Wednesday, July 26, 2017
By Little Iron Mom
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I was driving in an unfamiliar part of town the other day and was about to reach for my GPS when I saw a sign that pointed me to where I wanted to go. I ditched the idea of my step by step directions and followed the sign having faith that it would lead me.
I realized this is a picture of how I see my communication with God. I expect a full color road map with a talking voice that commands me just before each step of my life so I don't miss any turns....and if I don't get it, you can be assured that I'm going to throw a tantrum. But what if God, master of signs, prefers to lead us differently?
I have to admit, in making my plans I often don't reveal everything to my children. Given that we parents have more wisdom than our kids (unless it's my knowledge of video games), we reveal truths in life to them at the times they need it or can receive it the best right? In other words, teaching Algebra to a 4-year old is futile. Perhaps God, maker of ALL things, could be given some credit that he would work the same way with us?
In the old testament, God put on some pretty big shows to speak to his people. Jonah and the whale, fire from heaven, plagues upon the earth and even the sun standing still. Who could miss that?! When Jesus arrived on the scene he didn't ride in the way some would have imagined but he did arrive just the way God told us he those who were listening that is!
The bible tells us many things and is a basic road map, but what about the map specific to YOUR life? How do you read that? What signs do we look for? The incredible part of this answer is that your answer is not mine and we each get to have a personal relationship with the one who has all the answers. Here is the number one thing I have learned:
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 ESV
So you've got a great idea and move forward. I promise you, if God is saying "no", it will come through loud and clear. If doors close and life gets hard, you may want to consider that it's not the path for you. Along the same lines, if God says "yes", incredible things can happen and things you thought impossible will become easy.
When I was in college, I was at the top of my class. I would take my work (that my peers thought was incredible) to one of my professors to see what he thought. To my surprise, he found fault and would ask me to do it better. While my pride was a bit dented, I look back and realize that he knew my capability to do more and that not pushing me would have been a poor reflection on his ability to teach me more. He choose me to be better than the rest because he knew he could mold me to do it! What if God is choosing you to be more in your circumstances right now? What if he likes to throw a stake in the ground and post one simple answer or "sign" and tell you as much as you need to know, but not too much. The rest is faith and faith definitely takes practice and following the best teacher.
Hindsight is 20/20. Don't forget to reflect on lessons you have learned in the past and remember how those hard times shaped you. If God's signs don't make sense now, I'm positive it will all come into focus when you look back. Simplify, follow Jesus and you will be going the one way we know works! Knowing that, you can rest assured that our Father is taking care of everything else!
Hugs from Little Iron Mom!
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
By Little Iron Mom
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In January of 2015 my husband and I decided enough was enough and we set off to the gym to achieve our fitness goals. We stuck to our plans and we each lost a decent amount of weight. I had adopted a weightlifter's diet. Lean meats and veggies but I ate a lot of animal protein and dairy. In the fall of 2015 despite all my efforts to be healthy, I became very ill with no answers from doctors to my health woes. I've been able to heal myself through the power of nutrition and after adopting a whole food plant based diet and choosing some magical water I feel I have finally made my way back to where I was many years ago. I had not realized how sick I had gotten.

I started to wonder how many of us wander around out there accepting headaches, fatigue and constant allergies as normal? How about joint pain and high blood pressure? I think the answer is a lot of us do. It's taken time, but I now have zero allergies and zero headaches. Whaaaaat?? I've had headaches since I was a teenager so that one is still amazing to me. The fact that I don't have to loose several days of my life to migraines anymore is a miracle. 

As for physical gains, I was always built with muscular legs. I hated how thick I was on my lower body and my upper body was spindly. I always thought we were born a certain way and we had to deal with it but it's not true. It's so incredible to me how our bodies are made. Not only can we improve our lives through nutrition, but we can actually change the shape of our bodies with our workouts, bodybuilding in particular. Our maker sure did know what he was doing when he built us. It just takes a bit more determination than the tabloids let on for us to get there. Six pack abs don't happen in six weeks and while genes can play a role in our body shape, we do have control over our earthly bodies, it just takes determination.

I feel blessed to have my health back. I feel blessed that my family is healthy, but like T. Colin Campbell states in the book the China Study, “Genes may load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” Amen to that. So the next time you load up your mouth with a meal, be sure that your not holding a loaded gun in your hand. And the next time you blame your body shape on your genes, try telling your genes to bug off and that you are in control because you ARE and you CAN be what you want to be. Just not in six weeks.

