Faith · Family · Fitness · Health · Perspective

Positive – Leftovers, Strep, & Pancake Syrup

IMG_1973This is me. I just finished the most amazing taco salad for lunch at my desk.

As I was chewing the spicy, dairy-free concoction, I realized how thankful I was that my kids weren’t interested in tacos last night.

It kind of irked me as I was standing across the kitchen island with the fixings laid out, corn on the cob boiled and ready, food all hot. Nobody wanted to eat. Even my husband only had one small taco and called it done. My 5yr old only wanted 1 ear of corn and no taco. My 7 year old couldn’t eat the corn due to his jankity mouth of missing baby teeth and asked if he could have the taco later. What the what????

But in a new light today, I’m thankful. I just devoured a delicious leftover lunch.

Always seeking the positive!

My two best girl friends pointed this out on Tuesday in a string of text messages that occurred when my 5yr old puked all over herself in the car (read: hair, pillow, blanket, dress, car seat, etc) on the way down the switchback mountain roads about 9 hours from our home on Monday. 9 vomit scent-wafted hours.

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Later, my friend sent me this.

IMG_1962This is how I try to roll. I used to be a pretty serious Debbie Downer sometimes. That was what my sisters actually called me. Then, if it was Christmas, they’d make me wear a Santa hat until I pulled out of it.

I’m not completely sure when my outlook changed, but I know I’ve thrown my life into a more positive direction post-birth of babies, upon going dairy-free, taking up running and regular exercise, my MS diagnosis, and upon learning how to say “NO” to things that aren’t my best yes.

Whew… we are talking about the last 5 years here… not an overnight mental shift.

I don’t have it all mastered. Frankly, I never will. That’s ok. It isn’t my job to do it all perfectly or have everything go according to my plan. That job belongs to God.

But let’s be real. Do I want to re-live the puking and pancakes mountain pass situation? That’s a solid NO. Do I appreciate cooking and nobody eating it? Nada. Am I happy when my child gets strep throat? Of course not. I’m just trying to keep it all in perspective.

In the scheme of things, those are all small potatoes, or shall I say a small packet of syrup?

Much love,
Jen

Faith · Fitness · Health · Love · Parenting · Perspective

2 Steps Back and 5 Forward

5F2B2 Steps Back and 5 Forward: An effort to get to know yourself and who you are made to be, deeper than the outward reflection shown in the mirror.

A local women’s group did a short exercise with the ladies who were present. It is a Christian non-denominational group for new, seasoned, young, and older. A lovely mix of women.

*I follow online because although it is God-centered, it still isn’t a Best Yes for my time when I add in the driving to town and back and how it disrupts my family’s schedule.*

The exercise asked the women to say or describe two things about themselves that are negative.

  1. I overshare details and stories… then spend anxiety-ridden time mentally re-hashing all the oversharing moments that just spewed forth from my lips. Ugh. Thank goodness I don’t publish on here every thought I actually say out loud. Awkward!
  2. I get extremely frustrated during transition times with my kids. Daycare pickup is the absolute WORST. I’m overwhelmed. They’re talking and arguing over each other for my attention. We all end up with our feelings hurt when I have to SHUT IT DOWN.

^^^ It honestly didn’t take much to come up with those. ^^^

The exercise then asked the women to say or describe five positives. I’ll take this one step further, in honor of the book I’m currently reading – Walking with Purpose, and say it can’t be about my job or my duties as a mother or wife.

giphy4Ummmm…. Hmmmm… Maybe…. ?

  1. I am compassionate for ALL things. I catch spiders and release them outside. I don’t want anyone to suffer. If it has to be the end for a living creature, I want it to be quick and painless. Hungry? I want to feed you. Confused? Let’s figure this out.
  2. I very rarely rush to judgement. I like to gather my own research before forming an opinion. I have friends from all sides of the political, geographical, and faith spectrum. Discussions, when respectful, are thought-provoking and enlightening, even if I disagree with the other parties.
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  3. I am determined. Four years and two babies ago, I decided if I ever wanted to get in shape and feel good mentally, physically, and emotionally, I had to make it happen. No one else could do that for me. It was MY job to exercise; MY job to make devotion time; MY job to figure out where my life was going. Yes, I have a husband, two littles, a job, a pet, family, friends, etc… but what was my path? my goal? Was I just supposed to feed small people and handle advertising from my computer? No.

