Monday, July 15, 2013

Athletics: It's never been easy for me. .

There was that moment when I came up over a small hill and I was thinking, "wow,  my legs are tight today."

The new route for my first long run in months has me on edge with anticipation.  I've run this neighborhood several times, but never turned off on the side streets.

And then I see it.   A hill that has a steady incline for about five houses and then a sharp incline right at the top.

And then I stop.  Just the sight of it makes me shut down.  Mentally, I'm toast.


REWIND to two years ago when I began my physical "fit"ness journey.  I was never good at sports. I lack the hand eye coordination that it takes to keep flying balls from smacking you in the face.  Or getting on the scoreboard.  My biggest claim to fame, sports wise, was in high school.  I played on the girls basketball team my senior year.  I practiced so hard to make that 3 point shot.  And in one game I actually succeeded, alas it was for the other team.  Im sure the running affected the lack of oxygen getting to my directionally challenged self.

Running.  I only swore to do that if someone were chasing me.  But after Type 1 diabetes entered my life to stay, I knew that I had to find some way to keep healthy and watch my children grow up.

It all started with running.  You can read about my Evolution in exercise here, if you'd like.

But to cut to the chase, I finished my first half marathon and then vowed I'd never run again.  Half-joking, of course.  I was tired of the training schedule, just in time for Winter.  That's all the motivation I needed to chill.

Then came spring and I had a new goal.  A triathlon.  I had found I loved swimming and was learning to like road biking.  So last month I finished my first triathlon (and am set to do my second one in two weeks in Nashville).  I survived the swim, endured the biking.  But what made me guess my sanity?  The run (at the end of the other two).

You see, I have a hard time with all things physical.  Not because I can't do it.  But because I believe that I can't.  Or I defeat myself in thinking I have to do it the same as someone else.  I have to be as fast as they are.


Im back at the foot of the hill.  The beast.  It's "nasty." 

Sure I could turn around and go back the way I came.  But I know there's no point. Im only going to hit another hill in less than a mile.  

So now what?  

This is the part of exercise that, I swear, it feels like other people have the edge on me.  And I just have to learn how.  I have to BELIEVE that I can do it.  

So right there at the foot of the hill, I have a pep talk.  Rachel: you can do hard things.  YOU can do hard things.  Rachel you can do HARD things.  You can kill this hill.  Who cares how fast it is.. just get up the damn hill.  

Here I am two years later after starting this journey and learning that when I stop challenging myself mentally I start to believe I don't have what it takes.  But today I learned a very big lesson: I have to give myself the freedom to move at my own pace.  Sometimes it's going to be faster than my PR and sometimes it's going to be "painfully slow."  But at the end of the day: it's ME doing it.  It's the journey.  It's the moment of pushing myself to believe.  It's the small victory that gives me the courage to believe the next time.  

 I love that no matter the time I have away from any one apparatus (swimming, biking, running) I can always enjoy the challenge of "getting back into it," knowing that it will get easier. 

 I just have to be willing to push myself up that hill.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

In which you start questioning your theology. . .

"Has it ever occurred to you that you might be wrong?"  

No. It hadn't.  

At least not in 33 years of life.  I mean, that's enough time to decide dogmatically what you are comfortable accepting as right and balking at the rest, right?  

So what happened?  Why did some of my theology change?  I consider that an easy answer: 

I realized I was actually able to ask hard questions. 

For the first time in my life I was told that I was safe, with God, to question things I had been taught.  Most people have this happen in college and then some abandon their faith.  Not me, I was secure in the Gospel.  No matter what changed in any of my views on God, the Church or The Bible, nothing altered the obvious anchor of my soul:  the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it's finished work to save me.  

However, everything else was up for debate. And that is an unnerving place to be.  Mainly, because other's aren't so comfortable with my questions.  Others don't feel the same freedom that I do to question long held traditions of thought that can easily be argued another way using another set of Scripture.  Some others can tend to focus so much on where I will land on a particular issue (that has been debated for centuries by Christians the world over) and forget to see what brings us together.  

I just said to a friend today: I'd give anything to go back to where I was three years ago.  Where I was much more willing to just take a position and believe I was absolutely RIGHT! And everyone who disagreed was simply, wrong. 

And seeing as how I don't want this post to be about "what" your theology "should" be and more about what to do if you start asking hard questions, let me tell you this:  BE BRAVE!  Trust that the questions or the doubt can not separate you from the love of the Father.  

