Backyard Trampoline Basics

Backyard trampolines.  What is your opinion?  Being a gymnastics coach needing to be certified on trampoline as well as artistic gymnastics, I hate them.  The word hate, doesn’t even touch the surface of my negative emotions towards this piece of play equipment.  In my opinion, it shouldn’t even be available for the public to purchase.

My daughter being 12 years old now, has wanted a trampoline for many, many years but eventually gave up asking for one.  Their danger factor is off the radar for me, and I have a long list of reasons why she was never going to get one.

My husband wanted to come watch our daughter at Atlantics, but I convinced him to stay home.  He had to fly there, and it wasn’t really worth it for him to travel that far to see her do a total of two minutes of routines.  I just felt it wasn’t worth the cost, but knew that our daughter would be devastated that her father wasn’t coming.

In attempts to ease the pain, the idea popped into my head to buy her a trampoline as a replacement for her father not travelling to watch her competition.  She was ecstatic!  It was a dream come true, but then had doubts on why I was changing my train of thought on the backyard trampoline.

It didn’t change my feelings about this bouncing death trap, but I did feel that she was old enough to follow my rules about it, and that the neighborhood kids were old enough as well.  It’s when there is more than one person on the trampoline at a time that this apparatus becomes dangerous.  If used properly, maturely and under a certified instructor, a trampoline is very useful tool for a gymnast because the elements on the trampoline are transferable to the other events.

This is the same with our spiritual world.  When we are younger, just like using the trampoline, we don’t realize the danger of not believing that there is a greater power that controls the universe.  We are oblivious to what can happen to us if we bounced out of control and lose our air sense.  The same is true with spirituality.  We can bounce out of control and lose our way, and usually do.

As we age, and learn from our life experiences eventually we learn the value of spirituality and that is transferable to our real life, just like trampoline skills transfer to the gymnastics world.  We begin to understand more of the power that is within us, and God.  We learn the reward of being selfless and charitable and having a strong spiritual connection.  Just like our daughter using the trampoline now that she is older.  She realizes its value, along with its power.  Now what was once a devise that she didn’t understand its ability is now a great tool for her to use in her to better herself in her gymnastics career.

Colossians 1:9-10 explains, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

Just like being filled with the knowledge of being safe on a trampoline and having the wisdom to understand its dangers, it’s the same with spiritual wisdom.  As we increase in our knowledge of God, our potential is limitless.  Take time every day to walk in the manner worthy of the Lord and watch your life transform.

Just like my daughter and her backyard trampoline.  Bounce your way from living dangerously not knowing the power the trampoline has to educating yourself and using it to benefit you in other parts of your life.  You will love the ride!

signature

God Given Gifts

Do you have a favorite story that you share about your family, or your children? An all-time favorite family story in our family is one about our son, and his love of painting with his feces. Yes, as gross as it sounds, that is always a story that seems to pop up when we are entertaining in our home…or even at other events. Why, you may wonder? If you ever met my son, you might understand.

We knew our son was different right from the start. As you go through seasons in your life with your friends; graduation, university, weddings, having children, and so on, you usually use the world around you as your guide. During my season of having children, my son was off the radar in comparison to the other children his age.

During the first three months of his life, he only slept if he was laying on my chest. He nursed for 40 minutes at a time, slept on my chest for 40 minutes and then was back nursing again. You had to be there to believe it. After his 40 minutes of nursing, and before his power snooze, he would always power-puke…and I mean projectile vomit a good 10 to 12 feet! We had the lactate consultant in to see what was up, and finally we were referred to a pediatrician, who determined that he didn’t have a flap on his esophagus, and we could have had a surgery to fix it, but there was no guarantees…that is another story, which I will have to write about sometime. I just want you to understand, he was a very hard child to raise from birth.

Then came the toilette training days, and again, I compared him to our friends’ children and their experiences, and again, I thought, “What did I ever do to deserve this!?” My son, loved to draw with his diaper droppings! He painted his walls, my van windshield, the hardwood floors, in the kitchen, just to name a few. Anywhere he could hide himself, do his business, and then make his masterpiece was fair game. You might be thinking; where were you when he was doing all this? I was nursing my newborn daughter most times, and not able to quickly jump to my feet when I smelled the damage in action. Some people told me that this was a sign of a genius…genius alright! I thought, it doesn’t take a genius to take a temper tantrum and make his mother go crazy.
Years later, life rolled on, and our boy enters school, and sure enough, he is an overachiever. Reading well above grade level before he started school. He has some kind of phonetic awareness that I’ve never witnessed before, and I am an elementary school teacher.

