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Apparently a half marathon wasn’t enough of a challenge for me… I spent this weekend camping with a friend of mine. Typically when I say “camping” I mean a tent in a nice campground with a little store, flushing toilet, showers, etc. But this was not my typical type of camping. We had three things upon arrival- a fire pit, a vault toilet, and a bear box. A bear box! As in, we had to lock up our food and toiletries to help prevent bears from coming in our camp!!

As the sun was sinking in the sky, two of us girls loaded up with packs and hauled a canoe downhill to the river. (On a side note, who designed backpacking packs?! They are unbelievably unflattering!) Once in the canoe we had a ninety minute trip to our campsite. It was great for the first hour. Shaky, as neither of us had done this without husbands, but good. When we reached the point at which the river met the lake we realized we were out of our league. There was wind and the lake was “choppy”, to say the least. The waves were around two feet and in a canoe it was terrifying! We would crest a wave and as the canoe dropped from the wave, the next would pour over the front of the canoe dumping water all over me and into the canoe. We grabbed onto a log to take a breather and decide what to do (as if we had any option, but to keep going). As the waves tossed us up against the log over and over, we prayed. It was one of those moments that you realize you don’t have the strength or courage to go on, but you have to. God was so good and He gave us just enough to get us back on the water and headed toward our destination. He stilled the water, not completely but enough. He is so faithful!

I was scared and shaking, so I did the only thing I know to calm me down. I started to sing a hymn, “How Great Thou Art” to be exact. Not soon after I started, my friend joined in. We made it through four hymns before we realized we had reached our destination! We must have been a ridiculous sight to behold. The two of us girls canoeing alone in horrible conditions, singing with everything we had!!

Once we got to our campsite everything got way easier! Yes, we had to trek through the woods gathering firewood to keep warm. Yes, we had to get our water from a creek and boil it to drink. And, yes, the food consisted of freeze-dried “just add water” packets (which were surprisingly delicious- high sodium content of course!). But it was an amazing adventure! We got settled and our second day there we sat in the sun, read books, played cards, and talked for hours! It was a fabulous weekend!

We set out with the idea of challenging ourselves, and it absolutely was a challenge. But I came home with a great sunburn, a feeling of accomplishment I’ve never known (not even from the half marathon), and strengthened faith!! God was so there with us this weekend and we absolutely needed Him to be. It was an incredible, unforgettable memory and I can’t wait to do it again!!

Thank You, Father, for showing up this weekend. Thank You for calming the waves and giving me strength and courage. Thank You for keeping my friend and me safe this weekend. You are so faithful God! Thank You for moments when we can’t rely on ourselves, but by faith we can rely on and rest in You. In Jesus precious name, Amen.

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Half Marathon?!

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Last Sunday I ran a half marathon. Well, ran some of a half marathon and walked the rest. It was a record high temp that day and easily near 100 degrees on the pavement. It was miserable!! I finished swearing I would never ever do another half marathon. I hadn’t trained in that kind of heat, there weren’t near enough water stations along the way, I nearly passed out several times from the heat (I get overheated easily) and it was a long long way to go alone!

However, as the days have passed since I finished, I’ve begun to reconsider… I think maybe I will do another half, just not in the summer. My running season is officially September through May. No more of this ridiculous June heat!   It’s weird, but after running the half marathon I actually felt worse about myself for a while. My race time was terrible- not for me, but in general. As far as my goals went, I beat one of them and missed the other by 2 minutes! I should feel pretty proud of that given the weather on race day. But when I was there, I wasn’t running against just me, I was running with hundreds of incredible athletes and it made it very clear that this is not my world. I finished feeling embarrassed and almost ashamed… which made me swear it off.

No one wants to feel like they don’t belong, but I realized that no one put that expectation on me, but me! I could have stayed home in bed that morning, but I didn’t. I could have walked the entire thing, but I didn’t. I could have quit when I nearly passed out, but I didn’t. I. Finished. The. Race. That is something to be proud of!

So, what did I learn from running a half marathon? In life, sometimes you have to choose joy! I’m choosing not to be disappointed. I’m choosing to feel accomplished. And I’m choosing not to give up, but to plan on doing this again. Plus, next time I’ll have a time to beat!

Father God, thank You for showing up at my race. Thank You that You care about even the little things in my life. Thank You for giving me strength when I felt like giving up, shade when the heat was too intense and peace when my doubts overwhelmed me. Thank You, Lord, for not giving up on me. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Real Life

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A few days ago I heard the song “Real Life” by Jake Owen. I fell in love with it, probably as much because I heard him talk about it beforehand as because it’s just a great song. I couldn’t get it out of my head on our family date last night. Let me explain…

I was pretty excited about this “date night” tradition we started a few weeks ago. So far, our dates have been so fun! Last night, we decided to go on a bike ride to the river and have a picnic dinner on the riverbank. Tayne was so excited because he got to ride his own bike! We packed our picnic, tucked it away in the bike trailer with Thorin, and the three of us hopped on our bikes. It was gorgeous outside; 78°, blue sky, and puffy white clouds. There was one dark cloud, but it hardly seemed worth noting in the midst of everything else.

