Heavy Hearted 


This comparison stopped me in my tracks yesterday, and I was saving it for #facetofacefriday on Instagram. Same picture with my beautiful cousin Maria and I…but with a three year difference and what feels like an emotional lifetime apart.

I was excited about this because rarely do I physically get to see the BIG, “100lbs lost” kinds of changes (since I see my dang self every dang day and I still have some dang weight to lose!!) but this NSV was pretty cool for me! The picture taken in 2013 was just after our family reunion that a bunch of us cousins had worked hard on for months to pull together for our huge, Italian family. It was a big deal! There were about 75 people in attendance. As excited as I was to be a part of such a wonderful family event, deep inside my heart I was mortified that all of my family members were seeing me HUGE and out of control and easily around (or slightly over) 400 pounds. 

Even though I hated having my picture taken, I posed happily with my cousin Maria in my living room as we said goodbye…not knowing when we would get the opportunity again.  

This last weekend we did! 
My whole family threw my dad a surprise 60th birthday party, and when the weekend visits and festivities were all said and done, I found myself once again in my living room saying goodbye to my cousin and her family. We took almost the same exact picture and I was curious to see the difference between the two. I dug through the archives of social media and there it was! I was so blessed to see such evidence of change in my face, and more importantly to KNOW how much my life has changed since 2013. I couldn’t wait to make a side by side to post and share the progress with you, my online “fitfam”! 

And yet today…I’ve struggled to post it. Who cares about my “face to face Friday” pic?!  With all of the bad news on the news every single day…it’s hard to imagine any of this matters.  

I’ve not wanted to be disrespectful of current events by going along with my life as if everything is ok, and act like my weight loss pictures are important.  

Nothing is ok.  

The world has gone mad.  

I was awake most of the night, restless.  

Thinking about everything on the news. Like everyone else, I’m sure. 

Awake with fear and wrestling with all the unknowns. Alert with grief for ALL of the families laying awake out there in the world with shattered hearts. Worried about what might be coming up around the next corner for us all. 

Minnesota, Louisiana, Georgia…and still the aftermath settling in Orlando, Florida. And now, what’s unfolded in Dallas, Texas? I imagine so many more people than I can imagine laid wide awake last night.  

With shattered hearts and numbing disbelief. Living a nightmare.  

Loved ones ripped away from their lives and loved ones with violence.  

I know everyone has something to “say” about this today. Everyone is making “statements” about how they feel, and I guess this is mine, and that in some way pouring out our hearts and thoughts out here is ALL we can do right now to somehow try to connect and comprehend what’s happening? I don’t know. 
There’s no way I can possibly understand the depth of the despair and fear that is growing out there. It has only grazed my life from a safe distance each time I watch the news or scroll through my social media feeds…but it is enough to make me shutter and want to board up my family in our house and never come out again.  

I’m sure that’s how a lot of people feel this morning.  

Weary and wary of other people.  

There’s a heaviness laying right on top of all of us, in every city, as we try to go about our day today.  
It’s almost enough to make you wanna give up hope…but my faith (in God who is the ultimate source of perfect LOVE) showed up in my life today in a thousand different tiny ways and restored, at least for a moment, a tiny glimmer of hope that gave me peace.

Love showed up when I kissed my husband goodbye early this morning and was reminded that I still get one more day with the guy. 
Love showed up when I got up to get my day going and realized that our automatic deposits went through over night, and we are able to pay our bills and feed our kids. Always providing for every need. 
Love showed up when I went to my gym to workout and people were still sincerely smiling at me and wishing me a good morning, despite the sadness we were all feeling.  
Love showed up in multiple, beautifully and thoughtfully written posts from friends, standing firm in love and brotherhood regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliations. 
Love is everywhere if you stop and look for it. Even in a random little weight loss post. That’s what I’m choosing to look for today. And so, I’m going to share my “#facetofacefriday” post in name of love, because this is my corner of the world and I’m going to try and live it to the fullest while I still can.

