Sunday, November 14, 2010

Becoming FABULOUS with a few friends!

Hello! How goes it in YOUR journey toward becoming FABULOUS? Honestly, I'm having my up days and my down days. This weekend has seen me down and out a little due to a fibromyalgia flare-up. Resting and avoiding junk food seems to helping a little bit. And, the patience of my overly sweet hubby man! ;)

One thing I'm realizing in big ways these days is that an important part of this journey is learning to Open Yourself Up to Your Friends! When I let down my walls and really confide in my friends I find my heart freeing itself of anger, bitterness, and frustration. I always wonder why I didn't open up sooner. Can you relate?

Well, I'm hoping to do a little Opening Up tomorrow morning as I have the awesome opportunity to spend some time with some new girlfriends at First United Methodist Church in downtown Peoria. I'm SO looking forward to meeting everyone and talking about that journey to become FABULOUS! It's tomorrow morning at 9:15, so if you think of it, could you send up a quick prayer for God to be over all the preparations on their side and mine and to use the opportunity to do His will, and not mine?! Thanks and have a great, or rather a FABULOUS, rest of your Sunday!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Workout Confession

It's time to come clean. I have a secret that has been weighing heavily on my conscience. It's not so much a dirty little secret as it is a sad, pathetic little secret. And, I've been hiding it long enough. The Bible says we should confess our wrongs to each other, so brace yourself. Here comes my workout confession!

I secretly wish for a text every morning I'm supposed to meet my friend Katie and I feel terrible about it! Three times a week she is so kind to travel all the way to my home at an unheard-of-pre-dawn time just to help me train for the Jingle Bell run coming up on December 4th. She does this because she's an incredible support. She believes in me and my efforts to become FABULOUS. And, she agrees that part of becoming FABULOUS is understanding that healthy habits are crucial. I can't put into words how much I appreciate Katie helping me week after week. She's an amazing friend, and I'm fortunate to know her. Still...every morning we're supposed to meet I continue to hope for a text from her.

I'm ashamed to admit that still, six weeks into my training, my ears itch to hear that little bling-bling-bling that tells me there's a message waiting. A message that says Katie can't make it...she overslept, she forgot, or (gasp) she's not feeling well. Isn't that pathetic?! How could I secretly hope even for my dear friend to come down sick just so I don't have to get up before the sun and go out in the cold to face yet another 20-30 minutes of pushing my lumpy body up and down the hills of the main street near my home? I's sad. To go so far as to even wish for sweet Katie to come down with a cold, so that I don't have to exert myself. Granted, I don't wish for anything serious like the flu. I would never go that far. But, I really wouldn't mind a little case of the sniffles or upset tummies. I am a monster! Thank God Katie continues to come through for me despite my wishes otherwise. She's a much better friend to me than I am to her...that's for sure! So, tonight, I'm going to pray that I don't wish for a text tomorrow morning. And, that in all circumstances my only wish, hope, or prayer for my friend is for peace, love, and 100% good health.

Am I the only pathetic one? Please tell me you have a workout confession as well. If not, please pray for me!

Friday, October 15, 2010

FABULOUS believes she can impact her world...and does (even via a widget!)

I'm so excited about my new widget (look to your right)! Actually I'm excited that I even HAVE a widget. OK, truthfully I just like SAYING (and apparently typing) widget. It's just one of those words that's really fun to say over and over. Widget widget widget widget WIDGET! Ha ha!

Anywho...please take a chance to click on said widget for Compassion International. I can't say enough about these folks and what they're doing for the poor in developing nations around the world. And, maybe you can consider finding an adorable kiddo that you and/or your family can sponsor. I know I know...sponsorship sounds kind of like a scary commitment. But, we're talking just $38 a month to help your sponsored child receive food, clothing, education, and other things to help his or her family cover their needs. Plus you get to communicate with your new friend. You can write a letter or send one digitally through the Compassion website. You'll also get regularly updated pictures and information on how your sponsored child is growing, developing, and maturing. But, the biggest thing your partnership with Compassion does for these kids is to provide them with solid programs and teaching that help them learn who Jesus is and how much He loves them. Talk about a huge return on an itty bitty investment. Better than anything on Wall Street!

In becoming FABULOUS I want to start believing I can impact my world and then actually start doing something about it. One way I can do that is to use my blog-o-sphere voice to let everyone know about some people who are making a true difference and how we can support them. So, I will be adding more to the "Some Things I Believe In..." gadget but I had to start with Compassion. Jeremy and I have been sponsoring  little Alejandro in El Salvador for about six years now and it's been such a source of joy in our lives. You'd be hard pressed to find a more fiscally-responsible charitable organization. They've received very high commendations from those who watch for that sort of thing and an unusually high percentage of the money you send them goes directly to help those who need it. Oh, and something really cool, you can request a child with the same exact birthdate as your son/daughter, niece/nephew, etc. It's a real way to be Jesus to a child, a family, and a community. Please take some time to learn more!! And, have a FABULOUS weekend!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Learning to see the bananas

Vision at 91.5 WCIC is always a fun time. The people, the excitement, the phones ringing, the chatter...and the food. Our fall fundraiser was record-breaking financially and healthy-habit crushing in other ways. But, it was not without it's moments of insight and growth in areas other than my waistline. A good and longtime friend of the radio station stopped by on the final day, after the big celebration. This friend is a true inspiration. He has turned his life around and lost over 200 pounds. He's done it with the help of surgery and and a painstaking, long process of learning all over exactly how to eat. Day by day for the past couple years he's had to overcome the strong urge to say, "What the heck...I'm just gonna eat what I want to today!" And, with each week and month the pounds have slowly melted away. Melted away...I've always disliked that wording. It makes it sounds so effortless. The reality is the pounds have been ripped away with determination, sacrifice, and LOADS of hard work. I'm in awe of my friend. And, he taught me something on Friday afternoon. When I asked how the journey's coming along he said it was going well. But, he admitted to giving in a little to weakness over the past couple of days. Right away, I thought it my duty to warn him about the plethora of tempting treats that lurked in our station break room. He assured me he had already looked in there and knew to stay away and avoid the almost irresistible pull of the cookies, cakes, breads, candies, and chips. But, he said, "I was really excited that the first thing I saw were the bananas." Now, that's impressive. I'm not sure I was even aware of the...bananas! After years of just eating whatever sounded good at the time, this friend has relearned decades old habits. He's trained himself to find the healthy among the horrible (but oh so tasty) choices. Kudos to my FABULOUS friend. And, thank you for the challenge. I want to follow in his footsteps. I'm going to learn to see the bananas!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

FABULOUS understands healthy habits are crucial!!!