    I have a bigger purpose. It is one that is constantly evolving and coming into focus as I make another trip around the sun.

  4. Honesty. I told my children that if they ever ask me a question (which they do 3:1 for every statement – truly, I counted), I will ALWAYS tell them the truth. Don’t want to know about Santa? Don’t ask unless you want the truth and history behind Ol’ Saint Nicholas. What happened to Nana & Papa’s old dog? It died because a body gets old and unable to heal. NOT that it went to live on another farm with other old dogs…. Right Mom and Dad?

    I really think honesty is key here. We sugar coat too much to the point where the next generation won’t understand reality.
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  5. Love. Love for my family. Love for my friends. Love for people I don’t even know. I am unconditionally loved by God and want to share that love with those around me.

    I separate love from “like” and “enjoy” and “happiness.” Sure, those are comfortable feelings, but in the uncomfortable is where we grow, support, and care for one another. It’s easy to give a high-five or a smile at the end of a game. It isn’t as easy to sit with a bestie after her engagement ends or know what to say when a friend miscarries, but those are the places that love illustrates beauty. Spending time volunteering to give a hand up to the less physically fortunate or going to an elder care facility and touching a frail, lonely hand, that’s love. Parenting with grace (so hard sometimes!) is another form of love.

    We don’t all “do” love the same way, but think of the world if we all “did” real uncomfortable love in SOME way for somebody.

So there it is. My five positives and my two negatives are out there. Time well spent looking a little deeper into myself.

Much love — Jen

Fitness · Parenting

To Quote a Baseball Player

This summer, I have the privilege of assisting with both my children’s baseball teams.

 

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Photo by A. Arnold.

 

To set a little groundwork, both leagues are sponsored by local clubs. The Lion’s Club sponsors the boys. The Rotary Club sponsors the girls. This keeps the season cost down to $15 for the boys and FREE for the girls. The boys get to keep their t-shirts. The girls return them at the end of the season. Our boy’s team consists of ages 7-8. The girls are ages 4-7. It’s a hoot!

Best quotes from the boys:

  • “I know you put me as last batter because I’m a slugger!”
  • “I’m like a vacuum for balls.”
  • “Did you see me do a burnout?”
  • “Watch this! I can do the splits!”

He really could do the splits! All the way down. He demonstrated it during both practice and at the last two games on 1st base and on the final out at home. Impressive!

Best quotes from the teeny tiny (mostly preschool) girls we are teaching the basics to:

  • “Can I ask my mom now if I can go home?” – 2nd inning in the outfield
  • “Are you sure we can’t go play on the playground?” – before the game even started
  • “But I’m so sweaty!” – We really haven’t been up past 80 degrees yet.
  • “I really need a vacation!” – almost done with our 3rd of 3 innings.

In addition to quotes and seeing both groups of kids learn and grow in coordination, there are obvious differences between the genders. I’m not trying to stereotype here, but honestly, this has to be nature.

From the get-go when t-ball started two years ago for our family, the boys have been eager to run, optimistic to smack the ball, and exuberant to get the games started! Now in coach pitch, multiply those characteristics by 200%.

The itty bitty girls are excited to start the game once the playground idea is shot down, cautiously optimistic about hitting the tball but not as vicious with the bat swings, and only into it for as long as required, including at least one group trip to the bathroom. Our 6-7yr old girls are definitely more “into it” than our younger ones.

mady tball

Skipping between bases. I don’t mean missing a base. This is actual hop, skip, jump, skipping from base to base. Quite the creative phenomenon to witness. I’m sure if there was music, some of the kids would dance from 1st to 2nd.

Boys and girls are similarly encouraging for their teammates. It was uplifting and sweet to hear them cheer each other’s names as they stepped up to the plate. The boys dogpiled the last kid to snag a line drive on the final play of the game last week. They nearly took down our most solid-statured player (100#, 5′, 7yr old) after he hit an in-the-park grand slam. The excitement is contagious.

Summer baseball is a gift. It is pure, honest fun for the kids, coaches, parents, and friends that come to watch.

To quote our little baseball players from both teams- “I can’t wait for the next game!”

 

Faith · Fitness · Perspective

Psalm 19 with a Sprinkle of Science

Do you ever feel like you are just missing the point? Like with the current excitement over fanny packs and high-waisted jeans (which I experienced the first time a few decades ago), some things just leave me clueless.