Time continues to tick by, and we are told many wonderful things. In grade 5 we were told that he could have presented his English presentation to the high school students, last year he won awards at a province wide math competition and just last night he brought home his grade eight report card, and his math mark was 103%. That mystifies my husband…how can you get more than a 100%, it is impossible.

At one point we took him to mental health to help us help him with his overachieving personality…where of course they “tested” him and deemed him “gifted”, which was no surprise…we’ve heard that for years, but I don’t believe in labeling a child gifted. Not to take anything away from my son, but we are all gifted in one way or another. Sure our son is super smart, but at the age 13 he still struggles to get milk into a glass without spilling it. Socially we had to push him to stop teaching himself physics and get out of his bedroom. He is academically gifted, for sure, but I look at our daughter, who wishes she could be super smart like her brother, but she has such other wonderful gifts!
In 1 Peter 4:10 it says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

We have to stop comparing ourselves to others; like I was guilty of comparing myself as a mother, and son to other children his age; and focus on our own special gifts. We are all created equal! We just have to let God show us the gifts that he’s blessed us with. We aren’t going to find these gifts trying to be like other people. We have to create our own art work with the beautiful brush strokes that God has painted us with. Sure, my son’s gifts are evident, but so are yours if you just let God bring them out of you…and make use of these gifts, the way God wants you to use them.

Nursing Your Needs

I thought growing up was hard. I guess we think that every stage we are going through is tough at the time, then when we look back, we realize that it was actually easier than the stage we are in now. It’s like it is a life test to pass as a prerequisite to move onto the next stage of our lives. Take what we learn and move forward. I know when I had my first baby, it was definitely the hardest test I faced at it was one of the most difficult times in my life.

I was nursing, and very determined to make it for a year performing this job, that I have officially deemed as the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Everything that could go wrong did. We had thrush twice, I had low milk production, he wasn’t latching properly, he wasn’t gaining enough weight, he was projectile vomiting, he had Reflux, then I got Graves’ Disease—it was non-stop. I tried to put on a brave face, tried to pretend everything was hunky dory, but it was the farthest from the truth.

It was a year from a Hell!  He nursed, and then slept on my chest for about an hour, nursed, then projectile vomited, nursed, slept, it was exhausting. Oh—did I tell you if he wasn’t nursing, he was crying? Whaling actually. Good thing babies are as cute as they are, because it was all that saved me some days.

People who knew what I was going through all tried to convince me to feed him the bottle, but I was stubborn and determined not to lose. To me, and my competitive nature, this was a loss in my books. If I didn’t give my first born the best, which through all the literature I read, it was not an option to feed my child formula!  It was a year of my suffering for the good of my child.  I could handle a year of this.  Looking back, I am thrilled I toughed it out!

I also read that the child’s brain developed when they were sleeping and how important sleep was. I remember thinking that my first born was going to be mentally delayed because sleep wasn’t even a word that was in his vocabulary.

My anxiety over this child was through the roof. I was reading too much about trying to have that perfect child and everything in the literature of what I wanted, was the exact opposite of what this little bundle of joy was. I was devastated.

I remember one time, my best friend surprised me with a visit. When I opened my front door to see her familiar smiling face looking at me, I instantly broke into tears. Finally, someone I could tell all this horribleness to. Finally, I didn’t have to put on a face of happiness for the world to see. Finally, I could tell someone how awful my life really was. Finally, someone who I can trust and let know my secrets of how my son was going to be mentally delayed from no sleep, physically delayed from lack of nutrients, emotionally delayed from an unstable mother, socially delayed because he lives on my chest and makes little eye contact with the real world. My list of failures was a mile long.

Was I a failure? No, but in my head I was. I was bringing all this stress on myself. Sure, it was a tough time in this season of my life, but it was my own doings that made it stressful. If I had of learned to relax and roll with the punches, and not research them to death, I know now how much easier it would have been. If I had of prayed about the situation and left it all in God’s hands, it would have been much simpler.

Are you having trouble with your first born child or adjusting to motherhood? Are you struggling in a marriage that is not what you envisioned it would be? Maybe your debt isn’t clearing up as fast as you would like it. Or maybe there is someone that you just can’t please in your life. Whatever your trouble is, just like my nursing trouble, relax, take your troubles to God in prayer, give it some time and watch the magic unfold.

I’m loving my Bible study on the book of Mark! So many great stories, but a verse that popped out at me was, Mark 5:36, “Do not fear, only believe.”   Only five little words, but what wisdom!

