Tuesday, September 17, 2019

An Open Letter to my Son about Baseball and Life

Dear Cannon,

It is a privilege to play this game.

I understand that it hurts to make an error that costs the team. It hurts to miss the pop fly or over throw the ball. It hurts to let that grounder go by you or get tagged out because you hesitated. I know it hurts and that you feel terrible. How do I know? Everyone feels terrible when they make a mistake. I’ve felt terrible in the past, everybody has, multiple times. You aren’t alone. Everyone will have a moment where they feel they ruined it for the team. I promise you… Every. Single. Person.

Having a sad face, moping around, getting lost in your emotions and hanging your head is NOT the answer. I know that’s what you want to do. I know that’s what you’ve always done. But today, you can redefine yourself. You and only you are in control of your emotions. You and only you get to decide how you will react. There are two choices when things aren’t going your way.

1. Feel the error, decide to put it behind you as quickly as you made it, learn from it and move on.


2. Feel the error, let it sink deep down into your heart and mind and not forgive yourself. Stay upset, doubt yourself in everything and check out mentally from the game letting yourself and your team down.

No one can decide which option you take. You have to decide “who do I want to be?” If you don’t like the way you’ve been reacting to adversity, you can decide to change. All it is, is a decision. This is not a battle on the field with the other team. This is a battle up here, in your own mind. You are fighting yourself, your mindset, your beliefs, your emotions. Decide before the error, before the mistake, before the strike out, how you will react.. because son, it’s not if these things will happen, but when. They will happen and they need to happen. Why? Failures and setbacks are a necessary part of the learning process. 

Let’s just imagine for a second your team was undefeated. You’ve never lost a game, your team was superhuman and never made any errors. You hit every ball at bat and caught every ball on the field. In that situation, are you learning? Are you growing? Are you being challenged? Remember how boring it is to play a team that is inferior? You love a good challenging game because it’s fun and it forces you to play at your peak performance. Our mind and our bodies only grow when we exercise it through pain. We work out and have sore muscles to eventually have bigger and stronger muscles. While we are working out, it’s hard and painful. It’s a necessary part to get the reward of being stronger. 

The same is true for our minds. We need to make mistakes and learn from them to make connections and be able to figure things out in the future to become smarter. When we are talking about baseball, we NEED to make mistakes in order to grow and get better. It has to happen. It is actually a good thing. Through that mistake guess what happens? You grow your baseball knowledge and self-correct for the next time. That error that you let turn your emotions upside down is what will actually help you in the long run. I know it’s hard to think about the future when you make a mistake out on that field, but it’s the truth. It’s hard to go through… but son, I believe in you and I know you can do hard things. When you make a mistake yes, you will feel bad. But just let that feeling stay for a minute, then consciously shake it off like a wet dog shaking dry and say to yourself, “OK, that hurt but now I’m ready.” You can fight this feeling and come up on top and it doesn’t have to take the whole game to get over it. Because it’s not about getting over it, it’s about working through it.

I hope you realize this game is not about being perfect. Even if you win every game and get 100 trophies, remember they ultimately sit on a shelf and collect dust. Cannon, believe me when I say I don’t care about the trophies. I care about the man you are becoming becauseof baseball. In the words of Rocky Balboa, “It’s not about how hard you hit… it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” You have to decide to become the type of man who can keep getting hit and gets right back up. Babe Ruth knew this well. He said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” Be that person, Can- not just in baseball, but in life.

Are you willing to take the hits, to deal with the hurt of making mistakes?
Are you willing to feel the hurt but only for a minute, then pick yourself back up?
Are you willing to be that person that cannot be broken? Who never gives up?

Herb Brooks said, “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” What greater opportunity is there, then when you’re down? That’s the golden time to show who has the most heart. Who is resilient? Who makes mistakes and puts it behind them? Who uses their emotions to fuel the fire to fight back instead of crumbling inside?

Use the error as a stepping stone. Put it under your feet. If you hold it over your head, it will be sure to crush you and your team. DO NOT put your self-worth in winning or losing. You are SO MUCH MORE than your performance, good or bad. If you only knew how incredible you were, you would never for a second hang your head. You are loved with the passion of a 1000 burning suns… so much more than you will ever know, and it has absolutely nothing to do with baseball or anything else. When you play ball, there is nowhere else I’d rather be. It’s not because you are the best baseball player. It’s because I love to see you grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. I love to see you work hard, have great sportsmanship, have opportunities to be honest, to show competitiveness and kindness, to get dirty and be a boy. I love to watch you laugh with your buddies and get better at the skills you’ve been working hard at. I love to see you think of the team before thinking of just yourself. These things are invaluable to me.