Here is a quote from a gal I admire, Rachel Held Evans: 

"I’ve decided to quit apologizing for my questions.  It’s not enough for me to maintain my intellectual integrity as a Christian; I also want to maintain my emotional integrity as a Christian. And I don’t need answers to all of my questions to do that. I need only the courage to be honest about my questions and doubts, and the patience to keep exploring and trusting in spite of them.

The bravest decision I’ll ever make is the decision to follow Jesus with both my head and heart engaged—no checking out, no pretending.

It’s a decision I make every day, and it’s a decision that’s made my faith journey a heck of a lot more hazardous and a heck of a lot more fun.  It means that grinning monster, doubt, is likely to stick around for a while, for I know now that closing my eyes won’t make him go away. It means each day is a risk, a gamble, an adventure in vulnerability and trust, as I figure out what it means to follow Jesus as me, Rachel Grace—the girl who cried for Zarmina, the girl who inherited her mama’s bleeding heart and her daddy’s stubborn grace, the girl who digs in her heels, the girl who makes mistakes, the girl who is intent on breaking up patriarchy, the girl who thought to raise her hand in Sunday school at age five and ask why God would drown innocent animals in Noah’s flood, the girl who could be wrong.
It means I’ve got a long race ahead of me, but I’m going to run it with abandon. I’m going to run it as me. Because I think that’s what God wants—all of me, surrendered and transformed, head and heart engaged."
(read the entire post here)

Ultimately, that is my heartbeat.  To remember that it's okay to be vulnerable. It's okay to disagree with those that you have long since been in unison.  It's okay to be wrong.  The wonderful thing about a life lived with God is that it is never stagnant.  I will be learning and re-learning so much over the next (however many) years I have left.  But I want it known that I wholeheartedly believe that God will redirect me as needed.  The pendulum will swing with less force and settle in the middle at times and then at other times, it will fling wildly to one side.  But I will never be dogmatic in anything accept the preciousness of the Gospel of Christ and it's power to change my life.  

For now, I will go back to consuming Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis to help keep me grounded by that anchor. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

My return?

Over a period of three days I've had two different people ask me when I planned on "returning" to my blog.  

I laughed.  

It's quite complicated.  

But not in the "oh I have four kids and a crazy schedule" complicated. 
Or the "it's summer and we are never in one place long" complicated. 

No.  It's more about the fact that I've truly been at a loss as to what in the world to say.  

I love writing.  I really do.  And I keep a journal regularly at times.  So I do have some form of an outlet.  Not that I would ever assume to pour out those thoughts on a public forum.   But I think I've been at a place where I don't ever.ever.ever.ever.nay, ever want to come across as though I have something to enlighten you with.  

But in that tightrope of being vulnerable to share parts of my journey on a public forum and the desire to encourage others, I realize that sometimes it's probably best that I just not write at all.  

I could also just keep it to the facts but who wants to hear about someones endless checklist of things accomplished or derailed? 

Alas, I guess that is the nature of most blogs anyway.  

In a nutshell my checklists would include (since my last post in, eh hem, February): 
*My eldest finished his first semester of public school (and 1st grade). 
*We went to Disney. 
*Our car died on the way back from Disney.  Long two days followed.  
*We had to buy another van.  Which I love, btw. 
*My baby turned 3. 
*My oldest turned 8. (today!)
*My little sister got married.  (who's feeling old?? Not me). 
*My hubby started graduate school (who's gonna pray for me over the next two years?)
*I surrendered to the purchase of an insulin pump so no more daily injections. 
*I just completed my first triathlon last weekend.  Absolute blast (and another post entirely). 

And I think that sums it up.  I feel like I'm forgetting something.  Oh well. 

I have a lot of things that I am trying to process and hopefully those will result in future posts.  But for now, I will leave you with some picture cuteness.  If anyone is still following this thing.. give me shout in the comments.  


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Moms, take a chill pill.. and keep it real!

Recently I lit up my Facebook wall because of a challenge I offered: Take a day to post pictures on social media that show the "not so glamorous" parts of your day.  Keep it real.

No pictures of the kids playing perfectly together, the house cleaned, the healthy snack you are about to consume, the hair so perfectly done.

Nope.  Just pics of what you think would be so embarrassing for you if someone walked in your house right now, except.. put it on Facebook.

The idea caught fire and as people started tagging me in their photos it was beginning to look like an episode of "Hoarders" on my wall.   And I loved it.

So did most everyone else.

I've learned that a lot of us function out of some false patterns of thinking.  And I really did this "dare" to try and expose those shaming thoughts.

Theory 1: Most of us think we are the only ones that don't have "it" together.  Whether it's our house, our kids or our marriages, a lot of us think that we are alone in the struggle to do "it" all.

