I Want Abs

I want abs.

I.  Want.  Abs.

The core.  The abdominals.  The stomach.  I want it.

Have I been persuaded by the Instagram personalities on the interwebs, slyly smiling a coy grin while holding up their shirts for the world to see their perfectly tanned midsections, to invest in a waist trainer, to purchase colon cleanses, to shrink my waist to nothing?

Have I forgotten the years of battle, the checking in and out of eating disorder units because my quest to eliminate the little-to-non-existent roundness of my stomach forced me to restrict my daily meals to one Subway sandwich a day?

Let me reassure you that I could care less if my midsection doubles as a cheese grater.   I take off my shirt at the beach, not caring that when I sit I get the inevitable rolls of stomach because, well, I’m human and eat and that’s what happens to skin.  What I mean when I say “I want abs!” is that I want to be able to function, to move, to twist and turn and bend forward and back.  I want to be a human being.  I want a body.  I want a life.

In reality, abs are a muscle.  Everyone has them, so it’s pretty ridiculous to say one “wants abs.”  They are there.  We are born with them.  We will die with them.  It is a part of the body, a necessary part of the body, that without would cause one to literally keel over.

So yes, I want a body.  I want to feel the security of bending down to pick up my toddler son, knowing that I can carry him up flights of stairs.

I want a body.  I want to be able to heft four bags of groceries up the stairs without stopping because I can’t keep an upright torso.

I want a body.  I want to be able to walk around my classroom, to turn to talk with students, to engage in games and activities with them without trepidation.

There was a time when I was scared to move.  Literally, scared to do anything besides lie down.  I wasn’t sure that my frail skeleton-like body could support the weight of me doing anything other than be horizontal on the sofa.  Ironically, my quest to “have abs” left me with “no abs.”  I had little muscle.  I had little strength.  I had, well, little of nothing.

It was then, during that time when I was laying on the cushioned pillows, wondering, pondering, praying that I would be able to one day have the energy to live and move and breathe and live, that I decided I wanted abs.  But not of the six-pack variety.  I wanted strength.  I wanted a body.  I wanted a core, a solid feeling of being that could one day house a child, that could one day become a home to another human.

I wanted abs.

And many years later, almost two decades later, I was able to have the child, and then another.  My abs were able to be their protection, their shield.

And yet I still want abs.  Because as time goes on and the wrinkles around my eyes get more distinct, I realize that abs are still necessary, if not even more important.  The body is slowly breaking down.  Sadly, the ability to move, to function how I once did as a kid and young adult becomes more of a challenge.  With every year and decade that passes, it is that much more vital that I have abs.  I want a body that will sustain me to do God’s work.  I want a body that can be a light to others.

I want to have abs when I’m fifty.  When I’m sixty.  When I’m seventy.  And beyond.

So, yes, I want abs.

I.  Want.  Abs.

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Sweetest Success

Emily Dickinson had it right.

Success IS counted sweetest by those who neer succeed.

Yesterday, I was death.  I woke up with an ache in my lower back and was feeling a bit warm.  The norm, considering it is summer in Hawaii, I am 38 years old and old age is slowly creeping up on me.

But my stomach.  I didn’t know whether to vomit or sit on the toilet.

So I did a little of both.  For the next two hours.  And I still had my little two-year-old to take care of.  I called my mother-in-law to see if she could watch him while I got a few hours of sleep.  She was going out to lunch and wouldn’t be at home.  My parents were in Las Vegas.  My husband was working.

I almost started to cry.  Almost. But then I stopped, took a deep breath, and prayed:

LORD, PLEASE HEAL ME.  NOW.  PLEASE.  LET ME BE FILLED WITH YOUR HOLY SPIRIT AND BE HEALED.

And you know what?  My little toddler boy fell asleep for a nap!  For 3 hours!!  And you know what else?  My husband finished work and took the kids to Ala Moana and BJJ class!!!  And I slept 12 more hours!!!!

Needless to say, I woke up this morning sans body aches, stomach in tact, and feeling, well, pretty good.