In my striving to become FABULOUS the things I want most to do are to follow God fiercely, absolutely cherish my family, believe I can make a difference in the world...and make it! But, none of this can be done truly well if I'm dealing with a body that is fat, flabby, out of shape, and unhealthy. It's not a vanity's a health thing. I have got to get my weight under control. And, I believe it will happen day by day...bite by bite. My good friend, Katie Post, is helping me train for the Jingle Bell 5-K run coming up in early December. She can get me to push myself in ways I never imagined possible. But, she can't make me choose healthier foods. No one can. Especially NOT my husband. One sure way to start a fight in the Tracey house is too raise one's eyebrows as I reach for the candy bar "hidden" on the top shelf of the tallest cabinet. Just get it down for me, and no one gets hurt! :) The out-of-whack-eating train has got to come to a stop. If I want to see results that will ensure a healthy me when Alyssa's 40, I have to do the hard work!! But, it's Vision week. During 91.5 WCIC's fall fundraiser we get to visit and laugh with colleagues and volunteers we don't normally see. And, we do it all over some really YUMMY food. Cakes, pies, pizzas, breadsticks, and cookies crowd every inch of counter space in the kitchen and you'd think I was determined to cram some of each into my mouth and tummy. But, I can't! I just can't do it. So...could you pray for me this week? Yes, please pray for the financial need of the radio station and the lives that God is changing through the music and programming. And, yes, please THANK GOD for the generous donations of food and drink from so many kind local businesses. But, then, could you also pray that I will realize that just because it's THERE doesn't mean I have to eat it? THANK YOU so much. occupy myself with something other than food!

Have a FABULOUS day!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Some thoughts on a FABULOUS quote for a Friday...

"It's never too late to become the person you might have been." ~ Mary Ann Evans (pen name, George Eliot)


OK, a couple of quick thoughts on this. 


 A. Mary Ann Evans is a woman who wrote novels in the late 1800's. This was a time when women writers weren't taken seriously. They were viewed simply as authors of lighthearted romances. But, she knew she had a passion for writing different material. So, instead of letting the stereotypes of the day hold her back, she basically said, "Fine, I'll make up a man's name and put that on all of my stuff. We'll see who will read this lady's awesome writing then." And, she became one of the leading English novelists of the Victorian Era. FABULOUS!


B. She's absolutely right! I'm 40 and I'm out of shape. I've become lazy in all of the areas in which I should have formed healthy habits. I've strayed far from what God intended for me as a woman. No, I'm not saying He planned for me to always look 18, but He did plan for me to maintain a healthy shape. I'm sad when I think of the months and years wasted on a big waistline and low energy. But, IT'S NOT TOO LATE! Whether I want to become a serious writer, get my Master's degree, learn to ride a horse, drop 60 pounds...whatever; I believe God will help me be the person I might have been - for HIM (that's the key). It's never too late! So, this weekend, I'm going running! FABULOUS!

C. Let me know how you put healthy habits into place in your busy life. And, have a FABULOUS weekend!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Time to stop flitting about!

On this journey toward FABULOUS...the most important area in which I can improve is in being a woman who follows God fiercely. Then, I need to focus on absolutely cherishing my family. So, I've been working on spending time consistently in my Bible and showering love on my husband and daughter. As I spend time in the book of James and trying to avoid acting selfishly in my relationships, I can't help but realize the next step on this journey is to reach out to the world around me. And, this makes me think of fruit flies. Fruit flies, you ask? Sure, I mean, don't you think of fruit flies whenever you begin pondering ways in which God can use you in the world despite the chaos of your daily schedule? No? Just me? OK, then, I should probably explain. The Traceys have had an infestation of fruit flies. Over the past week or so we've gone from a few pesky insects to dozens and they're bugging us beyond belief. (Pun intended, of course.) In fact, as I'm typing, one of the little buggers keeps landing on my screen and flitting around just enough to keep my from being able to see the words I'm producing. Oh, ho, ho, flit while you can, little one. Your days are numbered! You see, I've done some research on fruit flies and found out what it takes to eliminate them from your home. I've poured bleach down the drains, I've wiped, I've scrubbed, and I've come across a powerful concoction. One woman on-line wrote about a simple solution she mixes together to trap fruit flies when they become a problem for her. She mixes 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 2 Tbs sugar, and 1 tsp dish soap; stirs it without creating bubbles, sets it out in a custard cup and waits for the little bugs to be drawn to their (sorry if it sounds harsh) death. And, whoa, does this stuff work. We've put out a few containers of the super mix and have found so many little bodies floating in it in under 24 hours! Even our 4-year-old has been squealing with delight, "Mommy, we caught more bugs!" As satisfying as this has been, I've also been observing the little guys and their behavior around the secret concoction. I've determined that, although it must has a powerful draw on their sense of smell, somehow they seem to know that if they go all the way in, they'll never be able to fly back out. I'm probably reading too much into how they get so close, almost close enough to touch the liquid, but then skitter away, only to return a few seconds later. Each time they draw nearer and nearer. I told Jeremy this morning it's almost as if they're thinking, "I really want to dive in to this stuff. It smells SO good. But, I know it will mean the end of me! And, since I don't want to die, I should stay away. But, I just can't!" And the next time I come to check, there they are floating belly up. Jeremy said I was being kind of morbid. And, he's right, but I saw a profound likeness between the flies' behavior and my own. For me, the all-powerful and intoxicating mix that beckons me relentlessly is the trap of doing nothing. And, its lure is SO strong. With a busy schedule full of work, Mommy-hood, cooking, tidying up, social obligations, paying bills, laundry, and so on...doing nothing is very attractive. When I have an evening or a rare weekend free, doing absolutely nothing calls out to me like that vinegar solution calls out to the fruit fly. I know that if I dive all the way in I could see my passion to help others die as my once-soft heart becomes hard again. But, still, I'm drawn to the trap. Now, of course there's nothing wrong with taking a Sabbath, just spending time with God and my family. But for me, it seems that plopping down in front of the TV or to watch a movie with Jeremy or even to read a chapter or two from a novel takes up the majority of whatever free time I have. And, you know, I think it's more than I realize considering how quickly time goes by and one program turns into two, or three, or four. So, here's the question:  Isn't there at least one day a month where I could find a couple of hours to do something for someone else? I don't know what exactly because it will probably involve bringing a preschooler along. I just know there has to be something I can do to make a difference in this world I live in. My husband has signed up to be a mentor at Charter Oak Elementary in Peoria. He'll eat lunch with his assigned student twice a month and try to be a listening ear and let the grade-schooler know he's important. Since I spend my lunches with Alyssa, this won't work for me right now. Of course, praying for my community is important and I've so enjoyed spending time fasting and praying for Peoria and its violent crime issue over the past Labor-Day week. Prayer is an important way to make a difference and one that I need to work into my day a lot more regularly. That's definitely one avenue toward impacting the world around me. Then there are the causes we support financially like Compassion International, Campus Crusade for Christ, 91.5 WCIC, and our own church. And, of course there's the volunteering we do at church, too. But, I'm ready to find that tangible way I can make a difference in the real spite of my busy life. That way in which I can fade to the background and provide support to someone else who's touching lives in my city. Maybe I can work a couple of hours at a Mission Mart or help with a meal time for the South Side Mission. Alyssa could probably even help with something like that. What I know for sure is that it's time to stop flitting around the lure of doing nothing. It's time to spread my wings and fly into a world that's beyond my comfort zone and allow Jesus to use me as His hands and His feet, right here in central Illinois. As I've spent time parked on the New Testament book of James, I've been constantly reminded that faith without works is dead. And, I don't want my faith to die. Are you with me on this? Maybe you've already found a way to get into the heart of your city and make a difference while balancing your busy life. Please...SHARE! Any and all ideas are welcome. Or, if you just want to say you're ready to start looking for that way to break free from the lure of do-nothing...I'd love to read your comments! FABULOUS women believe they can impact their world...and actually do it! I'm so excited for us to begin this faith-in-action adventure together! In the meantime, sleep well my FABULOUS friend!

