Thanksgiving!

I don’t blog nearly as much as I used to.  When my child care business grew two years ago, I knew my time to write would be limited. I also have been limiting my time on social networking sites. I don’t read as many blogs as I used to.

As my kids have grown older, their need for privacy has increased.  I am not one of these moms who wants to share on Facebook about every single activity my kids are doing or what emotions they are experiencing or our daily schedule.  In the past couple months I have felt this need for living life outside of Facebook posts.  Sometimes I feel like we might over post because we are looking for attention and/or validation we are not getting elsewhere.  I have to embrace the relationships and real live friendships in front of me to find the joy of living life’s moments.

With that being said, the holidays is a time I like to blog.  I have done the December photo project the last three years (one year I did not complete it) because it helps me focus on the day to day joys of Advent and Christmas.

This Christmas is unique as we will be seeing the husband’s parents here in Oregon a week before Christmas.  Then we will be spending a good part of the holiday break on the Atlantic coast in Virginia with my family. There have been many Christmases since we moved to Oregon when we have seen no extended family.  So this is a real treat for all of us. There will be plenty of Christmas programs, holiday parties, gift wrapping, baking and Christmas crafting sessions.

For now I want to focus on Thanksgiving weekend.

For the past three years I have run in the Keizer Turkey Dash 5K on Thanksgiving morning.  This year my eight year old and I ran it together.  We began training shortly after school started.  Due to my full schedule I could only run with him about one to two times a week. I figured with PE at school and the fact he is active when he plays in the backyard–that would be enough.  I was impressed when he could run two miles without stopping and then three!

His final time was 35:56 which is about ten minutes fast than last year.  Although last year he was sick and insisted on running it anyway.  And he had not trained as much.  Still ten whole minutes!  I wish I could shave ten minutes off my marathon time–I might be able to qualify for Boston.

We had perfect weather.  No rain in sight.  It was a little colder than normal, but we bundled up.

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He says he is going to miss our weekly runs and wants to do another race soon.  We’re looking at a Christmas or MLK King Day run. The problem with Oregon is we can get very nasty rain that time of year.  I ran a 1/2 marathon last year in December and nasty, windy, pouring rain.  It took hours for my body temperature to get back to normal.

IMG_4178.JPGEvery Thanksgiving since we moved to Oregon, we have celebrated with friends.  This year we celebrated with the same friends we celebrated with last year.  It was fun to have an established tradition of a big meal, game, and dessert.  It was a nice relaxing day spent with people we enjoy.

IMG_4174The kids even got to play outside for a bit in my friend’s big front yard.

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They can see the best sunsets from their front porch as well as the coastal range mountains.

IMG_4180 In the early evening we noticed black smoke in the distance and heard fire trucks.  My husband has an app on his phone that has all the police and fire calls for our city.  There was a house on fire only a few streets over that quickly escalated into a three alarm fire.  The smoke got thick and black and we could start to see the orange glow of flames.  As we left to go home there were fire trucks lining up and down the road and we saw how bad the fire was.  It made our news and the house was a total loss.  Thankfully no one was killed or hurt.

It was only a few weeks ago I lead a devotional for our seniors group.  I shared about storing up treasures in heaven and not on earth.  Our true treasure is the hope of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior who paid the price for our sins.  This treasure brings us peace in times of trial like house fires, floods, terrorist attacks, ill health, depression, family dysfunction, etc.  Nothing or no one can take away that treasure from us.  I was reminded again as we saw this family’s dream home dissipate into flames.

When I was seven years old we had a small fire in our house that only destroyed a lamp, part of the couch, and part of the wall.  By God’s grace, my parents discovered it the moment the lamp sparked and put it out before the fire department arrived.  When I was a sophomore in college, my floor in my dormitory caught on fire from a cigarette thrown in the trash can.  When I exited my room flames were shooting up to the ceiling in the hallway.  In both those situations you don’t think about grabbing everything you own.  You just go and get out of there.  You remember what is most important in your life.

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my faith in Jesus Christ and how God has led me on this incredible journey with its own twists and turns.  I am thankful for my family, my extended family, my church family, my friends, my jobs, and this beautiful part of the country we call home.  I pray that throughout this conclusion of Thanksgiving as we move into Advent, I will continue to focus on that true treasure of Christ’s coming into the world.

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How do you stay motivated?

