Fear No More: He Goes Before Me

Fear. When did I start fearing the unknown? The world around me? Was it when I was a child or when I had children of my own?

Today, if you turn on the news or any social media platform, you will be bombarded with images and ideas that can create fear in our minds and our hearts.

A little under a month ago, I decided to stop using Facebook because it became a source that no longer brought me happiness when I saw my friends and family members as they posted about their lives. Instead it brought me great fear and anxiety. Each day, or each time I checked in, a new post would make my blood pressure rise and my heart skip some beats.

I use my Facebook and other social media platforms to show positivity and inspire and that is what I look for in other posts, but I was discouraged by posts from others that only focused on the negatives. My heart needed a social media break.

So, I decided no more for at least a month. Well, I soon found out that a lot my information about activities my kids are in are on Facebook. To find out information about practices, I had to log in. At first it was fine. I would just go to that page and get the information I needed. But, then my addiction set in again. I would log in to see a post and an hour later I was clicking out again. What did I gain from my check in? More fear and anxiety.

(Now let me explain that I understand that there is a lot going on today that we need to be informed about. Movements that promote positive change are needed, but most of what I was seeing was meant to create fear.)

To make the point about how my mind turns items into crazy illogical fears here are just a few examples. Don’t judge.

1. Second hand drowning. Every summer the media gets me. If my kids cough in the pool or the lake, I am checking on them the rest of the day and into the night.

2. Have you ever seen Poseidon? Don’t! I won’t go on a cruise ship.

3. Shark attacks off the coast. Yep! Not going in that water.

4. Yellowstone super volcano-that will set me over the edge.

5. Don’t get me started on asteroids 600 million miles away.

I know I might sound a little crazy, but some of you have GOT to have these same types of fears. I swear social media knows what is in my mind and then sends me messages about these things.

Going on…

Fear really overtakes me. Last night I allowed social media to do it again. However, today is different.

Today, I got up, prepared for my run, and went to meet a friend to run.

As soon as I got into the car, I heard Sandi from 99.1 Joy FM start talking about her fear. She quoted Deuteronomy 31:8.

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will walk with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Don’t be afraid; don’t be discouraged.”

Thank you Sandi! I needed that reminder. And I know Who sent it to me through you. Fear does not come from God. Fear comes from the one who wants to take you away from God’s love. I do not want to walk or run in fear.

Last night as fear was rising inside of me, I thought about my grandparents. They lived in simpler times, but still had to deal with a lot of uncertainty and fear. The Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement. These times were full of the unknown and progress at the same time. I wonder what my grandparents would think about social media. I would think they all would be thankful for not having social media during these times.

For them, when they feared, they didn’t go to social media for more fear to grow. They went to God in prayer. If you are feeling like I have been, I encourage you to stop. Get off of your technology and pray. It is very simple.

When I pray, my heart slows down and my mind calms. And I grow thankful knowing that the Lord goes before me. He has always been there for me (more to come on that) and will always be there in my tomorrow.

When did I start to fear? I don’t remember a ton of fear from my childhood. I know it was there, but it didn’t take me over.

I am reminded when Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Yes, this means God wants us to be submissive to Him and do His good work, but I also feel it fits in with my thoughts on fear.

I saw a meme the other day that said something like “If you are going to do something new that you fear, do it like a kid in a Batman costume.”

Kids are funny. They can really put on a costume and have no fear.

As we grow older, we see the world. We see the pain and sadness that is created. We don’t think we have that same defense we had when we put on that costume as a kid.

But, we as adult Christians have something we can put on too. It is the Armor of God.

Each night I pray over my children that they too will have the Armor of God, and each morning I look in the mirror and envision myself putting on this armor for the day. With this armor and the fact that God is always with me today and in my tomorrow, I am able to overcome my fear one-day-at-a-time.

Mountains and Surprises He Made Us For

I know I have written before about how difficult 2019 was for me and my family. And I don’t want to keep playing the same song over and over again. However, I felt the need to write about fear, and a whole lot of my fear right now comes from last year.

Because of all those trials in 2019, I was scared to see what was in store for me in 2020. I have fear about my race and the many milestones that I will have to face, and then I have the fear that last year’s troubles would follow me into 2020.

2020 started and I was off to a great start. Healthy eating, completing scheduled workout, family life and work were all going good.

Then I had a short minor scare. I had my first mammogram, and then I had my second mammogram and an ultra sound. and then yesterday I had my third mammogram and second ultra sound. Everything is okay. Nothing to worry about said the doctor yesterday, but before yesterday fear took over me.

I know the troubles cancer can bring to a family. And I immediately had fear. What if there was something really wrong? I feared for my children who might have to see their mom go though a difficult time, I feared for my husband who had already had so much to worry about, and I feared worrying about if I was strong enough for all of them and me. I feared for our family finically. I know some people would call all of this premature, but I am a person who plans. And, honestly, if the stuff really hit the fan for me, there wouldn’t be a plan to fall back on.

