Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thankful! - This is VERY intense... just warning you...

How often we compare our lives to the lives of those around us!

It really is kind of a habit we just get used to. I see my sons comparing themselves, what they have or don't have already at the ripe old ages of 5 & 6. It seems I am constantly talking with them about being grateful. I guess it can't ever be said or taught enough. Certainly when the culture is filled with "you need... you should... if only you had..."

I have felt that way lots. I have fallen prey to the marketing, the unspoken suggestions, the bold face merchandising that minimizes who you are only to maximize their profits.

I had a rather troubling experience happen just after my miscarriage about 3 1/2 years ago. One month to the day after I had lost the baby I heard one of those hideous news stories about a baby found in a trash bag outside an apartment building. There was a fire station (a drop off point for babies where "no questions are asked") just down the street.

I was enraged. How could the kind, loving, promise fulfilling (based on God's promise to me I would have a baby) God make me give up a baby and then give a baby to a Mom who would literally dump it in the garbage!! Crushed and angry I cried hard while my Love tried to console me. I was so mad at God for allowing that! But, as I do, out of habit and the knowledge of who He really is - GOD, I took it to Him in prayer.


He, like He does with me (and many others I have talked to about such things) whispered into my spirit, "I know you don't understand. I love you. You know I weep with you over your baby and the one that his mother chose to dump. I know what lies ahead for you. I know what lies ahead for her. Trust Me with My plan for your life, even when it hurts. Even when you are angry. I promise I am in control. Do not judge her or me by the sin of this world. I am working out a different plan in her life. I was there. I held that baby. He is with Me. I hold your baby too. She is with Me. Do not try to fathom the sin of the world and how My plans and My blessings will unfold. Just be who you are, trust Me and I will be who I AM." 

I know that is not word for word, but as I felt led to write this I asked Him to refresh what He told me that night.

My point in sharing this is: We have NO idea what He is working out in our lives or in the lives of those around us. That is why He tells us in scripture not to judge others. We don't have any way of knowing His plan for our lives, let alone His plan for theirs.

This is why we must be THANKFUL. The path God is asking us to walk, one day at a time is unique to us. Our path will never be the same as another, even our spouse.

I am thankful for our baby girl in Heaven. My sons asked me just the other day if she was still a baby or if she was growing up in Heaven. I told them I have no idea. We will find out when we get there. They miss her too. She would have been three this month (her due date was the day I ran my triathlon). I am thankful for the short time I held her in my womb. I love that I will see her again someday. I praise God for letting me know He holds her since I cannot.

I am also very thankful for the guys I share my life with. My three sons and my Love are true gifts and I wouldn't trade my third son for anything or anyone.

Being thankful for what we have been given, hard times and all takes practice, discipline, and focus. We must practice thanking God, thanking others, and being thankful for all we have been given. We must be disciplined to be thankful when the circumstances around us are awful, finding the small joys even in the midst of great pain. And we must focus on being thankful when we seem to have huge needs that threaten to overtake us, choosing to see the blessings that exist already.

Even as I continue to battle my old habits, create new ones and reinforce good ones I have to remain thankful for all of it. It is not my place to compare another life with mine. It is my place to see and use what I have been given. I can move. I can cook my own meals. I have money for groceries. I can teach my sons how to take good care of their bodies to name just a few... There is A LOT to be thankful for, even when it is a hard day. 

Praising the Lord, putting my headache to bed, and praying you received what God had for you out of this INTENSE bit of writing.
God bless you!

Monday, September 27, 2010

State of Mind...

Clint Black is one of my most favorite Country Western stars. I even liked him on the Apprentice!
I fell in love with him and his music twenty years ago, working at my first job ever at the local feed store in the town I grew up in. The handsome cowboys, the wrangler jeans, the assorted country music tunes floating through the dust and fragrance of hay, sweet feed, and shavings. To this day, that season of my life remains a treasured time.

Today, when I went downstairs to workout while my youngest napped (he was sick - so no going to the gym today) I found the only music in the downstairs cd player was Clint Black's Greatest Hits. Now, this is the first time I have worked out, yes, this whole time, without a background of Christian music. But, as I prayed, I felt led to just listen, workout, even dance a bit and listen. Listen to the memories. Listen to the sound of his voice and the feelings that well up from my soul of days gone by...
This song came on, seriously one of my all time favorites - EVER:
Here is a link to the video -
State of Mind video

State of Mind by Clint Black
Got a big leather suitcase, all I own's inside
Seems I've been walkin' for days, can't even bum a ride
Try steppin' to a tune, with the rhythm of a walkin' man
Mind drifts like a big balloon out of my situation at hand

Ain't it funny how a melody can bring back a memory
Take you to another place in time
Completely change your state of mind

Walkin' down a lonely highway not feelin' alone
Thinkin' back when things went my way and not the road I'm on
Well, I've been down a time or two, but it never lasts long
I can always make it through on a wing and a prayer and a song

Ain't it funny how a melody can bring back a memory
Take you to another place in time
Completely change your state of mind

It can make a right from a wrong, it can make you fall in love
It can get you singin' along

Chase the clouds away and make the sun shine above
A melody can bring back a memory
Take you to another place in time
Completely change your state of mind

A melody can bring back a memory
Take you to another place in time
Completely change your state of mind

I love that! That is what God did for me today. A fun tune from my past drew me back to a place I loved and a season of joy and peace in my life.

As I was exercising and listening to this song today I was so thankful for that season and so grateful for the one I am in now. I don't have a clear vision of where I am headed physically on this path to health and wellness, I just know I am not alone in it and God is providing for me, treasured memories to remind me of the wonderful places I've been and what is yet to come.

I am headed to bed now, looking forward to what He has planned for tomorrow. Treasuring the memories and knowing that the best is yet to come!
I Believe it!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Process of Life...

This picture is of my Love and I before the wonderful wedding we attended yesterday.

Someone asked me if it is hard not to "create my own reality" writing my blog. I told her no, I prayerfully consider what I write and do my best to be as real as possible.

SO - in the spirit of reality I share the following:
  • This morning I woke up dreading my Love's departure later this afternoon. I switched laundry, tossed some on the couch downstairs (it's still there by the way), and got in the shower. 
  • I wanted him to feed the kids but when he did, I interrupted and he was annoyed. 
  • We were almost 30min late to church because I had to apologize and we had to work out our various grievances 
  • Then we were asked to serve communion after a well-preached message on forgiveness. Whew! So glad we worked out our junk BEFORE we got to church! 
  • He helped me load everyone up and he headed off to the airport and I took the troops home. 
  • My oldest wished for a bow and arrow to fight the enemy. I told him he really needed the sword of the spirit and memorizing his Bible verses will make him a powerful warrior. He believed me. I am thankful. NOTE to SELF - FOCUS on scripture memory, for them and for me!!
  • I think I had a turkey burger with cheese on sourdough bread for lunch. The kids had pasta and milk. 
  • We ALL took a nice long nap.
  • I was crabby, dreading the week ahead without my Love.
  • There were several opportunities for me to respond with significant correction to my sons and instead I yelled or blew it off. NOTE to SELF - DO NOT make a habit of that... it will not go well in the long run!
  • I apologized. In front of them, first to God and then to them. They all forgave me. Again.
  • I rocked, prayed for and sang with my youngest and tucked him in. Refusing him his 3rd drink and telling him there would be trouble if he threw a fit. He chose wisely.
  • I read the "real" Bible without pictures per my oldest son's request. We read about Nicodemus in John 3. They liked that their AWANA verse (3:16) was in the "real" Bible. Well, I suppose eventually they will make the connection - NOTE to SELF - SHOW them in the "real" Bible where their AWANA verses come from!
  •  After tucking the boys in bed I decided I needed something yummy. I proceeded to cook black beans from scratch (starting with dry beans) and then make it into turkey chili. Yummy, except I burnt it. Not so yummy on the bottom... bummer.
  • Then I decided I needed something yummier :) Yes, I am sure that is a word since there is no squiggly red line under it. I made myself chocolate frosting from scratch. Only to find there was NOTHING (because I have been so careful to keep junk out of my house) to put it on! I settled for a bag of pretzels and swiped them through the frosting. That and a big glass of milk finished me off. 
  • After some guilt ridden feelings I console myself with the fact that I am in process. Every day. My goal to be healthy and fit is going to last for the rest of my life. For every unhealthy food choice I make, I am making at least 3 healthy ones...
  • My kitchen looks like it exploded and now I am going to go to bed. After I put the homemade turkey and black bean chili in the fridge!
So there you have it. My life in process. Some good stuff, some not so good stuff, but all a part of the process.
Sweet dreams!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Enchanted Evening...