“How do you stay motivated?”

amy half marathon

When it comes to exercise, I get asked this a lot.  If I had “a A + B = C” answer, it may only work for a certain few and not pertain to your situation.  Honestly my motivation waxes and wanes.  Since I have been running off and on for fifteen years and dabbling in triathlon for three, I feel like I am at liberty to share a few things.

1) I need rewards:  I was reading this spring that we make our decisions based on rewards.  We may do something that is not always pleasant and maybe not fun because we reap the reward it provides.  For instance I hate cleaning but I love looking at my sparkly organized kitchen.  Running is the same.  In the very beginning and for many years afterwards it was unpleasant and I didn’t enjoy it.  But I loved the accomplishment afterward.  That reward motivated me for many years and still does during tougher weeks.

2)  I need more tangible rewards:  I was trying to incorporate track runs into my marathon training and I hated the anticipation of doing them.  Often I would skip them all together.  Because Jamba Juice and Dutch Brothers coffee are both close to the track, I would reward myself with a juice or coffee after a track run.

3)  I need to be running with others:  It took many years to find people to run with mostly because of my unpredictable schedule with babies and toddlers.  Now I love the fact I have to get up and meet my friend for a run.  It is a waste of her time to leave her on a street corner waiting for me.  I’m a bit of a people pleaser and in this situation it works in my favor.

4)  I believe our bodies were made to move:  Our ancestors had to endure physical labor or they would starve or freeze to death.  No one had to go for a run because they worked their bodies all day long.  Now with many desk jobs and work from home positions, we spend a lot of time sitting.  I don’t believe God created everyone of us to be an athlete, but I do believe we are to honor Him with our physical bodies.  Part of taking care of our bodies is getting out and moving.

5)  I need activities too…not just my kids:  The kids sporting world is overwhelming to me this day in age.  There are many options and so much pressure to be a star.  I honestly think some moms should have their children take a season off from sports and they as moms should pursue their own activity or sport.  Many moms I have spoken to share how running or going to the gym helps them be better moms because they are getting their exercise time in.

6)  I want to set an example for my kids:  My kids see me run and do triathlons and support me in my endeavors.  I don’t know if any of them will be runners or triathletes, but I am exposing them to it.  As a kid I remember my dad going to the gym or taking me on bikes.  If exercise is part of our normal lives, it makes it much easier for them to incorporate it in their lives as adults.

7)  I believe it is more than image and weight loss: I do not agree with weight loss companies that heavily focus on image and pounds lost.  That rarely motivates me.  I do not weigh myself on a regular basis.  I have found that when I do, I get too obsessed with the scale.  I get overly discouraged and I am more likely to quit and start eating whatever I want.

8)  I need healthier ways to cope with my anxiety:  I’ve struggled with anxiety pretty much my whole life.  Soon after I picked up running, I was working for a church as a youth director.  I was on the phone with someone I was trying to plan an event with and we were not seeing eye to eye on an issue.  I told this person he/she was not treating others fairly.  I have a difficult time standing up for myself.  I also tend to communicate with too much emotion.  I managed to hold it together but it was exhausting.  I hung up the phone fuming with anger.  I went for a run and pounded out four miles at a fast pace.  I felt amazing afterwards.  I remember telling my friend, “I had no idea running could do that.”  It really clears your mind and in some ways brings you back to reality.  So often anxiety clogs our brains making us only see anxious thoughts.

9)  I need to be outside:  I have appreciated the seasons, God’s creation, my own neighborhood, weather in general, and quiet mornings since I took up running.

10)  I am out there and trying and sometimes that is enough:  I’ve heard some moms don’t want to run outside or go to the gym because they fear everyone is watching them.  You may not believe me, but people aren’t watching you. Even if they are–who cares?  You’re out there and you are trying.  Some moms don’t want to enter races because they don’t want to be dead last.  Even if you are dead last, you are still faster than the person who is sitting on the couch doing nothing.  Focus on your own goals and don’t worry so much about what others are doing.  Really they aren’t watching you!  If anything they are cheering for you.  The running community is a pretty friendly one.

So there you go.  10 motivators.  Go tackle that run!

 

Race Report: Minneapolis Marathon 2015

I started running in 2001 at the age of 24.  I ran my first marathon in October of 2006 at the age of 29.  No one in my family ran back then and some thought I was crazy.  Why would I want to fork over one hundred dollars to enter a race not to mention the countless hours of training? It took my older sister many years until she finally “got it.”  I never held it against anyone. I knew what I was gaining from running and it was enough to keep me tackling marathons.

