HCG diet journey… finally losing that post-baby weight! (Part 1)

Have you ever struggled with your weightloss like me?  For some its a struggle of 75+ pounds, for others, the last 20 that just won’t come off is equally frustrating.  For new (or seasoned) mommas, the babyweight is always a daunting chore.  Well, you are in good company!  Welcome to my post-baby-weight weightloss journey on the hCG diet!!!  This entry and a few entries following with be carefully following my weightloss journey with the HCG diet.  First, I am not aiming to lose astronomical amounts of weight.  Only about 20-25 lbs.  After having my fourth son almost four years ago, I was lazy during breastfeeding and did not work to get the baby weight off, and have struggled ever since to get back down to my pre-baby size.  I have tried a number of different approaches, all healthy options, but I don’t think I was motivated enough to do something strict.  Finally, it dawned on me, I have been whining and complaining about this struggle for nearly four years now, and have given a half-effort to about six different methods, and have seen no sustained progress.  Enough is enough!!  There is no excuse for whining.  If I have a goal, I will find a way to reach it.  So, as I was shopping last week I came across some HCG drops on sale and thought, “Hmm, these are cheap, I’ll just buy them, research and see if it’s worth trying.”  I got home, opened them up and read the diet plan and was like, “hah!  yeah right!” and put them away.  But as I did research and came across friends who had had great success on this diet, I saw that doctors were giving it the thumbs up (in fact it was designed by a doctor), and the food prescribed in the diet is very healthy, I thought, “Well, maybe I could just buckle down and work hard and see some results.”  So, that’s what I did.  I bought the necessary food, prayed for grace ;), and jumped in a week ago.  And I have been so excited by my results!  So excited in fact, I thought I’d share on here with ya’ll in case any of you have found yourself in a similar frustrating situation.  First, let me give you an overview of the diet.  (If you’re looking for a good book to really understand it, this cookbook is excellent.  It explains the diet AND gives you recipes.  Two for one!)

 

Below are my BEFORE photos… Check out Part 2 to see my Week 1 results!  Keep reading to see a summary of the diet.  

 

Phase 1: Loading phase.  Two days.  

  • Take HCG drops three times per day before meals; don’t drink or eat within 15 minutes of taking the drops so as not to dilute them in your system.
  • This phase is two days of eating as much FATTY foods as possible.  These fat stores help your body more gracefully adapt to the next phase which is the Very Low Calorie Diet phase (VLCD).  I didn’t take this phase very seriously and wish I would have.  My first three days, especially the third were tough.  Plus, who doesn’t like an excuse to eat every fatty food you ever wanted?  No food is off limits.

Phase 2: Very Low Calorie Diet with weightloss. Day 3-40

  • Again, you will be taking the HCG drops three times daily, not within 15 minutes of water or food.
  • This phase of the diet focuses on putting your body into Ketosis state, which is where your body is living off your own fat stores.  You can lose 1-2 lbs of fat per DAY.
  • The calorie goal these days is to stay within 500 calories.
  • On these days you typically skip breakfast but spend the morning drinking herbal teas, black coffee or water.  At least 32 Oz of liquids is your goal.  It is good to go the way of decaffeinated drinks so you don’t get jittery.  Lunch and Dinner is created from the selected foods in the lists below.
  • No exercising for these days.  Activity should be kept to a gentle stroll.  You need all the calories you are taking in!

Foods For The HCG Diet Phase 2

This is a list of foods you can eat while doing Phase 2 of the HCG Diet.
Use this list as a quick reference when shopping and preparing meals.

VEGETABLES
– Any kind of lettuce, spinach, beet greens, chard, cabbage
– Any kind of onions
– Any kind of tomatoes
– Fennel
– Cucumber
– Radishes
– Celery
– Asparagus


PROTEINS
Your meats/poultry cannot be cooked on the bone. All meats should be trimmed of all fat (and skin)
– White Fish
– Lobster
– Crab
– Shrimp
– Extra Lean Beef (steak, 96% premium lean ground beef, pot roast)
– Chicken


FRUIT


– Apples
– Blue Berries, Blackberries or Strawberries
– Lemons


DRINK & OTHERS
– Herbal Tea
– Bottled Water
– Melba Toast
– Sugarless Gum
– Steevia (natural sweetener, any flavor)
– Braggs Liquid Amino (this is a soy sauce type of product)
– Mustard
– Apple Cider Vinegar
– Any natural herb or spice, salt and pepper, garlic