Now what does my 24 hour bout with the flu/cold/illness have to do with Dickinson?  It is this fact:  one really is unable to grasp the grandness of what she has until it’s gone.  And then in those moments of desperation and emptiness, she can say that in fact, yes, things were pretty grand.

Health is one of those things we take for granted until it starts going downhill.  Flus and colds that diminish us to beings wrapped in blankets, laying on the bed, unable to eat anything make us appreciate the time we could go about our daily business without a second thought.

School is another.  I sometimes wish I could go back to college, where the only job one really has is to learn.  Imagine that!!!  A person is purposefully devoting all of his time to reading, discussing, engaging, learning!  When I started my freshman year of college, I was livng in the inner cities of Los Angeles as a USC Trojan.  I loved the campus.  I loved my student fellowship group.  I loved the hustle and bustle of the city.  But health issues hit, I moved back to Hawaii, and ended up graduating from UH-Manoa.  Now don’t get me wrong, UH is a wonderful institution as well, but knowing all the cultural experiences, relationships, and growth as a student at that California campus I could have had there makes me a bit wistful of the time I did spend in LA.

And the kids.  Ah, the kiddos.  I really do love my two kids, no favorites here.  But when I look at my youngest, I remember how a year or so prior to his delivery, I was bawling on the sofa, having just miscarried what I believed would have been our second child.  You can’t believe the emptiness and desperation deep within my core after having the joy of “Yay, I’m having a baby!” be replaced with “God, why take this child from me?”  It took awhile to come to terms with the fact that we would be a family of three, and then low and behold, a blessing occurred.  An ultrasound showing a little bean with a beating heart.  A little boy.  A family of four.

Success is counted sweetest.

Success IS counted sweetest.

So what to do now that I am fully recovered from my flu/cold/illness?  What do I do now that I graduated with an English degree from UH? What do I do now that we have a wonderful husband, daughter, and son?  Do I remain trapped in the doldrums, looking at what was lost and not focusing on what is?

Sadly, I do tend to do that at times.  Just for a minute.  I think it’s natural.  We wouldn’t be human if there weren’t times of discomfort, sadness, and pain.  God created us with feelings and emotions, and to try to hide them or say they don’t exist is basically saying He didn’t know what He was doing when He formed us.  The danger lies if we remain in that depressive state, only thinking of what once was.  Because you know what?  Something great, something grand, something absolutely wonderful could be just around the corner.

24 hours later, I am feeling like the Lauren of old.  Heck, I’m even able to type out this blog post.  So what am I going to do?  Go out and play with the kiddos.  Enjoy a dinner with the family.  And praise God for the sweet success He has given to me.

 

The Novel Three

My favorite book in high school was The Great Gatsby.  True story.  I think my love for Fitzgerald was born because my English teacher was emphatically in love with the flowing writing style of the American author.  Plus, there was something mysteriously heartbreaking about a grown man trying to relive the past, only to find his dreams dashed and broken in the end.

I loved Gatsby.  I loved Daisy.  I loved the classics.  Sadly, I doubt many of my students share the same love for literature I had.  So in my quest to read what I think teenagers are into, I finished three books within these past two weeks:  The Outsiders, Speak, and 13 Reasons Why.  Why those three?  Well, the Hinton classic is a required summer reading book for the incoming freshman, and I needed a refresher on Pony Boy and his coming of age.  Speak was one I always saw on the library shelf but never had the time to actually borrow, sit, and read.  And 13 Reasons?  There is so much controversy surrounding that novel, I had to know what it was all about before coming to any definitive conclusion about the tale.

Lets just say, after reading all three books, my heart is heavy.  Incredibly heavy.

Bullying.  Rape.  Violent fights.  In all three books, the protagonists all share one similarity:  they were forced to undergo extremely physically and emotionally stressful situations, and as a result, found themselves speechless and without a voice.  Actually, “stressful” is not even the best adjective to describe what Pony Boy, Hannah, and Melinda had to endure.  I can’t even begin to think of an appropriate word that could encompass all the drama these individuals endured.

And to think, high school students are going through these exact situations.

Feeling unable to voice his or her true feelings.

Feeling stuck in a situation with no way out.

Feeling torn between friendships.

Feeling like no one can be trusted.