I LOVE my life, however long I’ll get to live it, and this picture shows how hard I’ve worked to say that and really mean it. 

In the tiniest way, I hope that putting this out here in the world counteracts some of the negative…as we sift through all this bad news. May God have mercy and lead us all in a better way.  

Fat chick attempting a 5K



A few days ago I walked my first 5k.

I repeat, a few days ago I walked a 5k.

Me.
Still over 300 lbs, me. 
Still in pain from nerve damage in my feet, me.
Still fat, plus sized and jiggly me.
Still scared that I might get made fun of or fail, me. 
Still huffs and puffs even though I’m killing workouts 6 days a week, me.
I, signed up for…and actually finished a 5k.  It took me just over 1 hour.  H
I still almost don’t believe it.
Last July on my birthday, if you would have told the almost 50 pounds heavier and 100% more miserable me…that within 6 months my life would be different and I would have accomplished my first 5k, I would have laughed in your face! 
My first day in the gym back in August was an alarming eye opener as to how really out of shape I was!   I barely did 15 minutes on the treadmill at a speed of 2.0 and went strait to the bathroom and burst into tears.  I called my husband at work, crying and humiliated.  Overwhelmed at the long and grueling road I had ahead of me.  Unsure if I was really going to be able to do this everyday.  
The pain was sharp and unrelenting.  My feet were swollen.  My body was heavy and not used to being pushed beyond what I was able to do everyday to run my household.  It was like staring up at the Empire State Building and knowing I had to get to the top by climbing the stairs.   Who wouldn’t want to turn around and bolt?! 
Everyday after I had to MAKE myself drive over to that gym and climb on the treadmill.  
Even though it hurt.  
Even though I hated it.  
Even though I felt stupid. 
 I told myself that if my husband had to make himself get up and go to work everyday, I had to get up and make myself come here, THIS would be job right now.  Since I couldn’t  yet do it for myself, I did it for him.  
Knowing it was a sacrifice for our family to rely on his income only so that I could dedicate myself to getting healthy, I made myself go.  I did not want to waste the gift he had given me in believing in me.  
So, I made myself walk.  
I made myself do an extra minute here and there until eventually I was able to stay on for 30 min. 
 I made myself do it everyday. 
Then I made myself do what the trainer asked me to do.  I totally submitted myself to her authority and would not allow myself to not at least try and do the things she told me to.  
Even when it hurt.  
Even if I felt like a wiener. 
Even when I’d catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror to see that my belly was showing doing the ball slams, and I wanted to die from disgust and shame.   I’d pull down my shirt and make myself keep going, even though all I wanted to do was grab my keys and speed away in my truck, and never look back. 
Those first two months were brutal. 
Sometimes it’s still brutal. 
Sometimes I still catch glimpses of myself and am bummed that more progress and hard work isn’t visible.  
And sometimes I complete 5k’s and feel like I own the world.
Sometimes I amaze myself by the workouts that I’m able to do know.
The endurance I’ve built.
The weight I can lift.
The distances I can go.
Sometimes I’m amazed at how bad I want to be in the gym everyday day now! 
How excited I am to push myself.  
How amazing it feels to make my family proud.
How amazing it feels to make myself proud. 
I’ve always wanted to do a 5k and I never did. 
 I was afraid.  
Well now I can say I’ve DONE one.  
One goal reached and many more to come.  Im not where I want to be yet but I’m well on my way, because I’m not afraid anymore.  And as cliche as it sounds…if I can do this, quite LITERALLY anyone can do this.  


Reining it in

I love that my hair is long enough to pull up into the perfect messy bun.  No strays or stragglers.

I love that I opened this window on my left side and a burst of warm summer wind hit me in the face like a pleasant surprise.

I love that my Pandora is playing all the songs I like so I don’t have to waste any skips.

I love that my dog always knows just when I need her to snuggle up against me and be my friend.

I love that my babies are running through my house having fun despite me yelling at them to knock it off.

