Month: October 2015

Running Strong: Inspiration from the Chicago Marathon

It was cold, dark, windy and early when we dropped the runners off at their gate. With one girl on the top of the stroller, one in the actual seat and one perched on the foot rest, we quickly became Chicago’s Finest Spectator Mobile, off on our own adventure.

After months of training, my dear friend, Jayne, and her husband, Matty, were in town to run the Chicago Marathon.

While they would spend the next 4.5-5 hours running, I was responsible for keeping their two girls and my kiddo alive, safe and in one piece. Confession: I may have laid awake from 3-4am wondering how the morning was going to play out. A 3:1 kid to adult ratio with energetic girls under the age of 6 in a huge city with 45,000 people running through the streets just sounded a tad bit overwhelming.

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Nevertheless, I put on my brave that day and headed down Michigan Avenue with one Bob stroller, three girls, two blankets, a plethora of snacks, an activity bag filled with crayons and coloring books, three posters, one iPad with kid shows pre-loaded because sometimes we all need a little mental break, and a partridge in a pear tree, for good measure.

Panera became our base. It was warm, comfy and served kid food and coffee. God bless those saintly employees. Every single one of them helped me with all of the water cups, all of the extra bowls and extra spoons and I’m so sorry, but can I get one more GoGurt, and all of the door holding (getting a stroller piled with 120lbs of children in and out of narrow doors is no small task).

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I’m pretty good with kids, but little things can suddenly get very tricky when you’re out-numbered 3:1. For example, potty breaks. After catching a quick site of our runners at the two-mile mark, everyone needed to go potty. Back to Panera we went.

“Quinn, go ahead and wash your hands, but stay in the bathroom, okay?”

“Adellyn, it’s your turn. Remember to wash your hands when you’re done.”

“Maeve, come with me, honey. We need to go potty.”

I was so in the throws of shuffling the girls through the potty process, that I hardly noticed a lady standing against the wall, making her way through her own potty process, quietly observing our little potty-stop.

“Excuse us,” I said, trying to shuffle one of the girls out of her way.

“No worries at all,” she said, smiling perhaps one of the most encouraging smiles I’ve seen in a while. “We are all running our own marathons today.”

Indeed.

Indeed we are all.running.our.own.marathons.today.

Indeed I am. Indeed you are. All running our own marathons. What a statement.

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I don’t know what your marathon is today or this week or in this season. I don’t know which mile you’re at or how you’re doing. Maybe you feel like you’re sailing along or maybe the next water stop can’t coming fast enough. Maybe you’re nearing the finish line or maybe you’re doubting your ability to see this thing through to the finish line. Maybe you’re the runner. Maybe you’re the spectator.

The marathon requires endurance and a steadfast commitment to grinding it out, one step at a time. It requires resilience. Determination. And the will to just keep going.

The beautiful thing? When we run with each other, with our communities, with the people who love us no matter what through all of the things for all of the years, we find the strength we need for each race. Sometimes you’ll be the runner, sometimes the spectator, but always a critical part of the team.

Whatever marathon you are running today, run your race strong, my friend. The finish line is just ahead.

*Jayne and Matty, this post is dedicated to you. Biggest congratulations on a great race!

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Life Nags

Some days, things on “my list” seem to be added twice as fast as they are being checked off. You know the things. In fact, I’m sure you have your own list.

Thing like laundry that needs to be washed, folded and put away, because everyone is out of undies, and wrinkled piles of clean clothes aren’t doing anyone any good. Groceries that need to be bought because every time you go into the kitchen looking for a snack, all you find are ingredients and nothing to actually eat. Things like “kid car” that really could stand to be vacuumed, and light bulbs that need to be changed and grey hairs and eyebrows and pimples to tend to. Things like the stubborn seven or seventeen or seventy pounds that just.refuse.to.go.away.

Never mind things like doctor’s appointments and oil changes and PTA meetings and COMMON CORE MATH (which I’m getting really good at, BTW. I’ve mastered the numbers 1-5 now, so if you need help, you have a friend in me, friends. Just say the *dreaded* words).

I could go on. Lunches that have to be packed. Closets and bathrooms and floors that need to be cleaned. And then things like is my kid eating a balanced diet and getting enough fresh air and exercise? Heck, am I eating a balanced diet and getting enough fresh air and exercise? And then there are super tough seasons, like the bill that is due when there just isn’t enough money in the bank account this month. Or the health concerns or the family feuds or the choices that the children make that just might really send you over the edge this time.

Some of these things are piercing and some are paralyzing and some flat out change the story as we thought it was going to be written. But in large part, most of the things are really just…nagging.

Life nags, I call them.

These little things that just always have to be done and sometimes the only reward for getting one of them crossed of the list is that you get to move on to the three others that have since been added.

And if you’re a Type-A like me, it can be easy to become consumed with these life nags. There’s just something about getting to check every last item off on a list. However, while these life nags are a necessary part of life, and in some way, all play a role in building routine and rhythm and structure, they aren’t the point.

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It turns out, people have been struggling with balancing all of the things and all of the life nags for a long time. I love this passage in Habakkuk (3:17-19) from The Message:

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the apples and strawberries don’t ripen, though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat field stunted. Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on God’s Rule to prevail. I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

So, as I begin this week, my goal is to deal with whatever life nags need to be dealt with. But while I’m dealing with them, I’m trying to keep my mind and my thoughts on the bigger picture, the things that matter, the things that are good and whole and right.

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Things like my relationship with my Creator and the incredible story He continues to write in and through and with my life.

Things like my community and the amazing people I get to call friends. Don’t you know some amazing people? Where would we be without our peeps. I just do not know. And they are worth thinking about, thanking God for and sending a quick note to this week.

Things like the little things that matter a lot: a warm house, a roof over my head, food on my table, a soft place to sleep, and clean water to drink. Man, do we take these things for granted. I know I do.

I’m focusing on my kiddo and the great honor and blessing it is to be a mom. In the midst of all the things to do and sacrifices and sleepless nights, being a mom has tugged at heartstrings I never knew I had. And investing in this little gift I call a daughter is one of my greatest joys.

Those are things that give me life, gain strength, and feel like I’m king of the life nag mountain!

Whaddya say? Join me this week in not letting the life nags nag?