Giggle Giggle Toot Roar

Striving to answer the call to motherhood and wifeyhood with joy, Jesus, and crazy dancing.


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10 Things To Expect from ZUMBA® Instructor Training

Last weekend was a whirlwind of fun packed with a bachelorette party and wedding shower for a friend, my nephews’ 3rd birthday party (twinsies), and a full day of training to become a ZUMBA® instructor!

I’ve been working out ZUMBA® style for about eight years and I’ve had becoming a ZUMBA® instructor on my bucket list for almost as long. It is such an amazing workout and it makes me happy (and laugh at myself).

When you do something you absolutely love for eight straight hours in one day AND check a major thing off of your bucket list, it is just so uplifting; you almost want to cry! Seriously, I was filled with joyful tears while dancing last Saturday many times and had to bite them back, so people didn’t think I was a weirdo!

If you haven’t tried ZUMBA® or you haven’t heard of it, it a “Latin-inspired, dance-fitness class that incorporates Latin and international music and dance movements, creating a dynamic, exciting, exhilarating, and effective fitness program.” (From ZUMBA® instructor’s manual.)

Put simply, it is an amazing dance-exercise party guaranteed to make you smile and sweat!

ZUMBA Training

If you’ve been considering becoming a ZUMBA® instructor and you’re apprehensive, because you aren’t sure what to expect, allow me to share some highlights from my training. Do it! Check it off your bucket list!

10 Things to Expect from ZUMBA® Training (Basic 1):

1.) You will meet other people that love ZUMBA® as much as you do! One of the things I love about ZUMBA® is that anyone can do it, regardless of your fitness level or dance experience. I was nervous for the training, because I thought I might be the sole dance-duckling in a sea of beautiful Latin ballerina-swans. Even in a small class, there was an eclectic group of ZUMBA® enthusiasts with a wide range of ages, dance experience, personality types, fitness levels, and plans of what to do after the training. It was great to meet and network with other future instructors and make new friends. Make sure to exchange emails and phone numbers, so you can keep in touch after the training.

2.) You will get inspired and crush your fears! One of my favorite parts of the entire training was the hour master ZUMBA® session we started the day with. What better way to start a ZUMBA® training than with an AMAZING ZUMBA® class taught by an amazing trainer! We worked up quite the sweat! About four songs in, our instructor motioned to another gal and me to join her up in the front. I almost peed my pants and shook my head no; I was not ready for that, I didn’t even know the song! BUT we got up there and for the first time, ZUMBA®ed a totally different way, as an instructor. It was the most non-threatening way to be eased into this and a moment I’ll never forget. Fear had been crushed!

3.) You will learn the history and “formula” to ZUMBA®. You’ll love ZUMBA® even more once you learn who and how it was birthed and grown into an international sensation. Also, once you learn the basic “formula” of how to place steps and songs, building your own playlists and classes feels less daunting!

4.) You will learn steps and practice them. I’ve been doing ZUMBA® for years, but I feel much more confident having been taught the basic steps and all of the variations. I was doing many of the steps correctly, but I definitely had a few adjustments to make to my moves! We also had fun practicing the steps in small groups and making up our own choreography!

5.) You will learn cueing. This was the toughest part to get used to, because I’m used to being a student and following cues, but I’ve never had to cue myself. ZUMBA® instructors are encouraged not to talk during their classes, so giving non-verbal cues to let the class know what moves are coming, how many repetitions, and in what direction we’re moving next is vital.

6.) You will practice the instructor role. When you are driving and following your GPS, you don’t always pay attention to exactly what roads you are turning on to and how many miles you’ve gone, you just follow whatever Sally the GPS lady tells you (or whatever you’ve named your GPS, you know you have!). That’s how it can be as a ZUMBA® participant. You might think you know every move of a song, but really you might be totally lost if the instructor wasn’t cueing you. Practicing the instructor role versus the participant role was eye-opening and a real confidence builder.