When your team wins, I will be your biggest and loudest cheerleader and celebrate to the moon with you. When your team has a loss and is getting discouraged and I look over and see you handle it like a boss and keep it in perspective, that is worth more to me than a 1000 wins. Because in life, you will get knocked down. There will be times you will need to go out and conquer the world when you don’t want to, when you have everything going against you. You’ll need to be man enough to fight how you feel. You’ll need to go out there and keep moving forward. Laying down and giving up is true failure. I need to know you’re going to keep getting back up no matter how hard life is.

Our priority in you playing baseball is to develop your mental toughness. The events that happen during a ball game will stretch you, but don’t let it break you. Take risks out there. Be brave. Be a fighter. Be resilient. Persevere through the losses and setbacks. Celebrate the growth. Stay humble. Remember there are ten year old boys who would give anything to be in your shoes. Some of them are in hospital beds with cancer, too weak to even get out of bed. Respect this game and all those who are unable to play enough to go out there each and every time and give it your all, everything you’ve got, 200%. Do this not just to win but remember Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

So do it because you have a God-given gift. You are strong, develop it. Be a good steward of the things God gives you, including your body. Feel God’s pleasure and honor Him by using your gift to the best of your ability.

This game is a privilege.

Not everyone can play, but today you can. Remember that, think about that. Let that affect the way you play the game. Start and end each game with gratitude. Have so much fun playing the greatest game in the world. Don’t waste the opportunity to grow and a be a better you by wallowing in your feelings. You’re in charge of your feelings and it’s not the other way around. Be the victor of your mind because son, that is the greatest victory of all.

“God has not given Cannon a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.”
-2 Timothy 1:7

Believe it! 

I love you,

Sunday, September 1, 2019

What I Learned On My 10 Day Water Only Fast

Back in the day my youth group I was a part of did something called a 30 hour famine. As a group, we purposefully went without any food for 30 hours to get a feel for how those without food feel. During that time we worked in soup kitchens, prayed, and worked with those less fortunate. We all had our tummies growling and toward the end we all felt any longer than that we would surely die of starvation. We ended our fast scarfing down pancakes with imitation syrup and OJ. We had done our good deed and now that was over.

Fast forward 25 years later and who would guess I would embark on a 10 day fast. Fasting has been around since the beginning of time. Jesus fasted, various religions use fasting. I never really thought about it much. I know about various bible study fasts and things like that, but I just never did those studies. I knew I never wanted to do a fast because someone told me to do a fast. It had to be a conviction in me.

I have always been an averaged weight person. I would go up a few pounds, down a few pounds but stayed roughly in the same weight my whole adult life. Then I became pregnant.

My body interpreted pregnancy as the apocalypse. The end of the world is here! Store fat, lots and lots of fat! I ate more than I typically ate but nothing to warrant the 100lbs I gained with my first son. I went from a fairly skinny person to a very overweight person. After I had my baby I looked in the mirror and made a decision to be kind to myself. I didn’t like what I saw but I appreciated the body God used to bring about my precious boy. That appreciation and love I had for the life God brought through me propelled me to lose the weight.

I lost almost all of the weight in a short time through nursing and eating lower carb foods. In a type of miraculous way, pregnancy number two came six months after the birth of my first son. I immediately started gaining weight. I really didn’t want to gain so much weight again but once again my body wanted to store all the fat. I gained 65lbs. Afterwards, managing two babies and living a high stress life my weight dropped to record lows. I was below my normal.

Six months after the second birth I got pregnant again. This pregnancy lasted eight weeks. I had a miscarriage and in that short time had already gained ten pounds. I lost the weight almost immediately after my miscarriage. About a year after this I got pregnant again. As expected at this point, the weight started coming on me like some sort of plague. I would eat healthy foods and still gain. It was a sort of weight management nightmare. I had this doctor that was actually concerned with my history of weight gain and big babies. They were 10lbs 6oz and 9lbs 3oz. So this doctor performed test after test after test. Finally toward the end of my pregnancy, at 33 weeks, I found out I am prone to late term gestational diabetes.