It’s a lot for a sixteen, seventeen, or even thirty-eight-year-old person like me to endure.

As I pray and prepare for the upcoming school year (yes, it’s never too early to think about it!!), I am reminded that I am in a high school classroom for a reason.  Maybe I can be that one adult, that one person, a sophomore feels comfortable talking to about her fears about deteriorating friendships.  Maybe I can be that one teacher a freshman confides in about his depressing thoughts or feelings of inadequacy.

Maybe I can be that ray of hope or light in one person’s life.

Every morning I open up my devotional and ask God what it is He wants me to pray about.  Good weather?  Good health?  More often than not, it’s the students.  It is a prayer for the upcoming adolescent kids who have their whole lives before them.  It is a prayer that they will be filled with expectant wonder in all they learn.  It is a prayer that these teens will be protected by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that during times of trial and strife, they can seek Him for peace and guidance.

It is a prayer that my daily actions, my words, my demeanor, will highlight the joy of Christ and be a blessing to them.

I am done reading those three novels, and am wondering what my next reading choices will be.  What are some books you think are great representations of what teenagers are going through right now?  Comment below!

Where My Friends At???

We were the band of four.  Kari, Kathy, Anna, and me.  One was a long-limbed swimmer with a cute button nose.  One was a book worm intellectual who always greeted others with a huge smile.  One loved to laugh and play video games until the wee hours of the morning.

We were a band, a quartet, a bond of girls who were just beginning to learn what it meant to be young women during the eighties, a time of fluorescent hypercolor shirts, scrunchies, and Balloons shoes.  During those formative elementary school years, the four of us were inseparable–recess time found our gang huddled by the big tree near the cafeteria, pulling bark pieces from the massive trunk or hanging upside down by our knees on the monkey bars, hair falling like cascading waterfalls toward the playground’s red dirt.

We were a band.  But then seventh grade happened, and I journeyed off to Aiea Intermediate while the other gals traversed to Highlands Intermediate.  Initially we attempted meeting up on the weekend for Pearlridge outings or made plans to catch a movie once a month, but eventually, the phone calls between the other gals and me became fewer, the meet-ups less frequent.  By the time we graduated high school we rarely spoke–this being before the internet was popular and social media enabled constant interaction between individuals clear across the globe–yet it was ok.  There was an unspoken acknowledgment that we had grown apart, that the mere fact that we were not attending the same high school or constantly seeing one another in classes or on breaks was the root of why we were no longer a band.

It was ok.  It IS ok, because that is life.  There are seasons when we are close to certain individuals, invite them into our homes, break bread with them, and talk with them for hours, and then when that season passes, it is ok.

Right now, I’m going through a transitional time.  The seasons are changing.  My relationships are altered.  I desperately long for the friendships I had in the past yet also know God has some great relationships with others waiting for me in the future.  Last night at our small group Bible study, we talked about one such friendship I had that abruptly ended almost a year ago.  A year ago.  365 days.  I still don’t feel quite resolved in the issue despite all that time elapsing, and even though our disagreement occurred almost twelve months ago, my heart does ache for the days when that friend and I would plan ice cream dates or walk around Ala Moana window shopping.

Why???  Why do I still feel this sadness even though the other gal has evidentially moved on from the fractured relationship?

It’s not that I don’t have pals.  I have many other friends:  I have a best friend in the form of my husband, I have great love from my children, I  hang out with co-workers, and I strike up a conversation with fellow gym goers.  Why would this lost friendship mean so much to me?  Last night, while talking with my fellow Bible study members, God showed me one part of the answer:  I fear what she and others think about me.  Because the ending of the friendship was less than ideal, I worry that she may have a negative thought on who I truly am.  Whereas in other relationships that ended because simple geography led us to not be around one another (example:  my band of elementary school friends), I am still confident in the fact that they don’t see me as “bad” or “mean” or any other negative adjectives.  But when a relationship ends with a fight?  Eek.  My mind starts to go crazy imagining what she may see me as.  A crazed lunatic?!  A neurotic liar?!  An irresponsible adult?!

