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Faithful Fitness: in which we ask for grace and take a week off

Dear Friends,

What did this past week bring you? Did you send your children back to school? (I did.) I am so enjoying the extra time and have actually made it to the gym, nearly every day! Wow…what a difference a little exercise can make. {Make sure to check out this post in which I share tips for working out at the gym!}

Unfortunately, Katie has another week before her son goes back to school, and she is just up to her neck in all that it means to be a special needs mom. {I refer you to these posts, Broken: Where the healing begins and Six Things I Learned This Summer for you to catch up on all that has been on her plate lately.}

So, we are begging a bit of grace from you, our friends and readers, and taking this Friday off from the series while we both recover from summer and try to settle into the back-to-school routine.

Next week, Katie will be sharing some Faithful Fitness encouragement for pregnant mamas, so make sure to check back!

As always, you can follow our Faithful Fitness Pinterest board for our favorite finds from around the internet.

Thanks for the grace.

~Aprille

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6 Things I Learned This Summer

6 Things I Learned This Summer | wonderfully-made.net

#1 – God gives us more than we can handle. The traditional saying says that He doesn’t, but I believe wholeheartedly that He does. A car accident, two ambulance rides, six ER visits, a hospitalization for a Crohn’s flare up, twelve or more appointments and therapies a week, preparing for a third baby, heart palpitations requiring a heart monitor, and processing my children’s growing needs was way more than I could handle this summer.

I believe He gives us more than we can handle so that we will lean on Him. More than that, I believe He gives us more than we can handle so that we will lean into Him. That we will fall into His arms a sobbing, broken mess rather than carrying on stoically behind a mask that says, “I’m ok” when really, we are aching so deeply inside we feel as though we will cave into ourselves. Instead, He calls us to cave into Him.

6 Things I Learned This Summer | wonderfully-made.netheart monitor

#2 – As mothers, we need to appreciate ourselves. One of the greatest struggles I faced this summer was feeling underappreciated. Buried under a pile of endless meltdowns, fatigue, and angst, I found myself feeling empty and lost. Then, my husband (who often knows me better than I know myself) gave me the gift of a day to myself.

No children. No therapies. No appointments. No phone calls. No paperwork. No meals to get on the table. No cleaning. Nothing other than just me, myself, and I for an entire day.

And it was amazing.

I went to a movie and savored every piece of popcorn and every sip of Coke by myself. I went to a coffee shop, ordered a hot chai latte, and read without children scurrying underfoot or threatening to knock over my cup of joe. I went to dinner where I sat on a rooftop and soaked in the sunset, melt in your mouth oysters, and all the sweet tea I could dream of by myself.

I appreciated the silence. I appreciated the time. And I appreciated myself for the first time in a very long time. I appreciated how much I pour into being a mother, an advocate, and a conqueror for my children. And you know what, fellow mama, I appreciate you, too. I appreciate your selflessness. Your heart. Your determination. Your passion for your family. Your ability to power through seasons of exhaustion and trial.

You are amazing.

6 Things I Learned This Summer | wonderfully-made.net

#3 – Vacation is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Earlier this summer, I was diagnosed with situational depression – a clinical way of saying I finally crumbled under the weight of all we have been tasked to carry and needed some help to get back on my feet.

This is a subject I want to discuss in greater detail soon because moms, especially moms who have special little ones, often struggle with this but do not know where to turn and/or feel like they have to hide their pain. I want to change that and for this to be a safe place where moms can come and know they are not alone.

One of the ideas my therapist recommended to counter my depression was to take a family vacation. Money is extremely tight for us and travel is difficult for Jack, so we decided to take a staycation at home for a week and it was wonderful. We have not shared a week together as a family in such a long time. And friends, it was so healing. It was healing to be able to share the day with my husband. And it was healing to see my family as a unit, not pulled in a million different directions as we so often feel.

6 Things I Learned This Summer | wonderfully-made.net

#4 – Therapy hurts before it heals, but is 110% worth it. I have been in therapy for more than a year now and words cannot fully express how thankful I am. It has been a painful process filled with opening and suturing old wounds, while also recognizing and stitching up new ones. It has challenged me, pained me, pushed me, and pulled me. It has also carried me, comforted me, and helped me. I am still at the beginning of what I believe will be a long journey toward healing a broken body and an aching heart, but I can say without a doubt, the Lord led me to therapy for a reason, and I am so very thankful to Him for that.

#5 – The best comfort a friend can offer during a time of crisis is love. Just love. Love offered through a hug, a listening ear, or an offer to babysit. Love offered through understanding, a prayer, or a text message. Love simply for the sake of loving on someone who is hurting.

