Running a Good Race

Twin Cities Marathon 2010 009Motherhood is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. I ran my first marathon 5 years ago this fall. In the midst of training for the Twin Cities Marathon, I started to compare running to my journey as a mom, and now, 5 years and four marathons later, I still see the correlation.

I have learned that I can train as hard as I want, but I will never fully be prepared. How can you prepare for the unexpected?  I can study the terrain, but there’s always going to be that bump in the road that I didn’t see on paper. And it may get simpler with each race – I may have more clarity with each race – but the journey to the finish line is never the same.

Thinking back to 5 years ago, what did I do to prepare for my first 26.2 mile race? I associated with runners who have already been there who could give me words of encouragement and advice. I followed the game plan to build my endurance – the payoff? I finished. Did I finish perfect? No, but I finished strong.

The same thing goes for parenting. As mothers, we need the association of moms whom we see as positive role models who have already been there. They’ve traveled that road and paved the way. They can train us, teach us, and give us a game plan for success.

We also need the association of moms who are in the same season as we are. They know exactly what we are going through at each stage because they’re going through the same things. They can give us a shoulder to cry on, make us laugh, or encourage us to keep going. They will become our best friends. A shared experience always brings people together.

When I crossed the starting line of the Twin Cities Marathon, I was engulfed with many emotions: fear, nervousness, excitement, joy, and a sense of accomplishment.

The first couple of miles seemed easy — The same happened when I became a mom. The first few weeks I enjoyed the honeymoon stage of motherhood. I was so in awe of my precious gift that I saw no flaws and thought that the road would be simple.

Around mile 5 or 6, it started feeling mundane. It started sinking in that I still had a long way ahead of me. However, the crowds of people cheering me on made it fun – In the same way, after weeks and months of tending to baby’s every needs, I began to feel like I was in a rut. It seemed like the same routine day in and day out. I was tired from a lack of sleep and feeling like I didn’t have time for me anymore. But then a mom would say a word of encouragement, or my beautiful baby would giggle, and my joy would be renewed.

By mile 13, the halfway point, I realized running a marathon was a huge commitment. I started seeing the endurance and toughness that it takes to go on – being a mom is no different. I started to feel challenged by my boy’s tantrums or stubbornness. I saw that I needed to be emotionally tough to handle challenges that being a mom brings. If I don’t know my purpose, I can stress and feel like a failure.Twin Cities Marathon 2010 001

By mile 18, I started questioning my ability to go on. Negative thoughts started creeping in. I began playing the comparison
game with all the other runners who seemed unaffected by the pain. I started to think I wasn’t strong enough to be a marathoner — There are times when I question my ability to be an effective mom as well. Sometimes I compare myself to the mom who looks like she has everything put together – she appears well rested and fashionably dressed with makeup on and well-behaved kids right by her side. But then I have to step back and realize it’s not fair to me to compare someone’s best with my worst. And then a little voice softly whispers, “I love you mom,” and it melts my heart.

By mile 23, I started to breathe a little easier. I knew the pain was temporary now. I started to believe in myself and could see the end – I think we all have those days where we breathe a sigh of relief or a little prayer of thanks when a stage our children are in comes to a close.

At mile 25, the adrenaline took over, and I began to sprint with a smile on my face. I was thrilled that it was almost over, that I was about to accomplish something great. I crossed the finish line at the State Capitol with tears streaming down my face knowing my hard work paid off – There’s always a finish line.

I know a mother’s job is never done, but there is a point of victory at every stage of the journey. It’s the little rewards: their first steps, their first word, their first A on a report card, their starting spot in the basketball game. The ups and downs are all worth it knowing you’ve done all you can to raise your children to be men and women of strong character. I see the finish line as all the “I love you’s” and “thank you’s” and hugs and kisses that you get along the way, but ultimately, the finish line is letting them go to affect others the same way you affected them.

I think of Paul in Philippians when he says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

You’re in the race of your life as a mother. Stay on the course and finish strong. It’s always worth it!

Walking in Love,

Gabe

Advertisements

5 Things I learned on my Whole 30 Journey

untitledDuring the month of January, I decided to join the Whole 30 bandwagon.

The Whole 30 (http://whole30.com) is based on the book, It Starts With Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Going a month without sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy is supposed to help boost energy, kick the sugar craving, alleviate pains, and more. The book shares that many of our symptoms are revealed through the foods we eat. If we eliminate those foods from our diet, the symptoms can disappear.