So my sister and I had talked about doing the same marathon at some point in 2015.  We live on opposite sides of the country.  I loved the idea of doing “a destination” marathon and traveling somewhere.  I wanted to do a spring marathon because I have found it much easier to train all winter  and run in the spring versus training all summer for a fall marathon.  I don’t work in the summer so you would think I have more time.  However, our summer weekly routine is not consistent. It is hard to train when you are home for a week, go out of town, home another week, and then go someplace else.  Not to mention the heat!

We looked at a marathon calendar and narrowed it down to a few options.  We chose the Minneapolis Marathon because the timing was the best.  It was the only weekend in the spring I had nothing going on.  The course looked great running through parks and along the Mississippi River.  I wanted to do a run in a larger sized city versus a small community marathon.  I had no idea I was signing up for a marathon that had only 700 runners.  Then I remember the large marathon is Minneapolis is the Twin Cities marathon which is in the fall.  However, my sister and I found some advantages of running “a medium sized marathon” versus one with 10,000 runners.

I awoke at 2:00 AM on Saturday, May 30th. I slept without waking up from 10 PM to 2:00 AM and felt pretty rested.  I think when it comes to this whole marathon experience I am grateful for all the solid sleep.  When it comes to travel and racing, I never seem to sleep well.  I had to catch a shuttle bus at 3:15 AM.  My husband did not appreciate the shower going followed by my hair dryer–but hey I was not about to travel all day without doing my hair.  I made it to the shuttle bus on time.  Everyone on the bus was curled up on the seats and trying to sleep but I was wide awake.

4:30 AM seemed way too early to eat breakfast so I waited until around 5:15.  I get up this early to workout so it didn’t feel excessively early to me.  I did enjoy a breakfast burrito at one of the new restaurants in Portland International Airport.  I boarded my flight and had a three hour layover in Kansas City…which by the way is one of my least favorite airports.  It is claustrophobic, not enough food choices, and the bathrooms were not very clean.  I got to Minneapolis in the late afternoon and my parents picked me up.  We enjoyed a pasta dinner at Olive Garden with my sister and her husband.

My sister, her husband and I all shared a motel room.  It felt a little bit like a slumber party.  It reminded when we all went to Texas together on a mission trip when I was in high school and they were in college.  We went to bed pretty early.  Again I slept amazing right to the alarm when my brother-in-law said, “Ladies it’s time to get going.”

Marathon 1

Another great thing about this marathon is I felt like I got the nutrition right.  I ate everything I trained with.  I had a Honey Stinger organic vanilla waffle bar and a few homemade mini zucchini muffins while in the motel rooms and a half wattle bottle full of Ultima sports drink.  I ate a banana in the car.  I had a Hammer gel while at the starting line.  I felt like I ate enough and everything was sitting well.

We drove to the starting line from our motel and had a little bit of a scare.  As my brother-in-law drove on a major highway, a “wrong way driver” was coming at us.  She was on the wrong side of the median.  There was not very much traffic on the road so my brother-in-law easily pulled off to the shoulder while slamming on the horn.  We did not want to turn around in fears we were about to witness a head on collision.  I think I saw her get off the highway, but our hearts were pounding.  Our guess she was a drunk driver coming home from a party in the early morning hours.

Thankfully we got to the starting line in one piece.  We had to walk about a half mile to it.  After a stop at the port-a-potties and snapping a few pictures, I lined up with the 4 hour pacing group.

Marathon 2

This was my first marathon with my little ipod shuffle.  I also wear my iphone on my arm band. This was for the purpose of texting my brother-in-law and parents following the race if I could not find them. A small race advantage is finding your family right away.  I don’t listen to music through my iphone because we don’t get much date per month with our plan.  So I am the dorky runner that wears a iphone on my arm and a shuffle clipped to my shorts, but I am OK with that.   I have not run my previous marathons listening to music.  The jury is still out on whether I would run with music or without should I run another marathon.

On one hand I loved having music at the very beginning.  This is when my nerves are at their worst.  Having the music calmed my anxiety level and “pumped me up.”  I focused more on running and less on trying to keep up with the pacing group.  However, I really got tired of the music by around Mile #21 and looking back I could have turned it off.  By that point I did not care about anything but finishing strong.