Theory 2: We feel that if we were to actually #keepitreal we would experience rejection, judgement and shame.

So then the pics started coming in..

First, there was the Laundry situation:

 Then there was the house:

And then of course, the kid situation: overwhelmed momma's allowing tv (even on pretty days, GASP).

Here is some reality to my theories.

Theory 1: Most of us think we are the only ones that don't have "it" together.  Whether it's our house, our kids or our marriages, a lot of us think that we are alone in the struggle to do "it" all.
Very quickly, the comments started pouring in, "Wow, so I'm not the only one whose house looks like this?" "Oh girl, my kids have watched three shows today and it's only 9 am" or "Well, you would feel right at home at my house because it looks the same way."  Very quickly, once people started #keepinitreal, others were able to come into that vulnerability and keep it real too.  Once "other" people posted pictures, it gave courage to someone else that they could post as well.  The tension is being willing to give the "gift of going first" to someone else.  And this isn't just on social media, but in real life.  In our relationships, being able to invite others into our reality is what makes depth and meaning come alive.  We stop the cycle of thinking we have to have "it" together when we realize that we aren't the only ones who can't.  

Theory 2: We feel that if we were to actually #keepitreal we would experience rejection, judgement and shame.  
As those comments showed, as soon as someone empathized with anothers' "chaos" it was freeing to then admit you had any yourself.  And being the one vulnerable enough to post a picture allowed some freedom when that other person said, "Hey! That looks like my house."  Y'all, I ain't gonna lie, watching an episode of Hoarders makes me feel better about the piles going on in my house.  But the truth is.. I still got junk.  There is a reason why inviting people over to my house is commonly known as the best motivation to get my house clean.  Because I may not be able to handle the (assumed) rejection, judgement and shame that I think will be given if they saw my house "as is."  

I will never forget the first time I made a point NOT to apologize for my house being a mess when someone came in.  The guest was only coming over to drop something off, but as she left she said, "It is so nice to know that I am not the only one whose house isn't always tidy."  It was freeing for her, and freeing for me as well.

I will also never forget the time a neighborhood child came in to use my bathroom and upon leaving said, "Um, your bathroom really needs to be cleaned."

Of course I responded, "YES! It sure does.  Would you like to clean it?"

I'm just gonna do what I can and #keepitreal.

So you tell me, what do you think?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My life in a random post

Things here have been crazy.  Two week of sickness and hopefully everyone is on the mend.  In two weeks we've had:

             *one with ear infection and cough
             *one with ear infection and pneumonia, needing THREE breathing treatments
             *one with bronchitis and croup
             *one with bronchitis, vomit & diarrhea for 48 hours, needed IV fluids @ hospital.

Yes, I will be happy when spring is here.  This is what our past two weeks looked like:

And to top it all off, two weeks of sickness could only mean that it be Alabama's most wet winter EVER.  It has rained for what seems like an eternity.  This has left a rambunctious toddler and dog inside my house for endless hours a day.  You can guess what that means.

It also has given time for me to be still long enough to read and think (when the kids are napping).  And I've got some random thoughts I still need to process. But I can try to post them and document them here.

1. I actually don't mind sick littles.  It's what it brings that drives me crazy: home bound, no exercise, plans put off.  In a perfect world I would see those things as a good balance but I must admit, by day 10 I am utterly D.O.N.E.

2.  I saw my oldest (sweet boy) be rude to a girl on the neighborhood playground.  She asked how old he was and then she said, "oh I'm 7 too" and he snarked "I don't care."  In that moment I realized that no matter how "sweet" a boy is, he is rude when he has NO idea how to talk to a girl.  I know it's universal, but it just brought to my attention the world I have entered: teaching my boys how to talk to girls.  And preferably NOT by being rude in place of insecurity.

3.  I realized recently that my baby girl gets overlooked a good bit.  She is very compliant and plays well on her own.  So that means that when I am left dealing with a demanding toddler or a emotionally explosive sensitive 6 year old, she is off on her own.  And I desperately look forward to having next school year to just be with her while both older boys are at school.  I simply can't wait to lavish her in some momma time.

4.  Confession: I only like to snuggle with my dog when she's had a bath.  And she has very little understanding of personal space.

6.  I have grown weary of all the FB pics I post.  I am working on an effort I wanna call "Reality Bites." It would be all the less than glamorous aspects of my day.  With humor of course.  Because even my "worst" day of jumbled mess is still better than most. But it's still good to live reality on the social networks lest everyone think my life is more glamorous than it is.

7.  I haven't run/swam/worked out in 2 weeks.  It is having terrible effects.