7.) You will learn the benefits of ZIN™. Once you complete the ZUMBA® training, you are considered a ZUMBA® instructor for a year or forever as long as you become an active ZIN™ member (there’s a monthly fee). ZIN™ membership provides you with an online account that gives you access to the latest music, choreography, clothing discounts, a personal website, and so much more. ZUMBA® instructing without ZIN™ would be like a steak dinner without the steak!

8.) You will learn about the different kinds of music used in ZUMBA®. ZUMBA® music is Latin and internationally inspired. You’ll learn how to build your playlist, so it flows well during your class and contains a diverse selection of songs. Salsa has always been my favorite, but an hour of only Salsa music isn’t a ZUMBA® class, it is a Salsa class!

9.) You will learn about logistics. I just want to dance, workout and help others feel the ZUMBA® party! Before this training, I didn’t think much about some of the logistics that are key to ensuring your ZUMBA®party is safe and a success. In training, you will discuss things like participant waivers, insurance, CPR and group exercise certification.

10.) You will come to understand every instructor has a different style. What if people come to my class and leave half way through? What if people with a ton of dance experience come (and are better than me)? I really want to teach like so-and-so. It is so important to BE YOURSELF as a ZUMBA® instructor. One of the many beauties of ZUMBA® is that every instructor has their own style. You will have people love your style and others that don’t. You have to learn to be at peace with that. You can’t please everyone. I know I will build a group of people that love “Natasha’s class” and others won’t and that’s okay! Be confident that “your” people will be there!

If you’ve had it on your mind and heart to become a ZUMBA® instructor, do it! Push your fears aside and dive in, because it really does have the potential to change your life!

Oh, and you might want to bring several changes of clothing with you to the training, just saying!

Good luck! ZUMBA®!!!

Natasha

 

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Mini Van Got Keyed; How Shall I Survive?!

Does anyone ever feel like they are called to something greater?

First, I am in no way saying that being a mother isn’t the greatest. It is a wonderful gift and perhaps the most important job in the world.

But sometimes, as a mom, you get bogged down in all of the poo and boogers and start to fixate and worry about really silly stuff and miss the “something greater.”

VanAs we left church recently and began to load up the van, my husband mentioned that it looked like someone had keyed the side of our van. I ran over to his side and sure enough, there was a long line across the side. I was fuming! In the church parking lot, really!? As I investigated further, I nearly broke out into hives as I noticed not only one long line, but an almost artful crazy keying of the entire side and front of our van. Circles, squiggles, lines….on the door, by the handles, on the hood…it was all over! I was so angry at the thought that someone would ruin someone else’s property so deliberately, but I also felt kind of creeped out, because I felt like we were targeted. Was this vandalism personal? Was someone watching and laughing from the bushes at my obvious anger?

When we got home, I jumped out to evaluate the destruction further, spouting things like, “You just can’t keep anything nice these days!” and “What is wrong with people; who would do this?!” Then using my best detective skills, I suddenly noticed that all of the lines were mysteriously only at a height where my toddlers could reach. The memory of the little airplanes with wheels I bought them last week slammed into my head with mocking laughter. “Mahahaha, silly woman, it was your own kids that art-worked your van when they used it as a landing strip for their airplanes, not some scary stranger.”

Well, I was still really ticked off, but much less so when I had identified the alleged little vandals. I thought, “Ugh, now I not only have to drive a minivan, but I have to drive a keyed-up ghetto cruiser!” I was brought up to respect your property, keep it up and in good shape, so this was hard for me to swallow. I know dad, you are probably sweating just thinking about this, but maybe you can help me buff out the scratches!

Scratches in a van, annoying for sure, but still so very arbitrary.

My brother-in-law has been in the hospital for weeks; my super star mother-in-law and her team of helpers have been with him every second. I’m sure she is just beat. I just learned that a dear friend has been suffering from major depression for months. How did we not know? A friend from my mom’s group just asked for prayers for a mother of four who was diagnosed with a stage four rare skin cancer. She has four children!

I’m sure you could come up with your own list similar to the above.

