Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Journey of 26.2 miles begins with a single step!

I wanted to name this post "I'm Baaaccckkk!"  Perhaps I shouldn't point out that five months have passed since my last post.  But I thought that title has been a bit overused, and it might insinuate that I will actually begin blogging again regularly.  Not wanting to put too much pressure on myself I tweaked another popular saying and went with it for a title.

As I began writing, I realized that my last post was about running.  And here I am getting my feet wet again in the blogosphere with another post about running.  It sounds cool to say running inspires me, and in a way that's true.  But running allows my brain to think clearly and process life like nothing else.  I suppose that's why after a horrible first marathon experience I tempted fate and ran a second one - the 36th Marine Corps Marathon held in Washington, D.C. on October 30, 2011.  I can't wait to tell you all about it!  So, grab your coffee, put your feet up or whatever you find yourself doing to settle in for a longer than necessary read.  Feel free to humor me, but I know I can be a bit wordy at times.

God must have known I would need help deciding to take on the challenge of another marathon while the bad memory of my first one was still so fresh.  But honestly, I was borderline delirious when I agreed to it.  On the evening of February 22, 2011 I had an accident while biking with my kids.  I knew my collarbone was broken, and I had an appointment with my doctor the next afternoon.  Somewhere between the accident and the appointment my husband asked me if I wanted to run the MCM with him.  He pointed out it was eight whole months away, but oh, one more thing.  I had to decide right then because it sells out super fast!  Apparently, running 26.2 didn't seem so bad in the middle of exhaustion from no sleep the night before and wincing in pain with every movement I made from the waist up.

My dear husband has a way of making you think you can do anything, so after I mumbled, "sure, why not," I didn't think much about the marathon for a while.  I took four weeks off from running after my biking accident.  Then I began increasing my mileage slowly and enjoying the beauty of running in spring.  I was feeling good and began to think - This is going to be my year! My IT band injury from December 2010 and the broken collar bone were behind me.  It would be smooth sailing for a while, right?

Jump forward to June of 2011.  After weeks of being unusually down, feeling fatigued and experiencing episodes of heart palpitations, I found myself deeply depressed and anxious.  I was facing my greatest fear.    That may sound trivial to some.  But my blooming family tree has a history of severe depression, anxiety and other mental/mood disorders.  It was the monster I was always running from in my deep subconscious.  But I never thought it would catch me.  After all, I was a confident, happy, healthy, type A, busy homeschooling mom of three, goal setting, achieving chic.  Well, that's what I pretended to be.  Once the depression and anxiety surfaced I was no longer in "control" and things began to unravel.

Depression is painful, and at one time I wouldn't have wanted to discuss it if I didn't think you would understand.  But now that doesn't matter to me.  Once I was in those deep waters I didn't want to run anymore.  My husband would drag me out of bed making me promise to "just run two miles."  "Come on Christy, just a few times around our neighborhood.  Don't do it for you, do it for me."  Ugh. All right, fine then.  As if I didn't feel guilty enough already.  Then I had these three dear friends (Jacci, Cindy & Nori) who had no problem expecting me to still meet them for runs.  My best bud, Jacci, would even call me and tell me to put on some running clothes because she was on her way to my house.  So, between Randy and my friends, I maintained at least some mileage each week during the darkest days.  I thank God for them!  I tear up every time I think about their precious gift to me. 

My summer is somewhat of a blur due to countless doctor appointments and taxiing my kids to their various activities.  I faced many mornings looking forward to getting back in bed that night, but I continued to run.  I was conflicted about beginning a marathon training plan because I wasn't sure I should voluntarily take on that stress.  But at exactly 16 weeks before the MCM I began a plan.  I promised myself that I would take things day by day and not look too far ahead.  Amazingly, I was able to actually do that! 

The summer was HOT and HUMID.  My running buds met me many mornings before sunrise to get miles in during the coolest part of the day.  And for the first time, during my long runs I followed Jeff Galloway's method of using run/walk intervals.  (Surprisingly, this made my long run pace faster!)  The first 10 weeks of my training went really well.  Then one morning in September I hopped out of bed and felt a crazy pain in my right heel as soon as my foot hit the floor.  My first thought was "No.  No, no, no.  I can not have an injury!  Not now."  I immediately called and got an appointment with a great group of Orthopedic docs in our area.  Diagnosis: Achilles Tendinitis (mine was where the tendon inserts in to the heel bone - ouch!)