I know I will miss their mess and noise someday and I only need a moment of intentional gratitude to sober me.

I love that when I stop and take notice, I am overwhelmed with things to say thank you for.

The hardest thing about being a realist is that you’re really only a pessimist in disguise.

To halt myself from traveling down the familiar gloomy tracks and force instead a stroll down a brighter path…

Well, I’m more comfortable sitting in the shade.

My disappointment hangs from my body,

heavy and always inconvenient.

Protecting me from pain but hard to ignore…and if I’m being honest it only makes it worse.

But I am told to be in the light as He is in the light…

and I was.

Spent the fullness of time feeling welcomed and alive.

Now here we are again, and back to being the last resort.

Wasn’t quite ready to come home to the norm.

I have amends to make and bridges to burn, like calories…and we all know how good I am at that.

Frames and galleries of words that crowd my heart, and the space is getting limited in these chambers.

Bolted with hardware and welded to my arteries.

This kind of blockage requires a skilled surgeon.

Blood pumping through paths I’ve carved out to survive.

A masterpiece.
A bypass of emotion.

Today is a new day that has been made for my gain,

taking a new route and a fresh way.

I will choose gratitude.

What other choice do I have?!

I love that I have mastered the art of coming full circle, even when it seems pointless.

I love that a deep breath and honest words can set my focus strait.

I love that I will turn off this computer and leave the tears behind and get back to living.

Excuse my ramblings today. I just needed to rein it in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Summer Prayer

 

If fire is honor, then we’ll stand and let it burn.

Hot and loud as it calms into a deep burning midnight.

Popping and clapping its truths.

Glowing red and warm; a blanket of appreciation.

Shadows of flames dancing on our faces as we gather around and listen.

 

If water is pure,

let us strip off these pretenses and plunge in.

Washing away all of the expectations.

Easing the heavy weight from our bones, bathing us fresh and new.

 

If the earth is nakedness,

let us run.

Let us take to the fields and carry ourselves to the edges of sight.

Let us stomp our feet in the dust,
to the sound of drums.
Dancing unashamed.

Like the children who still live hidden away
under the layers piled on our hearts.

Let us uncover these wounds and expose them to the open air for healing.

 

If the stars are mystery,

let us follow their lead.

Surrendering our proud explanations and false humility.

Gazing upon the vastness and treasuring the wonder that we are so eager to dismiss.

 

If the moon is lonely,

let us be a friend.

Let us set ourselves aside and turn our faces toward each other.

Let us see what we don’t want to see.

Let us forgive and be forgiven.

 

If the sun is victory,

let it burn brilliant and forever.

Let us turn our faces upward in unison to soak up the radiance that is promised.

Let us lift our hands together in thanks.

Like warriors,
moments away from an earned homecoming.

Finishing strong and whole.

 

 

 

sorella minore

I was 8 years old when you were born.

You were such a beautiful baby, I was jealous of you but not in a bad way.

There are so many things about our younger years that are blurred;
we were set apart.

Destined for division.

 

As I got older, and constantly in trouble, I only seemed to seal that fate.

But now, as time has pushed us past the barriers of adolescents and we make up our own minds about things,

you have become the best kind of friend that I didn’t know I’d need.

You are strong and stubborn and adamant.

You are beautiful, and wildly authentic.

Loud and boisterous.

Hilarious and headstrong.

You are reliable and loyal and hard-working.

Independent and sharp.

You will always argue for the under dog, you can’t help it.

Most people don’t get to see the you that deeply thinks and questions.

Deeply feels and loves, selflessly.

You are a teacher, taking time and liberties that no one else does…or would.

You are vinyl records and recycled bottles of baby houseplants.

You are adult soccer leagues and recorder of our memories.

You are an artist.

Your instruments are everything in your reach.

Pens, pencils, banjo’s, ink,

cast iron skillet and bacon grease.

I’m so proud of you.

Proud to call you my friend .