I follow a blog/website called Adding Zest to Your Nest and it has given me great tips, pointers, and insightful information from godly women about the marriage relationship. But we didn't need any extra help tonight! I encourage you to check it out some time. It will likely bless you!

On the way to a dear friend's wedding tonight I announced to my Love that my love tank was full (old Gary Chapman analogy from The Five Love Languages) and I was happy. I warned him to be careful not to pull the plug... we both laughed.

We enjoyed watching the bride and groom exchange their vows amongst their friends and family. Their tenderness for each other, the blessing of their parents, and the wise words of their Pastor refreshed our memory of our own precious day, now almost 19 years ago.

Then we headed to the reception. Good friends, old friends, visiting, laughing, a couple of drinks, more laughing, celebrating, sweet toasts, jokes and memories told, and then dancing! We danced and danced and laughed at how awkward we felt but didn't care! We bounced around enjoying the other dancers, some we knew and some we didn't. It was, the only word I can think of, exhilarating. So amazing to be uninhibited by what others might think of me. I even was told by a good friend how beautiful I looked - and I BELIEVED her!

This is the new Jennifer - I know I am not perfect or even where I want to be physically, but I want to LOVE every moment right NOW. There is no reason to hold back. REALLY. Why? What time should I waste wondering or worrying about others perception of who I am instead of living who I KNOW I am???

Wow. I hope that revelation sticks... It's a good one. I believe it will - It is God's heart for me. I am sure.

Friday, September 24, 2010

This time last year...

I have been pondering how much has changed since then.

September 2009 found me sending off my oldest son to Kindergarten, having 2 little guys still at home and calling on my Mom to come and watch all 3 while I went out of town to the MOPS Convention in Nashville. I had an amazing time. God fed me in the training, the encouragement, and most specifically the confirmation that I was to bring a MOPS group to New Life for working and single moms. It was a wonderful time of celebration and savoring a new vision for the coming years.

During my time in Nashville I had an evening out with a woman I knew from years past. We had connected a bit on Facebook, but since I was going to be in the area, she packed up her four kids and came and took me out to dinner. We had a wonderful dinner at Rainforest Cafe and really precious deep heart conversations. Several times we both broke into tears of empathy, gratitude for God's bringing us together, and laughter. That long weekend in September was a turning point in my life.

My friend and I continued to talk occasionally, but when October rolled around and I looked at this picture of me, I knew SOMETHING had to be done. I felt alive, beautiful and full of joy the day this picture was taken, until I LOOKED at it.

It is actually a pretty great picture of our family if it weren't for my Love's head being cut off and me unable to look past the shape of my body to the joyful smiles of my family.

So, I called my friend in Tennessee (yes, I have other friends closer but she was the one I felt led to call), who, by the way is a health and fitness focus person. She jumped online and sent me two books to get me started. They were a great help and so was her telephone and email coaching. I cried a lot. I felt embarrassed a lot. I felt like everyone in the gym was staring at me. I felt like I was trying to remove my fat, one cell at a time. It was REALLY hard the first few months. I had almost forgotten how hard it was...


I told you yesterday about my being nervous about going into the weight room. Well, it was worse, I didn't even REMEMBER to be nervous about what it feels like to start a new workout routine!

I did my warm up confidently. I walked back to the back corner of the upper level which is often pretty quiet and opened my book with the exercises in it. ALL NEW ONES! Ugh! I had read through them 2 or 3 times before but that didn't make DOING them any easier.

I felt awkward and unsure of myself. Some of them hurt and so I stopped. Others I could do and felt the fresh burn of carving new muscle out of puny flesh. When you work out for even a short time you quickly discover the difference between "good pain" and "bad pain". I experienced BOTH today. I didn't hurt myself but I was terribly self conscious of my body, my movement, and the people around me (who of course could care less what I was doing!).

Once I got through the ones I could figure out, I headed downstairs to the weight room. I walked around a bit, trying to figure out what piece of equipment resembled what I was supposed to use according to the book. I finally found it and there were 3 men in 4 spaces using it.

I walked out of there. I chickened out, whispering a prayer asking God to forgive me and knowing I would have to confess to all of you that I bailed on my workout today. He told me to just wait. So I did. I talked with the trainer I know and he brought me back into the weight room and showed me how to use the equipment I needed. He also adjusted some of the exercises I was trying to do and made them more "do-able" for me. I was so grateful! God knew I needed help and provided just the encourager and coach I needed. Again!

As I continue to reflect on the sedentary but content me from a year ago to the active, energized, NEW me today I find myself at a loss. Yes, I am serious.

Because, like I said at the beginning, I am doing something new AGAIN. I forgot how hard it is to chart new territory. A few months ago I wrote a blog about a painful workout. Again today I was in pain. Charting new territory emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Funny thing though, not once did I consider not going back and doing that workout again. I will be there. Monday morning. Working out. Pushing through the good kind of pain, letting go of the anxiety of transition and reaching out for the new places God has put ahead of me.

The verse that has resonated in my spirit during this season of incredibly slow weight loss, not hardly any changes in clothing sizes or fit, and barley a noticed change in the mirror is this one:

Habakkuk 3:17-19
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
       and there are no grapes on the vines,
       though the olive crop fails
       and the fields produce no food,
       though there are no sheep in the pen
       and no cattle in the stalls,
 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
       I will be joyful in God my Savior.
 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
       he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
       he enables me to go on the heights.

It translates to me this way:

Regardless of the outward evidence I see of my inward transformation,
no matter what size I continue to wear,
Despite the fact that I expected to have changed more by now,

I rejoice in the LORD, my joy is in God my Savior,
HE is my strength
HE makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
HE enables me to go on to the heights - the path HE purposed for me.

You see, it doesn't matter what the evidence is - according to my eyes. What matters is my heart obeying Him. Walking the path He has laid before me. Yes, there are a few changes, and I have lost 25lbs. I do look a little different

I press on and keep at it, because I KNOW He has called me to this, He is equipping me for this, I am walking this out, one step at a time. For Him alone.

A new season is just uncharted territory waiting to be discovered. Awesome!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sore Thighs and Muscle Memory... how far does muscle memory go back?

Yeah, I am REALLY sore today.

It hurts to sit down, it hurts to stand up. It hurts to twist, it hurts to bend.
You get the picture.

But, that means, my body still works. Do my muscles remember? I remember feeling like this before!

Muscle memory is a powerful thing and I am counting on it. I spent six months working on strength training before I switched to my triathlon training. I have missed it. Yes, really.

I really like feeling my body work hard, the ache in my muscles after a hard workout, the knowledge that I am continuing to burn calories for a full 24 hours after I workout. I love the strength being created in me.

After the first 2 weeks of major aches and pains, the transition to the "powerhouse" feeling instead of the wimp pushing through sore parts to just get through the workout.

Tomorrow though, that will be different... REALLY different.
I have to go into the weight room. Yes, the space reserved for testosterone laden sweat junkies who think that after bench pressing each others body weight for a few hours they will posses super human strength or at least super powers over the opposite sex.

