Courage

Yesterday was my scheduled long run of the week, in preparation for my very first half marathon in 36 days (but who’s counting?). I planned out my route, a simple 5 miles out through town and on to the park trails, and 5 miles back. I started out feeling really strong, and I was excited for this run because up to this point my longest run had been 8 miles. I knew I was going to have to walk for parts of it, to rest my knee, and I was okay with that concession.

Do you ever embark on a new challenge and you feel really confident about it, only to fall flat on your face, metaphorically speaking? Well, I did this, only it wasn’t metaphorical. A mile and a half in to this long run, I tripped on the sidewalk and fell Flat. On. My. Face. I sat on the grass between the sidewalk and the street and inspected my wounds. Were my teeth still in tact? Was I gushing blood? Were my cochlear implants still on my head? Yes, no, and surprisingly, yes. After about 20 seconds I stood up, brushed myself off, and continued to run. But as I ran I could feel my upper lip swelling and I could taste blood. I decided to call my husband, who happened to be working from home that day, and ask him to bring me some ice. Until he drove up to give me the ice pack, I fully intended to run the remaining 8.5 miles with a fat lip and what would eventually turn into a massive headache. I think he could see that I was on the verge of tears, and he suggested that I ride back home with him and just rest a bit, that I could always go back out when I was ready. After a few moments of hesitation, I said yes. I kept my running clothes on for several hours, under the delusion that I would go back out and run the 10 miles. But then the headache came, and I decided I was better off taking an Aleve and sleeping for awhile. I could always try again Saturday.

So Friday felt like a bust and I woke up Saturday knowing this was my day to get that long run in, but really feeling like I need to be safer about it. This had been the 3rd time I fell this month, and while I need those long runs to prepare my body for 13.1, I don’t think it’s wise to run so far from home without a guide. I can still get the same workout on the dreaded treadmill in our basement. I hate running on the treadmill, but I need to get ready for this race, and not injure myself in the process.

To be honest, I woke up Saturday not really sure if I was going to run or not. But then I was on Facebook and my friends were posting reports of their long training runs. And then a friend texted asking how my face was doing, and another friend reminding me that yesterday’s fall was not failure, because she still remembers when I needed a walker to walk. So with a few messages of encouragement, in just a matter of minutes, my extreme discouragement transformed into full-on Courage. I was ready to run these miles. The icing on the cake, folks, was when I walked down to the treadmill and was reminded of the picture I keep above the display that says: “There will be a day when I can no longer run. Today is not that day.” I had forgotten all about it, but you can bet that was the final word of encouragement I needed to make sure I got that run started. And once I start, you better believe I’m a stubborn mule and I will finish, dang it.

I learned some things about running on the treadmill. One, when you run longer than 99 minutes, it stops moving and restarts the timer. Thankfully it didn’t reset the distance because that would have really frustrated me, but I ended the run at 9.99 miles just to be on the safe side. Some other advantages to the treadmill are that I can watch tv, I can stream Pandora without using data, and I have immediate access to a bathroom. So it wasn’t all bad. I did struggle with finding a good pace but I suppose that’s all part of the training. Better to figure this stuff out here in the safety of my home, than out on the course on race day.

I’ll be honest, compared to most of my runs, this one was pretty sucky, but it’s done and I have to be okay with that. My legs didn’t fail me, although my knee did cause me to fall once so I was glad I had a grab bar, I had zero drop foot issues, and I was actually able to finish with a very slow jog. So it’s a win in my book, whether I like it or not. Two days of rest and then I’ll be back out again for some short runs!

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Who do you work for?

Do you ever encounter a child who likes to ask “why?” about everything? As in, “why do I have to do the dishes?” or “why do I have to clean my room?” And because you’re tired of giving them your well thought out, logical explanation, you give them the ol’ “Because I said so.”? Or maybe the child doesn’t ask why, but simply responds with a grunty moan, while muttering about how much they hate doing chores.

