Monday, December 24, 2012

Your Virtual Christmas Card From Our Fam

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Dangers of YOLO

I feel so out of touch when this kind of thing happens. A few months back, some younger people I know are talking and mentioned something like, "Well, YOLO."

"What's that supposed to mean?" I inquire.

"You've never heard of 'YOLO'?!?" The young group stared back at me in shock.

I refrain from pathetically shooting something back at them along the lines of, "Oh, yeah, well do you know what a caboodle is?!"

And they explain their modern lingo to this 30-something year old, "It means 'You Only Live Once'."

Since that conversation, I've started to notice it on Facebook postings, t-shirts, and such. And I've been musing on that. I've been musing on the idea of YOLO.

In some ways, I feel like I've become more acquainted with the realities of this world more than any other year of my life. It's been a year of walking through some tough stuff with friends: watching multiple girlfriends go through life-altering, thoroughly messy trials. Relationships broken, once stable marriages falling apart, walking through dark places, and other things I couldn't have dreamed up when we first rang in 2012. On top of that, my eyes have been more opened than ever to the world outside the U.S. I'm becoming more educated on children in conditions that make me want to sit and sob or go and throw-up. I feel this stirring, that I just can't sit still; feeling this further hatred of sin's curse.

And that's what has me thinking about this idea of YOLO - this idea that is presented to us over and over in different formats. Do it: you only live once. Make it count: you only live once. You deserve it: you only live once.

But actually the Bible has something quite different to tell me. Hebrews 9:27 says, "It is appointed for a man to die once, and after that comes judgement."

So, actually, you only die once. While I don't think they'll be marketing YODO t-shirts, the truth is that I live twice because after death comes judgement. I'll be judged for how I lived my first life; and then, I'll live my second life for eternity. Whether that second life will be lived paying the penalty for rebellion toward God or receiving unmerited and joy of fellowship with the Savior in a perfect new world, we will be living a second time.

This world is broken. You don't have an iota of sense if you don't know that after what happened in Connecticut last week. If this was all there was, then I wouldn't want to endure it for one more second.

But what if you're living twice? What if you really do believe Jesus when He says to "lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."?

What I really, truly believed this? What if I really lived my life like this?

Living once tells me to get as comfortable as I possibly can, to make emotional and rash decisions, to get as much pleasure as I can at the expense of others, and to live in a world that revolves around me. Then as we grow older, the happiness we've tried to achieve feels empty and we grow tired of a world that doesn't deliver on our hopes and dreams. The idea of only living once leads to self-centered, indulgent young people and disillusioned older people. 

Living twice tells to me to shed my comfort, to live for something outside myself, and to start seeing my the way I live my life in an eternal light. And, as I told my 10-year-old son recently, it's funny how it works. You would think that living for yourself would make you happy. Logic tells you this is true. But it's empty. Living for God's glory and for eternity; that what makes this for true joy. It defies logic.

Author Paul Tripp says, "As we begin to place our hope in God, we get connected to the promise of eternity, where all that is broken will be fixed and made new again. And as we do this, we look at life in a radically new way. We no longer ask the broken people, places, and things to be the source of our hope. We know they can't be, because they are broken and in need of renewal just like we are."

Sometimes I keep a list in my mind of people that I really can't wait to watch receive their rewards in heaven. I'm going through this list in my head right now, and realizing that none of these people are living the American dream; none of them are living for themselves. Many of these people's lives look pretty lame here. And yet these people have undeniable joy. And a distinct way of living....

They're living twice; and they know it.


"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Caffeine, Baby!

This is the reason my room smells so divine right now....

And it's merely a fraction of the coffee I have sitting here. 

My husband is a natural born salesman. And since opposites attract, I hate trying to sell anything. As in ANYTHING. I hate it with every bone in body. So having to do fundraisers for our adoption is not exactly my idea of a good time. Trust me, I'd rather just give updates and never say a word about money. But I hear that adopting is a wonderful way to strap on some humility; so fundraising must be the trial run. 

If I have to sell something, at least this fair-trade, organic coffee takes some of the sting out of the pain of sales. Our family will be selling this delicious stuff before and after our church service Sunday with other families that are on the road to adoption. Next to us you'll find the Echegoyens selling some homemade salsa, and the Kobayashi's selling handmade crafts so that you can get some last minute Christmas shopping done! 

If you're local, and won't be there, feel free to contact me about buying coffee since purchasing it directly from us takes away the shipping and handling fee and the hassle of ordering it yourself. And if you're not local you, can simply go HERE to buy some.

