There is an old native story that I have heard quoted a lot. It’s the one about the two dogs, one good and one evil, fighting, and the one who wins is the one you feed.

That’s bull. I’m sorry to the natives and all the people using the story for moral illustrations, but it’s bull.

See, you don’t have to feed the evil dog. It’s big, it’s powerful, and it’s always lurking waiting for the right opportunity to jump out. I can be feeding the other dog all day long for weeks, and doing nothing to feed the evil dog. According to this story the good dog should still win for a few days. The thing is, the good dog doesn’t even win for a few minutes if I neglect it.

It’s said it takes three weeks to make a new habit and six weeks to break an old one. But it only takes one deviation to go back to the status quo. The bad dog is the default.

My current bad dog-soda. I had the habit crushed. Then I gave in a little. Now I’m back to the beginning. Yesterday, I over-indulged and had a hard time falling asleep because of all the extra caffeine running though my system. And I forgot my water bottle today so I indulged in Cherry Coke at lunch. So tomorrow I will start over on my quest to stop drinking my calories and filling my body with chemicals it could really do without.

But I realize this whole which dog I am feeding goes so much farther than soda. It’s everything. It goes back to the fall and man’s sinful nature. We as humans are bent toward evil. The bad in us is going to win unless we actively pursue good. And here the dog analogy falls even more flat. I cannot on my own feed the good dog. It’s just not in me. I need to go to the source of all good and ask Him to feed the good dog. I can’t just try to be good. I need to work on my relationship with He who is Good.

If I look at my soda situation more closely, I can see that me binging on soda started before I poured my first small glass. It started when I got too busy. Too busy for quiet time, and too busy for God. Then of course I needed a strong hit of caffeine to get through the day. Then when things weren’t so busy any more, I didn’t need the quiet time; I just needed the soda.

So now I’m making it a priority to spend time with the only One who can help me out of this vicious cycle I’m in. And hopefully next time I can remember than maybe when I’m busy and exhausted soda just feeds the bad dog and what I need is to spend time with the One who will feed my good dog.

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It’s only day three of 2018 and my want to is officially busted.  Dishes are already piling up.  Laundry, ugh, I don’t want to talk about laundry.  Whoever designed a house with two flights of stairs between where clothes are taken off and laundry happens obviously never had to do laundry in such a situation.  It’s not so much the physical distance, but the mental distance-“out of sight, out of mind.”  Its cold outside so all I want to do is binge watch television under blankets eating like a bear about to hibernate. I have four kids who need to be taught, encouraged, disciplined, and all that other whatnot that parents are supposed to do.  None of which they want for themselves.  The little one only talks about “The Secret Life of Pets” which is apparently on Netflix right now. My eldest wants the Xbox One and to be left alone. The nine year old just has making dinner on her brain, but she still hasn’t completed her chores from yesterday.  Her kitchen ability also means that dinner that would take me half an hour to cook will take over an hour, plus extra clean up. I will admit here that cold without snow makes me cranky.

If my new year’s resolutions were lofty goals, they would be over as of right now. There is no way, no how that anything ideal and lofty is happening today. It’s only two days into real life, and I can tell you, today is not a day for ideal.  The resolutions would be in the trash can and I would wait for another milestone to pass so that I could have a new blank slate to do it all again.

However, my resolution is to try.

I don’t have to lose weight today; I just have to try.  So I got up and exercised. I did what I could.  When I started writing this blog and realized I was eating everything within reaching distance, I put the pretzels away.  I’m trying.

My house doesn’t have to make the cover of Better Homes and Gardens today; I just have to try. So I put a load of laundry in.  Only one load because the laundry and the washing machine aren’t anywhere near each other and it just wasn’t happening today.  I made my eldest do some dishes because delegating can be a part of trying.  I’m trying.

I don’t have to have time management all figured out today; I just have to try.  My younger son pointed out that we had two unwatched episodes of Once Upon a Time.  When the first ended and left me hanging, I decided that binge watching could be combined with trying.  I have a box full of paperwork that needs to be organized during the next week, so I brought it in the living room with me.  I’m trying.

