Family · Creativity · Perspective · Parenting

Thursday Thoughts

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.

John Barrymore

This is what writing is to me. It’s happiness. I love to write with paper and pencil. The feel of the pencil gliding over the paper soothes my busy mind. Every two weeks, I try to utilize 30 minutes of early morning devotional time to write. Words flow freely from my mind through my hand. Pieces of my soul marked in my handwriting. My middle of the night insomnia sessions are where my best thoughts flow. Will I ever write that book I’ve been dreaming of authoring since elementary school?

The journey is never ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.

Antonio Brown

Marriage – When I took my wedding vows, full of excitement and passion, I vowed to love him until death do us part in good and bad. I still do. I’m still promising that. It’s deeper and stronger than I could have ever imagined. What I don’t think either of us realized at that point is that we vowed to love – deeply, strongly, confidently, and with covenant – is that we might not always like each other. It is completely unreasonable to vow to like someone all the time. Sometimes, we don’t even like ourselves. The majority of the time, the real issue is with yourself. Your partner’s job, promise, and covenant is to love you thru that. Those valleys are where you grow. Look up. Valleys only happen between mountains. Start climbing.

Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult. 

Nadia Boulanger

Parenting – “My child is having a hard time. She is not giving me a hard time.” These words were on repeat this morning in my head starting at 4:32am. Our 6yr old woke up and needed to use the bathroom. Sleep did not find her again… and after two hours of cuddling, it was time to get dressed for school. Cue the sobs. Cue the stomps, whines, pointing, and tantrum. Deep breaths. She is not non-verbal. Her biggest character downfall is her inability to use her words to ask for help or admit when she is incorrect. It’s easier to stomp and sob. Going the tough route with her doesn’t help. She is stubborn and has to make the decision herself. When she threw her twisted sweatshirt at my feet, I refused to help her pull the sleeves out until she verbally asked for help. Her father did the same thing when she furiously swung her brush at him instead of just asking him to help her brush her hair. It was a doozy of a morning. 90% of them are nothing like this. I set a timer and told her she needed to have her fit turned off by the time it went off or she was destined for bed immediately when she arrived home with me this evening. Miraculously (tongue-in-cheek) her tantrum was over about 10 seconds before the timer dinged. Hugs all around before she ran out the door to the bus. Then her father and I considered Mimosas or Bloody Mary’s for breakfast… not really, but we both had to take our own frazzled nerves and anxiety down a couple notches before we came to work. Parenting is not for the weak-willed or faint of heart.

“I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” 

Jesse Owens

I’m signed up for a spring 2019 half marathon. I didn’t run one in 2018, although I did take on a hill-filled 10K (actually 6.7miles). Half Marathon Number Five. I ran my first 13.1mi organized race a couple of months before my MS diagnosis. Now I need a goal to get my consistency back. After swearing I wouldn’t run another unless I was trained well enough to knock 10 minutes off my previous finish time, my focus has shifted. Many months of just drifting along… I’m ready to get back in the current and head for something. What it is, I’m not sure. The steady beat of my feet and breathing in and out assist my brain in sorting thoughts. We shall see… we shall see.

As you attempt to make big differences, remember to appreciate the small differences.  And remember that you don’t always have to reach the goal you set in order to make a difference.

Win Borden

Be kind today friends. Find a way to lift someone else up. Even if you are dwelling in the valley right now, reach up and out. Be gracious.

Wear the fancy dress. Tell the joke and laugh at it. Do that cannon ball into the pool. Dance in your kitchen. 


Much love — Jen

Creativity · Family · Fitness · Perspective

Begins with “S”

Six Miles – That’s how many glorious, relaxing miles I got in last night while my kids were at Vacation Bible School. How many times is it 6miles_LIonly 63 degrees for a July evening run in the Midwest – USA?! I’m officially one minute per mile slower than when I was getting consistent runs done.

Six miles of feeling my feet hit the road while listening to the music on my iPod. Freeing. Sanity breathing. Mind clearing. I’ve registered for a 10K in September. After last night’s run, my confidence at running it comfortably has increased. I doubt it will be a 10K PR, but I suspect I can cut time if I get in a uniform schedule.

SullivanSullivan – Our new, very large cat (Maine Coon) has decided his favorite place to lay is in a bathroom sink. I guess that’s fine…. “You do you, Sully.” Today is the 5th day since we adopted him. After having an affable feline friend for over a decade until his passing in December, the enjoyment of my husband and kids to this new guy is evident. Honestly, I’m still warming up to having an indoor pet again.

School – Dare I say it? We are edging up on less than 20 days until it starts! After we returned from Colorado and knocked out a few days at the fair, everyone seems considerably happier about school starting. The kids look forward to consistent time with friends and living a normal schedule. I swore I wouldn’t mention it until August starts…. but we had school supplies on super sale at our local store – 20 pencils for $0.99 and notebooks for $0.19 each. It would have been silly to miss that discount when those items were on the list.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Other “s” encounters this week included a snake, storms, and my son’s prize winning sunflower at the fair. Have a snazzy, superb week!

