Meet Linda Riley

 

  • Tell us a little bit about your family.

    I have been married to Tom for 42 years, and our daughter Megan is a school teacher in Florida. Tom and I thoroughly enjoy retirement, and we love having more time to relax, travel, nurture friendships and read.

Patrick’s wedding-Tom, Linda, Megan

  • Tell us about your LAUGH journey.

    I didn’t participate in LAUGH the first couple years because I thought it was only for runners. My friend, Jen, encouraged me to get involved and assured me that many women walked as well. I was still hesitant because I’m a slow walker, and I wasn’t sure I could keep up. After more reassurance from her, I finally decided to try it out. What a great decision! I found that not only are there various pace groups for runners and walkers/runners, but also for walkers as well. I walked in the slowest group that year, and with the encouragement, inspiration and positivity from other ladies and my pace group leader, Kerrie, I finished my first 5k in years. I look forward to LAUGH every week and know that I’ll be surrounded by positive, uplifting, inspiring women who cheer each other on in their own health, spiritual and life journeys.

5K-Walkers

  • What are you currently reading or listening to (podcasts, books, blogs etc)?

    The Whistler by John Grisham and I Am by Michele Cushatt. I’m a huge Karen Kingsbury fan so as soon as I finish The Whistler, I’ll be diving into her latest book. She’s written scores of books, and I’ve read every one of them.

  • What are some of your favorite quotes or words to live by?

    Be still, and know that I am God.  -Psalm 46:10

  • What are some of your favorite go-to meals when time is tight and dinner MUST get on the table?

    Homemade vegetable soup that is a staple I keep in the freezer or casseroles I make ahead and freeze.

  • What is a fun LAUGH memory you have?

    Not specifically a fun memory, but a special memory. Kerrie, my pace group leader (a runner), knew I was concerned about finishing last at the 5k in Allegan that first year, and she selflessly gave up her opportunity to run the race and walked the entire race with me—encouraging me all the way and crossing the finish line with me. In addition, toward the end of the course, Jen came alongside to finish the last several yards with me as well. She actually ran the race but stopped just short of the finish line so she could circle back a couple blocks, cheer me on, walk with me, and cross the finish line with me. It was obvious to me that their goal that morning was to make sure I received all the support I needed to cross the finish line and not be alone. I was the last LAUGHer to finish, and I was treated with dignity, cheers and abundant support. The next year my friend, Carol, gave up her fast pace to walk the race and cross the finish line with me. I will be forever grateful to those women for their kind, caring, encouraging hearts. To me, that experience is what LAUGH is all about.

5K-Coming up the hill

  • What music do you like to listen to when exercising?

    I use my exercise time for praying, enjoying nature or conversing with fellow walkers, so I do not listen to music when exercising.

  • What is your favorite running apparel or must have?

    My LAUGH t-shirts and high-quality walking shoes.

  • What one thing would you want the world to know about LAUGH?

    You will find immense encouragement and acceptance at LAUGH and will be surrounded by positivity. Ladies exhibit every level of activity, including those recovering from an injury, women who are pregnant, and various speeds of walkers, combination walkers/runners, and runners. There is a place for YOU!

LAUGH-Crossed the finish line!

  • What does living a VIBRANT life look like to you?

    Making sure I’m right with God on a daily basis. I need to be filled with the Spirit to find true peace and joy, which I think reflects in the way I live my everyday life. Even though I am not always successful, it is my desire to live my life so vibrantly that the love of Jesus shows through me.

  • What advice would you give to a new LAUGHer?

    You are more! Start wherever you’re at in your journey, even if that means getting off the couch and out the door.

  • What is your go to source of exercise, your favorite workout or regularly scheduled workout?

    Walking, preferably outside, and often with my neighbors.

  • What is your guilty pleasure food?

    Chocolate!

    LAUGH-Linda & Carol

Meet Kari Wildner

 

  • Tell us a little about your family

I am married to my best friend Rory and we have one kiddo/daughter Lea, who is 11 years old. We have an adopted cat named Luigi and we love him (even tho we are really dog people at heart) Our family likes to run and we especially all like to get our goofy/silly on together. Fun fact: my husband ran in college so he really introduced me to running. At first, I could not run for more than a few minutes and my breathing was just so horrible. After training for a few months though, I ran my first 5k without stopping and could not believe how far I had come. Now I am training for my 4th half marathon!