Friday, September 10, 2010

It is not too late nor too big a dream!

Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are far too easily pleased - C.S.Lewis 

Love, love, love, LOVE this quote! Great way to start off a weekend, huh? Our desire to be FABULOUS isn't a dream that surpasses God's ability or the strength He can provide. Let's keep working this weekend on being women who fiercely follow God and absolutely cherish our families. It's going to be a lifelong work, but it is so worth it!

Oh, and one word about families. I'm not assuming we're all married with kiddos. But, I am assuming we all have a family type of network. Whether family means your roommates, your parents, your siblings, or your friends, learning to shower love on them is an essential step toward becoming FABULOUS. At least, that's what I'm discovering on this journey. 

UPDATE - I need to be accountable to you. I'm falling behind in my effort toward reading, soaking in, and possibly memorizing the book of James. I did REALLY well with Chapter One...but so far in September, I'm lucky if I've read through chapter two more than once. So, I'm recommitting here and now to read that chapter at least twice a day and to start letting it absorb into my soul. So far, my goal of saying more affirming and encouraging words to my husband is going well. Of course, I always have room to grown, but I'm working on it every day. And, outside of honking at someone who was traveling at a snail's pace through a green arrow this morning (after which I was totally convicted), I really am seeing progress in my struggle with irritability. I hope that's not just because it's cooler outside! :)

How are you doing? Let's check in with each other from time to time. Next week we'll focus on becoming FABULOUS by believing we can impact our world - even though we're SO busy. I can't wait to hear how God is working in and through you to make a difference in the lives of others!

Happy Weekend! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

a FABULOUS example

OK, I have to say it: Mandisa is FABULOUS! Of course, I knew she would be, even in person. Beautiful from head to toe. Beautiful face, beautiful voice, beautiful personality. Did I mention the incredible VOICE? Seriously, I'm still not over the fact that she was robbed of the title on Season 5 of American Idol. I know, I know...she's moved on, I should as well. STILL, come on! Besides the out-of-this-world talent that is Mandisa, I'm so glad she embraces her curves. Yes, she's been on quite the weight-loss journey. But, watching her boogie down on stage this past Sunday evening was such an encouragement to me. As someone who's struggled with weight the majority of her adult life, it was like watching a soul-sister on stage. No, I don't mean soul like Aretha. I just felt an inner connection. (I'm sure she completely felt the same way. At least, that's what I've really enjoyed telling myself over the last couple of days.) Seeing this awesome woman shake, shimmy, and dance with reckless abandon, as an expression of the true joy she has in Jesus, was inspiring. She's an example of the FABULOUS woman I'm striving to become, because I know her dancing really did come from that place of joy in spite of her current shape. Watching her, I found my mind rewinding back to the interview Jeremy and I had the privilege to record earlier in the week as promotion for Sunday night's concert at Northminster Presbyterian in Peoria. I remembered her saying the only time it's tough to talk about her quest toward losing 100 pounds is when it's not going well. And, she added, it hasn't been going well the last couple of months. Haven't we all been there? I'M WITH YOU, MANDISA! And, for you to get up there with such grace, zeal, and rhythm, regardless of your disappointment in that one certain area, well...WOW! I could use just a drop of that self confidence as I've also faced disappointment in recent months. It was so frustrating to have my already-way-skinnier-than-me husband carry me through the 91.5 WCIC Biggest Loser: Summer Weight Loss Challenge this past May and June. Over 5 1/2 weeks I struggled to lose a mere 7 pounds. REALLY? Only SEVEN POUNDS? Argh! And, guess what? I've found those 7 pounds. Turns out they didn't go far, and they've brought a few friends home to visit. Isn't that great? Yep, it is SO frustrating. Watching Mandisa this weekend was a reminder that I'm not alone. I have a fellow traveler on this voyage to good health. And she can DANCE! So, Mandisa, whether you lose 100 pounds or gain it, please never stop doing the boogie thing for Jesus! And another thing, on those days when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror during my Body Pump class and think, "Wow, am I really THAT big?"; you continue to provide inspiration. You're FABULOUS and you've reminded me that I can be, too, no matter what size jeans I currently wear! Thank you for that. And, for being my new BFF! Literally, you rock!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The challenge to love...