In the midst of all that dark, heavy, sadness, here we are, spending precious time being annoyed at something someone posted on Facebook, stressed about the toddler meltdown that happened at the grocery store, anxious about the future or finances, tired because the kids aren’t sleeping well, crabby because we don’t get enough date nights, and just complaining and worried all the time about silly things. Silly, joy draining things.

If Facebook annoys you, take a break and be thankful you even have a computer and fingers to type with.

If your toddler has a crazy meltdown, take a deep breath, feel solitude in the fact that thousands of moms around the world experienced a similar tantrum today and send up a prayer of thanks that you have been blessed with children.

If you are anxious about the future or finances, do whatever you can to set yourself up for success and spend the rest of your time on your knees asking for guidance and strength. Thank God you are healthy and even have a future to care about.

If you are tired because the kids aren’t sleeping well, again, know you aren’t alone and remember those little ones won’t fit in your cuddle spot for long. Hold them tighter, even if it’s 3am and the third time that night you’ve come to their rescue.

If you are crabby because you haven’t had a date night, schedule one, even if it is cuddling on the coach when the kids go to bed. Be thankful you have a significant other to miss and to love.

If you are a worrier or complainer (aren’t we all sometimes), let it go. Quit allowing anxiety to steal your joy, your life, your something greater.

Life is hard. Being a parent is hard. The little snags and stresses we experience are real. But there are things that are harder and more stressful than the little stuff we blow up into fake big stuff.

Maybe the feeling we feel sometimes – the feeling that we are called to do something greater – will push us to change the world in significant ways! Or maybe this call to something greater is really just a call to be a “greater” mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend (dad, hubby, brother, son, grandparent, etc.) wherever life finds us right now.

We can be greater if we stop focusing on our arbitrary problems, live lives full of gratitude and instead reach out to the people in our lives that are suffering from the real stuff.

If we all did this, it would change the world in significant ways too.

This is not a 30 day challenge; it is an every second of our lives challenge!

Fight first world problems with gratitude!

Love,

Natasha

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As Beautiful Today as the Day I was Born

It’s fun to build a group of gym buddies. You see these people, “gym buddies,” at the gym most mornings of the week. They notice when you’re absent from a class and when you return they ask if everything is okay. You chat casually about life and family with usually little commitment beyond the gym walls. It’s fun!

Recently, I learned that one of my new gym buddies used to be an actress. She spent years in Los Angeles and Las Vegas doing her acting thing for mostly print ads and commercials; she even had some small roles on a popular crime show and soap opera. So cool!

The other day, she brought in a collection of a few of her ads and head shots (at several people’s request). It wasn’t long before a little group of people stood ooo-ing and ahh-ing over her little scrap-book. Everyone was blown away by how beautiful she was “back then.”

You are as beautiful todayIt was fun looking through her photos and reminiscing with her, but something rocked me in the pit of my stomach. I wondered if my gym buddy new how beautiful she was right now.

I said something to her in passing like, “You know you are just as beautiful today as you were in those photos.” She brushed me off saying, “No, I look much older now.” My words felt hollow, but I really did mean them.

Now as gym buddies go, you generally find out the basics of each other’s life, but the connection wouldn’t likely be deep enough for me to stomp my feet, shake her, and scream, “You are gorgeous! Right now!” And she really is, even from the little I know about her. I know she’s a mom. I know she has an awesome sense of humor and a great personality that easily makes “gym buddies.” Really, that’s enough for me to know she’s a beautiful person and that her little girls think she is the most beautiful woman in the world (Anna and Elsa being super close seconds of course).

Do you know someone that needs reminding of how beautiful they are?

Is it you?

Our bodies’ age! We get laugh lines, and stretch marks, and a few extra pounds, and a “distinguished” hair color, and maybe uglier hands (Is that just me? What is up with these dry, gorgeously wrinkled hands?!).

As Martina McBride says in her song, This One’s For the Girls:

“Every last laugh line on your face, made you who you are today.”

For all of us, on the days we feel less beautiful than we did “way back when,” I offer this simple prayer…

Lord,

Please help me remember that I am Your precious child, made in Your image.
Help me remember that to You, I am as beautiful today as the day I was born.

