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Friday, January 21, 2011

How "Chi's" Doing...and Experiencing God

Well, you may be wondering how the Chi running is going. Or maybe you couldn't care less, but you were nice enough to click on my blog to see what was up with me. 

I finished reading the book, and I have to say, it has revolutionized my running, and subsequently my spiritual life. The combination of the techniques suggested in the book and my Vibram shoes have brought my running to a whole new level. Now, I know I talked before about my transformation into a "hippie." The Chi Running book was very focus-on-your-"center"-oriented. As I read through it, I consciously replaced all the "focus on self" references to "focus on God." In this past week of running, I think I have experienced God more than in the last 6 months combined. Maybe it's the beautiful weather. Maybe it's the quiet time I have when I run up and down our driveway seeing this view:

...while the girls nap and the boys entertain themselves on the property. Maybe it's merely the fact that I am consciously focusing on the amazing beauty around me as I run. When I run now, at least when I'm by myself, I just listen. I listen to the birds, the tall grass blowing in the wind, crickets, my feet hitting the gravel. No music, no arguing kids, no demands being placed on me. And I'm almost certain that I can actually hear God's presence around me. Is that possible? I don't think Mr. Chi Running necessarily intended for my relationship with God to be catapulted to a whole new level, but that has been the unintended side affect. 

I am amazed I've gone my whole life without truly experiencing God this way. I mean, I've been close with Him for some time now. He's been the "center" of my life for over a dozen years, but this? This is something new, and fresh, and thoroughly divine. I wish I had the gumption to shout it out on the rooftops, but I think this is the closest I'm going to get to that right now. 

I highly recommend it. Getting outside and experiencing God, that is. If you're not in the country, take a little drive. Find some deserted place, park your car, and just listen. Or, even better, take a run {or walk}to that special spot. He may not shout something out to you directly, but the sounds of His creation will surely stun you. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Weaknesses...According to My Kids

I try to be a good mom. I try to have fun with the kids, not take life too seriously, ya know...all that stuff. I often feel, though, that I'm just constantly disciplining. "You GUYS! STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHER!" "Hey! Why is the bathroom floor wet?!" (That's pretty much a rhetorical question.) "Who broke (insert word)?!" As I was trying to fall asleep last night, I wondered what my kids think of me. I mean, I've never really asked them. 

So, all day today I was waiting for the right opportunity to talk to the boys. I had this whole conversation planned. Finally, it's almost bed time for the boys, and I'm ready to talk to them individually. I call J-Man into our room first. I say, "J-Man, I've been thinking about what I can do better as a mom, and I was wondering if you have any suggestions on what I could do to do a better job?" He thinks for a minute...and another minute. I say, "It's ok, my feelings won't be hurt." He looks at me and says, "Letting us stay up late?" 
Hmmm...not exactly what I was thinking. I asked him if he could think of anything else, and he said, "Yeah, you could do more math with us after Papa is done teaching us math." Ok, still not really what I was looking for, but I didn't want to dig something out that wasn't there. 

M-Dog was next. I posed the same question to him, and he said, "You could clean more." I kind of wanted to say, "Yeah? So could you!" But I didn't. I said, "All right. Is there anything you think I could clean better?" He told me I should mop more. Touche. Mopping isn't my strong suit. I thought having the kids walk around with wet rags on their feet was sufficient, but apparently it's something that a mom needs to do. 

Mr. C came in last. He spouted off a bunch of things, including, "No spankings...EVER!" "No room time!" "No more Chum Bucket!" (You can read about that HERE.) He finally ended by saying, "Um, let me think about it." 

So, I didn't come away with any deep, thoughtful corrections from my kids. I was kind of hoping they would have some things for me to work on, but I suppose I should enjoy it while it lasts. In a few more years, they'll be teenagers, and then I'm sure I'll be begging for some grace. 

To be quite honest, I really thought I would hear something like, "Don't tell us to stop doing things so much." "Be nicer." "Give me food whenever I want instead of 'closing the kitchen' after a certain time." "Don't be so strict." I guess it made me realize that they're not as critical of me as I am of me. I don't think they go to bed at night thinking, "Man, I wish my mom would just lighten up and quit nagging me." As least, not for now. So, I feel a bit encouraged. 

P.S. I have a dear friend who is in the retirement phase of his life. Help him out and hop on over to his blog. Find him interesting? Go ahead and click "follow!" Don't find him interesting? Click "follow" anyway! The poor man is in the 2nd half of his life. In all seriousness, though, his insights on the retirement years are truly inspiring, and provide me with a little peek into what life may have in store for me a few years from now...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chicken Slaughter: Take Two

We had a psycho chicken. Actually, I think she was just sick, and may have been missing a part of her tiny little chicken brain that should have told her to eat. The poor thing would stand in the same spot all day, while all the other chickens were out gallivanting around the property digging up worms and bugs and laying eggs. Even Captain Underpants (the rooster) didn't want to mate with her. And that means something. He is a male, after all. 