Marathon 3

The run started through many scenic parks and we could not have asked for better weather.  It was in the 50’s and sunny.  My brother-in-law cheered for us at Mile #4 and then a few miles later. Again another small race advantage is he did not have to deal with a lot of traffic and weaving through crowds. This was very motivating.  I was able to stay between the 4 hour pacing group and the 3:45 group most of the first half.  As we get further into the city we ran through the University of Minnesota.  At around Mile #12 the half marathons turn off and go to the finish line.  Us full marathoners keep going and then turn around at Mile #17.  We were going down some massive hills and my only thought was “Oh no we are going to have to go up these on the way back.”  I trained on big hills (there is no way around them in Oregon) but I still hate them.

At the turn around around Mile #17 (or it could have been closer to #19) I felt like I was dragging.  My brother-in-law yelled to try to stay on the 4 hour group’s tail.  I really tried, but it was extremely hard.  I hated having them pass me, but I could not keep up with them.  Once I stopped to walk through an aid station, they were almost out of sight.  I was a little disappointed because I wanted to break four hours.   I knew if the 4:15 group caught up to me, I would not PR at all.

I tried to think positive thoughts.  It is a beautiful day.  I am running in a marathon–my fourth!  How many people can do that?  I worked hard in my training.  I gave it my best.  I am not walking but running mostly–how can I ask for more than that at this point?

The big hills that came at Mile #22 and #24 plain stunk.  They were terrible and I had to stop and walk up most of them as were many others.  My right knee often starts to give out around this point on marathons and my form falls apart.  It is almost harder to run downhill so I did not appreciate reaching the top and going back down.

Marathon 5

Once I saw the Mile #25 sign I put in my last surge of energy and I ran most of the way.  It was a blessing to see my dad at Mile #26 and I pushed as hard as I could to the finish line.  I was excited to see 4:04 as I crossed the finish line.  I did not break 4 hours, but I did PR.  The 4:15 group never caught up to me!

My sister had suffered an IT band injury while training.  I was not sure she would be able to finish let alone run the marathon.  So I had a twinge of anxiety as I saw the 4:15 group finish followed the 4:30.  Her husband said she was strong until Mile #20 maintaining a 4:15ish pace.  While watching her I was shivering. I had my cell phone out of its case so I could snap a photo of my sister as she crossed the finish line. I left my jacket in the car and they did not give out space blankets.  My dad lent me his sweater, but as I put it on I clumsily dropped my phone on the asphalt.  The phone still works but has a nice scratch going across it.  I tried to not let it ruin my mood.

My dad somehow found himself in a conversation with a homeless person. My brother-in-law and I stepped away in fear we would be too distracted and miss my sister coming in.  My sister crossed at 4:55 and she looked strong.  It was amazing to share this moment with her.  My first ever marathon with a family member and I could share it with my sweet sister.

Marathon 6

We left the marathon soon after.  Honestly walking to the car was almost worse than the last few miles of the marathon.  This might be TMI but if you are thinking of running a marathon, your bladder can do weird things post run.  I intentionally went to the bathroom right before getting in the car so we would not have to stop.  It was only about a 15 minute drive back to the motel so I assumed I would be OK.  A few minutes into the drive I had to GO…BAD!  There was nowhere to stop…we were downtown and there were no discreet bushes or trees.  My brother-in-law graciously dropped me off in front of a hotel where I went as fast as my sore legs could carry me to the lobby bathroom.  Then I waited on a street corner until he could come back from me.

The rest of the weekend was relaxing and a time of celebrating family togetherness.  We had a lunch at the motel and said good-bye to my brother-in-law who was flying home that afternoon.  My sister, parents, and I went out for a nice dinner.  The following morning we had breakfast together and I met an old friend who lives in the area for coffee.  My sister and I did not have a firm plan for the rest of the day.  We just wanted to explore Minneapolis.

Marathon 9

We started out an outdoor sculpture park my husband and I had gone to about fourteen years ago.  There was a mini golf course with actual art you golfed around.  I had never see anything like that and we had fun playing mini golf.  Who won you might ask?  We tied of course. Then we went to the Minnehaha Falls which my husband and I had also gone to in November of 2001 and it was COLD! I loved having more time to sit and view the falls.  No major hiking for us–we were SORE!  We had dinner at a Lebanese restaurant we found on the Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives website.  Then my sister wanted to go shopping.  I felt a little dead by that point but I did go to a few stores with her and bought presents for the kids.

