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It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another Meet Me At This Moment for Five Minute Friday post! I spend the last two hours of Thursday chatting it up with a group of authentic and inspiring Five Minute Friday bloggers on Twitter (#FiveMinuteFriday #fmfparty). One minute past midnight EST Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker gives us a single word prompt and we all write a blog post centered around that word. We write for five minutes, and five minutes only! In the words of Lisa, this is “unscripted. unedited. real.” You meet me at this moment in time…my thoughts and opinions, my joys and sorrows, my dilemmas and dreams. And I receive one of the greatest gifts ever…a regular outlet for processing and expressing my thoughts without constantly editing myself. This is my life, my perspective, unfiltered.

The word of the week is GRASP. 

Ready. Set. GO!

I admit, I’ve been having some body image issues lately. My baby is nine months, and I’ve been stuck five pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight for four months.

Last Sunday, getting ready for church, I was possibly at my worst. I stood in the closet, looking for what to wear. I put on a pear of my bigger pants. Even those didn’t fit. This is the problem I’ve had for months. Nothing fits except the leggings. Capri leggings in the summer, and now long leggings for the colder weather. None of the regular pants fit and it is making me crazy. Some say, “oh, just get some different pants,” or “don’t worry, you’ll fit into them soon enough.” But it has really been getting me down that NONE of the pants fit in my closet, and I don’t want to buy all new pants!

So this pair of pants, one of the bigger pair, was my best bet. I put them on and the fat rolled off the side just as I hated with every other pair. I wish I could just be ok with it and wear them that way. But I feel fat and uncomfortable with that fat rolling off the side.

Then I wonder if a shirt will help cover it up. That didn’t help at all. In fact, the shirt highlights the fat even more.

Maybe a double layer will help. The plain sweater, camoflauge it all? Nope. That didn’t do it either. The fat still shows through even with the double layer. I am feeling worse and worse as every layer goes on.

Then I strip it all off and put on the flowy dress with the flowy vest and leggings. And it all feels covered, and nobody can see all of the dilemma I faced in that closet, the tears, the agony, the fight within myself.

I look over at that dress I wore one year ago when I was pregnant. Oh so pretty. Bought that regular dress so I could “wear it after,” but it still doesn’t fit, and that makes me just want to be pregnant all my life so I don’t have to worry about feeling fat anymore.

And then I hear crying from the room next door to that closet. Little baby. I enter, and there is baby standing up in her crib, and I grasp at the beauty I birthed from this body. This body, what I call fat, birthed this being. And enters another being I birthed, my son. From within this fat, came him too. And they are beautiful. And they love. And they are so much more than my fat, my feelings of inadequacy in my own body. And it all makes more sense, and it all puts it in a new light. And I grasp for the truth God speaks to my heart…I feel fat, but I am blessed. And God says I am beautiful.

Stop.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Amy

September is Blog Month at Compassion International. As a Compassion Blogger, my goal is to share my heart for children in poverty and encourage others to change lives through child sponsorship.

This is the last week of Blog Month. As of this afternoon, 715 children still needed sponsors if we are to meet Compassion’s goal of 3,108 children sponsored in just 30 days!

Together, we can change the lives of children in poverty! If you have ever felt called to sponsor a child through Compassion International, I strongly encourage you to take a leap of faith and click here for more information.

This week, I gave my seven-year-old daughter an opportunity to step into the shoes of a child waiting for a sponsor. She whole-heartedly agreed, so we looked through the Compassion website for a special little girl that tugged at her heart. We found a sweet three-year-old from Bolivia named Alejandra.

I told my daughter she should write about how she would feel if she was Alejandra, and gave her four writing prompts.

1) How do you feel?

2) What are you scared of?

3) What do you need?

4) What do you wish for?

This evening, I humbly introduce you to the “voice” of three-year-old Alejandra as written from the perspective of my seven-year-old daughter. 

I feel sad and lonely.

I am scared of robbers and storms.

I need food and friends.

I wish for sun and rainbows.

It’s as simple as that. Little Alejandra is still in need of a sponsor. For more information about Alejandra, click here. Imagine how much love and hope Alejandra will feel when she gets a sponsor!

These are the final days of Compassion’s Blog Month, and hundreds of children are still waiting for a sponsor. Let’s rally around this goal and sponsor those remaining 715 children! 

One last call (for now!)…if you want to sponsor a child through Compassion International, click here!

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18: 16

Amy 

It’s a joy to introduce you to sweet Cynthia who unknowingly forever altered my view of “sugar and spice and everything nice!”