The last time we slaughtered a chicken, we chopped the head off since we had no idea what we were doing, and it seemed the easiest, swiftest way to accomplish the task. 

I've done lots of research since then, read a number of books and watched instructional videos online, and it seems that although there are differing opinions, hanging the chicken upside-down in a killing cone and slicing the throat (I know it sounds horrible) is actually just as humane and supposedly makes for less-tough meat. 

So, I finally ordered my killing cone, and it came in the mail yesterday. It was time to put psycho-chicken out of her misery. We didn't really want to eat her since we didn't know if she had a disease, so we decided to use her as an anatomy lesson for the kids. Homeschooling at its best! 

Here is the slaughtering area. It actually worked out great. I don't know that the previous owner of this property intended for it to be used for this, but it was as if it was made just for me! 

Before we slaughtered her, we gathered all the kids around and talked to them about why we were doing what we were doing. We explained that this chicken was one of God's loved creation, and that she was suffering and most likely in pain. We shared that it is our responsibility as her caregivers to ensure that she is not suffering if she doesn't need to be. They had all seen the miserable life she'd been living, and agreed that she was not a happy chicken. We made sure they understood that we respected her, and thanked the Lord for creating such a wonderful creature. I told them we were going to dissect her to see if we could see what was going on in her little body, and to see what the organs of a chicken look like. So, with that, I went ahead and put her in the killing cone. 

Unfortunately, she was a small chicken, and so she kept sliding around in the cone. Her feet stuck out of the bottom instead of her head. Hmmm...don't think that's how it was supposed to be. Superman helped re-position her, and then he took over the video responsibilities so we could have the kids' first chicken slaughtering experience on video. I slit her throat (with my brand new pinning knife--incredibly sharp!), and it only took a swipe or two, and she was bleeding out. I thought she was gone, so I let go, but that was probably a mistake. She started flopping around, and flopped right out of the cone, all the way across the slaughtering area, and right into the trash can! I guess she knew where she was headed in the end. 

After a few minutes, I took her out, cut her head off, and dropped her into a pot of scalding water for about 30 seconds. Her feathers came right off, and all the kids helped pluck her. 

In the end, the kids all seemed intrigued and honestly interested in learning about the different parts of her body. They weren't scared or crying or scarred. It was a great learning experience for all of us, and a really good reminder of just what goes into preparing the meat we just pick up from the store, nicely packaged and covered in plastic. Maybe not the way everyone wants to spend their Saturday morning, though. If there was any doubt in my mind whether I have fully converted to being a Country Girl, that is now vanished. I felt completely in my element and although I didn't enjoy the actual killing of the chicken, I believe it was necessary and justified. 

P.S. My new cowgirl hat is probably what completed my conversion. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chi Running

So I really enjoy running. After a good run, I can come back feeling like I can conquer the world. And I'm only exaggerating a little. I really do feel like I'm invincible after running down the road, feeling the breeze on my face and seeing the beautiful scenery around me. As long as I feel good. Sometimes I finish a run, and my legs are tired, I'm mentally foggy and I just don't have that "euphoric" feeling. Other times, I'm pretty sure I'm Usain Bolt.

I've been on a journey to discover what makes my {running} clock tick. What makes me feel like I could run a marathon some days, and barely run to my front door other days? 

Since going Paleo, my energy level has increased dramatically. I notice my mental clarity, enthusiasm, parenting abilities {a.k.a. patience} and enjoyment of running have improved tenfold. I feel like I've gained back years of my life. But I'm not a runner. I mean, I'm 1/2 Indian, 1/2 white, and I don't think I have a runner's gene in my body. But I think I could be (a runner, that is). Mentally, I think my running has improved. Physically? Not sure yet. 

I've started to focus on my form when running, instead of just going, oblivious to the signals my body is sending me. My Vibram 5 Finger shoes have forced me to feel the way I run. And I've noticed that my form needs some improvement. 

Some running friends of mine recommended the book, "Chi Running," and I decided that since I'm already going down the "all natural" path, I would go ahead and take a looksy. I'm only a few chapters into it, so I have nothing to say pro or con about it yet, but I hope to soon. Tomorrow I'll be running with some friends, and I'll be applying a few techniques I've learned in the book. According to the author, it's all about focusing on your core during running, and allowing your limbs to follow suit. Who knows? Maybe I'll glide effortlessly across the pavement and end my run feeling like I want to keep going and going. I may even end up on your doorstep.