Marathon 11

I wanted to be home in time for children’s school musical.  When I booked the trip the musical was scheduled for before I left.  Because of auditorium rental schedule changes, they had to move it to the last week of school.  Because my bus was running fifteen minutes behind I missed the oldest child’s piano solo, but my husband recorded it on his phone (LOVE technology!).  I saw the rest of the program.  By the time I got home I was exhausted and jumped right into a crazy week of wrapping up work, 8th grade graduation, Education meeting, end of the school year picnic, street hockey, strawberry picking, husband’s Open House, husband’s karate test, and more Open Houses.  Let’s just say I am glad our pace slowed down this week!!

I am blessed to have completed Marathon #4.  I have not made any firm decision on future races or triathlons this summer or fall.  Let’s just say I am already back to running, swimming, biking, weights, and street hockey–I just can’t seem to slow down.

 

 

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.

Marathon 1

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?

 

Why running is dangerous

Becoming a runner is dangerous.  I am not referring to barking unleashed dogs or dark streets without streetlights at 5 AM.  I am not referring to running your first marathon in Kmart shoes…which I in fact did and do not recommend.  I am not even referring to injured knees or plantar fasciitis.

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Check out those Kmart shoes

Running changes you.  It is easy to get caught up in the inner transformation and make running or triathlon (or whatever sport that drives you) your religion.

You might be like me and discovered once upon a time that running gave you the confidence you never believed you truly had.  When you could hardly run a mile without huffing and puffing and your muscles were screaming, “Mercy!” you never dreamed you would be training for marathons let alone run a 5K.  And when you completed a race, you felt like you could do anything.  That it’s up to you and your willpower.  It’s up to YOUR ability to fight.

Another triathlon mom says:  “I challenge you to fight…face your issues head on. Look your challenges in the eye and put up your dukes.  Your life isn’t going to make itself.  No one is going to come to your rescue.”

What is dangerous?  It is easy to believe it is all about YOU.

But it can’t be.

It is about God.  God orchestrates your life.  And you cannot rescue yourself as much as you think you can.  But God can.

We run and we begin to feel better.  It helps with our anxiety and depression.  It helps us crave carrots and apples instead of Oreos.  We feel more motivated at work.  Tackling laundry does not seem as daunting of a task.  We long for the outside air.  We feel better about our bodies.  We find meaning in life and our joy returns.

amy half marathon

Better. Better.  Better.  It is a word I hear constantly.  Each year we want to become a better wife.  Or a better mom.  Or a better house cleaner.  Or a better (insert your own ambition here).

Although running makes us feel better…it doesn’t make us better.

Because you are like the rest of us.  You’ve screwed up and you will continue to do so.

Christ is better.

Not only is he better, but he is the BEST. As long as you try to make yourself better, you will keep making things like running your religion.  What happens when you can’t run anymore?

And even if you truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior you will be tempted many times in your running journey to believe it is about you.  You may need to remind yourself (or someone may gently remind you) that it is not.

The Bible verse that is painted on the wall plaque where my and my children’s medals hang from has the verse John 11:25 written on it.  It is also embroidered on my gym bag.  It says:

I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.

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Not a verse that makes you picture running.  However it was the text read at my Grandpa’s funeral back in 1989.  I have run a few races in memory of my Grandpa raising money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. My grandpa went to his heavenly home after a seven year battle with cancer that started in his prostate and spread to his spine and then his brain.  My dad is now a prostate cancer survivor.

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This text reminds me that the one who believes in me [Jesus] will LIVE.  It is through Christ we have life.  Not through running.  Not through swimming.  Not through biking.  Not through whatever it is that drives you.

But running is a gift.  And I don’t want to forget that it is a gift from God.  Because every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

14 years ago I ran my first ever 5K on the campus of Calvin College.  I thought it would be a one time thing. I never believed that it was the beginning of an amazing spiritual/mental/physical journey.  And now in only 33 days I will run my fourth marathon and this time I get to share the experience with my sister.  I am forever grateful for this journey.