  • Tell us about your LAUGH journey

Last year was my first year at LAUGH and I kind of joined in on a whim after hearing about it at church and seeing posts on Facebook about it. It sounded like something that would be uplifting and also would serve as a time every week to get outside, to get moving, and to get to know other Christian women. I, unfortunately, missed out on the LOL 5k last year, but am really looking forward to running it this year along with the other women I meet!

 

  • What are you currently reading or listening to (podcasts, books, blogs etc)?

I just finished reading Fervent by Priscilla Shirer with a girls Bible study! It was such a great read for anyone looking to really dig into prayer and to look at prayer with a fresh perspective. I also just got Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist and am ready to jump into that and to try some new recipes, spending time in fellowship and enjoying good food with friends and family. As far as podcasts, I am a big TED talks listener and tune into all things NPR!

 

  • What are some of your favorite quotes or words to live by?

Oh man…favorite quotes…I really like Brene’ Brown’s work and one of my favorite quotes of hers is “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be; embrace who you are.” I feel like we as women place so much pressure on ourselves and I know that when I focus on letting go of those self-expectations, I am kinder to myself, I am a more present wife and mom and friend and co-worker, etc.

 

  • What are some of your favorite go to meals when time is tight and dinner must get on the table?

You can never go wrong with brinner! Breakfast anything for dinner is always a win at our house, breakfast burritos, pancakes, French toast with some fruit…all super quick and easy and comforting We also eat a lot of homemade Mexican too, black bean tacos, taco salad, tostadas, guacamole or pico on everything! Pretty quick as long as all of the ingredients are in the pantry!

 

  • What is a fun LAUGH memory you have?

One of my favorite/most meaningful LAUGH memories I have was during a run with my group and I was just really struggling/having a hard time keeping up. My group leaders Lisa and Brienne were so kind and supportive and they would just take a few minutes to walk and talk with me. To me, that really summed up what LAUGH is about, lifting one another up, encouraging each other as women while getting to know one another. I had a lot of fun pushing myself to try harder and felt so welcome in my group

 

  • What music do you like to listen to when exercising?

I actually have been trying to go without music lately, just to allow some quiet mental space during my long runs. But, for regular exercise, I love One Republic (those beats!) and also Sia (Titanium anyone??!) It definitely gets me going when I need that extra push! My close friends and running buddies know when a Sia song comes on my playlist because I am not above dancing/running

 

  • What is your favorite running apparel or must have?

I have come to realize just how critical having a good pair of running shoes is! So, always good shoes that are fit for my feet and gait as well as my flip belt. It holds everything you need for any type of run or activity!

 

  • What one thing would you want the world to know about LAUGH?

LAUGH is truly for every woman, any age, any fitness level. If you are just a little curious or interested, I challenge you to show up and find out what an awesome community it is! Be prepared to hear authentic, personal stories and testimonies from women who will inspire you and to encourage you on your own health journey. And, of course be prepared to have fun and for a lot of laughter

 

  • What does living a VIBRANT life look like to you?

To me, living a VIBRANT life looks like being comfortable in your own skin, using the talents and gifts that God has given you to be a blessing to those around you, to uplift others, and to have the courage to just be yourself and to be vulnerable. When I strive to live this way, I definitely feel like I am focused on letting God use me to fulfill His purpose!

 

  • What advice would you give to a new LAUGHer?

You are already more than enough, so show up/don’t be afraid! I think it is really easy to doubt ourselves and to talk ourselves out of doing something new or different, maybe because we are scared to look silly or out of shape or whatever. The best thing about LAUGH is that is really is a place where women are welcomed, where encouragement is everywhere, and where so much FUN happens!

 

  • What is your go to source of exercise, your favorite workout, or regularly scheduled workout?

Right now I am logging a lot of miles running, but my favorite workouts are group fitness classes like Body Pump or RPM/spinning. I am definitely the person who works out harder when I have a teacher or instructor calling me out and pushing me to give it 110%! I need that accountability, which is another reason why running and moving with a group of women is such an awesome workout for me!

 

  • What is your guilty pleasure food?

Oh man…so many delicious foods to choose from! I am more of a savory food person, so like movie theater popcorn with real butter or some serious pizza is what I like to indulge in And, now I am hungry!

Meet Brie Hettinga

Tell us a little bit about your family.

