OK do you trust me?

Blessed.  Beyond Blessed. This exact term was resonating through my head this spring.  I was asking myself, “Do I feel beyond blessed only when everything comes together?”

Because what happens when things fall apart?  Can you still look up to the Lord your God and say you are beyond blessed?

This spring, I was reminded in the tinier plans that if things go according to what I really want or the contrary what I fear, God IS.  God is good.

I realize I did not go through any major crisis moments this spring so my heart is humbled when I look to my friends who did.  But we are reminded in the minor inconveniences as well as the intense struggles that God IS.

We had four trips in two months (three to the Midwest) which seems just plain crazy.  One was unexpected–my sweet grandmother passed away on April 1st.

One thing I feared in all this…I am talking about an anxious reaction…is people getting sick.  Stomach bugs and bad colds always thwart plans. Yet we have no control over them.  It has been a horrible year for sickness.  Our kids have all been sick multiple times.  It started the last week of September and was off and on until the second to the last week of school.  It has not just been us–many of our friends have dealt with it too and some much worse.

We went to St. Louis in mid May for my husband’s graduation ceremony.  He earned his Doctorate of Ministry from Covenant Seminary.  Before we left we had plans to leave our kids with Friend #1’s house (btw–for the sake of this blog post I am referring to friends with numbers but it does not imply their ranking as friends).  Only days before we left, Friends #1 lost a loved one and had to travel to the Midwest for the funeral.  Thankfully Friends #2 offered to take our kids.  The day we were supposed to leave Friend #2 came down with a stomach bug and we had to leave our kids with Friends #3 who graciously offered to take our kids last minute.  I remember through the whole ordeal God saying to me, “OK do you trust me?”

We have no family remotely close to where we live.  We have to rely on our friends in these situations.  I am extremely grateful for “our village” who came through for us last minute and reassured us our kids would be fine.  I cannot imagine how lonely and frustrating life would be if we did not have “a village.”

Our kids eating breakfast with Friends #2 while we were away

Our kids eating breakfast with Friends #2 while we were away

My fear is I would be sick in St. Louis since I was exposed to all this crud.  That became reality as I went to bed the first night in our hotel feeling a little queasy and an hour later sick in the bathroom.  I was frustrated, angry, and anxious.  I felt like God was saying, “OK but do you trust me?”

I recovered quickly.  I did not miss his graduation lunch or the ceremony or the Cardinal games the next day.

Cardinals game with the husband and his brothers...

Cardinals game with the husband and his brothers…

I did miss some things, but overall I made it to all the important things. It was a tremendous honor to see my husband earn his D Min after hours and hours of work on his dissertation, multiple trips to St. Louis, and countless amount of time interviewing and reading.

Graduation Day!

Graduation Day!

We came home from St. Louis exhausted on a Sunday afternoon.  The youngest child was going to a birthday party which Friends #4 who graciously agreed to pick her. The middle child was going to a different party about a half hour away.  I made plans in advance to have him ride with Friends #5 since I knew we would be exhausted from our flight.  We had to get up at 3 AM central time.  As we arrived home Friend #5 texted me and said their daughter got the dreaded stomach bug and they weren’t going.  How do you tell your son you are not going to take him to a birthday party a half hour away because you are functioning off three hours of sleep especially when you have not seen him in four days?  My plan was to take him and set up a sleeping bag in the van.  I would sleep while he was at the party.  I was grumpy about the whole thing but again I felt like God said, “OK do you trust me?”

I texted Friend #6 last minute who was on her way to the party and agreed to pick up my son and take him along.  With our younger two gone all afternoon we could take long naps and get caught up on the sleep we lost.

That was Sunday.  On Friday we got ready for our annual church retreat at a camp about 1 hour away.  We left Saturday morning and had a full day of activities that first day.  Sunday morning the husband woke up and said, “I don’t feel great.  Kind of yucky.  But I don’t think I am sick.”  Anxiety began to run rampant again. I knew he was getting sick.  My kids don’t need to be constantly watched anymore, but I cannot let them run off alone.  Especially when there is a lake, a large woods, and unfamiliar parts of the camp.  My kids were excited to be at camp but a little out of control the first night.  I felt like I NEEDED my husband’s help.  Again I felt like God said, “OK do you trust me?”