I don’t have to be the Mary Poppins mom today; I just have to try.  So while Miss Clara finishes scrubbing toilets, I am taking a moment to breathe and gain some perspective. She wants to learn how to cook.  That is awesome.  This is an opportunity for fun and girl bonding.  I can do this, and I can do this with a smile on my face.  Not because I have resolved to be super mom, but because for the next hour I can try.  So I’m trying.

I’m a resolutions kind of a gal.  Most January firsts, I have a long list of all the changes I want to make to make my life more like the one I want to live. Every birthday that comes along, I know just what needs to be done to make the next year a better one.  I have even been known to make September school is starting resolutions.

I am not known to be the best keeper of resolutions.  If I were good at keeping them, the list would not be so long every year.  Many of my resolutions keep coming back each year. This time I will keep Mount Laundry from appearing in my closet.  Okay, I did solve that one; Laundry Mountain now grows on the pile of containers at the foot of my bed, not my closet.  This year, I will lose weight.  This year will be the year I get committed to writing, or playing piano, or whatever, and usually a combination of many.

I like the resolution I made as I started this blog though.  To look at life as an adventure.  Even though I’m not physically in Alaska any more I can keep my heart there.  I need to remember the lessons Alaska taught me-lessons about myself, about trying new things, about what being a Christian really means.  I also need to keep myself open to learning new lessons in the same way I was open in Alaska.

I do have a new resolution for this year though.  This year I resolve to keep trying.  I will keep trying to be healthier.  I will keep trying to exercise more.  I will keep trying to write more often.  I will keep trying to write a book.  I will keep trying to organize my house.  I will keep trying to be a better mom and wife.  I will keep trying to learn more.  For all the good resolutions I have made over my life time, I am going to keep trying at them.

I know at this point many are quoting Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.”  While I love that green puppet, he is full of baloney.  Try is moving from not able to do to doing.  When I started exercising I could not skin the cat.  I simply did not have the ability. But I tried.  And I failed. I kept trying until one day, I did.  If it were not for try, I would be stuck in a world of do not.

So I am going to try.  And I know that I am going to fail.  Knowing me, I will fail a lot.  But I will keep trying, and someday my trying will be doing.

I also know that many of my resolutions have no end.  That’s okay too.  For those my doing will simply be to do better every day or week or month.  What I really want for this year is for there to be noticeable progress.

Like me, my husband has always felt he has something to say.  Unlike me, he has been pursuing that passion since the day we met. While I longed to write, I disliked being told what to write and how to do so, and became a math major so I could write as little as possible.  Plus, I really like math.  My husband on the other hand was a communications major, learning from the start how to present and get his point across.  Since then he has pursued a career in Army public affairs and continued his education further honing his craft.  The only problem with his current  job is that he is telling the Army’s story and not his own.  He does it well, and I brag on him often.  However, his voice was yet to be heard by the general public.

I got my time in the sun and a chance to tell my story.  That opportunity was due to my husband believing in me and helping me to see my dreams come true.  The irony that the opportunity fell into my lap, I who did nothing to prepare myself for the chance, and not his was never lost on me.

In his recent pursuit of further communication education, my husband has been in the presence of instructors who are pushing him to succeed in new levels.  How he can brand himself, and how he can get his own voice out into the world.  This led him to a personal pursuit of publishing op-eds.

So now I have two sides at war: the side that wants to be supportive of my husband, and the side that relates to the character of Jo Schirra from Astronaut Wives Club.  The Jo side says don’t do anything to rock the boat, do nothing that could remotely disgrace the Navy, or Army in my case.  Not that Chase would do anything to disgrace the Army, but perceptions can be tricky. This risk-adverse side would rather not discover where a general’s line might be the hard way.  Both sides know that my husband is very talented and would do well at this new endeavor.  It didn’t take long for me to decide which side I would plant my flag on.  I really do want my husband to pursue his passions.  If this was his way to be heard and make a name for himself, I was behind him one hundred percent.  I decided to let him be him and God be God.  I didn’t need to control possible outcomes; that is God’s job.  If my husband was going down a road he felt God was leading him on, I would trust both of them.

That was before his op-ed got picked up by the Baltimore Sun and within 24-hours of being published online was linked to the Drudge Report.  It hadn’t even hit the newsstands yet.  This would be seen. Suddenly there was very little chance that those above him would remain oblivious to his name being out in the world attached to his thoughts.

