Heaven

I am sad that a man would plot evil against the innocent. I am sad that such a hideous act of violence would take the lives of the young. I am sad  that life is that easy to take away. I am angry that we live in a world that seems to glorify evil and yet when something terrible happens we are so quick to say, “Where was our good and loving God?” I am troubled that I feel sick in the pit of my stomach when I drive my kids to school. I’m troubled  that my heart hurts when I pick up my children from school.  I am heart-broken that I will never look at another child in the same way again. I am troubled that my emotions are so raw when I think about these things. I am heart-broken when I think of the little ones who were taken away so quickly. I am sickened when I think of the fear they must have felt. I am speechless when I think of the mom’s and dad’s who are feeling a heart-break and sadness that words cannot express. I am angry that we live in a cruel world. I am angry that there is so much darkness.

And yet God reminds me that he is the Great I Am.

I AM righteous anger. I AM peace. I AM joy.  I AM healing.  I AM good.  I AM eternal-life. I AM faithful.  I AM comfort. I AM forgiveness.  I AM hope.  I AM love. I AM  light. I  AM here. I WAS there. And I WILL still BE here. I AM anything and everything that you need me to be because I AM the Great I AM.

We must remember that “Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.” (Elizabeth Elliott)

Heaven

“Where boys become Kings and girls become Queens, wrapped in your majesty.

And there “they will be brave and free and shout Your name in victory!” (Audio Adrenaline)

 

This was written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Smith, PA…

Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 When 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.

Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.

They were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.

“Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse. “This is heaven.” declared a small boy. “we’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”

When what to their wondering eyes did appear, But Jesus, their Savior, the children gathered near.

He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same. Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.

And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring Those children all flew into the arms of their King

And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace, One small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.

And as if He could read all the questions she had He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”

Then He looked down on earth, the world far below He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe

Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand, “Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”

“May this country be delivered from the hands of fools” “I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”

Then He and the children stood up without a sound. “Come now my children, let me show you around.”

Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran. All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.

And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight, “In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

 

Don’t Ignore The Rooster!

The alarm goes off at 5:30 and I don’t even give it a second thought.  There’s NO way I’m getting up and going for a run that early. I’ll wait, set the alarm for 6am and get up then. 6am comes too soon. I’m too tired. I’ll try 6:15. Nope, that’s not going to work either. Now, after hitting the snooze button for the third time, I’m awake enough to think about my day. I decide I’d rather sleep! After all, I am pretty tired, and I only have 8 miles on my training schedule.  I’ll certainly be able to carve out an hour later in the day to get it done.

However, also at this point, I’m tossing and turning, feeling kind of guilty for not getting up early and realizing how busy NOT running, (before the kids wake up) is going to make my day. Well, now it’s 7:02, I might as well get up, make coffee, and get the day started. And, then I realize I just don’t have an hour of running today, I also have an hour of strength training. Hmmm…great, this is now going to be more of a challenge than I thought.

By 8:15 I have my two girls up, showered, dressed and ready to go. My 3 year old niece slept-over so she is also up and ready to go home. My boys, moving a bit slower, are at least up and fed. I really need to leave the house at 8:30 so I can be at my first store visit (for Saucony) by 9:00…

So here’s how the rest of the day goes…

8:37 – Left the house

9:02 – Dropped Emma off at my Brother’s house in Wheaton.

9:20 – Arrive at Dick’s Sporting Goods Store in Lombard – store visit complete. Drive to DSG store in Oswego – complete. Drive to DSG store in Yorkville – complete. Drive to DSG store in Geneva – complete.

12:12 – Racing home in order to get Tommy to an orthodontist appointment in Wheaton at 12:30. Never going to make it on time! Why did I think a 12:30 appointment would fit into our schedule today?

12:35 – Arrive at the orthodontist, ONLY  5 minutes late. Man, I’m good! (I’ve always prided myself on being an “on-time” person. Even with three kids I never arrived late to anything! However, after having my 4th child, my thoughts of “on-time” meant that  I had a buffer of 5-10 minutes.) It’s so hard to get anywhere “on-time” anymore.

12:36 – Walking to the door of the office, wondering why all the lights are off!? Hmmm….odd. Turning the door handle to the office and finding it LOCKED!? Are you kidding me!?  I know his appointment was today.

12:37 – Oh well, I’ll get in the car, call the office, re-schedule the appointment.  Now, time has just opened up for me to get my run in when I get home! Sweet! ( :

12:39 – In the car, cell phone rings, it’s the orthodontist asking if I’m bringing Tommy in for his appointment today? What!? I was just at your office and YOU’RE not there. Oh, that’s because the Dr. is working out of the Woodridge office today!? I didn’t realize there were two offices. How far is it from the Wheaton office? “15 minutes.” Ok, I can probably do that, but I have to get my daughter to gymnastics by 2:30. “That’s no problem, once you get here it will only take a few minutes.” Ok, we’ll be there by 1!