The husband got sicker as I feared and had to go home.  However, the kids were amazing.  I don’t think I had to break up a single fight the rest of the weekend.  They always told me where they were going.  They stayed out of trouble. They had a wonderful time!  So did I!

Three kids at our church retreat

Three kids at our church retreat

I had a great hike around the lake with them at the conclusion of the weekend and we saw a bald eagle perched in a tree.  Another reminder of God as we see the handiwork of his creation.

Coming home on Monday, my youngest got the dreaded stomach bug.  The following day my oldest woke up with it. My anxiety escalated because I knew I was running the Minneapolis Marathon the following weekend.  I had invested months of training, bought a plane ticket, motel room & rental car.  Plus it was the first time I would run a marathon with my sister.  I did NOT want to be sick.  I hoped my husband and daughters caught what I already had, but I had no way of knowing.  Our symptoms were all a little different.

Again I felt like God was saying, “OK do you trust me?”  I was so paranoid about getting sick I hardly had time to be nervous about the actual marathon.  The end of this story was I did travel to Minneapolis, I did run in the marathon 100% healthy, my sister ran it too, and it was an amazing weekend.

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Me running in my fourth marathon

I know had I got sick and missed it, that I would STILL be beyond blessed.  Because whatever happens God IS.

It’s a bit harder to wrap my finger around this idea of “beyond blessed” when I think about some old friends God put on my heart recently. During our time in St. Louis old friends of ours lost a child.  On my way to Minneapolis to run a marathon with my sister, an old friend lost her sister unexpectedly.  While I was talking to my mom about her trip recently to visit old friends she mentioned her friend’s son is dying of cancer.  I’ve seen evidence in all three of these situations via Facebook and social networking that all three of these people are clinging to the hope that God IS.  Despite all the feelings of anger, frustration, depression, pain, despair, and loss–God IS.  Because they know if we don’t have the hope of God’s love through Christ, then what we do have?

Will you stand on the hope of God promises?  And will you pray for those in your life today who may not “feel beyond blessed” for whatever reason?

 

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My Child Care Journey…

DSC09085If there is anything I have learned in life, it is that you should not say, “I will never do that.”  OK maybe if it is something crazy like bungee jumping off a bridge…but don’t put that one past me.  I am the type who might actually do that.

We make our plans, of course.  God often has a better one that leads us through twists and turns, mountain and valleys, and to places we swore we would never go to.  Child care was one of those for me.

I was a child care sub in a public school district in 2002.  It was a second job and “my real job” was youth director at a local church.  Child care was secondary in my life.  So when I lost control of a group of 20 preschoolers, I knew this was job was temporary.  The following year I took a job as an after school care leader in a small Christian school.  This job was a better fit and I worked it for two years.  However, my passions were with the youth in my church and it was always a “second job” to supplement my part time income.

The following year we moved to Indiana and I had a brief stint of working in an actual day care center located in a business park.  I felt claustrophobic in the small classrooms with twenty four year olds.  The playground was a quarter of the size of the school playground where I worked previously.  When I lost control of a group of four year olds, I knew I could go longer work there.

I was a little too preachy about child care after that year, yet I was also confused about my calling.  I took on some traditional values even though I am not your typical stay-at-home mom.  I was never one of these college girls who wanted a “Mrs. Degree” and be a stay at home mom.  I wanted a career of some type and wanted to work outside of the home.  My desires and my values were all conflicted with one another and it is something I struggled with for years.

I stayed home for several years after having children.  I felt like it never came naturally to me, but I found my style eventually.  Two years ago a friend of mine wanted to send her daughter to our little Christian school we send our kids to.  Kindergarten dismissed an hour and a half before the time she finished work.  With no after care program at the time, I offered to watch her daughter until she finished work.  I only did child care about six hours a week, but I learned quickly that 1)  I loved having extra children in the house.  2)  I grew up on a neighborhood where there were always children to play with.  My kids do not.  This would be a way for them to develop friendships.  3)  God does not call everyone to be a  full time stay-at-home mom.  My friend was doing amazing work in God’s kingdom.  God was using me to help her do her work.

So come that spring I had a few families ask if I wanted to watch their kids the following school year.  I knew it was from the Lord.  Last year I had four regular child care kids.  This year I doubled that to eight.

