Raising a girl into a strong woman

hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny
— C.S. Lewis
FullSizeRender 46.jpg

How do I explain to our one and only daughter that the teenaged trials in life are part of what will shape her as a grown up.  I can share the story with her how when I was in high school the summer before my sophomore year I went away to a tall flag camp. 

Since I was part of the tall flags team we had an opportunity to go away to a camp to learn new skills and compete with other schools. I went to camp with a friend of mine who I grew up with.  We had some serious history the two of us.  We were suppose to room together.  That was the plan.  However if you can believe it, there was actually a cool, cute way hipper girl who was at the same camp, a grade ahead of us who my friend decided would be way more awesome to room with.  It broke my heart.  I didn’t understand.  Why wouldn’t she want to room with her buddy she had for all these years?  I was lucky though because a few of the girls on our team took me under their wing and invited me to room with them.  The entire weekend my long time friend was kind of rude to me, she wouldn’t talk to me, she didn’t really interact with me.  She even did a few intentional mean things to me.  It was torture.  I was so heart broken.  I called home one night while we were in the cafeteria, we didn’t have cell phones or social media.  My goodness had we, it could have been far worse.   I called my mom on the pay phone in tears.  I begged her to drive up and come get me.  I couldn’t stay here a minute longer.  

FullSizeRender 46 copy.jpg

My mom didn’t come.  She told me I could do it.  She told me I was strong and that I would get through this.  She had faith in me.  She wasn’t the kind of mom to swoop in and rescue me from a tough spot.  She was a mom who taught me how to rise in times of adversity.  She taught me how to be strong.  Because things were not always easy and I had endured a few more events far worse than this high school story, it shaped me into the empathetic human being I am today, it showed me that grace is far more important than being rigid and “right.” It gave me insight to others who may have struggled with the bullies in their lives too.  I have forgiveness in my heart.  This gal who wouldn’t room with me turned out to be a really great human being herself.  She was sorry for the stuff she put me through in high school.  I wholeheartedly accepted her apologies and we are the best of friends even to this day.  

I want to teach my daughter the same lessons my wise mom taught me.  My mom never called my friends mom to give her a piece of her mind (although she kind of wanted to)  She instead just loved me, loved my friend and stayed out of our business. She had faith in me that I would figure it all out.  I did.  I always figured it out. We always patched things up and learned lessons from our mistakes.

I take these lessons with me today as we believe in our daughter,  show her support, love her deeply, encourage her strengths,  listen to her concerns, give her advice when she asks for it.  She can rise above.  We pray for her loads, we pray with her in times of tears,  we hold her, we hug her and we tell her how much she is loved. I don’t know if what we are doing is “right” we are just doing our best.  We also have two boys who are now men, high school was much different for the boys, we handled them differently because I have also realized each child has their own unique circumstances that should be dealt with accordingly.  Each child has their own story. 

I truly see such strength in this young woman.  I tell her she is strong in body, mind and spirit.  I need to show her through example that I too am strong, body, mind and spirt.  I can show her how my faith helps me through the rough times. I’m her best example of how to be a Godly women in today’s times.  Today’s times sure are different though with social media and texting and things I never had to experience.   So I use social media to send her, snaps and I text her quotes like this one; 

“hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”  C.S. Lewis.  

I send her prayers like this one 

“Heavenly Father, help me to raise my eyes above my circumstances and focus on You.  Today I’m facing a battle, but thank You for overcoming this world through Jesus Christ.    John 16:33 

I remind her that she has God on her side, Romans 8:31

I remind her how we can only control ourselves and not the people around us and even with reminders her behavior isn’t exactly perfect but she for sure is 100% human, I’ve seen that side too.  And so we solider on.  We always solider on and learn from from this life and most especially in the rough spots. 

IMG_8859.JPG

and most importantly.....WE NEVER GIVE UP because great things happen through our failures and persistance. She has already shown me this.   