So with this fear I did what I do best. I worried and I cried until I had some thing in line financially to make my heart feel better.

Once I had all that figured out I remembered. God has this! God has this all! These things that happen to us, these struggles we face, they are not things that just randomly happen. I mean we feel like they do, but God knew ALL of this before we were even conceived. I can just imagine Him up in heaven discussing all the mountains I will climb saying, “This girl is gonna need a little bit of this and a little bit of this” as he perfectly put me together.

And with that realization, the fear flooded out of me. I knew He had me.

Yesterday as I sat at my appointment I watched Friends, one of my favorite shows. The thanksgiving one where Joey wears the maturity pants. I laughed and laughed.

The doctors called me later to say all was good and to check up in 6 months just to be safe.

Now I would like to say my day ended there, but later I actually ended up in the ER with appendicitis. LOL I know right?!

Once again, I had to trust in Him who made me. I guess he knew I didn’t need that appendix anyway. Maybe it will make me a little lighter now as I continue to train, after I heal for a about a week or two that is.

As I sit in my bed getting ready to eat my hospital breakfast, I know I will be okay no matter what comes along. Because God made me resilient and incredibly strong. I also have to note that He put the best family and friends in my life to help make me the person I am today. Thank you to all of you who read, who listen, who encourage, who laugh with me and at me, and who love me unconditionally. I know He also put us together for a reason.

Thanksgiving and Hope for the New Year

A new year

A new decade

A new beginning

Truth. This past week has been extremely difficult for me. As I listened to what friends and family were planning to ring in the new year and the new decade, I couldn’t help but get emotional.

See last year at this time, I was ready to start the best year of my life. 2019 was going to be the year I became an Ironman, and I was going to do it before I turned 40.

I started my training before the new year. I had a plan and a calendar of schedules to prove it. Every time I completed a training session, I would highlight it. By May, I had pages of accomplishments. I felt confident in my swim and my run, and I felt my biking would get there.

Then my plans were halted.

It was June. I dropped my kids off with my mother-in-law and prepared for a long bike. Something wasn’t feeling right. I biked for an hour and then called my mom. My confidence was not there on my bike and we talked about me deferring to the next year. My mother was the one person I could talk to. I knew she wouldn’t judge and I knew she would listen to my concerns.

See in my mind I was failing. I set a goal and I wasn’t going to reach it. I knew I was making the right decision to defer. My heart immediately felt relieved to have another year to prepare, but my heart also began to mourn.

Really? What on earth was happening? You don’t mourn races that you push off. Or do you?

It is perfectly normal to mourn all kinds of life changing events. I set a goal. A goal that was HUGE. I had a few moments where I could cry, to let it all out, and then regroup and get back to it.

But

Then

I was stopped in my tracks.

Last year at this time I never thought I would be on the side of the road crying in the phone as I talked to my mom about deferring my race.

Last year at this time, I also didn’t think my family would go through the trials we were about to face.

God knew what he was doing when I felt in my heart I needed to defer. 2019 would bring more heartbreak and bumps in our road.

As I watched my mother-in-law’s health decline, I felt buried emotions rising up in my heart. I remembered the loss of my dad, and thought how on earth would I get through this? How was I supposed to hold it all together and help my husband say goodbye. Well, the truth is I didn’t really hold it all together. At times I let it all out and sometimes it was ugly. But other times, by the grace of God, I was able to say the right words and I was able to listen. We got the chance to have so many chances to say goodbye, and I was thankful. I saw some tremendous strength in my mother-in-law. Strength that today helps me to get through tough workouts and trying days.

Would this be our only trouble this year? No. There was more in store. My father-in-law also had some health issues that worried us and my husband hurt his knee and required surgery and time off work.

This was not the year I had planned.

Last year at this time, I was ready to start the best year of my life. I was eager and excited! 2019 was going to be the year I became an Ironman, and I was going to do it before I turned 40.

That was the year I had planned, but that is not the year that happened.

I have been pretty emotional this last week because the beginning of this year is different.

Am I excited for what this year has in store? Yes, but I also am a little hesitant as well. I don’t want another year of heartbreak, so I enter this year with caution. But you can’t avoid the struggles that life throws at you. You have to roll with them and learn from them. After the loss of my own father, I learned how to be thankful for ALL life’s events.

So I go into this new year, this new decade, feeling thankful.

I am thankful for that day in June when my heart was telling me to defer my race because times were coming that I couldn’t physically put off.

I am thankful for the good times when my mother-in-law was feeling better and could go to the kids’ soccer games and dance recitals and could experience other opportunities like cookie baking and game playing.

I am thankful I could be there to help her as she woke up in the hospital and had to preform breathing challenges before she could be taken off the breathing machines. I am thankful God gave me the right words to say and that he kept me strong while she faced so much uncertainty.

