Monday, November 24, 2014

The Things Ben Says

My husband says some funny stuff. Really, he does. And I'm going to post this story and I don't want to hear one..."Oh, Meagan," or "You look great," or "I can't believe he said that!" Because A. It's funny, B. It was the truth, and C. My self-confidence really is fine ;)

On Saturday night, I was getting ready for our church's small group adult Thanksgiving dinner. (That's a shortened version of saying, we have free babysitting and dinner from 6-8 p.m. with some of our besties that consisted of awesome soups, stews, candied apples and salted caramel brownies...and there's no way this preggo was missing it.)

My full-panel (go over your belly) maternity "skinny" jeans were dirty, so I had to improvise. I pulled out my second trimester appropriate under-the-belly skinny jeans, with a green long-sleeved thermal shirt, tall brown riding boots, and to add a little sass...a furry black vest. I will also note that my hair was down and curly..but not cute curly. Like, wet-cat curly because, THANK YOU JESUS, it had been raining all day. And I should also note...I think my green shirt has shrunk because it exposed the under portion of my growing abdomen when I breathed. (This, I did not realize at the time.)

I asked Ben, "Does this make me look...weird?"

Long pause.

Ben says, "Umm, it makes you look like a linebacker?"

I do not take offense...because he was totally right.

Being the 30-week-still-has-arm-muscles-crossfitter-preggo, I'm going to assume he meant that I looked like this:

Clay Matthews

Instead of this:

Sorry, Ryan Pickett, that your name came up when I googled "fat linebackers"

We will assume he meant it as a compliment and go on our merry little way. I mean, how else could you take it?!

That Ben. Gotta love the man. He speaks with such...honesty, love, and empathy. Never a dull moment.

Friday, November 7, 2014


Hello, blog. Nice to see you again...

Today, I posted a couple of pictures on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #forrealfriday. Some friends and I have been talking about Friday being dedicated to real life pictures. No fairy tales. No filters. Show me your sink full of dishes. Or your kids screaming. Or your cellulite. (Kind of kidding on the last one. But your cellulite may encourage me to post a pic of my new and very first varicose vein. Thanks, Baby Hoov #3.) Sometimes, most of the time, that's more encouragement than the cute pictures, clean home, and home cooked meal. After I posted those pictures, my sweet Facebook friends were so quick to come to my pregnant self's aid, immediately offering encouragement, a kind word, a "hang in there, momma." Funny thing is, it hasn't been a bad day. The pic of Blair screaming, Grant demolishing his newly-cleaned closet, Blair covered in chocolate bar in the car...that is what a regular day around here looks like. I just don't post pictures of it much. Because the clean, smiley, sparkling photos seem more appealing. But are they really? 

I made a promise to myself several years ago that transparency would be "my thing." I've lived on the other side of it. Unbearable pressure of seeming "perfect," always pleasing, quick to smile, use some fluff phrase of encouragement that really has no meaning behind it. Now, that sounds like a prison to me. So fake, so debilitating, so vomit-inducing. 

"And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson

What would the world look like if we walked up to each other and introduced ourselves like this:

"Hi, I'm Meagan. I'm a recovering perfectionist. I know what heartache feels like. I never got to break up with a boyfriend because they always dumped me first. I struggle with anxiety and depression though it may or may not be clinically diagnosed. I carry deep, deep wounds in my heart. <Filter: some things, you just shouldn't post about on the www> I have the best counselor in the world. Even as a 31-year-old, I struggle with my body image, especially when I'm pregnant and people ask if I'm having twins every day. There are days as a mom that I yell at my kids not because they did anything wrong, but because I'm in a terrible mood. Our marriage needs work. We both know it and yet, sometimes we don't want to put in the work to fix it. I've had diabetes for 22 years and sometimes I'm afraid that it may substantially shorten my time on earth. Money doesn't grow on trees and sometimes I fail miserably at managing ours. There are times I feel inadequate as a nurse and like a failure at work. Sometimes, I'm lonely and feel socially awkward. So, what's your name...?"

In all honesty, the world would probably be pretty dark and depressing if those were are standard introductions. We don't have to show each other all of our cards. You don't want to see all the dirty pictures of my life, nor do you want to see all of the squeaky clean ones either. THERE IS A BALANCE, FOLKS.