It was just four days from the start of the new school year for the kids. My husband planned a special trip to an amusement park with my son, so I planned a trip to the Mall of America for some fun at Nickelodeon Universe with my baby daughter, older daughter, and my daughter’s friend. Before we even left the house, the girls had determined it was crucial they wear their matching dresses. Purple dresses, energy, and all, we enjoyed a whole day at the mall – rides, lunch in the food court, a little shopping (we picked up some purple boots so they could be matching from head to toe, of course), rides, poses with characters, a snack, rides, a few bathroom breaks, and more rides!

Then we met Cynthia. We were eating dinner in the food court and she approached our table. As she quietly cleaned up the mess on the floor around us, she so sweetly complimented the girls on their matching dresses. “You girls are all dressed up so pretty!” Cynthia said. She noted their boots, and my daughter told Cynthia the whole story about how she had just bought the boots today in the mall. The girls smiled and giggled a bit, all cute and sweet.

Then Cynthia said “You girls sure are sugar and spice and everything nice, and make sure you keep it that way, alright?” As Cynthia walked away, one of the girls said playfully but assuredly “no way!” Both girls started giggling, looking towards Cynthia who was already at a distance.

As I watched Cynthia, thinking what a nice and sweet woman she was, what a delightful blessing she had been to me and the girls, already sensing I might want to blog about this interaction, I realized the girls were getting a little out of hand with their chocolate chip cookies. And suddenly, the sugar and nice had become a lot more spice!

Even the baby knew there was fun to be had!

Yes, she was somewhere under all of that love!

It wasn’t until after the cookie incident I realized that in those moments, I let all of the sugar and nice in me just wash away. I let the girls be girls. I let them be silly, I let them be goofy, I let them be themselves, and it was fun. I didn’t worry about what all of the people thought at the tables around us, I didn’t worry if they thought I was a perfect mom or not. The girls proved they have a little spice in them, and I did too by letting the girls just be. It was good, and it maybe even necessary to fully live in that moment.

How often am I just too sugary, too nice?  I worry about making a good impression, I worry about things being perfect, I let things get to me, I want to do it right, I don’t want anyone to think bad things about me or my children, I want to raise my children right and live right! My heart wants to do it all just right, but my brain knows that meeting all of those criteria and living up to those standards is impossible. Things will never be perfect and often there are no clear answers. Sometimes, perhaps most of the time, others’ impressions of me really don’t matter. Not everybody is going to like me, understand me, or agree with me. And my children? Well, there is no set formula, and I can help re-package their little lives in sugar and nice over and over again, but they will still make mistakes and fail, just like me. In fact, it’s only by the grace of God that any of us make anything of ourselves. Our lives are not a direct result of doing or performing in some particular way, some prepackaged sugary and nice way of living, do it this way and you’ll get this result.

In fact, it is when we step out of the box and add a little spice to our lives, that we fully live.

Reflecting on that moment with the girls, I wonder if it is all a matter of the heart. If I trust that God made me in His image, then I am free to be ALL He created me to be, the sugar, the nice, AND the spice. While I of course want to parent responsibly and develop human beings to the very best of my ability, I also want to entrust them to God and free my children to be ALL they were created to be, not just the prepackaged sugar and nice box of unattainable perfection.

Thank you Cynthia, for being an angel in that moment. You helped me realize that sugar and spice and everything nice isn’t just about the sugar and nice. Sometimes it’s about the spice too.

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 1 Timothy 4:4

Amy

September is Blog Month at Compassion International. As a Compassion Blogger, my goal is to share my heart for children in poverty and encourage others to change lives through child sponsorship. This is week number three of Blog Month. As of Monday, 1,515 children in poverty had been sponsored this month! 1,593 sponsorships are left to meet Compassion’s goal of 3,108 children sponsored in just 30 days. Together, we can change the lives of children.

If you feel called to sponsor a child through Compassion International, click here.

It was an odd week of anxiety and inspiration for me. Late Tuesday night, in the midst of swirling thoughts related to stress and anxiety I was experiencing about things done, things undone, and things that needed to be changed, I had inspiration for a blog series titled “Meet Me At This Moment.” I have a plethora of thoughts going on in my brain at any moment in time, and I thought it might be interesting to share glimpses of those thoughts with my readers! I have also been getting acquainted with a wonderful group of bloggers that meet on Twitter every Thursday night and write a blog post for Five Minute Friday centered around a single topic, all in just five minutes. I need a regular outlet for processing and expressing my thoughts, and also need to work on writing (and living) without editing myself so much, so I thought Five Minute Friday and Meet Me At This Moment would be a perfect pairing!