Proud to call you my sister.

 

(HAPPY BIRTHDAY 🙂 )
 

 

 

 

 

 

hey, you

Michael, Michael, Michael.

How did you end up with this deep thinker and heavy dreamer?

Complicating everything, and over thinking everything and DOING NOTHING about everything.

Stuck inside my head throughout the day, trying to sift and manage the disarray.

So many thoughts and feelings.

It must be hard being ONE with such a tortured artist type.

I’m moody and selfish and absorbed with sensitivity.

There are so many reasons for you not to love me, and grow tired of me.

Fed up with me and even angry with me.

And yet…

my husband.

Where in the world did you come from?!

What did I do to deserve this love that keeps on lasting?

Stretching beyond what I ever expected.

Just a moment paused in gratitude fills my belly with butterflies as if we’ve first met.

You are the most rewarding, most comfortable and safe place I’ve ever known.

So here is my poem for the day, my revised version of the over-used and over-done proverbs 31.

This is the Michael re-mix.

 

 

Who can find a dedicated husband?

He is more precious than the finest diamonds or jewels I could own.

His wife can trust him and he will greatly bless her life. 

He brings her good, not harm, all the days of his life because he has chosen HER.

He finds a way, always a way, to comfort and protect her.

He gets up before dawn to prepare for the day of work and toil.  He has no choice.

With his earnings he hands them over, to provide the fruits of fields and vineyards across their table. 

He is strong and full of life and a hard worker.

His hands are busy with tools and instruments of his trade.  

He is generous with his time and gifts and money, and constantly helps those in need.

He has no fear of the seasons to come because he has true faith that brings him peace knowing all will be provided for.

He repairs his own house, he solves problems as they arise, he dresses himself with the dignity of a true family man.

His wife is busy and well-known in the city gates, and he is proud of her and lifts her up to reach higher and higher because he alone can see how special and rare she is…even when she can’t.

He spurs her to be better and better…more of herself. 

He does all that he can to produce fruit and provide for his family.

He is clothed in integrity and honor and laughs without fear of any outside judgement or concerns of the future.

When he speaks, his words are kind and wise and he gives criticism with care and sincerity. 

He carefully watches over his household and strives to suffer nothing from laziness.

His children rise to greet him , he is their hero!

His wife proclaims from the mountaintops,” There are many virtuous and capable men in the world, but YOU surpass them ALL!!”

Charm is deceptive and arrogance DOES NOT LAST; but a man who fears the Lord will be greatly praaaaaaaised. 

Reward him for all that he does!

Let his deeds be publicly praised!

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Aside

Greatness awaits!

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My daughter stepped on the scale in my bathroom today while I was cleaning. It was a golden moment from the heavens that I almost missed by being distracted by my own thoughts and busyness.

She stepped on it and said,”Ok mama, let’s see how great I am!”

What.

The.

Heck.

My face still might be slightly numb.
Seriously.
Men may not get this post, but I know women will.

For many of us ladies, the scale represents so many vile things. It boasts the measurement of our worth (or so we’ve learned from somewhere) and it doesn’t lie, right? It can’t be tricked or cheated like the number that we’ve put on our drivers licenses. The scale will expose all of your secret rendezvous with the drive thru, the left overs and the chocolate chip cookies that you thought were safe from the public eye, late in the night.

For me, the scale has been an electric source of regular shame and resentment of myself. A constant pang of disappointment and a truly humiliating reality check of my life as a fat woman.

Not that I would need any help with that. There are plenty of places to look if you want to be “fat shamed”. The internet is riddled with people upset by the mere sight of fat people. How dare we wander into the light of day? How dare we try to dress in whatever might fit and try to run errands or go grocery shopping for our families? Obviously, obscene obese people in public have put themselves out there to be a public mockery, right? They deserve to have strangers secretly take their pictures and post them up on public forums to ridicule and judge them without mercy, right?