Hi, my FABULOUS friend! I can't believe it's been a whole week since I've written. To say the least, things have been a little crazy in the Tracey house. Jeremy's been sick for well over a week and I think it's thrown all three of us off our game. I know that these several days have worn me down completely!

Don't get me wrong...I feel badly for Jeremy. Even tonight he's still struggling and it's been what, 10 days now? And, that has got to be frustrating. At the same time, trying to operate without him up to his usual "snuff" has left me, well, I guess TESTY is a good word for it. I feel guilty for being this way, but it's reality.

Trying to operate as a single parent, host an afternoon show without my co-host, and keep the house running without the help of a hubby who is usually more on top of it than I am has left me more than exhausted and far too low on patience. So, when Jeremy returned to work today I was happy for him and secretly elated for me! Until we started bickering off mic in the control room.

You have to love trying to have a heated discussion three to six minutes at a time while a song or two are playing and you don't have to be talking on the air. It's actually pretty comical.

"You're being selfish!"
"I'm being selfish? I think the problem is that you're being stubborn!"
"I'm not being stubborn, I'm just right!"
"You have got to admit that...10 seconds"
(SMILE IN THE VOICE) "Family Friendly 91.5 WCIC..."

In the end, we both realized how childish we were being. I think the frustration and lack of life as normal has caused us both to be more than a little short-tempered. So much for being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry, huh? I guess that's why this whole becoming FABULOUS thing is a process and not an overnight event.

I realize that, like most women I know, I'll probably struggle with impatience and a short fuse my entire life. The Apostle Paul talks in the Bible about a thorn in the flesh that he'd prayed often for God to remove but that always remained. If Paul had been a wife and mother in 2010, I'd say without a doubt that losing it with the ones he loved had to be the thorn he wrestled with day in and day out.  So many of my friends have said that being patient and loving with their spouses and kids is a constant challenge. The question is, why? Why do we all struggle so much with testiness, impatience, and downright anger?

You know what I think? I think it all boils down to expecting TOO MUCH from ourselves. Everywhere we look we're faced with depictions of perfection that convince us we simply don't measure up. On any one of a dozen popular sitcoms we could watch on any given night we might find a drop-dead-gorgeous, exquisitely dressed wife presenting a well-reasoned yet witty position on a subject over which she and her hubby are currently disagreeing. She calmly presents her case while skillfully dishing out the gourmet meal she's effortlessly whipped up after a long day of work. As she sets the table she grabs a beautiful hand-painted platter from an eclectic-yet-classic curio that perfectly compliments the decor of her well-organized designer living space that's always tidy despite the three kids who share that space but are somehow never seen or heard from until they have a funny line to deliver before grabbing an apple and heading to their rooms to study. And, all the while, she never raises her voice or makes an ugly face but still manages to emerge from the "discussion" victorious and somehow even more perfect than she appeared at the beginning of the scene!

Can we even count all the ways we've been told that we just aren't cutting it in this five minute segment? Before the cut to commercial we've learned that a good mom works hard (in her way too pointy shoes) all day, comes home to prepare a flawless meal, always looks put together, is in great shape, is an excellent homemaker, and has taught her children to not only be entertaining, but to study hard and eat right. We've learned that nothing frazzles or rattles her. In the midst of all the balls she's juggling ever so elegantly, she can even manage to have a "classy" fight with her husband. Nothing he says causes her to lose her cool. No matter how heated the discussion, she's always cool and composed, never resorts to name calling, and somehow asserts her opinion without sounding like a nag. Who can measure up to this? Not me, that's for sure.

We live in an imperfect society surrounded by images of false perfection. Why do we do this to ourselves? Other countries don't go to this extreme. The summer after I graduated from college I lived in England, working in an inner-city mission in Birmingham. It was an incredible experience that allowed me to see things from another perspective. One of the big differences I noticed between that culture and ours was the overall lack of focus on clothing. Most of the people I worked with at the mission had "a" sweater, "a" jacket, and "a" pair of jeans. And, that less-is-more attitude seemed to make it's way to the television as well. I remember being shocked when I caught some of the British daytime dramas and realized that many of the actresses repeated articles of clothing. Sometimes they actually wore a favorite shirt or dress several times, and I found this weirdly liberating. It was like a breath of fresh air. Who needs closets of clothes when we all usually wear a handful of outfits most of the time anyway? So, why do we watch program after program filled with characters who not only have immaculate houses, but somehow find space to cram in an impossibly sized wardrobe that's always hip, perfectly laundered, and never in disrepair?

OK, I'm tangent-ing just a little. But, the point is valid, don't ya think? We women are surrounded with images and portrayals of the perfect wife, mom, and all around intelligent, witty, and sexy girl. It's no wonder that when we look at our own homes that get cluttered all too easily and view our own often worn-out wardrobes and hear our own sometimes too shrill and nagging voices that we get a little down on ourselves. We want to be everything that is good and right for our families. We just sometimes forget what that means.

You see, this past week, I was focusing so hard on trying to keep everything running smoothly while Jeremy was out of commission that I forgot to just dote on him...and on Alyssa as well. I wanted to be Super-Girl to the rescue so badly that I failed to be adoring wife and nurturing Mommy at times.  Instead of striving to be perfect, I should have made the FABULOUS decision to simply love my family.

This brings me to the second area of focus on this new adventure in becoming FABULOUS. We've talked about how the FABULOUS woman Follows God Fiercely. We've set up our plan to read the Bible and talk with God in prayer every day. We've determined to commit more of God's words to memory and strive to apply them to our everyday lives. Now it's time to focus on our families (great phrase Dr. Dobson!).

I don't want to talk about becoming that perfect Mom and wife who constantly has it all together and always puts her loved ones' interests and needs ahead of her own. That's unattainable. I simply want to look at showing them a little more each day how much I treasure them. The FABULOUS woman doesn't always achieve selflessness but she Absolutely Cherishes Her Family!

