Let’s get physical

to get all the benefits

When I started running in high school, the physical benefits were the last thing on my mind.

My parents were forcing me to participate in a sport, and I didn’t know anywhere else where I would be able to see boys running without their shirts every day. Plus my neighbors ran, so it gave me a ride home other than the big yellow bus 🙂 I quickly learned that, while the boys did run with their shirts off, and I was getting physically more fit, running was about so much more than that.

I had a little bit of clarity in my life – I was more focused in school, I slept better at night, and I had a strong peace of mind throughout the day. Most importantly, I also found some of my best friends once I joined the team. Not those casual friends that you talk with at practice and forget about when you leave, but those friends that you can call crying at 2 am, or that you can show up unannounced on a Friday afternoon. These are people who challenge me, inspire me, and help me stick to my goals. My teammates and their families became an extension of my own family- they are the first ones I call when I succeed, and the ones who are there to pick me up when I fall.

When I continued running through college, I experienced the same external benefits from running. After college, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere where I would be able to find those types of friendships. And while I still had my college and high school friends, they have all scattered around the country to live their own lives. I felt stuck being back so close to my hometown, and I was not sure what I was going to do to find new friends, or how to get my life back in order. I tried running on my own, but I could never really get it to stick. Work would get in the way, or I would get sad and stop. Plus, it was difficult to challenge myself to continue to get better, when I had fallen so far behind in my training.

That is where LAUGH came into my life. I realized that many of those same crucial parts of my life didn’t have to disappear – I just needed to go back to the beginning. When I first started to find order and clarity in my life, it was as part of a team. When I joined LAUGH, I realized it was another team, for the new stage of life I was in. I had something to look forward to, blossoming friendships, and a newfound sense of confidence – all were sorely lacking at the time. So now I post the question, what about you? What non-physical benefits have you gained from being part of LAUGH?

 

You’re Making Me Crazy

creating space in the everyday hustle

‘You’re making me crazy!’

I can’t count the times that these words have come out of my mouth since becoming a parent. 

Maybe you’d never dream of saying such a thing to your kids…but seriously when it’s 9 pm and ‘the boy’ still isn’t finished with his homework because he’s spent the last 97 minutes talking about how he needs to take a shower but his elbow hurts and his beloved pet lizard looks kinda’ pale and he can’t find the socks he needs for tomorrow and his sister is singing because she’s annoying and stupid and he forgot his binder at school so he can’t even do his homework…seriously……I might lose my mind.

 Up until a couple of years ago, I found myself constantly stressed, nagging, yelling, and rushing from one thing to the next. A night like the one described above would have set me off because I would have had too much to do and no time to deal with my son who just needed my patience. My schedule did not honor God and, more often than I care to admit, I was one commitment away from a mental breakdown. I needed to seriously reevaluate the pace of our family’s day to day hustle and create some breathing room in our home life. When we take a look at the life of Jesus we see that He was never frenzied or rushed. He was present. There were always more people to heal and more mouths to feed and yet He was content with the work He did in the time He had to do it. He often took time away with just the apostles or to be alone to pray rather than cramming in one more act of service or miracle. Time to build relationships with those closest to Him and quiet time with His Father were just as important as His ‘work.’ Finding and maintaining balance honors God. This requires listening to His prompting which is nearly impossible when we keep a jam-packed daily schedule. It is a tension that I have to regularly manage as my own seasons of busyness rise and fall. Here are just a few of the things that help our family create space in the everyday hustle.

 

  1. Make time for God daily! When I am connected and intentional about my relationship with Jesus, it spills over onto every aspect of my life. I am aware of His presence and follow His guidance.

 

  1.  Scheduled Downtime. I learned to fiercely guard our school nights and try to stay home as much as possible. I make an effort not to schedule more than 1 night per week to be away from home where I’m needed most. It used to be a common occurrence that I would say yes to things like meetings or dinners Sunday through Thursday. I work in ministry…definitely not your average 9-5.  For example, meeting with a couple of ladies from church on a Wednesday night to talk about an upcoming event seemed like a noble endeavor but it created an imbalance at home. My kids need their mom to be present, to help with homework (which is kind of nature’s cruel joke because I already went to school for 17 years and really didn’t think I’d need to remember any of this stuff…but I digress…) to shuttle them to and from activities and just to be around for those precious times that they decide to let me into their teenage world and tell me what their day was like. If I had been in a big-stressed-frenzied rush I may not have learned today that ‘the boy’ buys chips and ice cream on his school lunch account for his friends…like EVERY day….he’s like the Santa Clause of the 6th-grade lunch room!!! Ugh.

