Death Threats

Last week Spencer threatened to cut off the air supply to my blog if I didn’t write anything. It sat untouched (and probably un-visited) for over a year. Maybe he knows that’s the motivation I need to write again or maybe he just really doesn’t want to spend money on my website if I’m not going to use it. Either way, it’s enough to get me off my tush and back to the page.

So much has happened since I last blogged (I probably owe a year-in-review), but the best part of 2019 has been starting the 2019-2020 school year. Summer was hard. It was good, but we faced some really hard things with our daughter. So I put some new practices and priorities into place as school started and it’s been lovely to sit back and watch God transform this wonk heart into what He’d prefer it to be. It’s amazing how trial and error can get us to where we want or need to be. I spent so much of last year trying to sketch out what this year should look like. I need this job and this Bible study on this day. In the end, I’m doing NONE of the things I thought I would be doing. Not one! Instead, I am a Room Mom for my First Grader’s class, attending a monthly art’s luncheon at my church, writing again and I even picked up my guitar. I’ve been on the greenbelt even though we are STILL waiting for that first cool front. And I feel more alive than ever.

I’ve watched my best friend surrender sleep to wake up and seek The Lord each morning and it has motivated me to do the same. I truly see God molding and fashioning her heart with this daily sacrifice and laying down of wants (like my want to sleep!) and I long for that. More than anything, I want a contentment that only God can provide. And after 38 years of humaning, I’m pretty sure that’s the only way I can find it. I have to start out my day surrendered and confident in who I am and Whose I am. I think the most beautiful part of that is my kids seeing me seek each morning. Out of this devotional has come another beautiful rhythm in our lives. Since the kids eat breakfast for ten minutes each morning, I’ve decided to use that chewing quiet time to read the Children’s Bible to them. I have them. They are buckled in to their sustenance and they listen to me. I do not want to let this habit go now that I’ve established it. Not only do they ask for another story every day, but I am praying with them more and seeing that they will not pick up this seeking life by osmosis. I MUST be intentional about showing them who Jesus is each day. That life is about being more than a good person and that we live on grace. I have got to parent on purpose or I will be waving them both off at age 18 hoping maybe they heard something good at church or youth camp. No. It’s not enough. They have to see me living out my faith, not just offering lip service.

So I seek. And a sweet little moment like the one above happens here and there. Spence walks in on Sabra and me sitting in our club chairs before dawn. “I’m reading my Bible,” she says to Spence as he leans down to give her a goodbye kiss.

My heart grows five times in size as I see this 5 year old copying what she sees her mom doing. I don’t want her to copy my beauty regimen or my style, I want her to copy this seeking life. This! This is what it’s all about. May my children remember hearing truth each morning before the walked out into the world and may I never forget that is exactly what I need all the days I live.

On Beeswax

What other people think of me is none of my business. This holds true for my writing, my running and just plain old me. Some people simply aren’t going to like you. My mom told me that awhile back and it kind of hurt my feelings, but was also a little bit of a relief. I shouldn’t have to waste my valuable, limited time on people who aren’t interested.

I think my biggest fear is that I’m not the real deal, whatever that is. My fear is that I’m just a mediocre human being and doing. My writing is crappy because I don’t practice enough. I haven’t picked up my guitar in over a year, and while I run a decent pace, I’m nowhere near Boston Qualifying speed. I’m a little funny, but not stand-up comedienne funny. I keep a moderately clean home, but don’t look too closely. I’m a decent friend, but I rarely go above and beyond outside of birthdays. And while I did step up to be a room mom this year, I’m pretty sure I’m just a space filler facilitating a few things that need to be done.

I look normal (save for the vitiligo patches). I have no special skills, except that I like hearing people’s stories. But the one thing that does make me special is that I have no way of making sense of this world without Jesus. Not religion or church, but this man who flipped sense and religion on its side. I need this upside-down way of looking at the world because nothing is ever enough, which is hugely relieving to realize Jesus is. And so I hold on to my faith.

If you want to live a miserable life, compare yourself to someone else. God has been so faithful in removing my comparison and delivering to me a contentment I could never give myself. It’s almost astonishing to realize that I am not longing for things the way I have over the last few years. Want. Want. Want. I actually want what I have! Maybe for the first time in life. It also feels like I have plenty to lose, which scares the crap out of me, but being content with what I have is almost a life’s work. And it’s been given to me, like being gifted a good singing voice.

Maybe it’s the neurological stuff that’s been going on with Sabra this year. We are spending a lot of money to help her right now and it’s clear that money won’t fix this. I just want my daughter to have a healthy functional life and somehow in the last few months my priorities have been rearranged. My wants look different than they did in April. My heart does too. And I love that. The Lord has rearranged my priorities as we’ve walked through tics and OCD with our baby girl. There is no thing or thrift store bargain find or 7-minute-mile that will fill my empty places. God must come first in my heart and in my home. Simply put, nothing else will do. And in the end, what other people think of me and us and just none of my beeswax!

