Monday, January 27, 2014

Friendship: it's a choice ~ MOMSNext 1/27/14 Meeting Devotion

Between the dog barking, the kids arguing or running around the house crazy, and my hubby asking everyone to "Be Quiet" from his basement office, my quiet time, that I had envisioned this afternoon to write tonight's MOMSNext devotion, is quickly disappearing. So what does a desperate Mom, wanna be writer, do to resolve the situation? She is logical and locks herself in her room with earphones on and lets the words flow. So here it attempt to write the devotion within 30 minutes because that is the amount of time I have before I turn into a taxi cab driver for two out of my three kiddo's.

As I typed my introductory paragraph I thought about the irony of what I want to communicate next. My time is so limited to just sit and be still, why would I want to add more responsibilities into my life, like friendship?

The subject of friendship is a vast one. What I want to make you think about tonight is how you can open your heart and allow more friends in your life.

I recently had the opportunity to allow an acquaintance, who I thought had become a friend, introduce me to two of her friends. I opened my heart and invited them into my life, by being friendly, making small talk, re-arranging my time to spend time with them and then, I got their message loud and clear. They did not want anymore friends. They just needed me there for another reason, particularly to help pay the hotel bill.

I won't lie. It stung a little. I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong? Could I have said something differently? I thought we were all getting along. I knew we came from different places but that didn't stop me from reaching out. I can honestly say that I never passed judgment. I kept an open mind and tried to put myself in their shoes. As soon as I understood, that they wanted to carry on without me, I did what I'm really good at...I made new friends! I also met up with one of my high school besties. I was far away from home and wanted to enjoy my adventure.

I think one of the hardest lesson's one can learn in life is that "you cannot please everyone and you can't make everyone like you." Well said, from the very likeable Katie Couric.

But this shouldn't stop you from reaching out to welcoming new friendships into your life. Friendships take time to grow and nurture. So if you already have your circle of friends, why expend the energy to allow someone new in?

Last Friday night, we had our next door neighbors over for dinner. They moved in almost a year ago. It was a long overdue gathering and none of us wanted to say goodbye which resulted in the kids getting to bed late. But it was so worth it! These are neighbors that I prayed to have enter our life, four days prior to them putting a contract on the house next door. It was a simple prayer that went something like this:

"Dear God, please let a nice family move in next door. A family that we will be friends with, and please let them have young kids so that our kids can play together. Amen."

This was a house that our future neighbors did not know we were going to be their next door neighbors. The irony is that we already knew each other before they moved in next door. We were merely acquaintances, turned neighbors, turned friends. I think God purposely brought us together.

When you have friends that enter your life by chance, know in your heart that it is not a random occurrence. Every person you meet is for a reason. I'm thankful for this friendship that will continue to grow over the years with our neighbors and with our children. 

Romans 12:10 "Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another by showing honor."

Being a military brat, I have never met a stranger! I moved quite often and made new friends wherever I went. And I made a point to keep in touch with the friends I left behind. Friendship has been an essential part of my life. I cannot think back on a period of my life when I was not surrounded by good friends, enjoying life, making memories and supporting each other when life threw a curveball. My friends are my family. My deep rooted friendships stem from me being able to connect with others. I appreciate goodness when I see it and I embrace friendships when the door is opened.

As we get older and become more set in our ways, I can see how easy it is to close the door and make the choice to not embark on the journey of making a new friend. Yes, having many friendships in your life can be exhausting but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences. I love to learn from others. I am open to new ways of thinking. The glass is always half full and why not fill it up with friendship?

Tonight, at some point, I invite you to reach out to someone who you have not had a conversation with. Ask them key questions that will give you insight into who they are and their life. Be creative. Be sincere. Don't start with "How are you?" Find a way to connect with someone new. This may be the spark to the beginning of a new friendship!

C.S. Lewis wrote "Is it any pleasure on earth as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?"

Tonight, I am asking you "Is it any pleasure on earth as a circle of Christian friends surrounding you at a MOMSNext meeting?"

Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Every person you meet is an opportunity for friendship. What path will you choose?

Friday, January 24, 2014

"Life is not about racing to the finish line, it is about appreciating each mile."

My life has become a bit discombobulated. My "Happy New Year" cards are lonely as they take up permanent space on my dining room table. The Christmas decoration boxes remain empty. I have to make a conscious effort to turn off the Christmas tree lights at night so our neighbors don't spread vicious rumor's about the fact we are still enjoying the decorations a month after the Christmas holiday. I'm playing catch up on laundry after being away for five days and coming home to all laundry baskets welcoming me, completely full with dirty clothes. And then there's this cancelled school or two hour delay that keeps interfering with my kid's learning. I actually had to google "project timeline" to homeschool my son on his assignment that the teacher e-mailed.