1:05 – Arrive at orthodontist…

1:25 – Still at orthodontist

1:44 – Waiting…..at orthodontist

1:57 – STILL waiting at orthodontist…I guess I have a different concept of exactly what a FEW minutes means. UGH!

2:00 – REALLY TRYING HARD TO FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE! Finally, I have to give in and call Chris and ask him if he can get Leah to gymnastics.

2:03 – Receive phone call from Leah. She is crying. Why? Well of course, her gymnastics’ bag and grips are in the trunk of my car. “I promise you, honey, I will have it to practice before you are done warming-up!”

2:18 – FINALLY, leave the orthodontist office. Next appointment is scheduled for this Thursday at 2pm – I was told it will take an hour. Hmmmm…..

2:44 – Arrive home, Chris kindly offers to drive Leah’s bag to gymnastics for me. Thank you!! Feed the kids a quick lunch! Yes, I know it’s a little past the traditional lunch hour…my bad!

2:49 – I have 61 minutes to complete a 60 minute strength workout. No problem.

3:45 – Drive Rachael to gymnastics – arrive ON-TIME! (Although, I’m still wearing workout clothes and sweating from the strength workout…haha)

4:15 – Again 65 minutes to squeeze in a 60 minute run – Yep, No problem!

5:20 – Get boys ready for football practice, arrive at practice ON-TIME! Amazing!

6:00 – Pick up Leah from gymnastics…wait until 6:15 when Rachael’s finished with practice.

6:30 – Back to football practice – to actually watch the boys on their first night to see how it goes.

8:00 – Home, dinner, get kids ready for bed.

8:55 – Thinking tomorrow will be more of the same. However, this time when the alarm goes off,  there is No question that I’m swinging my tired legs out of bed and getting my workout done early!

People always wonder how I run when I have four kids. Well, I guess this is how a mother of four, trying to train and race at her best gets it done.

Good News concerning Lydia

Last night I was able to see Lydia for the first time. She is a trooper, that’s for sure! She is hooked up to so many machines and is on a lot of medication for only being 4 days old! It was heart-breaking to see her cry. Her little body would tense and tears rolled down her face, but because of the breathing tube, no sound came out. It has to be so frustrating for Andrew and Jena to not be able to pick her up and comfort her.

At 6:30 the Doctor came in to check on her and said that, “She was forcing his hand,” to remove the ventilator and take out the breathing tube. She was at the point where she was doing most of her breathing on her own and keeping the ventilator in would be (almost) over-protecting her. He said he was going to come back in an hour and make a decision then.

It wasn’t until 11pm, last night, that I got a text from Jena saying that the ventilator was turned off and they were going to remove the breathing tube. At midnight, she sent another text saying that everything went great.  Lydia was sleeping and the next hour would be a good indicator of her progress.

This morning, Jena said, the dopamine, anitbiotics, and fentanyl would be given to Lydia as needed. She is being weaned off of the steriod she was on and they have discontinued all other drugs! They will take the artrial catheter out today and then hopefully, Jena and Andrew will be able to finally hold her! AND, Lydia is breathing 100% on her own without any problems. Please continue to pray that there will not be a set-back in progress!

The nurse said that Lydia has dumb-founded the staff at Children’s. She was transferred there because they were going to do a possible ECMO. In ECMO is basically a life-saving technique that mimics the natural function of the heart and lungs, allowing an infant to rest while healing takes place. The procedure involves channeling the patient’s blood into a roller pump that serves as the child’s heart throughout treatment. The pump sends the blood through an oxygenator, which serves an as artificial lung, infusing the blood with oxygen and removing carbon dioxide and returning it to the patient. However, within 30 minutes of being at Children’s, Lydia started to show improvement. So much improvement, in fact, that the ECMO did not have to be implemented. The progress and recovery has been incredible! Of course, while the Nurses say they are dumb-founded we know that credit must be given where credit belongs. How great it is to know the mercy-giving, healing-hand of God.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for Jena, Andrew, and Lydia. Please continue to pray for the journey ahead. We do not know how long Lydia will remain at Children’s and we pray that she will continue to improve and stay healthy beyond anyone’s comprehension!

(This is the most recent picture of Lydia after all of the machines, etc have been removed.)

Image

Unmasked…Past and Present

“Do not gloat over me my enemy, though I have fallen I will get up” (Micah 7:8)

For those of you who know me, you know that I’m not the most graceful person around. I find myself stumbling over non-existent items , breaking un-breakable objects, slipping on non-slippery surfaces, and falling flat on my face without tripping over anything. In fact the first couple lines of the song Falling, by Florence and the Machine describe me well…

“I’ve fallen out of favor and I’ve fallen from grace,

Fallen out of trees and fallen on my face

Fallen out of taxis out of windows too…”

These kind of falls aren’t that bad. Of course, there’s always potential for injury, and they may be a bit humiliating . But, they can’t leave my heart cut in two, putting me in intensive care and waiting for emergency surgery to sew the wound back together. And although, there is healing there is a scar. A scar that reminds me of how far I fell and how far I can fall again if I’m not careful.