Vegetables Portion Calories
Asparagus 4 ounces 20
Beet Greens 1 cup 25
Broccoli 4 ounces 30
Brussel Sprouts 1 cup 50
Raw Cabbage 1 cup 25
Raw Cauliflower 1 cup 30
Celery 1 stalk 5
Collard Greens 1 cup 25
Cucumber 8″ 15
Dandelion 4 ounces 50
Endive/Escarole 1 cup 10
Green Beans 4 ounces 40
Raw Kale 1 cup 40
Leeks 1/2 cup 16
Lettuce 1 cup 15
Romaine Lettuce 4 ounces 25
Green Onions 6 small 25
Raw White Onions 4 ounces 40
Green Sweet Peppers 1 medium 20
Red Sweet Peppers 1medium 25
Radishes 4 small 8
Spinach 1 cup 10
Squash/Zucchini 1 cup 40
Tomato 1 medium 20
Turnips 1 cup 55
Turnip Greens 1 cup 45
Watercress 4 ounces 25

Fruit Portion Calories
Apple 1 medium 80
Grapefruit 1/2 40
Strawberries 1 cup 55
Black Berries 1 cup 62
Blue Berries 1 cup 83
Lemon 1 medium 17

Phase 3: Stabilization phase.  3 Weeks.  CRUCIAL TO YOUR SUCCESS!!

  • The first three days of this phase you keep eating the VLCD but withOUT HCG drops so that you can give your body time to get the hormone out of your body before introducing new foods.
  • On the fourth day you can begin introducing new foods SLOWLY back into your diet.  The reason for this is because your body has trained itself to such limited calories and types of foods that to go back to regular eating straight away would shock your system and put the weight right back on.
  • In this phase you bring your caloric intake up to 800-1000 calories, gradually working your way up to 1500 calories.
  • Go to this page for a detailed food list.  http://www.hcgdietdrops.com/hcg-phase-3-other-food-list.html
  • This phase is characterized by three daily habits:
    • you must weigh yourself every day
    • you must remain within 2 pounds of your last injection weight (over *OR* under) and,
    • you cannot eat sugars and starches (which is carbohydrates minus the fiber)
  • Exercise: You can re-introduce exercise in this phase.  Your goal should be 30min-1 hour 3-4 times per week.
  • For more details on this phase, go here.
  • For success tips and menu samples, go here.

Phase 4: Maintenance phase. The rest of your life!

  • This phase you can bring your calorie intake up to 1800-2000.
  • In phase 4 when your weight has become consistent and stable you will start to re-introduce sugars and starches back into your diet. Starting off slow is always good. Don’t go binging!
  • To maintain your weight, you will have learned a lot of healthy alternatives, so use them in this phase!
  • For the first three weeks you are watching very carefully and very slowly working sugars, like chocolate or bread, into your diet.  But do only one per day to see how your body responds.  As your body gets used to this foreign object and learns how to metabolize it, you can settle into a nice little routine.
  • Use your natural sugar subsitutes and develop a habit of having a splurge meal only once or twice a week.  Be careful still though, as you can rack up on calories if you’re not mindful of how much is going in.
  • Focus eating still on fruits vegetables and proteins, and let grains and sugars be the smaller portions of your meals.  Keep sugar in moderation.

Links to help: 

Phases 3 & 4:

So that’s the overview of the diet.  The first few days are the most challenging, but as your body adapts, it will become much easier.  Let your thinking about food change WITH the food, so that after you’re done, you don’t return to old habits.

Below are my BEFORE photos… Check out Part 2 to see my Week 1 results!