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Yep, that’s me! The last few weeks have been a quest to “get it.” Once you realize you are missing something, you want to find it.

With my husband gone for a trip and then the transition time back into normal rhythm, I slipped out of my habits. I stopped running because where was the time? I stopped doing my devotional in the morning because I wasn’t getting more than a few hours of sleep. My stress level was thru the roof. My kids were fighting constantly. Sugar and bread cravings were all I could think about at meal times.

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Appreciate what’s around me? Struggling to…

Pay attention to the people and places I went? Just enough to keep us all alive…

In the words of Nemo, I was trying to “just keep swimming.”

That is not what this life is about! Sometimes, well… most of the time, God puts something in front of me like that rumble strip on the sides of the highway. The one that signals “CAUTION” and to make a correction. (side note- it is also good at distracting screaming babies on long car trips – not sure how we would have ever made it to Austin, TX with a very angry 5 month old without that rumble strip)

The first day of May, I set a goal of 90 miles of running this month (max 10/90 on bike). I’ve run basically every day. Running is part of my worship. It is impossible to not appreciate nature and all of Creation when running outdoors. It is extremely hard to demean yourself on the treadmill if you are aware how all the intricate cells in your body are working together to make that happen.

Monday, I picked my devotion time back up as well. Psalm 18. Psalm 19 Tuesday. Talk about a swift swoop into my world!

Psalm 19 (NIV).

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 
3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. 

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 
8The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 
9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. 
10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 
11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Verses 1-6 refer to the beauty of creation, created by God in intricate interwoven detail. “Verse 3 – they have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.” It doesn’t have to be! Beauty and majesty speaks for itself. There are no words in any human language that does it justice. “Yet their voice goes out to all the earth, their words to the ends of the world…”

How sad that I was so wrapped up in man-made chaos, that I completely missed all the miraculous things going on around me!

As a lover of science, I understand the desire to know all the inner workings. I want to know too! But much like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, I have to pick which part I’m sure of to make calculations. I choose God and will leave the other part to be less certain. In doing so, I’m able to enjoy and appreciate life around me with both my faith and my questioning, scientific mind.

In doing the study commentary on verses 7-13 this morning, I realized that I had completely misunderstood much of the intent of the Bible!

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In my naivety, I’ve thought that many of the teachings were extremely limiting and harsh. What about my self-expression? my self-interests? my hopes, wishes and dreams?

Notice a trend here? Consider MY ears opened this morning.

Back to basic science – Newton – Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Why do I think MY actions, hopes, dreams, expressions, and interests won’t have a ripple effect on others? #selfish

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The harder I push against God’s guidance, the harder or more awry life goes for me and those around me. Our world is doing its darndest to muddle things up. Again *raises hand*, guilty… Those guiding principles are not there to punish us, but to walk us towards a deeper joy, the kind only possible when you’ve made humble peace in your soul. Consider this me working towards being wise.

Verses 11 to 13. Who hasn’t told a child “Don’t touch that! It’ll burn your hand!” Then the seeking fingers touch it, burn, and tears ensue. *raises hand* Who has been that child thinking that he/she knew what was best? *raises hand*

These lines illustrate how God is trying, so so hard, to guide us away from troubles. It is frequently MY choice which path I choose – walking away without blemish or needing a salve and a bandage.

Hidden faults. We all have them. A very difficult step in maturing is recognizing those faults and rectifying them. I’m feeling fairly confident that I’ll never master all of mine. Thank goodness for the grace, forgiveness, and mercy of my husband, family, friends, and the One who made it all possible with His sacrifice!

Willful sins? I think by this, my study means vices and things we do on purpose. What is your vice? Put simply, I like my pants to fit, so fitness is probably one of mine. Pride seeps into fitness like sweat into a t-shirt after a good workout.

About a month ago, I ran a little over 10K for a team half marathon event that benefitted local scholarships. I struggled physically and thus was not happy with my time. I completely missed a chance to be thankful that my body will move how I want it to. With MS, this is not something to overlook! Alas, my pride got in the way. To exercise with the desire to only be proud of myself or for the attention of others is willful.

After this eye and heart-opening study, I can honestly say I’ve hit the rumble strip. This is my modern day application of Psalm 19. I appreciate the wake up.