I may lose patience from time to time. I may be organizationally challenged. I may not have taken a shower in two days. But, I can shower love on my husband and daughter! Maybe it will start with making sure I say at least five kind things to Jeremy today. Things that aren't cleverly disguised requests.  Five truly encouraging compliments or observations offered with no strings attached. Maybe it will be taking time to play a game of Go Fish with my daughter or reading one more story before bed time, even after a long day.

Will I reach even these small goals every day? Of course not. Life doesn't work that way. And, I can be certain that I'll never reach these goals AND look great AND serve up a five-course meal AND maintain a clutter free home AND deliver one cunningly humorous zinger after the other ALL at the same time. In fact, some of these events may never occur at all. But, that's OK! My goal in life is not to be the woman on TV. It's not even to be ... you. My goal in life is to be the best me I can be for God. And, part of that is learning to love my family a little better with each new struggle...each new fight...each new challenge. Yes, sometimes it will require selflessness. But, mostly, it's just a matter of snuggling a little closer, laughing a little longer, and letting go of the small stuff a lot sooner!

OK, your turn. How are you learning to Absolutely Cherish Your Family? Your comments, as always, are greatly appreciated.

Have a FABULOUS night and may you get to love a little on your spouse and kiddos! LOVE!!!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

a FABULOUS challenge

Good evening! I hope the night finds you well. It finds me playing nurse to a very sick hubby. Jeremy's had the stomach flu since Saturday night and it is NOT pretty. The poor guy is really miserable. So, my highest calling tonight is as nurse to this awesome spouse o' mine. I thought this was supposed to be a winter thing, but I'm NOT least not too much,I hope!

Anywho, while I was cleaning up in the kitchen a little earlier I was reminded of a challenge issued by a friend earlier this month that I want to pass on to you. The first couple of days in August I was honored to take part in a writers/speakers conference called She Speaks presented by my friends at Proverbs 31 Ministries in Charlotte, NC. I could go on and on about so many great moments and experiences from those few days, but I won't (at least not now). The memory that came to mind tonight was tied specifically to the final message of the weekend.

Karen Ehman, an author and speaker and someone I'm privileged to call friend, was delivering the last words of encouragement before 608 women click-clacked their high-heeled shoes out of the conference center and back toward their regular lives. And, let me just say, she rocked it!

Karen delivered a powerful challenge to stop with the excuses. She herself had found that she'd settled for "typical Christianity". She realized she was going through the motions in many ways, especially when it came to reading the Bible and committing it to memory. So, long story short, she decided to stop wishing she knew the Bible better and start making it happen. Karen chose to memorize the entire book of James by Christmas morning of this year. She plans to wake up early, walk downstairs before her family wakes up (she has teenagers so that can actually happen), sit down in front of the Christmas tree and begin reciting what she's learned as a special gift to her Savior. I was inspired!

I don't know if I'll memorize the entire thing but I decided that day to join Karen in her Bible challenge. I'm also going to learn as much of the book of James as I can before December 25th. Why? Because, like Mrs. Ehman, I've settled for the typical when it comes to pursuing a real, active relationship with Jesus. I've got a lot of "I believe the apostle Paul said," or "Jill's Paraphrases" inside of me. But, I don't have a lot of tried and true passages completely committed to memory. Does that matter? I think it does. I mean, how can I really know Jesus and actually attempt to do what He wants me to do if I don't even know (exactly for sure) what He has said?

The Old Testament words about making God's words such a part of your life that you're always talking about them has just flashed across my brain. Of course, I didn't know the reference exactly, so I looked it up on Here it is:  So keep my words in your hearts and minds. Write them down and tie them on your hands as a reminder. Also tie them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up. Write them on the door-frames of your houses. Also write them on your gates. ~ Deuteronomy 11:18-20 (NIrV)

So, I feel very like minded with The Keep It Simple Woman (Karen Ehman's former "handle" on Doing Life with the Traceys). I want to delve into real relationship with Jesus by paying attention to what He's saying to me in the Bible. So far I've been reading chapter one over and over again, just trying to let it sink into my brain. I've basically told myself that when I climb into bed I can't read anything from my Dean Koontz novel until I've read through James 1 at least a couple of times, including reading it out loud at least once. Toward the end of August I'll start trying to see how far I can get through the chapter by memory. Then I'll move on to the next chapter with each new month. But, for now, I'm just trying to soak it in and really grasp the message. And, what a message it is!

I'm convicted by the command to not just listen to the words, but to do what they say. To show love to orphans and widows, to keep myself from being polluted by the world (uh-oh that Koontz novel may be on thin ice), and to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Just the small things, right? Ha! But, I am convinced that seeking to learn and memorize scripture is already having a positive effect. I'm actually meditating on the words on the page and trying to make them a reality in my life. And I thought memorizing scripture was just something you did in Bible College at 3 a.m. the night/morning before the next exam on writing out the Sermon on the Mount completely from memory. Who knew it was actually something you could do in real life? And, that it could lead to real heart changes...even after 40? Now, that's FABULOUS!

Wanna join me in this challenge? Let's hold each other accountable.

Friday, August 13, 2010

a FABULOUS Friday quote

Good Morning and Happy Friday!

A very insightful blog friend who goes simply by "Mom" passed this on to me a couple days ago. I can't think of a better way to end the week and look forward to a FABULOUS weekend than with this timely reminder...

My business is not to remake myself, but to make the absolute best of what God made. ~ Robert Browning

Isn't that great? We're not trying to transform ourselves into perfect beings - or even into the appearance of perfection. We simply want to take what God's given us and become FABULOUS for Him! Still a lot of work and prayer required, but so much less pressure, don't you think?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The "BIG" tests of faith and the daily pop quizzes...

Gotta admit...I'm not feeling FABULOUS tonight.

Until tonight I would have said so far, so good in my new adventure. Things had been going smoothly in my journey toward the FABULOUS. Today, especially, was a good day.