 My husband, Rich, and I have been married almost 14 years! How did that go so fast?! We have 2 kids. Kylen is 9 and Lucas is 7. They keep us laughing and active and of course on our toes. We love just spending time together, whether it’s on vacation (camping is a favorite!), playing a sport outside, or just snuggling on the couch. Lately, our house has turned into a bit of a zoo-literally. Our dog, Sienna, is a very happy retired hunting dog who loves the couch. We also have a guinea pig, bearded dragon, and 6 chickens. I’ve always loved animals, but I never expected we’d get so exotic or ‘farm-y’…but I love it! You have to smile when you look at a chicken.  

Tell us about your LAUGH journey.

This is my 6th year of LAUGH. I absolutely love this group of women. I look forward to the first Monday of LAUGH like I look forward to Christmas or a vacation. To see all of these excited, empowered, encouraging women is amazing. I was always an athlete growing up and expected to always stay active. Then kids happened and it wasn’t so easy to stay active, or even find an hour for myself during the week. LAUGH gave that back to me. I love the fitness aspect, but I also love the ‘me’ time I’m guaranteed each week during the summer.
I’ve also accomplished some things I never imagined a 1/2 marathon and participating in 3 FRED relays (200 miles, 12 people, 2 days of nonstop running) top the list. I’ve also had so much fun following friends and cheering for them at big races. Running isn’t usually a sport you think to cheer for, but there is a lot of training and time put into this race by each runner. If you aren’t up to running it, make some crazy signs and go cheer someone on their smile will be worth it!! It’s been fun to be even more involved as a pace group leader and part of the LOL 5K planning committee. It never seems like work or a task to check off. I truly love every aspect of this ministry! I’ve made countless friends and memories and I can’t wait to make more!

What are you currently reading or listening to (podcasts, books, blogs etc)?

This list is so random. When running I usually listen to Pandora Praise and Worship or Country Pop. However, my iTunes ranges from Lady Gaga and Pentatonix to Andy Grammar and Dixie Chicks, with plenty of worship songs that get you right in the heart (Break Every Chain, anyone??). It’s a little odd to listen to for a run, but I love them all!
I love to read. I find I read in spurts, and I’m going strong right now. Lately, I’ve read several books by Liane Moriarty. I also love Jodi Picoult. I’m currently reading Faithful by Alice Hoffman, Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley, and I Am by Michele Cushatt. Because why not confuse my brain a little more by starting a new book before finishing the other?!?!

What are some of your favorite quotes or words to live by?

 I get stressed and so often remind myself to ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Things are handled. I don’t have to stress or freak out. It’s all good, just be still-both mind and body.

What are some of your favorite go-to meals when time is tight and dinner MUST get on the table?

Chicken alfredo with rotisserie chicken. My kids will clean their plates-win! And if I include garlic bread I get a big ol’ gold star from everyone! We also eat a lot of spaghetti and tacos (shout out to my husband, the hunter, who keeps our freezer full…and since we don’t eat venison in steak form, we have enough ground venison to feed an army!) 

What is a fun LAUGH memory you have?

It may be the only Monday night it’s actually rained, but it absolutely poured, and we ran anyway. We were drenched, and had a blast! 

What is your favorite running apparel or must have?

I am totally in love with my running socks. I am cheap and look for deals on everything and thought people were crazy to buy socks that didn’t come in a pack of 6…until I tried them! Confession: I haven’t been running lately and I wear my running socks all the time as ‘real’ socks! :)LOVE my smart wool. My mother in law got me some stuff last year for Christmas and I am hooked.

What one thing would you want the world to know about LAUGH?

I want the world to know there is still a place women can go and be honestly supported and encouraged and not judged. In a world where technology makes comparison so ever-present, it’s nice to know LAUGH will always be a good, positive place to escape that nonsense.

What does living a VIBRANT life look like to you?

I think a vibrant life is a life that shines even in the midst of ordinary. You can shine at the grocery store, at school pick up, or sitting down for dinner. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. I just makes the world a little better in your corner.

What advice would you give to a new LAUGHer?

SHOW UP! Just come and allow yourself to be welcomed and loved. You are wanted here!!it out for the whole season, you will not regret it. The friendships that you make will last forever.

What is your go-to exercise, your favorite workout or regularly scheduled workout?

