Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Praise workouts and the way it's (not) supposed to be

So I started working out.  Every morning for the past week (not including the weekend because that's just crazy talk) I have set my alarm for 5:45am, which is 1/2 hour earlier than I used to, and I have been actually getting out of bed and starting my workout by 6am.

Not to be all braggy, but this is a big deal for me!  I have not stuck to a workout plan for, oh I don't know, several decades so I'm kinda happy with myself for sticking to this one for a whole week.  And I am enjoying it so much that I don't see me stopping anytime soon...hopefully never.  

Before you are too impressed, I'm not talking about a high energy, aerobic sweatfest.  I'm doing a very low impact stretching and toning routine that I like to call "not-yoga".  It's similar to yoga I suppose, but without the spiritual stuff because this girl don't do that.  (Except for goat yoga.  That is actually an actual thing!  I might have to try that sometime because, baby goats!).  

I've been doing a variation of my not-yoga routine since high school, and I literally noticed the benefits on the very first day.  I have more energy and feel more relaxed all day long.  And it's more than just a workout...I made a playlist of worship songs that lasts for almost exactly 30 minutes (so I don't have to keep checking the clock) and I am using that time for praise or prayer, or both.  What I, for years didn't think I could do (make time to work out OR get up earlier than I had to) has now become the best part of my day.  I look forward to getting up and don't keep hitting the snooze (also, putting my alarm clock a little farther away helps with that little habit).  

And...I feel closer to God, and that is the absolute best.

So after my praise workout - yes!  I'm going to call it my praise workout now!!  So much better than not-yoga :)  After my praise workout I resist the urge to flop on my bed and waste time on facebook, and I put on a podcast instead.  I had been listening to Joyce Meyer's podcast for the past several months while getting ready for work, but a couple weeks ago I started listening to the Proverbs 31 podcast.  It is nothing short of life changing for me.  I'm in the middle of the "Therapy and Theology" series, which is a great follow up to the bible study I just finished on Lysa Terkeurst's book "It's Not Supposed To Be This Way".  

Also life changing.

I seriously needed that book, and this podcast, at this exact time of my life.  Both have helped me on so many levels and I know I am going to be camping on them for some time to come.  And by camping, I mean re-reading the book and things I've hi-lighted in it, going over my study notes, and listening to the podcasts over and possibly over again.  I need repetition to truly learn something.  Some people can hear things once and get it.  I tend to need to go over things two or ten times before I truly retain it and am able to apply the concepts to my life.  

And if I'm going to be totally transparent, there are multiple areas of my life right now that I could say, and some days scream...IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THIS WAY!!!

1)  I'm SUPPOSED to have a house full of kids, and as I've already talked about here and here, I'm having some adjustment issues with our two babies graduating this year and the idea of an empty nest looming in our not-so-distant future.  Not only that (which is enough) but my male cherub is giving me an aneurysm with his lackadaisical attitude toward school...in this, the home stretch of his senior year.  

"I've got this, Mom", he says.  "Everything's fiiiine, Mother", he says.  

Meanwhile, I'm thinking he should be rounding third and running full bore for home plate, when in reality he is farting around somewhere near 2nd base...kicking the dirt and staring at his glove like he did in t-ball which was adorable back then.  Now, not so much.  

2)  Mr. Wonderful and I are SUPPOSED to have all the kinks worked out in our marriage, particularly in our parenting styles, but to be honest we have walked through some stuff.  Especially over the last five years. Hello counselor, my old friend....I've come to talk with you again...

3)  I'm SUPPOSED to be turning 40, not 50.  I'm not feeling 50.  It sounds old...at least older than I feel.  Maybe that's a good thing?  That I don't feel as old as I actually am?  I guess I don't mind it THAT much, I'm not hung up on age.  But it does feel weird.

4)  As we are approaching the end of our season of "raising children", I am doing a life review of sorts and there are some things that I wish we would have done.  And others I wish we would have done differently.  But one that I'm hung up on right now is that we were SUPPOSED to have taken more vacations as a family.  We wanted to, but as life moved along we never seemed to have the money or the time.  It was easier to pack up and go when the kids were pre-teens, before they had jobs and extra curriculars to keep us tied to home.  