Please help me be patient and gentle with myself, Lord.
Help me remember that the only label I wear that matters is that I am Your beloved.

Amen.

Please pass this on to someone that needs a reminder!

Love,

Natasha


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5 Reasons Adults Need to Climb Trees

You have probably heard this story from the Bible found in Luke 19:3-5. Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho and a large crowd had gathered.

Zacchaeus, a tax collector could not see Jesus through the crowd, so he climbed a nearby tree for a better view. Zacchaeus “was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house. And he came down quickly and received him with joy.” -Luke 19:3-5

PicsArt_1417215605808When I was a little girl, I used to disappear for hours up in a tree on the side of our house. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the safest climbing or lounging around tree. It was an old pine tree planted snuggly between two houses with scraggly branches that were of questionable width to hold a child of my size. Most days I’d only climb up a few branches, just high enough to hide from my parents and more importantly my little sister. I guess I needed my alone time even back then!

Some days I’d just sit there and revel in my “me time,” sometimes I’d bring a book, sometimes I’d pray or people watch, and sometimes I’d use my fingernails to carve my initials, a heart and the initials of my latest crush into the tree trunk. Other days I’d climb that tree much higher than I should have (high enough to see into my bedroom windows on our second floor). I’d have a heart attack if I found my kids up in a tree that high (sorry mom and dad)!

While I’m not necessarily recommending everyone runs into their backyard to literally climb your trees, I do believe we can learn something from the story of Zacchaeus and childhood tree climbing.

1.) Climbing trees gives us a better view.
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, so he climbed a tree for a better view! This seems like an obvious solution to the problem, but he was the ONLY one that figured it out. He had a problem: the crowd was thick and he wouldn’t be able to see Jesus when he passed by. He could have just stayed in the crowd contently, but he found a solution!

Do you ever find yourself bogged down in your problems (large or small) and that’s where it ends (you are frustrated and sulky)?

Climb a tree and find a solution to your problem!

Recently one of my little guys had been waking up every morning in a puddle of pee. As I entered his room every morning, I was greeted by “all wet mommy.” This led to me not only washing his bed sheets and mattress protector daily, but also the two blankets and slew of stuffed animal buddies he insists on sleeping with. One day, I was telling a friend about our potty issues and she said, “have you tried those overnight diapers.” I was like, “huh, nope.” Well, we ran out and got those magic overnight diapers and sure enough, no more “all wet” issues.

This is a small example of “stuff” in our lives; I was so bogged down in the problem and what I thought was the solution (loads of laundry) that I never really took time to consider a better solution. I needed to climb a tree on that one!

2.) Climbing trees gives us a fresh perspective.
I was standing in line a few weeks ago waiting for a voting booth to open up. There were dozens of people in front of me in line patiently waiting and from my angle I could clearly see there were at least five voting booths open at the very end. Everyone was just standing there, waiting for a safe booth to open up near them. I ended up motioning to people the entire time I was standing in line, letting them know when the booths at the end opened up.

How many times do we unintentionally and blindly follow the crowd?

You always hear that “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” Well, I’ll add that sometimes you might need to climb a tree to be able to see that open window.

Climb a Tree

3.) Climbing trees gives us time to reflect.
A few nights ago, I was sitting at our table eating dinner with my lovely little family. The radio was on in the background, the boys were jabbering (probably whining) and my husband was talking with me about our days. I had a moment of sensory overload! Suddenly everything just seems so loud, even the lights seemed to be yelling at me. Does that ever happen to you? Let’s just say I had to excuse myself and regroup in my tree (dark bedroom) for a few minutes.

We live fast-paced, loud, constant ON, ON, ON lives!

Sometimes we need to climb our tree for a little regroup, alone time.

It helps to get some quiet (even if it is a few seconds). Sometimes I’ll sneak sock-footed into our freezing cold garage just for 10 seconds of quiet. I can still hear the boys screaming behind the door, but it does seem like quiet comparatively. I’ll send up a quick prayer, eat a piece of chocolate and re-enter the house as super mom.