When I took my first fall I’m not even sure I realized I was flying towards the ground with an un-stoppable speed. You see, I was born into a Christian family and I became a Christian at a very early age. And from the start, I desired to be the best Christian ever! I went to Church, I went to youth group, I read my Bible, I prayed, I invited friends to Church, I didn’t get mad, I was a peace-maker, while others were takers I was a giver, and of course when I grew up I was going to be a Missionary.

And then I entered High School. Wow! Ok, I’m still doing all the things a good little Christian girl should do. With the exception of the fact that I now know that I’m going to be a spectacular athlete. Maybe in basketball, maybe in track, maybe in both. I’m going to break the records, run the fastest. I am going to be the star. But wait,  there’s other girls who are just as good as I am, maybe even better. And not only in athletics, but in academics, popularity, and in looks. I’m not sure I measure up so well against my competition. I need something to make me stand out in the crowd. I don’t want to be average. I’m afraid I’m might be JUST average.

So, here I  was standing on the first ledge. I didn’t even  know that I had climbed so high. I didn’t even know I was looking over the mountain top into the valley. I was so unaware of where I was heading that the next step took me a little by surprise.  Because with that next step I stepped off of the ledge and into a tail-spin. I was falling and falling fast. But thankfully, there was something to stop the fall. I reached out for the branch that was sticking out of the mountain wall. I knew it could hold me, stop my fall, and drive out the fear of being just average.

The minute I grabbed my safety line, the branch, I knew I wasn’t going to be average anymore. I was going to be the best at something. I was going to be so good and so disciplined people would start to take notice. I wouldn’t just blend in anymore. When I started to become obsessed with not eating, the weight I was losing and the weight I wanted to lose, I didn’t have a name for it. I just felt in control. I wasn’t falling anymore. I felt better than ever, on top of the world. I had such self-discipline it was amazing. I was good at this, anorexia, my salvation, the disease that was suddenly filling the void within my soul.

What I was doing, of course, was in secret, but people noticed I was thinner. Man, the comments were the best. “You look like you’ve lost weight?” “Have you been sick? You look thinner.” Awesome! It was working. I was doing the perfect job at starving myself. (Needless to say, any athletic dream I had was out the window. I didn’t have the energy or the desire anymore to participate in sports. A dream given up, but it’s not until later we realize that what we give up costs way more than what we think is bringing us pleasure).

But then, for some reason the branch began to shake, my safety net didn’t feel so safe anymore. I heard it crack and I knew it wouldn’t be long before it would break and I would be falling again. Sure enough, the void was back, the anorexia wasn’t satisfying me anymore. It was hard work. I was tired of being so self-disciplined and with that I felt my body quickly falling to meet the ground.

I needed another branch. There has to be another branch. There is another branch. I just have to reach for it and it will stop me from falling. Bulimia, the disgusting, ugly, spinning out of control branch of bulimia. How embarrassing ! How could I grab onto this branch. I hate it. But, I need it. It’s filling the gap I so desperately want closed! Does it make me feel good about myself? No way? Do I feel like I’m in control? No way? But, I keep doing it because if I stop I’ll start falling again and I don’t want to hit bottom and die. But, I do want to die, because death would bring freedom from the falling. Death would bring release from the thoughts and the obsession. Death would bring healing. Maybe I do want to jump off this branch and hit bottom? I’m going to die from the eating disorder anyway, why not do it now? Get it over with!?

And so I jump, and I’m falling again. Why can’t I just find peace? Why can’t I just find the satisfaction I’m looking for? If God is such a loving God why am I struggling so much. I hate myself, in fact, I hate all people, and I hate God the most. Life isn’t fair and God doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it. Why won’t he just step in and change things. Wait! Maybe I don’t want to hit bottom. No! Not yet, I don’t want to give up. Tomorrow I’ll change. Tomorrow it’s going to be different. I need another branch and I’ll change. I promise I’ll change!

The other branch must be from the same tree as the other branches. The bulimia didn’t go away. I just started mixing it with anorexia. I wouldn’t eat ANYTHING for 4 days and on the 5th day I’d binge and get rid of it, then I wouldn’t eat anything for 2 days, and on the 3rd day I’d binge and get rid of it. It got to the point that I wouldn’t eat anything, fruit, a popsicle, a chip, nothing! And, if I did I would immediately  throw it up. Gross! Gross! Disgusting! It’s humiliating just writing about it. I’m one big screw-up, failure, waste of life. Why haven’t I died from this yet!? God, if you’re real please let me die! I can’t handle this life anymore.

Get of the branch! Get off the branch! There’s no more satisfaction in anorexia or bulimia. I need something else, not something else to fill the void, but something else to escape from the eating disorder. I need to find relief from it, from the thoughts, from the obsession, from the depression. There has to be another branch. There’s always another branch and another branch and another branch. There’s always something to fill that void. And there will always be something else needed to fill the void if it’s not filled with the only One who can bring complete satisfaction and sew up the gap, leaving it longing no more.