Our kids haven't been deprived, and neither have Vince and I.  I know that.  We have all been on vacations, in various combinations of kids and parents, but we never took a real family vacation ALL together during their growing up years.  Which are now coming to an end.


We are however planning a real deal family vacation for this summer!  We are going to Okoboji, staying by a lake and doing lots of water fun and mini-golfing and game playing and relaxing.  And just being together.  

As I sit here typing that out, I realize that I need to just slap myself - and remember that it's not too late.  It will never be too late.  We will ALWAYS be a family and there will be countless opportunities in the years to come to make even more memories together.  I need to let go of the memories that we didn't make, remember the ones that we did, and look forward to the ones we have yet to make in the future.

And THAT's the way it's SUPPOSED to be :)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Hiding and going home

I don't want to go home.

I mean, I really like our home.  Love it, actually.  And the people in it.  I love them too.  And the dog.  Most of the time, the dog.  

But right now I'm hiding here...

Coffee shop hiding is one of my favorite things to do when I don't want to go home.  It's not that I don't want to be there per se, or be around my people.  I just sometimes need to be somewhere where I can relax without distractions.  Where I don't feel pulled toward the dishes or the vacuum or the laundry or the people.  Or the dog.  I can just be, and think my thoughts.  And drink my coffee.

Things are changing.  And I'm not always a big fan of change.

I've been trying to deny it, or avoid it, but the truth is in the next six months we might very well have an empty nest.  Our season of raising children and being a family all in the same house is coming to an end.  

There.  I said it.  

And I'm having kind of a hard time dealing with it. 

For almost half my life I have been a wife and mother.  It has defined who I am, probably too much so at times but I couldn't help it.  Being a mom has been the greatest joy of my life.  Our house has always been full of kids and toys and noise and stuff and love and messes and stresses and tears and fun.  And sarcasm.  We can't forget the sarcasm.   I'll admit, there have been times, many times, when it has been too much.  That thing about "God won't give you more than you can handle" - yea, that ain't true.  He does.  He did with me.  Six kids - six loud and opinionated and stubborn and challenging and wonderfully amazing kids, in between the joy and the hugs and the laughter have sometimes been more than I could handle. I used to yearn for quiet and would sometimes lock myself in the bathroom or flop myself on my bed just to get a moment of it.  Slowly, as each of our kids have launched, the house has gotten a little bit quieter.  Now it's the quietest it's ever been and it feels...strange.  

Vince and I have done things backwards from most couples.  We've been together almost 12 years and we've never been alone.  We started out with kids...lots of them...ranging in age from 5-17.  We've been just a tad bit busy and it's never been just us.  It's our turn now, and I'm really happy about that part of all this!  Vince and I have a lot to look forward to together and are working on our bucket list :)  But the other part of me, the mom part, is a little bit sad.  Sometimes a lot sad and I'm not sure how to feel about that.  Or what to do with those feelings that I can't really even define yet.  

Kyle and Hope, our babies, are graduating soon and making plans for their futures.  They are getting ready to launch, but truth be told I'm not ready to let them go.  I'm excited for them, I am!  But also terrified.  The past couple years have been hard, for them and for us.  Probably the hardest of all our parenting years and we have been so consumed with getting them through, that I haven't been able to really process and accept that they are actually moving on into adulthood soon.  I think that's why it is taking me by surprise.  

And taking my breath away.  

And causing me to hide in coffee shops.

But then this guy shows up...

...and makes it all better.  He reminds me that we are in this together.  And we will get through the hard days and the hard feelings and the hard things just like we have always done.  With faith and hope and love.  He makes me not want to sit here alone anymore.  

He makes me want to go home.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Observations from the 20th floor

I've been standing here for about 20 minutes or so, enjoying my iced caramel mocha with soy, and watching the goings on in the city streets below.

