Tag Archives: celebrating beauty

Musings on my muffin top

I read a fascinating book last year by Kevin Leeman, author of “The Birth Order Book.”  This one was, “What Your Childhood Memories Say About You.”   The basic premise is that our earliest childhood memories are those “aha!” moments when we had a monumental realization about who we are. 

One of my early memories is watching my mom exercise to Jane Fonda videos in our living room.

If I had to guess, I bet that isn’t a stand-out memory for my three brothers.  Even though I was largely protected from damaging media, I still absorbed our culture’s not-so-subtle message that I must be thin and attractive to have approval, worth and love, from the angst of my mother as she struggled to maintain her slender figure.

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I was never unhappy with my body growing up.  People tell me I’m tall – I’m 5’7″ – but I always knew I should be 5’10”, and probably would have been if I hadn’t needed corrective surgery at 14 for a mild case of spina bifida occulta.  My brother’s are 6’5″ and 6’7″, so I’m something of a runt in my family.

We’re doing “CREATION Health” in our Bible study right now, and last time we met, we each described a time in our life when we were most fit, and how did that feel.  For me, that was in college.  I was hitting the gym, jogging and biking in the wooded trails around campus, taking kickboxing classes and swing dancing on weekends.  I felt strong, energetic and powerful.

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My brother Jon and I backpacking thru Europe in 2002.

Lately, I feel weak, tired and vulnerable.  I have a recurring dream that I’m being chased by an attacker and I just cannot move fast enough to get away.

When I was in grad school and my husband, Logan, and I began to date, I didn’t have as much time to be active, plus we were eating big meals together and were mostly sitting to study, talk and watch movies.

Several times, I wept in despair as I began to gain a few pounds.  I was suddenly, for the first time, having a great deal of body image issues, very worried that as I aged, I would struggle with weight gain.  Evidently, I had a subconscious fear of being fat that had never before surfaced.

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At our wedding nearly 10 years ago, and at my brother Danny’s wedding last month.

When Logan and I got married, I was on birth control for a few months, which messed up my body chemistry in a big way, and I was gaining more weight.  So I stopped taking birth control….and got pregnant immediately.  More body issues, as my stomach, legs and chest broke out in impressive stretch marks.

When Josiah was born (all 10 lbs., 7 oz. of him!), I was spending eight hours a day breastfeeding.  I won’t even mention how birth messes things up ‘down there!’  He has since been joined by a little brother and sister, two more large babies.  When pregnancy and nursing were behind me, I was sure those lagging 20 pounds would fall off, but an emotional crisis last year bumped that number up to 50 pounds.

I have a closet full of lovely clothing that I cannot fit into.  I have a muffin top that spills over the waistband of my pants and peeks out under my shirts.

I feel like this post belongs on WhiteWhine.com – “a collection of First World Problems.” Waaaaah!!  Waaaaah!!  I have too much food to eat and a comfortable house to raise my children in!  But I’m not skinny!!!  Waaaaaah!!!

I was already dealing with so much last year that I learned very quickly to be kind to myself.  I read Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly,” and decided that I was going to “show up,” even if the only thing I had to wear were yoga pants.  I am grateful that I learned to accept my body for what it is.  I’m not going to diet anymore.

But I do still have that nagging dream of being chased and being too weak to get away.  I want to get healthy and strong — emotionally, physically, mentally, and most of all, spiritually.  I want to live life abundantly, not to attain the approval of others but to have the stamina and strength to fulfill my calling in God’s kingdom, to see my grandchildren and great grandchildren, to live pain free and joyfully.  So I am not dieting, just strengthening my body.

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Why am I sharing all of this?  Because we all have our own body-image story.  Many are dealing with deep, deep hurts and fears and insecurities that lead to eating disorders and body dismorphia.  I pray that you can learn to be kind to yourself and know that God doesn’t look down on his beloved children and ask, “Are you sure you want to eat that?” or, “Come back and talk to me after you’ve lost 50 pounds.”  He wants to talk to you and me today.  His love is “never-stopping, always and forever,” and “He loves us as we are, not as we should be.”  We are each made in the image of God, and as we grow in Christlikeness — not in conformity to superficial beauty standards but in strength of character, humility, love for others, etc. — how could we be any more beautiful?

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Think about these questions:

What messages did you receive from your family about physical beauty?  Did your mother, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, or the men of your family talk about weight?  How?

Has media’s bombardment of skinny models and actresses affected your perception of beauty?

When have you been the most active and fit and how did you feel at that time?

Is being attractive a priority for you?  Do you associate physical beauty with value and worth?

May we all grow more and more comfortable in the skin that we are in, and may we feel God’s unabashed, unrelenting love for us.  He accepts us as we are and calls us His Beautiful Ones.

Blessings – Ruth
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P.S.  Here is a spoken word poem about the power of generational influences that run in our families, and how we absorb them despite our greatest efforts not to.

Stand-Out Mother’s Day Posts

We’ve been sharing great Mother’s Day posts on our Facebook Page, and I decided they warranted a listing here on the blog, as we reflect on our mothers and all care-givers who nurture and love on others.