So…here goes the start of what I’m hoping will be a new series on this blog, Meet Me At This Moment on Five Minute Friday. In the words of Lisa-Jo Baker, creator of Five Minute Friday, “We write for five minutes flat,” this is “Unscripted. Unedited. Real.” The word of the week is WIDE.

(And if you’re wondering how all of this ties in with Compassion International, just be patient, you will see!)

READY, SET, GO…

My life is way too wide at this moment. Too much stuff, too much to do, too much on my plate. Why am I to lead a life of wide? Three children to love, clothe, feed, educate, support. A husband to love, a marriage to nurture. A private practice that will balloon out way too wide if I let it. Always keeping things under control. The wideness will not stop. Dishes everywhere, crumbs, spots on the floor, laundry spewing, clothes unfolded, beds unmade, finger marks all over the fridge, water stains on the walls of the kitchen, remnants of fast food in the car, this show and that show to watch, books piled up everywhere, unread or partly read. A blog I so desperately want to use to widen my reach, open wide my thoughts and my feelings, open wide the stories of so many awesome people God has placed in my path.

Yet, the anxiety is wide. My thoughts race as I try to grasp it all, grasp any of it. I am torn this way and that, which thing to do first, will it all ever get done, will I ever have time to do it all? Should I even be doing it all? Which of it is worthy, which of it is not?

Then it is all put in perspective. I’m making macaroni and cheese and apples and caramel dip and milk and salad and tomatoes for my children, and my husband is gone on a three day business trip and I’m trying to participate in a tweet chat with the Compassion Bloggers. Here I am in my stress, moving this way and that way, my anxiety of this first world, preparing what is really a banquet feast for my children. All of my stresses really a blessing, I’m on my smart phone with an unbelievable group of people and all for Compassion International. What is the purpose, what is the point? We are all gathered to work together for children in poverty, children in need, families in need? What is the purpose, the point? I have a voice, the children do not. All the excess, the wide expanse that is my life, is all so narrow for someone else. For the little child in poverty, life is narrowed, the wide life completely unknown. All the wide open and available, if only the resources available. I can be that voice, in my wideness, I can provide for someone in the narrow. Even if it is just my voice. My wide expanse of a life can be narrowed to make someone else’s life wider.

STOP. (Well, good for my first try. I wrote for 8 minutes!)

If you would like to sponsor a child through Compassion, click here!!

On a related note, Compassion is having a Pinterest contest this week! The contest runs through Monday, September 23rd, so you still have three days to participate! Every contest entry gives you a chance to win a $25 or $100 gift for your sponsored child! Here is the rundown. If you want full details, click here.

    1. Create a Pinterest board titled “My Sponsored Child.”
    2. On the board you create:
    • pin the image in this post and associate the following link with the pin:
      compassion.com/my-sponsored-child.
    • pin any one of the following and tag this second pin with #mysponsoredchild.
      • A photo of you and your sponsored child together.
      • A photo of you with a letter from your sponsored child.
      • A photo of you holding a photo of your sponsored child.
    • pin anything else you want that is relevant to your sponsored child or Compassion.

Once you have created your board, share the URL with Compassion International, along with your contact information, using the form at the end of this blog post.

You will receive one contest entry for every repin your “Pin It for My Sponsored Child” pin receives.

You can also enter the contest by sponsoring a child via compassion.com/my-sponsored-child during the contest period. You will receive 30 contest entries for each child you sponsor.

Amy

 

It is a privilege to introduce you to Christopher, who is in my opinion, the best swimming instructor I’ve met!

My children recently completed another round of swimming lessons at Foss Swim School. Having grown up in a household with two master public school teachers, owning a private practice as a speech-language pathologist, and defaulting to perfectionistic personality traits, I’ve discovered that I have high expectations of my childrens’ teachers. Most of the time, a dose of reality and a little grace helps me remember these are just people doing their best, but once in a while a teacher comes along that rocks my world and exceeds every expectation I have.

So it took about two minutes of observing Christopher with my son the first day of swimming lessons to realize he was going to be the best swimming instructor my children have had (seven years of lessons for two children, instructors too many to count)! I started watching closely and realized that whether he knows it or not, Christopher has swim instruction down to a science. The beauty is that his methods are not robotic in any way. Christopher’s instruction is so natural, so clearly reflects who he is, that he couldn’t possibly instruct differently if he tried!

I decided to write down everything Christopher did so I could see exactly what it was I valued so much about his instruction.