I'll let you know what I think in a few weeks. If you come to my house and see me doing some of this:'ll know I'm liking it. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A disclaimer

So I think my last post made some people think I'm falling off the conservative bandwagon and becoming a downright liberal. =) I feel like it's my duty to clarify: 

*I'm still a follower of Jesus, constantly striving to be closer to Him and living my life in a way that would make Him proud.

*I'm 100% pro-life, a firm believer in the unborn child's right to life. 

*I believe we, as Christians, are called to minister to the orphans and the widows and that we should be taking seriously that call.

*I'm fiscally conservative when it comes to taxes and don't really want the government taking more of our money.

*I still believe that less government is more better (I know, that's not the correct grammar, but I liked it more better that way)

*I think competition is a good thing, and that it inspires companies and people to perform better and provide better products to the public.

Ultimately, God has given us this earth to live on, and I think it is our responsibility to care for it. We don't need to be genetically modifying things so that we can make them how we want them. I think God made them perfectly already. Jeremiah 2:7 says, "I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable." I want to make sure we are taking care of the bountiful creation He gave us, and not defiling it in any way.

So, yes, I have been hippie-ized a bit. But there are certain non-negotiables that are convictions in my heart. These are things I hope to teach our kids by example, things that I hope they will carry in their own hearts when they grow old. You can keep big government, but I'll take connecting with nature and rejoicing in His amazing glory!  

I'm turning into a Hippie.

A few years ago, I considered myself a staunch conservative. Big business? Yay for the American dream! Food allergies? What a crock! Holistic doctors? Pshaw! 

These last few years have truly shown me the meaning of "older and wiser." Of course, I'm by no means old...I hope that I'm merely a 1/3 of the way done with my life. Only the Lord knows, though. It's just that as each year goes by, I seem to gain insights I never expected. 

I have become a hardcore supporter of locally-grown, sustainable, organic foods. The closer the food is grown to my house, the better. Grass fed beef? Yes PLEASE. Superman's trials with food allergies and the incredible incompetence of the "conventional" medical system (in our experience) has pushed us toward alternative medicine. I do believe there is a place for conventional medicine, however, and I am more than happy to utilize our traditional doctors when we feel they are the best solution.

I used to think that people with food allergies were a bit...eccentric. Surely, it must be in their heads. How in the world could someone be so allergic to peanuts that it seemingly ruins their life? Why is it that when I was growing up, I didn't know anyone with food allergies, and now they seem rampant? By the way, I have my own theories about that, but it would take a whole other involves genetic modification of foods and a host of other things (see?? I sound like a crazy person!)

I've eliminated any processed food from our diets. I got new running kicks that simulate running barefoot: 

Before I know it, I'll have hair growing out of my armpits and body odor and will sit on our front porch with a certain type of greenery rolled up in a Zig Zag smoking away. OK, I wouldn't actually smoke a joint. Those who know me know I had enough {unwanted} experience growing up with that stuff. 

In all seriousness, I feel like I've crossed some sort of "grown up" threshold. It's like, little by little, my eyes are opened to the possibility that I actually don't know everything, and my view on things is just that: my view. Why is it that we can't see that when we're younger? Why, as teenagers, do we know, without a doubt, that we truly know best? Obviously, the Lord intended things this way. Each experience we have, every person we encounter, every tragedy that hits our lives...they all expand our world view. 

I'm thankful that my world view has expanded. Even if I am becoming a hippie.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's GOALS

Hey, look! I'm actually updating my blog just a day after my last post! 

I like to say "goals" rather than "resolutions" because it makes me feel more like I'm working toward something. For me, a "resolution" carries the stereotype of aiming for something I most likely won't reach. But a goal? That's something I can accomplish. I know, it's all in my head, but whatever. 

So I worked on my three main goals for the year last night, and the kids all (except Miss G) came up with some goals of their own. Here are mine: 

Spiritual: Memorize a verse a week with the kids (at least during the school year).
Physical: Complete another 1/2 marathon, but if my body doesn't hold up during training, complete a 10k in 55 minutes or less.
Social: Accomplish my "2 letters per month" goal from last year and pull off at least two successful adoption events at our church.

Mr. C's goals:
1. Find bugs around our property
2. Copy down a page of the Bible every day

1. See God's creation more
2. Pray every night

1. Help mommy with the dishes more
2. Read my Bible more

1. Be good and not break things so that Nana and Papa give us toys for Christmas next year!*

*I thought this was so funny. Superman's parents decided to not give the kids toys this year because they often get SO much, and being that we have so many small kids, things are constantly being broken. We told the kids they are too rough on their toys and that they don't appreciate the stuff they already have, so they really didn't deserve any new toys. So in lieu of gifts, Papa is going to take each of the boys twice to the snow to their favorite snow-place, "Planet Kids." I thought it was a great idea. Apparently N missed getting toys! Hmmm...wonder what this year will bring?? 

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