Alcohol abuse. Escape. A few hours. No thoughts. No thoughts. Peace. Fake Peace. But peace, if only for a few hours. I don’t have to think about food, I don’t have to think about weight, I don’t have to think. Period. I don’t have to think. Except the high wears off and when the high wears off it takes me lower than where I once was. So, I need more, but it wears off again and takes me deeper into the valley. I can’t even see the mountain top anymore. The Summit is gone from my view. Is there even a Summit? I’m not sure. I’m in deep. I’m in a cycle that has no end. I’m spinning . I don’t want to spin. But, I don’t want to stop spinning. But, I do want to stop spinning. How do I stop spinning? Death. Death will make it stop. I want death. I’m stepping off the branch.

I step off the branch. I hit rock-bottom. But, I’m not dead. I want to be dead. I don’t want to be dead. I need help. “God are you there? I need help.  I mean I really need help. Jesus, I need you. I need Your help.  Can you help me? Will you help me?” I think I hear something.  I do hear his voice. His Sheep know his voice and they listen to Him! (John 10:27)

“Child, child you are mine. I love you. You are priceless. (1 Cor. 6:20) You are worth something! You are special! You’ve always been special. Stop seeking to fill the void! Stop putting your identity in fleeting things. Put your identity in me. You are mine. I am yours. You are complete in me. You don’t need anything to make you stand out, to make you above average. I created you. I created you with my very hand, you are my masterpiece. You are perfection. (Psalm 139) Stop trying to change that.

Child fill the void with me. You have freedom from every addiction, from every sin, from every trap that wants to ensnarl you. My death gave you freedom. Claim it. Claim it daily. Pick up your cross. You have the choice. Never believe that you are without choice. Put off your old self and choose to put on my armor. It will help you stand strong against Satan’s Schemes. (Eph. 6:13) My death set you free so you could be free. It can’t get any easier than that. I gave you freedom so you could be free. (Titus 2:14) Now, child, stop looking down! Look up. Look up! I am the lifter of your head. (Psalm 3:3) I am your salvation. You need nothing more. Look up! I am the True Vine, the Strong Vine you are the branch. (John 15:5) Look up! Stand in my freedom! Walk in my freedom!

I can hold you safely. I won’t let you fall. Although, you can choose to fall, but if you stay in Me, you will not fall. Look up. Though you have fallen you will get up! Don’t be ashamed of where you have been. Though you were filthy you are now clean. White as snow. Washed by my blood. (Isaiah 1:18) The past. Gone. Forgiven. Forgotten. But, don’t forget it. Don’t forget that is wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t fulfilling. Don’t forget! Because I don’t want you to go back there.

You allowed your heart to become a heart of stone. And with each fall, and each branch that couldn’t hold you it broke. Broke into pieces. I’m grafting it back together. It will leave you with a scar. The scar will serve as your reminder of how far you fell, of how far you’re capable of falling, and how far you do not want to fall again. You are fragile now, but with each step in freedom you will become stronger, and the stronger you get the more careful you must be. When you are on the top, when you’ve reached the summit, that is when you must especially be on guard because from the summit comes the farthest fall. But I have faith in you and I love you more than you can imagine. That is why ” I lifted you out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; and I set your feet on a rock and gave you a firm place to stand.” (Psalm 40:2) I rescued you because I delighted in you.” (Psalm 18:19) You delight in me? Yes, I delight in you!

This is the past. My Past. The past that tried to embezzle my future. The past that has the potential to steal my present if I don’t “stand firm” (Galations 5:1) and take my “thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) How do I keep from falling again?

I started to slip not because I started to do the wrong things, but because I stopped doing the right things. I didn’t have time for God. My focus was on me and I started placing my identity in places that could never complete me.

Thankfully, only through Christ, was I able to find freedom from a lifestyle of addictions and disorders. When I first was set free from this destructive lifestyle, my mom and I would speak to youth groups, Jr. high and high school students, etc. and warn them of the dangers of eating disorders  and the effect it can have on the rest of the family. When I started getting caught up in sin, I was so selfish. It didn’t cross my mind that what I was doing had the potential to take its toll on those around me. Sin doesn’t just affect one person.

The other thing about sin is that satan makes it look so glamorous and so tempting. We begin to think we can’t live without it and at the same time he diminishes the consequences. He doesn’t want us to think that a couple days of counting calories and getting on the scale could turn into a deadly eating disorder. He doesn’t want us to think that one drink could lead to alcoholism.  One drag to a controlling and overwhelming addiction. But then, the minute we give into that sin, the minute we take hold of it and fulfill the temptation, he rips us to shreds. “Are you kidding me? You just did that? You call yourself a Christian? You love the Lord? I beg to differ! If you love Him so much you’d never do what you just did! You know, He won’t love you anymore! He can’t love you anymore!  You’ve gone too far this time. You’ve crossed that sacred line and there’s no getting back!” The lies he feeds us. The deception he breeds. And sadly, we believe him.