You have control over your emotions. I’m chalking my crazy emotions during my son’s first year of life to hormones. Now, I see how amazing he turned out to be 13 years later, if I only had faith instead of fear, that first year of his life would have made it much more enjoyable for me, and everyone around me.

We are all put through tests and trials. It is what you do with these tests that form you into the person you are. I’m stubborn and competitive, so tests to me are a challenge. Some people aren’t as determined as I, but if you fight for what you want, your reward after is incredible. I have no idea if it was my determination to nurse and not feed my child formula that has formed him into what he is today, but it was a test I was put through and I am very glad that I toughed it out.  Even when everyone else thought I was crazy torturing myself the way I did.

People might be judging you, thinking you are crazy for the situation you have yourself in. People might give you their opinion on a trial you are going through in your life.  People might be trying to influence you to do something that you don’t feel in your heart is right.  Listen to your heart, your thoughts, those are put there by the spiritual world.

You might be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, but if you feel that something is right, who cares. Turn your troubles to God in prayer. Don’t double guess what he has put in your heart. Don’t have fear, just believe and watch the wonders that are meant to be—BE!

My Aunt, My Angel

auntFamily is a huge part of my life. I love all that it stands for and represents. You know when all else fails, family is going to be there for you, no matter what, or at least I’m fortunate to have a family like this!

When I got married, my aunt and her husband took my wedding pictures. This particular aunt loved pictures and volunteered taking pictures for everything. It was such a kind gift, because it takes the entire day taking pictures at a wedding, but she never once complained about it. She was just a magnificent woman.

Sometimes members of a family can also be misunderstood…and this was my aunt. She was different than her other siblings, but different in a good way. She was wise beyond her years and couldn’t care less what people thought of her, or her beliefs. She was very modern in her thinking and coming from a very religious mother, this was sometimes frowned upon.

When I was a teenager I used to love going for walks with her in the fall and look at the beautiful leaves and smell the crisp autumn air as she would share her world views with me…It was something we always did when she came home for a visit. I cherished these walks, her views were so different than what I was used to hearing. She was very liberal in her thinking. So open-minded. It was as refreshing as the fall air!

After my wedding, was my baby shower. A young couple starting out and having their first child, money was tight, and we were looking forward to the generosity of all our kind family and friends and their gifts of love towards our first born child. This particular aunt gave me the strangest baby shower gift. It was a candle holder. Yep…my forward thinking aunt got me a candle holder for my baby shower gift! Can you believe this? Everyone that knew her agreed that she also probably spent a lot of money on this candle holder…I was in awe wondering why she hadn’t of given me something more useful…something more…babyish…I thought this aunt understood me…knew me.

This candle holder wasn’t just any candle holder, it was a beautiful angel sitting down with its wings in full spread, hugging its knees. The angels head was tilted to the side resting in its folded arms. It was all white adorn with a burgundy and gold ribbon and burgundy artificial flowers and white baby’s breath encircled the actual candle. It was very nice, but what was I going to do with it? It didn’t match any of my Noah’s Arc décor in the nursery…it left me mystified.

Two days before I gave birth to our incredible first born son, we got a phone call late one evening. It was my father’s voice on the other end, and as he said just my name in a very shaky voice, and skipped all normal greetings of a casual phone conversation, I knew something was desperately wrong. When he announced that this amazing aunt was hit by a car while driving on her motorcycle with her husband I couldn’t believe the news! How could this be? Why? NO!

Little did I know, that this angel candle holder was going to represent so much to me, then, and even 13 years later as it still sits on my shelf. I haven’t even as much as burnt the original candle that she set in it. It is probably the most special gift anyone has ever given to me…and I know that she is one of the angels watching over me, my family and probably, definitely my son!

Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen the way they do or their reason…just like this gift. Why was she giving me an angel…my forward thinking, cool aunt. Sometimes we have to wait to see the value in certain things…or their meaning. If we are patient we will see the purpose of a situation. It is difficult some times when pain and grief are involved, but like it is said in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

My aunt’s time in her earthly form was over, two days before my son’s body was brought into this world. My forward thinking aunt gave me the most precious baby shower gift I could have ever asked for. A constant reminder that she was such a huge part of my life, and was going to continue to be with me and my family, maybe not in an earthly form but in a spiritual form. At the time of the gift opening I didn’t realize this, but we aren’t going to understand everything that happens to us. We just have to go to God in prayer and ask for strength to get us through our trials. Everything has a purpose, and once you find out why, you will understand his grander plan.