I captured the essence of Christopher’s excellence over the course of eight swimming lessons, which resulted in the following 25 observations…

  • Quickly learns the name of each child in the group.
  • Uses an authoritative vocal quality to obtain and maintain control of children during class.
  • Observable energy and enthusiasm for swimming.
  • Spends time teaching each stroke prior to letting the children try it.
  • Demonstrates each stroke prior to having the children try, reminds the children to “watch me” before demonstrating.
  • Sometimes asks children to attempt the stroke outside of the pool prior to entrance into the water.

 

  • Incorporates proper etiquette, “remember guys, girls go first!”
  • Allows children to try first and corrects only when necessary.
  • Determines very quickly which parent goes with each child, and is not afraid to engage parents during class with on-the-spot feedback specific to their child.
  • Effortlessly blends gestures with verbal instruction. For example, demonstrates a stroke while verbalizing “breathe tuck fly, breathe tuck fly, breathe tuck fly.” Gestures for one child to start swimming while he verbalizes to another child already swimming “kick, kick, kick, breathe tuck fly.”
  • Effortlessly blends physical prompts with verbal instruction. For example, while verbalizing “straight leg,” “stomach up” he provides physical assistance to help the children achieve proper form.
  • Keeps a quick pace and flow during class, naming students to indicate it’s their turn. “Ashlyn GO, Corey GO, Savannah GO” and points the direction they are to go.
  • Provide targets for the children. For example, he holds his hand up to indicate where children should kick, how far they should reach their arms up.
  • Not afraid to physically assist children into proper position for each stroke. If necessary, he gets them into proper position and moves them through a few strokes in slow motion; this is a practice I have very rarely seen swim instructors use.

  • Provides children with verbal praise, high fives, encouragement, and detailed feedback. For example, “That was a really hard arm movement and a really tough kick, great try!”
  • Keeps a close eye on all children in the class, even when engaging one-on-one with a child. Notices when children are off task and redirects immediately.
  • Uses repetition to enhance learning. For example, “1 2 3 and down, 1 2 3 breath and down.”
  • Integrates age appropriate metaphors to teach strokes. For example, refers to pizza and pushing cell phone buttons when cueing proper hand position.
  • Introduces physical props (e.g., noodle) only when necessary, if children are unable to master a skill on their own.

  • Indicates to the children how much time remains of the lesson, or how many laps to completion. For example, “four minutes left” or “last time.”
  • Assigns and demonstrates homework.
  • Greets and touches base with parents after each lesson.
  • Acknowledges siblings.
  • Makes a final contact with each student before leaving, smiles and jokes as appropriate.
  • Demonstrates a fondness for each child and makes each one feel special.

After my son’s first lesson with Christopher, I went into the hallway and noticed a wall of swim instructors’ photographs and bios. Christopher was in the center, highlighted as one of the Fab Five. “This group goes above and beyond the call of duty.” Doesn’t that describe Christopher perfectly?

Christopher, you are more than worthy of being in the Fab Five. From this parent’s perspective, you are top notch, the best of the best. Commitment to excellence shines through you. You clearly have a gift for swim instruction, and I am so grateful we had the opportunity to be a recipient of this gift. Not only did you meet my expectations, you exceeded them. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for more. Thank you.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Amy

NOTE: As was the case with Meet Mick, I found out after the fact that Christopher’s biography proves he is even more interesting and greater than I could have known just watching from the sidelines. Christopher’s bio in his own words…

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Started competitive swimming at the age of 5. After I got my first blue ribbon I was hooked. Swimming became second nature to me. Through high school I was practicing 4 hours a day. After high school I pursued a military career in the Marine Corps. I became a Marine Combat Instructor of Water Survival, where I taught hundreds of Marines how to swim by using the basic dog paddle all the way to competition strokes. I was honorably discharged after almost 9 years of service.

Some of my fondest training memories are from my time in the Marines. One of my favorite stories is helping a young Marine who never learned how to swim before joining the service. He went from having to learn how to put his face in the water, to mastering jumping out of a helicopter into the Pacific ocean from 30 feet, then swimming 300 meters into shore.

I now live in Minnesota with my wife of 14 years and our 4 wonderful kids. I enjoy teaching from the 30 years of experience I have accumulated. I hope to assist all my swimmers to find the skill, confidence and passion for swimming that I have.

Christopher

  1. Michelle Fridgen Krebs says:

    I recognize Chris from Foss! Great story,

  2. Nicole Marie Newfield says:

    Wonderful story!

  3. Diana Huffman says:

    I am impressed and have to say I feel he represents the philosophy of the company he works for also.And yes Rachel would enjoy those lessons!

  4. Rachel Arntson says:

    I am so impressed! Thank you for sharing this. I think I need to go and sign up for swimming lessons.

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