It really is a temple


















A month and half ago I ran in the Chicago Ragnar, which means I, along with 11 other tough women, ran from Madison, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois in leg increments. The race itself was grueling; it was hot, my legs barely had time to recover between increments, and we got little to no sleep; however, it was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done in my life. I had so much fun with the women in my van, and I was able to push my body to new limits. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity, and I am still so proud of myself and the other women on my team.

I came home from the race determined to sign up for a couple half marathons before the end of the year, but after a few days of light running post-race, I realized something was wrong with my hip. It hurt to walk, stand up straight, sit, and run. I couldn't do it without wincing. I gave myself a few weeks to rest, hoping time would heal it, but it didn't. I tried stretching, but that didn't really help either. Two days before I left for a family vacation to California, I called a nearby chiropractor (after some serious convincing from my mom), and I have started doing to some therapy on my hip and leg. It is slowly starting to feel better, and I am adding miles daily.

What this experience has taught me--as with other experiences in my life--is that the body is an amazing gift. I have always felt incredibly blessed to have such a healthy body that allows me to run, hike, walk, and exercise whenever I choose because I realize this is not the case for everyone. Whenever I have pain or cannot exercise for a time, I am reminded how fragile the body is and the responsibility we have to care for it.

Yesterday while cleaning the house, I listened to a podcast about trauma from Michael Stone, who recently passed away. In the podcast, Stone said something that really resonated with my healing body. He talked about how the body is a temple, which I absolutely believe, and he said that if a person doesn't actually believe their body is a temple, then of course it wouldn't matter to them what type of food they put into it, and it wouldn't matter if they exercised, and it would matter if they let themselves heal. I've thought about this a lot in the last 24 hours. I thought about all the healing that happens within the walls of temples, and I realized I really need to do all I can to heal the broken parts of my body--physically, emotionally and spiritually. And that's what I plan to do.

Thinking about the idea that our bodies are temples, I've also been pondering something else. So many people comment about my "thinness." I get comments like this: "You're just skinny." "You've never had to worry about your weight." And so on and so on. The truth of the matter is I work really hard on my body. I may have been thin in high school and college because of luck, genes and good metabolism, but that is not the case now. I have had 5 babies. My body has shifted in ways I never anticipated. It is weak in areas and strong in other areas. I have diastasis recti. My stomach will never look the way it did before kids no matter how many ab workouts I do. But more than having abs and muscles, I really believe my body is a temple, and I choose to treat it as such. I am careful about the substances I put into it, and I am mindful of when and how to push it to new limits. The definition of a temple is "a building devoted to worship, or regarded as the dwelling place of god or gods or other objects of religious reverence." So no matter the religion, if one believes the body can be a dwelling place for God, then perhaps how we treat our bodies should reflect this thought.

on being disconnected and yet...very connected




I spent last week mostly disconnected from the world. Most places we fished had no cell service, and for a moment I remembered what it was like twenty years ago when people were more comfortable with silence. No one reached for a telephone to swipe up or down or side to side and no one reached for an iPad to check the latest news or scores, and no one played games on any device. We just sat and were still (unless of course we were wrangling the six little monkeys we brought along), and in the stillness, I felt very connected--connected to myself, to my family, and to God.

I took several walks alone through the mountain passes and just thought and prayed and thought some more. I wondered how I'd gotten so damn mixed up and confused. I wondered when I let myself believe it was okay to feel skeptical of everything. I wondered when I stopped feeling joy. It is impossible to pinpoint a day, an experience or a conversation. I suppose it just happened because I let it happen. I slowly started wandering "in strange roads" to quote a favorite scripture of mine.

As I pondered these things, I talked openly with God and was as direct as one can be with deity. I asked for forgiveness, but it felt shallow; it felt empty. I knew that I could not only ask for forgiveness, but that I had to start doing something about it. I kept walking and talking. I kept thinking. And at the end of the week, I knew what I needed to do.

I can't tell you how necessary it is to forget the world, its teaching, its whisperings, its incentives, its lies, its fake reality/news. My body and mind required the stillness. I think it always will. I am grateful to God and this magnificent world we live in that reminds us daily all we have to be grateful for. I am so grateful. I see God everywhere I look. He is in the smallest details. And he is with me.

forever.