Don't fixate on the kind of body you want. Fixate on being healthy and make a plan to get there. It's a journey. As soon as you enjoy the journey, the destination isn't as important and it will come sooner than you think.

Saturday, July 15, 2017
By Super Dad
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I struggle with doubt!  I am sure I am not the only one who struggles with this battle.   Sometimes I doubt everything, my skills, my abilities, my worth, you name it and I doubt it!  Phew!  Admitting that is tough, but then again admitting to anything always is.  From the guy who many say is always so upbeat, always positive!  Often, just like Batman, I’ve worn a mask hiding behind the positive facade.  I am guessing this comes from turning past results into future expectations.   This stems from bad business relationships, poor decisions, broken relationships, you name it.  However, what I often forget is the many successful moments that far outweigh and outnumber the failures or perceived failures.

A friend Jim Ites once said “We irrigate the thoughts we imagine! What are you watering?” Well at the writing of this, I can honestly say, I’m irrigating dirt!  Today is not just a battle but an all-out war, and I am honestly struggling.  The word “imagine” sheds a lot of light on our perception.  What we perceive as failure many may see as a blessing.  In fact, our perceived failure may just be a win in someone else’s life, or a prayer answered.

The wounds we self-inflict totally blindside what God is doing through us and how He is working within us now.  This doubt can totally paralyze us if we allow it.  These are simply trials in life, we must look at them as learning opportunities and move forward.  Why does God present these tools of misfortune to hit us? 

The book of James gives us some incite to the tests we are presented with and the seeds of wisdom to manage them.  We should receive these tests with joy and look for the benefits from them, however, we need wisdom from God to see the tests in this manner.

“If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:5-8) When we focus on the word “doubting” it dwindles one’s mind, debating our decisions, it’s not a momentary doubt but a divided allegiance.  Which leads us to conflict in our mind, we divide our allegiance as we consider double-minded or literally two souls.  When one part of a person is set on God and the other of this world, we create constant conflict.  “No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You can’t serve God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV)

It’s a vicious cycle when my mind takes my eyes off God and lets the past dictate the present.  That’s when the conflict begins.  I beat myself up over and over for not having achieved “my perceived success” I felt I would have at the age of 50.  What that is, I have no idea, I am guessing better prepared for retirement, more financially secure, not doubting my life purpose.  Surely, I never thought I would be thinking about what is next and new life beginnings.  When these moments arise I look to Romans 8:31, “what, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us who can be against us?”  When we live by faith, if all God has done in foreknowledge to glorification for us, then our adversaries are powerless against us!

It is easy to forget this however, when we detach ourselves from the vine and beat ourselves up.  “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”  (Romans 7:15 NIV) I honestly hate being or sound negative, yet there are days when it seems to fill my mind and obviously my heart, yet I do it.  Paul was absolutely conflicted with not understanding himself.  This conflict and battle is between the identities of the believer.  One totally acknowledges the good (love) the other produces the evil (sin).

On the heaven side of earth, the expectation of perfection shouldn’t be expected, we can see as the promise has been secured through the sacrifice of Christ.  We are a work in progress, we are being prepared for our next mission.  Yet all too often we expect perfection in every aspect of life.  “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14) As hearts are transformed through our faith in Jesus we also become more and more holy each day.  The heart is an amazing instrument; however, it is capable of many symphonies.

Andy Stanley sums it up best in his book The Principle of the Path “The heart is incurably deceitful.  It’s untrustworthy, dishonest, corrupt.  Consequently, you and I will always have the ability-even the propensity-to lie to ourselves, act on those lies and then defend the lies with loopy excuses.” {Stanley, A. (2008) The Principle of the Path: How to get from where you are to where you want to be (Kindle Reader Version) retrieved from} How many times do we lie to ourselves, say “I can’t do that”, or “I would never be able to” or justify new electronics when we really don’t need them with a simple little lie of “it’ll be more efficient, I can get more done” ask yourself more what?  It’s usually not of more of what is important, but on to the next busyness excuse.  It’s just like my doubt troubles, it’s all a little lie to justify!  That justification then brings on stress, frustration and more.  It’s not just the frustration with myself but with others, from family to co-workers to neighbors.  It’s truly not fair to family, friends or anyone for that matter. 