Even the “positive” and “motivating” messages and memes can sting a little. “Thinspiration” has become an actual thing. Pinterest boards are wrought with sayings like,” sweat is your fat crying” or “pain is fat crying”. “These burpees and push-ups will make your fat cry”.

Boo.

Why is it that I’m supposed to wanna make my fat cry?

Sounds weird.

Sounds like more hate.
I’m tired of all the hate!
And, I’m damn sure sick of crying!
Leave people alone!

Actually, I’d love for my fat to just politely excuse itself, apologize for lingering so long, and be on its way.
Put that on your Pinterest.

Yeah right!

I know it takes hard work and discipline to be healthy. I’m trying everyday to get there. It’s a long road, but health is my goal. I’m NOT one of these “fat acceptance” gals. I do not accept being unhealthy and miserable. I do not accept self loathing. I do not believe that anyone who is over weight (especially REALLY overweight like me) can be 100% happy with themselves.

Sorry.
I don’t buy that baloney for one second.

It hurts. It’s actually, physically uncomfortable and causes pain. It’s hard to move and do the things you want. It’s embarrassing. I don’t believe that fat is fabulous.
But, I’m beginning to believe you can be fabulous while being fat…and loving yourself regardless of what your struggling through, and that is what I am trying to learn.

That is why, what my daughter said today was so golden.

It’s not because the number on the scale should measure how “great” we are…the subtle lesson was in her innocent approach to the whole thing. She’s not yet learned what “the scale” even means or represents. She’s not yet poisoned by the beauty=worth lie.

She just knows that she’s great.

She is great!

And I pray with all of my heart and soul that that is how it stays for her. That she would see herself as great no matter what comes her way or what challenges she will have to struggle through.

And may it start with me…because I know she is watching.

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I will not live in fear

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“To live with fear and not be afraid is the final test of maturity.”
― Edward Weeks

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
-1 John 4:18

I want to unzip this heavy coat of fear,
and run as fast as I can through the trees.

Forever in my way.
So full and looming.
Tall enough to cast shades of doubt.
Shadows and cold memories threatening me to obey their call.
They spread all across my heart with snarled clutches.
Persuading me to stay;
take shelter here, where it’s familiar.

Today is different.

A beam of bright summer sun shines through.
Perfect, radiant love is here.
Casting out all fear.
Sunrise in my soul.
Draws me in and I stand,
soaking it up.
Greedy with warmth,
I soak in as much as I can-
into each pore of my face.
Smile.
Sweet and wild;
hope intoxicating.
Brilliant and bright,
despite this frozen ground.
Oh, Lord you are thawing this frozen ground…

Branches snapping under my feet,
surprised as I am by my speed.
Quiet interrupted only by my breathing.
Deep and measured.

No time to stop and survey.
No time to stop and question.
No time to stop and be afraid.

I know where I’m going.

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Love hurts

My heart has broken for a close loved one who is experiencing a broken heart. An unexpected break up leaving shock and devastation in its wake.
It’s so hard to watch someone you love hurting and in pain when you’re powerless to do anything about it. Though there wasn’t much I could do to satiate my big sister hunger for blood and revenge, I was pleased to at least offer my home as a retreat for a few days for her to hide away in without the risk of running into him.
The truth is, heartache has to simply run its course. There is no cure. (Though, I attempted to distract with a scary movie which may or may not have been the best idea.)

I sometimes forget how it felt to be younger and waiting for my turn with true love. There were days (MANY days) I thought it would never come. That I would be skipped. Many days I believed I was somehow unworthy of being swept up in a grand love that would leave me breathless. Waiting for it felt like an eternity.
Now, I have been blessed for almost 9 years by a husband who is faithful, loving and amazing but even in the best case scenario…marriage is really hard work. It’s not this dreamy, breathtaking love song all day like we sit around fantasizing about. Romantic movies have really done us all a disservice.