An overweight mother of 3 is not likely to find a workout buddy there, BUT, it is the Kroc center and I have yet to meet anyone who has been rude. Mostly friendly folks with a decent number of people who don't even see me. The above concept of the "weight room" is just a guess, since I haven't been in a real weight room since I was in High School weight training class, which incidentally, I LOVED.

Do my muscles remember back that far? I have no idea. I guess I will find out tomorrow. Or after 2 weeks it won't even matter, I will be back to feeling like a powerhouse and ready to work hard to see some big changes in my body.

Time will tell!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My First Workout

Right now I am totally exhausted.

But earlier today, I had a wonderful workout. Every moment I felt my body coming back to life. It was such a great experience!

That is really all I've got tonight. I am just SO super tired.

Hoping to sleep well tonight. Hoping all my guys sleep tonight.

Will let you know...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

To Goal or not to Goal... and no, I am not taking up soccer... yet.

I have set up goals for myself. I have reached them.

Tonight however, I am falling short of the goal post. I am very tired, I did not plan ahead, I let myself get too hungry and then -- WHAMMO! Blew my calorie counting out the window. I don't even want to journal it to see how far off target I went.

Yes, for all of you who think I am some super inspirational hero... I ate TOO much today.

And - I am TOO tired to feel guilty about it.

But, just for fun, I will share with you what my goals REALLY are and maybe you will feel led to pray me through them.

The sarcastic voice in my head that is NOT the voice of God says, "It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a huge network of prayer warriors and friends for Jennifer to lose weight!" Ick.

That makes me feel yucky.

But, SO WHAT!? What if it does take a whole slew of prayer warriors, intercessors, friends, and family to get me to the place God has for me to be physically?

Would we as the Body of Christ think my need was any less necessary to pray over than someone battling cancer, a drug addiction, or a bad marriage, is my weight issue and the stuff tied to it any less relevant?

I don't know.

One thing I do know, it isn't to God. And if He calls you to pray for me, I am grateful.

I have not made it this far on my own power and I won't make it to a healthy, physically fit, athletic lifestyle from here without His help. And yours too if you feel led.

No, I don't really want you reminding me I should not eat this or that, but just pray. The old Jenn is long gone but this new one feels a little out of place. Sounds strange maybe, but that is how I feel - strange.

Here are my goals for this week:

Exercise: Workout on Monday, Wednesday, Friday at the gym.  30 minutes of weights/30 minutes of cardio alternating bike/run/swim Bonus activity on weekend Set out gear the night before workouts.
Nutrition: Log food daily Hit calorie targets of 1600-1700 calories per day Eat starchy carbs in the morning and after workouts. Eat vegetable and fruit carbs in the latter part of the day: 2 fruits and 3 vegetables. Stay off processed foods; stick to brown rice. Hit protein goal daily: around 101 grams

So, there you have it, my actual goals. The exercise part will be an 8 week focus. The nutrition focus is week to week.

I hope this hasn't been TOO revealing... of course, what I have just shared compared to the pictures I posted of my triathlon is probably nothing!

Blessings and THANK YOU!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Inspiring People that Inspire Me? Is that even possible?

I wrote a note today to a woman who I have referred to many times. Her book The Female Body Breakthrough was the first fitness book I ever read that made me believe I could really become, to use her words a "Fit Female". Her Credo is taped to my kitchen cabinet, so I can read it when I empty the dishwasher. Or when I need a reminder of how to BE a Fit Female.

Rachel Cosgrove really made me believe I could become the athlete I always wanted to be and believe I was designed to be. She posted something on her blog tonight that really got my attention. SHE has been through some personal physical struggles. Yes, I did know she was human, and yes, she is consistently transparent in her writing and her speaking, but the way this blog was written, it stirred something in me.

We all LIVE. Our lives are hard, easy, challenging, sad, crazy, fast, slow, boring, routine, exciting, and any number of things. But we all LIVE, no matter how famous we are.

It is how we CHOOSE to LIVE that makes us inspiring or not, I think.

I didn't set out to write this blog so I could inspire anyone. I wrote it because, one of the points in the Fit Female Credo is to journal. I have written in a journal most of my life, but this time, I knew it had to be different, I needed to be more public to really make me honestly look at all the pieces of the puzzle of me.

So, I wrote her what I hope will be an encouraging note. It felt odd, encouraging someone who is a best selling author, an internationally known fitness expert and coach to many other fitness experts, but I did it.

I pray it is a blessing. She has blessed me and I am so thankful for her.

There are many of you who say I inspire you. It continues to be quite humbling, because several of you are actually athletes yourselves. Some of you know it, many of you will find your inner athlete, and some of you reading this now, will wonder, can I be a fit female too?

The answer -- YES!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Angels in Spandex, or Lycra, or polyester...

Never underestimate the power of your words.

There were many men and women who blessed me with kind words throughout my race.

How many people are you blessing with your words?

I am more aware of my appearance, my physical fitness, my mental endurance and my emotional capacities since my race last week. I am also more aware of my words to my husband, sons, other family and my friends.

We all know words are powerful, but do we really take very long to consider what comes out of our mouths - consistently?

I was listening to friends talk not to long ago about a mutual acquaintance who was having some life struggles. The friends are good people and well meaning in their concerns but the words were not speaking life into the situation.

It reminded me that no matter what I talk about, who or what I am discussing, I need to speak life and blessing. Even into hard situations that I don't understand.

Those men and women who passed me, fit tight bodies wrapped in the most efficient athletic apparel were angels to me. They spoke life into me, a total stranger, as I was working hard to live my dream. I have no idea what their spiritual background was or what their motivation was to call out to me, "great job", "keep up your efforts", "you can do it", "don't give up", etc. but their words of life gave me what I needed to finish my race strong, just as I wanted to.

Are you speaking life to the people around you? The checker at the grocery store, the little person who is sleeping in the next room, the person you sleep next to, the person who sat beside you in church this morning, the friend who has been living in a personal crisis?

There are so many people you and I see every day. We have no idea what they need to hear, but God knows. Listen for His prompting about what to say, and if you find yourself in a group of people discussing someone struggling for prayer purposes or otherwise, don't get suckered into negativity or unfair assessments, but speak life.

Speak words of blessing and encouragement into the situation. Express HOPE for the situation. YOU can change the direction of the conversation or even someone's journey by your words. Don't underestimate the blessing of "The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry" (Proverbs 25:11-The Message).

God created this world with His words. He gave us His Word - "Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose." (Proverbs 18:21-The Message).

Let's use what He has given us wisely. Please. He loves all of us. Let us love others as He has loved us, and let's start with the way we use our words.

You too might be an angel - in denim, spandex, cotton, lycra, or polyester to someone just like me!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gearing up and unwinding -- AT THE SAME TIME???

Today is a cloudy family day at home.

I have baked my last loaves of WHITE bread for a while, grilled hamburgers for lunch, cleaned my kitchen, scrubbed our bathroom, read to my sons, showered, watched my Love wash all the windows and keep the laundry going, and tucked my youngest in for his afternoon nap.

I also still need to do: get the ribs in the oven roasting, empty the dishwasher and reload, find something I don't find ridiculously expensive to order for the kids (one item each) PTA fundraiser (NO, I will not be ordering the cookie dough!), decide what books to order through the school book club (one of my FAVORITE things to do!), hang up the chore charts for the big boys and remind them how they work, and get the meat I picked up on sale yesterday cooked, bagged and in the freezer.

I feel so at ease, relaxed in my sweats, nothing to prepare for today except next week... no biggie right?

Next week begins my new workout program, clean eating (as in - NO JUNK FOOD - you know what that stuff is... I know you do...;), cross country practice at 8am for the boys, AWANA, my Tuesday am Bible Study Lord, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur, and our Financial Peace University group.