Do you know a child like this? Or better yet, are you perhaps that child some days? For me it’s a yes, and absolutely yes (some of you may have heard how much I hate folding laundry). So while I have been working hard to change my thinking and learn to just do the things before they get out of hand, I still have my days when my attitude is in the crapper. My kids have those days too, and I find it’s helpful to let them know I understand and can even relate.

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24 English Standard Version (ESV)

The other morning I was reading my devotional and I came across this verse. It spoke to me, and this chore hating procrastinator hiding inside winced a little, but the message stuck. So later when the kids were grumbling about chores, I shared the verse with them, and I hung it on the fridge for all of us to be reminded.

I realize throwing a Bible verse in here may not be relevant to you unless you are a follower of Christ, but I believe the message still has merit. I believe the greatest impact of our lives is not necessarily from the big notable things, but rather a lot of little things added up over time. The daily minutia. It’s like the butterfly effect. If we can wake up daily with the mindset that the small things matter to someone, somewhere, at some point in time, then maybe we can wake up feeling hopeful that if I can just do these mundane tasks with a smile, maybe it will make someone else’s day. Or from a believer’s perspective, maybe I can show the love and relatable humanity of Jesus by doing grunt work without grumbling. Honestly, that’s hard to do unless I truly believe that all of the work I do here at home is not just for my family, but ultimately for the Lord.

I would encourage you to sit down with that inner whiny child and let them know that the little things do matter. Start small. Do the hard things, little by little. It all matters to Someone. Just try it, I dare you!

Waiting for the crash

Last night I stayed up way too late watching Pretty Woman on tv. Because I don’t know why. Because I had recorded it, and then started watching it not being entirely aware of the time, and then not being able to turn it off in the middle. Because you’ve gotta finish what you’ve started, right? I won’t get started on what a classic, feel good movie that is. It just is for me, and I don’t care if you judge me for it. Julia Roberts is just genius in that role. That’s all.

Anyway, so I was up way too late, and then had to get up early this morning to wake my daughter to get ready for the second day of horse camp. Then, even though I kept telling myself I was going to go back to bed, I just sort of kept moving on with my day. Luke and I rode bikes to get lunch at Taco Bell, my vitamins from Rite-Aid, and then ice cream at Sweet Sensations. It was a great afternoon, and then I thought maybe I would catch a nap before Natalie got home from camp, but I just, well, didn’t. Then I made dinner for the family and now I’m sitting here wondering when I’m going to hit that wall of fatigue. Yet, it just doesn’t seem to be coming. Hallelujah, praise the Lord, I’m operating like a normal healthy person!

This may be the healthiest I have ever felt. I don’t even remember having this kind of energy when I was in my twenties. I’m sure I did, I just don’t remember it, ha! So I’m writing this down so that I can remember how I feel and perhaps what I’m doing to feel so good. I believe it’s all the healthy things combined that work together to allow my body to operate at its best. Staying active with running, cycling, and walking. Eating my fruits and veggies, taking my greens daily, drinking lots of water. Even the celery juice I’ve been drinking every morning seems to be having a positive effect on my sleep quality, somehow. I know the celery juice is a fad right now, but you never know, this might be one that sticks. We shall see. But all the exercise and the healthy eating (with itty bitty cheats here and there) is really working.

The best part about feeling good is that I am feeling confident about the upcoming commitments I’ve made: leading a bible study, a discipleship group, and a Financial Peace class. I’m not afraid that it will be more than I can handle, or be too much to take on as a person living with MS. I do realize that none of this healthy living makes me immune to a relapse, so I’m keeping a level head about that, but I’m praying that all this healthy stuff I’m doing will make a relapse far less likely. I’ve always said I don’t want to let fear drive my decisions, and that applies here. I can’t say no to these exciting opportunities to serve God for fear that I’ll relapse. I’m trusting that He’s the one that gave me these desires and that He’s leading me down these paths, and if that’s true, He’ll take care of the details. M.S. is no match for my God!