Loving Who You Are, Where You Are

I’m so happy to be a part of Grace Notes Blog Hop!  Today I’m going to talk about loving who you are, where you are and I think this topic goes nicely with the awesome give-a-way that you will have an opportunity to win if you leave a comment below telling me how you embrace who you are, exactly where you are. I will choose a winner out of a hat and one lucky person will win a copy of   Field Guide to Everyday Magic.  It’s a beautiful book published by the makers of Bella Grace. It's perfectly sized so that you can carry it with you everywhere you go, fits nicely in your bag and can be pulled out any time you want to feel inspired. I can hardly wait!  I’m so excited for someone to win this beautiful book. I will also include a little something special to go along with the package.  

Please comment by September 7th for a chance to win a free copy of Field Guide to Everyday Magic.  Contest is open to U.S. residents.  International participants are eligible to receive a free digital edition of Bella Grace.  

I choose this topic because I know it’s relatable.  I know it’s something I have struggled with and I know not a single one of us has a life like the other.  Nobody knows what it’s like to be me, to live in my skin in my exact circumstances, just as I will never know how it is for you to live your life exactly where you are, in your skin and with your exact circumstances.  I’m not to discount any of your worries, anxieties or to think my worries are worse or your worries are worse.  My loss is bigger or your loss is bigger.  It’s all relative.  I do think we can agree though that sometimes we might struggle loving who we are, where we are. I want to share three practices that help me. If we don’t have tools we can’t fix what is broken.  

who-am-i_15595556678_o.jpg

What I have found to work for me are these three things;  Gratitude, giving and and my faith.  My faith keeps me grounded and gives me hope every day.  These three things help me to love exactly who I am, where I stand, even if it sitting in my mom soccer sweatshirt on the kitchen floor. For example, when I go on a walk and my direct surroundings are dirty sidewalks, lacking nature I can focus on the trash or I can find the treasures.  Finding the treasures beats focusing on the trash any day. I can pick up a tiny pinecone and a broken piece of glass and find the beauty in them.  I can appreciate how ruffly the pinecone is made by our Creator, I can also appreciate the sharp round man made glass and see the beauty in each of them.  I can dwell on the traffic noise or I can focus on the suburban birds who balance on the high wires singing their morning praises.  It’s all a choice. I can choose to give out a smile or I can choose to look the other way.  I have experienced both and a returned smile not only makes me smile bigger it reaches into my heart and gives me a feeling of connection and instant joy.  

251.jpg

This isn’t easy.  It doesn’t come natural.  I believe with practice it starts to feel more natural but it takes practice.  It really does.  I have felt bitterness, I have focused on negative things.  I know this makes me feel heavy.  I know this makes my heart sad.  Knowing and doing, that’s the hard part.  I try and practice lots but this isn’t to say life’s surprises don’t throw me into a tailspin at times but these three practices pull me back, gratitude, giving and my faith.  

254.jpg

I can’t stop thinking about the mom who lost her baby,  the woman who battles each day fighting cancer.  The teenaged girl who hates her body or the friend who recently lost her mother.   How do they find their peace, their joy and how do they love who they are where they are?  It’s a choice for them too as difficult a hand they were dealt.  Life will continue to throw us these crazy curve balls, it will never stop.  I believe it’s to teach us empathy, to make us stronger so we can then help others.  There is always a purpose and since we only get one chance, shouldn’t it be our choice to find the beauty in the mess? I promise, there is always beauty around us and there is always an opportunity to give.  

272.jpg

Mrs. Ostgaard taught me something new today

It’s strange indeed how memories can lie dormant in a man’s mind for so many years. Yet those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just be something you’ve seen, or something you’ve heard, or the sight of an old familiar face.
— Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows

Today I had the honor and privilege to attend a beautiful memorial for a teacher who taught not just one of our boys but both of them.