But nothing has changed, not really.  The op-ed was well-written and thoughtful, probably why it was published in the first place.  Nothing he said was controversial, though there are those who will pull controversy out of it because it is in their nature.  There is not a single thing that someone could fault him for.  Plus, God is still in control; it is all still in His hands, and He knows what He is doing.

I am proud of my husband and am excited that the world it getting to read what he has to say.  I eagerly anticipate what is yet to come.

Before we moved to Alaska my boys loved to watch American Ninja Warrior.  It may not have been their favorite, but they made sure they didn’t miss an episode.

When we finally moved into our new Alaskan home, that got taken away.  For an abundance of reasons we broke ties with Direct TV. (For those of you wondering, it was not that their service was unavailable where we lived, we simply felt that we no longer wanted the service.)

It just so happened, that while Chase was deployed, NBC picked up the show.  (We did pick up some bunny ears to watch TV by.)  The kids and I needed bonding time.  Plus, being able to watch this much enjoyed show added some normal back into their lives.  We had a standing date to watch ANW every Monday night during the summer of 2012.

Being ninjas became the dream of all three children.  The house and yard became ninja warrior courses.  My kids were literally climbing the walls, and I embraced the enthusiasm.  I’m pretty sure that my parents would not have allowed footprints on the door frames and finger prints on the ceiling, but I decided I wasn’t my parents.  Frankly, the kids were so cute and happy doing things that impressed my socks off that I didn’t even want to stop them.

American Ninja Warrior was now fully ingrained in my family culture.

In 2014, I finally decided it was long past time to get my kids involved in some sort of sport.  Knowing the popularity of ANW, I was hoping to find a parkour gym or ninja gym.  Unfortunately, I could not find one at that time, so I enrolled the boys in the next best thing-karate.  In the summer of 2015 I heard rumors of a ninja gym opening in Eagle River.  However, I did not hear these rumors until I had signed a second 12-month contract with the boys’ dojo.

I had forgotten about those rumors when in 2016 my husband and I went to a hear a pro-life speaker in Anchorage.  At the event I could not miss the tall, muscular, bald guy in the audience with us.  This tall man recognized my husband and approached him.  Lee informed us that he was the owner of a parkour gym in Eagle River.  He encouraged the whole family to come by.

When our contract with the dojo ran out we took the family to Pacific Rim Athletics.  The kids were enthralled-bars everywhere, a large tumbling floor, climbing walls, a trampoline, a foam pit, ninja obstacles, and finally a warped wall.  It was what my ninjas had dreamed of and more.  The weird thing was that Lee kept saying the whole family should sign up and take classes.  Not just the kids, not even Chase and the kids, but me too.

Let’s take a second to talk about me at this time.  I had a waist that made people ask the question “When are you due?”  I had not exercised for real in months due to injury.  I felt like the last person someone would want hanging out in their gym.  But as much as I tried to let Lee know it was okay if he didn’t mean me, if he didn’t feel as if I should work out there too, he kept insisting that I would benefit from the gym and that it would be fun.

I decided to put this crazy guy to the test.  I signed up five out of the six of us.  Rory was left out, being too young to listen well in a potentially dangerous environment.  I completely understand their policy of not enrolling children under the age of six.

My first class was tumbling parkour.  I had done gymnastics in the past, so I was familiar with most of the tumbling moves, but with twenty or so years between classes I wasn’t so sure that my body would be up to it.  But I tried.  I did a forward roll.  It was more of a forward flop, and I think I began doing lunges after my first flop.  However, all the moves reminded me of what I used to do, and the fun I used to have.  I kept showing up,  I kept trying, and at some point I could begin to do these crazy things. I could cartwheel and hang from a bar.  I was hooked and determined to get better.  I developed goals for myself.  By January, I would be strong enough to hold a backbend and do a skin-the-cat on the rings.

Suddenly, the Army decided what it wanted to do with my husband and we would be in a new state by January.  I would have to say good-bye to this gym and all the classes I had begun to take.  When we left I was taking Parkour/tumbling, ninja strength, aerial/circus arts, and the Saturday morning conditioning class.  I was stronger than ever and having the time of my life.