I am thankful for my husband’s injury as crazy as that sounds. With the time off work, he was able to be there for his mom and dad.

I am thankful that my husband gave me the chance to be there for him and his mom. I cherish that time I also had to say goodbye.

Last year was rough, but I am thankful for all the lessons I learned. There really are too many to even list here.

The new year is here. Am I ready? I really don’t know, but I am hopeful. I am hopeful that the lessons I have learned, the love that I experienced, and the strength I witnessed will push me to be the best me in 2020. And come September 2020, I hope I am able to cross that finish line as I give thanks for all of the lessons I learned in 2019 and 2020.

A new year

A new decade

A new beginning or rather a continuance of goals set with thanksgiving and hope.

The Love of a Woman: The Strength of a Woman

I often comment and brag on how I am so lucky to come from a long line of strong women.

I have watched my grandmothers battle emotions and stand strong through the most difficult times.

I have witnessed my aunts go through trials in life and come out more beautifully strong than they were when life hit the fan.

I have spoken about my step mother and my angel who overcame incredible odds.

I have written about my mother’s strength and how she has instilled this in me. She is my rock and the woman who taught me to love.

One woman I have yet to write about is my mother-in-law Pam.

As all mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationships go, we have had our differences. Not being my mother, our parenting styles are different and therefore we have had some differences in opinions from time to time.

What is completely undeniable is her love for her children, her grandchildren, and, lucky for me, her God chosen daughter.

When I first met Pam she went on and on about her son in such a way you would believe him to be a perfect angel (he is not LOL), but to her he is. He is her baby; the one who loved her no matter what.

When her life felt like it was falling apart during her divorce, he was there to comfort her. They (as I hear) were two peas in a pod. Both needing something from each other. Both needing someone to love and someone to love them unconditionally. She often talked about how when it was just the two of them with a perpetual smile on her face.

She went on to tell me again and again about how she prayed and prayed when her baby was in Iraq. She would watch the news every day, and pray each night for her baby’s safety. She beamed with pride when she spoke of his service, but she remembered when each day could have ended with a phone call that any mother would dread. She wanted more than anything for her baby to come back to her. And he did.

Through all of these situations she had to have strength, but nothing would compare to the battles she would face.

I first met Pam when she had just finished battling breast cancer. Times were tough for her, but she was tougher. She had a new found outlook on life. She battled cancer and lived.

Years later, that word cancer crept in again. This time it was lung cancer and stage 4. Stage 4 was the worse, but you didn’t let that stop you. Sometimes I think you had doubts in your heart about if you had the strength to fight this disease again, but you told yourself over and over again that you had this, that you were going to beat this, and you did!

“Remission,” the doctors said, and we celebrated. All the time, I wondered how could you go from stage 4 to remission.

Life was still a day-by-day challenge. Breathing was hard, but you made the best of it. My children enjoyed playing games with you when they came over and they loved when you spoiled them with their favorites. MawMaw’s toast and M&Ms.

This last summer was a struggle for you and for us. Several hospital stays kept us all busy. Each time we expected the unexpected. You went into the hospital and were put on life support. This was scary for all of us. We knew we needed to be strong to see you through this. We thought you were leaving us, but breathing challenge after breathing challenge you got better and better. We literally saw the life drain out of you and then, to our amazement, you came back. You would not let us go.

We celebrated you coming off of the ventilator and were so excited to see your face smiling and hear your voice telling us how much you loved us.

During this time, more struggles happened. Jeremy with his meniscus injury and Dave with his heart. You said over and over again how you wanted to get better so you could take care of them.

And you were getting better.

I visited you in rehabilitation and thought something was different. You hugged me differently, and you told me you loved me like you never had before. That night you went back into the ICU and back on the ventilator. The doctors prepared us for the worst, and the next night before you were transported to St. John’s, we found your prayer.

Dear God,

I need you more than ever. Please bring peace to my confusion, joy to my sadness, and hope to my heart.

How did you know we needed that prayer? I read that prayer over and over again. We prepared to say goodbye, and then, you came back to us again.

I was in disbelief. How can one person go through so much and still come back?

I didn’t know how you were doing it, but then I remembered the many women in my life.

See there is something special about a woman! Some of us are born with incredible strength. Some of us learn this strength from other strong women. You, Pam, are and forever will be one of the strongest women I have ever known. You would not leave this world without putting up a fight. You wanted to make sure we were all okay. And then you said your final goodbye.

We are not okay today. We are missing you. We are grieving for our loss, but we know you are in a better place. And we are so incredibly thankful for your love.

Before you went back on the breathing tube, you hugged me differently. It was an embrace I will never forget. Your “I love you” was different too. You said, “I love you Angie. I love you more than you will ever know.”