Faith · Family · Fitness · Parenting · Perspective

Fresh Air and Sun

What a glorious weekend! My crew spent the whole weekend outdoors. Fresh air is the best remedy for little people with bad attitudes! Or I guess, at least mom and dad having the patience to deal with them. 🙂

I ran in the limited windows of time I was given (child-free) with only one skunk generated detour in my weekend miles. I’ve got 22+ miles in so far for the month of May! #90milemay

Our yard needed a major overhaul and my little hedge clipper didn’t make a big enough dent. giphy2

So…. my husband brought out the chainsaw and a skid steer loader with a grapple and tree shear. He “trimmed” cedar trees while I took down the 5 wire fence around our old garden with a pair of pliers.

Because my MS doesn’t care much for the heat, I took frequent breaks to cool down in the shade with large glasses of water. I don’t like it when things like my whole arm or half my face, etc. go numb, so I’m learning to be more cognizant about my body temperature.

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4+ hours into the yard project and we called it an evening. Our son came home from his activity. I grilled while the kids played in the water table. Showers and bed couldn’t come fast enough after dinner – for everyone.

Sunday my crew was exhausted, short-fused, and desperately in need of a solid nap. And that was by 9am. We worshipped, enjoyed a fellowship lunch with our neighbors and community at church, and then came home for what amounted to non-existent siestas. I gave up on quiet-time after 30 minutes and rounded up my crew to help plant the garden.

We are getting a late start due to some wet, cool weather in the month of April. After about 20 minutes of my kids nit-picking each other and arguing (should have had that nap), we managed to get the yellow and white onions in.

– insert drink and snack break –

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Because everyone was being so whiny and cantankerous helpful, the hubs and I decided we’d hurry up and put the peppers in before baseball practice. After some surprisingly successful teamwork where no one cried (gardening with a 4yr old who needs a nap!!!), I also planted the peas. We’ll call it a start…

On to the first baseball practice of the season. I love this time of year! Thgiphy4e boys were so excited to start practice. Everybody was pumped up and ready to go. By the end, all the boys were hot and tired. “Wolverines!” in a huddle and headed home until next week.

And so was our weekend. We were happy to spend it with family and friends. Always, regardless of the grumps, we love our crew. Fresh air makes it hard to take anybody’s groans too seriously!

 

Faith · Family · Fitness · Perspective

A Few Wednesday Reflections

Reflection #1:
I did a fair amount of traveling in the last week. My sisters and I drove eight hours (@60-75mph) to our cousin’s wedding, celebrated, then drove eight hours back. We piloted three states of roads. It’s been years, probably close to a decade since we took a “sisters only” trip anywhere. It was refreshing.

img_0475My sisters are highly intelligent. When wading thru the mundane conversations of life, the spark of a quick-witted and sharp dialogue breathes life back into my brain and soul. That was more apparent when I came back to the mish-mash of people that make up everyday life. God paints this planet with people in a variety of talents and levels. Without this variety, life would be dull and monochromatic. It is however, a nice spritzer to converse new ideas and relive memories with my sisters.

Reflection #2:
I need to figure out my direction for serving others. I want so badly to throw myself into a million different places to help and serve others. I’ve always had a heart for adoption. There are multiple children adopted into both my mom’s and dad’s sides of the family. I don’t know that this is the right time for us. We both have to be on board as a united couple. We’ve discussed fostering, but with our current schedules, we aren’t sure we could give the focus necessary to be healthy for our children, the child in need, and for ourselves. 

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There is a new opportunity for us to get more involved with providing the needs of those just outside the realm of social services – connecting directly to families who need things like clothes of a certain size, a mattress, $50 to cover an electric bill so they don’t lose electricity, etc. The idea is to provide help before the family falls down into the rabbit hole of kids going into care. It is called CarePortal and links churches directly to needs. The call then goes out to those who may be able to help in some way and hopefully that need is filled.

Helping and serving others is a thirst I need to quench, but I believe it will take a lifetime of service to help satiate it.

Reflection #3:
I’m traveling again this weekend. We’ve made the childcare arrangements for our littles. I’ve started printing out our itineraries. I fly a couple of times a year. I hate flying. It makes me want to vomit. Talk about a level of trust… I’m putting all my cells literally in the hands and competency of the people who built, service, and fly the plane (and I don’t even know them). Obviously I am trusting them – I will get on the plane. But… Ugh. Once you are up there, there is nowhere to go but down… Pray for me please.