It also begins a new season of my journey towards healthy living.

I will keep you posted on how it is going... daily ... as often as possible.

Friday, September 17, 2010


It has been a crazy week.

Then challenge of the triathlon over it was time to launch MOPS at my church. Our first meeting went very well I think.

Today I find myself continuing in the somewhat dazed state I have been in since my triathlon. I am buying groceries, doing laundry, scrubbing the toilet, you know, the things we mom's just DO. But somewhere in the back of my head I am still processing this major event.

I wonder about the moment I decided to do it. I think about the times when I loved the training, and the times I hated it. I have pondered what I should do next and when or if I should sign up for my next race.

Today I looked longingly at my borrowed bike. It calls to me, beckoning me to climb on and feel the wind wash over my face, the muscles in my legs pushing on the pedals, my hands shifting gears to make the ride smooth and consistent.

I also contemplated my running shoes. My feet haven't been in them for almost a week now. I miss them. I never thought I would miss running. It is my least favorite of the three sports, but I do.

I have looked through the pictures of the triathlon the professional photographers took of the racers. I look so different than most of them, not just the size of my body, but the look on my face. All the pictures except one I am grinning. Some I am smiling ear to ear, others just a grin, and the one that I am not smiling, I was focused intently on getting up the hill the photographer was sitting on.

I see the size of my thighs, my neck, my bust, but I see beyond that as well, the work God did in me that day is evident in my pictures. My shape was irrelevant to the performance I knew I could do, the visual aesthetics of my attire were not considered significant, and the "fanciness" of my equipment was not even an option.

You see what He did in me that day was this (as far as I can clearly communicate it today):
- I broke an old expectation of getting hurt before a big athletic event that I have had since I was 12.
- I experienced living a dream that was exclusively and only up to me (working through all of the training)
- I destroyed the expectations of myself and others have of me based on my physical appearance
- I indulged in the first of many exhilarating effects of consistent care and maintenance of my body
- I believed, finally, that the Freedom He promised me from the bondage of my weight was REALLY going to happen
- I loved finishing something. Completely. Without reservation or hesitation.
- I savored all the encouragement all those competing with me poured out for me
- I resonated with the Power of God that raised Christ from the dead living in me, through me, and catapulting me into the next season of my life.

 I will never be the same. I am thankful for that. The old me, she is gone. The new me, she is all the great stuff the old me had but better and with extra special education on the blessing and power that comes through walking obediently as God lovingly requests.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Post Triathlon Days

So, the last couple of days have been a little weird.

I am at a loss. A little depressed and VERY tired. I underestimated what it would take out of me to do this amazing feat. I expected to feel a 'letdown' of sorts, but not this...

My brain feels like mush, the tiniest tasks feel overwhelming, and I go between not wanting to eat at all and not caring what I eat to get my stomach to quit growling.

The only thing that I am really enjoying to the fullest is my kids. They are cracking me up. We are reading lots of stories and playing outside. I loved having to bathe my youngest tonight because he was coated in so much dirt, especially on his face that he looked like he was wearing an eye patch!

I don't really have a lot else to say. This phase of "recovery" is pretty strange. I hear it is normal. That is good to know because I feel pretty nuts compared to the drive and focus I had last week.

I am trying to get details handled with MOPS starting Thurs night for the year and it is taking all the brainpower I have!

I have to admit it is really cool to be so out of it I don't care intensely about anything but my kids. I know God has the rest of it in His capable hands so I will just rest, try not to eat anything too crazy and get some good sleep!
Sweet Dreams!! :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Triathlon

It is hard to know where to start exactly.

In my The Night Before blog I alluded to my Love and I having a hard time. It was awful actually. "Strife" is what they used to call it in our marriage group we were a part of 10 years ago... I am not exactly sure what all was going on below the surface for him, but for me, the pre-race tension and the panic of the one person who has been neck deep in this with me changing his mind at the last minute was terrifying. We hadn't had a fight in months and it seemed to be the worst day imaginable for one. I was neck deep in it before I realized it could be a spiritual attack. Once I made that realization, I could almost smell the sulfur in the air. My heart and mind immediately settled back into the truth - My husband loves me more than his own life. He has faithfully supported me in every way possible and released me with his blessing to do this. Whatever is happening now is not a direct reflection of his desire for me to complete this challenge before me and finish well. -- We REALLY need to remember in the midst of "strife" what our spouse's TRUE heart for us is, not whatever the topic of the moment is.

The peace quickly pushed the frantic anxiety away and settled in. The service the night before was exactly what I needed. More TRUTH poured in, more tension released.

As I snuggled down (alone so I wouldn't be disturbed by anyone else's lack of sleep - specifically my fellas :) in the borrowed bed, multi-colored striped sheets and blanket in a soft pink painted bedroom, I thanked God for His peace (Philippians 4:7). I slept SO well. It was wonderful.

I woke up at 5:50am. I didn't feel tired, just ready. I started drinking my water. I planned to consume roughly 64oz of water before I left the house. I ate my leftover brown rice noodles and 3 scrambled egg whites. The entire morning there was not one hint of stomach upset. Literally my WHOLE body was at peace.

My friend and her hubby loaded my bike on her car so she could take me to get set up. Our Love's would come a little later with all of our kids.

When I walked out the door of their home, I smelled my favorite smell, the ocean. It was another early blessing in a long day that would be filled with them.

My "stuff"
We headed off toward Lake Stevens at 6:45am as planned. Just a short stop for gas on the way and we arrived in plenty of time. She left me at the curb to park the car and then came back to help me get my gear to the transition area to set it up.

I became a little "jittery" at that point wondering if I would remember all I had learned, specifically what "Iron Tony" had told me about how to set up my transition area. I asked a few questions of the gal whose bike I was next to and it all came back. Whew!

I lay my towel, shoes, helmet and such out for a quick grab once I got back from the swim. The excitement began building as I looked around at all the other athletes getting ready too. I forgot my size and shape and felt like I fit in. I had trained for this event, just like them, I had practiced and planned and prepared. I KNEW I was ready for this.

I greeted my parents, my mother-in-law, and the Love's who brought our kids before I headed out to get in the water. I discarded my sweatshirt with only a half-second thought for the amount of my flesh that would be exposed. Releasing it all to the Lord, eyes on Him, I walked in to the super duper ridiculously cold water.

The water was 65degrees that morning. I am allergic to latex so I had to wear my silicone cap under the latex one they gave me. I was a little freaked out by the places where I could see bubbles coming up from the bottom but couldn't see the bottom!! ICKY!!! I focused on talking with the other gals wading in with me. 

Once in deeper I waited for the start by looking around, deliberately not contemplating the other creatures swimming around with me, enjoying the sky, the excitement in the air and in my own heart as I was about to begin my greatest physical challenge thus far.

Once the countdown was complete, I took off in the pack. It was about 30 women so there wasn't really any claustrophobic sensation (I had been warned that it can get pretty crazy at the beginning of a swim). Everyone was polite as they bumped or kicked into me, 'pardon me', 'sorry', 'oops', it was all very friendly. I never felt worried, I just began to swim.
My swim training both in the lake and in the pool just kicked in. "Bubble, Bubble, breathe..."
I stayed right on track swimming out the 200m to the giant orange buoy. I felt my body shift from warm up mode to full swim mode. It felt great. Then, once I was around the buoy I noticed something pretty inconvenient. I couldn't see the boat ramp area where we were to get out of the water. I am near-sighted and without my glasses, the shore was literally unidentifiable. YIKES! I couldn't just put my head down for 3-5 strokes and pop up like I had to sight for the buoy. I had to look, every other stroke or two for the heads of those swimming beside me and up ahead. It was annoying to know that just as my body was ready to kick into full swim mode I had to keep stopping to get my bearings. As I got closer I could hear the cheering of the crowd and see the very fuzzy dock. I got some good hard strokes in, once freaking myself out by the water rushing under my body, then realizing it was my own stroke pushing the water out of my way!