I know that ultimately Jesus is the one relationship that I should prioritize, and that I really shouldn’t be worried about what other people think about me (These words of wisdom are from my husband, by the way.  I don’t know how he does it, but he DOES NOT have that people-pleasing attitude in him).  But I do worry.  And what it boils down to is that I still have insecurities about myself.  If I were truly confident in who I am in Christ, SHOULD those imagined words, those hypothetical ideas of what others think about me impact me so greatly?

No.

With Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms incredibly popular, I was able to reconnect with my old band of elementary school gals.  I “like” their posts of wonderfully pictured food, their pictures of the beach, and snapshots of their kids.  We may not have the same closeness as we once did thirty years ago, but it’s ok.  It IS ok.  Jesus has been showing me that the time we spent playing soccer in my family’s living room and prank calling the neighbors during late night sleep-overs (I know!!  Horrible!!!) are a part of my past, and that past is not meant to be recreated but instead should be honored for what it is, a part of ME.

I am on a journey, and in actuality, it’s not a journey to mend the old friendships so they can be how they once were.  Sometimes, relationships were meant to help form a person, to inspire her, to lead that individual towards another road in life.  On the flip side, sometimes, relationships are so fractured they can’t be put back the way they once were, and that is ok too.  It is incredibly challenging to accept that fact, that what was in the past cannot be changed, but it is something that God wants me to realize.  Why attempt to recreate what once was when there is so much more grandeur waiting ahead?  I am on a journey, a journey of moving forward with the confidence that God has great relationships with others in store for me.  The first step of this journey?  To find fulfillment and joy in the band of people He has placed and will place around me.  And you know what?  So far, it is ok.  It IS ok.

 

Social Media…Farewell???

I am old.

Well, not really that old, but old enough to remember the days when I didn’t have a cell phone attached to my hand. If I wanted to talk to friends at night I had to sit with my coiled-wire Snoopy phone to my ear. I memorized the numbers of my closest pals because I dialed those digits so often, and even now I can still recall pressing the familiar “455” in order to speak with my best Pearl City pals.

Now I have an iPhone, albeit a beaten up iPhone 5, but it’s still a smart phone that enables me to contact friends from around the globe through my Facebook app. This same phone has it set so that I don’t need to memorize numbers to talk with people–all I need to do is press their name on my contact list. With this great technology, and it is pretty remarkable because I can now Google map how to get to a certain location without the stress of unfurling and refolding a paper map, is the sad fact that I can use my phone for good (checking movie times online instantaneously) but also easily get caught up with social media and all the distractions it brings.

For the past week, well, almost a week, I have refrained from posting videos of me squatting, benching, or deadlifting because I noticed that those activities were starting to define who I am. Namely, I didn’t (and still don’t) want my identity to be “that small girl that lifts a lot of weights.” Instead of immediately putting up a shot of my legs flexing when I pulled sumo or my triceps bulging as I attempted a bench PR, I have instead been putting up images on IG that show what I believe to be important–my family and God.

The first day I decided to refrain from showing the social media world my training for that day, I felt a bit off. Normally after I was done with lifting, I’d collapse in a sweaty heap on the floor, pick a video that I had of me lifting, add a quirky or cute caption, and then press share. But now, without having that normalized action in the cards, what would I do? I started to stretch more, which was nice, but then I just ended up going home early. And WOW. What a difference that made. I didn’t realize that I spent so long lounging in a sweaty heap, oggling over IG and FB. It was then that God spoke to me: Limit your phone usage. Don’t go online so much. Use your time to devote to me and your family.

At first I thought refraining from opening up my IG app would be a piece of cake, but then my lazy quiet time before bed hit, the time I normally would turn to social media to unwind. And I had to put my phone aside. Let me tell you, it was a challenge. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but there are many times at night, when I’m so mentally and physically drained that I would veg out scrolling through Stefi Cohen’s videos rather than play cars with Shogun. Or I could not move myself from the supine position on the living room carpet to play Shopkins with Misha, and instead chose to read up on Powerlifting Women on Facebook. It’s a sad tale, when the people I care most about, my children and husband, took a backseat to checking my online accounts.