Okay. Sales hat off now. Whew, that feels better.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Christmas Decorations of a Semi-Scrooge

My mother is a version of Mrs. Clause at Christmas, decorating every nook and cranny of her home while baking platters of intricate cookies and candies that could dazzle any Food Network star. My father, on the other hand, has been lovingly referred to as the Grinch. He enjoys the family time that the holidays bring, but would probably skip the Christmas tree if my mother would let him. And his passionate love for my mom is the only reason the Helms home has ever seen outdoor Christmas lights which he begrudgingly is in charge of every year. His only reward is when Mrs. Clause claps her hands together with joy at the first sight of them.

I happen to have lots of empathy for my father's point of view. I see outdoor lights as an electric bill sucker and am not a fan upheaving the order of my home to decorate for Christmas (which the U.S. now celebrates for one-quarter of the year...which drives me up a wall!) Such sentiments have earned me the nickname of Scrooge in my family. 

But I protest that I am merely a Semi-Scrooge. I actually do enjoy the Christmas decorations while they are up (I have a soft spot for mantel decorations), but I'll enjoy it even more when I get to put them away. Sorry; sad truth.

So I'll share the decorations of this Semi-Scrooge. Not because they're so special, but because I actually enjoy it when bloggers post their decoration photos and wish I could see insides of each of your homes decorated for the season.







My mother-in-law gives the kids each their own ornament every year having to do with their interest at that age. It's like a Hallmark moment and the kids really get a thrill out of hanging their ornaments and talking about each of them. But this year, as I decorated the tree for the first time in our new home, I told Steven, "I really, really can't bring myself to hang Spiderman on my lovely tree."

So we decided it was time for a kids tree. (How could be accused of being a Scrooge when I've actually allowed two trees in my home?!?) They were enthralled with the chance to have their own tree; and we put it in right outside the schoolroom so that they could find more ways to be distracted from doing their Math.

Christmas book nook:


An attempt to hide our unsightly doorbell chime with Christmas cheer:


And if you work the photography just right you can make it look like your home is perfectly clean with no Christmas baking messes. Because here's what it looked like right outside that last shot:

And no, I won't be serving pickle cookies.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Latest Craving {energy}

In early 2003, I put away all my coaching items; and exited the gym one last time. I'd spent 16 years in the world of gymnastics- 10 as a gymnast and 6 as a coach. And one of the things I remember thinking was, "I'm actually going to have to intentionally exercise now."

For all those years, exercising was my playtime and then my job. From that last gymnastics class on, my love-hate relationship with exercise began. Aerobic videos, strength training, Pilates, running, or pretending that chasing my kids was all the exercise I needed- I felt like I was on a hunt for the workout that didn't feel like drudgery.

In April of this year, my search came to an end. Enter Bikram Yoga. Ninety minutes of an exercise practice that combines strength training, flexibility, and cardiovascular workout done in a room with a heat of 105° and a 40% humidity (the heat helps you sweat off toxins and helps your body do the practice)- yeah, baby! After the first class, I was in love. I was thrilled to find that lost feeling of actually looking forward to my workouts. And won't even bore you with my ravings about how it's taken away all the pain from old gymnastics injuries, how it makes my body feel younger, or how I no longer have to be on my daily asthma can ask me in person if you really want to hear about all of that.

Because the point of this post isn't about what exercise you or I personally enjoy, it's about my new little energy craving. Like any other exercise, I'm not supposed to have a full stomach when entering the yoga room. I've learned that the hard way, having to excuse myself from class to go make face-to-face friends with the studio's toilet. Okay, TMI. But the dilemma for me personally was how to have enough energy to get through class if I haven't eaten beforehand. So I started thinking about what I could take that was natural, wouldn't fill me up, and would do the job. I thought about how my midwives had me keep honey on hand during labor in case I needed an energy boost. I thought about how chia seeds have long been called "runner's food" for their ability to help provide stamina and endurance. So I knew I wanted those:

And I thought about nuts and seeds which have protein that gives you a more lasting pick-up. So I thought I'd add some nut butter:

I tested my theory a few different times and was thrilled with the results. I hardly had to put anything on my stomach and I could tell the difference in the energy level that I was able to maintain through class. But it doesn't just have to be for yoga. Do you get up early to run or exercise in some other way? I'm not a nutritionist, but I know how these little bad boys have helped me.

Energy Boosters

2 Tbsp. local raw honey
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
2 Tbsp. your favorite nut/seed butter (I love using sunbutter)

Mix all the ingredients together. Spoon four mounds onto a small plate covered with wax or parchment paper. Eat one or two of them shortly before your next workout.

Now, this isn't recipe you'll be making for your Christmas party, it's definitely got all the potent sweetness of the honey. But give them a shot before your next workout, and tell me if you don't notice an energy difference.