It's really quite interesting.  I'm not sure - no, I know that I don't do this often enough.  Intently observe things.  Shut off the thoughts and ruminations in my mind and just be in the moment.

I tried to do that last night, when I attempted to take a bubble bath in the jacuzzi tub in our hotel room which we paid a $25 upgrade for at check-in.  Hey, when you are star struck (was Elton John staying in the same hotel as us?  Right across the street from the Target Center?  OF COURSE HE WAS!)  and you have valet parking and concierges waiting on you, an upgrade to the executive suite with the jacuzzi tub and beautiful view of the city seems like a no-brainer.  We are on a mini-vaca and a nice long, hot bubble bath sounded like a heavenly idea.  Unfortunately it didn't translate into the relaxing oasis that I had anticipated it to be.

The lavender smelled wonderful, dim lighting and Jim Brickman set the perfect mood,  but I soon realized as I turned on the jets that a very little bit of bubble bath is all you actually need.  Or want.  Too much is, well...too much and then you have a choice to make.  Do you lay your head back and become consumed with bubbles?  Or do you sit up and play with them like a toddler?  (Did our upgrade come with free tubby toys?)  Neither option was very relaxing.  Hmmph.  Oh well, it was better than NOT having a jacuzzi!  I'll do better next time.

My bird friends have decided to abandon their perch on the skywalk across the street and are now congregated on the ledge of one of the buildings and I missed it because I was too busy thinking and typing about last night's bubble bath fiasco.

Let me rewind.

The view from our window overlooks the rooftops and streets of downtown Minneapolis.  We are in town to see Elton John perform at the Target Center on his Farewell Tour.  It's been on our bucket list to see Elton together.  It's the 8th time I've seen him in concert, but Vince's first and it was awesome :)  Now, today is our last day here and as we are finishing our packing and getting ready to leave in a couple hours, I find myself at the window.

The first thing that caught my eye and convinced me to slow down and stay awhile was a flock of birds.  There were probably 15-20 or so, all flying in unison, round and round above the building across the street.  I began to wonder how they stayed in sync like that.  There didn't seem to be one leader among them, but they all would flap their wings at the same time, glide at the same time, and gracefully make 180 degree turns, ascending and descending all together.  Over and over until they found their perch on the frame of the skywalk connecting the two buildings below us.  It was kind of like watching synchronized swimming. Does God direct their behavior?  Do they communicate with each other somehow?  Interesting.  Fascinating, actually.

I see a young woman walking her dog on the sidewalk, then she breaks into a jog and her dog happily trots along. She probably lives in an apartment in the area.  Cars went by one by one, all going to different destinations.  Some with roofs and hoods covered with snow.  Metro Transit buses.  An ambulance.  Two cars on the roof of the building across the street that have been there at least since the last snow.  How long have they been there? Will they get towed?  Where are the owners?  A lady appeared on the roof, walked back and forth, and then exited the other side.  Did she lose her car?  What was she looking for?  Has anyone ever jumped off that roof?  Disturbing, I know, but I think about things like that sometimes.

I've always been interested in people and their stories. What motivates them, what is important to them, why they do the things they do, what life experiences and other people have influenced them?

There were thousands of people at the concert last night.  We all came together from various cities and states to go see this musician on this night, and then we all went our separate ways again.  Some of us had an awesome evening.  Others bought tickets and never made it.  Some came with friends and it was one of the best nights of their lives.  And for some others, for various reasons, it was the worst.

I left once during the concert to use the bathroom.  In the concession area was a woman in a wheelchair being attended to by some paramedics.  I thought about stopping and praying with her, but I kept walking.  She was being helped and I wanted to get back to the concert.  Besides that, one of the paramedics was holding a barf bag...do I really want to get close to someone who was heaving and possibly sick with something contagious?  I told myself if she was still there on my way back I would stop.  She was, but was now surrounded by several people who were obviously with her, one was hugging her tight from behind.  She didn't really need me now.  Did I miss an opportunity to bless her?