So my first two pregnancies I most likely had this condition during my third trimester and insulin resistance was causing high blood sugar to flood my system and theirs. It’s scary to think this all went untreated. It’s a miracle they were ok. My first born nearly died during the birth, but by God’s grace he’s here and had no permanent damage from his shoulder dystocia.

When I got my diagnosis of gestational diabetes with my third pregnancy, I was put on very large quantities of insulin. Several times a day I’d eat what they told me to, test my blood sugar and take insulin. With my special diabetes diet I still managed to gain a whopping 75lbs. Baby boy three was born healthy, with an average weight of 8lbs 9oz. It took me a bit longer to lose the weight, but I managed to do so.

Pregnancy number four came five years later. At the age of 34, I was on the line for old age pregnancy issues and extra testing. I immediately started testing my blood sugar and got on insulin my very first trimester. It was a roller coaster of high blood sugar, low blood sugar and I often had night sweats and blood sugar crashes. All in all, we made it to the end and my first and only baby girl was born via C-section due to cord prolapse. Scariest birth to date as my failed epidural led me to having to be completely put under to have a very quick delivery, requiring a vertical incision.

Baby girl was as healthy as could be. Total weight gain was 90lbs. I didn’t worry too much knowing my history and high weight gains and fairly fast losses. However, this time was different. This time my weight wanted to stick around. I was left at 225lbs. For someone that is used to being somewhat thin (besides the pregnancy experience) this was a very strange feeling. Baby girl had weight gaining issues and so I was consumed by feeding her and making sure I ate enough to supply the milk she needed. This lasted for months. She eventually got the hang of it. Every time I attempted any low carb eating, my milk supply plummeted. It wasn’t worth it and I ate higher carb for the sake of my milk and baby. She nursed for about 2 years. So for two years I slowly lost weight, about 40lbs. When she finally weaned, it was time to get my body back. It was time to feel comfortable in my own skin, which I hadn’t felt in years at this point.

I went on keto and lost another 40 lbs in 6 months and then hit a plateau. After researching a bit I came across intermittent fasting with different options of eating and fasting. I decided to do the fasting for 16 hours and feasting for 8. When my weight slowed down with this method I read about longer fasting schedules. In my research to lose the weight I came across the science on how beneficial this is for our bodies. I learned so much about cellular rejuvenation. Fasting promotes autophagy which reboots the immune system and your human growth hormone is multiplied after a few days. I sat back in my chair and thought, “Of course it’s good for us. God designed us to fast.” There was this whole world of fasting that I had no clue even existed. I believed that after about 5-7 days without food, we became malnourished. What I learned blew me away. For example, there was a man in the 1960’s named Angus Barbieri that fasted 382 days and lost 276lbs… no food for over a year! I joined some Facebook groups and the information just kept flooding in.

Excited about all the benefits of fasting, I headed up my first fast, 3 days. I could do 3 days! Turned out, it was hard. I felt nauseous. I was in a bad mood. I actually went another day after learning that four days helped with immunity. I ended the fast and felt proud I did something so great for my body. That started me on my fasting journey.

I started following a fasting schedule where I would fast 2 whole days a week and do intermittent fasting the remaining 5 days. I lost weight rapidly and within a few months I was at my pre pregnancy average weight. I felt amazing. For the first time in many years I felt comfortable in my own skin. You just can’t put a price tag on that.

After reaching my goal weight and going on vacation, I could not bring myself to continue on this fasting regimen when I returned home. I ate foods I hadn’t eaten in months on vacation and now I had a taste of it. My lower carb options weren’t as appealing and I convinced myself I was tired of keto and all the work it took to stay on it.

After a few months of eating whatever I wanted I had gained about 15 lbs. I started a book called, “The Obesity Code” by Jason Fung and my eyes were opened to the true epidemic that’s going on in our communities, our schools, our churches. The lack of knowledge of nutrition facts, ingredients, is just astounding. The way God designed our bodies is miraculous. The way each system works in sync with the others is nothing short of total genius. Fasting rests one of these systems and helps the others to perform at it’s peak. It’s a reboot of sorts.