 

  1. Nutrition! I have the luxury of a really flexible part time job so I can be home most days when the kids get off the bus. At least a couple of days a week I try to have dinner ready at 4 pm. This ends the 3 hours of snacking and the rest of the night just goes smoother.  When 6 pm rolls around and a flurry of activity seems to brew…drop-offs and pick-ups from activities, homework, showers…if the kids have already had dinner, it’s one less thing for me to juggle during the ‘rush hour’ of our evening. I also try to keep sugar and processed foods to a minimum because when our bodies are fueled well, we get sick less, accomplish more, and are just nicer people to be around.

 

  1. Regular Self Care! When I carve out time to do things that I truly enjoy I feel whole. For me, it’s riding my horse. For you it may be running, yoga, reading, crafting, coffee with a friend, etc. Whatever it is, don’t feel guilty about it! Our culture perpetuates this strange notion that a woman who does things for herself is selfish. Nonsense. Women who tend to their hearts are more compassionate. You can’t pour from an empty cup so keep yours filled!

  1. The Selective Yes and the Polite No. What if we were self-aware enough to know just how God wired us? And what if we were in tune enough to His leading that we were able to say YES to the right things and politely decline the things that may not be our best fit? For me this concept was liberating. My staff does a lot of leadership development. Several years ago I was introduced to a few self-assessments including Strengths Finder, DiSC personality profile, spiritual gift testing, and a personal passion profile. Discovering my unique design gave me the guidance I needed to find my sweet spot. Rather than saying yes to a whole bunch of ‘good’ things that I may not have been ‘good’ at, this understanding has allowed me to focus my efforts and be more intentional in the things I pursue.

 

It is only when I create space and quiet time in my daily life that I am able to grow. I fully accept that I am a work in progress and will continue to work less frenzied!

Respect

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”

EPH 4:2

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Life can be so difficult sometimes and I’m reminded that we all need to respect one another, for our similarities, differences, struggles and triumphs.

I’m currently in a difficult season with an Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis for an aging parent.  As the short term memory slips away and simple daily tasks become cumbersome; an inability to reason and problem solve; and the long-term memory reminding him that he still “has it all going on” I’m faced with the need for patience and ongoing respect. Being a medical professional I’ve worked with clients and families going through the same situation, however, I  have a newfound respect for all of them, as I find myself actually “living” it now, as they have done.

This is a man who’s provided for his family, been reliable, supportive and loving.  He’s now faced with the need for 24-hour caregivers, money management tasks being performed by someone other than himself and being reminded that he isn’t making good decisions.  So hard to take and just as hard to have to explain.

I must remember to respect who he was and who he is today, while providing for his needs that he is no longer able to manage himself, all while remaining patient, even if I’m hearing the same story for the 100th time.  I want to allow him as much freedom and independence as possible, for as long as possible, while managing to maintain a safe environment for him as well.

 

Prayer guides me, communication with family confirms me, and knowing God holds me in his precious hands to provide me (and dad) the hedge of protection we need, sustains me.  

God, thank you for your ongoing guidance, every day.

13.1 Reasons

Why I Ran A Half Marathon

I am not a journaler or writer! I am definitely not a runner, but here I sit sharing a blog post with you about running. I knew God had an amazing sense of humor when He called me and my two good friends to lead a running group!

This post for me is about reflection and realizing when you get distance from a situation or an event, you can see God’s hand at work. When I think of the story of LAUGH it really goes back to the year I turned 40. I decided to journal goals that I had set for myself. I called it my Get Out Of My Comfort Zone Goals for my 40th year. The last goal on my list was to run a half marathon. Last summer, I found the long lost journal while unpacking a few boxes (yep, I still have unpacked boxes from our move 4 years ago).  I sat in disbelief as I scanned the pages. Disbelief because I could see LAUGH being created as I wrote about this journey for my 40th year.

I had forgotten I had journaled 13.1 reasons I was running a half marathon. I enjoyed rereading them so much that I thought I would share them with you. I’m typing this just as it came out of my journal.

April 15, 2010

Over the next week, I will journal 13.1 reasons why I trained and ran a half-marathon.

