Dear Family and Friends,
ETHAN is now a Level 7 gymnast and has grown immensely this past year. He qualified for Future Stars Nationals this fall at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Future Stars is a program dedicated to boys working toward the elite track. At nationals he hit Top 20 in the country for 10-year-old boys. What an accomplishment! He is excited to work even harder and surpass that next year. He enjoys his writing and grammar program we are doing this year as well. I can’t believe he’s already 5th grade!
MICAH enjoyed his first gymnastics season as a level 4 and is moving up to level 5 this year. He has developed some really neat skills, including learning his kip on bars. This past summer he was on a soccer team and really enjoyed that as well. He loves math in school and already is in 2nd grade. He’s also taken to art, especially drawing.
GAVIN is the boss of the house and knows exactly how to get his way! We’re working on that. He loves wrestling and picking on his older brothers. He loves going to “school” (i.e. the nursery on Community Day for homeschool). In the fall he was enrolled in the ninja classes at gymnastics, and he loved his time there! It gave him a way to burn off some of his energy. There is never a dull moment when he is around, but he is full of joy and melts our hearts!
JOSH has been brushing up on his video and editing skills during gymnastics meets. He’s created some neat videos with Ethan and enjoys manning his gymnastics YouTube channel and Facebook page. He got a chance to rock climb outside a few times this summer with us, and he longs to do more of it! He also took on the role as President of the Boy’s Team Booster Club (we are doing it together).
GABE I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. this fall, and that was a humbling experience that I will never forget. I also — finally — said yes to the calling on my heart to start writing again. I am working on my first book and am excited about the progress. My goal is to finish it by the end of summer and publish early 2019. I also am moving into a larger role with Classical Conversations, our homeschool program. I am still directing our community, but am taking on the role of a Support Representative for area communities and directors. I will help establish a few new communities this year and lead outreach for prospective families.
Our family vacation was to Virginia and Washington D.C., and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. We did leave Gavin home with Grandpa and Grandma Wicklund, but I think he had just as much fun. We got a chance to visit many of the museums in D.C. as well as tour the Capitol and White House! We visited the Arlington Cemetery and watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We visited Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williambsurg as well and enjoyed hands-on activities there. The boys are studying U.S. History this year in our homeschool, so it was the perfect timing. What better way to learn about the foundation of our country!?! Josh and I learned right alongside the boys, and we took as much in as we could.
We wish you all a Happy New Year. Let’s make 2018 the best yet!!!
Josh & Gabe, Ethan (10), Micah (8), Gavin (3)
Our children can teach us life lessons if we’re willing to receive. The challenges they encounter become defining moments in their lives. Ethan teaches me lessons daily, and at Future Stars Nationals, after a tough gymnastics meet, he taught me that disappointment is OK, but it’s necessary to take “failure” and grow, not dwell on it.
He achieved Top 20 in the country for 10-year-old gymnasts, which is a massive feat, but it wasn’t his goal. His goal was to make the National Team.
Failure defines our character, and this past weekend, I saw my 10-year-old son hold his head high, be proud of his accomplishments, and spark a fire in himself, which will drive him through this next meet season. Though I noticed disappointment in his face after missing the National Team, he chose to take that setback to propel himself forward to the next level. He didn’t make excuses or play the comparison game; he didn’t blame anyone else.
He loves competing against the best of the best. He thrives off challenges. He relishes being pushed to grow and flourish. He is devoted to building relationships with other gymnasts. He came out of “failure” stronger and more motivated than ever. Failure is necessary to succeed, but becoming defeated is optional. Failure defines our character.
I learn from this boy every day. This weekend was a defining moment in his life. He chose maturity. He chose strength. He chose growth. Likewise, I choose to allow God to use my children to teach me in my defining moments. Today, choose to turn a setback into your comeback!
Are you choosing to follow your calling? Are you choosing to take steps toward it? What has God placed on your heart to do? What stirs you up on the inside? What moves you? Choose not to let the devil talk you out of it. Choose to stop him in his tracks. Choose to embrace your calling and move forward. Choose to trust. Choose purpose.
“When you stand before God, you’ll not be judged according to what you did, but according to what you were called to do.” — John Bevere
Have you ever had the feeling of doing something incredible? That’s exactly how I felt crossing the finish line of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., with a BQ (Boston Qualifying Time) — incredible. Today I had the opportunity to actually get the chance to fulfill a long-time dream of running the Boston Marathon. It’s a first for me. I can cross it off my dreams list. There’s an amazing feeling when you accomplish a dream you’ve worked so hard to attain. I wish everyone could experience that rush of happy emotion. I wish everyone could experience something great. There are seeds of greatness inside all of us, but it’s sad that most never let them grow and flourish. I didn’t want that to be me.