4.) Climbing trees allows you to be uniquely you!
We wait in an agonizingly long bathroom line at a sporting event or theater show only to find out there have been 5 stalls open the entire time. Look for feet people! Or everyone snails through one open door in a long line instead of opening a few more doors and starting new paths into the building. All of the doors work people!

It isn’t always that we want to blend in (although sometimes we do); we are just going about our lives doing what people do. It’s easy to slip into the habit of thinking the right thing to do is the thing that everyone else is doing.

Can we really be the best versions of ourselves if we ALWAYS play it safe by keeping our feet firmly on the ground and by neatly following the person ahead of us in line?

I don’t think so. I think we are being called to do more. Zacchaeus wasn’t afraid of what other people were going to say or think about him when he climbed that tree, he just did it.

What is holding you back in life from being YOU?!

I had a pedicure recently with a dear friend. She had a wedding to go to and she was agonizing over what shade of nail polish to pick. She didn’t want people to judge her or comment on her toe nails if the shade of pink didn’t perfectly match her dress. I didn’t know what to say, because I’m pretty sure I was getting mine painted dark blue or purple! Anyway, this is just a small example of how much power we let other people have over our decisions and lives.

Back on toes, if you love the color mauve on your toes (Mom), then rock out mauve every time. BUT don’t choose the safe choice because of fear. Don’t let others keep you from being uniquely you. Climb that tree and paint your nails up there!

5.) Climbing trees helps us be goofy.
We are way too serious! I heard recently that adults laugh fewer than 15-20 times a day (compared to a child who laughs about 400 times a day). How sad is that! I’ve been talking about climbing figurative trees in our lives, well, if you have a good climbing tree…climb it literally too. Or do something else child-like and do it until you…giggle, giggle, toot.

Side Note: I feel like I should put something lawyer-y in here about tree climbing. So, if you climb a tree and hurt yourself, Natasha and Giggle Giggle Toot Roar will not be held responsible for any injury or consequences resulting in your tree climbing/falling.

Love,

Natasha        


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50 Things I Never Want to Forget About My TWO Year Olds

People are always sharing this quote, especially when they find out you have young children: “The days move slowly, but the years fly by.” I couldn’t agree more. There are so many days that I look at the clock in shock that it is only 10am. How is that possible? We’ve eaten breakfast, read books, played outside, had a snack, watched Veggie Tales, had a bath…how is it only 10am! And how am I going to make it 3 more hours until naptime?

The “years fly by” part has never been more real to me than now as my boys are nearing the two and a half years mark. There are just so many signs now that they are growing up. Communication and language are huge parts of this as they say new words and longer sentences every day. It seems like yesterday they were pointing at their dresser drawer and today they are picking out a shirt saying, “Yellow shirt on Mommy.” It seems like yesterday they were dancing as I sang the ABC song and now they try to sing along and can identify A, B, C, G, O, and S. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was reading them books and now today they can identify every kind of truck in their truck book (I’m talking complicated trucks like big rig, airport fire truck, giant excavator, combine harvester, concrete mixer!)?

Of course we are so proud of our kids as they learn and grow and we know it is necessary, but there is a teensy bitter sweetness that leaves us grasping for their childhood like sand through our fingertips. These days I find myself stealing as many hugs and full on (usually snotty) mouth kisses as I can. I let my lips linger a few extra seconds on their delicate foreheads as I say a quick prayer for their protection. I force myself to slow down and enjoy the gentle grasp of their tiny hands as I help them down the stairs. I know these tender moments won’t last forever, but I just don’t want to forget them!

So, I decided to write down a few things that I never want to forget about my sweet two year olds. You don’t have to read them all, but I thought it might be a nice reminder for you to write down some of your favorites!

What do you absolutely not want to forget about whatever stage your little ones are at currently?

PicsArt_141574237063950 Things I Never Want to Forget About My TWO Year Olds

1.) Riding your bikes around the driveway, your little legs pumping so fast.

2.) Roo asking mommy for help, “A-Bu-Gee Mommy” (Help me please mommy).

3.) Tigger climbing into my chair when I’m not looking and then smiling that sneaky smile when I come back to sit down.