I haven't been to any of my strength training classes this year. Instead, I've been perfecting my plank, working on my core with sit up's and upper arm strength with push up's. The real ones so that I can feel like I got a workout in. I ran 48.6 miles in 4 days in Disney but then I came home and have barely squeaked out a few runs with one being in the middle of a snowstorm. And I ran the JFK 20K, less than a week after completing the Dopey Challenge. It was the day that all runner's united to run for Meg. #megsmiles

I proudly wore my "I run for Meg" race bib that one of my friends made for several local members of Mom's Run This Town (MRTT). A couple of members in the club had a personal connection to Meg and her family. I had never met Meg. I knew she was a Mother Runner, married, with three precious young children, and was training for the Boston marathon. Meg's life was taken too soon by a senseless accident.  I learned of her tragic story through MRTT. I thought of Meg's grieving family and wanted to remember and honor her life by running this race.

On January 18, 2014, it was a cold bitter day and my fleece PJ's were trying to lure me to stay in bed. I had forgotten that I'd signed up for this race until two days before when my friend sent me a message, asking if I was going. This is the same friend that made those awesome race bibs. I knew I had to show up on such an important day. This was a day that runner's were uniting globally and sending a message to the world.
Driver's everywhere - please be aware of your surroundings, slow down, drive safe, drive sober, and don't text and drive.
Meg is no longer here because the driver behind the wheel that morning should have never been driving. I often play out in my mind what those final moments were like for Meg, if she even knew in that instant, that this was the end of her life. It is a horrible thought that I can't let go. She was going on her morning training run. Before she left her home, did she even have a chance to kiss her babies goodbye and to say "I love you" to her family?
There is so much tragedy in the world. We are surrounded by loss and grief but this story hit home for so many Mother Runner's out there. We all expect to come home to our crying, whining, tattle telling kids, after we manage to escape for our Mommy moment of solitude. Now when I walk in the door, I don't really care that WWIII has begun. Instead of becoming frustrated with the kids behavior, I focus on becoming the peacemaker.
I have a deep appreciation for life, for each day given to me, after going through several devastating life experiences. I Get It. With Meg's untimely death, this was a wake up call to many Mother Runner's because they realized "that could have been me. My kids could not have a Mom right now."
Every tragedy unites humankind and the rippling effects of the loss of Meg's life has been profound. My hope is that, as Mother Runner's, we stay united, honoring Meg's life and keep waking up each day, appreciating the gifts bestowed on us, that very moment in time. Because that is all that is guaranteed. The saying is so cliché' "Seize the Moment." But there is so much truth to these words.
Having the kids home this week with below freezing temperatures outside has been challenging but I tried my best to embrace each day. I was mindful, stayed positive and let go of expectations. There was no set time to wake up, to get dressed, no finalized play date's. I played it moment by moment. I didn't set an agenda and I let the kids choose their activities. Besides a few sibling arguments, it has been an enjoyable, appreciated week of time spent with my kids. We even played impromptu family game nights which is something that had been put off since the summer since my hubby and I always seem to be focused on getting the kids to bed at a certain time.
Many times this week I thought about Meg and how she will never spend precious moments with her kids again. I was able to enjoy the winter wonderland and go sledding with my kids and sip hot chocolate with them afterwards. We made cookies and brownies and one night, the kids assisted me with making taco's for dinner. We lounged in our PJ's and ate too many cinnamon rolls for brunch. We played games and had a one year birthday celebration for our Lab Rescue puppy. It was a good week and my heart is full of goodness and love. 

I also thought about Meg when I ran in the middle of a snowstorm, next to the road and cautiously kept an eye on each approaching car to make sure it didn't run off the road and veer towards me. Again, my thoughts traveled to that devastating morning that Meg's life was taken. As I hug and kiss my babies each morning and each night, I whisper "I love you." I find ways to show my hubby he is appreciated and loved and how thankful I am that he supports me running the distance. I make it a point to reach out to my friends and let them know I am here and that I care and go out of my way to meet up with faraway friends, when we have that rare moment of time together. I make an effort to see my parents and my sisters and to spend quality time with them. In the end, it is not the things that surround us that matter, it is the lives you touched, your compassion, your love, your friendship, that will be remembered. Meg's story is forever etched in my heart and soul and has reminded me once again, how precious life is.
"Life is not about racing to the finish line,
it is about appreciating each mile."
~ Amy P. Fitzgerald

Running for Meg at the JFK 20K 
*My JFK 20K race results did not register and I have e-mailed the race director. At first, I was upset but then realized the big picture ~ I know that I ran for Meg and I dedicated all 12.4 miles in honor of her. I finished strong despite the wind chill factor and below freezing temperatures. It is a race that I will never forget. A race that was bigger than me and was filled with so much meaning, as many runner's were wearing the "I Run for Meg" race bibs that my friend has passed out prior to the race. We ran in honor and to remember a very special Mother Runner whose life was taken too soon.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Courage, Dreams and Pixie Dust

It is the eve before the alarm clocks awake the house at sunrise and the kids will hit the snooze button, over and over again. Meanwhile, the parents will shuffle downstairs to make their morning java and guzzle it down, while scrambling to make their kids lunches. Fueled by caffeine, the parents will become boot camp instructors and shout "Hurry Up" on to deaf ears.