Yes, now I am your typical stay-at-home mom.  I hang up my laundry on the clothesline outside.  I do crafts with my kids.  I bake muffins.  I sweep the floor at least four times a day.  I am OK with it.  Because I am supporting some amazing moms out there doing kingdom work.

I don’t think in terms of “real job,” “real career,” etc.  anymore.  And by the way I still do lots of youth ministry…mostly volunteer.

But this is me right now.  I love owning my own business.  I love having a loud chaotic house full of kids.  I love having a baby in the house.  I love watching my three kids love on these babies and toddlers.  So it’s a win win for everyone.

So my friends, never say “never.”  Your “never” might be your next adventure.

I Survived the Hagg Lake Triathlon

Triathlon is an amazing sport because you do not put continuous strain on the same muscles.  Swimming, biking, and running all work different parts of your body thus preventing overuse and even worse…injury.

The challenge for the newbie triathletes like myself is was what to focus on.  If I did not have much of a life, I would run, bike, swim, lift weights, and do yoga twice a week.  Being a mom of three and not wanting to wake up at 4:30 AM every single morning and feeling ready for bed at 8:30 PM when the sun hasn’t fully gone down, I can only focus on one or two areas.  I chose open water swimming.

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After nearly crashing head on into a dock last summer and literally swimming in circles, I knew I had to tackle this.  I had the wet suit (bought super cheap on ebay), the nice goggles (Mother’s Day gift), and access to a private lake.  After several practice swims this spring and summer, I knew I was ready.  A week before my triathlon, I swam in my friend’s lake and did not fasten my wet suit properly.  I felt something dragging and rubbing against my neck, but ignored it.

IMG_1153The next morning I woke up with a chafed neck.  My husband looked at it and had the nice response of:  “Woa it looks really really bad.” Thanks. And it hurt like a neck injury.  I could not fully turn my neck to the right without pain.  Thankfully chafing heals quickly and by Saturday morning (the morning of my race) it did not hurt anymore.

I drove to Hagg Lake and left my house at 5:15 AM.  I printed out directions from Map Quest, from the race website, hand wrote directions, and programmed the GPS.  Obsessive?  Probably.  I almost missed the start of the Portland Marathon in 2006 because we were overconfident we could find the starting line in downtown Portland having only lived in Oregon one month.  Never, ever again.  I can still feel the panic.

I signed up for the “tri-it tri” which is for the novice triathletes who are first timers.  We swim 1/4 mile while the sprint triathletes swim 1/2 mile.  However we bike the same 12 miles and run 3.1 miles. I found out quite a few of my tri-it competitors were not first timers–they were just scared to swim 1/2 mile.  I cannot say I blame them.

All we had to was swim to a green buoy, swim across to another green buoy and then swim back to shore.  They gave us the instructions like four times which I was very thankful for–I think I need them that many times before it sticks.

We were the final wave of swimmers.  When the gun went off it was a big crowd of people all swimming towards the buoy.  I kept bumping into people and finally found a spot where I could push forward.  At one point I looked back and there was hardly anyone behind me.  Oh well–my goal was to swim open water not get first place.  My anti-fog goggles fogged up the entire time but I could look up and see the green buoys.

I made it out of the water and headed up to transition.  I’ve learned the art of transition and had all my items laid out in the order I put them on.  This would be my first triathlon biking in clips–the last two I wore regular shoes and biked on the clips (which is probably more dangerous because there is very little pedal–but I felt safer).  Running with the bike in clips is challenging and hopping on the bike and clipping in is nerve wracking, but I made it.

The best place to eat and drink is on the bike. I learned that on a Triathlon 101 video.  I taped a packet of peanut butter gu to my frame.  I ripped it off immediately and some of the gu got all over my fingers which got on my handle bars thus creating a sticky mess.  And what I am supposed to with the empty packet?  The video never said.  I threw it to the side of road afraid I was going to get yelled at for littering.

Then I made Rookie Mistake #1.  I grab the bottle of Gatorade, drink it, reach to put it back in the water bottle holder…and miss.  It goes rolling down the road settling in the middle of the bike course.  There is a whole slew of bikes coming.  Do I leave it?  Do I stop and get it?  Because I am such a cheap skate and it’s my favorite water bottle, I stop and almost forget to clip out which would have sent me crashing on the bike course thus creating another barrier.  I grab the water bottle just as bikers are coming and I yell, “Sorry just getting my water bottle,” feeling like a total dork.  Later on the course I saw someone’s water bottle to the side of that road so I wasn’t the only dork.