So what did I do when faced that challenge? I hid my phone. Yes, you read that right. I put it out of view, still plugged in and charging to the wall outlet so my morning alarm would ring, but nowhere in immediate hand range. Keeping that device out of sight made it so that I was fully engaged with my children, whether it be rolling on the ground and tickling my daughter or putting together number and letter puzzles with the little boy. And what happened if the phone was in reach and I checked the screen to see my notifications? I immediately opened up my Bible app, and turned to a verse that I was meditating on that day.

It’s amazing that the longer I have been away from social media, the more I don’t really miss it. I am beginning to realize that I am not a person cut for moderation, whether it be with my phone, exercise, food, or, well, life. When I was in the throes of anorexia, I would either eat only a Subway sandwich a day and that was it, or if I ate more than that (oh, the horror!) I would end up drinking only diet soda and munching on carrots the following day to balance out the calories. One mile running was never enough–it was either 10 miles or nothing. In that same way, I can’t merely state that I’ll check my Facebook “just for a little bit.” I have to either set a time restriction for myself or not go on at all.

Similarly, my mind becomes very caught up in the images I see on social media. I admire women like Morghan King and Stefi Cohen, gals that are my height (yes, five feet and one inch tall!) and can lift way more than twice their body weight. But in reality, that will never be me. I’m learning to accept that fact, that God didn’t make me to deadlift over 400 pounds. And that’s ok. In my quest to rediscover who I am in Christ, Jesus has shown me that those females I loved watching on IG and FB are NOT me. Yes, I can have lifting goals. Yes, I can hit the platform because it’s fun to load up a barbell and see what I can do. But I’m not going to break world records because that is not the plan God would have for me. He designed me for something more, and although I’m not quite sure even what that looks like, I do know that my hope and identity is not in how much weight I can squat, bench, or deadlift. This revelation doesn’t mean I will stop going to the gym, but I am now training for a different purpose. I used to want to be Morghan or Stefi. I wanted to earn titles and accolades, to be first place in everything that I did. But those medals, they are not the reason I was placed on this earth.

One example of this is my recent decision to make a concerted effort to get up in weight. My RP coach wants me at least 107-109 pounds. My husband thinks 115 pounds is more reasonable. When those two first approached me about being those numbers, to be honest, I initially balked. Why? Because I could compete in the 97 pound weight class and qualify for a national competition. Given the numbers required to qualify, I could easily hit that now. But for what? Aren’t I in this sport to challenge myself? To see myself grow as an athlete and individual? Isn’t part of the draw to powerlifting putting in hard work in order to show that perseverence is a key to success? Shouldn’t I want to test myself and go beyond my comfort level? If so, then staying at 102 pounds would be ridiculous. I need to gain weight in order to actually do some “hard work” on the platform.

And so I am at the place now where I am eating to be heavier–107, 109, 110, 115 pounds–because I know that that additional weight makes me stronger physically as well as mentally and spiritually. I can’t engage in the sport of powerlifting whole-heartedly if I am not at a weight that allows me to push myself and see what physical strength God has blessed me with. Similarly, I am also going to continue to refrain from looking at my Facebook and Instagram for extreme amounts of time, save for a random five minutes or so while lying in bed before falling asleep. And while I do miss seeing hilarious memes and reading even more hilarious threads, I am enjoying the moments I actually get to spend with my family. God is showing me more about Him in the weight gain and social media restriction process, and it leaves me in awe at how He has been able to use scripture to do so (more about that in a later post). But for now, I think I’ve spent enough time on technology. It’s time to put away the device, play with my kids, and live life.

Ramblings and Revelations

I can blame it on genetics, since my mother weighed less than 100 pounds on her wedding day and my father entered the army after high school measuring in at a hefty 115 pounds. I can say that I have a small boned frame as I am half Japanese and half Okinawan. I can also claim that my body is just made to be “small”, as even when pregnant I never weighed more than a whopping 125 pounds. But the fact of the matter is, I am still in need of putting on some pounds.