It brings about a great lesson to review the above verses when doubt rears its ugly head. I Grow closer to the vine and bring back into perspective our root and realize how fortunate I am.  Every struggle is just a season, each season is survivable when leaning on faith.  Leaning on faith, we grow stronger, gain wisdom, and become more Christ like.  It’s all in His plan, it’s our job to abide.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
By Little Iron Mom
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Ahhh yes...children and veggies. I'm not sure who dreads the pastime of kids eating veggies more, the kids or mom!? When I found out about the power of plant-based food, I could not stop till I found a way to get my kids to give an honest try to these foods. I personally love my veggies. I eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I guess people have always considered me a bit strange for that but it was how I was raised. My grandma would munch leftover salad for breakfast and my mom pulls leftover veggies into her eggs in the morning so I have followed suit!

Traditions start early and we have a duty as parents to start our kids on this healthy path. So what's that you say? Your kid would rather eat the tires off your car than try a Brussel sprout? Look, I get it. The battle is REAL but you can't give up now. For every veggie they put in their mouth and walk away from processed foods and animal protein, the walk away from cancer and other diseases. Again, the battle IS real. 

I brainstormed a fun little idea and I'm just like this guy right now.....YESSSS!

I'm calling it the Monster Eater chart. It is both a craft and a chart to track the variety of fruits and veggies your kids eat. Check out a quick preview here:

Monster Eaters

Wednesday, July 05, 2017
By Super Dad
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As we are fully into the summer vacation season, I am fondly reminded of all the summer fishing experiences.  Experiences that not only were with my Dad, but with my grandfather’s as well.  These were some of the best times as a kid, we often didn’t realize it then but now that I can look back it’s totally different.  As a parent, my Dad was making history, not sure he realized it then, I sure didn’t, but I do now.

I had a conversation with my Dad about an old tackle box of mine, and I never really gave that old box a thought until I had the chance to reflect on the conversation.   I’ve had that same tackle box since I was 10 years old, it was the coolest Plano on the market with a dual-opening lid, triple trays on each side and very deep well for storing other cool stuff.  It’s crazy to think my tackle box is 40 years old, my Dad had his own way cool tackle box made from heavy duty metal, not high-impact plastic.  I bet it’s 60 years old, not that I’m putting a date on it, but, it is the coolest.  As for what’s in the tackle box, there are memories, tons of memories, not to mention the assortment of baits, collected from my Dad, Grandpa and various other fisherman that had to share their success’ with a kid at the lake from time to time.  The stories Dad would tell of his fishing excursions with his buddies at the river, and the shock of an eight-year-old boy to hear him speak of night-crawlers, catfish, crackers, cheese and ring bologna snacks.  The stories my Grandfather would tell of catching the big one, or the time we let some chap in the boat who was going along the shore saying, “I sure wish I had a boat, man if only I had a boat” and being neighborly grandpa and I took him out in the boat where he proceeded to “teach” us his method of catching crappie.  Well we did just fine on our own method with a live minnow and a bobber, this old chap swore on using an artificial minnow, with a bobber rig and jerking it through the water with the most unusual stroke.  After an hour-and-a-half, we didn’t catch a thing and returned him.  Little would we know at the time, the guy was a writer, an outdoor writer and he didn’t have a flavor for the truth either.  Sunday afternoon our lake was a madhouse of boats flocking in from everywhere all day long, now it is only 122-acre lake so it can get cramped real fast.  Curious as to why today, why everyone chose Skinner Lake on this beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Well our fine little friend as it turned out, wrote a story about Skinner lake, for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and a tall-tale did he write!  He spoke of the huge haul of crappie he had caught out in a boat on the south-east corner of the lake, with his jig-n-rig method. That explained the sudden popularity of our little lake.  He forgot to mention just how he got into a boat, and secretly I held back the info of the hot-crappie spot on the lake, and in hindsight I’m glad I did.  We also can’t forget the nights with my little brother John, catching crawdads, or accidentally leaving worms in the tackle box for a smell we will never forget. 

I’m sure there was a lesson in the boat experience, and maybe Grandpa knew the guy was a blow-hard, and took him out in the boat to prove his actions were as accurate as his talk.  For many times, he who talks the most does the least, it has only taken me 40 years to learn that.  I must thank my Dad, and Grandpa for the snippets of wisdom along the way.

Memories, like that and many more, that’s what’s in that tackle box and ingrained into my soul for the rest of my life.  Pre-Instagram, Facebook and YouTube activities, sure we have some photos, maybe even some VHS tapes, Polaroid prints and a few pictures of our times.  However, nothing beats these memories.  They simply can’t be beat, these are the moment’s legacies are built on and lessons of life we learned to share with the next generation.  This summer, I thank those men who poured so much into my life, and Mom too of course.  I salute all of you, pouring into others these kinds of memories.