 

 

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For those Mommas who just, well, MISS the Lord

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At a friend’s encouragement I decided to write this down hoping it would serve to breathe life into some of your precious momma-hearts like it did mine when the Lord shared it with me…

I don’t know how many of you have, like myself, found yourself in the midst of raising young children, chasing toddlers, cleaning house, tending to cooking and caring for a husband, found yourself just plain MISSING your time with the Lord like you used to know it. I miss the days of 2 hour quiet times if I just felt like it. I could close my eyes, get lost in worship, in the Word, hearing his voice, and get heaven and his heart downloaded to me any given day I chose it. Then I became a momma… and my quiet times are far from daily (as I would have defined it before), far from “uninterrupted”, far from 2 hours long, and just plain not like it was before. After I first had children (specifically, more than one child. Judah was easy and I still got lots of time with the Lord then… it was the second child that sped my life up so drastically!) I really wrestled with condemnation, guilt, sadness, a sense of loss and frustration over my struggle to find time with the Lord. I would constantly hear zealous phrases I’ve heard in the past whispering “If you want it bad enough, you’ll do what it takes to get alone with Him.” or the comparative guilt trips of “I bet so-and-so still has awesome times with the Lord.” Even still, those old voices of comparison and guilt would sneak up to rob me of what meager times I MIGHT get with the Lord. So, in attempt to remedy the feelings of guilt, I would “do what it takes” to try and meet with him. And wouldn’t you know, those early mornings, late nights, or isolated naptimes for the boys would be the times they conveniently woke up early, stayed up late, or struggled to take a nap. I ended up more frustrated and sometimes, honestly, resentful at my children, for “stealing” my relationship with the Lord from me.

THE EPIPHANY…

A couple weeks ago I had the privilege, thanks to my generous husband, of being able to take a trip with some of our college students to a Hillsong concert in Houston. While there, the room was dark, the worship sweet, no one was asking me for juice or anything else, so I just sat down and enjoyed being still and quiet with the Lord. And I found myself, as I have sooo many other times, approaching him immediately with my “I’m sorry’s”… I’m sorry I haven’t had time with you like I want. I’m sorry I haven’t made time for you. I’m sorry I haven’t woken up early, stayed up to pray, read your word, etc… and the list goes on. Except these weren’t apologies led by holy Spirit’s gentle conviction, these were apologies, though sincere, that came more out of guilt and insufficiency. Then the Lord interrupted me. He said, “Jenilee, stop, darling. Stop apologizing. I see your life. Just take the moments of love when they are available. Seize the moments of love when you can, and enjoy it. Enjoy Me.” I began to explain myself, still feeling like somehow that was unfair to him, given my apparent lack of devotion indicated by my lack of disciplined quiet times that I used to enjoy. And he went on in His Wisdom: “Jenilee, I want you to think of my servant, David. He is the only man acclaimed to have a heart after mine. The only man I said that about, in scripture. And often the picture is of him having ethereal, blissful, spiritual moments in the quiet fields with no one to interrupt him, but look closer. He was a shepherd, as you are. He shepherded sheep, you shepherd your children. He may have wanted to close his eyes and get lost in hours of blissful worship, as you do, but he couldn’t afford that. He had many little sheep that needed constant attention. He had to bring them to water, bring them to food, keep them corralled, chase them down when they wandered, keep a constant eye out for wolves, bears, lions, and then kill the beasts when they challenged the safety of his lambs…. much like you do. You have to feed and nurture your children, keep them in safe places, watch constantly that the enemy is not attempting to prey on them, and then you must stand up against the enemy when he dares to touch your child. You must constantly be alert, as a shepherd. There are moments of quiet, but even in those moments of quiet, you are watching, listening, caring. Just like my servant David. yet, he took the moments of love. He sang while he watched. He listened to my voice, while he scanned the herd for wandering sheep. He drew on my strength and wisdom when he fought beasts. He grew to know me, though his times with me did not look much like what you used to experience, yet he knew me and sought my heart, even amidst the distractions, the constant watching and tending. And, though shepherding was a very simple job to the outside eye, I saw what it created inside him, and I saw him worthy to be established as a king. You will shepherd children for many years, and it may feel somewhat aimless at times, and even like you’re giving up much of your greatest potential in order to just wipe noses or scrub behind ears, and it may feel that there is greatness within you just lying there, waiting, untapped. Yet, at the right moment, those years of faithfulness and commitment and care are laying a foundation for you to step into the “kingship” seasons that you sense reside quietly inside. When you feel your parenthood is an obstacle, the menial tasks of raising children “pointless”, remember my servant David, and continue on in your faithfulness, encouraged that it is not a waste, it is not fruitless, it is not wasting an ounce of what I’ve placed in you. The greatest king of Israel spent the majority of his life raising sheep… and yet he made a great king of Israel because he seized the moments of love when they were available and allowed me to build him into a King. Don’t apologize. Just seize the love when you can, and enjoy me when you can, and realize this season of your life is bearing more fruit in you than most would see or appreciate. But I see. I know. And I love it. Thank you for shepherding my children to love me.”That’s all it took. That’s all I needed to hear. I hope it encourages you as it did me. Truly, the Lord knows the word that sustains the weary, and I’m so grateful for it. 🙂