This is not a crazy revelation to anyone that has been around me, oh, for the past year or two. After giving birth to my son in July 2015, the act of nursing plus working full time plus being a mommy to my daughter plus keeping the house in somewhat clean shape whittled my weight down to a whopping 100 pounds. During this time I was still hitting the platform to clean and jerk and snatch, and while I could heft my bodyweight (and even a little more) overhead, I wanted to add more plates to the barbell. I saw Mattie Rodgers’ biceps bulging while maintaining her wide-armed front rack position, and I ogled Morghan King’s meaty thighs as she exploded out of her high bar squats. Basically, I wanted to be stronger, more thick, just MORE. But in order to do so, I needed to gain weight.

So I tried doing a variety of options—I went back to seeing my old eating disorder dietitian but that didn’t work out. I enrolled in our gym’s Transformation Challenge (muscle gain category, mind you) in order to keep myself accountable to gaining weight, and sure enough, I saw the scale move up five pounds in a span of 12 weeks. I felt victorious, as weighing 105 pounds awarded me first place in the female muscle gain category, yet fast forward a few months, and I was once again back down to 100 pounds. Well, more like 102. Regardless, I was not where I needed to be. I knew I needed some kind of eating regimen to follow, and Paul Salter with Renaissance Periodization gave me a wonderful template. He started me off on maintenance, meaning I first needed to just get used to eating regularly throughout the day a certain amount of fats, carbs, and proteins. Maintenance agreed with me, and I was soon heading off into massing land.

This is where the rubber met the road, and where I am still struggling. I would gain a pound or two or three, and then internally freak out. Why should my heart be filled with fear when what I wanted was to get stronger and the only way to do so was to gain weight? Paul is great in that he basically told me that by not following the template he provided, I was throwing my money down the drain. His statement was true, and so every time I was faced with having to eat another bite of peanut butter or chicken, I thought about my hard earned paycheck, and how NOT scooping myself another mound of rice was akin to a check being chewed up by the garbage disposal.

And yet, I cut corners. I would save up my allotted fat and carb servings for the end of the day because I was fearful that I’d crave them at night and then overeat. But by the time my bedtime snack was ready to be eaten, I felt physically full and couldn’t stomach the thought of adding cereal or nuts to my already dense mound of casein pudding with peanut butter, almonds, and banana (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it). Every Monday and Thursday when I’d report to Paul on my eating consistency and weight, I’d feel this huge letdown—I imagined him opening up my email, already expecting to see that I was missing a fat serving on my food log and stagnating in weight gain. I felt like a failure on multiple levels.

During this time I was still lifting weights, and in fact competed in a powerlifting meet where I weighed in at 45kg. My daily training was taxing as heavy deadlifts and squats will take its toll on the nervous system, especially on a system that is being under nourished. I still looked forward to putting on my knee sleeves for leg workouts or wrapping up my wrists to bench, but I was beginning to feel a sense of monotony. I can’t quite explain it, but I felt stagnant, in my lifts and in my mind and spirit. I’d bench up to 100#, and then feel like that was it. I had no more to give. I’d squat 135#, and anything above that felt like arduous work.

A few weeks ago I was prompted by D’Lissa to meditate on scripture like it was medicine, so I opened up Psalm 23 multiple times throughout the day. Reading about Jesus as the shepherd opened my eyes, yet it was a recent conversation I had with a friend in California when God spoke loudly and clearly. The morning started out like any other, as I had just gone through Psalm 23 during my quiet time. The one line about walking through the valley of the shadow of death, however, leaped out from the page. Mind you, I am nowhere near dying, as my heart is beating well and I can function at work and home. But there are signs that my spirit is ill. How do I know that is so? It’s because I feel gray. My heart bursts with unspeakable joy when I see Shogun smile or hear Misha sing, but I don’t have the capacity to connect the joy in my heart to the joy I know I am missing in my spirit. My emotional mothering side can feel, but my spirit side cannot. The passage reaffirmed this revelation, and so I mentioned this to my California friend immediately after putting down my Bible. I described to her that it is like when I have a cold and my head feels disconnected to my body. That is my situation from when I wake up to the moment my head hits the pillow at night–fuzzy, unclear, and BLAH. My California pal said that I should pray on it more, but that maybe separating the identity I have in God from my athletic achievements will clear the fogginess.

My identity in Christ? What? Don’t I already know what that is?