I’ve always been a cryer

When I saw my primary doctor about my knee I asked her if it would be safe to stop taking my anti-depressant. I had started on a higher dose, but since have gone down to the smallest dose because it was making me too numb. But now that I’ve been feeling so good, physically and mentally, I thought it would be worth a shot at stopping it altogether. She said I was on a low enough dose that I could just stop taking it and wouldn’t have any adverse effects. So, I stopped.

Here’s how I know it was leaving my system. Last week I turned on the tv and caught a few minutes of Wife Swap. The husband did something really nice and thoughtful for the wife, and I got a little choked up. Almost shed a tear. Then, a few days later I was watching a video on Facebook of a man playing the saxophone for a herd of cows, and I kid you not, they all came to the fence to listen. Again with the lump in the throat.

Then there was the time we went up in the carousel at Cedar Point and I almost had a panic attack. It was at that moment I remembered that I was off my meds and in order to cope I had to do what I had learned to do – which is to breath slowly and tell myself what was real and true. I had to tell myself that the likelihood of anything bad happening was very minimal, or else they wouldn’t have let us on the ride in the first place. And then keep breathing, slowly, in and out.

So, these sorts of things keep happening, and it tells me that the anti-depressant that was artificially numbing my emotions is out of my system. That makes me so happy, I could *literally* cry (Sometimes people say literally when they don’t mean literally. I am not those people.). This is such a good thing. I was taking the anti-depressant because I was having anxiety attacks, but I never did like that it seemed to dull my emotions all together. You can’t pick and choose with these drugs, I guess. The upside is that while I now feel sad emotions more vibrantly, I’m also feeling the happy ones too. I’m FEELing all the FEELS. You feel me?

Cedar Point 2019

Last week we made our now annual trip to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. This was a favorite place for Mike and me when we were kids, and it makes us pretty happy to be able to share the magic with our kids. The odd thing is that they each love it for different reasons. Luke loves all the thrill rides, and Natalie loves the petting zoo. So while the boys run around riding rides, the girls mosey and shop and make friends with camels and tortoises.

You can see in the first picture below that we had to get a photo to show where we were while the boys were waiting in line for the Steel Vengeance. We were happily exploring the museum, NOT riding the Steel Vengeance. When we got a closer look at the model of the ride (you can see it behind us) and the 90 degree drop it makes, we knew we had made the right decision.

We have always been able to buy our tickets ahead of time and get two for the price of one, but this year Mike found us an even better deal that included drink passes. We all got bracelets that allowed us to get free fountain drinks all day long. This turned out to be a really great thing because they have refreshment stations all over the park, and they don’t just serve soda. They had fruit juices and teas as well. I’m not a soda drinker, but I do love my sweet tea, so this made me very happy. Also, it completely wiped out the begging that’s gone on in the past when the kids are thirsty (as they should be, walking around in 80 degree weather) and Mom doesn’t want to spend $10 on enormous fountain drinks they will likely not be able to finish drinking. With the unlimited drink plan they gave you small cups, so you only got what you needed at the time and by the time you finished it, you were close enough to the next station so you could just get another.

ALL that to say, we never felt dehydrated the entire day! So hurray for that.

Also, isn’t my husband cute with his Coca-Cola logo looking Guns & Ammo shirt? I tried to get a nice photo of us but our goofy daughter photo bombed us. That picture on the right was taken at the end of the day and Natalie was trying not to smile. Her dad always manages to cheer her up when she’s trying so hard to be in a bad mood.

We finished the day with a night ride on the carousel, which was both beautiful and terrifying. I’m not crazy about being up so high in the air and this was the first year I went on it without the benefit of Zoloft. That’s another blog post altogether, but let’s just say I came really close to a panic attack at the top of the carousel. Thankfully Mike could see I was not okay and he held my hand and reassured me we would be okay. I survived, obviously, and will now be working up the courage for next year’s carousel ride. Because tradition trumps anxiety, and also I’m a smidge sentimental.