Not only was I getting a lot from this gym, most of the family were involved; we were doing this together.  Chase tried all the adult classes his schedule would let him attend.   Xavier excelled at tumbling, ninja strength, and breakdancing/power moves.   Austin went to tumbling and ninja strength classes with other kids his age.  Both boys were able to move up to level two in all of their disciplines.  Clara was amazing at circus art; she was growing in strength, flexibility, and confidence.

Suddenly, all of that was gone for all of us.  We had to leave Alaska, and there was no gym to replace what we had, at least not within a reasonable driving distance and/or with a reasonable schedule for me to shuttle myself and the kids to.

But I now had dreams.  Dreams of what all six of us could do with the chance.  And I did not want to let those dreams go.

 

Living in the 907 was a catalyst for much change in my life. Most of the changes have been good; some were great. However, there is one thing I picked up that I would rather drop: extra pounds.

I wasn’t skinny before I made the journey north.  My struggle with weight pre-dated my time in Alaska.  Six years of cold, dark winters, a deployment, and one more pregnancy compounded the matter.  Long ago, I had picked a number that as long as I had not reached  I was still okay. While in the Lower 48, I was still some distance from that number.

I cannot be sure just when I went over. While Chase was deployed,  I had stopped weighing myself in fear that I had finally reached my limit.  I decided I was not responsible for what I wasn’t aware of.  In recovery we call that denial.  Before recovery I was Cleopatra, queen of denial. (Sorry, I can never resist the chance to use that joke.)  I was already exercising by the time I had begun to see the error of my ways, so when I finally hit the scales I was back under that number.  The first time I saw that number on a scale, I was 30 weeks pregnant; therefore, I gave myself a pass.  I found myself slowly gaining pounds after Rory’s birth, and was trying to be proactive about not reaching it.  Unfortunately, some old injuries resurrected themselves in my zeal to exercise the weight off.  Last summer the scales tipped beyond that number again.

Ages ago, when I created the threshold, I also had a plan-a trip to GNC to buy whatever weight loss remedy was hot.  I knew this wasn’t the most healthful plan, but I figured the extra weight was also not healthful.  It just so happened though that at that same time Alaska gave me an excellent solution for my weight issue.

PS 907 is the Alaska area code, not my current weight 😉

Yesterday, we heard about this awesome event on the radio. At the cemetery downtown people would be dressing up as some of the people buried there and telling people about their significance and the history of Alaska. We were so excited. We got the kids in the truck and drove into Anchorage. The cemetery was deserted. Turns out the event is actually tonight. But since we were there we thought we would look around anyway. We knew Sidney Laurence was buried there and as we love his work, thought we might check out his gravesite.

Before yesterday the only cemeteries I’ve spent any time in have been military: Arlington and Gettysburg. In those graveyards the tombstones don’t tell a lot about the person. Name, rank, religion, and dates of birth and death. Some are buried with their wife so you know that they were married. But you don’t tend to see the “Here lies a great man,” or “She was loved by all,” that I had heard about being on tombstones.

At the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery you really can learn about the person buried there. We walked around the Pioneers section. At Sidney Laurence’s grave was a tombstone and the top of the stone looked like Denali. One of the interred must have loved planes because a model plane flew over his resting place. We saw former governors and statesmen, founding families, and military heroes. The ones that touched me the most were the ones which I simply felt like this person impacted many lives and was well missed. I don’t remember the exact words that made me see those people as special, but something about their tombstones showed that those people made a special sort of impact.

It made me think of Nicole Nordman’s song Legacy. Nicole sings about how she wants to be remembered, not by her accolades but by her legacy. Not by what she did, but who she was.

To me a big part of the difference is the effect of a life on others. What you do makes others appreciative for what you have done. But who you are is what makes others change who they are. It causes a ripple effect that lasts forever. And that is a true legacy.

I like the idea of leaving a legacy behind. But I know that type of thing is only done by those with great character. And I know how character is formed…through trial and the development of patience. That is not fun stuff. However, the idea that the work that begins as I develop patience can affect others generations from now is kind of cool. It may help me to bear through the next time I am afflicted with trials.