Reflection #4:
This is Us. Is anyone else watching this show? I’ve been watching/ listening to episodes on my computer at work during breaks. The stories of these people are so beautifully raw and intertwined. Last night’s episode had me sniffling at my desk this morning. Fabulous music. The characters and emotions so real. The sites of Memphis. So so good – and this is coming from someone who watches maybe 2 hours of television a week. Maybe. Usually less. Check it out, but start at the beginning. My husband tried to watch it with me a few weeks ago – midseason. He was confused by the flashbacks and it soured him on the whole show. He’s missing out… but he also didn’t appreciate my attention for Downton Abbey or my years of Grey’s Anatomy...

Reflection #5:
I broke my toe last week. I’m astonished at how fast the tiny bones heal. It is still a rainbow of earth tones, but I am wearing running shoes today. I gave it a few trial jogs while the kids and I have been out enjoying this incredible and un-February-ish weather. I have a 10K planned for St. Patrick’s Day weekend and I need all my toes for it.

Favorite song on my playlist today:

 

 

Family · Fitness · Health · Perspective

Tingles

Did I Push Too Hard?

That is the question I was asking myself as I laid with my 4yr old at bedtime last night. We finished prayers. She talked about Lola the dog and Aspen her daycare friend. She answered my daily request of “what was the best part of your day?” And then we laid there and held hands while her favorite lullabies played softly.

I cherish this time of night with my littles. My husband and I trade-off nights with each child. Sometimes it is a quick 5 minute tuck-in with prayers, but tonight was 45 minutes of laying still and cuddling. And there is nothing wrong with that for so many personal reasons. Those reasons I’ll discuss in another entry.

While I laid there patiently waiting for her to settle down and fall asleep, I thought over the past two days. I am pushing for a 40-mile December. To some, that might not seem like much. Only running 40 miles in a month. Many in my online running group have big, amazing goals like 100+ miles or are headed for a 3000 mile year. To others like my non-running husband that seems like a ridiculously large amount.

To me: Attainable but it would require finding time whenever possible to squeeze in a few miles. Time would be a much bigger challenge than distance.

So I did. Sometimes in only 10-15 minute increments. Running into the Wellness Center or down the road for however long I could snip a quick moment out of the day (with childcare). Looking at the calendar, it’s easy to see when school was still in session: homework, carpool, work, meetings, appointments, feeding my crew… and not much running.

I’m sitting today at 37.2/40. I’m feeling confident I can get the last 2.8miles today.

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However, it may be slower than the past few days. Just speculating, but I think I made my neck lesion mad.

Wednesday I knocked out a pace that I haven’t managed before. I ran my 5K in approximately 24 minutes. As I finished up mile 3, my legs started to get wonky and did not want to stride correctly. It was a strange phenomenon I’ve never experienced before.

Thursday, I ran intervals for mile 1. I warmed up from 6.0-6.5. I revved the treadmill up to 8.2. I needed a quick trip to the bathroom following mile 1 so I jogged to the locker room. 

I’ve had the “tingles” in my legs before when running, but never quite like this. It wasn’t painful, but tingles on the outside of my thighs, and on the inside and outside of my knees when I sat down. When I stood up they were gone.

My spine felt good – no L’hermitte’s. Hips good. No issues in my legs upon washing my hands and walking back to the treadmill. I ran another mile at 7.0 revving up to 9.2.

But in the quiet of my daughter’s bedtime, I have to ask myself – Did I push too hard? Is this normal for anyone else?

For years, I assumed that the strange things that my body did were just normal quirks. No pain, so not a big deal. Just an occasional muscle jerk here or a double clutch on my left foot when doing Zumba. It wasn’t until the numbness of my actual “event” (which I thought was exercise induced by bad form with a kettlebell) that my medical professional and I were led to say “what is going on in this otherwise healthy person?”

Pretty sure my neuro (who I’ll see in February for a 6m check) would say “Hmmm… Jen, use some common sense here.”

Common sense – Looking at, working out with, or having a conversation with me would lead a person with common sense to say ‘she’s perfectly healthy!’ But looks are deceiving, which I was reminded about by the presence of my tingles.

Looks like I’ll be finishing up my last 2.8 a little slower than I’d planned. I can’t express how thankful I am to be able to run or even hop or walk those last miles toward my goal. Those tingles gave me something to think deeply about and brought about a whole new depth of gratitude for simple mobility.

Don’t take anything in life for granted.


Much love to you as we close out 2016! — Jen