My legs held up really well all day. Towards the end my knee was hurting a little so I put my knee brace on and that helped some. My balance was suffering and my left foot felt like it was dropping so Mike held my hand at that point in order to give me some stability. I walked a record 21,693 steps that day and nobody had to carry me to the truck, so I call that a win. Everyone had their brand of fun and it was a great and memorable day. I look forward to going again next year!

Just an overall great day

Today was a really great day. Nothing out of the ordinary or spectacular, it was just a good day, so I wanted to share before I head off to bed.

The kids and I went to church this morning. Hubby was at a shooting competition so it was just the three of us. We had been preparing to ride the bus, but were able to secure a ride with the pastor’s wife at the last minute. So while we were a bit excited about doing something new by riding the fixed route bus, we were thankful we didn’t have to get up super early to catch the bus. We’ll hopefully try again on another day before the summer is over.

Church was great, as usual. I love my church family, because they are just like that: family. I was able to have a bit of time after the service to catch up with the some of the other women and invited two of them to BSF in the fall.

The afternoon was spent relaxing, having lunch with the kids, chatting with my sister, and doing a bit of bookkeeping for the church. By the evening, after dinner, I was feeling pretty sluggish and the sun hadn’t set yet, so I threw on some running clothes and went for a quick two miles around the neighborhood. I’ve been doing a pretty good job with resting my knee and doing the exercises the doctor gave me, and tonight’s run really showed me that it’s paying off, because I only took a few brief walking breaks and I had no knee pain throughout the run! Even after I got home I didn’t feel any pain. Not only that, but my pace was pretty strong for the time I was running, at around 11 or 12 minutes, which is pretty fast for me. I usually average closer to 13 minute miles. So I was pretty ecstatic about that run, and it really gives me hope that I’ll still be able to complete the half marathon in 56 days!

I’m excited about the upcoming race, but I’m even more excited about a lot of leadership opportunities I have coming up. Leadership is not necessarily my comfort zone, but I feel like God has really been working on me in this area, and helping me to step out of my comfort zone little by little. I can still be my introvert self and interact with others. I really enjoy getting to know people and hearing their stories. In the fall I’ll be leading a Bible Study Fellowship group, a discipleship group through my church, and Financial Peace University. That sounds like a lot, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to keep a good balance and manage my time well enough to handle it all.

Shifting gears here, but I recently saw the dermatologist and I thought it was just going to be a follow up to get refills on the antibiotic for my rosacea, but the doctor I was seeing left the practice so I was seeing a new one. Not new to the practice, just new to me. I was very reassured from the minute he walked in the room because he actually examined my face under the light, and the last doctor never did that, which I always thought was odd. This new doctor is changing up my medication a little bit and putting me on something stronger, with the hopes that eventually I won’t have to take the antibiotics. He also gave me a prescription for a cream that should help the specific problem areas on my face. So that was a really positive visit and I went home feeling hopeful that we can get my face cleared up even more.

So the last couple weeks were filled with a couple doctor’s visits, my monthly Tysabri infusion, and lab work to make sure I can still take the Tysabri. Then in a week or so we go to the dentist for cleanings, and take the kids to the orthodontist for evaluations. Not exactly your idea of summer fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Being healthy is super important to me because if I didn’t have this energy, I wouldn’t be able to do any of the volunteering that I’m signed up to do. So I’m staying focused (i.e. mildly obsessed) with the running, daily exercises, eating my fruits and veggies, drinking my greens, and taking my vitamins. Staying healthy for this M.S. girl is kind of a full time job.

The Prodigal

I’m a little tired today, but it’s still early. There’s a chill in the air, so I’m out here enjoying the chirping of the birds while wrapped in a blanket.

The cool weather has me wishing I was running. With the breeze and the sun, it’s my favorite weather to run in. If I didn’t have neighbors so close on each side I would be doing my exercises out here on the deck. Maybe next year I’ll be old enough to not care, but I’m not there yet.