I Tri’d

Yesterday morning I woke up in Kerrville, strangely calm and collected, as I dressed for my first triathlon. My first triathlon was actually scheduled for about a month ago. I had the perfect pre-race-day prep, hydrated and got to bed early…until the tummy rumbles hit. At first, I thought the stomach pains were just nerves, but by the time I was flip-flopping on the toilet, I knew it was the stomach flu. I was in bed the entire day of the sprint tri I’d trained all summer for. I’d foolishly signed up for twice that distance about a month after that initial race date, but after the tummy fiasco, I considered bumping down to the sprint distance since I’d never even done a triathlon before. But after a few long rides on the bike, I decided to just go for it. So I did. My friend Dena from my trail running group did an open water swim and some bike rides with me at a lake outside of town in the few weeks before the race. I don’t think I would have gone for the quarter distance without her help and encouragement.

This race felt very different. I didn’t do much prepping, besides taking it easy on Saturday. I went to Kerrville alone to stay with my friend Rachel from family camp. I had lunch with another friend in Fredericksburg on the drive out. I enjoyed her rich company over sandwiches at a cute little small town deli and then hit the race expo. I’ve never felt like such a rookie as I checked in my bike and running shoes at two different transition stations.

Rachel took this picture of me as she dropped me off at the swim start.

I had her write her phone number on my arm in sharpie, just in case. I’m a nervous first-timer here with three F’s on my mind: no Falls, no Flats, just Finish!

I sat at the top of the hill leading down to the swim area and another gal from my trail running group walked by. Karen squatted down and said she likes to do the same thing; take it all in without getting swept up in the race aspect. She reminded me to have fun. When it started drizzling, I really did accept that this is fun and we are all just trying to get to the finish line. Karen says the sport of triathlon is the greatest metaphor for life (and she would know, as she’s done more full Ironmans than I can count). I looked out at the calm river before the storm of swimmers rushed in and thanked God for this beautiful morning, for the breath in my lungs and these body parts that work.

Two by two we stepped up the the swim start by age group and before I knew it, I was out there making my way through the murky river with a bunch of other women under 40. I had a 38 written on the back of my right calf and my race number marker’d down both arms. I looked the part in a borrowed tri suit and bright green swim cap. I flipped on my back a few times when the cloudy water freaked me out, but then I talked myself down with small goals – make it to the next buoy. Just one more. And one more. And then, before I knew it, I was being pulled out of the water by race volunteers to run up a green indoor/outdoor carpet to the bike transition. I threw on my shoes, helmet and bib and hit the road.

Post-swim (yes, I am too cheap to buy race photos)

Nothing makes me feel more childlike than riding a bike with wet hair. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. That post-swim breeze cooling me down was probably my favorite feeling of the triathlon experience. It felt so good to get my legs spinning and finally breathe easily out of the water. The 29-mile bike ride was long and hard. Gusts of wind came and went as light rain fell intermittently. I was so terrified of the wet road portions that I just repeated the words “Don’t. Fall.” But when you bike for nearly two hours, weather conditions vary. The roads dried up here and there, the sun came out and then hid again, another round of drizzle to follow. I was truly scared; it’s frightening to take a corner on a road bike when the roads are wet. I played games with myself to keep my legs pedaling down the road to the next goal and the next. It was hard and I honestly didn’t know if I had that many miles on a bike inside me. But I did. I dug deep, I talked to myself (like a crazy person) and I sang as the rain drops cooled my tired arms. A huge hill on mile 28 dumped us down to the second transition area and I could have screamed, “Weeeeeeeeee!” and kicked up my heels as I rode into the dismount area. I quickly threw on my running shoes after docking my bike and started chipping away at the 10k ahead of me.

I didn’t realize the whole run would be on CEMENT, but it was. The cement path along the river was beautiful. The wind that kept checking in with me on the bike was somehow nowhere to be found on the run. All rain had dried up by this point and it was just hot and muggy. I questioned if I had 6.2 miles left in my body, so I just took it one mile at a time and one water station at a time. These little markers that break up races are everything. And while my Garmin and my body let me know we had definitely gone 6.2 miles, there was still somehow another ½ mile to the finish line. I pushed myself. I didn’t know what my pace was, but I just kept going. And I got there. I crossed the finish line and completed one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

In the end, the swim was 1000m, although my Garmin revealed I can’t swim in a straight line and added about 430m to that, a 29-mile bike ride, and a very hot 10.5k run. I wouldn’t have ordered these conditions, but I can get behind any race that includes BBQ, cold beverages and a tube to float the river after the finish line. It was hard and fun and I’m really glad I had this on my calendar all summer. It’s amazing what we can do if we just tri. Yes, that was cheesy, but so true.

Dena and Karen. Amazing women I’ve come to know through my ladies trail running group.