#6 – God is always on our side. There have been many times along this journey when I have asked, Where are you, God? Why are you leaving me here all alone? The truth is, though, God is always for me. He is always my advocate, my defender, my strength. He draws me from the dark places of my heart and shines through the love, companionship, and faith of others. I believe that God brings every person into our lives for a reason, and there are friends who have lifted me from despair, some without even realizing it, simply by being children of God and letting Him shine through their helping heart and hands.

Romans 8:31 | 6 Things I Learned This Summer | wonderfully-made.net

How about you, friend? What did you learn this summer? What challenged you, changed you, and/or encouraged you?

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Broken: Where the healing begins

Recently, I dreamed I was walking with a friend on a beautiful summer day. We strolled through bright green fields, soaking in the summer sun, laughing as we walked and talked. Then we paused, looked up expecting to see a beautiful blue sky only to find gray clouds tumbling ominously toward us. Though we sprinted to find safety, the storm quickly caught up to us, turned into a flood, and the raging waters threatened to swallow us whole.

I woke suddenly, realizing the nightmare reflected the way I feel – chased by a relentless storm.

I find that one of the most difficult things to express is the depth of exhaustion and mental anguish we struggle with as a family. To find words that will adequately convey how it feels to constantly be caught in the eye of a raging storm. And how deeply this reality takes a toll on us physically, mentally, and spiritually. How it shakes us to the core until we feel so threadbare we wonder how we can possibly take another step. How often we cry out to the Lord for peace. For progress. For a miracle.

I believe Jack is wonderfully made by God. I also believe He is able to relieve our son of the daily fits of rage, confusion, screaming, and panic autism causes him. And I will pray every day that the Lord will heal him of that which drives him, my beautiful four-year-old boy, to those dark places of rage and despair. I will pray that my son’s beauty will shine through the dark cloud of anxiety that overwhelms him. That he will learn to control the disorder that grabs hold of him and threatens to never let go. That the hysterical, enraged screams that tear through his small body every day will cease. That we will be able to reach him, and that he will be able to reach the world.

I am broken. Autism has shattered my heart into a million pieces, but I have to believe light will meet the dark. That the storm will pass. That there is a bright future for my child. That healing will begin.

This is where the healing begins, oh 
This is where the healing starts 
When you come to where you’re broken within 
The light meets the dark 
The light meets the dark 

-Tenth Avenue North

Broken: Where the healing begins | wonderfully-made.net #specialneeds #autism #hope #healing

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Faithful Fitness: Ten Tips for Making the Most Of Your Gym Membership

Faithful Fitness: 10 Tips for Making the Most of Your Gym Membership | wonderfully-made.net & beautifulinhistime.com

In the fall of 2011, I received a piece of what I thought was junk mail that ended up being a major discount to a local fitness club. That piece of junk mail truly did change my life and set me on a path to healthier living.

The first time I walked into the gym as a member, I was pretty sure it looked like I was wearing a sandwich sign that said, “I’m a newbie and have absolutely no clue what I’m doing.” I had no experience, even with basic calisthenics. Exercise had never been a big part of my life, and I had no clue where to start. The only machine I had ever seen before was a treadmill. So that’s where I started.

Now, three years later, I’m a little bit more comfortable at the gym. I’d like to share some tips that have helped me along the way.

1. People watch.

Start on the treadmill, and while you walk, watch the other people work out. See how they use the machines. Watch their form as they lift weights or do calisthenics. I mean, don’t stare or ogle – be discreet. But you can learn so much just by observing. See someone using a machine and think to yourself, “I think I could do that!” It’s an empowering place to start.

2. Every time you go, try something new.

Try the elliptical, the stair stepper, the different machines. You might look like a fool the first time, but keep trying. Eventually, you’ll learn what equipment works for your body and what equipment doesn’t.

3. Work out to music.

Do I even need to mention this? Music is the best way to motivate your spirit, put rhythm in your step, and push away distractions. See also: Apps and songs that will motivate you to move

Faithful Fitness: Ten Tips for Making the Most Of Your Gym Membership

(cooling down after a workout, still listening to Pandora)

4. Don’t worry about reps.

Just move with the music. This probably goes against traditional fitness advice, but I have found my workouts to go much better when I’m not counting to 8, 10, or 12. Instead, I’ll do something like this: situps on the verse, flutter kicks on the chorus – or even break up my different exercises with the phrases of the song. If I’m on the treadmill, I normally walk for three songs. If I’m on the elliptical, sometimes I’ll move slowly with the 1st beat on the verse and then double time it on chorus. This keeps my body guessing and gives me spurts of rest.