So, off we went on our bikes for our awesome family date. We rode almost 2 miles before we found a good spot along the river for dinner. We set out the picnic and sat down to eat. It was about then that I realized the entire sky was now dark and it began to sprinkle. Hoping it was nothing, we continued to eat, and it began raining harder, and harder, and harder. Until we were all soaked; along with our food and blanket. So we quickly packed everything up, jumped back on our bikes and headed home. If only it ended there. Unfortunately as soon as we hit the trail home, the pouring rain turned into hail…

I looked around at my little family and realized we were all wearing shorts and tank tops. See, I’m the awesome mom who thought about bringing coats just in case. Well, I thought about it right then anyway… My poor Tayne was near tears as he said, “Mommy, I don’t want to ride my bike while I’m cold and wet!” Daddy tried to convince him that riding faster would warm him up and encouraged him with, “This sure is an adventure, huh?!” The only one who didn’t complain on the way back was Thorin, tucked into the warm, dry bike trailer with the food!

We rode in the hail for a while, and it poured the rest of the ride home. I was worried this would go down in history as the worst family date ever. However, by the time we got home, we were all laughing at how silly we looked soaked to the bone! Tayne laughed and said, with a huge grin, “Next time, maybe we should do it in the sun.” It ended up being a fabulous adventure!

The entire ride home my mind kept wandering to the song “Real Life” and the way Jake Owen described this song as representing not just life as we imagine it, but real life. This date was life, real life. Sunshine, laughter, rain, hail, and thunderstorms all on a wonderful family date. The most incredible thing about it is I couldn’t have planned a more fun evening if I’d tried. Sometimes you just can’t beat real life!

Father God, thank You so much for my amazing family. You have blessed me far beyond what I deserve by putting them in my life. I pray that You will continue to surprise us with real life, Lord. Don’t let us get so distracted by our own expectations that we fail to see Your interventions in our lives. Keep our eyes and hearts open, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.

2015-05-28 19.26.28

What Really Matters

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I want to start by thanking everyone who has/does/will serve in the U.S. Military. Too many people have given their lives so that I can live freely. One of my past students lost her brother last week in a military accident. He was only 24 years old. I lift my hat in thanks to him and pray that God will wrap his family in peace and comfort during this tragic time.

Memorial Day weekend is a great time to think about the things that matter in life- that really matter. I’ve been struggling over the past several months with the decision to stay home with my kiddos. I never thought I would be a stay-at-home mom. I’ve had a plan since I was little: get my teaching degree, get married, become a teacher, have children, retire, travel. I felt like being a stay-at-home mom was for women who were good at that sort of thing, but not for me. That would be like “giving up” on my career, right? I want to have a successful career as a teacher, which can’t include quitting for years…

About six months ago, however, I had the realization that there will always be someone to teach my students math. Unfortunately, there is no one else whose job is to raise my boys into honorable young men who love Jesus and love people. That job is mine and mine alone, and I should be doing better. This isn’t an easy decision. It would be tough to live on one income, but it might be doable. Finances are just one concern that has crossed my mind: finances, keeping my teaching certificate current, getting back into it when I’m ready, homeschooling, etc. Usually this many concerns would have me sick to my stomach and running to comfort (in this case, the comfort of just continuing to work). What’s crazy is that I have so much peace about staying home! These thoughts cross my mind, but they don’t consume me like I’m used to, they just flit through and then I go on with my day. I’m excited about the idea of staying home, which was completely unexpected.

I’m the teacher who is usually ready to go back to school when September gets close because I am bored and “need a break from my kids”. I would tell people I’m just not the stay-at-home type. What I’m realizing, though, is that I don’t think I really put effort into being at home. My kids drive me crazy sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love and want to be around them, it might just mean I don’t know them as well as I should. One of my goals this summer is to be intentional with my kids while I’m at home. I plan on doing this by making every day “picture worthy”. Something every day, big or little, that is worth taking a picture of. Something as simple as making sock puppets or as huge as a family vacation! This is one way I can try to be intentional with my kiddos. I’m so excited I can hardly wait for school to get out and summer to get started! Wish me luck!

I started mentioning my idea of staying home to a few colleagues to see what their reaction was and have been overwhelmed by their support! All of the veteran female teachers I look to as mentors, every single one of them chose to stay home when their kids were little! Can you imagine being able to stay home with my kids while they’re little and later, still have a rewarding career as a teacher?! I guess there’s someone out there who has a better plan than mine. Good thing I’m learning to get out of the way and let Him work things for His good!