Pam, I know your love. Your love kept you strong and kept you coming back to us again and again until you just couldn’t do it anymore. As we go on in this life without you, we will remember to love like you did. And I will forever remember the strength you taught me.

I often brag about how I come from a strong line of women. Today I am the luckiest to have been able to witness your strength and your unconditional love. And I am even more thankful to have called you mom.

Dreaming and Working Towards My Day

Today would have been a beautiful day to race. But, it-is-not-my-day. Last year around this time, I made my husband travel to Madison, Wisconsin with me so he could witness a dream of mine-Ironman 140.6. I do believe it is my biggest dream to date. I signed up and trained hard. For months I got up early to put in the work; I have a calendar to prove it. Then in June and July my mind started to falter. Could I really do this? I doubted myself, I talked a lot to God, and probably a lot more to my mom. At the beginning of July I decided I would defer to Ironman 2020. My spot and my money would be saved. No harm, no foul. Except in my mind I told myself all kinds of untruths. You are a failure. You are not cut out for any of this. You just got yourself another year to find out you still can’t do this. Oh yes, my mind was on a rampage. I was super depressed and irritated. This was supposed to be my year! Today is also the anniversary of my brother’s first Ironman. Wouldn’t that have been something!? Brother and sister Ironman together on the same date but different years.

Well, today is not my day. And that is okay! See God knew what He was doing in my mind last June. He knew the storm that was coming in my life. After making the decision to defer, I realized why it was the best for me, and I realized that it was okay to say, “I can’t do this right now.” Not that I won’t do this, but that right now it is not the time.

After I made my decision, my mother-in-law went into the hospital with some health issues. She pulled through quickly, but we knew she would need extra love and care. Our summer got busy with birthday celebrations and preparations for school. I had nothing created for my classes I teach because we got new books, and I wasn’t quite ready to dive into that and say goodbye to summer. Then, my husband went down with an injury to his meniscus. That meant surgery and time off to heal. It also meant that all of us had to step up to help. “Okay,” I thought. “I can handle this.” And as I was in mid-sentence, my mother-in-law was back in the hospital for rehabilitation. Since then, we have had many ups and downs with her health (something I still need to write to discuss the strength of the woman who raised my husband. Coming soon!). Sure, some people may say that these are just excuses. They are BIG speed bumps that have rocked my world! See God knew what he was doing in June when He was telling me, “Daughter, I know this is your dream, but there is a storm coming. And I need you strong for that.”

In that moment, I trusted Him and I trusted my gut. I didn’t quit; I just postponed my dream to next year. Hopefully, these storms will settle in my life. They may not. But, my body will be stronger next year. My mind will be stronger, and most importantly, my faith will be stronger.

Today would have been a beautiful day to race, but it is not my day. So, I got up, I got on my bike, I ran, and I continued working hard and dreaming of my time.

Let’s Be Real

For real!  Let’s be real!

I have spent the last two weeks feeling sorry for myself.  This has resulted in a very emotional me.  One who wants to cry, one who wants to sleep all day, one who just wants all my troubles to melt away.

I have suffered from anxiety, worry, and headaches.

The culprit?

Myself.

Fear.

Self Doubt.

The feeling of failure.

Insecurities.

None of these are attributes that other people can see.  A few people who are close to me get to see these or, if they are lucky, they get to hear about them.  But the truth is we all go through all of these feelings.  Some of us listen to these voices in our heads telling us we are not good enough; some of us completely ignore them.  I have been working really hard to shut them up, but they are there.  They are a part of me.  A part of me that I am working on overpowering.

Last September I traveled to Wisconsin to watch the Ironman in Madison with my husband.  You can’t just go to an Ironman and not be inspired.  This was my third Ironman as a spectator.  I brought my husband along this time so that he could see what I was dreaming of. After our trip and much deliberation, we decided I would sign up.  Then I set out to prepare my body for this race that would take me 140.6 miles.  2.4 mile swim, 112 miles bike, and 26.2 mile run.  Not an easy task!  I knew this.  I also believed if I worked hard, I would be there on that start line September 8, 2019.

I got my training plan, I built my base, I found a swim coach, I made the time, I put in the hours.  Each day, each week, I became stronger.  Some days were great. I felt strong.  Other days I asked myself, “What in the world were you thinking?”  I injured my leg, but I went to physical therapy and worked through it.  I felt confident in my swim and my run, but my bike, now that was a different story.

Yes, I rode bikes when I was younger, but nothing I rode as a kid was as fancy as my bike I have now.  Actually, even the thought of how expensive it is makes me want to vomit.  I  never had anything so nice, and I developed, still got it, a fear of breaking it.  And then there were the thoughts of hills!  I was going to have to ride this bike for 112 miles up and down hills. Big hills.  To make a long story short, my fears kept me from getting out there and really getting good and long practices in on my bike.