Maybe that means you open up about your struggling marriage to a friend. Or you find a counselor to talk to. (Oh, how I could go off an a tangent, and I will one day, about how there is not a SOUL IN THE WORLD who can't benefit from counseling.) Or you quit comparing what your life looks like in pictures to that of an Insta-friend's life. Or you don't lie when someone who loves you asks one of the most overlooked and under-answered questions around..."How are you?" <Disclaimer: You don't have to be a kill-joy. Don't have word vomit and spill your guts to everyone. Be discerning with when, whom, how, and what you share. Sometimes, it's just not appropriate.>

Because here's the deal: Jesus promised me that His Grace is sufficient, it's enough for me. HIS STRENGTH is made PERFECT in MY WEAKNESS. So when I show those less-than-perfect pictures and talk about my shortcomings as a wife, I am #1 being human, #2 inviting others to join in being free to be themselves, and #3 inviting Jesus to be showcased as stronger than my weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Every stinkin' time I hear Ellie Holcomb's song, "The Broken Beautiful," I cry this really ugly cry. Which makes it even more awkward because it's quite an upbeat little tune. But the words...oh, the words...He takes me, a broken thing, and makes me beautiful.

I know that I don't bring a lot to the table
Just little pieces of a broken heart
There's days I wonder if You'll still be faithful
Hold me together when I fall apart?
Would you remind me now of who You are?

That your love will never change,
that there's healing in your name
That you can take broken things,
and make them beautiful.
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So your love can taken broken things
and make them BEAUTIFUL.

I'm better off when I remember
How You have met me in my deepest pain
So give me glimpses now of how You have covered
All of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace
Remind me now that You can make a way

You say that You'll turn my weeping into dancing
Remove my sadness and cover me with joy
You say your scars are the evidence of healing
That you can make the broken beautiful
You make us beautiful.

Thank God that He takes broken things and makes them beautiful.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Buds of Hope (and a YOLO update)

***YOLO and the Games Update***
To much soreness and strife, I completed the 3rd and 4th workouts of 5. The 3rd (14.3) had my name written on it. A combo of deadlifts with increasing weight and number and box jumps. I called this "the strong girl" race. I will not win a 5K...ever...but I can pick something off of the ground. Finished with 107 reps. However, I had a hard time walking vertically for several days post-workout. The 4th (14.4) was tough. Rowing, toes to bar, wall balls, cleans, then muscles-ups (which I only dreamt about attempting). Toes to bar were terrible on my left wrist and forearm for some reason. Didn't do as well as I would have liked, but finished with a score of 125. But to keep it into perspective, when I started CF at 6.5 weeks post partum, core strength was non-existent. I could barely lift my knees to my elbows. Now I can kip 5 toes to bar in a row (on a good day). Progress, right? If I never would have tried, I wouldn't have been able to see the improvement. 

(I totally should be doing insurance paperwork filing claims from 2013 and finishing laundry while my kids are at pre-school and I wasn't scheduled to work. But this is way more fun and fulfilling.)

As I was pulling into my driveway this morning, I noticed that some of our trees are starting to bloom. I wasn't sure if that would be the case this year since Wichita Falls is in a terrible drought. Trees are dying. Plants are dying. We can't do any outdoor watering. I think our lakes are at 29% capacity (but don't quote me on that number even though my husband is on city council). I don't know if our grass is going to sprout this year. So I was kind of surprised to see little pink buds on our two Oklahoma Red Bud trees. 

Springtime is my favorite.

A "typical" spring usually includes April showers that bring May flowers. Thunderstorms with drenching rainfall. Puddles and mud. Rain that washes the air clean and clear.

And then there are "atypical" springs. Like the ones we've had for the last 3 years. (Maybe this is our new "typical?") Gusty, dust-filled windstorms. Promising skies that don't deliver. Just enough sprinkles to get your car muddy. Dry, crunchy yards. 

Yet, apparently we've been given just enough rainfall this year to bring forth some new life. I see those pink buds as little whispers of hope. Of new creation. Of what's to come.

And so it is with life I think. Some seasons are plentiful. There's an abundance of water...both literally and figuratively. It's easy to pay the bills. You and your mate are on the same team. Friendships are fulfilling. New growth and opportunities are around every corner. It's pretty easy to find hope, joy, and peace because there isn't much to capture your attention but goodness. And some seasons are dry. Money's hard. Marriage is even harder. Day to day becomes mundane and there are roadblocks at every turn. All you feel is dryness and heat bearing down on you.

But in the midst of the drought, when we look close enough, I know Jesus gives us little buds of promise. Whispers of hope that give us just enough to move forward with confident expectation of what is to come. Maybe it is a new friendship. Or an unexpected laugh with your spouse. Or somehow, your bank account has some leftover for the month. And in the dry seasons, we don't expect to find new we have to look for it...because I can assure you that those buds, though not abundant, are still there. The "God of hope" (Romans 15:13) gives us these things to get us to the next day. And ultimately, to point us to the beautiful hope we can have in His death and resurrection, and the promise of an undefiled eternity with Jesus. 