1 – It’s my 40th year! I did decide to set a few “get out of your comfort zone goals for this 40th year. The last goal to go on my list was the 1/2 marathon.

2 – I was invited by my dear friend Melia to attend Run Camp last year. My thought, “No way! Are You Crazy? I’ve never run before! Every Saturday for 13 weeks? No, No, No! The seed was planted!

3 – I decided I wanted to “Age” not “decay” thanks to the book, ‘Younger Next Year For Women‘.

4 – My kids are watching everything I do so I wanted to give them a few better examples than the not so good ones.

5 – I bought $100 shoes, $200 Garmin watch, $150 in wicking material running clothes, $36 in Smartwool socks, $75 for 13 weeks of Run Camp and $35 for the entry fee for the race.

6 – I’ve become a person of great intentions and poor follow-thru. I needed to prove I could finish something I started.

7 – Being a wife and mother I have put myself last on the list for many reasons. The training for the half marathon forced me to put myself first. Things were put off or just didn’t get done because I had to get my run in.

8 – Of course, I would lose weight! I was sure the pounds would fall off! NOPE! I officially weigh 5 pounds more than when I started.

I stopped here because of emergency gall bladder surgery 6 days before the race?

9 –  I had to take revenge on my gall bladder since it decided to cause my body so much havoc 6 days before the race.

10 – I began to enjoy the training. The social aspect of runs with my girlfriends and the solitude of runs alone with me and the Lord. I enjoyed dedicating a mile to prayer for my kids, friends or other family members.

11 – I used my training as an example to my kids. As Max was learning to ride a bike this summer to the girls trying to perfect a cartwheel. They would get upset that they couldn’t do it right the first time. I would explain to them it took me 13 weeks to be able to run 13 miles, I couldn’t do it the first time. I can tell you they are tired of hearing it.

12 – I bought another $100 pair of running shoes, $40 race registration fee, two $70 per night (thanks to my dutch friend Melia) hotel stays, $20 ferry ride to Mackinac Island for my first 1/2 marathon.

13 – I don’t want to become complacent at 40, that this is as good as it gets. I know God isn’t finished with me. I just had to be willing to step out (no pun intended) in faith and stretch myself with a difficult goal.

13.1 – Maybe there is something stirring in your heart a goal, a dream you’ve been contemplating and now you have said to yourself, “If Jen can do that, I can do__________!”

Rise Up and Pray

It was one of those nights.  I went to bed later than my husband, trying to get some work done in preparation for the coming day.  Though I had only slept 4 hours, I was awakened by it.  You know, “it”.  Not worry, not panic.  Just the deep need to pray.

I poured my heart out to God as my husband slept next to me.  So much was on my mind, and every bit of it I knew I had no real control over.  I had so much to be thankful for yet so many concerns to lift to my Creator and Sustainer, my Abba Father.  Jeremiah 29:11 immediately played in my brain.  “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future”.  I laid there acknowledging the Lord’s words, asking if there was anything that I could do to assist Him with His plans.  Nothing.  Silence.  Though I almost felt a laughter stirring somewhere.  

As I entered the shower, I began repeating the concerns weighing heavily on my heart.  Again, Jeremiah 29:11 filled my brain.  I knew this time there was no need for me to ask if God needed my help with anything.  The verse consumed me as the water poured over me.  “I know the plans I have for you.”

I know them.  You don’t need to know them.  Do you trust Me?  Have I not proven Myself to you?  Aren’t you living a vibrant life, despite the damage you tried to do to yourself early on?  Didn’t I give you a man of integrity to become your spouse?  Did I not see you through hazardous situations with not even a scratch?  Have I not provided for you when you were not sure how to pay the bills?  Did I not give you two beautiful children, though you were infertile?  Didn’t I open a door for you where there was none?  Have I not shown you that you are far stronger and more capable than you ever believed yourself to be?  Why wouldn’t you trust me to have plans for you that are good!?  Haven’t I proven My plans are greater than yours!?

The words of Psalm 5:3 took over my thoughts.  “In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice.  In the morning, I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly.”  I had poured out the concerns of my heart to God and now I had to leave them at His feet.  The running water refreshed my weary eyes and the burdens of my heart began to lift as I started to ponder the Truths of my God through the experiences that we have had together.  He is trustworthy.  He always provides.  His plans are better.  He is faithful to completion.  He is my Rock in times of trouble.  He is the same today, tomorrow and always. I can do far more than I ever thought possible through Him who gives me strength.  

