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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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.

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?

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.

The Gift

I was having a bad day. Things were not falling into place the way I thought they should. Things were not going my way. Because of this, I started getting a “why me?” attitude and had a pity party with only one invite – ME.

My mind started wandering about why things weren’t going right. Maybe I am not good with people. Maybe I said something wrong. Maybe I’m not worthy. All kinds of thoughts flooded my mind, and none of them positive. This started me on a downward spiral of negativity and complaining. I started making excuses for why I wasn’t where I wanted to be.

I did eventually snap out of it and replaced my thoughts with positive words. My attitude turned around when I decided that the circumstances didn’t matter because God is no respecter of persons. He wasn’t tormenting me and making me have a bad day. I simply chose to focus on the negative rather than to stand on my faith and the promises of God. I chose a bad day.

May 2014 110That night at a business meeting, I was sitting next to a young woman I didn’t know. Conversation started when I complimented her beautiful, black and white, beaded necklace with a mesh flower attached on the side. We got to talking about our families and found a lot of commonalities. In the midst of a hard day, I had managed to make a new friend.

The thing that struck me the most was that at the end of the evening, she turned to me, took off her stunning necklace, put it in my hands and said, “This is a gift from one mom to another.” At that moment, I realized it didn’t matter how my day went. It didn’t matter what was going on in my life. What mattered most was that I took my eyes off me and my problems and moved them onto serving others selflessly. The way to stay joyful in the midst of trials is to do something for someone else knowing I am making a difference in her life whether it benefits me or not. Happiness is a choice.

My new friend blessed me that day. She didn’t know what challenges I was facing. She didn’t know I had a not-so-great day. She didn’t even know how I would respond to her kind gesture. But what she gave me was a gift that said, “You matter.” It was God speaking to me through her saying, “I’m here. I haven’t forgotten about you, sweet child of Mine.” It was God speaking to me through her telling me that He’s still in control and everything is going to be OK. What a heartfelt, impromptu gift of encouragement from one mom to another.