I like to think that I do, but in fact, I am still grappling with it. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, considering I just talked about identity at one of our school’s Christian Emphasis Week seminars. But I am falling back into relying on a title more than Jesus to define who I am.

Remember when I said I was always small? Being the “small but strong girl” is a title that I didn’t realize I clung to until I sat down this morning after my conversation with my California friend. I like other people recognizing that I am slight of build but can move around weights that are massive in comparison to my size. Since I look for that athletic validation from friends (“Wow!!! You lifted that? How much do you weigh again?”), there is fear in what will happen when I do gain weight. What if my squats still feel heavy and I don’t add on weight to my bench? What if friends and family make comments about my suddenly burgeoning stomach, legs, and arms? I know what I can do as a 102# lifter, and it actually is pretty remarkable to be able to handle the weights I currently do given the stressful schedule I have as a mother, wife, and teacher.

But what can I do at a higher weight? It’s unknown, and that lack of knowledge leaves fear in my spirit. My coach and Paul say that at a higher body weight my lifts will definitely improve, which is somewhat comforting. Heck, even my husband who has no experience in powerlifting says the same thing. Yet I’m still fearful because gaining weight will make me lose my title. What title will I then have?

I know I can title myself as a “child of God” or “a person made in God’s image.” But that is hard to describe and feel. I am very right-brained, so I want the facts and figures, the numbers and black and white outline, to tell me what my title is. But in reality, do I even NEED a title??? Why do I feel the desire to have to label myself? Is it so that I can get validation from other people so that immediately upon seeing my title, they will accept and “know me”?

Maybe. I am still praying through all of this, so excuse this long-winded post, as it’s basically everything that’s in my head erupting on the computer. I definitely need more time to process this all, as even thinking about being made in God’s image is mystifying. God is so many things: a Father, a lover of my soul, a comforter, a provided, a healer, a king. The list goes on and on, so how do I even begin to come to terms that I am made in that image?? It literally leaves me in awestruck wonder. I will return to this blog and document more about my processing of this identity issue.

The challenging part about processing is being bombarded with images on Instagram and Facebook. I see powerlifters, short gals with thick thighs, tall women with lanky legs, and I compare. And so for a week, yes, just a week, I am challenging myself not to add to those barrage of pictures and videos of deadlifting females. Instead, I am refraining from putting up any athletic-centered posts. This challenge may not seem grand to the normal person, but my husband (and many of my friends and family) know that I put up a lot of lifting shots on my IG page. A. LOT. I love going on Instagram to zone out on pictures (Look! A cute dog! Look! Food!), but if all my feed produces are videos of my squatting, benching, and deadlifting, then something is amiss because the Big 3 are not my life. God is. My family is. My friends are.

Anyway, that is the plan for now. Refrain from posting on social media all of my normal gym stuff. That, and really following the plan Paul has set for me TO THE TEE. I don’t need an accountability partner, as that is what I am enlisting Paul’s help for and I am an adult who knows what I need to do. But I need to just take that leap of faith. Become bigger, not just so that I can lift heavier weights, but to break the title, the label, that says I am the “small girl.” Because in reality, didn’t God make me for a wondrous and glorious purpose, and NOT just to be looked at as “the tiny girl who benchs a lot”?

If you lasted this long reading this post, thank you. ☺ I will surely update you all on the new revelations God is giving.

I Shall Not Want

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

Those are two sentences I’ve repeated over and over again, so much so, that they are emblazoned on my heart and in my brain. But in reality, do I really think about what those words mean?

No. I don’t. Prior to this Fall Break, my prayer and quiet time life was in a solid rut. I still read my Bible every morning and shouted out a few “Amens!” on the way to school with Misha and Shogun. But the “thank yous” and “please watch overs” were becoming rote. Monotonous. So much so, that with glazed eyes, staring off out of the car window at 6:30am every morning, even Misha was imitating my lacksidasical “…and please watch over mommy and daddy and Shogun and Puna and Papa and Grandma and Grandpa and amen.”

Eek.