But, we don’t have to. We don’t have to believe that we don’t have a choice. That we’re in too deep. That there’s no getting out. No stopping the cycle. I’ve learned it’s my choice to follow Christ’s voice. It’s my choice to walk in freedom. This is a daily decision. An hourly decision. A minute by minute decision.

There eventually came I time when I stopped talking about my past. I stopped speaking at youth groups and schools.  I’m not sure why?  Maybe because those struggles feel like a lifetime ago. Or maybe because those struggles still try to rear their ugly heads. Maybe because I want people to know who I am today and not think of me in regards to my past. Maybe because over the last few years I’ve slipped. I’ve let go of the Vine and grabbed onto branches, once again, that can’t hold me. Some of them have been the same branches that were in my past. Branches I swore I’d never go back to. And then there’s different branches. Branches I knew, for a fact, I would never hang onto, only to find myself dangling on the limb, waiting for the snap.

And maybe, I stopped talking about my past because I was afraid that I might be talking one way but walking in the opposite direction. No one likes a hypocrite. And I never want to proclaim freedom if I’m choosing to dwell in the pit. But the fact is, I do KNOW there IS FREEDOM from EVERY addiction, from every sin. The minute Christ died on the cross He broke the chains. He set the captive free. If I struggle today, it’s a choice. It’s a conscious decision to walk back into the cell, shut the door, and live in captivity. I apologize to those who know me and who have heard me proclaim my love for Christ but have seen me walk in my own way.

I am thankful for God’s ever- flowing forgiveness, mercy , grace, and faithfulness even in my unfaithfulness. I’m thankful that His love endures for me even when I let go of the Vine. I’m thankful that He is the God of never-ending chances. I am thankful that He provided a way for Freedom in this life and life-eternal.

See the place called Golgotha

Remembering His crown of Thorns

The undaunted slow motion of His crucifixion

the Temple curtain

Torn Apart

See where I am now

Remembering what it cost

Just one thing I’ve learned

One thing learned while I was lost

Just one thing Brother, Sister

Pick up your Cross

Daily…

Passing the Torch…The flame has been ignited

Last year around this time I was able to talk two of my kids into running a mile race.  At first, they resisted, but when they found out Jay Cutler would also be running the same race they agreed to it. My other two kids were smart enough to realize that even if they didn’t run the mile they would still get the chance to see Cutler and get his autograph. Duh!? The mile wasn’t a prerequisite to meeting Cutler.

Anyway, the result, they hated running the mile and they would NEVER run another race again. What!? How can you say you hated running? It’s the best thing ever. “Mom, it hurt! It wasn’t fun!” “No, no, you guys don’t understand the hurt, the pain, that’s part of the fun!! C’mon, you gotta be kidding me? How could you NOT think it was awesome!?” “NEVER again Mom! We won’t do it.”

Great! There went my chance at helping my kids develop a love for running. What was I thinking? Starting them off with the mile probably wasn’t the best thing. I should have worked them up to the 1600. Starting with the 100 meters, then the 200, then the 400, 1/2 mile, and then finally the mile. Well, I screwed that up.

So, of course now anytime I run a race that has a kid’s run I’m always trying to talk at least one of my kids into running it. The answer is always, “NO Way!” ” But, I swear, you don’t have to do the mile, you can do one of the shorter fun runs! You’ll love it! I promise!” “Yep, we remember, that’s what you said last time and we DIDN’T love it!”

Okay, so if my kids aren’t going to love running, I’ll just have to work on my neighbor’s child. She’s around our family so much I call her my “adopted child,” and what’s even better, she likes to run. In fact, she’s even asked me if I’d train her for a mile race or a 5k. You bet ya!

Earlier this week, I signed up to run a local 5k, but unfortunately, I’ve been fighting asthmatic bronchitis and it doesn’t want to go away. 5ks and asthmatic bronchitis don’t mix very well, but I had already registered for the race and figured I’d go, maybe pace a friend, and if I was really lucky talk one of my kids into doing the fun run…the kid’s mile or the kid’s 100m dash.

No luck, but my adopted daughter, Emily, was all for it. And because, she was interested in the mile, my two girls, were by NO means, interested in that distance, but decided to try the 100 meter dash. Finally! Finally, at least two of my kids were going to give running another shot!

Emily, did great in the mile! And I was able to run with her, cheering her on and encouraging her to keep going! I was very proud of my (adopted) daughter! She placed third in her age group!

And, then there was Rachael, who stood on the starting line to the 100m race with a determined face to fend off the competition and run her hardest. Well, she won her heat! And she told me, she didn’t even have to run her hardest because she knew she was going to win it. How’s that for confidence!? Go, Rachael!

And Leah, who has told me she will never be a runner because her love is gymnastics, stood at the start, looking more nervous than confident.  But, as soon as it was go time this girl ran! Wow! She ran faster than I’ve seen her run before. So fast in fact, that she blew all the other little girls away and I wouldn’t be surprised if she could also beat her older brothers!  And at the end, what did she say? “That was awesome, so much fun! I want to do it again? Can I do it again! Did you time me? What was my time!”