This was a tough journey, but over the course of the 30 days, I learned five important life lessons:

1. Self-discipline: Anything can become an idol in our lives if we let it, and I was always craving for another treat or more food. Sometimes the thoughts of ice cream or chocolate would cloud my mind and make me lose focus on what is truly important. I would eat when I was bored, or I justified a milkshake because I had a bad day. I realized I needed self-discipline in the small things so I could also have it in the big things. The Whole 30 requires self-discipline. It required me to decide if I was going to give in to my flesh or if I was going to stand strong and win. It would have been easy to give up and go back to my old ways, but I knew they weren’t getting me where I wanted to be. If nothing changes, nothing changes. The cool thing about the Whole 30 is that it is a 30-day plan, and it only takes 20 days to create a habit. Now a lot of what I learned is ingrained in my daily routine.

2. How to cook/prepare meals: I am not a cook. I don’t like it. I don’t want to do it. I don’t even want to be in the kitchen. I hate the time that it requires. I hate the mess that it makes — I could go on and on. Starting the Whole 30, I quickly realized that cooking is necessary to change things up and not have the same boring meal day after day. I needed to learn how to add different flavors to things so I could savor my food instead of crave something unhealthy. In order to eat whole, clean foods, I needed discipline to plan and prepare my meals. In doing so, I learned that it’s not as bad as I once thought it was, and it actually became somewhat enjoyable. I found myself on Pinterest daily looking for yummy recipes to try. The key for me, however, was to find simple recipes for tasty meals. I have had fun finding out how to use spices in meals to spruce things up, something I’ve never done before. I learned it doesn’t have to be fancy or take hours to prepare in order for it to be a family favorite. Now I have chosen to plan ahead for the week. I have a sheet that I write down what we are going to have for dinner, and I stick to it. It helps keep us within our budget when I grocery shop, and it helps me to stay focused. It keeps me on guard at all times. A game plan is good.

3. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet: A diet is all about what you’re limited to — you can’t have this, and you can’t have that. Count the calories. There’s too much salt or too much fat. The list goes on. I don’t want that! I want it to be about what I can eat and why it’s enjoyable. I want to see my meals as something to look forward to. I wanted to retrain my brain to know what this isn’t about being on a diet or restrictions. It’s about eating what’s healthy for me and having those “other” things in moderation. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says our bodies are God’s temple, and that comes down to the food we use to fuel our bodies. I don’t want mine to be backed up and unusable. I want to be able to be a vessel and a light to others.

4. Real foods can make great treats: Banana ice cream, frozen berries, smoothies — all great, delicious choices for a sweet treat. After the Whole 30, I haven’t had many treats, but I’ve noticed just how sweet they are. Fruit has become sweet enough for me now, and that makes me happy. Does that mean I don’t eat any chocolate or cookies? Nope. It just means I will no longer let the thought of dessert control me. I will enjoy treats in moderation and still be proud of how far I’ve come.

3. It’s going to be OK: If I crave chocolate, and I don’t give in to my desires, it’s going to be OK. If my flesh says I need more, and I don’t cave, it’s going to be OK. I thought I needed all the treats and pastas and breads to be fully satisfied, but I don’t. I don’t need any of it. Food is a tool to fuel my body, keep me healthy, and give me the ability to fulfill my call in life. My life is about giving glory to God. I want my thoughts to be centered around Him and not around my fleshly desires. And if I put Him in the center, then I know everything is going to be OK.

My journey is only beginning, and I know I have a long way to go, but it is worth it, and the refining process is good.

Goodbye Sugar — Hello Freedom

I’m addicted – to sugar.

ID-100134160

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have the sweetest sweet tooth and love a good treat! But my addiction needs to end. I need to say goodbye to sugar and hello to a healthier me. I believe treats are just fine in moderation, but my cravings have gone too far.

I was introduced to the Whole 30 by a friend, and it intrigued me enough to give it a whirl. The best part was that she would do this journey with me!

untitledThe Whole 30 (http://whole30.com) is based off the book It Starts with Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. It basically says eat nothing for a whole month, and I’ll be healthier. OK, not really, but that’s how I felt!

THE RULES: NO sugar, NO grains, NO legumes, NO dairy, NO cheating, for a whole month! Doing this is supposed to kick the sugar craving all together, and it is also supposed to help boost energy, alleviate aches and pains, or decrease allergies. Many of our symptoms are revealed through the foods we eat. If we eliminate those foods from our diet, the symptoms can disappear. The goal is to eat REAL FOOD.

Image courtesy of Iamnee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Iamnee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I did start thinking I was nuts for wanting to go a whole month on just meat, veggies, and fruit. Could I actually have the will power to do this? Eliminate something out of my life that had controlled me for so long? It was worth a shot.

I had two goals in this process:

  1. Cut the sugar cravings for good.
  2. Re-mineralize my teeth

cure tooth decayI’ve been doing research on how to re-mineralize teeth. Three pregnancies has been rough on my teeth, and a once perfect mouth now has five cavities. I am not willing to fill them if there’s a natural way. I really enjoyed the book, Cure Tooth Decay, by Ramiel Nagel, and many of the guidelines coincide with the Whole 30, so I figured I would do it all at once! I’ll do a post in the near future with more details on re-mineralization. I plan to see a dentist in the next month or so to get a second opinion and see if I’ve made any progress.