There was so much anticipation the days leading up to the big race. I had a plethora of emotions — excitement, nervousness, pride — a sense of accomplishment knowing the hours of hard work it took to qualify to be here. I did it for anyone who forgot how to dream big dreams. I did it for my country as my way to show patriotism, Boston runs together, Boston strong! I did it to be an example for my kids so they can dream and achieve larger than life goals. But I mostly did it for me to prove to myself that I am worth it and that I have something to offer to others.
It was hours of waiting to start. I was up early to get ready, then we took the shuttle to the airport to get on the Blue Line T to get on the Green Line T to get to the Boston Commons where I would take a bus to the starting village — only to wait another hour before we could go to the actual start line where we would find our corrals and wait for the gun. It was HOT! Coming off my Minnesota winter training into 60s and sunny proved difficult. Keeping hydrated throughout the race was key.
The race was awesome and terrible all at the same time. My first half proved strong with sub-8-minute miles, and a goal of a PR (personal record) seemed in reach. However, the second half told a different story. My IT Band flared up, and my foot pain did as well, both things I had been fighting throughout my training. I tried to shake it off, but my IT Band was hurting enough that turning over my legs became harder and harder. Eventually it forced me to slow down even though my lungs and heart told me to keep going fast. When I realized I couldn’t make a PR and also couldn’t hit another qualifying time, I decided to slow even more to ensure a finish without further injury.
The race course is hard, but I was determined to just run my race and not think about that. Were there hills? I didn’t notice them in the beginning, but I sure enjoyed those downhills! Sometimes in life it’s hard to push through the hills, but it’s always worth it to get to the downhill. Even Heartbreak Hill wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be. It was at a tough spot between miles 20 and 21, but it didn’t make or break the race. I did walk some of it because of my leg pain, but I didn’t sweat it. I just kept going.
I teared up quite a few times along the way, some from the pain, but mostly thinking about what it took to get here. It was a surreal feeling that I wanted to make last. I wanted to enjoy each and every moment. I teared up thinking about the fact that many try to qualify but not many will. I was among the elites of runners. I teared up thinking about the fact that 50 years ago women weren’t allowed to run the race. I teared up thinking about how Bobbi Gibbs must have felt 50 years ago when she snuck into the race and ran unofficially to prove women could run 26.2 miles. I teared up as I passed by Patrick Downes who ran on his prosthetic leg after losing his leg in the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon finish line three years ago. I teared up as I looked up at the historic buildings. I teared up as I passed runners on stretchers from the heat, and I prayed for each one as I ran by. I teared up because of the pain. I teared up knowing I missed my goal. I teared up thinking about making it to the finish. I teared up after I crossed the finish with mixed emotions of pride and fighting feeling like a failure. I would have failed if I quit — but I finished.
Am I disappointed? It would be a lie if I said no. Yes, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that I didn’t hit my goal and that my injury held me back. But am I proud? Yes. I’m proud that I finished despite the pain when many may have chosen to quit. I’m proud to have soaked up all the moments along the way, all the cheering, all the signs, all the sights. I’m proud to have run this sought after race. I’m proud of the hard work it took for me to get here at all. So, yes, there is some disappointment, but only because I’m a winner, and I always want to know I did all that I could. I strive to be better. I’m proud that I started, I stayed steady, and I didn’t quit.
Will there be another marathon? Well, I didn’t hit my goal, so I think you can answer that question. I need to heal. I need to take time to fully recover. I am running Twin Cities Marathon with a goal of pacing my aunt to qualify for Boston, but then it’s just a matter of when and where. But you better believe that I am determined to make this new goal and dream a reality. Do you have a goal? Now’s your time to dream big dreams and make them happen. Don’t waste your days. Turn them into moments. Soak them up. Go get your dream, climb your hill and find the downhill. It’s always worth it!
FINISH. That is my word for 2016. I have always been good at starting – that is not the issue. I start projects all the time. I’m always overly excited and in anticipation of the final product. Go big or go home, right? I have grandiose ideas and am creative. I’m ambitious, driven and have a good work ethic – but I’m a horrible finisher. It starts as a great idea, but that’s about as far as it normally goes.
This year is my year to finish. God has placed something on my heart, and I know I need to see it to completion. I see it as an obedience factor. If I decide to stop before completion, I’m being disobedient to my call and, in turn, telling God I don’t trust HIS plan or HIM! How crazy is that!?
If God calls us to do something, it’s going to be hard. It’s going to stretch us, and we probably won’t be able to do it on our own. But He calls us to it for a reason, and we will grow and change in the process. He doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called – we just have to answer that call. He WILL give us more than we can handle so we HAVE to trust and rely on Him. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. They are so much more expansive than we can imagine. But we also will never know the goodness and the blessings if we don’t latch on to His plan and see our calling to completion.
Everything changes when we decide to finish. Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Finish strong. It’s always worth it. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phillipians 3:14).
2016 is the year to FINISH. What are you called to finish this year?