That was the least of my worries.  My friend told me this course is really hilly.  No problem.  I bike on hills.  “No, like people actually walked their bikes up the hill.”  Oh come on–how bad can it be?  Wow!  The uphills were massive.  I actually cried (thankfully not too loud) on the last hill.  But it wasn’t just the uphill it was the downhill too.  I am terrified of going at full speed down those hills.  I see myself wiping out or crashing into someone.  I know I shouldn’t, but I still ride the brake.

It doesn’t help I did crash my bike on a hill in high school and messed up my face–and blacked out.  I don’t remember falling.  I remember seeing a kid in the road and the next thing I remember is being in the bathroom wiping up the blood streaming from my face.  It also doesn’t help an elite triathlete who has given me advice and swims at the same pool as me had a bad crash a couple weeks ago.  I was so grateful I made it and I didn’t have to stop.  I just kept climbing up the hills.  I was proud of my orange road bike that has nice low gears for climbing.

It was a relief to get back to transition and strap on my running shoes.  Running–I can do this!  Then I made Rookie Mistake #2.  I pinned my number to my biking shirt which I was wearing over my tri suit.  I didn’t want to wear my biking shirt in the run because it was getting very hot out.  So I had to unpin the number and re pin in to my tri top.  I had to choose  running in layers when the temp is getting to the 80’s or get the worst transition time.  I chose the latter and yes, I had the worst transition time of all the tri-it triathletes.  But at least I was comfortable on the run.

The running course was partially trail, partially road, and a few rolling hills–pretty normal.  My time was about 9 minutes more than what I normally get on a 5K.  I had to take a few walk breaks because that bike ride nearly wiped me out.

My final time:  1:49:45.  Of the 21 tri-it triathletes, I got 8th place.  Of the women I got 5th.  Of my age group I got first (ha ha–there were only two of us).   Not bad!

What’s next?  I have no idea.  Probably no triathlons anytime soon and that isn’t because I don’t want to do another one.  It’s more of a scheduling and cost reason.  But maybe another open water one in the future?  Lord willing, I’d love to do it again.  And have my training focus on bicycling.

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Week #4 4th of July Week!

It was 4th of July week and it started out with temperatures climbing into the 90’s.  So that meant cooling off at West Bennet Park.

IMG_1099The kids love the spray ground which is located right next to the playground.  So they can easily run back and forth.

IMG_1101Some silly kid (not one of mine) got this bright idea to stick a towel in the drain clogging all the water thus creating a wading pool.  Not a bad idea, really.

IMG_1103The beautiful thing about Oregon summers is that its gets hot, but it doesn’t stay hot all day.  A breeze and cooler temperatures come in the evening.  So the oldest and I drove to Keizer where we biked along one of the few bike paths (we really need more!) in our town.  It’s a small 3-4 mile stretch that goes along the Salem Parkway, but you don’t have to deal with traffic and many intersections.  I love it that we can now bike together.

IMG_1108 On Tuesday we cooled off in the comforts of the library.  They had an afternoon transportation crafts session.  I am really trying to stay on top of summer reading.  I failed the last two summers.  😦

IMG_1111 On Wednesday morning the kids all decided to play My Little Pony together and wanted a group photo of all the ponies.  Two of them are my ponies from when I was little–unfortunately one is tailless.

IMG_1115Somehow Batman and the Joker were included the ponies activities…which works when you have a boy and two girls.  I LOVE watching my kids play together–LOVE listening to them making up stories.

IMG_1116 Yesterday was the 4th of July–one of my favorite holidays.  For the past three years we have gone to the Independence-Monmouth Parade.  We sat closer to Independence like last year.  Thankfully this year they did not run out of candy until they got to us.

IMG_1119 The kids wanted to wear red, white, and blue bandanas.  Which was great because it protected their heads from sunburn.

IMG_1131Our original plan was to go to our friend’s house after the parade and spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening there.  They always put on a fabulous 4th of July celebration.  Due to some unfortunate sickness, they had to cancel.  We had friends come to us last minute and we set up the slip and slide.  We had a nice outdoor dinner with them.  Then just our family headed downtown for the fireworks–the first ever 4th of July we all went to a fireworks show as a family.  I had not been to a fireworks show since 2006!  This is a picture of everyone standing for the National Anthem.