In less than 8 hours, the kids will be back in school after a two week, looong break. The below freezing temps have made us hibernate and we are all beginning to lose our sanity. After noticing that we let two full days pass without getting out of our PJ's, the kids declared that "PJ's Rule" and if you aren't leaving the house, then why bother to change? Smart kids, my hubby and I have raised.

But as much as I have enjoyed my lazy days of waking up at a time when it didn't make sense to eat breakfast because it was so close to noon and wearing my favorite purple polka dot fleece PJ's, that should come with a warning label that if you wear them, you will not got anything done, I'm ready to get moving again!

I am sluggish, eating crap food, drank too many glasses of vino, and I'm in pain. The pain part is what scares me. I have fallen off the exercise wagon and I feel like I am dying. I am not exaggerating. When I wake up, I think I need to go the doctor's to get blood work to make sure the "C" word has not snuck inside my body but then I remember that I don't have "C" because I have "LD." And if you are brand new to my blog or being introduced to my world, "LD" does not stand for Learning Disability. I have chronic Lyme Disease.

I chose not to get the IV antibiotic treatment so I could exercise and continue running at least 3x a week. In the last couple of weeks, I've been lucky if I pushed myself out the door, while wearing my running shoes and not my fuzzy socks. And sometimes I surprise myself and actually get out there and run the distance when I expected I would fall to the ground after Mile 3.

After finishing the JFK 50 Miler in November, I felt incredible (and yes, I promise to write that race recap and the one from 2012 too)! So what did I do, I went and signed up to run a marathon for charity, No Kid Hungry through Dream Come True Vacations. I'm also running a 5K, a 10K and a Half marathon prior to the Marathon, in four consecutive days. I'm running the inaugural Dopey Challenge at the most magical place on Earth, Walt Disney World!

Here is my fundraising page if you would like to donate:

Thank you for your support and for helping kids receive a healthy meal!

I am leaving on Wednesday and have a million things to do, like pack my suitcase, which is the one thing I absolutely hate doing because of all the decisions you have to make like deciding which FOUR race outfits I'm going to pack!! I confess to ordering four new running "costume" skirts that are being shipped to the hotel but do I wear tank tops? Arm sleeves? Short sleeves? My Swirlgear?

I'm going to need positive vibes and prayers sent my way. I'm going to have to be Fierce, Determined and Courageous to run 48.6 miles in 4 days. I will have a fabulously fun time but I need to start believing in myself that I can do this!!

I hate the fact that I have chronic "LD." And that I will struggle for the rest of my life to accomplish "the impossible." I am not giving up. I have hit a road block in my training but I will persevere. I always have and will continue to do so. However, I'm secretly hoping to run into Tinkerbell so that she can sprinkle some magic pixie dust on me!
"All of our Dreams can come true
if we have the courage to pursue them."
~ Walt Disney quote

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Eve random thoughts

Here it is, after the midnight hour and I am writing a post about my random thoughts on New Year's Eve...when there are so many other things I could be writing about (or I could be sleeping)! My 2013 was simply amazing, a wondrous journey because of these simple concepts I've applied to my life.  I want to continue this incredible journey into 2014 and wish the same for you!

1. Appreciate. You just never know what tomorrow will bring so relish the moment you are in. 

2. Goodness. It is always better to sprinkle goodness into the world than to extinguish it. 

3. Gracious. Saying please and thank you and trying to put yourself in someone else's shoes goes a LOOONG way.

4. Blessings. Always remember there is someone else who is wishing for the blessings you have. Many people go through life not realizing how blessed their lives truly are.

5. Second chances. You always have the ability to change the outcome of a situation. You are powerful. The change comes from within.

6. Mindful. You are not the only one living in this Universe. Your actions and words affect other human beings, living things and the Universe. Step outside your bubble and realize the powerful impact you have and turn it into positive energy

7. Exercise. Your mind and your body. You have to keep moving or you will stagnate. The minute you slow down is when you will begin to feel old. I'm almost 44 years young and feel like I'm in my 20's. I don't plan on slowing down as long as I can keep moving and learning.

8. Acceptance. As soon as you decide not to judge others, you will not judge yourself. Your world will become kinder. Everyone of us has wonderful traits to celebrate, as well as, things we would like to change. But focus on how you are unique and what gifts you can share with others.

9. Friendships. Embrace this special gift in life, from the friend next door, to your best friend since you were 4 years old...Keep In Touch. Make time to talk. Go out of your way to visit. No Excuses. 

10. Family. This one has been on my mind all day! My birth mother called me this morning to wish me a "Happy New Year's!" Family may come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes may not make sense but you must embrace all of it. This is your past, your present and your future. As an adoptee, who loves my adoptive family, as well as, my birth mother and half sister's, I'm still trying to make sense of my place in the Universe. Sometimes it can get complicated but what I do know, is that Love Wins and there is always enough love for every family member in your life!

                   Happy 2014!!!