Iraq Journey

Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ February 4-6 2010

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It’s exactly the same thing as scaling a wall, except it’s different

March 31, 2009

Today I realized something.

Being a mom is pretty much just like those cardio workouts I’m so fond of. I mean, exactly the same, except for the high heart rate and lack of oxygen.

Actually, that’s not always true, either. When I’ve run up and down the stairs ten times in two minutes, my heart does start a-pumpin. But anyway.


I typically do three days of cardio each week, alternating with my two days of weight training and one day of Pilates. Call me crazy and say it’s boring, but my favorite form of cardiovascular-related activity would be the elliptical machine. Even more than running. Even more than spinning. The reason? I get to prop a book in front of me for sixty solid gold minutes. Being this is my only real, focused time to read, I’d do the good ol’ elliptical every day if I could–a point which has absolutely NOTHING to do with this post.

So, going back to the motherhood/exercises comparison. When I first started heading to the gym, I’d hop on the treadmill and do a fast walk for about… five minutes. And I’d be dead. Wheezing, racing heart, eyes bulging out of my head. Hitting that big red STOP button. The whole deal. But after a while, I heard someone talk about jumping over that wall and being able to keep going… forever. I tried it. I didn’t quite make it to forever, but I did make it to twenty minutes. A month later, I was hitting thirty minutes and now, you can find me on my beloved elliptical for an hour or more. With a good book, of course.

That wall I needed to scale? It may be conquered, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still THERE. I still hit it every time, whether I’m in the gym or running outside. But I’ve figured out that once I get that thing behind me, I can chase the horizon line.

Today was the kind of that had me calling John at lunchtime, jokingly begging him to come home from work early. (Okay, I lied. I wasn’t joking.) It wasn’t anything specific. Just… stuff. Kiddos making messes, being little people, the normal training of hearts, potty accidents, recovering from birthday weekend and a busy Sunday, lots of laundry, a house to clean, getting ready for company to arrive tonight and a trip to the Land of The Mouse tomorrow. Just stuff. But by the time I glanced at the clock and saw both hands pointing UP, my head was spinning.

Regular readers of this here bloggity will know THAT’S NOTHING ABNORMAL.

The Wall. There it was, blocking my path. Clouding my vision. My heart was racing.

John sweetly told me he’d see what he could do, but since he, you know, also had work that needed doing in order to get tomorrow off for that Mouse-land trip, it might not be likely. There wasn’t any red stop button this time.

But, you know what? It’s almost 5pm. And I’m still going. God gave me some distractions–not by way of a book, but through turning on some music, odds and ends with the boys and other things–and I made it. He gives strength to keep moving, keep going, and push through the wall. It’s still there, and it will be there tomorrow, but it’s been conquered.

The house is finally clean, the laundry’s almost done, and all I have yet to do to be “ready on time” is to take a shower. Yes, I’ve been in my gym clothes since my trip over there this morning. Fitting, don’t you think?

My endurance has been strengthened. I realized I can make it over that wall, even in such simple things as the day-to-day of motherhood.

Just remind me of all that on Thursday when I hit that wall again, mmkay?

“For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall…”
Psalm 18:29

Of course, when you never actually take anything OUT of the vehicle, it might be expected

March 30, 2009

After a full weekend of Birthday Fun involving a day at the wonderful world of Shamu, a dinner out at “Ruby’s on the bridge” (as the new three year old calls his favorite place–which sits at the end of our pier) and time spent with another little tow-headed three year old (”my very best friend ever and ever“), I thought I should tackle the explosion pile of junk that formerly kept residency in the cab of our four-door truck.

This, my friends, is the result:


Two beach towels, a sippy cup, five or ten works of art (brought home from Sunday School and the ChildWatch program at the gym… and promptly forgotten), a stack of junk mail three inches tall, several cards and letters, a few bills, a bib, sheet music, sunscreen, fancy smelling lotion, a jacket, two pairs of baby shorts (clean, too–what’s up with THAT?), three hats, a Pilates mat, a seat cover for spinning class, a uncomfortable carseat pillow, a funky hat (given to a child by an 18yo uncle who didn’t want it… so it can clutter MY house now. Thanks bunches, 18yo uncle), a golf ball (we don’t golf…ever), a ring sling, a bag of baby wipes, two wooden helicopters, and a big Target bag filled with old receipts, tissues, granola bar wrappers, stray toy packaging, paper cups and (don’t shoot me) a dried out banana peel.