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133 Simple Summer Ideas for Young Children

These are a lot of ideas I sat down and threw down on paper that we’ve either tried or wanted to try, along with some other little ideas I found here and there online.  If you’re like me, I feel like I spend half the day sometimes staring into space as I mop or sweep or do dishes, wracking my brain for an idea of something to do with the kids to keep them from getting into trouble or killing each other.  I hope this helps!  I plan to print this out, and cut out each idea into a slip of paper and fold it and put them in a jar, so when the kids get bored, they can pull one out and do whatever it says!  Keeps things exciting! Happy Summer Vacation!!

Activity ideas for the kids.

1. Have an indoor picnic.
2. Build a fort out of blankets (use chairs, couches, yarn- anything to hold up the blankets!).
3. Make sock puppets
4. Finger paint with pudding.
5. Playdough- use rolling pins and cookie cutters.
6. Dance PARTY–dance to your favorite songs.
7. Have a tea party.
8. Read nursery rhymes.
9. Make your own indoor hopscotch with masking tape on carpet/wood.
10. Pedicures.
11. Play school–have the child be the teacher.
12. Make a letter book. Let the kids take a picture of something that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
13. Look at photo albums.
14. Make a movie of yourselves, then watch it.
15. Paint with water colors.

16. play with super hero figurines. (barbies/dolls for girls)
17. Play with matchbox cars
18. Play board games (my kids love Candy Land!).
19. Color with crayons. Take off the wrapper and see the different ways you can color with them.
20. Make paper bag puppets.
21. Watch a movie and eat popcorn.
22. Go on a treasure hunt.
23. Bake cookies.  Share some with a neighbor or leave as a surprise for someone.
24. Play dress-up.
25. Make paper hats.
26. Make a healthy snack and enjoy it outside.
27. Make a relay race or obstacle course in your house–be creative!
28. Play hide and seek.
29. Indoor snowball fight with socks (or large marshmallows).
30. Build a fort out of cardboard boxes and duct tape.
31. Make plans and invitations for a party.
32. Play tic-tac-toe.
33. Make your own puzzle out of poster board or cardstock, color and cut it out.
34. Make your own matching game.
35. Swim in the kitchen–put down a tarp, fill up a little kiddie pool with warm water and let them play for hours!
36. Make holiday décor.
37. Make a car track all around your house with masking tape.
38. Play “Monster in the Middle.” Pillows are “safe” the carpet is the “lava.” Jump from pillow to pillow and if the monster touches you, you are in the middle.
39. Apple stamps. Cut an apple in half horizontal and use it as a stamp using washable paint.
40. Make lacing cards with their favorite cereal boxes.
41. Learn a new song. (youtube: days, months, seasons, manners, verses, etc)
42. Create a giant dot-to-dot with poster board.
43. Make craft for upcoming holiday

44. Make a necklace with yarn, beads or Fruit Loops.
45. Have a talent show.
46. Cut paper snowflakes.
47. Make a paper countdown chain to next holiday or an upcoming birthday by cutting strips of paper and stapling them together.
48. Hard noodles, Elmer’s glue, and paper… need I say more?
49. Marble racing. Take 2 of your swimming pool water noodles and prop them on the stairs. Race marbles down the middle of them. The hole is a perfect size for a marble.
50. Sculpt clay, let it dry, then paint.
51. Play Gun war w nerf dart guns or water guns.
52. Write letters to Grandma and Grandpa.
53. Play with magnets. Cut up colorful pipe cleaners into 1 inch pieces, put them in a glass jar, put a magnet to the jar and see what happens!
54. Make an advent calendar for Valentine’s Day or an upcoming holiday.
55. Make princess/king crowns.
56. Manicures.
57. Take silly pictures and e-mail them to Dad/Mom at work or other relatives.
58. Make big cars out of a cardboard box. Have the kids sit inside the boxes, cut holes for their legs and let them use their feet as wheels to move around.
59. Play red-light, green-light. Play this with #58. It is so fun!
60. play manners game (demonstrate various behaviors, ask if its good or bad manners.  If bad, ask them how to make it good manners.)