Seasons are cyclical. This drought won't last forever. But I sure am thankful for a few pink buds to remind me of the promise of better days ahead.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I HATE my Phone (and a YOLO update)

***YOLO and the Games Update***
So, I did it. The first workout (14.1) was two Saturdays ago. Double-unders are not my BFF but I killed the snatches at 55 lbs. 124 reps in 10 minutes. Those darn double-unders. In front of a LARGE gym full of people. And I was so glad I did it. The second workout (14.2) was two days ago. You had 3 minutes to complete 2 rounds of 10 overhead squats at 65 lbs, then 10 chest to bars. I completed 10 overhead squats in 20-30 seconds, then had 2-2.5 minutes to complete 10 chest to bars (more than just a pull-up. Your chest has to hit the bar under your collar bone.) I got 7. A total of 17 reps. Again, so glad I did it. I year ago, I dreamed about doing chest to bars while watching other competitors do it. And look at was my turn. The best competitors in the world blow my numbers to pieces (by like 300 reps), but that's fine. I'm still proud of myself for laying it on the line and thankful for the opportunity to do something challenging and fun. We'll see what 14.3 has in store for this Saturday.

And on a completely different topic...

I have a weird relationship with my phone. When I look at it's teal green case with a white plastic back, I have mixed emotions. It's cute. It's convenient. It's entertaining. Yet, I HATE IT. The fact that it's a silver iPhone 5S with AT&T service has nothing to do with the fact that I hate it. It works just fine. It's the concept of it that is beginning to drive me slowly insane. (Wait, maybe a husband of 8 years and 2 children under 4 are helping drive the insanity concurrently.)

I cannot escape it's dings. 11 new texts. Ring. Phone call. Buzz (bc now it's on silent.) Reply from group text. Buzz. A reminder to ...take 15 minutes. Because somehow I have Ben's office calendar on my phone, too. Even though I've tried to remove it 50 kajillion times.

And then I pick it up. Because I'm oddly addicted to it. I'm drawn to a blue icon with an F on it. So I scroll through a newsfeed full of people I haven't seen in 15 years, many of which I wasn't very close to 15 years ago. Then I respond to a group message. Then I click on a link to a story that I don't really care about, that takes me to another story that I don't really care about, and then yet again, another story that I don't care about. But I digress. Yet, since I've ventured on to social media, I then scan Instagram, like a few pictures while wishing my kids were hugging sweetly while peering out the back window when in reality, one is screaming at the other because she is following him too closely and may take one of his toys. And you can't see through the back window because there are hand prints, spider webs, and dog slobber covering the window. Then I close Instagram and head over to Pinterest. I see 12 new ways to cook kale, the 14,598 ways to use essential oils, and am bombarded with Elf on the Shelf pictures even though it's freaking March. And then I check e-mail and delete 14 ads. So I close Pinterest feeling like I'm not crafty or creative, close Instagram feeling like our lives are mundane, close Facebook feeling annoyed that I even looked at it in the first place, and close my e-mail vowing to unsubscribe to the ad sites.

And I don't get on Twitter because when it first became big, I thought that'd be a waste of my time. (Haha. Like the above is not.)

Again, my phone drives me nuts.

Don't get me wrong. Technology is awesome. I love change. I'm probably a moderate on some issues in the red state of Texas. I'm thankful for medical advancement. Without them, I'd have been dead at age 8. But I want to throw back the clock to 1950 when it comes to cellular gadgets and social media.

Why? Because I'm letting a stupid phone interfere with being present with my children. Sometimes my kids drive me nuts, but that's what a 3 year old and 1 year old are supposed to do to their mother. Because more often than not, a phone rings in the middle of dinner and even if we don't answer it, our conversations are interrupted. Because instead of spending 20 minutes talking to my husband before we go to bed, we are staring mindlessly at an iPhone and iPad with 0% interaction between us. Because without thinking and out of habit, I pick up my phone when I am having lunch with someone and they leave the table to go to the bathroom. Since when could I not sit by myself for 2 minutes in a restaurant?!

You know what one of the craziest things is? I don't even have an addictive personality.

Have I said it yet? MY PHONE DRIVES ME NUTS.

I love to talk and blog about Jesus. About His peace and spending time with Him. It's amazing...and absolutely I am allowing a phone to even dictate how often I hang with Him. It really shouldn't surprise me that His voice is a lot harder to hear when I'm killing time pinning crafts I will never attempt.

So you know what I'm going to do about it? I'm going to start turning my phone OFF. No, not just on silent. O-F-F OFF. For 3-4 hours A DAY. We have a land line for our alarm system. If Ben really needs to get ahold of us, he can call that number. If someone needs us that badly, they will FIND A WAY to track us down. Back in the day, if someone was desperate to get ahold of you, they drove to your house and left a note on the door. So, if I don't get or respond to a text for 4 hours, life will go on. So please do not be offended if I don't respond quickly. (For starters, I don't know how that unsaid rule of "everyone should respond to texts quickly" ever became a rule in the first place.) My response will come in an appropriate time frame, when my priorities of Jesus, husband, children, and refueling have been met to the best of my abilities for the day.