As I was exiting the water, a woman (about half my size) was wobbling in front of me, I steadied her so she wouldn't fall on the shallowly covered cement and felt another person use my rear to steady themselves. I chuckled a bit on the inside thinking that I must look like a "substantial" support compared to their tiny wobbly frames. I started up the rocky cement feeling the cold bumpy ground on my chilled feet.

My Love, cheering me on as I head for the transition area. 
I was already planning how to get into my shoes the fastest and get on with the bike portion. I was bummed I forgot to empty my bladder in the lake so I wouldn't have to stop later. My transition time from the swim to the bike was just under seven minutes. It is amazing how hard it can be to dry your feet and put socks on when your fingers are numb. The transition area was almost empty when I got there reminding me that I had better get going!

Finally my feet were dry and I got some "gel" in me and a bottle of electrolyte drink and headed off for the roller coaster bike ride. Little did I know that it would be more exciting than I imagined. 

I got on my bike and headed out. I was at the back of the pack so I didn't see anyone else until I got to the first hill. I spotted a young guy, about 13, ahead of me on a BMX style bike. Okay then... As I was heading up my first BIG hill trying to stay confident and focused on keeping my knees in and my heels down, I see a large black dog catapulting toward me barking viciously. Instinctively I let out this deep, loud yell that was apparently enough to stop him in his tracks, I never heard another peep or saw his furry self again. The kid in front of me said, "that dog really scared you didn't he?" and through my gasping for air as I pedaled up the hill past him, "yes, he sure did!"

As I crested the hill, I settled in for the up and down, twisting turning wild first half of the bike ride. I even yelled, "wheeeee" on a couple of the big downhills. Why not? There was literally no one else around, and I wanted to enjoy every minute I could. Besides, the night before, during worship, my mom said she was praying for me and saw this picture of me going down this steep hill with angels on either side holding on to me and all of us with delighted smiles on our faces yelling "wheeeeee"! So I did!

 I could feel my energy stores depleting as I climbed the last couple of small hills before the turn around. I knew I needed to stop and get some fluids in me and another gel. I had to STOP because in all the time I did ride my bike I could never successfully grab my water bottle from my bike frame or balance long enough on my bike to do anything but wipe my nose or brush a stray hair off my face.

As I came to a stop just past the turnaround area, I did something I never do, I put my right foot BEHIND my pedal. This messed with my center of gravity enough that I just fell over. Right into the ditch. Right in front of a car. Right in front of the guys signaling the turn around. Awesome. I felt a blackberry thorn in my booty as I got up, praying it wouldn't poke too big of a hole in my shorts (that would have been awful!). Everyone, including the woman in the car with the horrified look on her face, was saying "Are YOU OK???" Yes, I was fine. Dignity shot, bonking for lack of fuel in my body, shaking and stumbling, but yes, I was fine.

I walked the bike out of the ditch and over to the other side of the road. I sucked down a gel and began drinking the bottle of sports drink I had on the bike, willing my body to come back to life. I looked over my bike and looked down the hill I was standing on top of and decided I had better get going. As I tried to get my right foot in the toe clip so I could head out, it felt like I left my kickstand down. I got off the bike and checked, no, the kickstand was up... what was wrong?

I looked over the side of my bike and noticed the chain was off the sprocket. Dang! I know NOTHING about this stuff and neither did the volunteers! So, I called my Love. He talked me through how to get it back on and make sure it was in the right gear. I started to shake again and cry. He said, "just get back on and finish Jenn!" I hung up, got on my bike and headed off to finish my ride. Everything worked great on the way back, especailly the gel and sports drink, since they kicked in just in time to ride up the super steep hill I had "wheeeeed" down earlier. It was intense, but I did it!!! The policeman and volunteers at the top of the hill holding back traffic were cheering me on and the race photographer was there as I headed down a small hill to snap a picture. I hope it turns out, because the look of the victory I felt must have been on my face!

I had one more HUGE hill to climb. It was daunting! And L-O-N-G! I was in the lowest gears just trying to pedal up with whatever I had left. It felt painfully slow. It was. A few of the Olympic distance cyclists cheered me on as they muscled past me. I must admit, I envied their lean frames and sculpted muscles wondering how many zillions of hills they climbed long before I considered doing this triathlon. I didn't linger on that thought for too long because I had to focus on getting my knees in and heels down and making it to the black mail box at the top of the hill I scouted the day before. I knew I could make it. I was huffing and puffing so hard about half way up that I was actually afraid I would hyperventilate. Since passing out and falling over for a second time was not an option I started praying. I begged the Creator of my body to flood it with the peace and oxygen I needed to get to the top. I felt this tangible strength infuse me and started to shift my panting into slower deeper breaths. Within a few pedal strokes, my head was clearer and my strokes stronger. Then -- I made it. I saw the black mail box and knew I had to start grabbing gears to deal with the rapidly approaching downhill. I shifted, pedaled and smiled as all the training pieces again fell into place. The man on the corner who had cheered me on as I headed off for my ride yelled again what a great job I was doing and that I was almost home! I hollered a "thank you" and pushed ahead to recapture whatever speed I could at the last leg of the bike journey.

I felt great and strong heading back to the transition area. My family and friends cheering loudly for me helped me get past the nervousness I was starting to feel about dismounting the bike on wobbly legs again.
I remembered to get my right foot out of the toe clips and in FRONT of the pedal this time and though it wasn't graceful, I did not fall over but got off my bike and headed into the transition area to park it and head out for the run. My transition this time took just over two minutes and the bike rack area was cluttered with other cyclists debris dropped haphazardly in their haste to get to the run as well. I removed my helmet, sucked down another gel and some water, put on my hat, racked my bike and headed out with more energy than I thought I would have at this point.

At this point I decided to run the WHOLE way. 

I think that at this point I wanted to run the whole way because I knew there were not likely to be any more crazy events in my future. I knew it was just putting one foot in front of the other and that I could do. I had run/walked farther than this several times and I was sure I had the stamina to do it. I KNEW any walking would be cheating myself of time and of the endurance I had built up.

I did have to stop once to go potty though... but that was not a "want" it was a "need" :)

So, I am running at my pace, being passed by everyone, and that was really when it started, really started to sink in. I was almost done. The other racers, many of them, as they ran past me, cheered me on. "You can do this", "you are doing great", "keep it up", "you're almost there"... it was wonderful. I cheered a few people on myself - the ones headed the other direction, back toward the finish line). It was beautiful outside, the dahlias in some of the yards were spectacular, the brilliant orange one with red tips sticks out vividly in my memory. It was nestled next to a short post and rail fence, the bright beauty contrasting beside the rustic weathered wood.

I convinced myself that the halfway point was just around the corner, over and over again. I hadn't driven the run portion so I really didn't know... which was a good thing I think. Then I approached this long, semi-steep hill. I heard a guy at the top with a cowbell shouting encouragement. I was sure he was at the turnaround. He cheered me on and I was glad, because at the top of the hill, I had to keep going!! It was several more turns, a construction crew cutting concrete, a machine of some sort belching out its exhaust, and then, the sweet volunteers passing out water cups at the turn around!!! Whew!

I walked 4 steps as I drank as much water as I could get in my mouth and started running again. I kept running. As I approached the man with the cowbell I knew I was on the home stretch. He got within inches of my face, looking almost into my soul and said, "THIS IS IT! YOU are doing it! YOU are almost done! YOU are incredible!!" I said, "thank you so much! I needed to hear that!" I burst into tears. I cried for about 5 steps before I decided I could be emotional later, I had work to do!