The first week of the Whole 30, I barely cooked. My two oldest boys (ages 7 and 5) did this journey with me, as they also have a big sweet tooth. We had a lot of eggs for breakfast and chicken with steamed veggies for lunch or dinner. Simplicity was key for me as I transitioned my eating.

The first 10 days were a hard transition. I’m not a cook — I actually used to despise being in the kitchen. However, I knew I needed to train myself to prepare and cook meals so we wouldn’t get bored or give up. It seemed like everything at the grocery store had some type of sugar or sweetener in it, and it was so defeating. I just wanted some easy-to-grab snacks or meals.


 

Image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After 10 days, I felt energetic. I didn’t miss caffeine or any other energy booster for that matter. I was sleeping better, and I didn’t have that sluggish feeling early afternoon like I normally do. Between eating real food and going to the chiropractor, I went from someone who could only sleep a couple hours at a time to getting a 7-hour stretch one night! This was the longest I’ve slept since I can remember! My oldest boy had a rough first week and was in the bathroom quite a bit. He was eliminating so many things out of his system. The icky feeling he had went away by day 10, but the elimination continued.

 


 

After 20 days I realized I didn’t miss my almost nightly go-to treat — ice cream. If it wasn’t there for me to look at, I didn’t crave it. I was starting to find fruit sweet enough. I did still look forward to adding back in an occasional treat, but I didn’t miss all the goodies as much as I thought I would. I felt more energy and an overall sense of well-being. The boys were doing great on this plan. When we went somewhere that they were offered a treat or snack, they politely declined. I always made sure to bring along something for them so they didn’t go hungry. They did miss all the treats, but they were troopers.

 


Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

By day 30, I was really excited to start trying new recipes that called for honey or maple syrup or just a bread-like food. I noticed my face was clearing, and I lost 10 pounds as a byproduct. That was not one of my initial goals — I’m small as it is — but I noticed more definition in my muscles. Overall, I felt better. My workouts seemed easier, the afternoon sluggishness was less frequent, my energy levels were higher, and I was enjoying this new way of eating and cooking!

 


 

The month wasn’t perfect, but I got it done and was proud of my boys for mostly following the rules with me. I now want to incorporate this way of eating into our daily lives with some additional foods and treats in moderation. The boys and I talked about a junk cereal day for them and keeping a pizza night. They were satisfied with those compromises. The boys learned what healthy eating consists of and why it is important. I learned that it’s OK not to know everything if I’m willing to learn. It’s a process. I will take it one step at a time.

 

I will do another couple of posts about my Whole 30 journey. I want to share some of my favorite recipes and meal ideas along with the five important lessons I learned throughout the month. I hope you’ll join me as I tie it all together!

 

 

Sacred Marriage

SCAN0021Fifty years is a long time for anything, but 50 years of marriage is special, and these days, rare.

My parents celebrated their 50th Anniversary in October, and I am so proud of them. Through their 50 years together, they have taught me three important lessons:

1. COMMITMENT. Commitment to anything takes hard work and desire to finish. My parents taught me that marriage is not, and should not be, feeling-based. When united in marriage, two become one, and this bond no man can break.

My parents stuck it out through some really difficult situations, and early on were even close to divorce. They fought for their marriage and didn’t allow their emotions to dictate their relationship.

They taught me agape love – unconditional, no-strings-attached love. This love is not feeling based like pathos and eros. It sticks it out for better or worse, just like our wedding vows recite. My parents reflect what commitment truly means.

DSC_02242. DREAM BIG. I’ve always been a dreamer, and I have to give a lot of credit to my parents because they never doubted me or told me my dreams were too lofty to attain. They encouraged me to pursue the desires of my heart. They were my biggest cheerleaders. When I was playing basketball in high school, I remember they were always in the stands cheering, and even though I wasn’t the best, I was the next Lindsey Whelan in their eyes.

They also never said no when opportunities arose for me. Looking back, I see just how much time and money they sacrificed to make sure I could pursue my passions. I said yes to opportunities like traveling around Europe, interning with New York News 1 at the Democratic Convention in Boston, and studying at the World Journalism Institute in New York City. Every opportunity gave me a chance to grow a little more into the woman I was created to be.

My parents gave my dreams a chance to be nurtured and flourish, and I am still a dreamer today.

3. STRONG FAITH. My parents have strong convictions and are not easily swayed. I learned it’s important not to waver and to make my faith my own.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This verse rings true in my life, and I’m sure I was a big part of my parents’ prayer life – I probably still am. I had my years of rebellion against my parents and against God, but midway into my college years, I changed and developed an unshakeable faith like my parents reflect day after day.