IMG_1126We got there early enough so we did not have to fight for parking spaces.  So we had time to read stories.

IMG_1128And play Uno.

IMG_1133And dance to music from a local band.

IMG_1137And enjoy fireworks!!

The kids did fine with the change of plans and all in all had a great 4th of July.

Next week is supposed to be HOT again.  We don’t have as much planned, but I am sure we will find plenty to do to keep us busy.

Spring Break Plus A Bonus Week

So we had Spring Break plus “a bonus Spring Break” because my sister and her family ventured out to Oregon the week after our break. Since I had to dig my flip flops and shorts out of the attic for my trip to California and I am not about to put everything back, I feel like summer is on its way.  Especially with the warm sunny weather we are soaking up.  Yet I know well enough about the rain that sometimes invades in May and the June gloom here in Oregon so I am leaving a couple long sleeves and hoodies in the closet.

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So back in March we told the kids we were going to Washington because my husband had an all day meeting at a church. This was all made up.  There was no meeting. We told them they had to spend a full day entertaining themselves in the church nursery.  I hate holding the truth from my kids so I told them we’d stay in a motel with a pool.  Our plan was to surprise them and take them to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington.  And yes, they were surprised.

ImageOne of the best things about Great Wolf Lodge with a 8,6, & 4 year old (we have gone when they were younger) is we could do almost everything including all ride on a tube slide together.  There was just one slide my younger two did not meet the height requirement on.  It was refreshing and fun to not have to spend the whole time in the little kid’s area. However, it was nice they still wanted to play there at times giving us a little break too.

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It was a great time for our family.  I am in this new phase of parenting where I am doing more with the kids versus for them.  It really makes events like this enjoyable.

ImageAfter Great Wolf, my family dropped me off at PDX where I flew to LA to visit my friend Linda.  Linda was in the youth group I lead back in Michigan, and somehow she got all grown up on me and is now a graduate student at USC.  I love seeing my youth group “kids” all grown up finding their place in the world.

My first full day in LA I drove in my rental car braving the crazy six lane highways I am not used to.  I headed to Santa Monica where I enjoyed the festivities on the pier and a run along the beach.

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And an amazing sunset!

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 Linda gave me an “inside” view of LA.  We ate at several ethnic restaurants, drove to the Hollywood sign, I went to her Ultimate Frisbee tournament, and we even got to visit the LA opera.

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I could not get enough of the warm, sunny, LA weather.  I am not sure I could live the pace of LA, but the weather and the beaches are pretty amazing.

After four days of being home and trying to revert back into some kind of routine, we were thrilled to have my sister, her husband, and kids come visit us in Oregon.  They live back in Michigan where we used to live so we don’t get to see one another often.

While they were here, my brother-in-law did the Beaver Freezer Triathlon on the campus of Oregon State.  It was my second sprint triathlon.  He has done more and even completed an Ironman Triathlon.  It was fun to do one with a family member.

Amy runningMy time was very similar (only a thirty second difference) from my first triathlon last spring in Stayton, Oregon.  But the swimming went so much better.  Last spring I felt nauseous swimming and could not get into a good swimming pattern.  I felt like I could have increased my speed on the bike, but I am still not totally comfortable “bike racing.”  This is something I hope to work on this summer.  The run for me was by far the best and my run time was only about 1 minute and half more than my normal 5K time.

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My brother-in-law is the guy in the back with the blue shirt and sunglasses.  I thought this picture was funny with the “happy runner” in the front.

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One of the greatest things about having my sister and her family here is seeing all the cousins playing together.  They are ages 12,10,8.6,4–there was a baby every two years.  My brother continued that pattern with an almost two year old and a baby due next month.

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The weather cooperated and we were able to spend most of Monday at Silver Falls State Park.  We have been there many times.  We appreciate it more going with people who have never gone before.

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My sister, her husband, my niece, my nephew, and my oldest two hiked to Double Falls which was about a four mile hike round trip.  My youngest and I made it just past the lower South Falls and took a breather while the rest went on.  We were able to hike back together.

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And then return home to a wonderful dinner cooked by my husband.