So, um, what’s in YOUR car?

Please, someone, tell me I’m not the only one.


Crickets chirp…


March 26, 2009
Three years.

Three years of hugs and kisses.


Three years of silliness.


Three years of a little boy who has his daddy’s looks and his mama’s personality.

Three years…

…of joy.

We love you, our little man! Happy birthday!

A Quiet Refuge

March 23, 2009
The view as I saw it this morning…

It seems I’ve always had a place set aside in my heart as my own “special place.” Always someplace I loved, one I could simply think of and be calmed. A spot I thought would always be there if I needed somewhere to go, if life became difficult. Even if I never really did it, never really flew away to that special place during a hard time, I knew it was there. Waiting. Ready. A refuge from whatever troubles I faced, mountainous or mundane.

When I was a little girl, that place was my Grandma’s house. As an adult, I know now that life in her home wasn’t always as perfectly peaceful as I perceived in my childish mind, but to me, everything became better in that house. We’d sing songs, play with the family dog, and eat the rare treat of peanut butter ‘n’ jelly served on Wonder bread with a soft, thick white paper towel. When I was a teenager, that place became my Grammie’s house in Alabama. It always seemed our trips to the South were perfectly timed to coincide with my most drama-filled teenage moments, and just being in that green, beautiful, slower-paced world always cleared my mind. Last summer, it was Colorado. My in-laws sweetly cared for the boys and I while John was in Iraq, in their beautiful mountain home, smoothing a balm on my weary heart. Now, I’d think I’ll add Gretchen’s home in Washington to that list of places that soothe and calm me. I could have just had John and the boys pack up and head up to that farm land, stayed there forever and been happy.

The reality is that I can’t be in any or all of those places all the time. I live here, now, day-to-day, and life isn’t always idealistic. It’s real, it’s normal, and any rough patches must be dealt with as they come, right alongside everything else.

But sometimes, in the quietness of the morning, my Father gives me a respite, there in the midst of it all.

Monday, March 23, 2009
7:10 AM

Troy is sleeping late today~he was up much of the night. I’d still be asleep too if I didn’t have another tiny little boy up, wanting snuggles and breakfast! So here he sits beside me, munching on Cheerios in his high chair, giggling and babbling. I sit, with coffee in hand, smiling back at him through sleepy mama eyes. Also, with Bible and journal open on the table, flowers clipped from the yard water-bathing in a thin vase, soft piano music over the stereo speakers.

Idealistic, yes, but it is real.

So is the hard stuff, but for now, the sweetness and quietness is real. A refuge from the craziness. A “filling up” done by You, Lord. Before I meet the day.

The day has continued and has, of course, proved itself just another normal day. One filled with good things, rough moments, training, coloring, meal-fixing, block tower building, diaper changing, husband-texting, phone calling, a mama who is not-so-good-feeling, laundry doing, toy cleaning. Next on the agenda is book reading, nap taking, exercising, dinner making.

Oh, wait, that would all come after the moment of needful discipline that just arose. Pardon me while I take advantage of that “filling up” from this morning to confront hitting, lying and disobeying.

A refuge doesn’t necessarily take away that which we’re escaping, it gives us a safe haven to rest and prepare, all while guarded and fought for by One stronger than we.

“God is our refuge and strength…”
Psalm 46:11

So I think I’m ready to move to the country

March 13, 2009
Squeezed in the back seat–me, Natalie and April

Well, I’ve been here a total of two days and I’ve officially decided I live in the wrong place. I mean, I already knew John was a country boy, but little did I know it is totally the place for me.

Seriously. It’s kinda magical. (But more on that later. As in, once I’m home and can process all of it.)

Of course, being that John is, ya know, in the MARINE CORPS and all, a job which doesn’t exactly lend itself to living far from people, we just might face a problem with that.

But for now, I’m in heaven. Missing my guys (a whole heappa lotta), but really, really–I’m talkin’ really–loving it here in Gretchen’s world.

I might just have to be pried away.

We’re doing a bit of live-blogging this wedding weekend over at YLCF, so if I’m not around, you’ll probably be able to find more over there.

Did I mention how much I love it here?