61. Make a super hero costume out of household items.
62. Pillow pile. Collect all the pillows in your house and jump into them.
63. Dress up in Mom or Dad’s clothes.
64. Plan a date for your child and you (or spouse) that makes them feel special.
65. Cream painting. Put shaving cream and drops of food coloring in a cookie tray and then mix it all around with a paint brush.
66. Make a story book out of paper. Have them make it up and draw the pictures.
67. Watch old family videos.
68. Make and frost sugar cookies.
69. Make paper airplanes.
70. Watch an Educational video
71. Read their favorite book to them.
72. Start a journal. If the child can’t write, have them tell you what to write.
73. Make a time capsule of their favorite things and open it next January.
74. Do flash cards (letters, sounds, addition, etc.).
75. make sock puppets
76. Make cupcakes and let them do everything themselves.
77. Plan a family vacation or make a dream vacation pages using pictures in magazines.
78. Teach them to sew.
79. Do an exercise video with them.
80. Rearrange the furniture in their room.
81. Hot cocoa bar. Chocolate covered spoons, marshmallows, whipped cream, Andes mints. Get creative! What do you put in your hot cocoa?
82. Make a bird feeder with toilet paper rolls. Put peanut butter on it and roll it in bird seed. Hang it with yarn outside and watch the birds come.
83. Make little pizzas. Use English muffins, tomato sauce, cheese and any toppings you want. Cook at 350 degrees. Watch until cheese melts.
84. Put on a play.
85. Make an Ice Sun Catcher. Take a pie tin and fill it with water, leaves, pine cones, and yarn so it can hang. Then put it in the freezer and let it freeze. When it is frozen, take it out and hang it on a tree.
86. Shaving cream fight.  Fill pie pans with cream, drip dye in it, and let them make a pretty design, then let them fight it out with it.  Then hose them off for more fun.

87. Let them use your makeup to give you a makeover–this one is HILARIOUS!
88. Let them pick and print out coloring pages online–there are TONS!
89. Make a piñata and fill it with yummy (or healthy) treats.
90. Have a campout in the front room… tent and all.
91. Play doctor.
92. Mummy wrap. Have your kids work together to wrap you, or another child, up in toilet paper.
93. Practice your fire drill. Stop, drop, and roll. What is your plan and your meeting place?
94. Ball toss. Have a few different sized buckets and have kids throw balls into them. For
older kids, fill the buckets with water almost to the top. It is a lot harder than it seems.
95. play hide and go seek..
96. Read a book then act out the story.
97. Indoor bowling. Stuff socks into toilet paper rolls and line them up. Roll a ball into them and you have your own bowling alley!
98. Fill up the sink! Add some dish soap, cups, spoons, bowls and anything else that isn’t breakable. Just make sure there are a couple of towels under their chairs.
99. Take fun pictures in random places
100. Take a bath! Put in toys you usually don’t let go in the tub (that are still waterproof) and they will play forever!
101. Chores. Kids don’t always have to LOVE what they are doing, but I think it is very important to teach what chores are at a young age.

102. play with legos/blocks

103. puzzles

104.  have a candle-lit dinner together.

105. Play in the pool/sprinkler outside

106. Outdoor free play

107. Free play in bedroom

108. go on a walk

109. hunt for pieces of nature outside and bring them home to make a pretty display by gluing them to paper.

110. Have them each help plan a dinner for that week and help make it too.  Give them ideas on pinterest.

111. plant some herbs together in little pots, teaching them about gardening and watch them grow over the weeks.  Use them when they cook their dinner!

112. Gardening/weed picking- they like this more than you’d think!

113. Swinging outside

114. Play “Simon says”

115. bake together (cookies or a treat) and share with a neighbor.

116. Do a random act of kindness.

117. Make a phone call to someone special to tell them hello and we are thinking of you.

118. Write a note/card for someone, or draw a picture.

119. Painting with water (get brushes and bucket of water and paint with water!) on concrete outside

120. Wax paper collage with nature findings.  (put leaves, and flowers between two pieces of wax paper and iron them together.)