Looking back on this marathon journey I can not help but be in awe of the people that supported me.  My ortho doc and Physical Therapist were amazing, and they seemed just as committed to me completing my marathon as I was.  And for the last six weeks leading up to the race I went in for PT two or three times a week.  Both parents training for a marathon at the same time can be crazy, but add in my appointments and stretching/icing multiple times a day and it got down right hectic for our family.  Somehow we made it, and I am so proud of my three kids.  They were supportive little troopers!  When I first started training my three year old would say, "You yun, mommy?"  It was absolutely adorable.  By the time the marathon rolled around he no longer said "yun" but could clearly pronounce "run." Sniff. Sniff. (I can't wait to hear my kids' version of their parents' marathon days when they get older.)  They looked forward to staying with family and friends while we were away.  And as the race drew closer I began feeling quite excited too! 

The morning of the MCM was FRIGID!  Unexpectedly cold temps caused me to look a little ridiculous dressed in so many layers.  But I didn't want to spend any energy shivering for the two hours we waited outside beforehand. I was cold, but happy.  I love, love, love the energy in a big race.  There is just something about accomplishing a goal with so many others that causes me to smile.

With about 20 minutes to spare I wiggled in to an overflowing corral for runners aiming for a 4:30 finish.  I now know that for a lot of people choosing those corrals are sort of like listing your weight on your driver's license.  For the first six or seven miles I was running 45 seconds slower than my goal pace.  We were literally running elbow to elbow, and I just couldn't go any faster.  Once I settled in to a rhythm my mind was calm, and I began taking in the sights.  No, not of D.C., but of the marathon experience.  Here are some of the many highlights:

1)  I find lots of humor in how many male runners hop off the course to urinate, especially in the first few miles.  Personally, I think a lot do it just because they can.  Heck, I probably would too.  Anytime we were running through wooded areas, numerous runners could be seen running on and off the course.  Considering the LONG port-a-potty lines I didn't blame them.

2)  I love reading the backs of runners' shirts.  They can be encouraging, funny, sad, thought provoking, or all of the above.  Some that spoke to me:

"Cancer chose me, I chose the MCM"

"Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Mighty God, Prince of Peace.  And to my man, I miss you."

"11/19/11 Bride" and "11/19/11 Groom" (How cool to run a marathon together before your wedding!!)

"Autistic Runner"  (This young man was accompanied on each side by runners wearing a shirt that read "Guide."  I began to cry.  Then I started cheering for him and a lot of other runners joined it.  Awesome moment."

3)  The crowd was AMAZING!  Thanks to my man (and brother-in-law) for having our shirts made.  My name was on the front with Phillipians 4:13 underneath.  Hearing total strangers cheer for you by name really pumps you up and helps get you through the tough miles.  Having a shirt with your name on it is a recommended must for marathon gear.  Oddest moment from the crowd - some dude was waving a deer head at everyone passing by.  I guess he grabbed it off of the wall on his way out that day.  It definitely got my attention!     

4)  Often you hear that running is more mental than physical.  And thankfully, I had a great day mentally.  During the race my low calf/heel tightened up a lot.  After mile 12 I had to stop every mile or two to stretch.  Normally, that would really frustrate me.  But oddly enough it didn't bother me this time.  I reminded myself to run smart, so I stopped when I needed to.  Another aggravation was having to use the bathroom during the race.  I was not committed to waiting 20 minutes in a port-a-potty line, and I even made a run for the woods at one point with no luck.  Usually, I would stress over continuing such a long distance needing "to go."  Thankfully, I managed to finish the race without embarrassment.  After the race I was so glad I didn't let my injured heel or irritated tummy zap my joy on the course.  But I also know that on any given day the outcome could have been different.  It really is true - attitude is everything!

5)  The finish line!  Before the race, several friends told me to remember that "The marathon experience is the reward.  You've already done the work."  I wasn't sure I believed that, but I wanted to.  So, I approached the marathon with a thought we try to teach our kids when they have something to accomplish - "I GET to run a marathon, not I HAVE to run a marathon."  (Although it's not so easy to convince your kid to think "I GET to make my bed today.")  But when you make that mental shift it affects everything.  I wasn't yearning for the finish line because I wanted the race to be over, I was approaching it with anticipation because of what I was about to accomplish.   