Father, I first want to lift up the families of those who have lost their lives serving our country. I pray for peace and comfort for them this weekend and always, Lord. I also want to thank You for sending Your Son to lay down His life for the ultimate freedom. Thank You for loving us so much! Father I pray that You will continue to give me peace and guide my decisions where work is concerned. Thank You for Your faithfulness as You help prepare me to serve You more fully. In Jesus name, Amen

Date Night

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Have you ever been on a date where he planned the whole thing, but you had to pick him up, drive, and pay for everything? I had the pleasure of doing that tonight, and believe me, it was absolutely my pleasure! I went on a date with my four-year-old son, Tayne. His date of choice was to go to the mall to play on the toys, followed by ice cream cones and silly pictures. It wasn’t a long or extravagant date, but it was an absolute blast!

My husband and I decided a while ago that we need to set up regular “date nights” for the two of us. What we’ve begun to realize lately is that we desire to spend time with each of our boys individually, as well. Tayne (4 years) has had to get used to having a little brother around, dividing our attention, and Thorin (18 months) has never known a world without his older brother. It’s our desire to invest in them individually as well as together, so that we can know and understand their unique personalities. So, last month we set up “date nights” every Thursday. One week it’s Tim/Tayne & me/Thorin, the next it’s Tim/Thorin & me/Tayne, then we get a Mommy/Daddy date, and the next week a family date. So far they haven’t been outrageous or expensive, but they’ve been fun! We’ve stuck to parks, play areas, picnics and dessert dates. Tayne decided that next month on our Mommy/Tayne date he wants to bake and decorate a cake- how fun does that sound!?

I am so excited at the idea of getting to know my children and their unique personalities even better. When we were tucking him into bed tonight, Tayne looked at my husband and said, “Daddy, I had sooo much fun on my date with Mom, tonight!” It absolutely melted my heart because I was thinking the exact same thing! It is my hope that we don’t let the busyness of life get in the way of this new “tradition”, but that we continue to show our boys that they are not just a unit, but individuals who are deeply and unconditionally loved.

Father God, thank You so much for trusting our precious boys to us. Help us not to take lightly the role of shaping them into honorable men who love and glorify You with their lives. Guide our steps as we learn to love the unique personalities that You have given them. Thank You, again, Father, for blessing us so greatly! In Jesus name, Amen.2015-05-14

Addicted to Running?

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I’ve had several people tell me that once you start running, you become addicted to it. They say, “You’ll hate it at first, but if you stick with it, eventually you’re going to crave it!” Well, I started training for a half marathon a little over a year ago and I’m still waiting for that moment. How long before you stop hating it and “crave” it as they say?

I’m on the heavier side and always have been, so when my friend brought up the idea of running a half marathon a year and a half ago, I laughed at her. She mentioned an app that she wanted to try (Couch to 5k) and I agreed to try that with her instead. I figured over the course of 3 months, I could at least try to run 3 miles. When I finished the twelve weeks, my resolve had weakened and a half marathon seemed a little less impossible. She decided not to do the half marathon, but I had gotten into my head that I needed to challenge myself in a way I’d never challenged myself before. Another friend decided she wanted to do a full marathon (she’s crazy!) and the next thing I knew, I was signed up for a June half marathon.

Fast forward about 14 months and I still hate running. I can’t run nonstop (I run, walk, run), it’s unbelievably boring, I hurt while I’m doing it, and I doubt myself the entire time. It feels like I haven’t accomplished anything. However, when I look back over the past year, I have run nearly 250 miles preparing for this race, I’ve completed a 13-mile run, and most importantly, I haven’t quit! My biggest struggle throughout the training has been fighting my natural desire to stop and find something I am better at. Satan does an incredible job of using me against myself. When I’m running, I find myself thinking things like, “What are you doing? You aren’t a runner! What in the world makes you think you can run 13 miles if you’re already breathing hard after ½ a mile?” It doesn’t entirely help that my music of choice has Luke Bryan asking me to shake it and all I can picture is the jiggling of my butt as I try to maintain my speed. But, when I finish and I get back home to take a shower, there is a feeling of accomplishment that I have never known in my life.

I think this is because my whole life I have stuck to doing things that are relatively easy for me. With a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics some would roll their eyes, but the truth is I love math; it’s linear and I don’t have to question it. It’s consistent. Running, on the other hand, has me face to face with the same uncertainty and lack of confidence that I see in my high school students. I need to stick with it if for no other reason than that it allows me to relate to them in ways I never have before. Every time I ask them to keep trying, to believe in themselves, to have some confidence I need to remind myself to do the same.