So when D’Lissa from Breath of Life Ministries suggested that I spend time throughout the day meditating on scripture to heal my fractured, stressed, and overworked spirit, I immediately felt a pull to start reading His word. Now. For the past week I’ve looked at Psalm 23, one of the most well known passages and one that my mother dearly loved. When dealing with the possibility of cancer taking over her life, my mom clung to this psalm and found extreme comfort in David’s words. I still remember her furrowed brow relaxing into a content smile as she read and reread the six lines over and over again.

And so on a quiet Monday morning last week, when the husband and kids were still nestled in their Kauai hotel room beds, I stared at the first verse. And read it. And stared. And read it again.

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

“What are you saying, Jesus? What exactly should I ‘get’ out of you being my shepherd?” The thoughts roamed in my head and the more I stared at those black printed lines, the revelation came to me.

I want many things in life. Achievements in work, achievements in the gym, achievements with my family. I want to come home and not feel the uncomfortableness that I have a zillion problems and issues to deal with, but rather, I want to be perfectly at peace and to let the worries fall off my shoulders like a waterfall cascading down worn and weathered rocks. I want to feel loved and accepted even when I’m awkward and fail. There are so many things that I “want” and if I were to dwell over each of these items (Did I achieve all of the goals I set out for myself? Am I being the best mother, teacher, wife, and friend I can be?), I’d be a BIG MESS.

Sadly, I was hemming and hawing over these details from the moment my eyes opened to when I laid my head down at night: What if I don’t plan my English lessons perfectly and the students end up not being able to analyze a piece of fiction effectively? What if I miss this set of deadlifts and end up injuring myself? What if I don’t spend enough time reading with Shogun or talking with Misha? Can my relationship with my husband be stronger? What am I doing wrong?

The “what ifs” were killing me, causing my already tired brain to work overtime. It was only when I sat with this first verse from Psalm 23, that I realized that David was feeling the same as me, yet he did the complete opposite of what I was doing. Rather than attempt to handle all the questions himself, he turned to God, the shepherd.

I live in Hawaii and rarely (if at all) do I see sheep, so I had to actually look up what a shepherd’s job entails. Basically, this man guides and directs the flock to where they need to go–sometimes he must ward off predators to ensure the sheeps’ safety and other times he must discipline the sheep so they don’t stray. Either way, the shepherd is there to do the “hard work”, all the steering and rearing. If God is my shepherd, and he will be guiding me to a place of safety with His mighty hand, why SHOULD I “want”? Do sheep worry about wolves coming and attacking them? No. Do sheep worry about where there next meal will come from? No. Why so? Because they have complete and total trust that the shepherd will be there. If sheep can have that kind of trust in their shepherd, why can’t I have that same type of trust in mine?

It’s a process I am still learning and growing in. I am used to wanting to do any and everything on my own terms. Giving control to my shepherd is challenging, especially when it comes to situations that I have no control over but want control in (more on that in another post). But hour by hour, day by day, the more I sit with these two sentences, the more I am leaning on God rather than my own actions and thoughts to bring peace.

One last quick example of Psalm 23 in action: After returning from Kauai, I took the two kiddos to a crazily crowded mall for lunch. By myself. I was at my wit’s end, what with a person stealing a parking spot from me, the toddler whining for juice, and the six-year old saying she wanted pizza RIGHT NOW. Besides being completely overwhelmed with all the noise and stress, I started questioning myself. “What are you doing? You should be more prepared. Why didn’t you bring the juice from home? Your child shouldn’t be crying this much.” But then as soon as that incessant negative voice started its’ tyrannical talk, I thought about the Lord being my shepherd. Yes, the little guy was crying and yes, it totally got my blood boiling when a Mustang swooped in and grabbed the parking spot I was waiting for. But why worry? God was watching over me. He was guiding me. He was protecting from way back when and will continue to help me. So I repeated that first verse over and over, over and over. And you know what? The tension in my head, the knots in my shoulders, the overwhelming urge I had to cry out in frustration dissipated. We found a parking, the boy got some OJ, and the girl got her cheese slice. Jesus provided peace (and food and drink), and although it was for something as small and incidental as a crazy shopping expedition, there is solace in knowing that I DON’T need to “want” because God is truly the only thing I “want” and need.