One of the fascinating things I came across was the idea that if you fasted 10 days once a year you could dramatically decrease your chances of developing various illnesses, diseases, cancers and especially dementia. Since my dad and his whole side of the family has this terrible disease, I am trying to do everything I can to prevent myself from getting it as well. After eating pretty poorly for a couple months and gaining a bit of weight I knew it was time to make a change. I got into the shower one morning and I just knew it was time. Today was the day I was doing this. I needed to regain control of my eating, my relationship with food, my obsession with pleasure, and most importantly my brain health. So with no preparation I dove head first into this uncharted territory.

Since I was a pretty regular faster prior to my vacation, the first few days were nothing to talk about. After the initial few days, I was ready to eat. I was making breakfasts, snacks, lunches, dinners, more snacks. I was still meal planning and grocery shopping. I found myself in the kitchen nearly half the day preparing food, food all over my hands, cleaning up food, feeding my baby, watching food they didn’t want go in the trash. I would get more upset than usual. The food! Stop wasting it! Eat it!

A few days later I wasn’t even half way there! No, this is crazy. I told the kids, I think I’ll just do 6 days and that’s good enough. Their faces… my God, the disappointment was palpable. I said I was going to do 10 days and now I was going back on my word. I told Brandon how I was thinking of ending my fast early and he said, “Imagine how proud you will be of yourself when you hit your 10 day mark.” That was it. I had to do it. Not because of the disappointment, not because of how proud I would be… I had to do it because I said I was going to do it. So day after day I continued to ride the waves of hunger. Day 8 I was in my car driving with Sammy in the back seat and I started thinking. I thought about my childhood, my experiences, my little world. I started to weep uncontrollably because gratitude washed over me like a heavy rain. I was inundated with the love of God and how he has chosen to love me throughout my whole life in spite of me. I came to terms with my selfish tendency to wander and His selfless tendency to bring me back to Himself. His love is like the ocean and crashes on me at the most unexpected times. It’s more than I can take sometimes. Day 8 got me like, “I can do anything because I deserve nothing, yet I have it all because I have Jesus.”

Day 9 and 10 came and I was ready to eat but honestly I could have kept going. My body was used to the pattern of no food and was running so efficiently on just water and electrolytes. The way God designed our bodies is nothing short of a miracle. Our fat stores are our fuel. I’m blown away by his design and care for us.

It came time to eat, to break my 10 day fast. I couldn’t believe it was here, that I had made it. What seemed impossible was actually attainable. I had shown my boys that not only do I expect them to do hard things when they want to give up, when it seems impossible, when its in their power to not do it, when it’s so easy to chose to not do it, but their mom can do the same. She can do hard things and struggle, and still do it. I hope they got that lesson.

My first foods had been planned out for a week at this point. I had made a homemade chicken broth while on my fast. I let it simmer for a day and half. I would stand over the pot and just smell the broth 10 minutes at a time, just breathing it in. It was almost like I could taste it through my nose. It smelled like heaven. I knew having this broth as part of my refeed would be incredibly beneficial.  I wanted to make sure my refeed was appropriate and gentle for my system. So I took my ¼ cup of mixed nuts and ever so slowly put it in my mouth, one nut at a time. To say they were the best nuts in the whole wide world would be an understatement. I could taste the deep rich flavors of each individual nut, how the almonds texture and flavor was savory and the macadamia was bold and airy. The cashew was perfectly salty and the pecan was perfection. I savored each nut, each bite. Maybe for the first time in my life a true appreciation for food hit me.

As I prepared my chicken broth I had made, I added a myriad of vegetable from the earth… green beans, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, onions, garlic, peas, and carrots. I put it all together without a recipe and took a deep breath in. It was wildly wonderful. My first spoonful enlightened all my senses and once again a deep and profound appreciation just took over. My eyes teared up because I knew in the depths of my soul that God was just so kind. He is so kind to give us pleasure in food when He didn’t have to. Yet like everything else wonderful He gives us, we abuse it. That one spoonful opened my eyes to how good He was. He could have just provided us manna and He would have still been good. He didn’t have to shower us with all the colors of the rainbow of vegetables, berries, and fruits. He gave us intellect in how to prepare them to benefit our bodies the best, yet we drown it in sugar and chemicals and artificial substances our bodies don’t even recognize as food. We get surprised when our bodies respond by inflammation, disease and chronic pain. Food. The thing we eat everyday multiple times a day is a gift. It’s a precious gift and it’s so easy to forget we are stewards of this gift.