I crossed that sweet finish line like I started it - running elbow to elbow with other tired, tenacious marathoners.  My heart was full even though I missed my goal by a little more than 11 minutes.  And I had a thought I didn't think possible immediately following the finish - "I can't wait to do this again."  By God's grace, I learned so much about myself this past year.  My prayer was that I would enjoy the race (good or bad) that He gave me.  And He answered that prayer.

Realistically, I know I need to take some time off from marathon training and focus on being a wife and mommy as we prepare to enjoy the holidays together.  I have so very much to be thankful for.  In addition to my husband and running friends, I had amazing support from other family and friends along my journey - especially my three sisters.  And while I am thanking people, I have to thank our friend Kesha, her husband Bret, and super sweet kids for making us welcome in their home.  Our weekend of pampering began with Kesha picking us up at the airport, and it ended with her driving us back to the airport to fly home.  If I tried to list everything she did in between I would forget something!

To everyone - runners and non-runners - that read this way too long blog post, Thank you!  I hope that something spoke to you by me sharing my experience.  And if anyone thought for a second, I could never run a marathon, I once said the same thing.      

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lessons From the Trail

Saturday I completed my first trail run – the Paris Mountain 11K Trail Run..  It is something I have wanted to do for a while.  Something I was sure I would enjoy, but I’ve been nervous about taking on the challenge.  I was nervous that I would fall, twist my ankle or somehow hurt myself.  In December I injured my IT band during my first marathon.  After weeks of rehab and physical therapy I was running again.  But my injury free days were cut short when I broke my collar bone from a bike wreck in February.  So, perhaps you can see why I was a little gun shy about trying a trail run; an “adventurous” one at that.  I have been quite happy to be running healthy the past two months.  Why risk it? 

I kept changing my mind about whether or not I was going to run Saturday’s race.  And it was the last minute before my husband and I signed up.  And for someone cheap (um, I mean “frugal”) like me, “last minute” means signing up right before the early bird discount expires.  So, I only committed to the run a few weeks ago, and I tried not to think about it too much.  I succeeded…until the night before.  I couldn’t sleep, and I woke once every hour feeling panicked that I had overslept.

When we entered Paris Mountain State Park at 7:12 AM I had a small case of nerves, but felt mostly excited that I was about to do something new.  I love that feeling.  Having overcast skies and temps below 70 degrees didn’t hurt either.  During the moments leading up to the race start - pinning on my bib, stretching and making a stop by the rest room - I began to feel calm and thankful for the present moment.  I had a good feeling about the run.

I had been warned about the brutal uphill climb on the course, so when the race started I set out on an easy relaxed pace to give myself a chance to get in a good groove.  While I hate to spoil the ending so soon, I have to say that I enjoyed every minute spent on the trail.  And like most good runs, I walked away knowing I had been reminded of some of life’s important lessons.  Running has a way of helping you rediscover things like that.  Here are just a few… 

Looks can be deceiving.  Of course we all know this.  Our mothers made sure we knew this truth from an early age.  But apparently I needed a reminder.  On more than one occasion I have enjoyed races running along side some super athletic looking guys that I assumed were marines or members of a swat team.  If their t-shirts weren’t telling the truth, they sure looked convincing!  Often these guys aren’t super fast – incredibly strong, yes – but not as fast as the leaner dudes on the course.  And Saturday I ran right behind one of these guys.  I was pleased to be keeping up with such a fit fella just sure that I would be following him through out the race.  Big mistake.  Around mile two the trail widened briefly, and he took off and sprinted ahead.  He passed at least five or six runners within seconds.  Not fast, huh?  I never saw him again.

Stay focused on the goal.  You have to be careful not to get sidetracked on the trail or in life.  When things get tough or we get tired we start to stumble a bit.  I’ve often heard how trail running requires such focus.  You have to pay attention at all times and keep your eyes on the course.  Now I understand why that advice is so common.  On a trail you encounter rocks, stumps, twigs, and slick leaves.  Something attractive or even beautiful may take your eyes away from the trail.  Or you may look too far ahead worrying about what is coming next.  Either can cause you to fall.  It may sound draining, but I actually loved that aspect of trail running.  The discipline it took to be totally focused on the path before me made me feel energized.    