It’s been 11 years since Austin had Mrs. Ostgaard for his 5th grade teacher and it’s been 7 years since Dylan had her for his 5th and final year of elementary school.  She didn’t have cancer with Austin and by the time it was Dylan’s turn, she had been diagnosed and like the warrior she was, she had beat it and was in remission.  Do you know how glad I was that my second born son would have the privilege to have her as his teacher too?  I’m a little bit shy in general so I never really had the courage to express my gratitude in person to Mrs. Ostgaard and when my mother-n-law stopped by one morning a couple of weeks ago to tell me that Mrs. Ostgaard was on hospice, we prayed together for Mrs. O and yes, the tears rolled down my cheeks.  “Why Mrs. Ostgaard, why?” We talked about writing her a letter so she would be able to know the impact she had on our lives, on our kids lives but little did we know at the time, she was already gone.  She went to be with the Lord on Mothers Day.  Even though I didn’t have the opportunity to write her a letter when she was still here on earth, I can do it now.  

Dear Mrs. Ostgaard, 

I first want to tell you that when my boys were in elementary school I was the kind of mom who prayed to God that He would give my kids the exact teacher they needed.   I was never the kind of mom to go to the principal and try and get the teacher I thought would be good for my kids.  I trusted that who they received would be exactly who they needed.  Little did I know that when Austin my first born got you for his 5th grade teacher that you would impact his life from that year on.  You see that particular year you had a couple of kids with the name Austin.  You naturally decided to give my Austin a nick name and you called him “Ace”  I’m pretty sure you knew exactly what you were doing too because my son had low self esteem.  He was very bright and could talk to just about any adult but he didn’t exactly mesh well with the majority of kids his same age,  he wasn’t the most coordinated and he was a little chunky and kids kind of made fun of him but when you gave him that name, it changed so many things.  He held his head a little higher and it made him feel special.  You gave him value and not just you but the other kids began to pick up on it and even the roughest kid at school went on to call him Ace in middle school and was always very kind to the little outsider. 

I remember Ace’s year was my first experience with your tradition of apple pie.  Yes, I couldn’t believe you were going to teach all of 5th grade how to bake a homemade from scratch apple pie!

When you told me you would be reading “Where the Red Fern Grows” to your class.  I was so excited to know you would be reading that book to the kids because it was my grandpa’s most favorite book and he had passed before Ace was born.  I remember asking you, “How do you read that book to your kids without crying at the end?”  and you simply said, “I do cry, every single time, I cry!”  That’s when I really knew you were the real deal.  

I still have the paper mache bowl that you taught Ace to make and submit to the fair. I’m super sentimental. It holds my colored pens.  

 Four years later my second born son got you for his 5th grade teacher and I was so happy, I wanted Dylan to be able to get to know you how Ace got to know you too and I just had this feeling that you were especially made to be a teacher for boys.  Maybe I’m wrong but it was just this vibe you put off that boys were special, that while some teachers complained that boys could be a little rowdy or unruly, you seemed to “get them”  I had heard you had cancer and I could see this time around you used a cane and had a little bit of a limp but again I was so shy, I was nervous to ask but really just so you know what I wanted to do was hug you tight and tell you how glad I was that you made it, that you were still here to teach my second born son.  Again, I didn’t do that.  Kind of like the quote I opened this up with, it is pretty true how memories can come fresh again when we have heard or seen something that brings them back to life.  That’s what your memorial did for me today.  It just flooded my mind and heart with all those awesome memories.  But it also taught me a lesson, it taught me today that even if I’m a little shy I choose not to let that stand in my way any longer.  Next time I see someone that I want to hug or tell them how grateful I am for them, I’m just going to do it.  I promise I will because I’m pretty sure that’s what you would do.   I also want to thank you for walking in the light of Jesus, that your love for Jesus was passed on to my children and even though they went to a public school, they had a lovely Christian example right before their very eyes each day while they were in your class.  That’s invaluable.  Thank you Mrs. Osgaard, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  You made such a big difference in our lives. We always, always think of you when we crank out the best apple pie ever.  Our recipe is tattered and has butter stains, it’s well used and just like when I see roses I think of grandpa, when we make that apple pie or even have a slice from someplace else, we will think of you and say a little prayer of gratitude.  