So just over two years ago, I decided that I would start an online journal and share it with close friends and family, you know all my Facebook “friends.”  Honestly, I thought I’d post a time or two, get busy with life and that would be the end of it.  I mean I know me, I start projects that I never finish.  The big basket of cross-stitch projects attest to that fact.  And writing, that’s not my thing.  I joke that I majored in math so that I never had to write again.  Okay, I’ve been know to start writing a story now and again, but I quit well before I finish as they suck.  Real writing, for prolonged periods of time, that just doesn’t sound like me.  Somehow, I kept writing.  People were interested.  And writing about me, well that’s easy as I know I’m highly self-centered. 

Then I decided that harassing my friends and family to read about me and my life wasn’t enough, I should subject myself to the general public.  I opened a WordPress account and began a public blog.  I was astonished when people who don’t know me were liking my blogs.  I still don’t know what possessed them to choose my blog out of the many, but I am so glad they found enjoyment out of it.  Then, people started following me.  Asking to receive notice when I wrote.  That still boggles my mind.  It makes me happy to think people enjoy what I have to say that much, but it still astounds me. 

Today, I’ve taken writing a step further.  I will have a bi-weekly column in the Chugiak-Eagle River Star (www.alaskastar.com) beginning the last edition of January.  I guess this math major turned stay-at-home mom is now turning into a writer. 

I love the holidays, but I am so glad they are over. I don’t want Chase to go back to work, but I am ready to get into a routine.  I have been so busy, I haven’t even had time to make New Year’s resolutions.  While I don’t have resolutions, I do have some serious plans for the next year.  My husband is home, we don’t expect to move for about another year, this is as normal as life gets.  It’s time to get down to business.  My general plan is to really live my life. Teach like it’s my job, cause even though there isn’t a pay check it is my job.  Really get involved in church and Celebrate Recovery.  Blog on a more regular schedule.  Exercise, any at all will do; I want to be ready to do it all this summer, it may be my last here.  Really, just continue the work that I started last year when I began to attend CR.  Nothing new, just really working hard to become the person God made me to be.

I have come to the conclusion today that I stink.  I am inherently lazy, bad at setting priorities, and generally stink.  My to-do list is ever growing, kind of like the pile of clean laundry at the bottom of my closet right now.  I feel overwhelmed by the little mundane things of the day.  While, life at the moment may not be all the way in the unmanageable category, it certainly fits the unmanaged category.  And I realize what slips through the cracks.  While I’m trying to balance homeschooling, housekeeping, laundry (which really does deserve its own category), exercising, and all the other cares of this world, God slips through the cracks.  So I’m praying all day long.  Talking to God constantly, but not listening.  Not reading His word.  To take a moment to just be in His presence, without doing, never.  Everything else comes with a deadline.  Dinner must be cooked before dinner time, or else we can’t eat.  Laundry must be washed before I run out of clean underwear.  Kids must be taught before they are old enough to go off to college, it may not be an immediate deadline, but as they grow so fast and there is so much for them to learn, that deadline looms like an impending storm.  But God, He waits.  He will not leave me if I ignore Him.  I won’t have hungry, therefore whiny children if I ignore Him.  My clothes won’t stink if I ignore Him.  And I forget that there are serious consequences of ignoring Him.  I slide farther away from Him as I ignore Him.  Hungry for Him, I become cranky and whiny.  I stink at life when I begin to ignore Him.

In the past when I’d notice this, I’d have a plan.  I would do X, Y, and Z, and get myself back on the right track with God.  It was all about me, and what I needed to do.  Well, at Celebrate Recovery, I have learned this is insanity.  Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.  The truth is, as hard as I try to make myself better, I end up here every single time.  Knowing how much I need God, yet pushing Him to the side.  The truth is that by myself I cannot clean up the mess I have made.  By myself, I cannot bring myself closer to God.  All the plans to read my Bible and pray don’t matter if I’m doing it for me.  So this time, I’m going to do my best and focus on God, not me.

I still have a plan.  But I know it’s not about my plan.  It’s about my God.  And I will read my Bible, not because I’m supposed to, but because it’s about HIm, and I need more of Him.  And I will pray, not to talk and try to figure it all out, but to just be with the One who can sustain me through everything.  And I will take a moment to remind myself, I am His, and that is all that matters.  It’s not about what I’ve done, or not done.  It’s about a God who loves me.