time with tears and disrespect. But I did. And you know what? She still homeschooled me. She still made sure that I knew I was loved, and smart, and that I had what I needed.

I'm so thankful for my mom. She's been with me through thick and thin, even when I put her in those places. She's loved me unconditionally - and let me just tell you, to get to witness unconditional love first hand is a rare and incredible thing. One does not easily forget it.

My mom is superwoman. Supermom. SUPERWOW. I love her so much, and I would do anything to be sitting in her kitchen right now drinking a cup of coffee and eating fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies while we chat about everything. But on this Mother's Day, I'm all the way in Washington, and she's all the way in Indiana and neither of us have the means to be together right now. It's a hard place to be, but I suppose it's a good place because it's helping me grow.

You never, ever, stop needing your mom.

On this day as I'm writing this, I've already changed 4 poopy diapers, and I have a baby sitting on my lap with #5. She's fussy, and my son is pretending the furniture is a rock wall to scale, while banging the chair against the wall making quite the racket. I'm feeling overwhelmed and a little bit frustrated that the kids aren't sleeping right now. I tried, but they just wouldn't do it. Junia keeps reaching forward to bang keys on the computer all the while squirming to get off of my lap. But when I put her down, she doesn't want to be there either.

I take a deep breath. I look to the woman my mom is, how she has dealt with these same exact feelings for 22 years, and I determine to try to be like her, seeking, trying desperately to handle these situations with the kind of grace she does. And I feel like I'm constantly failing.

How does my mom do it?

It's just another thing that adds to her beautiful mystery. Mom, I'm so thankful for you. Thank you for being my mom, my friend, my mentor, my encourager. Thank you for all the wisdom you gave me growing up, and the wisdom and advice you still freely give when I call you up on the phone with a question about how to handle a certain situation. You're always there for me no matter what.

I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! Happy Mother's Day!! <3

Friday, April 10, 2015

Product Review: Power PraiseMoves

You might remember me writing about PraiseMoves a little over a year ago. I was quite thrilled to find something that resembled the quiet and peacefulness of yoga, but at the same time, encouraged you to focus on Jesus while you were exercising.

After a while of doing 40 Days (see previous review!) I realized that I was ready for something more challenging with a few more postures that would get me moving in different ways.

So I emailed Laurette, and asked her if I could review Power PraiseMoves. She said yes, and today I'm here to share my thoughts on it, along with something I've been thinking about.

So Power PraiseMoves follows a similar layout to 40 Days. The music is still piano music, and Laurette's calming voice is still walking you through each posture. The menu is easy to navigate, which I always find helpful when you're groggily crawling out of bed and trying to hit "play" on your workout. (I'm a firm believer in the idea that technology shouldn't be a workout to figure out.)

The Power PraiseMoves DVD includes: 35 minute power workout, two 25 minute workouts (which you can combine to get a 50 minute workout), a warm up workout, an abs strengthening workout, and a really helpful booklet with pictures and descriptions of all the PraiseMove postures. 

So as you can see, you're getting more than just a single workout in this set! I just got done doing the 35 minute power workout, and yeah, it stretches you. Since this is a power workout, it's not as slow and relaxing as you might picture PraiseMoves generally being. This workout was designed to get your body moving, to strengthen you, and get your blood pumping. If you wanted a slower workout, you can do one of the 25 minute workouts, or else search out a different PraiseMoves DVD that is specially designed to a slow, peaceful workout. (I'd recommend the p.m. workout in 40 Days! I love that one for right before bedtime.)

I'm looking forward to getting better at the power workout. I've noticed that it takes me about 3 times of watching/doing/listening/experimenting to finally be able to just do the workout along with the video. So be sure to give yourself grace as you're learning a new workout (this goes for any workout!) and withing a few days of consistently practicing, you'll be able to follow along without frustration. I really enjoyed getting to experience some postures that I hadn't heard of before, and I'm excited to help my muscles relax and grow!

As with 40 Days, I'd highly recommend this Power PraiseMoves workout. I LOVE the fact that no matter what shape you're in or how old you are, PraiseMoves WILL work for you! My two year old son loves doing PraiseMoves with me, and it is just the most adorable thing ever when he does the rainbow posture, or the reed posture. I'm happy that he finds exercising fun!

A word about "normal" yoga...

I've wondered for years about yoga, and the effects it has on people. I think that yoga is a great exercise technique, and that it is a wonderful way to relax, let go, build muscle, concentration, strengthen your body, and give yourself self-care. I know that yoga is sometimes used in worship to other gods, and that some yoga postures are actual offerings to gods. However, I'm not sure that this is enough reason to avoid yoga. You can make that argument about almost anything...Christmas trees, Easter bunnies, sexual intercourse, using herbs as medicine, crystals, prayer beads, tattoos, meditation, mantras, etc. The list could go on and on.

So with that out of the way, someone might say that yoga is bad because you are trained to "empty yourself" so that something else (other than God) can fill you. I do believe this is quite dangerous, and I don't think it is a safe thing to do. BUT! I do think we should empty ourselves OF ourselves and ask God to come fill us! So I just kind of took the coin and flipped it around. As Christians we need to redeem pagan practices for the glory of God, and I don't think we should shy away from doing this.

Think of Joseph in the Bible. What people intended for evil, God turned into good. There are numerous examples like this throughout the Bible.

We all have different ways of redeeming things and Laurette Willis' way is by creating PraiseMoves. And if you're looking for an actual alternative to yoga that ISN'T yoga, then you will really find PraiseMoves helpful. If you don't have an issue with yoga itself, then that's fine too! Keep exercising! I'd just encourage you to make sure that you are indeed redeeming it for the Lord, and letting him fill you.

So what are your thoughts on all of this? Have you used PraiseMoves? Do you like it? Do you think Christians should practice yoga? I've shared my thoughts with you, now I'd love to hear yours!