121. Find an activity on www.playcreateexplore.com

122. color on the marker board easel.  Have them pretend to be a French artist.  Draw a little mustache on them too!

123.  pick something they want to learn about (fave animal, lighthouses, a career, etc) and do some simple research online.  Have them make little fact cards and compile into a flip book or try out what they’ve learned.

124. Make a slip-n-slide outside with a tarp, hose and soap and let the kids have fun!

125.  Make homemade bouncy balls, crayons, gummies, etc. Look on pinterest for links.

126. Make smore’s in the microwave and eat outside after dark/dinner while telling stories.

127.  Join the library reading program for the summer.  Go to the library to check out a bunch of books and start reading!

128.  Have a waterballoon fight, or play waterballoon volleyball by filling waterballoons, and have two teams each holding a towel, or half-folded bedsheet, and fling the waterballoon to each other, back and forth using the fabric only.  Lots of fun and teaches team work!

129. Make your own trail mix for a snack using things the kids pick.  Options: nuts, m&m’s, skittles, chocolate chips, corn candy, raisins, pretzels, bugle chips, dried fruit, animal crackers, gummies, etc.

130.  Play shop: Get/make some play money, set out items for “sale” making price stickers for them, and have the kids “shop” for a specific suggested event, and have them calculate and budget their spending based on how much money they have to work with.

131. Make tye-died shirts, bandanas, etc.  Look up unique ideas on pinterest.

132.  Have a color-themed meal. (this may take a little preparation)

133.  Let them play online learning games, great for reading help and other skills.  Some good resources are “starfall” and “fisher-price“.

134.Room for more… write your ideas!!

135.

136.

137.

138.

139.

140.

Understanding: a lesson learned in parenting

Understanding…

I frequently think about life a few years from now, to anticipate hang ups or snares, and make a plan for them.  Like Proverbs says, “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it”, I figure that if there are challenges most parents complain about, surely there’s a way to take a different route and see a different

Jenilee and Judah walking together in the park

Pregnant with Levi, walking with Judah through the park enjoying some time together.

outcome.  So, I frequently wonder about the teen years of my children and what they will look like.  Many times when I was with our youth kids they would tell me something and I’d ask if they had told their parents and they would say, “What?! No way! I can’t tell my parents THAT!”  Finally one day I asked my car-full of youth girls as we travelled home from a youth event, “Girls, what is it that your parents do that makes you feel like you can’t talk to them?”  They thought for a minute, and without exception, though their examples varied, the bottom line problem they agreed upon was this: “they don’t understand where we are coming from.”  I thought about this and followed with another question, “Don’t you think they probably do? They were teenagers before too, and you will be parents one day.  What makes you think they don’t understand?”  Here the answers varied a bit more but were not a surprise: “Well they just get angry and never want to know how I feel.”  “They don’t really listen to me!”  “They only care about what they think is important!”  What I heard in all their answers was this: My parents don’t hear me, see me, or value my feelings as important.  Granted, parents have been there, done that during their teen years and they have a very different perspective looking back in retrospect.  Its so clear to them what to do when you can look back on a thing, but what they forget is that when you’re in the middle of it right now, it IS a big deal, and it IS important, and it DOES hurt.  And that’s what those girls were saying.  “Meet me where I’m at and show me you care, even if it’s not yourconcern.”  What a valuable thing to learn: Understanding.  What a difference this one thing makes in relationships.

As I thought back over my relationship with the Lord and about all the different times I was an emotional wreck, or a confused wreck, or just plain a wreck of a wreck, and I would go to him for counsel, interestingly enough, he would always meet me where I was at: he would meet my emotional needs FIRST, and then tend to the matter.  If I was hurt, he would comfort me and console me with understanding.  He didn’t endorse lie-based emotions by telling me how I felt was “normal”, but he DID make me feel that truth or not, the way I felt still mattered to Him.  As his love and understanding comforted my heart and brought the healing needed, then he would gently bring me the truth of the situation.  That is when he would tenderly bring loving correction, or would show me where I was wrong and how it had hurt me, or even would show me where I needed to go and make things right.  Whatever it was, he brought me truth; but not before he brought me LoVe.   Love heals and nourishes the way for truth to land on good soil.