Alyssa and I had a great time doing crafts and playing together. Later at the station I interviewed an extremely adorable panel of soon-to-be first-graders. Next week we'll air their advice for boys and girls just going into Kindergarten and what they should expect in their new educational career. It is super cute and hilarious! The afternoon show went really well; we had a blast talking with the Canadian Jeremy Tracey on the air. After work Jeremy (the American) stayed behind to get some work done while Alyssa and I enjoyed the treat of going out spur-of-the-moment for a dinner with friends during which we had a lot of fun.! 

I'm sure any pizza place full of roasting ovens would have had trouble maintaining a cool temperature with it being 185 degrees outside. And, the place we visited tonight was having a LOT of trouble. So, the four of us tried to enjoy catching up but the Mommies were "glistening" and the kiddos were tired and cranky.

Fast forward to the parking lot and Alyssa taking what seemed like hours to climb into her car seat and say goodbye to her friend (it was probably just a minute or really slow motion) and me starting to lose my cool - no pun intended.

*** Side Note - I have a real problem with getting extremely irritable when I'm hot. Am I alone in that? I don't know why but I just don't handle it well. Call me a wimp, because I am, but I don't how women made it thousands of years as wives, mothers, or simply as humans without the gift of air conditioning. Seriously, I often wonder if I would ever utter one word of kindness if I didn't hop from an air conditioned home to an air conditioned gym to an air conditioned car to an air conditioned work place. I'm afraid it wouldn't be pretty.  But that's just a little background...let's get back to this evening. ***

Realizing I'm letting the heat get to me I reminded myself not to get exasperated with my four-year-old for being a four-year-old and put a smile on my face as I walked around the car to get into the driver's seat. The drive back to the station actually found us back at fun, listening to Bob and Larry, me pretending to be Bob, or Larry, whoever Alyssa wanted to talk to her at that moment. Jeremy got in the car and we headed for home.

As in the restaurant, The A/C in the car seemed like it wasn't working (it was working, but it's so hot and humid that it didn't actually start cooling the car until about the time we turned into our driveway) and I felt like I just wanted to dive head first into a huge vat of ice water, sink to the bottom, and stay there until September. I was done. Period.

So I said, "Hey, when we get home I think I'll do some work on the computer while you and Alyssa go up for bedtime."

Jeremy said, "Oh, let's just all go up together!"

Alyssa said, "Yeah, Mommy you come up, too!"

Now, that was a reasonable request. From both of them. Jeremy usually takes care of the bedtime routine and he was tired, too. And, Alyssa was feeling clingy due to her own fatigue and irritability due to the heat. It was completely understandable that they would want bedtime to be a team effort.

So, why did I feel like exploding? I couldn't say, "No, I don't want to help put my daughter to bed." I would never want her to feel like she's a burden. So, I resorted to the parent's secret code language: spelling.

And, so did Jeremy...

"I just need a little b-r-e-a-k, you know?!" I said, trying to sound sweet.

Jeremy spelled back, "Well, I need a b-r-e-a-k, too! And, besides, I've been w-o-r-k-i-n-g all d-a-y, remember?"

"OH, so what I d-o the whole d-a-y isn't w-o-r-k?"

"You know what I m-e-a-n!"

Me, very frustrated at this point and my voice starting to show it: "F....I....N...EEEEE!"

Jeremy (all sweet and smiley) "Remember, this is another chance to be FABULOUS!"

Me, only on the inside ~ AAAAAAAAAAAH!

Me, on the outside ~ A sideways glance meant for Jeremy alone.

But, he was right. There was absolutely nothing wrong with me. No reason not to help with the nightly routine. I was just hot. That's it. Isn't that pathetic?

So, I decided to stop the spelling wars, go upstairs with my family, and try to make Alyssa's last moments of the day full of happiness instead of the rantings of a grumpy old Mama. At one point Jeremy had to remind me to be patient when Alyssa was again in slow motion gear, taking what seemed like eons to go potty and wash her hands. But he did so tactfully and kindly, and I believe our little sweetheart made it to bed with her love tank full. She's been sleeping away ever since.

And now, here I am. I've apologized to Jeremy for my childish behavior and he's accepted my apology. But, I still feel miserable. A woman striving toward making positive changes in her life...striving to follow God fiercely...shouldn't be so easily derailed by a little rising of the mercury. It's just heat! How many people are going through so much worse, many of them without (gasp) air conditioning?!

So, I'm focusing again on James, chapter one, where I'm kind of camped out right now, just reading it over and over to myself , allowing its words to sink into my soul. I promised to read the Bible every day and this is a day I really need to hold tight to that promise.

I love this section:   My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy. Your faith will be put to the test. You know that when that happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. The strength to keep going must be allowed to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need. 

First thing I noticed ~ ALL KINDS of trouble.~  The text says that we will face ALL KINDS of trouble. Maybe it will be something huge, like a terrifying diagnosis from the family doctor. Or, something small and seemingly insignificant, like an annoying struggle with irritability when I get too hot. I can berate myself for this petty struggle but it IS one of the kinds of trouble James is talking about.

Please know I am in NO WAY comparing my heat issues with something big like losing a loved one. But, it is a struggle and any struggle can threaten to take my focus away from fiercely following God!

Next thing I noticed ~ ...think of it as pure joy. Your faith will be put to the test. ~ Of course, one way to look at a silly struggle like mine as a pure joy is to realize that if this is the worst I have to face today, I am doing just fine! (So snap out of it, Jill!) And, even in the little things my faith can and will be tested. It was tested when I experienced a miscarriage six years ago and it was tested this evening when I was hot and cranky.

Funny how often I find myself acing the big tests and flunking the small pop quizzes! Do I just not see the tiny, daily battles as important? I think I need to remember that story about the frog and the slowly boiling water. He wasn't dropped into his death...he was slowly adjusted to it. Either way, it's death!

Third thing I noticed ~ You know that when that happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. The strength to keep going must be allowed to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need. ~ When I'm tested in big and small ways, the strength comes to be stronger for the next test. And, if I allow God to continue working on me trouble by trouble, big and small, many or few, then I will become what I should be, which to me translates as FABULOUS for God!

So, I'm going to thank God for helping me stop the fuming when I did. Sure, I wish I'd never let the foul mood surface, but I can't change that now. What I can do is find the good in the choices I finally did make and ask God to help me make them even sooner next time.