4.) Reading books together, both of you in my lap.

5.) When you put your arms around my neck for a “hard hug” .

6.) Kisses on the mouth.

7.) Tigger’s love of all things blue, Blue Thing (stuffed animal), blue socks, blue hat, etc.

8.) Your Shrek and Frozen movie obsessions.

9.) Roo’s fixation with Legos, a green block you call your phone, and a certain pink piece of plastic.

10.) Driving tractors with trailers up and down the hallway and all around the house with Daddy.

11.) You shoving your faces into deep into the corner during timeouts.

12.) The first time you said each other’s names.

13.) Tigger’s love of all things fire truck/fire fighter related.

14.) Roo and Baxter our dog = best bugs, Roo giving Baxter hugs.

15.) Feeding Baxter, one scoop each. And the time you nearly decapitated the dog by shutting the sliding door on him prematurely.

16.) You “helping” Daddy do dishes.

17.) You “helping” Daddy stir the pancake batter every Saturday.

18.) You both finding “Jesus crosses” everywhere.

19.) When you ask for Grammie and Grandpa, especially when mommy says no to something, “Grandpa!!!”

20.) Over and over, asking for your cousins, “Abby and Hannah, Abby and Hannah,” again, usually when you are mad at mommy.

21.) Running all over the house 15 minutes before bedtime, every night.

22.) Your preference for “blue jeans”

23.) Tigger, when you wake up to a potty accident and say, “Diaper all wet”

24.) Giving you one fruit snack after one lap around the driveway, for a whole pack of fruit snacks.

25.) Enjoying our grocery shopping trips together thanks to the huge free cookies from the bakery.

26.) Your first time trick or treating as a Chicken and a Duck.

27.) Roo’s obsession with all thing garage door, “garage door up,” “garage door down,” “garage door Mommy!”

30.) When missing daddy, “More Daddy go home,” “Daddy home”

31.) Hill running at Grammie and Grandpa’s house.

32.) “Helping” fold clean laundry. Mommy gave you one sock at a time to run to daddy in another room, daddy made the pairs, you ran the pairs back to mommy.

33.) The new winter Olympic sport you created: Olympic Snow Tricycle Riding

34.) Tigger being able to name all of the trucks in the big truck book.

35.) Helping us set the table.

36.) Sprinting to the bathroom in excitement when it’s time to brush teeth.

37.) Roo helping Daddy put your tricycle together.

38.) “Daddy up” & “Mommy up”

39.) Magically appearing in a room out of thin air, “Ello Mommy” (terrifying at times!)

40.) The magic of redirection.

41.) Packing your “valuable” toys in Mommy’s gym bag, so I can protect them.

42.) You using your mattresses as trampolines every morning. Happiest way to wake up ever!

43.) Squirting each other with water from plastic toys in the bathtub.

44.) Putting your “supplies” in the back of your tricycle baskets before you ride around.

45.) Tigger trying to carry two jeeps, two fire trucks, and two Legos around everywhere and insisting on bringing them all along when we leave the house.

46.) Roo’s love of oranges, “More ooonge please”

47.) Little butts in the air sleeping style.

48.) Tigger’s need to have TWO blankets for bed.

49.) When we tried to sneak out of church early and Tigger yelled, “Bye Jesus” (Mommy did the same when I was little!).

50.) When you try to put your winter hats on yourselves and they are all crazy with your little ears sticking out every which way.

It’s the small stuff right!?

Here’s to remembering what’s important.

What do you want to remember???

Love,

Natasha


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Blue Thing, Lego Snuggles, & Protecting Your Relationship with Him

Blue Thing, Lego Snuggles, and Protecting your relationship with HimSome toddlers build a bond with snuggly things like their special blanket or favorite stuffed animal. They drag it all over the house and yard, bring it along on outings, and snuggle it close during nap time and bedtime. One of my little guys has a favorite stuffed animal named “Blue Thing.” Blue Thing was once a giraffe, but in a fit of new motherhood, I snipped off the giraffe’s horns (I left the ears) for fear my son might bite them off and choke on them. Because Blue Thing is so loved, we secretly have four of them that get rotated on a cleaning schedule. Two of them were purchased a few months further into my motherhood than the first two; they both still have their horns.

