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

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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 …

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.