Then I can follow the words found later in that same opening chapter of James: Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry. A man's anger doesn't produce the kind of life God wants. (Neither does a woman's!) ~ when I allow the troubles I face to shape me into what I should be, I will find things becoming slower and slower in the getting angry, cranky, and just plain irritable department. And that is FABULOUS!

I'm feeling a little better now. Amazing how a few moments spent reading the truths in the Bible can do that for a girl's mood!

How are things going as you're working to follow God fiercely? Remember, we're on this journey together, so please comment if you have an idea or just want to share something God's teaching you! Good night, FABULOUS one!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Where to begin?

You know how it is when you have a super-duper good idea and you want so badly to achieve the greatness of which you dream? You get all pumped up and primed and ready for action. You feel like if you don't move on this new adventure right this very moment your heart will leap out of your chest and run around trying to accomplish the awesome thing on its own! Do you know that feeling?

If you do, then maybe you can also relate to the feeling that comes when you're so ready to jump in feet first that you forget to actually stop and think about what exactly it is you're jumping into...or where exactly to jump first. That's kind of where I find myself tonight.

I so desperately wish to become this FABULOUS woman. The time to make changes is now. I want to be healthy, I want to love God and my family better, I want to serve others, and I want to develop my own sense of style that allows me to feel confident and beautiful in any situation and at any age (without spending a lot of time or cash, of course). Is that too much to ask?

No, just as it's NOT TOO LATE it's also NOT TOO MUCH. When God is in something, it is never too much to ask. There's no request that causes Him to raise His providential eyebrow as if too say, "Really, you want ALL  that? Why don't you just ask for the moon?"

If it is in His will, nothing is impossible with God! And, why wouldn't it be His will for us to become all we can be? Why wouldn't He want us to follow Him more closely, serve our families, and learn to truly love ourselves? I can't see anything here that is outside of what our Creator wants for us. I believe all of this and so much more can and will happen if we ask for His help. But, it's not going to happen over night.

Expecting to be FABULOUS right this instant is like picking up a microphone for the first time and, without even trying, expecting to be able to belt out a gut-wrenching tune like Janis, a soulful rendition like Aretha, or a sweet melody like Amy (Grant...that one's for my friend Catherine!) How can I expect to become FABULOUS immediately when I've allowed myself to pretty much live otherwise for 40 years?

OK, yes, God could snap His celestial fingers and make me everything I want to be in less than a fraction of a second. But, He rarely chooses to do it that way. I'm reminded of some words from the Bible that will keep me from entertaining that fantasy: ...when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. ~ James 1:2b-4 (NLT)

I don't know about you, but that tells me becoming FABULOUS takes hard work...and a lot of faith...and going through some struggles...and, well, time!

So, I've realized that jumping into FABULOUS-ness (there's that made up word again) isn't something I can just do all willy-nilly. I've got to look at this truly as a journey rather than simply a destination.

But, where does the process begin? It's got to start with following God better. We can be working simultaneously on all aspects of our lives, getting healthy, showering love on our families, volunteering in places that are doing good, and learning how to dress our widely differing shapes. But, it all has to start at the Top.

The number-one priority for the FABULOUS woman is to FOLLOW GOD FIERCELY. I know this is the one area in which I both struggle the most and would most like to see improvement. Are you there? Well, let's work on it together. Everything else will follow.

I'm committing to you that this week I will stop making excuses and start reading my Bible and spending time talking with God in prayer every day. I won't promise that it will always happen first thing in the morning or even that it will happen at the same time every day. But, I promise that it WILL be a priority and it WILL happen. Will you think about making that commitment with me?

So, we're starting at the beginning, it's a very good place to start (thank you, Julie Andrews!). Once we get the do-re-mi down pat, we'll be ready to start singing. And, someday, we'll all be Aretha or (insert the name of the powerhouse female vocalist you adore most)!

Now, it's your turn. Tell me what you do, or what you're going to start doing, to FOLLOW GOD FIERCELY! Can't wait to read your ideas. Until then, I hope you have a great night and some FABULOUS time with God!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Trying to attain perfection vs. becoming FABULOUS

Good evening, FABULOUS one! I hope your weekend's winding down in a good way. Jeremy and I head back to work tomorrow after a 1 1/2 week vacation. Of course we loved the down time, but, we're actually looking forward to getting back at it which is pretty FABULOUS in itself. Having a job you love is nothing to take for granted!

Before I close down the computer for the night I wanted to chat a little about the difference between becoming FABULOUS and trying to achieve perfection. My friend, Susie, shared some good advice about not trying to be perfect but allowing people to see our flaws. And, I cannot agree more. I'm all about sharing my imperfections and, believe me, they are legion! But, I don't think knowing we will always miss the mark in striving to be perfect (at least while we're still here on this Earth) should hinder us from striving to be FABULOUS! In fact, I believe part of becoming FABULOUS is following the advice I heard recently from author and speaker, Angela Thomas, to "lead with your brokenness". A FABULOUS woman is not one who desperately wishes to appear to have it all together. A FABULOUS woman realizes she'll never achieve that task and takes that first step of boldness anyway.

What is she stepping toward? Well, hopefully, first and foremost toward God and a true, authentic, completely open relationship with Him. After that, the journey is different for each of us. If we're married the next step is to lavishly love our husbands and kiddos if we have them. After that, maybe it's to be a sacrificial volunteer, start our own business, pick up a paint brush, or pursue a passion for cooking, music, or sports.  But, in whatever step we take, leading with our brokenness is not only more realistic, but opens up the door for such a greater impact on the people around us. An artist who expresses her pain on a canvas is way more likely to touch another soul than one who simply wants to accurately portray a pretty bowl of fruit (not that I have anything against fruit). My point is that the artist is striving to be FABULOUS at her craft...not to be a perfect human being.

And this is the change I'm seeking. Not to become a perfect human being...but to become FABULOUS at being a follower of Jesus, a wife to Jeremy and Mom to Alyssa. FABULOUS at talking on the radio, writing, reaching out to help in my community. FABULOUS as a friend and daughter. But, I believe, becoming FABULOUS includes letting your imperfections shine from time to time!