Needless to say, I was happy, not because they won and I just might happen to have a couple good sprinters on my hands – but because they liked it!! I don’t care if it was just 100 meters they liked it! And now they think running is fun and want to do it again! Awesome!

Who knows, maybe next time it will be a 200 meter race, and then a 400, 1/2 mile, and maybe, just maybe, they may ask to try the mile again. If not, that’s okay. I’m just glad that today they enjoyed it! And I feel that the spark has been lit – and you know what they say about sparks…it only takes one spark to start a fire! ( :

Flowers and Jockstraps

Aside

What are Little Boys Made of?

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That’s what little boys are made of !”
What are little girls made of?
“Sugar and spice and all things nice
That’s what little girls are made of!”

 After having two wonderful little boys, I became pregnant with my third child. Everywhere I went people would ask me, “Are you hoping for a girl?” My response, “Nope! Not really!” I like my boys! I’m a good mom for boys. I wasn’t so sure how I’d be with a little girl and I definitely didn’t want to find out. In fact, I once had one mom tell me that she would rather have 10 boys than 1 girl! Really!? Really? Are girls that different?

Well, after my third baby ended up being a girl, I immediately fell in love with her, and I was beyond thrilled that my fourth child was also a little girl.  And yes, obviously little boys and little girls are very different. And, this week I was reminded of just how different.

My girls have friends over and they play school or have tea parties. They sit and color quietly at the table and know how to have polite conversations.  They play dress up and do each other’s hair. They put on dances, shows, and elegant balls. It’s so fun to watch them spin and twirl as they smile with their laughing eyes.

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ImageMy favorite thing about my  little girls are the masterpieces of art that I find all over the house. Usually among these miniature Picasso drawings or sculptures there can be found an inscription that says something like, “For Mom, Love Rachael. You’re the bestest Mom in the whole world. I love you so much.”

In fact, just a couple days ago the doorbell rang and when I went to answer there wasn’t anyone there.

However, on the doorstep there lay a mystery note that looked like this…

I love my little girls creativity, sensitivity and their overwhelming love for me!

ImageMy boys, on the other hand, have friends over and become the next Thomas Edison, trying to invent the best way to parachute from the upstairs balcony to the ground floor. They decide a ride down the laundry chute would be better (and cheaper) than any amusement park ride. When they jump on the trampoline their goal is to knock the other one down or off.  The word shower is not in their vocabulary. Their hair is usually messy and their fingernails dirty and they really don’t care if they’ve worn the same shirt for 4 days in a row.

ImageMy favorite thing about little boys is their thrill for adventure. They seek it, they find it, they overcome it. They are living life alive and they want more of it. They are on a quest to rescue the princess and triumph as the victor. Adventure after adventure and they can’t get enough. I love how they can include me on these spectacular journeys. I’ve found frogs hopping in the living room, a turtle with a cracked shell, saved from a car accident in the recycling bin. I’ve been called into their bedroom and asked in a very serious voice, “Mom, can I climb out the window onto the roof and jump onto the trampoline?”

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And lastly, this week they decided it would be a great idea to rearrange the house, starting with the bathroom towel rack…

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Yep! That’s a jockstrap in place of the towel! I love how my boys like to take me by surprise! I realize as a mother of boys my main job is keeping them alive so they can make it to manhood.

“Kids, I’m on the Treadmill…The Dog’s in Charge!”

Every Mother and Father, with small children, and a treadmill in the house, will  appreciate my last week of training.

When people first think about buying a treadmill I’m sure they have high hopes! The treadmill, of course, will be a great time saver because no longer will they have to trudge back and forth to the gym. The convenience of exercise equipment, in the privacy of their own home, will be enough motivation for them to hop on and get in a few miles each day. AND the best thing about treadmills, you can multi-task! Who wouldn’t want to be able to run their miles with their children playing quietly in the same room.  This is the ideal picture. I don’t leave the house, I save time, my kids are content and I run!

I wish! This last week of training reminded me of when my kids were little and I couldn’t get out the door and enjoy the beautiful running weather. However, I did have a treadmill, and for this I was very thankful!!

Although with little ones in the house, crawling around, I couldn’t take any chances of them getting near the treadmill. So, before I ran I had to set-up shop. I’d put one in the exersaucer, pour some cheerios around the tray, put some other cheerios in a container, (getting them out of the container would be a challenge for Tommy and hopefully would keep him busy for a few minutes longer.)  I’d put the other one in the swing, wind it up, give her a binky, give her a bottle, and hope she’d be content. I’d then instruct the older one to hand out more cheerios and wind the swing again if the little ones get crabby.  Finally, I would jump on the treadmill and hope for the best. Sometimes this worked, sometimes it didn’t. A lot of recovery days turned into tempo runs, as I was trying to get the mileage in and soothing babies and toddlers at the same time.

This week, I was watching my 3 year old niece. And it just so happened that my 2:10 minute run fell on the same day.