After my sister’s family left I cannot believe how tired everyone was.  It has taken us a few days to get our energy back.  My sister made the comment that there is something relaxing about getting back into your normal routine.  I have found that to be true.  The house is slowly getting put back together and everyone is returning back to work, school & regular activities.

Running In Eugene and Portland and back to Salem

I am still recovering from a fast paced (but fun!) weekend.  On Friday morning after I was complaining about rising early and how cluttery the house felt, I was thankful to see the beautiful sun.  Despite a full day I did get to sneak a run in the late afternoon.  Then in the evening I got to take all three kids with me to the gym for a time to swim.  My oldest swims on a non-competitive swim team and needs no assistance in the water.  She’s learning breaststroke, pre-butterfly, and flip turns–things I don’t know how to do but wish I did.  My middle son wants to ditch his water wings and is close to being “water safe.”  My youngest is a fish in the water like her sister.

Then on Saturday morning I had the honor of celebrating life at my friend’s baby shower.  During my busy week, I feared I would not get the shower games and prizes together in time or the food planned in time.  However it all came together beautifully.

Saturday afternoon my friend and I drove south to Eugene  to visit one of our other friends who moved there.  I have only been to Eugene one other time last spring for a conference.  I wanted to go there my birthday weekend and run on Pre’s trail in memory of the track star of the 1970’s Steve Prefontaine and see Pre’s rock where he tragically died in a car crash.  My friend had plans on my birthday.  I am so glad I waited because the 60’s sunny weather was perfect running unlike the rainy windy cold on my birthday.  IMG_0253

Any running geek needs to visit Eugene aka Tracktown USA.  Steve Prefontaine wanted a trail similar to the style and terrain  of European trails to run through Alton Baker Park near the university campus.

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And it was a perfect day for a run.  The park was very busy with runners, walkers, bikers, dog walkers, and people sitting by the ponds relaxing.

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Steve Prefontaine died on May 30, 1975 when he swerved into a rock on Skyline Boulevard and flipped trapping him underneath his car.  I could see how the accident could happen as the hill going up to Skyline was extremely steep, there is little shoulder, and few street lights.  Runners come to this rock and leave running shoes and medals.  Or they touch the wall and run back down the hills (which I saw a nearby runner do).

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My most favorite part of the day was spending time with quality time with friends.  It is nice to have little to no agenda or schedule and simply get caught up on life.

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I am grateful for the friends God has blessed my family with here in Oregon that sometimes have had to serve as “our surrogate family.”

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Our running weekend continued.  The alarm went off super early Sunday morning and I had to nudge my oldest out to bed.  We were headed north this time to Portland to run in the  Shamrock race.  Did you know St. Patty’s weekend has the most running races of any holiday?  I actually heard the same thing about Thanksgiving so I am not sure which is correct.

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I am so thankful we could hitch a ride with another friend and I did not have to deal with big city driving in Portland. My big city driving days like navigating through Chicago are over.  My friends were all doing the 15K while my oldest and I were doing the 5K.  Our race was about 1 1/2 hours after theirs.  My youngest was content to hang out in Starbucks and get breakfast.  There are Starbucks cafes pretty much everywhere in Portland.

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The weather thankfully cooperated.  It was not nearly as cold as last year, but with a slight misty rain off and on.  Our race started about 15 minutes late (which is a long 15 minutes when you’re waiting at the starting line).  All the races were delayed because of an Amtrak train.

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Since I’m so paranoid about missing races since I nearly missed the start to the Portland Marathon in 2006 due to getting lost (which is another story in itself), we did wait at the starting line a long time.  We could have stayed in Starbucks longer.  My oldest had a great attitude despite my needing to be at everything early.

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It was the third 5K I have run with my oldest and so far the best.  She ran really well and only took a few short walk breaks.  Her time was 40:11.  She sprinted at the very end.  It was the first 5K I have ever run where I had to wait a minute or so for a streetcar to pass, where I dropped my cell phone and camera simultaneously (which is why I took an old camera), and where I ran carrying two hats, a coat, and water bottle.  It was still was fantastic!

People ask me why I like to run so much (or declare how much they dislike running).  And I don’t have a good answer except that running is me.  It’s who I am and it’s what I do. It’s my work of art.  The fact I can share it with my kids brings even more meaning.  This is how Pre said it:

“Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better than anyone else. It’s being creative.”