Two years later, my second child, our beautiful daughter, was born. She was almost two week overdue, but to our pleasure, she was born on my late aunt’s birthday!  March 12th. Not only do I have the ceramic angel candle holder as a reminder of this wonderful woman who has had such an impact in my life, but we also get to celebrate her birthday every year with that of our daughter. She might not be here in body, but I am more than certain, she adorns us every day with her spirit. How lucky am I?

signature

Watch Where You’re Running

tagI have been teaching for many years, and I still can say, I LOVE my job! I get to play with other people’s children every day! It’s the best. My favorite part of my job is teaching Kindergarten physical education. These five year olds make my day complete! Their loving spirits lift mine, and they are just precious to the core!

The only lesson that I don’t enjoy is teaching them about personal space, and that they have to watch where they run when playing games in order to prevent banging into one another. They get so involved in their games, and in pursuit of avoiding getting tagged that they have the urge to constantly look behind them to see who is chasing them.

After warm-up, stretch out and teaching a movement pattern, I spend the rest of the time standing repeating into my microphone, “Watch where you are running…OOOOOH! Watch where you are running…REMEMBER! Watch where you are running!” And still, the inevitable collision happens with these adorable little creatures.

As I stand in the gym, watching these cute little munchkins run around, it got me thinking…Adults tend to want to look behind themselves too. Playing the “What-If” game of life. What if I didn’t do this, or what if I had of done that. It’s a game that we all play…admit it! I kind of wish I could stand in people’s minds with my microphone and repeat, “Focus on where you want to go…don’t look at the past!”

Your past is your past! We can’t change it…we can only change our future! We have to realize that guilt is a wasted emotion. Instead of feeling guilty for something that you did, after you apologize to yourself, the other person involved and God, then move forward. Stop looking behind you. Past behavior cannot be rectified by guilt. Let those feelings go, change the way you think and develop new feelings.

Guilt is just one of the negative emotions that come with past mistakes. Self-doubt, panic, contempt, frustrations, disappointment, and the list goes on. Why put yourself through all of this? Focus your energy on the things you can change, that being your thoughts, your choices and your future! You have to look forward and stop thinking about what you did, or what you don’t have.

Once you change your thinking and shift your focus on what you want, or what you already have and be grateful for it, then you are running in the right direction. What you think about expands and if you have all these negative feelings that you are dwelling on…do you really want them to expand? No! Move forward and think positive, thoughts that you want to have. Change yourself and your thinking so that you can have what you want. Learn from the past, but don’t stay there! Keep running forward!

Did you notice that God developed armor only for the front side of the body? He also wants you to move forward, and not look behind…you don’t need to arm yourself for the past, you need to protect yourself for the future. Stop yourself from looking behind you! I repeat! Stop looking behind you!

Arm yourself with God’s armor, as is told to us in Ephesians 6:13-17, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Do you want happiness? Do you want prosperity? Do you want abundance? Well, it isn’t in your past, it is in your future! Use your belt of truth and realize you are the only one in control of your thoughts and feelings! Get rid of your negative feelings. Looking behind you is only going to get you in a collision with yourself! Put on the helmet of salvation, and save yourself from yourself! Run hard, and don’t look back! Watch your life change in ways you never thought it could. And hold on tight to the word of God, he will make you realize what you’ve been missing out on all these years!

signature

 

 

Signs and Symptoms

signI think I have the most incredible son, which every mother thinks, I know! He’s so fascinating though! He was a hard baby. Looking back I know he was colicky, but I never wanted to admit it. I saw the signs, but avoided them at the time. How many mothers do that right? We want the perfect baby, not a colicky one—but having flashbacks of myself sleeping upright in the bed with him asleep on my chest was a big red flag. How could I miss that one?

I missed this sign, and many others when it comes to parenting. I read many, many, many parenting books, but nothing prepares you for reality.

My son now misses signs too. I sometimes get frustrated with him. He doesn’t get some basic social cues. The one that probably frustrates me the most is, if someone’s eyes are shut, they are probably sleeping. I’ve been trying for 13 years to instill this in him, and I am not giving up. Someday, he will remember this if it is the last thing I teach him!

Just today, he knocked on my prayer room door, peeped his head in and flashed me his handsome smile, and his eyes lit up seeing me.  Frustrated, but lovingly, I had to remind him that if my door is closed that means I’m meditating. He didn’t listen to me, and barged right over to where I was sitting and explained that he was just wanting a kiss—of course, I paused my meditation to fulfill his wish. Who could turn that down? But, he still missed the signal of the closed door.

He is a super smart boy, and enjoys educating himself. He’ll bring home tests and explain to me that he made a bunch of careless mistakes again, and every time I remind him he has to take his time, but again, it is one of those cues that he struggles with.