5. Start slow and work your way up.

When I joined my gym, I got a free one-hour session with a personal trainer. She started me out on 20 pound weights. She also had no concept of my physical problems or limitations and had no education on fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. That was the first and last time I ever worked with a personal trainer. So instead, I forged my own path and started using weights on my own. And yes, I started with 2 pound weights. The kind that this trainer has gone on to make fun of. The kind that she says there’s no point in lifting.

Faithful Fitness: Ten Tips for Making the Most Of Your Gym Membership

I say that everyone has to start somewhere. That 2 pound weights are better than nothing. Yes, I’ll never look like her or her or her - and yes, it’s taken me 3 years to work my way up to lifting 20 pounds – but I’ve made progress. I’ve pushed myself and I’ve learned what I can (and can’t) do.

6. Don’t let the super-fit body builders intimidate you.

This is, by far, the hardest for me. Whether it’s the personal trainers at the gym or the fitness memes on social media – I feel guilt far more than I feel inspiration. I feel frustration that they simply refuse to recognize that some people have limitations that they simply can’t work beyond and instead shame moms for their excuses.

My advice? Once you are done people-watching and have learned what works for you, quit watching people and just be you. Throw yourself into your workout (close your eyes if you need to), and push yourself, regardless of how ridiculous you look or how much extra weight is hanging around your waist. (And, while you’re at it, sometimes unfollowing those fitness pages can do more to help you on your fitness journey then sitting there fuming at your computer…not that I would know or anything.) 

7. Talk positively to yourself.

My workout conversations go something like this:

Me A: It’s been two weeks since I last made it to the gym.

Me B: But I’m here today.

Me A: Ugh, why does this have to be so hard?

Me B: It’s okay. You are here, and you are worth it.

Me A: Man, I’m out of breath. I suck at this.

Me B: But you’re trying and you haven’t given up.

Me A: Sheesh, look at her. Why can’t I look like that?

Me B: You don’t know her life. She obviously has the ability to make fitness a higher priority. You have a different path to walk. You are here and you are working, and that’s what matters. 

Tell yourself you are beautiful. You are strong. You are trying. You haven’t given up. And even smaller choices are better than no choices.

8. Vary your workout routine.

I try to make sure I never do the same workout twice. Keep your muscles and your body guessing. Work different parts of your body on different days. Do the same things, but in a different order. Spice it up! This keeps you motivated (or at least helps fight boredom) and helps your body stay more fit.

9. Breathe strategically.

Breathing is incredibly important in fitness (both in physical and mental health). Breathe in when it’s easy, out when it’s hard. Exhale on the lift, the crunch, or the stretch. This will help fight fatigue and actually maximize your workout.

10. Take a few minutes to rest before picking up your kids.

If I’m honest, I joined my gym for the childcare. Having a little sanity in your day (or week, or month – as often as you make it to the gym) is so important and the simple act of taking some time and space for yourself (working out or not) can NOT be underestimated for both your physical and mental health. Sit in a chair. Let your heart rate come down. Take lots of cleansing deep breaths. Drink some water. Play on your phone. Write a blog post (oh yes I have). You are paying for the membership – use it for you.

____

Now, friends. Can I tell you a true story?

This morning, I dropped my son off at school for his 2nd day of K4 and then drove the 15 minutes straight to the gym. It had been a rough morning, and I was ready to blow off some steam with some kick-butt “faithful fitness.” I walked on the treadmill for about 13 minutes to warm up. I hit stop and was about to disembark when my phone rang. It was his school calling me back to come talk with him about his behavior.

13 minutes, people. That’s all I got.   

It can be oh so discouraging when you want to do so much more with your body but life just seems to sabotage you and your goals at every turn.

So I tell myself, I’ll try again tomorrow. 

Whether you have a gym membership or not, I hope that this post has provided you with encouragement for wherever you are in your fitness journey. Don’t give up. You can do this!

flourish

To read more about my journey into physical and mental health, check out the Health and Wellness section of my blog or start here on this post about my weight-loss journey.

Also, be sure to follow our Faithful Fitness board on Pinterest where we share great workouts, exercises, health and nutrition tips, and more!

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It’s a wonderfully made…{Gender Reveal!}

Gender Reveal at wonderfully-made.net!

Friends, we are thrilled to announce we will be welcoming a baby BOY to the Emanuel clan this January! Please join us in praising Him for the thumbs up from the perinatologist today. Everything is looking great – alleluia!

They are going to continue to monitor Baby Boy and me closely throughout the pregnancy, but seeing our beautiful, healthy boy today was such a welcomed joy. We are so thankful!

You formed our Baby Boy’s inmost being; knit him in my womb. We praise You because he is wonderfully made! (Psalm 139)

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