I’ve fallen out the habit of regular exercise, and that’s ok. Life gets busy and tomorrow is a new day. I’ve been getting on the treadmill more often trying to get on for 30 minutes a day hopefully 5 days a week. Just walking because my body isn’t happy running right now. I’m also getting into yoga more and hope to find a system or program where that can become a regularly scheduled occurrence. I can’t say I love to run but I can say I love how I feel after I run.

What is your guilty pleasure food?

Lafayette Creamery ice cream. No question.

Any last thoughts you would like to share?

As I looked through photos to share for this post, I realized all of the adventures I’ve been a part of since my running journey began. The Color Run, Mud Run, Adventure races and the 200 mile Fred Relay, some of my craziest adventures have been because of running, with some of the best friends I’ve ever made. I can’t imagine life without it!

 

Meet Sandee Jackson

Tell us a little bit about your family.

I grew up in Canada and my husband Chad grew up in Michigan. We met at Disney world. We have been together for almost 20 years but have been married for 10 years. We have an awesome little boy Nate who is 9. He is such an energetic, outgoing lovable little man. And we have a beautiful little girl Grace who is 5. She is an animal lover, loves to craft and loves everything pink. She keeps us on our toes.

Tell us about your LAUGH journey.

My LAUGH journey has been amazing. I am so glad that I took that jump into this new ME. Three years ago I was struggling with things in my life, spiritually and health wise. So when I heard about LAUGH through my church I thought why not, I can get to know some women at church. Little did I know that GOD had greater plans for me. So I called my best friend Katie and we got ourselves some new shoes and set out to do this run thing. The first night was very intimidating, but I stuck to it. Every week the running increased and with that the belief in myself grew. Not only did I find myself stronger than I thought I was but I found my walk with GOD growing stronger and stronger. I found a purpose in my life. My marriage got stronger and we as a family grew stronger in Christ. At the end of this 13-week training, I finished my first 5K with my family waiting at the finish line.

Over the last two years I have been a pace group leader at LAUGH. My LAUGH journey is not just about me anymore. It is about helping other women realize that they are beautiful strong women. That with GOD anything is possible. New friendships have been made that I know I will have for a lifetime. LAUGH unites women together. And what is better than Women believing that THEY ARE MORE. When we believe that we are more we can do some amazing things. So watch out world LAUGH is going to reach many women so you better be ready for our AWESOMENESS.

What are you currently reading or listening to (podcasts, books, blogs etc)?

Sad to say but right now I am not reading anything. We just moved and all the free time I have I am unpacking or getting my old house ready to sell.

What are some of your favorite quotes or words to live by?

“I believe in the Sun even when it is not shining. I believe in Love even when I cannot feel it. I believe in GOD even when he is silent.” I saw this quote somewhere and I just love it. Sometimes when we can’t hear GOD speaking to us we feel he is not with us. But he is. He never leaves us.

What are some of your favorite go-to meals when time is tight and dinner MUST get on the table?

My family LOVES tacos. It seems like we always have them at least once a week. Spaghetti is another favorite. Nothing is better than sauce cooking in the Crockpot all day long.

What is a fun LAUGH memory you have?

In my group this past summer, we all got into the essential oils. One lady would bring in peppermint to help us not be so hot. I must say we were one great smelling group. People would think they just passed a candy cane factory when we ran by.

What music do you like to listen to when exercising?

I usually put on my worship music.

What is your favorite running apparel or must have?

I LOVE my smart wool. My mother in law got me some stuff last year for Christmas and I am hooked.

What one thing would you want the world to know about LAUGH?

LAUGH has the ability to draw women in, to make women feel like they can conquer anything, to make women feel great about themselves. LAUGH will change your life and if you have the chance to be involved with LAUGH please join in on an amazing journey that you will love.

What does living a VIBRANT life look like to you?

To me, it would be to live for GOD. To have a family that loves GOD so much that strangers will know that GOD is present in our lives.

What advice would you give to a new LAUGHer?

Stick it out for the whole season, you will not regret it. The friendships that you make will last forever.

What is your go-to exercise, your favorite workout or regularly scheduled workout?

I can’t say I love to run but I can say I love how I feel after I run.

What is your guilty pleasure food?

Well, I must first say that I am from Canada and this is very big there. Fries and Gravy are my guilty pleasure food. I could eat it every day a couple times a day. But then I would have to run a lot more than I do.