What is wrong about being crazy busy

I have noticed that we as moms tend to be “all-or-nothing” about many things.  Take eating for instance.  We are either a slave to My Fitness Pal obsessing over what to eat for lunch hence not using up all our precious calories.  Or we enter into what I once heard a speaker call “Screw-itsville.”  Just love yourself.  Accept your body for what it is.  Eat that doughnut.  You probably deserve it anyway.

Or take keeping the house as another example.  Daily chore charts, cleaning schedules, and to-do lists cover the refrigerator.  The laundry must be all caught up and the floors swept daily.  Or throw the charts out the window, clean whatever you can in the short time you allot, and as long as the kids have socks and underwear–who cares about the laundry.

I have noticed we are the same way when it comes to “being busy.”  We feel like we need to be the “busy martyr” running kids from one activity to the next, cooking a meals that hit all areas of the Food Pyramid, buying snacks for the basketball team, leading Bible Study, and planning our friend’s baby shower until we crash into bed and wake up at 3 AM with our mind racing about all we need to do the following day.  Or we feel like we need to be “zen like moms” with time to breathe, relax, and visit the day spa.  Pamper yourself.

There needs to be some sort of balance.

Life is a rhythm of “busy” and “inactivity.”  Finding that balance means “working hard” and “resting hard.”  Sometimes I feel like I am too far on one side and not the other.

I have been a runner for many years, but it was two years ago I discovered track runs.  I used to think running laps around the track was boring and monotonous.  Until I learned of actual track workouts such as running fast 800 meters and then running slow 400 meters or sprinting a 200 and then walking/running slow another 200.  Put in fast paced techno music on your iPod or run with a couple buddies and you got yourself a great workout with more variety than running laps which might give you bad flashbacks to 4th grade PE.  It is that slower lap known as the recovery lap that is equally important as the fast lap.

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Kevin De Young describes it in his book Crazy Busy explains it like this:

People like to say life is a marathon, not a sprint, but it’s actually more like a track workout.  We run hard and then rest hard.  We charge a hill and then chug some Gatorade.  We do some stairs, then some 200s, and then a few 400s.  In between, we rest.  Without it, we’d never finish the workout.  If we want to keep going, we have to learn how to stop.”  (93)

The problem is some of us who struggle with “chronic busyness” and we skip that recovery lap.  We think we don’t need it nor we do we have time for it anyway.  The problem is we are not completing the workout.  We are drowning in a bunch of unfinished projects and clutter.  Those of us living in the land of “Screw-its-ville” are only doing recovery laps or we’re just hanging out on the bleacher watching everyone else run by.  We are living are our days with no plan, no goals, and no structure.  You know the old saying, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it.”

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God may call us into big careers, daunting projects, or to be moms to thirteen children.  Busy lives?  You bet.  We cannot live the kind of life God called us to live if we are not resting in His Word and abiding by Him.  God gave us the gift of the Sabbath to worship Him.  For how many of us has Sunday become another day of run around chaos?

De Young also says:

“It’s not wrong to be tired.  It’s not even wrong to feel overwhelmed.  It’s not wrong to go through seasons of complete chaos.  What is wrong—and heartbreakingly foolish and wonderfully avoidable—is to live a life with more craziness than we want because we have less Jesus than we need.”  (118)

My friends it is not trying to do everything perfect by the book with lists and schedules and systems even if they look beautiful displayed on your refrigerator. When we try and try to be Super Mom, often times we feel much worse.

But it’s not saying “Screw it either.” Which feels great in the moment, but not so much when we’re feeling directionless.

It is abiding with Him. It is making him the center of your day and the Lord of your life.  The daily rhythm will change, but you will not be walking it alone.   You will find direction and you will find peace.

December 20: I still love running

IMG_2201I always wanted to do a Christmas long distance run.  December runs in Oregon = unpredictable.  Two years ago my daughter and I did a 5K and dealt with sleet, snow, cold rain, and mud.   I thought she would quit running all together after that race, but thankfully her next race was in July which was better.

I did the Eugene Holiday Half.  It rained the entire time.  There were flood warnings out.  We almost thought the race would be cancelled.  Although I was soaked head to toe, I managed to run 8.47/minute miles and finish at around 1:55 and place 5th in my age category.  Although it took hours for my body temperature to get fully back to normal, I was so glad I did it.  It is my first half marathon!

I have done three marathons and two 25ks (15.5 miles) but never a half.  I liked the distance!