This brings me to the last two weeks of feeling sorry for myself.

I know that Ironman is my dream.  I know that I want to tackle this 140.6 miles for God knows why…I am still some days confused.  However, I also know my limitations.   I am not ready for the bike portion of this race, and because I am not ready, I decided to defer my entry to the 2020 race.

Go me!  Right?

With this decision came great relief.  “Look! Angie,” I would say to myself. “You just gave yourself another year to get even stronger.”  It felt good to know I had more time, but it also felt like I was failing.  I wasn’t going to be at that start line this year.  I now became a crying fool because I wasn’t going to the race this year.  I stopped doing my normal daily workouts.  I might have done a few here or there.  I started sleeping in longer and taking naps whenever I could.  Yes, I was tired from months of training, but I also was slowly slipping into a depressive state.  And then a few things happened.

First, a friend of mine after I shared with her my decision through a text said,

“You are NOT quiting! You are NOT giving up! You crossed the start line already!”

With these words, I teared up and put my chin up like my momma always told me.  I was focusing on the actual start line of the race, but that start line could have been in 2019,  and it also can be in 2020.  I started!  I started this journey, this very long and scary journey.  And I am not done yet!  Love you Amber!

Second, my sister and aunt both shared with me that they could care less if I ever did anything relating to swimming, biking, and running again.  They both shared with me that I had nothing to prove because I have already proved to my family, friends, and to my God that I am strong woman who loves fiercely and unconditionally.  Love you Candy and Aunt Sharon!

Third, my mother told me that Ironman 2020 sounded better than Ironman 2019 anyway.  Which is so true!  I could hear her encouraging smile through the phone.  Love you momma!

Fourth, my brother called me and gave me some pointers on how to prepare this year.  He is really a great big brother.  We may have had our differences in our childhood years, but I really do feel that we can feel each other’s disappointments, and we want nothing more then to help each other up when we feel down.  Love you brother!

Fifth, my husband and I had a big heart to heart.  He will be the one dealing with me one-on-one for another year of training.  Please pray for him as he deals with my mood swings.  Love you honey and thanks for your continued support!

Sixth, my son said, “But mom, you are still doing it.  Just not this year.”  Yes, son.  Mom is not quitting.  And then he double checked that he would still be able to go.  Yes, you are still invited my love.

And finally,  my daughter left a medal that she made out of construction paper on my pillow.  I mistakenly thought it was for my husband for Father’s Day, but it was for me.  She said, “Mom, I made you a #1 medal for your race, but really it is for being a mom. You are number 1.” My sweet, sweet girl! Love!

Readers, we all feel it.

Fear.

Doubt.

Insecurity.

Failure.

Those are things we see in ourselves.  Do other people see that?

NO!

Other people see a friend who started.

Other people see a sister and niece who is doing her best to make it all work.

Other people see a daughter who is beautiful and strong and persistent.

Other people see a wife doing all the things while still finding time to do her thing.

Other people see a mother who gives her all and who in her children’s eyes will never fail because they believe she is number one.

And last and not least, my God sees me!  And He loves me!  He put this dream in my head and in my heart, and He will see me through this.

I think today is the day I start seeing what other people see.

Ironman 2020. My new finish line.

A Mother’s Love

A Mother’s Love

Ever since I decided to sign up and start training for Ironman Wisconsin, I have been trying to think of a way to write a blog post about my biggest inspiration. My mother.

Do you know how hard it is to write about a woman that words cannot describe?

I love my mother more than anything in this world. She is my rock.

For a long time, I beat around the bush and hinted here and there about my desire to compete in the Ironman. My mother loves me, and I absolutely believe that she thinks I can do this; however, when I hinted at my desires, I know she thought in the back of her mind, “Oh dear God, please let my crazy daughter change her mind about this thing!”

My mother has been and will be my biggest supporter. But, as mothers, we also can’t help but show our concern for our children. Raising children is easy when they stay in our nice little bubble where we can protect them. And as they venture out to chase their dreams, we can’t help but feel overjoyed and scared to death at the same time. But a mother must let go over and over again.

I don’t remember the first time I rode a bike, but I am sure my mother does. All I have to go off of now is how I felt the first time I or my husband let go of that seat to let our son or daughter glide down the driveway. The only thing supporting them then was their own momentum and balance. Still today as I watch my children ride their bike, I gasp when I see them getting a little wobbly. We want to see our children succeed, but we also know they must fall and get back up, sometimes with our support and sometimes all on their own.

When I moved into college, I remember my mother’s face. She was a single mother who was moving her baby into a dorm room. She knew I would encounter many obstacles that year. Not only was I going to have to learn how to be on my own for that first year, I was also going to have to deal with saying goodbye to my terminally ill father. She couldn’t even imagine the demons that would plague me that year as I battled so many insecurities and the unknowns of how I would face the world without my father. As she left me there, I saw in her eyes the look I would see many more time in the future. The look of pride and worry all at the same time. The only thing supporting me then was perseverance to make my parents proud. Later that year, my freshman year in college, she would arrive to take me to my father for our final goodbyes. I honestly don’t know how she even made that drive. What could you say to your daughter who was losing her daddy. But she held it together and encouraged me to be strong.

