Be Faithful

Few times in life do you push your body to its limits.  I’m not talking about just doing something that’s hard.  I’m talking about pushing past the point that you think you’re even capable of and then pushing more.  I can only think of a handful of times that I have done that.  The delivery of each of my kids is what comes to mind first.  I don’t think you can push your body much more than that.  After that, it’s running.  Specifically our half marathon last Sunday.

I knew immediately after the half in May that I needed to train hard and overcome the disappointment that I felt afterwards.  I was not okay with living with that failure looming over me and I knew that wasn’t the plan God had for me either.  So two days after that race, I started training for the next one.  I pushed myself physically each run, but I was not even remotely prepared for the mental battle I would face.

Sometimes it was easy and I felt fierce, like I could conquer anything.  Other days I felt defeated and just wanted to give up.  I knew I needed to equip myself with a way to battle those moments I was down.  Jeremiah 29:11 ran rampant in my mind throughout my training.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.  “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  I knew that I had to trust those words.  That God really did want me to prosper and that He would be faithful to help me do just that.

I don’t like to set goals.  And when I do, I set easy goals that I know I will not fail at.  It would have been easy for me to set a simple goal for this race.  Like to “just finish” or 2:10-2:15.  Those would be the normal goals I would set because I knew I would beat those, but I knew God was calling me to be honest about my goal.  So when people asked what my goal for the race was, I was obedient to God and made myself vulnerable by saying that I wanted to be under 2 hours.  I know to seasoned runners 2 hours is not a lofty goal, but that is a time that I knew would be hard for me to reach.  Janae informed me today that I never actually told her what my goal was.  Maybe I secretly didn’t tell her because I knew she would hold me to that.  She knew without me having to tell her though.

A lot happened during our training for this race.  It was already an important and intense training experience for me, but it was even more important after Janae’s dad was diagnosed.  It became a sort of therapy for us.  A time for us to talk and work through emotions.  A time to get away from it all.  And sometimes even a time to stop and cry.  I hate to see her hurt and going through something so tough, but it was a special time for me to get to help her walk through a really tough time.  It reminded me that running isn’t about the results of a race.  It’s so much more.

God kept reinforcing to me that I was to trust Him with the results of this race.  That He would take care of the weather and my health and all the things that are out of my control as long as I was obedient to Him.

The weather was perfect and I wasn’t sick, so God was already showing me His faithfulness.  Now it was my turn.  The beginning of the race went really well.  I felt good and we kept up a really good pace.  We stayed ahead of the 2 hour pace group almost the entire way.  It was about mile 11 that things got rough.  I started to crash and I couldn’t keep up the pace.  I utilized every technique I could think of to get me through.  Concentrate on making it to the next cone.  Then make it the next three steps.  Then just follow the person in front of me.  Janae was again the perfect running partner.  She gave me some space for a while.  Jeremiah said he thought it was weird that she was running about 10 steps ahead of me for a while.  Then she came back and pushed me to keep going.  At one point she said, “If you don’t want to keep going, I understand, but I don’t want to hear “I can’t” because I know you can.  Do you want to do this?”  A few times I didn’t respond.  I wanted to say no, but I didn’t want to admit defeat.  But then I just could not keep going, so I finally said I was done.  I don’t think I actually said that.  I think I may have just nodded that I didn’t want to do it.  But I kept going and she kept pushing.  “I know you can do this.”  “You can’t give up now.”  “We’re almost there.”  And even when the 2 hour pace group went by us and I thought I had missed my goal, she kept encouraging me.  (She told me later that she thought we missed it too.)  And she pushed me to go faster and I did.  Even though there was nothing left in me.  That’s how I know God was faithful here too.  Because I had given up.  I didn’t have anymore to give. And yet my legs kept moving.  And even when I thought I was defeated, the time was under 2 hours when we crossed that finish line.

So even though I felt like throwing up right after we finished.  And even though I almost fainted as we went through the post-finish area and ended up in the medical tent.  It was all worth it!  The amount of satisfaction that comes with training that long for something and coming out on top.  It’s priceless.

Janae kept apologizing for being obnoxious during the race.  She said she was so obnoxious it was getting to her.  And that if she was me she probably would have wanted to punch her.  I joked that if I had had the strength, I probably would have.  But really.  I can’t thank her enough for being the encouragement I needed at just the right time.  For not letting me give up on myself when, really, I already had.  And for helping me reach the goal that I never even told her I wanted to reach, but she just knew.

be faithful in small things

This medal, even though it’s the same thing I got at the three races before, means so much to me.  I want to wear it everywhere I go and display it forever in my house.  It’s a symbol of a struggle that God was faithful to get me through.  A way to remember that we need to be obedient to God and let Him take care of the rest.  And that great friends will push you even when it’s tough, but they’ll be right along side you the whole way.