There are SO many things I wish I would have enjoyed more in my single days that I had before marriage. (Eeeeeeek! Im not supposed to say that right? ) Christian culture for the female 18+ year old is ALL ABOUT nabbing that godly husband. It becomes quite the obsession. Bridal showers and bridesmaid dresses in abundance. Without realizing it, the message we spread is that our value as women can only be found if and when a man finds it in us. So we all cross our fingers and toes and PRAY PRAY PRAY for that husband to arrive. What does this mean for single women? Or women who have been called into important careers, ministry or missions that feel second class because of not having a husband!? What?! Is that what our Heavenly Father has planned for his daughters?

I read in a book recently that my calling as a woman of faith is not to my husband, house or children as we are taught…it is to Christ alone. It is to be all the me I was intended to be. Created to be. Which will ultimately make me the wife and mom I ought to be if that becomes a part of my life not the destination.

All I’m saying is on the flip side, there was so much learning about myself and loving myself I missed out on in the big hurry to fall in love and set up house.
If there was any advice I could ( and do) give to young, single gals out there awaiting love or mending a broken heart it would be this:

1.) GOD CREATED YOU BEAUTIFULLY JUST AS YOU ARE. YOU ARE PRECIOUS TO HIM. HE IS WITH YOU ALWAYS EVEN IN THE LONELIEST OF TIMES. HE HAS AMAZING PLANS FOR YOUR LIFE!

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.”
-Song of Solomon 4:7 ESV

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
-Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
-Jeremiah 29:11 ESV


2.) YOU HAVE THE WORLD AT YOUR FINGERTIPS! GO PLACES! DO THINGS! CLIMB MOUNTAINS AND CONQUER FEARS! SOMEDAY YOUR BIGGEST CONQUEST WILL BE A 4FT PILE OF LAUNDRY…DON’T WASTE TIME! ADVENTURE AND SEEK AND LIVE FULLY. DON’T WAIT ON SOMEONE ELSE TO MAKE LIFE WORTH LIVING.

3.) IF A GUY IS TREATING YOU LIKE AN OPTION AND FEELS THE NEED TO SURVEY THE LAND BEFORE HE COMMITS TO YOU…KEEP MOVING LITTLE SISTER. HE AIN’T WORTHY. SADLY, WE SOMETIMES ACCEPT THE LOVE WE FEEL WE DESERVE. THAT IS WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF WELL. THE WAY YOU LOVE YOURSELF WILL SHOW OTHERS HOW TO LOVE YOU. THIS IS THE HARDEST LESSON TO LEARN.

4.) GET TO KNOW YOURSELF. A STRONG WOMAN IS ONE WHO KNOWS WHO SHE IS.

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An open mushy moment with my hubs

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Dear Hubs,

You steamed cleaned the carpets for me while I was gone.

You got bossed around by my dad for four days in a row. You took it like a classy champion while laughing at the stress and loading and unloading truck beds. I kept waiting for you to get mad…it never came.

You’ve endured family after family…guest after guest.

Always a gracious host.

Our weeks have been busy and full and I am overwhelmed with how badly I miss you though we’ve been side by side.

You have had to keep waking up to go work at ungodly hours of the morning to make money that has already been spent.

You have never turned on me with annoyance and bitterness like I’m always expecting. Instead, you’re always calmly encouraging me and spurring me forward.

Always loving and caring for me in a deluxe and lavish way I have not earned.

How can I possibly love you as well as you love me?

Your patients is unmatched.
Your tolerance seems unlimited.
Your example of grace is undeserved.

Please know that I am thankful for you with everything I’ve got. There really aren’t appropriate words to express how much gratitude and love I have for you.
It takes a strong and solid man to endure all this craziness I volunteer us for and I thank God that he’s given me THE best man I could ever hope for.

Just wanted to publicly thank you for all that you do for me.

Love,
Mandi

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#mygirl was the official photographer for my club @anytimefitness_northreno free workout event today...she got some great action shots and video...but this sneaky selfie she took is my fave.  #mybaby #mydaughter❤️ #thosefreckles

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