There’s nothing like experience.  When doing anything new we all want to be experts immediately.  We want to know it all and get it right from the beginning, at least I do.  While I heard lots of advice from those that had ran the course before, my personal experience taught me far more.  I had heard all about the portion of the run that seemed more like rock climbing, but until I took hold of those rocks and stumps to hoist myself up to the trail above I couldn’t possibly know what it would actually be like. 
We each take different steps hoping to reach the same destination.  Often in life we worry about not doing what everyone else is doing or how they are doing it.  At times on the trail I felt hypnotized by the person’s feet in front of me.  I thought it was fascinating to watch the person ahead of me hop over a rock that I chose to step on, or see someone go left when I went right.  What makes a person leap over a tree stump instead of pushing off of it?  I must admit I felt a little nerdy over my intrigue in to the human brain and body as I compared footsteps of others to mine.  (But then again, at one point I hoped the back of my legs had mud and dirt splashed all over them like one girl in front of me.  It looked so tough!  Yes, I am weird like that.  Sadly, no mud was to be found on my legs post race, but I did feel ultra cool when my left foot got soaked, and I continued to run with water squishing between my toes.)  So, no matter whether I ran the trail exactly how the other racers did, we all crossed the same finish line.       

Competition is a good thing.  Unless you know me really well, you might never know I am pretty competitive.  In racing I like to target someone ahead and pace off of them for a little while before I attempt to pass them.  It is nothing personal.  I just use it as a way to dig deep and do my best.  On trail runs passing opportunities are limited – very limited.    I was able to pass people a handful of times during the run, and I only remember getting passed once.  (However, I am sure that’s only because I went out pretty slowly during the first two miles anticipating the steep climb I kept hearing about, so I had kind of unknowingly conserved enough energy to spend later in the race.)  All but one of my passing encounters were received with a friendly, tired smile.  But one encounter was a fun battle.  It is common for fellow runners to offer you a pass if they feel you are moving in too close and the trail allows for it.  But one gal in particular was not so eager to help me out.  Each time I tried to pass she sped up.  And I loved it!  I wasn’t mad.  I thought “good for you!”  If she needed some friendly competition to dig deeper then I was happy to oblige her.  Luckily, she took more time at the water station so I was able to move in front.     

Even though I love running (okay, I enjoy running, love may be a bit much) I tire of the monotony at times.  Honestly, I have a love/hate relationship with running.  And for the past two weeks I have been in a running slump.  But if hitting the roads and putting in the miles week after week gives me the ability to run more trail runs and take on new challenges, then it is totally worth it!  Two days ago I had never run a trail race, and 6.83 miles later I am hooked.  I can’t wait for the next time!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Gift of a Daughter

I have two sisters and lots of girl cousins.  In fact, on my dad’s side of the family I am one of seven grandchildren; all girls except for the oldest.  On my mom’s side of the family I spent countless sleepovers and summer days playing with my three cousins – all girls.  When I first became pregnant I just knew our baby was a girl.  We decided (okay, my husband decided) that it was better to be completely surprised by our baby’s gender, but it just had to be a girl.  And when the time finally arrived, I’ll never forget the nurse saying, “Oh, what a pretty tiny girl face.”  (Our baby was in the posterior position and coming face up.)  But within seconds my “gut instinct” was quickly proven wrong with the announcement, “It’s A Boy!!”  And I immediately felt a slight panic.  Boy?  A boy?  What am I going to do with a boy!? 

That feeling faded in less than 30 seconds, and I feel in love with that tiny baby boy more deeply than I ever imagined possible.  I enjoyed every minute of those early days learning to be his mom, and I cherish the memories of those days.  I had a sense of wonder and amazement in my son’s delight over trucks, super heroes, balls, crashing things, and throwing things.  Our bond was so strong, and I never felt like I was missing out by not having a daughter.  A few years later, when I was pregnant with baby #2, I often thought it would be nice to have a girl, but it would be perfectly okay if I had another boy too.