I KNOW I am not the only person who feels like this. I KNOW I'm not the only mother who reaches for a cell phone when she walks from room to room. I KNOW we are not the only couple who sits 1 foot apart in bed but are 100 miles apart, lost in an iPhone.

Today, I feel like I'm launching an official, unofficial campaign to turn off your phone a few hours a day, disconnect with social media and texting, and live life with a little more freedom while you're disconnected. So I can be fully engaged with my children, with my husband, and with my Jesus. Who wants to join me?

P.S. My beloved phone "dinged" 16 times while I typed this blog post over the course of 1.5 hours.

(Please note: if you and I communicate through cell phone via text, voice, Facebook, you are not personally responsible for my rant. I love communicating with you. I just can't stand our society's expectation of being constantly online and "connected.")

Friday, February 28, 2014

YOLO and the Games

I'm kind of nervous today. Tomorrow, I'm doing something that's a little scary for me. I am competing in my first CrossFit Open competition. Once a week for five weeks, you complete a certain workout in front of a certified CrossFit trainer/judge...and numerous onlookers...receive a score that is published for everyone to see, in hopes of filling one of something like 48 spots in your region. And after some research, it looks like there are 17 regions...IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.

So obviously, I have 0.0000000001% chance of qualifying. Maybe if 79/80ths of the world competitors get the stomach bug overnight. And it's me and the inspiring 80 year old grandma who entered. (But some of those 80 year olds are pretty impressive.) But qualifying is not the goal here. Quite frankly, I'm not even sure I'll be able to do all of the specified exercises in each workout. But I'm okay with that.

I know that "CrossFit" has become kind of a trend. It's a buzz word. And it's for good reason. Since starting the week before Christmas 2012, I have become stronger, faster, thinner, and healthier than I have been in a long, long time. Or maybe even ever. I'm having fun. I've met FANTASTIC new friends. I've been encouraged. I've encouraged. It's a beating, but it's a really fun, rewarding beating. And I can remind you of my original thoughts about starting this journey here. It wasn't pretty.

I'm participating in the Games for much more than a workout. I'm doing it...

- Because I want to push myself. I want to try harder at a physical task than I ever have.
- Because I want to overcome a fear of being a disappointment. The only person who thinks I am some form of a disappointment is ME.
- Because I want feedback from a coach. There's not a better way to get better at something than to have someone watch your performance with undivided attention than by entering a competition.
- Because I want to be an example. To my kids who will be watching. To my friends who are watching. To the "average" person who thinks they could never do something like that. Because if I can do it, they can do it.
- Because I want to be surprised at what I can accomplish. That's one of the best feelings in the world.
- Because I want to be a part of a big movement. People joke that CrossFit is a cult. It isn't...but I can see where they get that notion. You have your own lingo. You get each others struggles and triumphs. Why wouldn't you want to be a part of a big group like that?
- Because I want to remind my type 1 diabetes that it does not define who I am or what I can do.
- Because I can. YOLO...again, a buzz word. You Only Live Once. I've chosen to live life and not let opportunities pass by. I've watched too many people sit on the sidelines and never dig deep into life and what it has to offer. So, I may suck. Or I may do great. Either way, I am gaining a new life experience and the lessons that come with it. I don't want to look back at this point next year, lets say if I'm pregnant with our third, and wish I would have signed up and pushed myself.
- And drumroll for the biggest reason...because Jesus has taught me so many lessons in the last year through workouts. No, I'm seriously not kidding. He is not conventional. I've learned lessons about trusting Him, loving others, perseverance, and grace vs. perfection while laying on my back on a gym floor gasping for any form of oxygen I can get. I CANNOT WAIT to see what He teaches me over the next 5 weeks.

I'm not writing this because I want a pat on the back or for cool points. (Really, hold the cool points until I can complete a workout.) I think I'm writing this because I want to encourage you to do something that's kind of scary. Venture into uncharted territories that you know you're being called into. Push yourself. Don't put Jesus in a box and believe He only speaks to you in Bible study and church. He wants to speak to you in ways unbelievably specific to you. He knows that one of the best times to knock on my heart is when I'm feeling either defeated after a terrible workout or triumphant after a victory.

Live out loud. Know defeat and taste victory. It's part of the richness of our lives.

Seriously, I may have to wear a pad to do my double-unders tomorrow (all of you who have experienced childbearing totally know what I'm talking about) but dang it, I'm going to put myself out there and give it a shot. YOLO.