As I was coming up on graduation, I was trying to figure out where I belonged in this world. I had a bright idea to apply to teach overseas or in an inner city. My mother and I did not share the same ideas. Although doing either of these things would have been amazing, my mother knew me. She knew that after the loss of my father what I needed more than anything was to be close to home. She tried to get me to come back home for a job, but chance pushed me three hours away. As she moved me up to my new home, she looked at me with more confidence. Her baby girl did it! The only thing supporting me was myself. I was in the real world. Paying my own bills; well, most of them anyhow.

When I decided I would buy a house and then get married, I know that had to bring up a lot of emotions in my mother. See my mother didn’t ever want her children to end up like her, a single mother trying to make ends meet. I remember her actually saying to me, “I just don’t want you to end up eating baloney sandwiches.” She stressed about the purchase of our house and looked over our finances again and again to make sure that she thought we would be able to afford this life we were getting into. She left me both after the purchase of our first house and our wedding knowing we would be okay. The only thing supporting us was our love and, I think my husband would also agree, our own stubbornness.

Well after marriage comes a baby carriage is how the saying goes. I remember very vividly standing on my porch while my mom said goodbye and was leaving me with my baby boy for the first time. Being the amazing selfless person that she is, she came to stay with us while I healed up. As I held my baby boy, the space between my mother and myself was magnetic. She didn’t want to go and I wanted her to stay forever. How on earth would I be anything like her? She was and is the greatest mother of all time. I just didn’t think I could ever live up to her. So there I stood. The only thing supporting me was a hope and a dream that I could be half the mother that she is.

Mom, it must have been extremely hard to let go of me again and again with every new dream. And here we are again. We together, mother and daughter, are facing another scary epic challenge. This crazy dream of mine. I know it was not your choice for me to do this, but I also know, you will be right by my side leading my way, cheering me on, and worrying like mothers do.

Your kids sure haven’t made letting go easy for you, but you have made facing our challenges easier, enjoyable, and memorable because of your selfless love.

When I remember that first bike ride, that moment at college, that first house, that wedding day, and that first time you left me after I became a mother myself, I remember the things that were supporting me. It wasn’t only momentum, balance, love, hope, and dreams keeping me up. My strength that kept me going came from your love!

Now that I am a mother myself, I know that the most valuable thing that was and is always supporting me is my mother’s love!

When we were younger, you always stressed how you didn’t want us to end up like you. We have lived our lives striving to be you! Thank you for your selfless love and support through all the times in our lives. We didn’t always know how those moments would end up, but we knew we would be okay because we have our mother’s love!

7 Years in the Making…actually 40

It seems fitting that I would write this today February 7. Seven years ago today I signed up for my very first triathlon. I was a young mother with no knowledge of what to expect. I remember, when I eventually got to the race, standing on the beach staring out at the waves crashing against the shore and worrying. Before that moment, I thought this was so simple. Just swim a little, bike, and then run; however, as I started my first race and as I finished it, I realized how big this thing actually was. And at that moment I fell in love.

I fell in love with myself. I fell in love with bettering myself. I fell in love with the feeling that triathlons give me. The accomplishments. The desire to do better and push harder than I’ve ever push before. And I fell in love with dreaming again. Dreaming of something that I could work towards and accomplish. And then I fell in love with the feeling of knowing my kids are watching my every move, and if I just continue to push and try, they would always know that they could also continue to push and try.

Seven years ago I signed up for my first ever triathlon. Today I write this to tell you that I am now-well I have been for a while-signed up for Wisconsin Ironman 2019. I have lots of fears that circle me almost every day. Those fears are what have kept me from telling everyone about signing up. Fears like will I finish or will I even get to the starting line. Those fears are the constant battle that I deal with on a daily basis, but then there’s also the feeling of accomplishment that I feel almost every day as well. I feel accomplished when I reach a new mile stone in my training schedule. I feel accomplished when I finish a run with my daughter biking happily beside me. I feel accomplished when I look fear in the face and say, “You have no power over me!”

That young mother had no idea what she was doing or what to expect. Now I know that it will take hard work and a strong mind and body. However, it will take more than anything else my faith in my God and His strength pushing me and giving me courage to continue on when the road seems a long and hard.

I have to face failure. I could fail. I could cross the line one minute after midnight and not become an Ironman. I might be an Ironman in my heart, but I will not have a metal to show that I actually finished within the time limits. This scares me more than ever. Why work so hard to get nothing?