My husband sweetly gave in, and with our second pregnancy we found out our baby’s gender as soon as we could.  We were thrilled when we found out we were having a girl!  Within in no time, we were surrounded by bows, frilliness and all things pink.  That was expected.  What was not expected was the frequency that people would remark, “Oh, a boy and a girl!  Now you have a complete family!”  Really?  Is having both a boy and a girl a secret goal that all parents have?  As young parents, we thought that notion was odd at best, but we didn’t care because we were delighted in having two, healthy, happy children…and of course, it didn’t hurt that we had “one of each.”  (But three years later I guess we unbalanced things a bit when our second son was born.) 

It didn’t take long to realize our daughter was very different from her brother.  For one, she didn’t see the need in prolonging snuggle time after a feeding.  When she was done – she was done.  She was also very quiet.  She didn’t babble excessively.  She didn’t talk much at all until she was 26 months old – right after we got back from our first trip to Disney World.  (Apparently, she was waiting on something worth talking about.)  And honestly, we were worried that our daughter wasn’t going to have much of a personality.  She was sweet and cute, but she didn’t laugh a lot or try to be funny.  It is almost as if she spent her first two years of life intently observing things and taking them all in.   

The hindsight of my daughter’s early years is an insightful foreshadowing of one common truth – it’s all in her timing.  She isn’t one to be coaxed in to things.  She doesn’t do things out of obligation; she does them from her heart.  In many ways, she is everything that I am not.  And I love her dearly for it.  She is not a naturally complaint child, but quite an opinionated one.  When she draws a line in the sand, be prepared for a battle.  She is tough, stubborn, spirited, and yet she is insightful, caring, and compassionate.  She feels deeply.  She can wrestle with the boys one minute and lovingly dress her dolls the next.  And if you were ever a fly on the wall in our house you might think she were the mother of our three year old, not me.  I am sure she brings a sense of softness to our family that her future sister-in-laws will be most thankful for.

This past year has been a tough one for my girl.  She is struggling learning to read, and it breaks my heart when I see an expression of self doubt come over her.  She is also having trouble breaking a bad habit of sucking her thumb.  She only does it when she sleeps, but oddly, she didn’t start this until she was five – just weeks before her grandmother passed away after a long battle with cancer.  Several months ago witnessing her insecurity was a much too frequent occurrence.  But recently, I’ve realized it is happening less and less.   And at the ripe old age of six, it is clear what an amazing woman she is going to be one day. 

A few days ago my daughter became upset over something.  Her dad hurt her feelings, and she was fuming.  (Did I mention she can also be a tad dramatic?)  With arms crossed, she was making sure he was aware of her anger.  It was evident that my husband was purposefully trying to be wise and calm with her.  But he could not break through her silent treatment.  And rightfully, she was sent to the corner for her disrespect.  I took my husband aside and quietly suggested for him to just hold her in his lap, tell her he loves her and… wait.  Being the jokester that he is he retorted, “Who are you all of a sudden?  Dr. Phil?”  I laughed heartily and gave an encouraging glance in her direction.  He took my advice and executed it beautifully.  Soon she was talking to him and sharing what had hurt her feelings, and they made up.  In less than five minutes she was happily running upstairs.  And watching their interaction made my heart sing – Thank you, Lord, for my daughter.  What a gift!

Friday, April 8, 2011

From Melancholy To Meaningful

I have been 'in a mood' the past few days.  I spent most of today feeling kind of melancholy.  A recurring theme I am battling lately is feeling unsatisfied.  I am unsatisfied with my messy house, piles of laundry, lack of organization, lack of time, etc.  Honestly, I've daydreamed a few times about how I would like to wake up, shower/dress, head in to work (whatever that would be), and spend my day feeling fulfilled and productive.  Of course, "work" would be something I absolutely love doing while being surrounded by the most delightful people.  Doesn't everyone have a job like that?

I am especially good at berating myself when I am feeling like this.  And I feel even worse (and ashamed) when counting all of my many blessings doesn't immediately set me free from my negative attitude.  Do you notice a pattern here?  I have used some derivative of the word "feel" five times before this sentence!  How did I forget it is not my right to feel happy, satisfied, passionate, or (fill in your own blank) on a daily basis?  God did not promise me that. 

But the Holy Spirit wove simple happenings in to my day to help woo me to a sense of perspective that I needed to remember.  (I know, I know, you can't wait to hear all about my wise revelation.  But first let me share with you some of the sweetness I experienced.)

