I attended college in the nineties, graduated, and within a year went into college ministry. Today I think it’s fair to say that I know pretty well what makes a college student tick, and the college students of today are so different from the college students of my day.
But in the last several years, my husband and I have had the opportunity to minister to collegiate and elite athletes. After seeing students train and compete on this level, I feel as though I have found a new perspective as a parent of young children.
I have seen athletes who have sacrificed having an average, ordinary life so that they may live a highly driven life in pursuit of a collegiate athletic career. It is a sacrifice that comes at a cost, and I have the upmost respect for those individuals who work and train in a way I never have.
But as I stand among a group of collegiate athletes, I see how their bodies are broken. Tendons might have torn, bones might have bruised, pride might have been wounded. And I see how their spirit either grows weary and they burn out by the end of their college career, or their spirit soars and they go pro.
As a parent, I don’t want to look at my own children in fifteen years and see their bodies have become broken or their spirits have grown weary. I want to see their spirits soaring. So I keep working at the core of what they enjoy by starting with a firm foundation, then building on that foundation with a sense of balance.
My eldest has been taking ballet since she was three years old, but you won’t find her at the dance studio five days a week. You’ll only see her there once a week, and if it’s Nutcracker season, you’ll see her there for two. My youngest wants to tumble. She has been taking acrobatics since she was five years old, once a week. Both girls also enjoy swimming, which we commit to for three days a week in the summer, and throughout the year they enjoy modeling and acting. I hope that as they grow, they can pursue their goals without feeling pushed, but rather equipped with the tools they needed to help get them started.
It seems as though I started college in the mid-nineties and have never really left. Meanwhile, I have only been a parent for a little over ten years. I have not mastered parenting, just like I haven’t mastered ministry, but I do believe the Lord has used both of these life experiences to give me the perspective I need today to prepare my children for tomorrow.
What are some healthy perspectives you have adopted as a parent?
My Little Ballerina
Food is Fuel
There’s something about summer that amps up the appetite in my children. It must be all the extra time spent in the pool, or running around outside, longer evenings, or later bedtimes, but they just always seem hungry. This summer I am prepared to tackle the hunger head on. I am pledging to no longer resort to our regular stash of string cheese, gold fish, and fruit snacks. Quite honestly, my kids are getting too old for that. They are also too active for that. They need healthy fuel for their growing, active bodies.
Recently my husband and I were blessed with the opportunity to share our testimonies of how we came to faith in Christ, as well as how we entered into full time ministry through a film interview at our church. One of the pastors on staff who facilitated and filmed the interview told us about his wife’s food blog. He explained how he challenged her to shop in the produce section of the grocery store, preparing real food for their family and blogging about it. Her blog has been a success and you can find it at www.livesimply.me
I made her recipe for quinoa and my husband actually asked for seconds, which is rare! Then I let my eleven and eight year old take a tour on her website and pick out something they each wanted to make, and they chose Thick Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars and Homemade Strawberry Soda. Now what kid wouldn’t want to eat that? Plus, getting to make it themselves was half the fun!
So don’t let summer steel away every single snack in your pantry! Instead, join me by taking a proactive approach to healthy living by preparing healthy foods as fuel for your busy families!
Maintaining Daily Health
I spent most of my teen years taking antibiotics to help treat my acne prone skin, and for the most part that strategy worked well to keep my face clear. Little did I know that being on antibiotics all those years not only killed the bad acne causing bacteria, but it also killed the good bacteria my body needed to function well. So much later down the road, somewhere in my early thirties, I was talking to my friend about how bad my migraines had become. Then, to my surprise, she asked me if I had a long term history of taking antibiotics. Yes, I said, how did you know? She shared with my how her daughter’s regular use of antibiotics caused her migraines to increase, so she recommended taking the probiotics that must be refrigerated. Shortly after I went to my local health foods store and bought Probiotic supplements called Ultimate Flora made by Renewlife. I also found these at Whole Foods, but for a more expensive cost. I took those for a while and felt a significant improvement, not only in my migraines, but also in my overall health. When I talked to my doctor, he agreed that the probiotics are beneficial, and he added that they work to improve the overall immune system as well. Now, a few years later, I am still taking my daily supplement of probiotics, but I now take an even heavier dose for women’s health with 90 Billion probiotics because I have since learned of even more health benefits. I also started both my daughters on a chewable probiotic for children a few years ago since they had been on several antibiotics for things like sinus and ear infections.
In a business such as modeling and acting, or just in life in general, we come in contact with a lot of people everyday. If I can be proactive to boost our immune system or to maintain a healthy way of life, of course I want to take those steps so that preventable illnesses do not slow us down.