Now, how does this apply to my little three-year old? Given this principle of understanding I began to ask the Lord to help me lay a foundation of understanding with my boys now, that way trust would be developed and our relationship would be built on a trusting foundation of placing value on the other’s perspective and feelings.  This so that by the time the teen years reach us, we will already be heading in the right direction.  See, I knew that if I waited until the teenager years to try to develop an understanding stance toward them, they would see it as an insincere effort because our entire relationship history would have already been built on a different dynamic.

One night as I tucked Judah into bed, we talked about the evening we had just had.  There had been some spankings and some tears and so I was taking the opportunity to teach him a little more about the situation.   At one point he said, “Yeah, and when me and Levi wouldn’t eat our hot-dogs, you were being mean, Mommy.”  I remembered the scenario: hotdogs, ketchup, dinner time, and the never ending challenge of getting them to eat what I put in front of them.  This time, however, I was tired.  Daddy was out of the country and I was more than ready for bed, so my patience was thin and I was harsh. I spanked them more out of frustration than correction.  As Judah reminded me of this, I was about to correct him with, “No honey, mommy wasn’t being mean, you were being disobedient so mommy needed to correct you-” when the Holy Spirit came gently to me and quickened to me, “He is telling you how he feels in three-year-old language.  Honor that, and honor him.”  Wow.  Yes he was.  He wasn’t accusing me of being mean.  He was telling me that I was treating him with a meanness that hurt his feelings.  My tone quickly changed as I corrected myself and softened and said, “Judah, you’re right.  Mommy did get mean, and I am so sorry.  I should not have spanked you in the way that I did.  Mommy was upset and I took it out on you boys and got angry.  I am so so sorry.  That was wrong and I hurt your feelings.  Will you forgive me?”  He looked at me with so much grace and gently said, “Its ok Mommy, we can try again tomorrow” as he reached out to hug me.  Wow.  What forgiveness.  And what grace.  And what a mended relationship.  If I had just forsook his feelings and pursued arrogantly my agenda of teaching him and putting him in his place, his little heart would have gone unseen, his little voice unheard, and our relationship wounded.  However, after I took the time to hear him and tend to his feelings and repent for my sin (because it WAS wrong that I spanked him in anger like I did), I gently explained why it was so frustrating that they did not eat their dinner.  He nodded in understanding to what I shared, and easily agreed to eat his dinner the next time.   And he did!!  (And he made sure I knew he did too!) 🙂

The bottom line is this: in any relationship, if we fail to honor each other by treating one another with understanding, then our relationships will slowly deteriorate, one wound at a time.  We were designed to need understanding in relationships.  In and of itself, understanding carries a healing essence to it.  Why else is counselling and having a “listening ear” so beneficial to people?

Proverbs 11:12 says “A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.”   Most times, the doorway to listening with understanding ears is simply to hold our tongue, and reallyhear what the other person is saying.  To hear past the words, to what their heart is trying to communicate.

Proverbs 18:2 “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”   and Proverbs 20:5 “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”  If our form of discipline looks more like “airing my own opinions” than drawing out the deep waters of the heart, according to scripture we are not likely in a position of understanding.  Listening is a lost art that is crucial to healthy relationships.  Listen to hear and see the person you are talking to, not just to see when you can insert your next good point.  If you have children, try approaching them from a stand point of understanding.  This doesn’t mean that you have to tell them they are right, it just means you offer validation to how they feel, and show them that it matters to you.  Understanding brings so much healing and establishes trust in a relationship.  Treat them with the same kind of understanding that you hope someone offers you in your next moment of crisis… and watch as the healing waters of love and honor nourish and restore the relationship.  For some, this may take longer than others.  And for you, this may begin with more than just a habit change, but an actual heart change.  Wherever it begins for you, take the challenge.  It is worth it if it means peace in your home and more obedient children (which also means they will be safer and healthier if they are obeying you!).  Start today, start now.  Start with yourself, take responsibility, confess and repent to your children if necessary for not treating them more carefully.  And allow the Lord to teach you and give you wisdom on how to treat them with the same honor he treats us with.

Proverbs 24:3 “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;”

Me and Judah

Me and Judah while on a walk