My other little guy, despite my best efforts, prefers to cuddle with hard plastic objects, usually Legos. The Lego color depends on the day, but it always has to be the one with eight bumps. He also enjoys snuggling with a small toy ambulance and one night when I went in to rock him back to sleep, he was clutching his small blue plastic drill.

The other obsession at the moment is anything that looks like a cross. They loudly and enthusiastically yell out, “Gigi cross!” (Jesus cross) anytime they see anything that remotely resembles a cross. It could be the medical cross on the side of a clinic, two popsicle sticks that happened to fall just right across each other, and even the letter T (which I thought was quite profound for two year olds; St. Francis would be smiling).

So, can you imagine how crazy it got here today when mommy started to build crosses out of…wait for it…Legos?! (Oh, I know, your skin is just tingling.)

I built my little Lego snuggler a Gigi cross out of Legos and he immediately put it safely in the basket of his tricycle. My boys just started actually using the pedals of their bikes last week and I’m amazed at how fast those tiny little legs can pump those bikes to warp speeds. We’ve had a few tumbles, many brotherly crashes, and they’ve ended up stuck in the rocks or grass more than once. They haven’t quite mastered the slowing down bit yet.

So, the Lego snuggler has his Lego Gigi cross in his bike basket. He’s zooming around, lovin’ life, and then I look up from a sip of coffee and he’s totally flattened out face first under his bike. From a far, it looks like quite a crash, so I’m expecting some scratches. I move the bike off of him, give him a hug (no blood), and he pops up and with his most concerned voice, yells, “Giiiigiiii!!!” He runs to the wreckage to find his Lego Gigi cross broken into three pieces. I quickly pop the Legos back into place, he grabs the Gigi cross, puts it back into his bike basket, and is back on his merry way.

I was of course very happy my little boy wasn’t hurt and impressed he got back up and tried again (“sometimes we fall down, but we always get back up”). As I thought about the incident more, I was struck by something else.

What if when we fall down in life, our primary, most urgent concern was Jesus and our relationship with Him? 

My soul clings fast to youWhen difficult things happen in life, we run to God, we pray, and we might even beg for His help. We struggle, we cry, at times we might even doubt His presence. Things aren’t going how we wanted them to go. We might get angry with God for not listening to us, for not answering our prayers. We have clearly clung to God, but it’s been all about us.

What if in our adversity, we instead chose to cling to God just to cling to God?

What if we screamed “Jesus!” at the top of our lungs?

What if our first concern was to protect our precious relationship with Him?

What if instead of begging and making deals, we just demanded to stay close?

When we fall down, let’s lovingly cling to Him. Let’s warmly call out to Him and make sure we do everything we can to pop back together any broken pieces of our relationship. Let’s protect our relationship in the bike basket of our hearts.

We will still travel through difficult times, but with a renewed faith and fortified relationship with God.

“My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 64:9 

Love,

Natasha


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Book Worm Wednesday: Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference by Susan Vogt

book worm wed 3I’m not going to lie, this one was a tough one for me to get through. The author’s daughter described her mom in the book, as “stuck in 1973”. I felt that vibe at times. The author is conservation and active in social justice issues. While her obsession with color coding her family and making her kids sign various pledges felt extreme (and weird), I kept reading. I kept reading even though there were things I would never try with my kids and things that I straight up disagreed with. I kept reading, because I like books that make me “squirmy” and slightly uncomfortable. I learn from those books, even if at the time they are occasionally painful to read through. This book touched on a great variety of issues, how they impact our children, and how we should be addressing them with our children. Just a few of the topics included: respect for the environment, the impact of media, money and materialism, sex and body image, faith, and diversity. We should be tackling these topics with our kids, but wow, it’s not easy! The best part of the book were the thought provoking reflection questions at the end of each chapter and the author’s children’s’ response to each chapter.