A friend reminded me last night that as individuals we are very hard on ourselves. I talked to her about crossing the finish line one minute late, and we talked about how I would feel. But then she told me something else.

She told me how she would feel as a spectator watching my race. She said as I cross that finish line, even if it was after the time limit, she would have open arms ready to hug me and praise me and say how wonderful I did. Our loved ones know how hard we work towards our goals. They see how hard we work at life. Even if we come up short, they will still cheer us on. How lucky am I to have so many people willing to cheer me on through my training and eventually my race. In their eyes, I will be winning.

This love that this friend expressed to me is nothing compared to what my God will show me one day. I know that He has whispered in my heart to work towards this goal. I know that there is a reason I am doing this for Him. I do not know how it will all play out, but I will trust Him. I know through it all He will be there with open arms helping me along. I write all this to finally come out and say, “I am signed up for Ironman Wisconsin!”

It is a long road ahead of me. One filled with fears and the unknown, but what I do know is I am not alone in this! I have my family and friends ready to cheer me on and love me no matter what. And I have my God, my Strength, with me along the way. All for His glory!

A Christmas Miracle

About twenty years ago I spent my last Christmas with my father. Still to this day, I can see the leather gloves he tried on after receiving them as a gift and I can see him smile over the basket of chocolate we gave him. My mind is foggy sometimes when I think of the year I had to say goodbye to my father. When you go through something like that, you want to hold on tight to every memory. You don’t even know what details you should be logging for future reference when you will long to remember the good old days. However, there is still that one moment that will forever be etched in our minds.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the time we spend with each other today. Twenty years ago, it was a lot different. Families gathered around tables, ate and talked to each other. We played games and laughed out loud. If we ate too much and needed a nap, we grabbed our favorite blanket and found a spot on the floor. We played card games, cooked food, took walks, went on special shopping trips to the local drug store to spend our Christmas cash. Life was easy and rewarding in itself.

Today is different. As a teacher, over the last five years I have noticed a steady increase of young adults who are addicted to electronic devices. They can’t go a minute without checking their phone. First chance they get, they have their smart phone out snapping a pic and sending a snap or whatever else kids do now a days. In class, when given time to discuss and celebrate accomplishments with each other, I have witness students getting on their chrome books to watch a video rather than have a meaningful conversation with someone. There have been many times where I say no computers and no phones because we as humans need to interact face to face. Recently, I have seen more people laugh and giggle while looking at a screen than I have seen while looking at a real live human being.

What have we become?

Twenty years ago I spent the last Christmas I would ever spend with my dad. I didn’t have a smart phone, I had to go to the computer lab to get on the internet or type a paper, and we didn’t have tablets of endless knowledge where ever we went.

Twenty years ago I spent the last Christmas with my dad, and we all sat around and played a game. The game was Catch Phrase. In the game you are on a team and you pass the game piece around and try to get your team to guess the word without saying the word or any variation of it to your team. When your team gets the word, you pass the game piece to the other team as both teams race against the clock.

Twenty years ago, my dad got a word during the game and he explained it as “It is something that has started that is not yet finished.” We were clueless. We had no idea what he was wanting us to guess. After all, he had two brain surgeries, sometimes he would say crazy things. The buzzer went off and we lost that round, and Dad said, “It’s a Miracle!”

His word was miracle!

Today I look back on that moment and that last year I had with my dad and thank God that I didn’t have a smart phone, or a tablet, or a computer. My Dad’s life was a miracle! Through his life and his death, I learned to love harder than ever. I learned to not let a moment go by. I learned to cherish every memory. Back then, it was hard to take it all in and remember every moment because I wanted to remember it all, but I remember that moment. That miracle.

This Christmas season put down the electronic devices and really be with your families and friends. I would hate for you to miss a true miracle because your face was glued to a screen.

Merry Christmas Daddy! Although I miss you more than ever, I am thankful I didn’t miss out on seeing you live. Your miracle is not finished; it lives on through me.

Temptation and a New Year

I have been doing a lot of reading. Books that have really made me think and are inspiring me to do some really cool things in the future. You could call the books self help books, and they are. What I am taking from these books is helping me to start something new in my mind.

I teach English, and most summers are filled with me reading professional development books to get reinspired to teach in the fall. This summer my books are more personal development, but I hope that this development will carry over into my many jobs.

The cool thing about being a teacher is that you have more than one new year during a year. I drive my husband crazy when I talk about last year. I mostly am talking about a school year. Summer is a time of rejuvenation for a teacher. We need this time to regroup, but we also get excited for a fresh start. New pens, new pencils, new binders, new planners, and of course the people we serve, new students. I like to read books in the summer that will help me be a better teacher, but this year I went for books that can help me be a better person. I love how the beginning of the year feels so fresh! I love fresh starts.