As I came down the hill, there was another man, this one I recognized as one of the guys who ran past me and told me to keep up the great work, he was obviously waiting for someone since he had already finished. His eyes met mine and he said, "Come on now, FINISH WELL!" I nodded and smiled and said, "Yes! I will!". At that point, I kicked it up another notch and stretched out my stride. I knew I was close to the end, and like I planned ahead, I was NOT about to leave any gas in my tank.

I grabbed a quick cup of water at the turnaround point for the Olympic distance runners and headed for the finish line. I could feel power in my stride, I could feel the air filling my lungs and the confidence in my strength to "FINISH WELL" just like I said, months before.
I can't effectively describe how it felt to see that finish line and KNOW that I was about to capture my dream!

As I approached the cheering crowed, I saw my oldest son on my right, jumping up and down, waving his arms yelling "GO MOMMY GO!!! As I looked to my left, I heard my second son chanting, "GO MOMMY! GO MOMMY!! Our friends kids, my mom, and my mother-in-law cheering. As I got closer to the finish line I saw my Dad grinning from ear to ear, tears streaming down his face, pride beaming through his eyes, "Great job Jenni!" as I ran past him through to the finish line.

At the moment, this is the only picture I have of me crossing the finish line. I know our friends took one that came out well, but for now, you see, the end. The clock to my right was started when the Olympic Distance race started.
My finish time was 2:22:01.5

My Love was holding the video camera at the other side. Waiting for me. I gave up my ankle bracelet timer and reached out for him and sobbed in his arms. He held me tight. I cried hard for a short bit, releasing the last of the adrenalin that carried me through to the end.

I let go of him, said a brief "hi" to a friend from High School that came to watch, and went to grab some food. A cup of water, a handful of pretzels, and a bagel sandwich with turkey and provolone never tasted so good!  I found my friends and family and we all stood around and visited, hugged, and I told the tale, in pieces, that I am sharing with you now. Friends who we knew when we first moved to Idaho came to cheer me at the finish, my friend from High School who challenged me to start memorizing scripture when I was a clueless freshman, our close friends who are the godparents to our sons and their kids, my folks, my mother-in-law (Nana), my Love, my sons, and even the race coordinator shared in my victory that day.

So did you, all of you who prayed me through this journey. All of you who cheered me on and wrote encouraging notes on my blog, my facebook page and emails. I am so thankful for this journey. I am still a little sore from my fall, my ankle especially (not once did I feel a twinge of pain on the run!), but I feel great overall.

Thanks again for all your support! What a great day!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The night before...

Well, I have to be brief because the borrowed bed I am sleeping in is calling my name. It is 11:05pm on the night before my race.

I am tired. It has been an emotional and hard day. My Love and I have not been at peace with each other and it has taken it's toll on me.

However, I went to church tonight and had some face time with my Jesus. The Author of peace. Our dear friend John, sang with his beautiful wife and the band my MOST favorite worship song, John preached on counting our blessings, and my spirit was refreshed by the simple act of focusing on my God.

He told me earlier in the day when I felt so awful that it would all be as if it had never happened - He, of course, was right. He washed the burdens away and reminded me how much He is in charge of tomorrow and not me.

I trained exclusively with Christian music. I can't wait to see what "soundtrack" He plays for me as I swim, bike and run tomorrow. I have so many songs in my heart, it will be cool to see what rises to the surface in my head!

Since I am committed to doing my best, I am going to go to bed.
God is so Good, He is fully committed to fulfilling His promise to me of a successful finish to the race. I believe Him. I am ready.

I will let you know how it went.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Winding down...

Well, tomorrow we leave for Seattle.

I can't believe it is already time for the big event.

I am ready. I know I am. I am thankful for all it has taken me to get this far.

The prayers, encouragement, blessings are all appreciated.

I will not post tomorrow. I need a day to travel, process, pray and savor the end of this special season.

My plan is to post Friday, sometime, my final ponderings before the race.

Thanks for reading, thanks for encouraging, thanks for praying, I am blessed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's all in my head!

As I look at the calendar tonight I see that my triathlon dream is just 4 days away.

I am tired of training. I am really READY to do this!

My biggest concern now is the run. I know it is one foot in front of the other... not challenging usually, except that is where my head gets really messy.

What floats around in your brain while you are doing seemingly endless cardio is crazy.

As Tony and I were running (well, I was running, he was walking - he's a good 12 inches taller than me!) after our 10mi bike ride on Monday, I was telling him how the muscles in the lower half of my body seemed to be pretty angry. It was like they were screaming - ENOUGH ALREADY!! Then,  I got into a rhythm and they shut up for the most part.

So much of this kind of sport is just keeping your head in the game, KNOWING you can do it.

Telling your physical self to quit whining while keeping your mental self locked and loaded and focused on the target.

Now as I contemplate the things I need to do before the race I am a little overwhelmed. I want to dump sugar and flour out of my diet for the next few days and I really don't know if it will be worth  the stress of doing things different as far as improving for race day. Now that I mention it, I would like to dump 50lbs before race day too... hmmmm... :)

Better get to bed... last big bike ride tomorrow before race day, if I can find someone to watch the kids! :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Do we REALLY want things to change...?

We woke up just after seven and hit the ground running. Erik jumped in tending to the boys while I fired up the first rounds of laundry for the day and got packed for my next training event with our friend and Ironman finisher Tony Ball. What an awesome guy. And his precious wife, Pat and sweet son Ty lent him to me for the second time this weekend...

I pulled into the parking lot just after nine to see Tony riding his bike up the hill to meet me. I hit the stinky pit toilet -- No, people, it does NOT help the smell to leave the lid up!!!--- and got ready for our ride.

As we cycled out of the parking lot I felt confident and enthusiastic about not feeling super tired or sore from our workout on Saturday. I pedaled easily until we came to our first BIG hill. Seriously, the hill just past Tony's Supper Club on the way out to Higgins Point is STEEP! I know there are steeper ones, but this is the hardest and steepest hill I have ever ridden up. I rode up it Saturday with raw determination and strength, listening to Tony talk me through it and focused on getting to the top.

TODAY, not so much. About 8 feet up the hill I wanted to stop. I was sure I was going to burst into tears and quit. My body started HURTING. Every muscle I used to get up the hill on Saturday seemed ANGRY I was asking it to get me up that hill again! My mind and my belief in all the training I had done thus far evaporated in the air. I told Tony I was struggling, that my body was sore, finally, from our workout on Saturday and I didn't think I could make it.

He told me I could. Then he kept talking, reminding me to keep my heels down, knees in, started mentioning landmarks I was climbing -- the Great Wall of China, the Mayan Ruins, etc. He just kept talking. Gently speaking truth over me, he said, "You survived it before now you are going to conquer it!" I was breathing so hard. Pushing with all I had, in my lowest of low gears just trying to get from street sign, to stick on the road, to road marker, and finally, I did it.

I told him I was fine to continue on instead of stopping to get a drink (I don't balance well enough on my bike to drink and ride, so I have to stop). All he had to do was shift his tone to be a bit more directive and say, "No, Jenn. Stop. You need to drink. Before you get dehydrated." That was all it took. I burst into tears.

I broke through another wall today. Iron Tony by my side, feet in pedals, pushing up a hill, sure at first I would never be able to make it. But I did. Again, it confirms to me how much of our ability lies in our head and our heart - NOT our bodies!

Do we REALLY want things to change or do we want things to stay the same because it is easier? Easier is relative too, isn't it?

Once he confirmed that I was crying because I had a training breakthrough, he said something I will never forget, "Another piece of the Old Jenn fell off back there, the new Jenn, she is right here. Right now!"

I completed our ride without another emotional outburst. I know the Old Jenn is never coming back. She has been left behind, on the rubber of treadmills, in the deep of the pool, the hard seats of stationary bikes, the cool of the lake, and the hills and the prairies of North Idaho.