Ds10 began his day on a mission to spend the night with his 83 year old great-grandmother.  He even called to ask her himself.  When I asked him what he was planning to do while spending time with our dear Nannie he informed me she is really good at Skip-Bo, and that they could play cards.  I thought that was pretty cool for a 10 year old!

Next, I find out that Ds3 was wearing a pull up.  Apparently, someone in our house convinced him to agree to this while I was out for a run this morning.  He usually screams at the very thought, so this was quite the big deal.  And the icing on the cake - he actually sat on the toilet four times today and had one successful attempt.  There is hope, yet!!

Dd6 was in a super creative mood, and she bounced, hopped and skipped her way through the day.  At one point she "scheduled" a doctor appointment for me that I "could not miss."  She asked me all kinds of medical questions, checked my shoulder, wrote me a "prescription" and scheduled a follow up appointment in three weeks.  She could teach a class on how to pretend.  It is an art that she has taught her brothers well.  Their many adventures in the world of imaginary keep us entertained for sure!

As I was driving back from dropping ds10 at Nannie's this evening, I was reflecting on the treasures of the day, and I didn't feel so melancholy anymore.  And my heart had opened up enough to remember it's not a bad thing to feel unhappy from time to time.  We each have a sense of longing that can never be completely fulfilled in this lifetime.  I frequently say that staying home with my children and homeschooling them is just as much for me as it is for them.  And I mean that.  It can be quite sanctifying!  But I know this is what I am supposed to be doing, even if it doesn't always feel like it.  So, here I am at the end of what started out as a not-so-good day, feeling very satisfied that it was a meaningful one!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Proof That God Does Have a Sense of Humor

Communion and the word 'humor' just do not belong in the same sentence.  Right?  While partaking Communion is a celebration in a sense, it is one of somber, reverent reflection and gratitude for Christ's ultimate sacrifice.  It is quite beautiful and moving.  I am fortunate to belong to a body of believers that regularly offers a Communion Service.

Last month the Communion Service was flowing as it normally does.  My husband and I were walking back to our seats with the elements.  (In our church each person takes a small plastic cup).  As I am sitting and praying I realize my husband is fidgeting a bit.  Then he gets up and walks over and takes a tissue from a nearby Kleenex box.  In my mind I am thinking, "Wow.  He is really getting emotional over this."  Okay, so my thoughts were not that grammatically correct.  I actually thought, "Man, he is tore up."  (If you didn't already know I am from the south does that thought/comment clue you in a bit?)  Well, it turns out that his Communion cup had a hole it in, and the grape juice had been leaking out all over his hands, (and even the seat) while he was trying to pray!  He had needed the tissue to clean it up.  Afterward we laughed about it, shared it with our small group a few days later, and that was it.  A cute memory to store and retrieve later.  We had no idea how soon that would be!

Flash forward to our Communion Service this past Sunday.  Honestly, I had already forgotten about the incident from just several weeks earlier.  Once again the service seemed to be flowing just as we have come to expect and appreciate.  We made our way back to our seats with the elements, and I happened to glance over in my husband's direction.  And what do I see?  Grape juice - all over the place.  Seriously!!  It was on his hands and both legs of his pants!  I look at him, he looks at me, and we both share this wide eyed look that is screaming, "No, way!  This is not happening again!"  Then it started.  He began laughing (quietly, of course)...and then I started laughing (yes, still quietly).  It was that kind of laugh where you are shaking all over and trying everything within you to stop, but you just can't.  My mind was racing with all sorts of self commands and questions:

STOP laughing.

We can not laugh at a time like this!

What will people think?

Am I dreaming?

STOP laughing.

This is not funny (Okay, I was trying to convince myself it wasn't funny.)

How on earth could this have happened, AGAIN, to HIM?

Being the good wife that I am I knew I had to somehow gain my composure.  You know how it is in this kind of situation.  When two or more people are silently laughing uncontrollably, trying to prevent any sound from erupting, at least one person has to somehow find a way to immediately stop the ever growing cycle.  And I did.  I don't know how, but I did.  And I did not dare give in to any temptation to see if my husband was having the same success.  Then I prayed, "Lord, you obviously have a sense of humor because you allowed this to happen.  Thank you so much for your sacrifice.  Because of it we can enjoy your gifts of joy, happiness and well,...laughter.  I love you.  Amen."