Book Worm Wednesday: Top 10 Tidbits:
Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference: Helping Your Family Live with Integrity, Value Simplicity, and Care for Others
By Susan Vogt

1.) “Tough love is not about being vindictive but about showing children the natural or logical consequences of their actions. They learn that love doesn’t mean always rescuing someone from mistakes and foolishness but letting that person learn the hard way sometimes. Tough love helps children face the realities of cause and effect.”
It’s so hard as parents to think about our little people failing! We don’t want them to ever feel pain or embarrassment. We want to bubble wrap their little bodies for physical protection and always be there to auto-correct any awkward moments. But, in our hearts, we know we have to leave a little room, a little opening, to allow them to learn and figure things out by themselves. In the future, we won’t always be there to protect them from failure. We know they will learn from failure. So, we might need to show a little tough love, but I’m thinking for now, tough love followed by a hug.

2.) “No one likes to see their child lie or steal, but most kids at least try it when they are young. When my husband and I suspected lying we would tell the child that there would be a punishment for what they did wrong but there would be a bigger punishment if he or she lied to cover it up.”
I thought this was a smart way to deal with lying. There will be a punishment for what you did wrong, but lying about it will make it worse (aka bigger punishment).

3.) “If you are too busy with too many other life goals, your kids can become an obstacle to those goals.”
This was a good reminder that right now, as a mother of young children, my most important “life goal” is raising them.

4.) Theme: Learning to Say No
I imagine this keeps getting more difficult as children get older and they become involved in more activities. You want your children involved and active in things that interest them. You want them to meet people from these activities and make lots of friends. It’s tough to know how much is too much? To answer that question, you really have to consider what your priorities are as a family. Is it okay that you never eat dinner because everyone gets home late from school activities?  Is it okay to skip Wednesday faith formation, because football practice goes late? Maybe, but not if family dinners and faith formation are in your family’s top priorities. When you figure out as a family what is most important to your family, it is easier to know when to say “no” to things that fall outside of those priorities.

5.) “Ultimately children benefit from our ‘presence’ rather than our ‘presents’.”
Amen! Gifts of time spent together will always be more valuable to children than material things (even more valuable than that awesome gigantic Olaf stuffed animal we saw in the store today). You can’t buy memories. This can be a hard sell however, because we live in a materialistic world that is convinced the only giving worth giving is stuff versus time. Why does a gift have to be wrapped up in a box? Why can’t it just be an awesome visit to the zoo with grandma and grandpa!?

6.) Theme: Desensitization to violence and sex from media
I remember saying a few seasons ago how thankful I was that Dancing With the Stars was on television. And, how it was so nice to watch a show that celebrated dancing instead of some of the other negative themes on TV. Sure, there was the occasional male shirt yanked off or a few too many design cutouts in the female dancer outfits, but it wasn’t often and it was always a little shocking. Today, I wouldn’t be able to let my kids safely watch the show the entire way through and I’d rather my hubby not watch it! Just don’t watch it then right? Well, I love dancing and while it is packed with uncomfortably skimpy outfits and at times just shy of sex on the dance floor, it still seems more innocent that option B, which would be about something like solving a violent murder or rape case. The point I’m trying to make is that the more we watch this stuff, the more we are desensitized to it and not shocked by it. Our little ones will need us here to help set limits and protect them from negative media themes.

7.) Theme: Raising Peacemakers
I never really thought about raising “peacemakers” and how it starts at home. Of course we want to raise level-headed, kind children who care about others and stand up for what is right. So, when I, as mom, lose my temper and yell at my children, I’m teaching them to verbally fight. Peace starts with momma. Good reminder.

8.) “One of the best things my mother ever did for me was give me someone other than herself to talk to.”
The author’s daughter said the above when describing her relationship with her godmother. I’m book-marking this for the teen years when mom might be public enemy number one!

9.) Theme: Ritualize Important Events
Children can find comfort in repetition and traditions; it also gives them something to look forward to.

10.) “What are your passions or concerns that can stretch your family beyond the walls of your home?”
I like this! As parents, we each have unique passions and concerns. As children are learning their own, why not share yours.

Thanks for reading!

Love, Natasha