I am not going to lie and say I am not going to miss her. She wasn't a bad person. She did lots of things right and well. She used what God gave her to the best of her abilities, but she was missing something. She was missing a vibrancy in her life that she once had with the innocence of youth.

But the New Jenn, she has the vibrancy of her youth with the seasoning that comes with a life lived full of challenge, joy, sorrow, peace, pressure, change, trauma, and delight. She does not fear what is to come. She embraces each day knowing God has already given her what she needs to face whatever lies ahead.

Big hills, crabby attitudes, navigating parenthood and the love affair with my husband have all changed with this new season of my life. I love who I am becoming.

I am still required to WORK HARD in this process of change. But, like I've said before, one moment, one hour, one day, one week, one month, one year at a time. Pretty soon the 17 years I have spent overweight will be a blip on the map of my life.

What do you want to change? REALLY?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weight and Fitness goals for the next year... 1st Draft

Within the next year I will be the athlete I have always wanted to be and felt I was created to be. I will weigh a healthy and strong weight for my body and be able to maintain a fit and quality balanced life in every area.

Spiritually I will be deeper in my relationship with Christ and more submitted to His work within and through me, less concerned about what others think and more focused on obeying His voice and heart for me.

Emotionally, I will not be run by the fluctuations of life and it’s challenges. I will be free to experience joy, anger, laughter, grief, and all the emotions in between without feeling like they are “running me”. The core of my peace in the Lord will hold me steady as I walk through challenges in relationships, physical issues, and the “curveballs” of life.

Mentally, I will be learning like never before. I will be pushing past the TV habit and embrace filling my head with edifying and interesting information designed to “build” my mental muscles. I will read a book a month (balanced between spiritual growth, parenting, leadership development, and entertainment).

Physically, I will be competing in Olympic distance triathlons (My incredible husband has said he would do a triathlon with me next year too!) and strengthening my body with actual weights and not afraid of being in the weight room with the sweaty muscle men that lurk there. I will learn how to use the ‘foam roll’ stretching technique and fear no spinning class. I will never take for granted my ability to do anything athletic and be grateful I have a body that I can move!

When my husband and I renew our vows on October 12, 2011 for our 20th wedding anniversary I will wear my wedding dress. I will feel confident and beautiful. I will look at the past with gratitude and look at the future with enthusiasm.

I have no idea what I will weigh or what size I will wear. I don’t actually care that much. I just look forward to living in a body and mind that are healthy and fit, raising my children to do the same, and working together as a family to serve the church and community as the Lord leads.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What a Day!!

I had an amazing day. Not so amazing I had to pinch myself, I knew for sure it was my life... just a REALLY great day!

My precious husband got up with the boys so I got an extra half hour of sleep this morning and took over breakfast and boy care so I could get my stuff ready for my training this morning.

I met my friend Tony Ball at 9am at Sanders Beach. We talked about my training program, what I have done so far and what I still need to train for. The whitecaps on the lake were pretty impressive. The wind was blowing and I was a little curious about what it would feel like to try to swim a decent freestyle crawl in the waves.

About thirty minutes later I found out. We started into the water adjusting to it's temperature and headed out to the first buoy. It was cold enough to take my breath away. But after a bit, I adjusted and was able to swim another 300m or so. Tony stayed with me and even grabbed at my feet and pushed me around a bit so I would start to get used to the "nudging" that happens during race day.

After our swim we transitioned into a bike ride. It took more time than what it would be for a race, but since I had never made a transition from swim to bike we did that and it was a trick getting all the sand off my feet, socks and shoes on, and dry as much as possible before putting my wet caboose on my bike seat. We rode probably about 11 or 12 miles. But, different than my regular training we went up hills like I have never gone up before. And then I went down them :) as fast as I could manage!

It felt wonderful! I had been home for a few hours before my body started feeling the aches and pains of that hard of a workout. By then I had showered, resumed my "mom" duties, and switched the loads of laundry, took the kids to run errands, etc.

The best part, I had a wonderful date with my best friend. We had dinner, cracked old jokes, made each other laugh, talked, walked and drove around just hanging out together. It was just relaxing and so fun enjoying who we are together as a couple. As I write this we are watching a great movie "Hidalgo" and as comfy as can be!

So, I shall wrap this up to say, again, what an amazing day! I am so thankful for God's great provision - for my time with my husband, the time with my kids, the time with Tony and even the challenging time of my training with bumpy water and hills to ride. What a day!!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Sorry in advance for those of you were hoping for deep spiritual insight today. I am pretty sure it's not going to happen.

1) My ears are burning! Literally!
I have been battling swimmers ear since I started my lessons in early July. The irritation factor has finally become significant enough to merit finding some "Swim-Ear" stuff at Wal-Mart (stay tuned for another comment regarding THAT place). I put it in. NOW my aching ears that have been itchy and annoying are filled with alcohol and burning. Yes, it is such a "better" feeling. I am so glad I spent $4 on something that not only feels worse but I could have bought a GIANT bottle for half that price and used a dropper of some sort ... which leads me to my next gripe...

2) I work REALLY hard to get the biggest bang for my grocery dollar. Every week I get the grocery cash out of the bank and spend it as carefully as I can. I coupon clip, I make my list from the sale ads, and I even go to multiple stores so I can get the best prices for the items I need. This week I decided to do something I haven't done for over 6 months - I walked in the doors of WalMart. I did this for two reasons. One, because they do "ad matching" so I didn't have to do multiple stores -which I did last week with my kids and it was NOT pretty. And two, I wanted to shop where there wouldn't be 37million other people getting their last groceries before they go on vacation. I heard that the WalMart out by Cabela's was nice, new, and VERY quiet. There aren't a lot of people shopping there right now because they just opened and lets face it, they are WAY out of the major traffic area. Today I bought most of what I needed and had to quit before I purchased all I had in my cart. Even at WalMart, I am running out of money before I get what I need. It seems so wacky! But, adjustments are required as little boys become bigger and need lunches for school, and they eat, and eat, and eat and eat. It seems like they are all in a growth spurt right now and I just can't seem to keep up with them!

3) But I FORGOT about how WalMart affects my children. Now, they are still boys in a grocery store, busy, creative, and yes a little rambunctious too. But something about WalMart... or maybe it is me. I don't want to be THAT mom with kids swinging from the aisles, running into people or, like today pulling off some slick new imaginary ninja move right in front of an old man with a cane just trying to walk!! Yes, that was me, speaking too loudly, in public, to my ninja-master son throwing himself on the floor in front of unsuspecting senior citizens. Don't you wish you were me?

4) I finally get the ninja-masters (which they have never seen anything like that except on ONE episode of Backyardagains) loaded into the car, groceries tucked into the back and we head for home. I hear a thud and figure the watermelon hit the back of the car when I turned the corner. No biggie. So, we get home and I get Peter laid down for his nap, the big boys on their beds for what will be close to an eternal time out and go back to the car to unload the groceries. Well, did I mention the GIANT jug of fabric softener I bought? It turns out that if you turn your car and the jug falls over and if said jug has had the lid twisted by one of three potential mess makers, you get fabric softener all over the back of your car.  I am all for fresh laundry, but fresh trunk, fresh Sunday school papers I forgot about, and fresh beach blanket made in Mexico... is just really annoying.

5) I get stuff cleaned out of the car, put the groceries away and remember that I bought REAL lettuce instead of bagged lettuce so I have to get busy cleaning and tearing before too long so when the guests arrive for our progressive dinner tonight they don't get farm grit in their teeth. Not a big deal (cleaning and tearing lettuce, that is) except that the list of "to do's" before company comes is a little longer than usual and I don't want to start too early so the kids don't wreck it before they come.