Love Tracie, Ace and Dylan's Mom

 

40 days and 40 nights

COMMITMENT means staying LOYAL to what you said you were going to do long after the MOOD you said it in has left you.
— Jillian Michaels
this was day 5 of the detox.  Day 5 was the HARDEST day.  I still have my laugh lines and expression lines that I'm actually pretty proud of because it just means I've smiled and laughed an awful lot but I think I do see a bit of a glow to my skin. 

this was day 5 of the detox.  Day 5 was the HARDEST day.  I still have my laugh lines and expression lines that I'm actually pretty proud of because it just means I've smiled and laughed an awful lot but I think I do see a bit of a glow to my skin. 

Today is 40 days!  40 days and 40 nights of a mind change, a serious mind change.  I believe it was 2010 that I began to experience a change in my body that I didn’t understand.  During those 7 years I saw at least 7 or more doctors.  All different types of doctors because I couldn’t understand how for 40 years of my life I was fine.  Relatively fine.  Then all of a sudden I became extremely anxious and my OCD took over.  My body itched and I wouldn’t stop scratching.  The past couple of years things have gotten so much better.  I still like to say I’m 90% not quite 100% and this again sparked me to change the way I have been eating and also take control over my own health these past 40 days.  When will it become a lifestyle and not a crazy weird and temporary diet? I’m hoping to finally get this, because this isn’t a diet I’m on, it’s a new way of life.  A life that includes far more healthy choices and way, way less unhealthy choices.   

I read about it for years, I fantasized about it.  Read health books, fitness magazines, enjoyed success stories.  Watched shows like Biggest Loser as I sat and ate snacks of ice-cream, cookies, brownies, brownie batter, cookies and cookie dough, hand fulls of chocolate chips.  Sugar has had a good strong hold on me for many years.  I have on more than one occasion ordered cake for dinner.  Although I have taken my soda intake way down, I would enjoy a coke as we dined out and never turned down the free re-fills.   As I type this out I can’t believe the choices I’ve made for a number of years.  

I decided 40 days ago to invest money into seeing someone who could help me with this journey.  I have not regretted one bit spending money on this because I feel so different already and I understand so much more.  She is a wonderful teacher and a very good example of beautiful health.  Her skins shimmers and shines, her eyes are bright, her hair is long and shiny and her body fits her skeleton perfectly.   

This is my new favorite tea.  My holistic health coach sells all sorts of yummy teas, have not had one I don't love. 

This is my new favorite tea.  My holistic health coach sells all sorts of yummy teas, have not had one I don't love. 

I still have a very long way to go.  I will take each day as they come and hope to make the best choices I can with each meal I eat.  The first two weeks without refined sugar was horrible.  I felt absolutely horrible.  My energy was low, my moods were mean and even now my skin is still detoxing all the stagnant yuck-ness that has been inside my body.  Everyone is unique and different even in the way they detox.  My skin has always been a big issue for me.  I show my stress in my skin.  A few weeks before I got married my eyelids broke out in a ugly rash, I would get hives all over my legs when I was stressed or little boils would pop up randomly.  I never had bad acne but other strange skin issues.  So I guess my “thing” is my skin.  

Today I have lost 16 pounds in 40 days.  When normally my weight wouldn’t budge much no matter how much I walked or worked out.  I have been told diet and nutrition is a large percentage of how to lose fat.  Working out and moving is very important for your heart and overall health but I have been told if you don’t change your diet you wont change very much. 

I know this has consumed me lately and it’s all I have been talking about and posting pictures of but a large part of my success also comes from the encouragement I receive from my friends and family who read my words and see my pictures and encourage me to keep swimming.  

I never in all my years thought I would reach a weight of 193 pounds on my small framed 5’4” body.  That’s a lot to handle on my bones and joints.  I was feeling it too.  I wasn’t being very kind to myself that’s for sure. I was in a big depression too. It’s up to me to change this.  I’m the ONLY one in fact who can change my path.   Keep swimming with me.  I want you to feel good too.