After thinking about fresh starts this week, I was reminded about a piece I wrote after Palm Sunday this year. As a teacher I always saw August as a fresh start, and then we have January first as another fresh start, but this year, I saw Palm Sunday is a new marker. One where we can look at our own spirituality and recommit ourselves. In reality any day, any minute, any second, can be that new beginning and fresh start. I guess I just understood things differently this year.

As you read this piece, it may sound out of place at times, but just try to remember that I wrote it after Palm Sunday as I was beginning a journal/book to share my adventures with training. I hope the message is not lost, and remember that it doesn’t have to be Easter or August or January 1st to start living life! The future starts now.

Enjoy!

What is really hard is temptation!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Temptation! Saying no to temptation is hard! Really hard. I have spent all week saying no to bad food choices and yes to good food choices. Why is it so difficult to avoid giving into temptations?

Tonight, we went to church. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, so tonight we read through the day Jesus was nailed to the cross. The church parishioners read the part of the crowd when Jesus was being sentenced to death. Tonight, I read, “Crucify him!” Tonight, I understood. When I read those words, it hit me. Those people during Jesus’ time saw everything that He could do, and they ridiculed Him. They taunted Him. They asked Him to save Himself, and they had no idea He was about to save them. Tears filled my eyes as I thought about all these people saying horrible things to the Man who would be their Savior, but then I thought. There is a reason we are reading this part right now. How many times a week do we turn our hearts away from Jesus? How many times a day do we give into temptation?

Jesus said that in the end when we stand before God for our judgement we will have to answer to all the things we did and didn’t do. Temptation is really hard, and it can be in everything we do. Did we take the time to help a friend in need? That was Jesus. Did we turn our back on Him? Did we use curse words to talk about someone else? That was Jesus. Did we turn our backs on Him? Yes! See tonight I realized more than ever before that I am just like those people who asked Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus. They were tempted to not believe in everything that was good about Jesus. His own friends betrayed Him. How many times have I betrayed Him?

Yes, this is about my road to Ironman, but it is also a road to Jesus. Guys, I am not perfect! I have been the one yelling at Jesus. I have been the one who has told him to just go away. What you are asking of me is too hard. I have been the one who says, “Yes, I hear what you want me to do, but I am not ready for that, so I will do what I want to do.” I live in the world, but I am trying so hard to live in and with Jesus.

I am tempted each day to say, “No, I won’t write today.” Look at the last time I wrote. Nothing like a 20 day break, and I will be the first one to make excuses for it all. I have been tempted to not take care of myself. This week my diet has been great! This week my exercising has been off, but I have more excuses, right. So, when we stand before God on that judgement day, I feel like he will be proud of what I have done for others, but I do feel like he will look at me and say, “What about you? What have I been calling you to do?” I really don’t want to make up excuses then. I want to stand before Him with Him and I both knowing I did what He was telling me to do. I took care of myself, and in doing so, I shared my story so others could take care of themselves.

See we should see Jesus in other people and take care of our neighbors, but we should also see Jesus in ourselves and take care of us too. When we take care of ourselves, others will see and be inspired. And moms, we need to not feel guilty for taking time out of our schedules to take care of ourselves. We deserve a chance to run, to lift weights, to go out for lunch with our girlfriends. We need to take time to read His Word and meditate on how His Words fit into our lives. But, we are good at making excuses as to why we are too busy and can’t accomplish all of this. How about let’s get unbusy and stop making excuses?

This week I have really been hearing His voice, and I have realized that I am going about this all wrong. Instead of taking the time to read His words and then take care of my workouts and eating, I have been putting workouts and eating before listening to Jesus’ teaching. Then there is a spiral of temptation that gets everything else involved.

When we start listening to the world and stop diving into the Bible, we are crucifying Jesus. We are just like those people who lined the streets to ridicule Jesus. Tonight, I realized how much I was like them when I listen to the world, but tonight I was reinspired to get back to His words. When I do this, I feel like any temptation that comes at me will be easy to master when I truly take the time to listen. Listening is what this book is all about. I have to listen when he tells me to write. I have to hear him when he says get up and workout. I have to listen to Him when he says to take care of myself, and in doing so, I will be taking care of others, especially when they can see Him in me.

Next year, I know I will read those same lines on Palm Sunday. I know that I will have lived another year where I was not perfect and I gave into temptation, but this time, I want to feel like I did my very best to walk like Him. I want to look back at this moment and say I listened. And, when we listen and do what He is telling us to do, we are not following in those peoples’ footsteps who said to crucify Him. Instead we are stepping back and saying, “LIVE!” Live inside of me. Let me be the light others see. No one can go back and change what happened that day, and I wouldn’t want it to change because that day we were all saved, but today and tomorrow, I can do something about that. I will listen, I will do, and I will let others see my anthem. There will be less “Crusify him” and there will be more “Live! Live inside of me, so I and others can live eternally!” When we do that, we will really see all that Jesus can do in our own lives!