It is a fine line between ungrateful nastiness and a grumpy mommy moment. I hope I stayed on the right side of that line! And I hope you will forgive me if I offended you in any way...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How to swim in the lake... by someone who did it!!!!!!!!!

Today was a big day for me. But I guess you know that.

This whole time, since I started training I have been stressed about it. I kept wondering what it would feel like.

How cold would it be? If I had a dollar for every person that asked me if I had a wetsuit I could have bought one!
Would I see anything scary at the bottom?
Would I get bit by a fish?
Would I have to touch a fish?
Would the weeds in the water touch me?

Yeah, what a silly girl.

I grew up swimming in the Pacific Ocean. My mom had us on the beach all year round. I have been in the water, at least ankle deep, most often neck deep all over the southern California coast. I LOVE the ocean. I have been caught in more rip tides than I can remember, body surfed, and boogie boarded til my stomach and arms were raw. And I have rarely turned down a chance to get in a pool. I LOVE the water. Almost everywhere.

Except lakes.

Lakes have freaked me out since I was a kid. My sister was floating tummy down in an inner tube when we were about 10 and 11 (I was older by 18mos.). She was in a bikini and she got bit by a fish. I still remember seeing her fly out of the tube screaming, belly button bleeding and hysterically pointing to the water. That sealed the deal for me. No swimming in the lake. Any lake. Ever.

As time went by I did get on boats and attempt water skiing (never did manage to get "up") and then tubing. I did swim a little at Honeysuckle Beach years ago with a friend and I have another friend with a dock off Honeysuckle bay and I did jump in maybe twice. When I take the boys to the beach sometimes I will go in up past my waist, but only because they want me to hold them so they can go deeper. But EVERY time I am in a lake I am FREAKED out. I see flashes of my screaming sister, I look for fish and when I see them I want to run and wish I hadn't looked. When John was baptized just a few weeks ago it took ALL I had to get in the water up to my knees. AND there were LITTLE TINY fish EVERYWHERE!!! I still get squeamish thinking about it...

So, THAT is why today was SUCH a BIG DEAL!!!

Not only did I walk into the water feeling its icy grasp go up my body, but then I followed my coach and my friend as they shallowly dove right in! I came out of the water short of breath gasping at the chill. My friend Stephanie warned me that breathing while swimming would be harder at first because of the cold and she was right.

As I started my freestyle strokes I could only do two strokes before I came up for air. And I was gasping. I kept swimming, out to the corner of the Point where Coach said to go. The murky gunk at the bottom had only a bit of my focus while I was trying to remember "bubble-bubble-breathe" which has become my swimming and now my "I'm wearing out I don't want to do this" mantra. They stayed beside me the whole time. Slow going for them even as I worked at picking up my pace. He has been swimming for over 50 years and she for 20.

Once I got to the Point, Coach asked if I was okay. I said I was, but I was still a little scared. He suggested we swim under the dock bridge over to the other beach area. He told me to keep going until I got there. No stopping. I looked at him and through my nervous thoughts I took a moment to remember that he was the same guy who had coached me through learning how to do this in the first place, and he would not leave my side. Neither did Stephanie. I said a quick prayer and felt the Lord give me the courage to trust Him, to trust them and to trust the knowledge I had gained in about a dozen swimming classes.

And I did it. I swam steadily until the darkness under the bridge caught my attention.


I was so focused on breathing and my stroke that I didn't see the bridge until I was under it. I popped my head up with a gasp, looked around and kept going seeing Coach and Stephanie waiting for me. I swam to them and realized:


I don't remember for sure but I think that was the first time I got all goofy and giddy about swimming in the lake. Coach then asked if I could see the post - to which I said no. I can't see that far ahead... so he pointed to a huge tree that I could see and said to go in that direction. Practicing my "sighting" so I am swimming toward the "buoy" in my race and not somewhere off course.

We started out and Coach swam across my legs (he has been having people in my class or even the Jr. lifeguards at one point get in my way, splash me and such to simulate what it will be like to have other swimmers right next to me for my swim). I adjusted my position. Then the waves from the wake of a boat started bobbing me around in the water and I adjusted my position. I remembered that Stephanie told me to breathe on the side opposite someone next to me or a wave coming. That helped. When we got to the post I looked up and got all goofy about having done it again! Coach had me swim around the post as if it was a buoy and gave me a few tips about how congested it will be during the swim. Arms, legs, bodies, faces all around me and I have to be able to get my bearings and keep going.

Then he had me practice "sighting" again. He crossed in front of me, splashed me with his feet and Stephanie did too. I swam back to the Point and he greeted me with loud praise about how straight I swam.

We climbed up the slippery steps and then back down again to do a shallow dive off the steps. Then we swam back to the beach and talked about the best way for me to practice the next few days before my race. As we got out the exhilaration continued. I wasn't that cold. The water didn't seem that cold. Everything was amazing. The sky was bluer, the water more beautiful, my success bigger... I know I was acting like a total dork but I couldn't help myself. I felt like I had just climbed Mt.Everest or something.

They were obviously happy for me too. It was a great moment in my life and these two wonderful people were right there in it with me.

When I talk about God's provision, or I hear other people talk about it, there is a quiet confidence and some positive outlook. But when you go from freaked out fear, to conquering it, to eagerly anticipating doing it again... now that is a whole new light on God's provision.

He provided for me this great Coach who has been an encouragement and a blessing every moment of my time with him. He provided a great friend, confident swimmer and wonderful encourager to swim with me in almost every class. God KNEW exactly what I would need and WHO I would need to face this challenge. And He did not hold back.

I felt SO loved, SO blessed and SO encouraged today. I knew so many of you were praying for me and cheering me on. It is pretty freaky being watched by so many people this way, but I opened myself up for it because God asked me to. I obeyed.

This whole thing continues to be about me obeying Him. One challenge, one day, one bike ride, one swim, one run at a time. So many of you have contacted me to share what you are doing in your life to become more healthy and to follow what God has asked you to do. It is humbling. I am grateful. And most of all I am overwhelmed by the work God is doing in so many of us who are just obeying, one challenge, one day, one bike ride, one swim, one run, one walk, one _?_ at a time.

And, because the excitement remains... YYYYAAAAYYYYY!!! I DID IT!!! :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Got Water??

Yeah, tomorrow's the big day. I have to swim in the lake. The big lake that is cold, wet, has stuff in it, has fish in it, has... oh I don't want tooooo!

It makes me cold just thinking about it and no, I do NOT have a wetsuit.

But, in order to do the triathlon I am signed up for I have to be able to swim in a lake.

Just like every other time I have had to jump out of my sofa surfing, cookie baking, french fry eating, fried chicken loving comfort zone, it is time to just step into what God has called me to do.

I will let you know tomorrow evening how it went.

Today's bike ride wasn't my favorite. I continue to feel tired and today's headwind (weather man said 15-20mph today) didn't really help. I did it. I about had a panic attack before I began. May I remind you from a past blog, that before any/every major athletic event in my life I have been injured in one way or another. I am 10 days from race day and every time I do ANY training the anxiety builds. I had to pray through it again today. My friend Leslie prayed for me and my mother-in-law sweetly reminded me that God was going to be with me all the way. He was. And let me tell you how I know...

My favorite part of the ride today was the clouds. They were big and puffy, flat on the bottom and cotton-like on the top with a pure white shimmer against the brilliant blue sky. When I would start to feel the tiredness in my head, my heart, or my legs, I would look to the sky at the amazing display God laid out for my enjoyment. I don't mind if you shared it a bit, but I knew He did it for me, just to keep me going and remind me that He sees all my hard work, even when I am not feeling enthusiastic. I love that He loves me. I love that He knows I can do this. He knows I am scared. He told me the time is now for this big dream/event to happen.

So, I will swim, bike and run, every training day and on race day with all I've got!