Jesus would have stopped.  He wouldn't have even hesitated.


Hundreds of people stayed in the same hotel as we did.  On the very same nights.  Many in town for the concert, others for different reasons.  We met a boxer in the elevator, he was in town for a boxing match.  He was friendly and we chatted for our 30 second elevator ride, and we will never meet again.  I helped an older gentleman put his groceries in the trunk of his car at Cub foods, where we stopped last night to pick up some snacks to bring back to our hotel room.  On the way back to our car I realized I had forgotten to get bubble bath, so Vince stayed in the car while I walked back toward the store and spotted this man struggling to put his bags in his trunk.

If we had said no to the upgrade I wouldn't have wanted to get bubble bath...I wouldn't have gone back into the store and then wouldn't have been there to assist this nice man with his bags.  Someone else might have, or he would have struggled and got it done himself.


Fast forward several hours.  We're at home now, sitting at the kitchen table finishing this blog post and I'm thinking about all the choices we have everyday.  All the "chance" encounters of everyday life on this planet full of people and opportunities.  We have opportunities every single day to observe and to ponder and to make a difference.  Big or small.  How many days of my life have I gotten to the end of the night and thought I didn't do anything significant all day long?  Maybe I did, but just didn't recognize it as being significant.  Maybe I missed it...something the Holy Spirit was prompting me to do but I was too busy or too grossed out or too selfish or too embarrassed to do.

I wonder if Heaven will allow us to review our lives and see all these moments?  The chance encounters.  The divine ones.  The observations.  The meanings behind them.  It might be heartbreaking, but also could be amazing.

And maybe then God will explain the birds to me.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Just today

I have a companion for my coffee shop therapy time today!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Things I love about this weekend besides my new planner

My new planner is here!  My new planner is here!  I'm SOMEBODY now!! (Insert dancing emoji).

It came this week and I'm already sufficiently obsessed with it.  It's probably my favorite one ever.  I know I've said that before, but well, just look at how adorable...

And I had to splurge on the optional sticker pack because, just... 


Call me old school (go ahead say it, punk!)  (just kidding).  But I have to have a paper planner.  I've tried the electronic calendar on my phone and ipad, but I found it more complicated and takes more time and energy than just pulling out my planner, whipping it open and writing it down like a human.  It's worth carrying around in my purse.

Schedules, goals, to-do lists, notes and pockets for stuff...it's not just a planner, 
it's a way of life, people.  

I filled in the goal page during my coffee shop therapy time yesterday and now I feel inspired.
How often do we really write down things like this?  We think them, but there is something about writing things out on paper and looking at it often that increases my focus and gets me motivated to make it happen.

I could have kept going with the list, but these are what came out of me spontaneously yesterday, which I find is the best way to write goals.  Listen to your heart, whatever comes spilling out first without overthinking it.

Other things I love about this weekend:

Rainy days and cuddles on the couch
Steaks on the grill by the dubs
A husband who does the laundry every weekend
Fresh baked cookies (even if it is frozen fundraiser cookie dough, still good)
Coffee dates with my girl, and my sis-in-law
Conversations with my boy who was actually home for much of the weekend
Sunday afternoon naps :)
Lazy dogs

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Puppy pillows and birthday boys

Saturday morning we left our sleeping teenagers at home in their beds and went to our favorite local breakfast place because we're sneaky like that sometimes :)

And this guy is a goof...

We had a special birthday boy to celebrate today!  Jaden turned 9, which is so hard to believe.  Time really does go by fast.  The saying "the days are long but the years are short" is really true, with children and grandchildren too.

I think they need a larger bonfire area.  It was a cool day and sitting by a fire looked so inviting, but everytime we went by the chairs other people were sitting in them.  So not fair.

We enjoyed some yummy treats...mini apple and cherry strudels...and some special memories :)

Well, hello there!

Sunday was filled with church, warm blankets, and naps.  It is so sweet how much Macey loves Kyle's basketball pillow...or is it Nick's?  I can't remember.  It's hers now.