My morning went like this; I got my two boys, who are now 13 and 11 at school by 7:30, and my 7 year old daughter to school by 8:00. I home-school my 9 year old, Leah, and Emma, my niece was to be at our house by 7:40. I just didn’t have the motivation to get up at 4-4:30am and get my long run in before I got everyone off to school.

My only choice for my run was the treadmill.  I bribed Leah, telling her I’d pay her five bucks if she “babysat” Emma in the basement. “Color pictures with her, play barbies, watch a movie, whatever it takes, just keep her busy and content and I’ll be done in no time!”

So, my run started and this time it was great. The girls never got into an argument, they never needed or wanted anything. They just played quietly and contently as a got my 19 miles done.

The only thing that was disturbing was Leah asking me ever so often “Mom, how many more minutes now?” When she asked at 53 minutes to go, I had to regain my mental strength and tell myself I could keep going and it would be over soon enough.

Thankfully, now that my boys are older they understand, that the treadmill can get boring, so they set me up with good company. Yoda and Obi-Wan, who else would I want staring at me while I run. Every once in a while I look Obi-Wan in the eye and ask him what he’s staring at. And I really wish I could take the light-saber from his hand and swing it at him a couple of times. All in fun of course.  And then there’s Yoda who I’m always wanting to give him a high-five. He’s holding his left hand up and out and I know this is just what he wants.

This run is going so well, better than I expected. The girls are wonderful! Leah deserves 10 dollars not 5! She’s a great babysitter! I’m almost tempted to think that maybe gone are the days of winding swings, throwing binky’s at the baby in the exersaucer, yelling at the kids to stop fighting,  (it takes so much more energy to yell, in the midst of intervals on the treadmill.  It really does leave you breathless!), and begging the kids to stop crying  so I can just have 3 and half more minutes to get that last half mile in! It makes me laugh to think of all the energy it takes to get my runs done on the treadmill…and REALLY I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Oh, and if all else fails, leave the dog in charge!

Disclaimer: This is only a joke! So don’t be offended. No children or animals were hurt while I was running on the treadmill or typing this blog.

Track Day!

I woke up pretty tired today and it was really easy to want to procrastinate doing my morning run. However, knowing that today consists of a double run I knew I couldn’t wait too long to get my first run done and out of the way.

It was another gorgeous morning to run and the weather was perfect for getting on the track. I love track days! It’s a nice switch from the many miles I do on the prairie path and the roads. Iit’s always nice to be able to stretch my legs and run at a fast pace.

This mornings workout consisted of 90 minutes with 8 x 800s on the track. I can definitely tell that the last couple years I have been running mostly in marathon mode and my body still finds speed workouts a bit shocking. However, I must say the 800s this morning, felt better than the 800s I did last week, so, I feel that I am making progress and soon track workouts will feel more natural!

I finished homeschooling Leah, for the day, and my other kids are home from school. They have a couple of friends over, (aka my adopted/donated children) so our house is pretty busy at the moment. But, soon I will escape to the roads and once again regain my sanity with a 50 minute easy run!

My run…my play time.

My Human Rubber Band

“Girls, we are going to have a sit-up contest. I want you to go home and at some point before our next practice I want you to see how many sit-ups you can do.  Have your mom or dad count for you and the next time we’re together we’ll see who was able to do the most.”

My daughter, Leah, is nine years old. She started gymnastics when she was six and it was then that I realized I gave birth to a human rubber band. This girl is so flexible I sometimes wonder if she even has any bones!  Not only that, but from her very first class, she began to spend most of her life in an upside down position! She also learned that any counter, railing, couch, bed, chair, etc. can easily be turned into a gymnastics apparatus.

When she was in Kindergarten, she decided to cartwheel all the way from the school to our car. I lost count around 120! The boys used to get so mad at her when , on the spur of the moment, she would flip-flop without first looking behind her, and end up kicking them in the stomach! How many times have I caught her performing gymnastic skills and have had to say, “Leah, you can’t do that there!!”

I have been blessed with four naturally athletic children.  However, Leah, as of now, is the most driven and insane athlete in our family. The sit-up contest? Did she stop at 100? 300? 500? 1000? No, she was determined to win the contest, so she wanted to post a number that she knew the other girls wouldn’t go over. That number, 1111. In fact, she wanted to do more, but I made her stop at this point as it was becoming a little crazy! And, she wondered why her stomach was sore the next day!?

Leah has what it takes to be a great athlete. She is easily coachable and has the talent, dedication, drive, determination, competitive spirit, discipline, and desire to give what it takes to be her best. Never do I put any pressure on her to compete and I always tell her whatever she decides to do with gymnastics or any sport she’s in is fine with me. I will never push her to do or be something she doesn’t want to be. She puts enough pressure on herself that she definitely doesn’t need a mother that’s going to do the same! (Although, I know she could be a great runner – and I sometimes hope she will pick up this “life-long” sport when she gets a little older. Not to mention, gymnastic meets, plus award ceremony’s can get a little long! But, again no pressure!)