Whoa...I do believe I've delved a little too deeply and waxed a little too philosophically for one evening. Better sign off...tomorrow I begin work on the new healthy eating plan. Loads to share in that area, you can be sure of it!

Good night and may you have FABULOUS dreams!

Friday, August 6, 2010

One FABULOUS choice...

I can't tell you how excited I was (and am) to hear from you after my very first entry on this brand new blog. My mind has been racing with all kinds of new musings on how we don't have to resign ourselves to the "It's Too Late" thoughts that fight their way into our brains. We can stand up, at any age, and say NO to the familiar and begin the pursuit of the FABULOUS.

As I was thinking and itching to blog again today I waited and waited for the chance to present itself. Finally, my 4 1/2-year-old was settled in to watch a movie and I was certain that my opportunity had presented itself so clearly that to NOT blog would be simply wrong. So, I jumped up, plugged in the cord for our DSL (weird set up in our condo, long story) and fired up the 'ole PC. And, just as I logged on to Blogger and geared up for some most-certainly-awesome content to come flowing out of my fingers, I felt a familiar tug on my sleeve.

"Mommy, play with my magnetic dress-up doll with me!" Alyssa said as she pleaded silently with those enormous chocolate browns.

Now, I didn't really want to play with the magnetic dress-up doll. But, somehow, I found the resolve to make my first FABULOUS choice of the day. I turned away from the computer and toward my little beloved. After all, isn't that one of the first priorities in becoming truly FABULOUS?

Serving my family had to come first and I'm so thankful I didn't miss yet another chance to instill the knowledge in my little girl's heart that she is loved unconditionally and above all things electronic. There have been far too many times when this has not been the case. Far too many times when Alyssa's heard the words, "OK, sweetie, as soon as Mommy's done on the computer!" Today was different, though. THANK GOD!

I know I won't always make the best choice. But, we Moms have to celebrate those rare moments when we actually get it right, don't ya think?

~ Thank you, God, for pricking my heart earlier today and helping me to actually listen to You! ~

I have so many ideas to share with you and will do so over the weekend, most likely when my daughter's asleep and my hubby's playing a video game. I also love hearing from you, so please keep your awesome thoughts, comments, and suggestions coming. In the meantime, enjoy your loved ones, have a great weekend and a good night!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It wasn't supposed to be like this...

About two months ago I celebrated my 40th birthday and, let's just say this wasn't the way I'd imagined it.

Wait, I should back up. Just so I'm clear, I'm not talking about the party. The party was absolutely PERFECT. My sweet husband put together a surprise bash full of friends, family, food, fun, and all the other good things you'd expect at a milestone celebration. I cried at the video he and my mother lovingly worked long hours to create. I laughed at all the special words of "tribute" spoken by friends who knew just enough about me to be dangerous and yet were there to point out the funny rather than the negative. The day was everything I could have wished for. I still smile every time I remember all the people I love gathered in one room to acknowledge the achievement of FOUR DECADES on this earth and to pray for at least four more. It was an incredible party.

So, no, when I say this wasn't the way I'd imagined it I'm definitely NOT talking about the party. I'm talking! I didn't imagine myself this way. Thinking back to those young, exciting years of anticipation; back all the way to High School and then into College when I saw my future just beginning to unfold; all those times I wistfully tried to imagine where I'd be in 10 years, in 20 years, I never once imagined that it would include being 60 pounds overweight, settling for a whole lot of blah blah blah, and feeling like there's so much MORE I could be doing with my life. Yes, I do my best at being a good Mommy, a loving wife, and a dedicated, authentic radio host. But, isn't there more to life than this? Shouldn't I be pursuing more? I mean, has it really come down to getting super excited about a new episode of "Last Comic Standing" and hoping my daughter will stay in bed so my husband and I can watch and laugh in peace? Seriously? This is my so-called life?

OK, before you get too frustrated and move on to the next offering in the blog-o-sphere, I should acknowledge that I have SO much. A fun spouse, an adorable daughter, a cozy home, a great job. I have nothing to complain about and I'm definitely not looking to blame anyone for the position I find myself in emotionally, physically, or any other "ally". I'm just ready for...MORE! I'm tired of being fat, frumpy, flat, and all too familiar. I've realized that I have resigned myself to an average, typical life and that's not what I signed up for. But, I think I have also realized that just realizing this isn't enough. I have to stop the humdrum...I have to take action against the so-so...I have to stand up and fight the everyday...I have to make the change.

So, that's what this blog is all about. Fighting the familiar and beginning the journey toward the FABULOUS. What does that look like?

FABULOUS looks like a fit, healthy woman who serves her God, her family, AND her community. But, it's more than that. FABULOUS looks like a woman who takes care regarding not only her physical appearance but also the state of her heart. A woman who opts for the extraordinary over the ordinary...A woman who takes risks instead of naps...A woman who LIVES life instead of just getting through the day.

So, how do I shed the frumpy-ness and achieve fabulous-ness? Well, first I should probably stop making up words like frumpy-ness and fabulous-ness. But, other than that, how do I make a change now, so late in the game? PLEASE TELL ME IT'S NOT TOO LATE! Please tell me it's not time to accept the roly-poly me, to make peace with the unexciting. NO. I refuse to believe that lie.

I believe I can make an impact on my little corner of the world. I believe I can get healthy and once again be happy with the image that faces me every morning as I peer into my mirror desperately trying not to notice exactly how lumpy I've become. I believe I can inspire my daughter to even greater things than I'd ever imagined way back in those wistful years. It begins here.

My journey starts today. It starts with getting onto a healthy eating plan, finding time to workout everyday or at least several times a week. But, it doesn't end there. It also means finding ways to serve rather than to be served. Stepping outside of my comfort zone a little more often than I step into my air conditioned home and well-worn flip flops. Because becoming FABULOUS means a total transformation inside and out.

Have you ever come to a point in life where you wonder exactly how and when you became the woman you are right at this very moment? Have you ever wanted to stop the madness and call for a do-over? Well, let's do it over...together. I'll blog about my daily choices for FABULOUS rather than familiar. You can let me know all the ways I could be doing even better when you comment. And, who knows? We may even have some fun along the way!