Halfway Blessings…

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I don’t enjoy running.

When I was in seventh grade I joined the cross-country team. I dreaded every practice. The thought that kept me going during each race was “Before I know it…I’ll be done…”, and then I would picture my water bottle and my couch. I finished the season. I stayed on the team. And I ran every race without stopping to walk. At the end of the season I was devastated when I lost my team picture and later my team t-shirt was also lost in the laundry. There was no evidence that I had ever survived the whole season or that I had even joined the team.

After seventh grade I quit running until my college days. There was gym just across the street from my apartment that I could get into for free with my college ID card. For a few weeks I walked to the gym every weekday and ran around the track. Then I came down with a cold and decided to rest rather than run. My resting continued right up through college graduation. That was my second attempt at running.

When I was pregnant with Lydia, another Mama gave me a brilliant idea. She had trained couch-to-5K after her fourth baby was born, her fourth c-section at that. What a great way, I thought to get back in shape after nine months of pregnancy. I took that idea and decided to follow the same plan after Lydia was born, and then again after Abby.

I succeeded in my Lydia-5K, but then Abby came along. Training for a 5K with two littles is a lot harder than training for a 5K with one baby and a daddy who is in school and home often enough to babysit. After a couple of false starts at my 5K training this year, Dan and I both decided my running wouldn’t be able to continue until we invested in a double jogging stroller.

So began my search. Every day I would get on Craigslist and check for a stroller that was in usable condition but within our price range. Finally, after a handful of disappointing emails and texts (Please, take your item off of Craigslist when it sells!), we paid $25 more than we wanted for a blue baby trend double jogger and I got to start my training again.

Day 1
I realized that we don’t even own a stop watch so my only timing device was my cell phone. Not ideal, but I could carry it while I ran and check the time whenever I ran underneath some shade. (The screen is too hard to see in the sunlight). I buckled up the girls and we took off for a short walk/run to test out the stroller and get my training back under way.

My long-awaited jogger has a fixed front wheel, so I have to do a wheely every time I want to turn. Since the stroller was lightweight, I didn’t think it would be a problem. Right? Wrong. Our neighborhood is all curves. The neighborhood across the street is all curves. And the neighborhood next to ours is all curves. By the end of my short run, my arms were aching. To make things worse, all the neighborhoods around are tiny one or two street neighborhoods, fine for a 5-minute run, but not practical for anything longer.

Day 2
I decided to find a route other than the neighborhood across the street. I ventured out onto the road, but that road is busy. Very busy. Semi-truck busy. And there is no sidewalk. I started the run in the “bike lane” but the first car that zoomed by at 50 miles an hour was far too close for comfort. I ended up jogging with my eyes and ears parked for the next batch of cars. Whenever some cars came I stopped my jogging, did my wheely to get off the road, and waited in the grass for the next break in traffic. All those wheelies were giving my arms a workout, but the stop-and-go running wasn’t what I had envisioned.

The good news: there was a sidewalk for the stretch of about 5 houses. Five houses of non-stop jogging.

Day 3
This time I didn’t even bother to jog for the first 15 minutes. I repeated the previous route along the busy road with the tiny patch of sidewalk until I made it to a bike trail. Then I was able to complete my run in all its glory with no semi-trucks, to stopping, and fewer wheelies.

By now my runs were up to more than ten minutes and it was definitely time to bring along some music. I was happy to find my mp3 player but disappointed to realize the USB cord was packed away in some hopeless location and the player was dead.

I was back to running without music. And you know I don’t like running.

One day I had the idea to try Dan’s phone charger on my mp3 player, and it worked. My next run was so much happier, but with one down-side: the music last loaded onto the mp3 player also included the entire King James Version of the Bible, all 1,189 chapters of the KJV Bible. Great for listening, but not while running.

Now my run involved ten minutes of semi-dodging wheelies, one sweaty hand holding my cell-phone timer, one hand scrolling through all 34 chapters of Deuteronomy before I could get to the next real song (which was a slow one anyway), and one jogging stroller running into the grass while I tried to push it with my forearms…

TO BE CONTINUED.

I promise I am going somewhere with this. It’s a lesson, and a good one. But baby nap times only last so long, I have a counter full of dishes to wash and two loads of laundry to fold so you are all going to have to bear with me and wait patiently for the next post which will contain the rest of the story…

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First Month of Thankful

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It has already been more than a month since I started keeping track of a blessing-a-day, and what a month it has been! Little did I know when I started this project that I would wrap up my first month living in a new home and house-hunting. The past week has been very busy with last minute packing, moving, cleaning, rearranging, and unpacking, but I’ve managed to keep my resolution so far and I thought it would be fun to share some of the things I’ve been learning along the way.

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1. I am so very thankful for my husband and kiddos. Can you tell? The munchkins make it in to the majority of my pictures and even the ones that don’t include a munchkin usually represent a moment that did involve one or both of them. While two little ones make life busy and sometimes overwhelming, I certainly am grateful for my girls and wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. Not clean floors or grown-up conversation or free time or sleep or anything else! As for Dan, I’ve been resisting the urge to write down “Dan” or “time with Dan” or anything of the sort, saving those ones for special days. No repeats allowed, you know.

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2. I love weekends! I actually keep a journal and during my quiet time each day I try to write down at least three things I’m thankful for. One Friday I looked back and realized that “Friday!” was making the list over and over (exclamation mark and all). I love Fridays because once Dan comes home from work, he doesn’t leave me until Monday. (I do not love Mondays). Saturdays are my Dan day. Sundays are nice too, but with church we spend more time talking to others. My “Fridays” haven’t made it into a picture yet because it feels too easy. I’m trying to make myself be specific.

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3. The real lesson I’ve been learning is that it’s just not enough to be thankful for one thing a day. I can quite vividly recall fuming in frustration one afternoon. I was standing in my kitchen looking out at the messy living room, upset that the day had gone so terribly. There was not a grateful bone in my body as I stood there and this lesson hit me. It wasn’t working. Not that day anyway. And I realized that it’s not enough to make a little list of blessings, even if you do it every day. I want my life to be one of continual gratitude and joy, in each moment, in each difficulty, trusting God and rejoicing in the blessings He’s given me. I am learning to count my blessings and trust God’s long-term plan. It’s not quick or clean or easy, but I can see that God is making me a more grateful person. But I always come back to the place where I am so thankful that it’s not based on me at all but on what Jesus did for me. I’ll never be good enough. This project is just another way that God is showing me I’m not and never will be. Thank God I don’t have to be. He is.

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And so wraps up one month of twelve. One month closer to my 27th birthday. One month behind me filled with little happy moments. Eleven months to go.

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