My daughter’s last meet was yesterday. She started off the season falling off the bars and breaking her ankle. She had to work really hard to catch up and was very determined to give each meet her best. My favorite memory from this year was when she was at her second or third meet and she was warming up for the vault. She miss-stepped and ended up running into the vault. She ran the run-way a couple more times but could not get her steps back in order. At that point, I knew it was a mental problem. Finally on her third try, she made it over the vault and ended up doing a great job when it was her time to compete. After the meet she told me, “You know Mom, when I was having so much trouble on the vault, I just prayed and asked God to help me get over it, and He did!” Her words were so sweet, and I love when I get little glimpses that let me know  I just might be doing a good job as a mom!

Way to go Leah for finishing Level 5 with a 5th in State on the floor and the bars and 7th in State All-Around!

Yep, sometimes my inspiration to compete and do my best comes from my 9 year old daughter!

 

 

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From the Mouths of Babes

You said what!?

  1. Rachael age 4: As I’m drying Rachael’s hair I notice she is studying herself in the mirror when she suddenly asks, “Mom, who do you think I look like?” “Well,” I respond, “with your blue eyes and blond hair you certainly don’t look like me, so who do YOU think you look like.” “I don’t know, Mom. I was thinking I look a lot like George Washington. We have the same hair.” What!? I was thinking maybe, dad, grandma, my brother, but definitely George Washington wasn’t one that came to mind!?
  2. Tommy, age 9: Last year when I was homeschooling Tommy we were studying Abraham Lincoln. I said to him, “Tommy, can you believe that Abraham Lincoln had 3 sons that died.” “Actually, Mom,” he responded, “Abraham Lincoln had 4 sons that died.” Well, duh!? It’s 2012 of course Abraham Lincoln doesn’t have any living sons!
  3. Leah, age 6: After spending quite a bit of time on my hair and make-up and feeling as if I looked very presentable for the day, I smiled at Leah. She looked at me a bit too closely and said, “Mom, why do you have a brown tooth.” What!? A brown tooth, you’re in kindergarten, you should know your colors by now, it’s more like yellow! And it’s from drinking too much coffee! Immediatley, I wanted to call the dentist and schedule a whitening appointment.
  4. My boys were at Leah’s gymnastic’s meet and would not stop telling me how boring it was. I finally turned to them and said, “I do NOT want to hear the word boring or bored come out of your mouth one more time!” A couple minutes later Steven turned to Tommy and said, “Tommy, isn’t this the most un-sophisticated event you’ve ever been to?” From then on, they thought it was amusing to use any other word to describe her meet except boring.
  5. Tommy age 2: Out of the blue from the back seat of the car, “Mom, I can SNAP and say PORTUGUESE!?” Wow, that’s some talent, Son!!
  6. Steven age 3: After listening to the song “Leaning on the everlasting Arms,” Steven says to me “Mom, I like this song because it says, “safe and secure from all alarms.” That means we can ride our bikes without helmets in heaven and the police won’t get us!”
  7. Leah, age 5: Leah was looking at a picture of my cousin, Hannah. I told her that everyone used to say Hannah and I looked a lot alike, in which she responded, “Well, maybe, but you definitely have a lot more lines on your face.” Thanks a lot!!
  8. Steve, age 8: “Hey, Mom, did you know your like 4,232 years old in dog years!?” Seriously!? No, I’m not! It’s my age x 7! Not my age x 130 something!
  9. Rachael, age 4: Rachael came home from preschool very upset because she had the shortest hair in her class. Her eyes were flowing with tears and in between sobs she said to me, “I’m going to my room and I’m going to pray that Jesus will make my hair grow long.” A couple minutes later I hear her open her door and yell to me, “Mom!! Jesus doesn’t like me because my hair isn’t growing!!!” Rachael, some things do take time!
  10. My sons were 4 and 6 and I thought it was time to teach them the appropriate word for their “male part.” Without naming which son I turned to one of them and asked, “do you know the real word for your…?” With a little giggle he replied, “No.” So, I said, “Well it’s called a penis.” “What!? A Peanut!? I love peanuts!? That was it! No more sex talks from mom, dad can have that responsibility.
  11. Driving in the car with my kids I asked them, “What was the most interesting or important thing you learned in school today?” Each of my home-schooled kids answered with a good response. Steven, who was the only one at a public school answered by saying, “I learned that it’s not a good idea to throw cheese balls at lunch.”
  12. My mom worked as a 2nd grade teacher. One day during school a little boy said, “Miss Rexilius, you smell so good.” “Why thank you, Philip!” No, Miss Rexilius I mean you smell really, really good.” “Thanks, Philip!” “Yes, Miss Rexilius, you smell just like corn!!!
  13. Leah found some heart-shaped measuring spoons in the kitchen drawer. She thought they were “so cool.” So cool, in fact that she told me, “Mom, make sure the other kids know that I get these when you die!” What!? You guys are making dibs on that all ready!! If it means that much to you, Leah, you can have them now!