A poem about motherhood and our feeble attempts to return the favor for our mothers’ innumerable sacrifices.  This will make you laugh and cry:


Because mothers are human beings too…and need lots of grace!:  “This Mother’s Day, Make a List of Reasons You Resent Your Mother – Oh, and then throw it away.” by Ashley Moore for Today’s Christian Woman.

Glennon Melton at Momastery shared this one from TheRoot.com

Glennon Melton at Momastery shared this one from TheRoot.com

Shauna Niequist, daughter of Bill and Lynne Hybels, on “What My Mother Taught Me” – Make space for two callings in one home, one marriage. Don’t let logistics get in the way of calling. It’s not easy, it’s complicated – but everyone benefits when women tap into the passions and gifts that God has given them.

Ann Voskamp’s beautiful piece, “Why Motherhood is Really Just for the Birds.”  Here’s an excerpt:

That’s just the pretty ugly of us — we’re not the Hallmark mother, just the Velveteen Mothers. The Velveteen Mothers who know when there’s a volleys of words and weary silences afterward and everything looks impossibly wrecked —

The angular, hard edges of perfection are being sanded down by all our scrapes and falls, till we’re round and soft and can get close enough to each other to just hold each other.

Only when you’re broken are you tender enough to wrap yourself around anyone.

Only the broken people can really embrace.

That’s us — could we just really hold onto each other?

Find each other and hold onto each other and offer the hug of the broken who know the relief that homemaking is about making a home, not perfection, that motherhood is a hallowed space because children aren’t commonplace, that anyone who fosters dreams and labor prayers is a mother to the child in us all.

 

This really important bit of advice: “How Not to be Disappointed this Mother’s Day,” from Lisa Jo Baker.  How many of us have unrealistic expectations for this holiday?  Here’s an outstanding excerpt:

We expect and the expecting is high and impossible until it blossoms into full blown entitlement. And entitlement? Entitlement is a very slippery thing. Entitlement believes that we know best, deserve the best, and resents the rest who don’t deliver. Entitlement takes the sacrifice of motherhood and spins it in dizzying, disorienting circles. Motherhood bends. Entitlement demands. Motherhood serves. Entitlement stomps its foot. Motherhood delights. Entitlement keeps lists. Motherhood laughs. Entitlement whines. Motherhood celebrates. Entitlement sulks. Motherhood forgets itself in favor of remembering her dimple, his fastest mile, their mouths all ringed around with chocolate. Entitlement tastes bitterness in every bite of a day that doesn’t go as planned. And the grand irony of a day devoted to remembering mothers is that it can make me forget how content I am in this skin. Because I am not the sum total of breakfast in bed or empty dishwashers. I am not defined by how tidy the playroom is or who remembered to make me a thoughtful card.

Shane Claiborne shared this prayer from Common Prayer:

A Litany to Honor Women

We walk in the company of the women who have gone before, Mothers of the faith both named and unnamed,
Testifying with ferocity and faith to the Spirit of Wisdom and Healing.
They are the judges, the prophets, the martyrs, the warriors, poets, lovers and Saints
Who are near to us in the shadow of awareness, in the crevices of memory, in the landscape of our dreams.*

We walk in the company of Deborah,
who judged the Israelites with authority and strength.

We walk in the company of Esther,
who used her position as Queen to ensure the welfare of her people.

We walk in the company of you whose names have been lost and silenced,
who kept and cradled the wisdom of the ages.

We walk in the company of the woman with the flow of blood,
who audaciously sought her healing and release.

We walk in the company of Mary Magdalene,
who wept at the empty tomb until the risen Christ appeared.

We walk in the company of Phoebe,
who led an early church in the empire of Rome.

We walk in the company of Perpetua of Carthage,
whose witness in the third century led to her martyrdom.

We walk in the company of Saint Christina the Astonishing,
who resisted death with persistence and wonder.

We walk in the company of Julian of Norwich,
who wed imagination and theology proclaiming “all shall be well.”

We walk in the company of Sojourner Truth,
who stood against oppression, righteously declaring “ain’t I a woman!” in 1852.

We walk in the company of the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,
who turned their grief to strength, standing together to remember “the disappeared” children of war
with a holy indignation.

We walk in the company of Alice Walker,
who named the lavender hue of womanish strength.

We walk in the company of you Mothers of the faith,
who teach us to resist evil with boldness, to lead with wisdom, and to heal.

Amen.
The Liturgists shared a fascinating prayer and meditation on “God Our Mother”.  So true that we cannot fully understand God and our language often only impedes us further in that.
And finally, I’ll leave you with this beautiful post from Glennon Melton at Momastery, “Sistering On.”  I love the metaphor and I found myself crying at the beauty of this simple post.  Oh, how I need the support of my sisters!  We all need to love and support one another.

 

Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o’s Powerful Speech on Beauty

Beautiful Kingdom Warriors, be inspired by this BEAUTIFUL speech!