So I ate my whole bowl of chicken and vegetable soup and just sat in appreciation. I wasn’t planning on sharing anything about this fast with anyone. This was a personal decision to help with my own issues. I was expecting to lose a bit of weight, I was expecting to grow my mental toughness, I wasn’t expecting the greatest lesson of all… gratitude. A deep and profound gratitude of something I have taken for granted my whole life.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Through the Mouth of Babes

I was only able to get the 7pm-8pm Walmart online grocery store pickup time for today. Tough time for a mom with 4 littles and a husband away at work. Trying to wrangle the kids in the car was enough to make me break out in a sweat! My kindergartener had every excuse in the book why he should be able to stay home and he tried to argue his point about a dozen times. I had run out of patience about 3 kids ago so I lost my composure and rose my voice to ask him such a fine question which was “What is your problem?!!” Not my finest mothering moment. I left the oldest 2 at home and strapped a wiggly discontented 2 year old in the car seat while Reeve moped his way into the van with his head hung low. I sit in the car trying to figure out why there is a bedtime alert going off on my phone. I realize the baby must have been playing with my phone earlier and messed with my settings. I vent my frustrations out under my breath in incomprehensible grumbles and finally make my way to good ole Walmart. Not two minutes down the road Reeve pipes up and says, “Um, mom? I just want to thank you for everything you’ve ever done for me my whole life.”

I lower the volume because, “What?” Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Was this one of Reeves goofy random thoughts of bizarreness? (He is known for asking very obvious questions that frustrates everyone with ears). I actually laughed because this sounded scripted. Was someone telling him what to say in an ear bud or something? I quickly stopped laughing when I turned around and saw his face, how he was staring out the window. For once in his life, the boy with the permanent smile on his face wasn’t smiling. It shocked me the way he looked actually.

My boy repeated what he had just said and continued talking in a voice that wasn’t his.  

“I just want to say thank you for everything you’ve ever done for me for my whole life. I know daddy’s dad died and that brought daddy down here and he married you. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that, but God brought our family together for joy. So, I just want to say thank you for everything.”

Speechless I drove in silence for a minute processing what just happened. I gathered myself and choked back the tears to tell him how sweet those words were and thanked him for sharing.

What. Just. Happened.

As soon as I get a chance at a red light, I write down what he just said because I can’t even believe my ears. I can’t miss the importance of this. After all the arguing and dealing with such a disgruntled mom he comes up with this?? Then it hit me. That sounded NOTHING like Reeve. I mean, no resemblance. It was truly like someone else was talking through him... because maybe just maybe there was Someone talking through him. Could God, the creator of the universe be speaking life to me through my kindergartener in the middle of my mess on my way to Walmart? This seemed too over the top ‘spiritual’ to me. Did I just dream this up? There was no warning, no piano playing softly in the background, no build up of fuzzy feelings... just pure unadulterated gratitude and love right smack in the middle of my ugly. It became so obvious to me that God showed up to tell me something important, really important. Something I’ve been missing. Something he wants me to have. 

Gratitude and joy. 

I seemed to have lost it along the way somewhere. Turns out it was right here the whole time in the heart of my son, flying under the radar of all the busy and distractions of life. It’s been right at my fingertips in red letters on my end table beckoning me to come everyday... but this, but that.

I am still in shock and amazement over this. I can’t ignore it any longer. It’s time. Time to be intentional with gratitude and end the negative self-talk about how horrible I am. Time to stand up to the haters in my head and raise my head to the light to find my hope and strength in Him. It’s time to trade the dread in my heart for joy. I’m so thankful for these moments in time that seem to come out of nowhere, but in actuality, come at the exact right time. He stopped me in my destructive path to shine a light on gratitude and joy. Oh how I have missed true joy. I’m so thankful God isn’t done with me yet. I’m so thankful he cares so deeply for me... enough to not leave me in my mothering vacuum to sulk all alone in all my inadequacies. 

Did He really show up in my mini van to tell me there’s another way... to remind me he put my family together for joy. It was like He was saying, “Priscilla, don’t miss this.” To think that He really cares for my weary soul... what a Savior.  This my friends is why I am blessed. This and only this. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. He’s still gathering up my hidden ashes and turning them into something beautiful. I believe that.