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janae and sami half

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The Art of Marriage Small Group

Jason and I are passionate about marriage. Not only our own (obviously), but marriage in general. Like most little girls, I started dreaming early on about what it would be like to be married. Now after 7 years of dating, 9 1/2 years of marriage, and 3 babies, I can honestly say that marriage is even better than I ever imagined. You can read our love story here. Jason is truly my very best friend. He can calm me down, make me laugh, and still catch my eye in a room full of people. We are not perfect people so we do not have a perfect marriage, but it is perfect for me. I wake up everyday so thankful for him and the life we have together. Marriage stretches us and grows us in ways we never even knew we needed. It is totally awesome!  “Marriage, the way God intended it to be, is a true art form.”-Life Way

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Last year Jason and I each led small group Bible studies at our church for men and women respectively. It was great! We took a break over the summer and decided to do a combined study to start this fall. We had heard about The Art of Marriage last spring when we attended the Family Life Weekend to Remember. We were impressed with the content and knew it was something we wanted to do eventually. So it made sense to choose it when it came time to find a study for this fall. We were paired up with an amazing “coach” from Family Life as support too. He gave us some good pointers for leading and prayed over us and our entire group. Family Life also called us after we ordered our Leader’s Kit to extend extra support if needed. I will tell you that there is nothing extra special about Jason and I that makes us “qualified” to lead a marriage study. We are just a couple learning and growing as we go too. We just have a heart for marriage, families, and helping others. Our small group has now completed 4 of the 6 sessions and it has been great! We have 11 other couples in the group with us. I feel like it has been the perfect size. Big enough that talking isn’t awkward, but small enough that it isn’t intimidating either. I love to see so many couples putting time and effort into improving their marriage and making it great! The sessions are (taken straight from www.theartofmarriage.com):

Session 1: Love Happens (Purpose of Marriage)

  • God designed marriage and has a great plan in mind.
  • The primary purpose of marriage is to reflect God’s glory to a watching world.
  • It is important to receive your mate as God’s perfect gift for you.

Session 2: Love Fades (Drift to Isolation)

  • Couples naturally drift toward isolation.
  • Our differences and weaknesses push us apart.
  • Sin has affected every marriage.
  • The gospel brings healing and reconciliation.
  • Couples must learn to walk by the power of the Holy Spirit in marriage.

Session 3: Love Dances (Roles)

  • God designed different responsibilities for men and women in marriage.
  • Though their responsibilities are different, men and women are still equal in value.
  • God calls men to sacrificially love and lead their wives.
  • God calls women to respect and support their husbands.

Session 4: Love Interrupted (Communication)

  • Conflict is common to all marriages.
  • The goal is not to be conflict-free but to learn to handle conflict correctly when it occurs.
  • Healthy conflict resolution occurs when couples are willing to seek and grant forgiveness.

Session 5: Love Sizzles (Romance and Sex)

  • God created sex and has a wonderful design in mind.
  • A satisfying sex life is the result of a satisfying marriage relationship.
  • The ultimate purpose of sex is to bring pleasure and glory to God.

Session 6: Love Always (Legacy)

  • To leave a godly legacy, we must think about the impact of our lives on future generations.
  • Our hope for leaving a lasting legacy is through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Leaving a godly legacy requires putting a stake in the ground.

I love that nearly everything is touched on somewhere between all of the different topics. Everything from what first attracted you to your spouse to how to fight fair to how to grow together as one. There are great discussion questions for each session too. The questions have been engaging in talking things out and sharing ideas that work. Sometimes fresh ideas are all a marriage needs. We are fortunate in our group in that we have couples who have been married from 1year-20+years. It is great to hear the lessons each have learned and the different phases of life between some of us. Whether you have a great marriage or are struggling-this study is for you. If you have never experienced the benefits and fellowship of a small group I encourage you to do so. I have been so blessed by the couples in this group and am loving the chance to get to know them better and grow alongside them as we all strive to make our marriage and spouse a top priority. Surrounding yourselves with friends who also value their marriage is a beautiful thing and so encouraging.

“The ultimate purpose of marriage is to reflect God’s image.” -The Art of Marriage

I love this idea. For me, it really puts things in perspective that marriage is about far more than just me. It is eternal kingdom work reflecting God’s image and love. The work and challenges that come are all for the good and glory of God. Take that as a reason to uphold your marriage even more.

What marriage studies have you done?

Are there any great ones you would recommend?

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Attention Women of Children Older Than Mine!!

I love advice.  I probably also give more advice than people would like, but that’s a whole other issue.  The books I read are normally self-improvement or parenting or marriage or tell me how to make my life better, easier, longer in one way or another.  I believe that I can make better choices about my life and my family’s life with more information.  So that leads me to this.

Calling all women who have children older than mine.  Must love to spend time with their children and stay involved in their lives even as they get older.  While at the same time allowing them the freedom to grow into their own person.  I don’t want to throw out any names, but there are definite people that I have in mind.  Just know that if you don’t respond I will be forced to hunt you down.  Preferably mothers of girls, but I’ll take advice from mothers of boys too.

Jeremiah and I have always desired for our kids to be at home with us.  Spending time with us.  And not just us making them be with us, but we want them to WANT to spend time with us.  Even in their teenage years.  Gasp!  We own a boat partly because we love to boat, but partly because that’s an activity that we both loved to do as teenagers, so naturally mom and dad having boat = teenagers spending time with us.  We shall see how that works out.