What have you found that works well for you and your family to maintain daily health?
Work Hard, Play Hard
This weekend we celebrated the end of the school year. And although we completed a virtual school year with two students embarking on a new-to-us-journey called homeschooling, we really celebrated a pause in the process of educating our children. Starting next week, I am going to attempt to teach my children Spanish, and you can call me Professora. But in the mean time, we thought it would be healthy to reward our children for all their hard work. Yes, even as second and fifth graders, they spent hours memorizing math facts, reading up on Harriet the Spy and Nancy Drew, and learning first hand the meaning of independent and dependent variables from our kitchen-turned-science lab.
So on Friday night we spent the evening strolling the streets of Paris, while spritzing French perfume from tiny little bottles with pictures of Marie Antoinette, and handling a chef’s supply of shells for homemade escargot. Of course this was just a moment’s journey from where we watched Janessa’s name get written in Chinese from the tip of a sharpie onto an ornate green umbrella made with bamboo. Then we hopped in the car and took a spin fighting creatures that terrorize other galaxies alongside our hero, Buzz Lightyear, while we watched Jack Sparrow dodge cannon balls from the streets of an old-timey Spanish village. And while we crammed a lot into our celebration that started with fireworks at Epcot at nine o’clock at night, and ended at Starbucks on the Main Street of Magic Kingdom at three o’clock in the morning, we took time to recognize that those who work hard also deserve to play hard.
Hopefully in a few months we’ll find ourselves standing on the streets of Mexico practicing our Spanish with the International staff at Epcot.
What are some ways, big or small, that you honor your child’s accomplishments?
Family Talent Fitness
It started as a sprint but did not end at the finish line! We took advantage of the opportunity to participate in running the Mickey Mile at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in January. After giving Mickey Mouse a high five at the finish line and posing for pictures at the race’s photo booth, we decided that as a family, we were not finished even though we had crossed the finish line. So we scoured the internet for our first 5k and registered so that our training (which simply involves several laps around the block with a few cheers from fellow neighbors) could continue. And we did it! At the end of March ran in our very first 5k! Our goal is to run in a few more 5k’s before moving forward, but hope to work up to a 10k in the future. Most evenings of training are balanced between bike riding or running, and some nights we end up at the gym on the treadmill. But the point is that we are choosing to live a healthy lifestyle rather than getting too comfortable on the couch, and hey, it benefits our modeling business as we tone up our physique!
Aiming to Avoid Dangerous Disorders
I grew up going to school with girls who wore skinny jeans before skinny jeans were cool. And by the time I reached junior high, I watched them share their secret to staying skinny without any of them needing to say a word. Their simple solution to keep themselves from gaining weight was to skip lunch everyday at school and turn that time into a social hour instead. So rather than fueling their adolescent bodies with the nutrients they needed, they fueled their social status by taking that time to talk. It was not long before I too gave into peer pressure and decided to join them. So for one school year, I convinced my mom that the cafeteria food tasted so good I should buy lunch everyday, and instead I pocketed all those pennies.
But I don’t think I gave into an eating disorder that year, I just wanted to fit in with the girls.
It was not until I got to college that I discovered how dangerously close to an eating disorder I could have come when I read Marya Hornbacher’s story of her experience battling eating disorders in her memoir, Wasted. And after reading her story, I wanted to reach back in time and shake my finger at the shy little seventh grader I once was for having toyed with such a dangerous disorder just to fit in.
Now I have two daughters of my own. They are in the process of embarking on a journey through the business of modeling and acting, which tends to emphasize their physical appearances. How do I keep them from falling into a similar trap? I have implemented some strategies that aim to avoid these dangerous disorders:
- We don’t use the words, skinny or fat, but rather we use words like fit, strong, healthy, or athletic. We also emphasize the importance of just being healthy by maintaining healthy eating and exercise habits.
- We make sure they both spend regular quality one on one time with both mom and dad.
- We teach them that their identity is in Christ, not in how they compare with others.
- We maintain positive friendships with friends from our church community.
- We seek modeling jobs that are more lifestyle in nature rather than modeling jobs that are high fashion.
Now that skinny jeans are popular once again, I hope my daughters understand something I wish I understood years ago; that physical appearances do not define them. And by understanding that key concept, I hope they will not make choices that are unhealthy. Instead, I have seen how they have embraced learning to speak on camera, which has boosted their confidence by giving them the courage to deliver a script in a room full of strangers without feeling shy. And as they grow, I hope they will understand that a healthy lifestyle is better than trying to maintain a skinny one.