My parents’ deep-rooted convictions helped me to see the importance of believing in something bigger than myself. When it wasn’t forced, I had the desire for a relationship with my Heavenly Father. Thank God my parents never gave up on their convictions – or me.

DSC_0215My parents are two special people with their own love story – trials and victories alike – that shaped them into who they are today, together, as one. Their life is a reflection of commitment, big dreams, and strong faith. Because of them, I am a better wife, mother, friend, and daughter. I am a reflection of what 50 years of marriage produces. Thank you for saying yes to the call of a life-long commitment to each other.

 

Quiet the Noise

I had a bad day. Everyone has them, those sneaky moments of weakness that if you don’t control your emotions can lead you down a spiral of negativity. I’ve been going deeper in my faith, learning how to trust, but sometimes I am tested to see how strong I really am. This was one of those days …

Quieting the noise in my head seems near impossible. I can’t even describe what it is. How did it get so loud? How did it get so uncontrollable? Where did I steer wrong? I was going strong. I was having breakthrough after breakthrough. My confidence was soaring. My faith was getting stronger.

It’s almost as if, out of nowhere, a giant blockade ended up in my brain and made everything go black, regressing all my hard work. Then I heard myself start questioning God. Why is this happening? Why does my next breakthrough seem so far away? What do I have to do to get past this? Why this struggle?

Trying to find joy in the midst of my circumstances is overwhelming. I keep telling myself it could be worse and that it won’t matter five years from now, but those reassurances just don’t seem to help. I wallow in my pain when I should take my eyes off my circumstances and look outward. I struggle to find joy when I have so many blessings around me. I so badly want to get back to that place I was at — that place of peace. I want it more than anything right now. I was a better wife, mother, friend, and person. How do I get back there?

I need the noise in my head to go away. I need to quiet the noise so I can hear God’s whisper saying, “Hold on a little longer. I’m right here, and I have big plans for you. I need you to trust me and walk with me, so I can lead you to the promised land. I never said it would be easy, but I am right beside you and won’t let you fall.”

 

The noise in my head is unbearable;

It’s overpowering my thoughts

It won’t quiet down or stop;

It’s making my brain go blank.

 

The noise in my head tells me

I’m not worthy;

The noise in my head says

To quit where I’m at

The noise in my head gives me

Every reason to give up on myself.

 

I need to quiet the noise,

So I can hear God’s gentle whisper

I need to quiet the noise,

So God can work in my life

I need to quiet the noise,

So I can love who I am

And who I was created to be.

 

When I try and quiet it,

The noise just gets louder

The noise screams in my ear,

You’ll never be good enough!

You’ll never amount to anything!

 

The noise tells me not to trust anyone,

That I have to do it on my own

The noise tells me that others don’t care

Or understand What I’m going through,

So why bother them with my feelings

My feelings don’t matter

 

Then I hear the gentle whisper

That says to me I don’t have to be good enough

I don’t have to have it all together

I only have to be willing,

And trust in what is good and right and true.

 

I slowly rise and get back up

I brush the dirt off my legs

I tell the noise it has to stop

Because the only voice I will listen to

Is God’s quiet, gentle whisper of truth.

 

Am I alone in these feelings? I don’t think so. I think others have had this same mind/body struggle. It’s hard to put into words the deep emotions that arise when I let the lies overpower the truth. So I had a bad day, and maybe you did too, but we have to remember that God is good all the time. He wants what is best for us, but we have to keep the noise out. We have to be willing to trust. We have to be willing to listen for the whisper. Because of this, I will brush myself off and get back up. Tomorrow will be a new day, and it will be a good one because I choose for it to be.

Homeschool Mom

I am a home school mom. I chose this path because I feel like I was called to do so. I never thought I would even contemplate that role!

I’m not your typical housewife, you know, the one that’s organized and appears to have everything together. Oh, no, I’m quite the opposite. I have piles of laundry in baskets — clean — wrinkling by the minute. I have an overbearing stack of dishes in the sink — the load in the dishwasher is clean. I have grand ideas for responsibility charts, science experiments and art projects — all waiting to be done. I have folders of recipes on Pinterest still waiting to be made.

I may not be your typical Betty Crocker, picture perfect housewife. But here’s what I am. I am a mom of three very adventurous boys. Outside of God and my husband, they are the loves of my life. I am the best mom for the job. I am their biggest influence. They look up to me. They depend on me. And because of all those things, I am their best teacher. That is why I stepped into the role of home school mom, and I do not regret saying yes to the job no matter where this journey will take me. We will see how this role unfolds …

Run Coach here I come!

2012-2013 098I am certifying to be a Run Coach. I am passionate about health and fitness, especially when it comes to running, and I can’t think of a better way to help others than to teach them the skill of running and how to enjoy the process! I am in the midst of getting organized, so I will post rates and everything like that soon! Can’t wait to get started!

 

STAY TUNED!!!!