3 Lessons I Teach My Kids Through Running

Running has a plethora of health and emotional benefits, but the greatest thing it does for me is constantly teach me life lessons that I can pass down to my boys.22730150_10101881008949964_95213028041673266_n

1). It’s not all about them.

My life could easily revolve around my kids if I let it. Between school, activities, and friends, they could control my entire schedule and every waking moment. But if I let that happen, what I’m teaching them is that my time isn’t valuable and that my needs don’t matter. I run for many reasons including “me time”, to have solitude, it makes me happy, it keeps me healthy. I run because it makes me a better wife and mom. I want my kids to know the world doesn’t revolve around them. I want to teach them to respect and appreciate others and their needs. My running plays a role in that lesson.

2). It’s important to always have a goal.

I want my boys to feel they have a purpose, and what better way than to continuously set goals and strive to finish? If I’m not modeling that for them, who will? Someone will be influential in their lives, and I want that someone to be me. Believe it or not, my setting a running goal and crushing it feeds their drive to set and accomplish their own. It teaches them that they can do hard things and that the journey is always worth it.

3). You’re never too old to dream.

How many of us stopped dreaming when we had kids? Our lives became so saturated with the daily grind of sleep schedules, diaper changes, and cleaning up messes that we forgot to find something for ourselves. I want my boys to know that their dreams don’t need to end when they have a family of their own. Their dreams matter. If I don’t continue to dream, how can I truly support theirs? A life of a dreamer is beauty in the mundane. Dreaming takes us to places we’ve never been. Successful people are dreamers. My running models for them how to dream big.

My running feeds my soul, but it also teaches my boys that it’s not all about them, to always have a goal, and that they’ll never be too old to dream. Those lessons are invaluable, so I will continue running, learn new things, reach new heights, and inspire my boys to be better in the process.

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Defining Moments

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.

dsc_0286-e1510687561650.jpgHe 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!

Follow Your Calling

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

Stop It Right Now!

Stop it. We need to stop it right now. We need to stop the hateful actions, the judging mouths, and the comparing minds. These things are divisive and the direct opposite of what it means to love. You want more love? Stop it then. You call for love but destroy property, beat up others, and shut down highways. Stop it. You call for love but post slanderous messages on social media, judge someone’s heart through your eyes, insist they are out to get you because they don’t think like you. Stop it. You call for love but can’t help comparing how much better you are than the person next to you because you think you’re smarter, better looking, or more successful. Stop it! Stop it right now.

The hateful actions are teaching our children that it’s OK to act out, whine, and complain anytime they don’t get their way. That is what is happening with all the riots and destruction of property. We adults have succumbed to the tactics of children with outbursts and tantrums taken to the extreme. usa-flagProtests about civil freedoms done in a mostly peaceable manner with the right motive are different. Demonstrations are sometimes necessary to be heard. But this is far from that. This is an outburst that is meant to divide, and Satan sits back and laughs because he doesn’t even have to do the work himself. We’re doing it for him. Stop it!

Judging mouths send the message that if I don’t agree with your ideology, then I’m a bad person. We are the “melting pot” which is what makes America so great. We are free to have different ideas and beliefs – or we should be. That’s what diversity is. We have to be OK with someone not agreeing with us. Intolerance comes from those who think someone’s unloving if he or she don’t agree with them. Social media has given us a way to depersonalize others and bully them from a distance. We say things we would never say if the person were standing in front of us. We beat each other up with written banter and think we’re doing the other person a favor. Well, we’re not. We call for laws against bullying in schools yet succumb to the same thing online with each other. Rather than posting judgmental messages, we should get to know the hearts of those who are different from us because, if we did, we’d realize we have more similarities than differences. I think there are individuals who may want to destroy America, but neither political ideology directly aims to do that. I have to believe that all parties aim to create a better America for you and me. I believe we are all trying to better our families’ lives. We just have different ways of seeing what that would look like. Everyone has a story, and until we see past skin color, gender, and ideology, we’ll never uncover it. The next time you start judging, try putting yourself in their shoes and seeing what they see. They may not be as bad as you think they are. There should never be an “us” and a “them”. We are all Americans. Stop it!

Comparing minds focus on the negative either within us or in others.We are all created in the likeness of God. No one person is better than another, so why do we succumb to comparing each other? We compare our career choices, our parenting, our political stances, or our social statuses. We start seeing ourselves as better in our own minds – OR – we start comparing someone’s best to our worst and begin a downward spiral. The comparison game is a dangerous thing and can take us down a dark path if we’re not careful. Stop it!

Love does not come out of hateful actions, judging mouths, or comparing minds. Love doesn’t mean we have to sit on the sidelines. Sometimes love is tough, sharing truth with the right heart, but love is never vicious.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

What if we stopped acting out, judging, and comparing? What if, instead, we stepped out of our comfort zones and helped someone in need, asked questions to get to know someone’s heart, or complimented someone on a victory.  If we did these things, there’d be more love, no doubt about it. We’d forget our differences and build a stronger America. Together. As one. So stop it, and start truly loving.

The Downhill is Worth the Climb

20160418_180804Have 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.

20160418_070322It 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.

20160417_132324The 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.
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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!

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JUST FINISH

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!?FINISH

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?