Whew.  I made it.  I was relieved to have somehow gotten through the experience with some sense of spirituality in tact.  And you know...I honestly felt His sweet presence.  I think it is human nature to explain the unexplainable.  And I am not so foolish to think I can figure out the Almighty.  But, considering the fact that for the first time in my life I am truly learning that I can not earn His grace by my "good works," maybe He was trying to remind me that it was okay not to do something the "right way."

(We later found out this also happened to another church member this past week!  So, the church is going to toss out the faulty cups and order new ones.  But don't worry.  My husband kept his cup to show our small group this week.  They are not going to believe it!)

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Perfect Day

The morning started out like a perfect Saturday morning should.  I slept until 8:00, enjoyed a little one on one time with dd6, as ds10 and ds3 were still dreaming away, while my husband called offering to take all three kids out to breakfast when he got back from his long run.  Oh, and the sun was shining too!  After the stressful week I’d had the thought of having just a little time alone was enough to make me feel giddy inside.  Just an hour or two of  quiet, time to think – that really appealed to me!  Once the kids found out daddy was taking them to breakfast the house erupted in excitement and joy.  You know, the kind that you just love to watch…pure, kid happiness.

Ds3 couldn’t wait for me to help him get dressed.  You would think my next discovery was one to celebrate.  Not so quick.  I realized his diaper was dry – completely dry.  But my heart dropped.  You see, this child is trying to win the award for the most difficult child to potty train – EVER.  And when he wakes up totally dry, once he “lets it go” (which is usually an hour or so after he wakes) his diaper is immediately flooded and leaks with the slightest amount of pressure – falling, sitting, mommy unknowingly picking him up, etc.  I knew he could not go with daddy and risk that happening while sliding down the red tunnel in McDonald’s play area.  His dad and siblings would be mortified if it did.  I can just hear the screams from the other children in the play area now.

So, I lovingly and calmly announced, “Oh buddy, you are dry.  Let’s go try to potty.”  And then what I was expecting became a reality.  He said a line I have heard more times than I can count – literally.

“No, mom.  I don’t want to.”

“But come on, sweetie.  You won’t be able to go with daddy if you don’t pee-pee first.”

Tears, screams and a few stomps followed that comment.  Then he was in a full on fit.  Once again I found myself doing everything I could to convince him to try, but it was no use.  I gave up convincing, and he gave up screaming (but only to go back to his bed and pout).

My previously giddy mood was not so giddy anymore.  And there went my chance to  have some quiet time to pray/read and go for a run before the forecasted 18 – 20mph winds hit that afternoon.  And then I began to pout.  “Lord, this stinks.  I really needed a break this morning.  It was what I needed.  And now I am here with this increasingly frustrating child while the others are out having a good time!”  Ugly, isn’t it?  But that’s how I felt.

Then it hit me.  (One of my favorite bloggers calls it a “spirit tug.”)  I saw that I was about to walk down the path of self indulgent pity.  I hate it when I do that.  And it is something I do too often.  Oh, how ashamed I felt.  Frequently, I am most concerned with my happiness and things going my way than I am with walking with the Lord and allowing Him to lead the dance.  So, almost as soon as I had allowed my circumstances to effect my ‘happiness,’ I decided to just go with what God had planned for my day instead.  And in case you are wondering, that kind of thinking is not the mental default setting for a classic type A/first born child like me.  My reward?  I was serenaded at breakfast by the cutest three year old belting out “Jesus Loves Me” followed by him asking me if my shoulder was “all better” and then a sweet kiss.  Maybe I am beginning to learn that my definition of perfect and His definition are not quite the same.  But I choose to believe He knows best.


I love the word grace.  I love how it sounds, how it can be said with little effort, and even how it looks written in cursive.  But most of all, I adore the very meaning of the word:  grace – a gift, undeserved favor, mercy; available to all.  Until recently, I thought I knew all about grace.  But now I see I am only on the brink of understanding and accepting this truly wonderful gift.  So, this blog is merely my attempt to process my journey of grace and the life that God has given me.  (Disclaimer:  I know nothing about blogging and have a lot to learn!)  At times it may be serious, funny, boring, self-indulging, but hopefully, interesting.  Being a wife of 15 years to the love of my life and a homeschooling mom to three precious kids will certainly provide a lot of material!  Whether you are just beginning to experience grace or embraced it long ago, I invite you to come along with me as I share my journey.