Lately I have also noticed that the older my kids get, the more they desire to be with their friends.  And then I started thinking how that might not be a negative thing.  I mean there will be a day (not as far away as I would like) that they will be on their own.  Bigger gasp!  They could move across the country for all I know (please, please don’t let this be true).  And I won’t have the option of being there.  They will need to know how to function without me.  And that’s healthy and normal, right?

What I need right now is for someone to tell me that’s normal and how to make that transition.  Or not and how to fight it.  Whatever your opinion or advice, I want to hear it.  I feel like my kids are transitioning into young adults that are just itching for more responsibility, but I am struggling with how to help them do that.  Everything in me wants to make them make the right decision, but I also know that doing that will not help them to make the right decision when I’m not around.  It’s so hard to watch them mess up and then even harder to watch them deal with the consequences.  Maybe all you have is a kind hug and a “it’s hard but you have to let them do it and you will survive.”  If that’s true, then I need to hear it.  If you have more advice or words of encouragement, I would love to hear that too.  Parenting is hard and I believe you should use all the resources that are available to you.  Especially mothers who have been through this already.

 

Parenting is a privelegePhoto from Positive Parenting.

 

Memory Monday-Our Pet Fish

Today I want to introduce the newest member of our family, but first I have to take a trip down memory lane. When Ellasyn was two and Edyn was barely one, we decided to get a pet fish. It was an Easter gift to the girls. We met Jason after work and went to the pet store as a family to pick out our new Beta fish and get all the needed supplies. Ellasyn picked a bright blue male Beta and named him Baby Jay (after the Jayhawks of course). So it was only fitting that his tank was decorated with red rocks and blue marbles.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 2.25.19 PMJust look at how cute and little she was!

At our old house Baby Jay lived in Ellasyn’s room because Edyn was still a baby and didn’t care. So it became primarily her fish. He was as fun as any fish can be. I mean, really, fish aren’t so much a “fun” pet as much as just a pretty thing to watch and look at.  Edyn began to take more ownership of Baby Jay once we moved. That was when the girls started sharing a room so he was  kept in her room too.  A couple of weeks ago Baby Jay died. We sort of knew it might be coming as he had not been very active or interested in eating for several weeks. It was sad as Baby Jay had been our pet for 3 1/2 years. We gathered as a family and said a prayer for Baby Jay and what a good fish he had been. I was worried at how Ellasyn might handle it because she tends to be our emotional one. She was sad, but did ok.

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So now meet Prince. The evening after Baby Jay died, the girls and I went to Wal-Mart (Jason was golfing) to pick out our new fish. Edyn had much more of an opinion this time. The girls picked a Crown-Tailed Beta. We decided to name him Prince because if he is a “crown-tail” then we assumed he must be royalty. Right? Sami says she will never get a fish because she would be the one stuck cleaning the tank. That is probably true as I am the designated tank cleaner at my house. However, as the girls are getting older they really like to help, so eventually I will be able to pass that off (I hope). For now I hope it is teaching them how to take care of something and have responsibility on a small scale. Here’s to hoping Prince is as good of a fish as Baby Jay was.

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Revealed by Him

I love that God is in control of everything.  When the leaves change color, when they fall.  When it snows, when it rains.  Even when He chooses to reveal things to me about myself.  I’m 34 years old and I’ve known myself pretty much that whole time.  :)  Yet, God continues to reveal new things to me.  Like the other day when I found out I like red peppers and hummus.  It’s so good.  And I figured out a few years ago that I like mustard on my hotdogs and hamburgers.  And how I thought I hated running my whole life and He chose to reveal that I actually like running only a few years ago.

Recently, He revealed to me that I love woodworking.  Well, when I actually do the work myself.  Sorry Mr. Silsby.  I totally let the boys help me with my CD holder in high school.  (Man, I’m old.  No one needs a CD holder anymore.)  You did teach me how to use a saw safely though.  That is really coming in handy these days.

Janae and I have been preparing for a craft fair in November.  We are making some hand painted, wood signs, so that means cutting and sanding and nailing and painting.  Even though it’s work, I really enjoy doing it.  Power tools are awesome, so it’s not surprising that I like to use the saw and we have an equally awesome air compressor to magically shoot nails without all the hammering.  I love looking at pieces of wood and figuring out what they can make and how I could put them together or make them into what I want.  Which pieces fit together?  Where should this knot hole go?  It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle (I like those too, but I’ve always known that.)  And there’s an art to the sanding too.  What parts do I want completely smooth?  What parts do I want a little rough?  It’s sort of like therapy for a crazy, always being needed for something, never a moment to yourself mom.  I can pray and think and just be at peace all the while, making something beautiful.

God revealed all of those things to me in His perfect timing.  They were like little gifts waiting for me on each of those days.  As if God was telling me that He does care about my everyday life and He wants me to be happy.

1 Corinthians 2:9-11 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him–these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’