It’s not just him that struggles with seeing signs. We are all very guilty of it. Sometimes we miss the signs of our loved ones wanting more of our attention. Sometimes we miss when a friend is in need.  Maybe we are getting ourselves in financial troubles, and ignoring these signs.  We could be missing the signs that our bodies aren’t functioning the way they should. Being in our 40s, we are starting to have friends that have 80% blockages in their hearts, and tell me they didn’t have signs of that before they take their first heart attack? Sadly, we all see signs and ignore them.

After my son interrupted my meditation, and I was studying the book of Numbers all in the same morning, it hit me! Numbers 14:11, really jumped out at me, “The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?”

How many times have you missed the signs that God was sending you? How many blessings have you missed out on because you didn’t recognize his signs? When we don’t recognize these signs, and decide to do things our way, he allows us to wander, and sometimes into very dangerous waters. While we are wandering, we are missing out on blessings that he had in store for us.

The good news is, just like I’m never giving up on my son, he never gives up on us, and he will keep dishing out those signs until we finally take notice. Sometimes we might have to hit rock bottom in an area of our lives before we realize this. Just like our friends who have 80% blockages in their hearts, or myself who had to witness an area of her life bottom out before she realized the blessings she was missing out on.

It is my wish that nobody has to go through the pain to get to the pleasure that awaits all of us. Open your eyes, ears, minds and hearts now to the signs he is sending you and save yourself the trouble. Start your relationship with God and witness the many blessings he has for you. Look for the signs, they are all around you! If you give your troubles to God, you will be triumphant!

signature

Snow Day Priorities

snowMost Canadians love a great snow day…especially the students and teachers and luckily I’m a teacher. When we get about 30 centimeters of snow, the entire city will shut-down and we get a nice quiet day at home with our family. It is priceless!

I love them because I get to get caught up on my time in my home. Being held captive in your own home is a good thing now and then. You get caught up on your laundry, get to play some board games with your children and cook a nice meal that isn’t rushed. Some days I even grab a nap! There is nothing like a good afternoon snuggle with the kids and a nap. It’s just icing on the cake.

As I age, and learn through my mistakes, I’m learning that sometimes we get our priorities out of order. It wasn’t until my quest to become a better wife that I learned that the husband should be a wife’s number one priority. Man, did I ever have my priorities all wrong. My list of priorities went more like this: my children, my work, my gymnasts that I coach, running the home properly, my friends, and then when I could find time, I would squeeze a little time for my husband.

Instead of giving him my best, I was giving him what was left of my life after all my other commitments. Thank goodness I finally came to the conclusion that things had to change. I’m very fortunate that this became my New Year’s Resolution, because I started to do my research and found out that I had it all wrong. I was so busy making sure that my children were going to be successful, I forgot that without having their father in their world, their lives would come crashing down.

Before snow days were all about catching up on things I needed to do, but this year, things changed. Our last snow day, I got up earlier than the rest of the house and spent my time with God, but after that it was back to cuddle with my husband this time, and not the kids. Then it was make my husband’s favorite breakfast, instead of my picky-eater of a son I have. If he didn’t like what I was making he is old enough now to make his own toast.
Then my husband and I watch 3 episodes of our favorite Netflix original program and cuddled on the couch watching the snow accumulate. This time, the kids played board games together while I was spending some catch-up time with their father. Did it hurt the children any? Absolutely not. Instead they were learning what a healthy marriage should look like.

Finally, I made dinner…my call this time…and as the snow slowed down my husband ventured out to our local restaurant to try and get it open for the public. Now, that my husband was gone to work, I had lots of time to spend some alone time with the children. My housework might not have been finished, my laundry might not have been caught up, but I was prioritizing this extra spare time that the snow day left me, and since my children are third on my list of priorities, I owed it to them to spend quality time with them.

You can judge me if you wish, but the way I had my priorities previously wasn’t working. Proverbs 12:4 is a verse that I became to love, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” Not only was I decay to my husband’s bones, I was also decaying my entire family unit.

If you were to list your priorities, would they have looked more like my first list, or would it be in line with my second list? We all have to prioritize, and this is difficult. Please believe me that when we prioritize our husbands before our children it is a win-win situation. It is the way that God created it. We can frown on it, and go with the way society of today feels it should be…which I was very guilty of…or we can follow the instructions in the Bible.

I’ve had it both ways, and trust me, the way that the good Lord made it initial is definitely the most rewarding for you, your husband and your children. Make the change today, and enjoy your extra time with the people that need your attention the most, and watch the instant change. My husband still rubs it in to the children that he is number one, but the kids completely understand and love it too!

signature