So here I am, four weeks away from my race and at this point I don’t ever want to run this far again! God is so good, though, and through this process He has given me strength and peace when I needed it most. He has also given me an incredible support team in my family, friends, and husband. My poor husband has put up with far more tears, disappointment, frustration and anger this year than one man should have to withstand. He is my hero! My prayer right now is that God continues to give me peace and strength as I finish training and prepare for race day.

Father God, I know that I couldn’t have accomplished any of this without You. You are my strength and my peace. Lord, thank You for going before me and guiding me through this process. Father, I pray that You will help me to finish strong, glorifying Your name all the way. Thank You, God, for Your faithfulness. In Your precious name, Amen.

Hello world!

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My Mom was baptized today. It wasn’t the first time, but she was young the first time and felt the desire to reaffirm her commitment to the Lord. I was so blessed to be able to be there with her- what an awesome day! Before the baptism, Therese Marszalek spoke her testimony- what an amazing woman! She has written several books and addressed them as she spoke. The entire time, I kept getting the inkling that I should write. I’ve been getting this inkling for a few years, but have been brushing it off. My Mom has written a few books and when she first started, I got an inkling that I should write. I follow several blogs online and occasionally feel like I should write. I have friends who write and whenever they mention the desire to write, that gut-feeling comes back. However, I’ve gotten very good at pushing it aside. See, I have lots of reasons for not writing: I know too many people who feel called to it– I need to give them space to do it. I’m a “math girl”, not a writer. I don’t have any “one” thing I would focus my writing on (clothes, food, faith, etc.). I don’t know if I would write a journal, a blog, or a book. I’m not great at journaling (twice in 9 months!). I don’t know how to go about writing a blog or a book.

These are all very reasonable and they’ve kept me from listening to this inkling. What I realized listening to Therese today, is that if I truly want God to work in my life, I need to open my life to His work. So far, I feel like I’ve more or less allowed God to be present in my plans, rather than allow His plans to unfold. That’s scary! I have to give up control to allow God to take control, and I really like to be in control. So, I’m writing today to try to open my life up to God’s plan and see what He has in store.

I’ve been going through a spiritual drought of late. I think I’m beginning to understand why, but I feel like I’ve only just touched the surface and it could be a very trying, messy, and scary journey. I have lived a very blessed life. With the exception of my dad leaving when I was young, I haven’t dealt with a lot of tragedy. I’ve never been abused, I’ve never been financially poor, I’ve never been without family and friends to support me, I’ve never even been dumped by a boy (I married the first boy I ever dated- my best friend, my high school sweetheart, the love of my life). A lot of people would roll their eyes and say, “Of course she has faith in God, what has ever gone wrong in her life?” I struggle with this. Sometimes I feel guilt over the fact that I have been so blessed. How can I relate to the pain and sorrow that so many go through, when I have so very little familiarity with it?

All of this has been a struggle my whole life, but what I’m beginning to see is that my perspective is skewed. I’m beginning to think that the life I have lived has led to struggles that are uniquely mine. I have a very performance-based view of love- if I can get enough A’s, be great at sports, and play the piano flawlessly, then everyone will be proud of and love me. This has been both a blessing and a curse. It’s been a blessing in that I tend to make wise life choices- I have never smoked anything (cigarette, cigar, hookah, marijuana, nothing), I remained sexually pure until I was married, I worked hard in school and did my homework every night, etc. Unfortunately, I’m finding that this has led to a belief that I accomplish everything in my life. I make good choices, so I reap the benefits and there is little room for me to honor and glorify God for His hand in my life.

I recently had a senior at school (I’m a high school math teacher) tell me that she is where she is solely because of her own choices; that no one else at home, school, etc. has helped her get to where she is. It made me so sad, as I know her parents and how they have encouraged and guided her. I also know her teachers and how they have helped grow her into the honor student she is today. As that sunk in it hit me that I treat God with the exact same attitude- I seem to think that everything I accomplish is the direct result of my own choices and hard work. And, while ultimately, my choices are my own, I need to honor God by giving Him credit. I can accomplish nothing on this planet without Him. I seem to have an “I can make it on my own” attitude and I desperately want to release that burden and give it Him. I don’t want my whole life to be based on what I can accomplish, because I am only human and can’t do anything. I want my life to be guided by what He can accomplish- great, incredible, miraculous, supernatural things. But, in order to live this way, I have to give Him all of me! I have to listen to the inklings he sends my way and allow Him to work and speak through me. And then, I need to give Him credit when He does miraculous and incredible things.

Heavenly Father, I give my life to You, Lord. Please release me of my desire to have control of my life. I give control to You. I ask, Lord, that You give me strength to battle the enemy when he attacks. Lord, I pray that Your plan will be done in my life and that You will be with me and guide me in this endeavor. Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness and unending love. Thank You that You desire good for me and that You know the plan You have for me, Lord. Help me get out of the way, so You can work in my life. I love you, Father. Amen