This morning I was reading Luke chapter 15, the story of the prodigal son, and it reminded me of the ridiculous choices I made way back when in my prodigal days. I also read as part of a devotional reading plan this morning about how we often relate to God in a similar way to how we relate with our earthly fathers. And this led to a strong desire to share my prodigal story with you kind readers. So, here goes.

I was a straight A student in high school, with the exception of that B in gym. I was a well behaved child, mostly. Not necessarily because I was good hearted, but more so that the other kids at school wouldn’t judge me and call me a hypocrite. So when I tossed that graduation cap in the air, I felt like I had been released from the judgment. I could experiment with the world. I wanted to explore. I started saying yes to the party invitations.

Prodigal: “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant”

That summer, while still living at home, I did a lot of heavy drinking. I discovered a lot of things, like how my friends were acquiring liquor, and also that my body does not like rum. Since I had turned 18 earlier that year, I was able to legally buy cigarettes, so I started smoking too. Menthols, because regular cigarettes were nasty. (Who was I kidding, right? They’re all nasty.) It was a fun summer, but it was mostly regrettable for all the lying I did to my parents.

When I went off to college that fall I thought I had gotten the rebellion out of my system and I could move forward. Famous last words.

I lived in the dorms, down in the valley. I had to walk quite a ways to get to class (up hill! Both ways! In three feet of snow!!). During this time period I was dressing like a dime store punk – greasy hair, long baggy bell-bottom pants, polyester shirts. I kind of wish I had pictures, but we didn’t have digital back then. My new look must have attracted the wrong people because I was befriended by John, who also lived in the dorms. I’ll never forget this conversation: we were walking to class and talking about music and I was telling him how much I liked Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and he asked me – “Oh, do you smoke?” I thought he meant cigarettes, so I quickly answered yes.

And that, my friends, is how easy it was to get started smoking marijuana. This was the beginning of the end of my college experience. I was introduced to pot and as it turns out, I loved it. So much so that I was smoking it all the time. I was sleeping too late, missing class, being a total jerk to my roommate, and doing questionable things I thankfully can’t remember. This went on for months. When our grades were posted and I saw that I was getting C’s, I gave up. I had never in my life gotten C’s, so I couldn’t see any way to come back from it. Without a word to anyone, I went to the registrar’s office and dropped out.

My mom lived in the same town, so I told her first. She graciously allowed me to move my stuff into her dining room and sleep on a cot until I could secure a more permanent space. I don’t remember how long before I told my dad, but I remember we were in a movie theater, waiting for a movie to start. I told him I had dropped out of school, and instead of being angry at me for throwing away my future, he told me he loved me and gave me a great big hug.

I still can’t really describe to you how much these gestures of grace and forgiveness mean to me, even to this day. I trusted I could count on my mom to accept me, but I had expected condemnation from my dad. I expected disappointment, yet I received unconditional love. I was the prodigal son, and he welcomed me home with open arms. He didn’t throw me a party, but he may as well have. That hug was something special. It was a gift that gave me the strength to move forward with my life. To pack up and move on.

Genesis 12:1 (NIV) “The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”

I spent several months living in an apartment with a couple of my brother’s friends from high school, and eventually (miraculously, perhaps) rededicated my life to following my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God met me on the kitchen floor with a dusty Bible one morning and called me to move to Lansing. It’s where I’ve built so many cherished friendships, and it’s where I met my husband and we are raising our family. It’s where I later learned that my great grandparents built a home and raised their children (my grandfather and great aunt). My grandmother even graduated from the same high school my husband did.

So the miracle that happened here, the end of this story, is that God saw that door I slammed shut with my stupidity and opened a window to a new life, a better life. He welcomed this prodigal daughter back home and threw her a party.

Have you slammed any doors shut in your life? Is God trying to show you a window to something better? Maybe it’s time to dust off that Bible, grab a cup of coffee, and search for it. Pull up a chair and sit with Him for awhile, He’s waiting to show you. If nothing else, He wants to give you a big party-sized hug.

I may be deaf and half-blind, but I am and will always be… still Mindy