One of my friends always says “If He brings you to it, He will see you through it.”  Isn’t that the truth!? I am not sure exactly what this year holds for me nor for you, but I do know that we have a God who has good plans for us.  Plans to prosper us, not to harm us.  Plans to give us hope and a future.  He has those plans already worked out.  He doesn’t need my assistance but He does ask that I know who I am – in and through Him.  This changes daily for me, but today…..  today, I am His.

As you look into what this year has for you, I hope you are saying bring it on, because I am…..

Ahhhhhhhhh Vacation

“I will search for the lost and bring back the strays……..”   EZE 34:16

Ah, the excitement of readying ourselves for vacation. The packing and list making (of items not to be forgotten), locating sunscreen, swimsuits and water shoes not seen for a couple of seasons; purchasing with anticipation, the new items we didn’t think we could travel without and overpacking layers of clothing possibly needed for the changing weather. Little did I know, the weather in the Hawaiian Islands is as steady and consistent as it comes. Unencumbered blue sky (not a cloud to be seen for miles), easy breezes and temperatures 72-80 degrees EVERY SINGLE DAY! Ahhhhhhhhh vacation.

What I didn’t remember was the anxiety of not knowing the roads, landscape and directions for traveling from one location to another. Thank heavens for the GPS app on our phones.  With a few clicks of the buttons, suddenly we have the map and step by step directions to whatever location we want, simple, right? Not so fast, seasoned traveler, we have surprises in store for your adventure!!

My husband decided he didn’t wish to return to “real life” and was going to take up residence on the big island of Hawaii, so he set forth looking for real estate. After a walk by of a realty office and a quick glance at the advertised property, he settled on the purchase of a small coffee, macadamia nut, avocado farm. No worries that we know nothing of farming…..anything at all, in fact, we have been known to botch the growth of tomatoes.  Nevertheless, we plugged the address into the GPS and set out to view the farm. After several turn arounds, choice words and a discussion about giving up the hunt, we located the property, literally on the side of a mountain, with a steep single lane driveway at a nearly 90-degree angle and precarious, loose stones and gravel.

During the hunt, the GPS kept “recalculating” as we completed one turn around after another.  I was struck by how often I “recalculate” my journey with God. How at times I find myself on the wrong road and need to turn around or select a different path. Although I may stumble or slip on the loose stones, or find I need to “recalculate”, I know He holds me solidly in His hands.

 

So, we passed on the farm and returned to “real life”, rejuvenated in the security of God and His GPS that awaits us, wherever we may be.

Developing A Daily Routine

One of my goals for 2017 was to read my Jesus Calling, a book I received about 4 years ago, but not something I had consistently made part of my daily routine. There are a couple key points that made this book something that I felt I could reasonably incorporate it into my daily routine.

  1. Its short. Like, an average of 150ish short. My mom has a weekly small group where they have a devotional, and she does hours of work for it each week. I just got out of school, I am NOT about to go back to the homework daily grind. 🙂

 

  1. I felt the book was meeting me where I was at in life. As a 26 year old single female who works full time and owns a house, I have been feeling a little lost in who I am. I am not a recent college graduate, fresh faced and excited about finally being an adult. (Adults, that was a cruel trick you played on kids. It is not as exciting to be an adult as we were led to think.) But, at the same time, I am not settled into being an adult either. I am not married, and while I have a job I enjoy, I have no idea what I want to do when I “grow up”. I always feel like I am in some middle ground, floating and waiting for some directly. I am a task-oriented person, so when I was given directives and had something to follow, I felt a little less like a floater, and was able to keep my feet on the ground.

  1. Finally, and most importantly, this book was meeting me where my faith is at. I grew up in the Church, and have been learning about God since I was born. I was not looking for something to explain Christ’s story to me, but rather, I was looking for something that would help me cultivate a personal relationship with Him. But- like I said above- I am not ready to be a full adult yet. So my Jesus Calling helps me cultivate a habit while helping me grow as a human, and a Christian. So, to sum, I would encourage you to find something that can fill that niche in your life. Maybe for you, it is Jesus Calling, or maybe not. It can be a small group in your church, more regular prayer time with your family, or 5 minutes where you are alone with your coffee and your God. Whatever it is, take the time to find it, and then hold on to make a priority