Family · Fitness · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Running Away from Monday

It’s been one of those Mondays where I put on my running clothes to run before the sun came up.

But I haven’t ran yet.

It began to thunder, followed by a downpour. Intermittent sharp cloud to ground lightning.

Then I had to get the kids to daycare and myself to work – still wearing my running clothes. Call it the definition of a “Casual Monday?” Perks to owning the business and staying behind a desk.

The weather cleared. I was going to use my lunch to run. But I didn’t get a lunch and ate at my desk because customers LOVE to call and show up at lunch.

Then another thunderstorm moved in.

And I’m still sitting here at the end of the work day wearing my running clothes. I’ve been wearing my “Flipbelt” stuffed with my fully charged iPod and ear buds all. day. long.

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The kids go to VBS for two and a half hours tonight. I will be using that time to run, if not outdoors then at the gym.

I took five minutes to read about an extreme “reset diet and workout routine” that ended with fabulous results. The author of the article- who I might add was single and childless – talked about needing two hours every day at the gym.

I can’t get 30 minutes for a nice leisurely 5K.

A woman can only be functioning for so many hours of the day.

Bleh. Can I just run away from this Monday?

 

 

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Time for a Date

Nestled between my early morning devotion time and heading out the door for a run, it hit me.

My husband and I haven’t been out (or in) together without kids since March.

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I know…. that is shocking!

Almost two months ago, we flew to Key West for a handful of days. I don’t think we’ve been anywhere without the little people we created, even for groceries and a burrito, since mid-March.

Time to get back on the same page…

Today I scheduled a 36hr getaway for us. We are going to see another couple for a Friday evening and Saturday a couple of weeks from now. What? You thought we’d be able to throw together something for this weekend?! That’s just crazy talk….

Honestly though, it is incredibly important to put that extra time into your relationship. It’s been lacking here. We’ve had a rough patch lately where I truly wanted to get in the car and drive away. Solo. Where? Who knows. Maybe just to go sit in a coffee shop or restaurant and read a book while I sip a chai latte (DF of course) or eat chips and salsa? I might even treat myself to a bowl of guacamole.

But I don’t drive away. I told him I wanted to. Yet I haven’t gotten in the car, removed the car seats, and made a break for it.

Why? A couple of reasons:

  • I genuinely like my crew of people – most of the time. Experience has taught me that it is highly unlikely that you will enjoy another human 100% of the time. I’m quite sure I would not enjoy my own clone 100% of the time…
  • I’m an introvert. Quiet time is necessary to recharge. Daily running and devotions need to become a priority again instead of snoozing the alarm and then needing space from my family later.
  • I love my husband. Even when we aren’t clicking and I’m not even sure we are speaking the same vernacular, we still have almost 18 years invested in our relationship. We’ll celebrate the 13yrs married mark this summer. Sometimes I wonder though… when I say something – what is he hearing???
  • I love who I am when we are in sync. Disharmonious as we are right now, we will find our rhythm again soon. We are better together. He lightens me. I focus him.
  • I’m flat-out terrible at self-care. When I make a cry for help like “Hey honey, I think I’ll just leave. No I don’t know where I’m going to go…” that’s pretty serious stuff. It needs to be addressed together. Instead of further isolating myself, I need to pull closer to that covenant I have with my husband and family.

What it boils down to is that it is time for a date. A real, fix-your-hair, put on a nice dress, lipstick instead of chapstick type of date. No talk of the kids’ baseball schedules, end-of-school year events, or that we are COMPLETELY out of all ingredients necessary to make breakfast. It is time for actual date talk about interests and plans and that amazing song I heard on the radio last week.

It’s time to reconnect and get back in sync.

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Fitness · Perspective

Sunflowers

I took time on my run this morning to snap pictures of the late summer beauty around me.

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On my run, 1 mile in, my mom texted to let me know that my uncle, her older brother, had passed away unexpectedly.

I was stunned. As my feet continued forward, my mind went back to all the memories we shared with my uncle and his family. Memories we took time to create by stopping our life-paced rush.

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As I ran down the dirt road, there were hundreds of these orange moths (or are they butterflies?) fluttering all around me. It was surreal. I slowed down and captured one still on the sunflower  eating.

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My favorite gravel and dirt roads path has taken me over this limestone bridge many, many times. I’ve never noticed the plaque with the year and WPA designation.

Six miles gives a person time to think in depth. Maybe I need to adjust a few things in my life- Slowing down, appreciating more of what’s around me and cherishing loved ones.

Summer is slowly changing from greens to dark yellows, rich oranges and spiced browns. It is worth pacing ourselves to notice.

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.