My trip to the Midwest by myself

I’ve been home from Indiana and Chicago three weeks.  And I have not posted about my trip yet…so here I go…

I flew into Chicago and the next day we drove to our old hometown of Lafayette, Indiana.02-IMG_9198

This was the first time ever that my parents and siblings were together without our spouses and our kids. It made me realize how much I miss my brother and sister (and thankfully and hopefully have plans to see them again in 2014–don’t have to wait another year!).  We all drove in one car to Lafayette.  The joke was that Mom would bring her candy bag (a small Zip Loc bag with Brach’s candies she always took on trips) and we would fight in the backseat.  We had lunch at Triple X restaurant which was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-In, and Dives.  It’s on the outskirts of the Purdue University Campus.

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We had the honor of eating lunch with some of my parent’s friends–one couple who was our next door neighbors.  I remember them as forty something parents juggling their three kids, carpooling to sport activities, and volunteering at our school.  Now that’s my phase of life!  My parents friends are all grandparents and it’s a little weird.

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But some things change, others stay the same.  My dad is still goofy and the life of the party.

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We visited our old church, Lafayette Christian Reformed Church.  I am somewhat in a state of awe when I am in the church sanctuary where I grew up.  The first row on the right hand side of the balcony was our family pew.  Almost every seat was filled right to the very back of the balcony.  The church has changed greatly since the 1980’s, but I will have always have a special place in my heart for it.  Sunday School, VBS, racing under the pews after evening service, pot lucks–all part of my childhood.

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The church put “a wall of pastors” in the basement.  This is the younger 1980’s version of my dad who served from March 1982 until August of 1989.

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The church I grew up in was an amazing beautiful building constructed in 1929.  I always remember the huge stain glass windows.

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I attended Lafayette Christian School from kindergarten until sixth grade.  I lived next door to the school so the playground was my prime hangouts before and after school and during the hot sticky summer months.

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It was a tremendous blessing to see Mrs. Buchman.  She was my first grade teacher for the last quarter of the year and my sixth grade teacher.  She is still teaching!  Obviously you have teachers that are memorable and that touch your life a little more than others.  She was one of them.  I always felt safe and cared for in her classroom.  She threw a surprise going away party for me right before I moved to Michigan and I’ll never forget how much that meant to me.

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This was our house.  The current pastors (husband and wife couple) live here.  We felt a little intrusive going in their house while they were on vacation.  They have fixed it up nice.

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I felt a little guilty taking this photo because it’s not my house, but this is my former bedroom.  It didn’t look anything like this.  I had greenish yellow walls, yellow curtains, and yellow shag carpeting left over from the 1970’s.  The closet door, however, was the exact same.

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For some reason when I think of our old house, I always remember this banister.  I think I used to sit on the stairs and stick my head through the posts.

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Then back to Chicago.  My uncle came and visited us.  We have a picture of us three kids approximately ages 3,7, and 11 wearing Chicago Cub baseball caps sitting with our uncle.  My dad tried to reinvent the photo to 2014.  The only problem is he doesn’t own Cubs hats–since when did my family all become White Sox fans?

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Our real reason for all meeting together was to celebrate my grandma turning 89.  I have fond memories of visiting Grandma in Chicago as a child.  I remember her serving large scoops of chocolate ice cream, playing Ker Plunk in the basement, riding the “horsie swings” at the park and listening to the trains come through on the tracks behind her house. When I was in college she had a heart attack and I really thought the Lord was going to take her home.  It’s hard to believe that was sixteen years ago.  It was a blessing to celebrate her birthday with her!

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While I was in the Midwest, Oregon got hit with a major snow blast–the most snow we have seen in years.  The whole city pretty much shut down.  At one point you could not leave your house unless you had chains on your tires.  My kids had two snow days in a row, church was cancelled, and my husband could not even order a pizza.  Meanwhile I had left the van parked in a car pool lot and this is what it looked like when I got back into Oregon.  I don’t own a snow brush so I had to put a plastic bag over my hand.  I was grateful the day after I came home was another “snow day” (although now we don’t get Good Friday off and go an extra day in June) so I could get some cleaning and organizing done before the child care kids return.

What a blessed trip!  I’m grateful I got to be a part of it.  I even got to go running (on treadmills) with my dad and sister.