It's been forever. Since I've last written, I've visited Wisconsin, Illinois, Texas, and Michigan, and I've seen several states in between. The kids and I are having a wonderful summer--full of swimming in the lake, building endless sand castles, kayaking, visiting friends, playing with cousins, reading books, catching fish, coloring pictures, and being together. The television has remained off much of the summer, and it's just the way I want it. Sure, there are silly squabbles about so and so stealing someone's t-shirt or toy, and there is a lot of attitude that comes out when chores need to be done, but it's all within the range of normal, and I feel that so far summer has been a success.

I'm sorry that I've been absent for so long. As you can imagine, I have little to no free time so I am unable to work at all during the day, which means I have to work at night, and after I finish working at night, I have little to no brain power left to write or even upload pictures. Sorry dad....I know how much you wait to see your grandkids. And for the rest of you who happen to be more interested in my writing (if anyone is still there), I'm sorry that I've been gone.

Speaking candidly, pieces of my life feel very heavy right now. I am confident it will not always be this way, but right now, I seem to be stuck on a slow downhill progression, and no matter what I do to pull the brakes, the brakes squeal but cannot stop me. So even though summer has felt like a really good dream, I have to be honest and say that even though the dream is grand, there are still gray clouds looming overhead.

I think the darkest cloud that follows me and sometimes rains down on me wherever I go is the cloud of faith. I keep trying to feel God's presence but come up empty, and the distance makes my heart grow weaker by the day. There has been too much commotion in my heart, especially as of late and especially in regards to religion. I have felt so little peace, and so I find myself drawing inward and away from people.

The last time I struggled with anything in regards to my faith was after my miscarriage, when I grew so dark and angry at God and the world and finally just shut it all out for awhile. I gradually found new footing and felt the distance between God and me lessen, and I rebuilt my faith. And as shaky as it sometimes was, it was always there. I seem to be in a different place than I was 5 years ago. I am not angry. I don't really have any doubts about my own personal religion. I just don't feel anything for or against it. The absence of feeling has created this hole in my heart where loneliness and sadness just linger constantly. Constantly.

I don't really know what to do. I guess the only thing that keeps me going is the lesson that came to me 13ish years ago as an EFY counselor in Idaho. I sat in a room full of people discussing church topics that didn't interest me, so I opened my Bible (Matthew 26) to the chapter where Christ asks his disciples to "tarry ye here, and watch (stay awake) with [him]." Those words really struck me all those years ago because it seemed like such an easy invitation that he gave his apostles, but they fell asleep. This happened three times. I feel like this is so indicative of life. How many times does he ask us just to "tarry" or stay somewhere and not go away, even when it may seem hard? How many times does he ask us to stay awake? We can't feel anything if we fall asleep.

I refuse to go away or fall asleep. I owe the man who gave me everything that much. I may take a slight pause for awhile as I sort out matters of the heart, but I will not go away. I will just wait and do what I can to hopefully close the distance between me and heaven.
I swear I tear up on the last day of every school year. It's ridiculous. I wish I could say I was tearing up out of summer fear, but nope, it's out of gratitude for the people--especially the teachers--who helped my kids all year.

Teachers do not get paid enough. They're like moms--overworked and underpaid. ;) But for real! I feel so grateful for my girls' teachers this year. Mya and Genevieve attended 3 different elementary schools as we shuffled from state to state, and it made things tricky for a bit. There were lots of emotions for a long time, but when we finally felt settled in Indiana, I was so grateful for the teachers who helped them pick up the pieces to their fragile and somewhat broken hearts and put them back together again.

If I could nominate a teacher of the year award, I'd nominate Genevieve's teachers, Mrs. Coffey and Mrs. Trowbridge. I had the privilege to watch them interact and teach the kids, and they blew me away. Genevieve has grown so much this year. And Mrs. Coffey was V's teacher in Texas and is still emailing her and writing her handwritten notes. She's amazing!

Mya's teacher here in Indiana has left a lasting impression on her. Mrs. O'Connell is very interested in math and science--Mya's weaker subjects--and she filled Mya's mind with so much wonder about life, earth and science that Mya now wants to be a teacher to be just like her. And Mya likes science now!

I am so grateful for all the hours teachers put in just so my kids can succeed. As a mom, it means the world to me. I don't see my kids for roughly 8 hours each day, which is crazy, and it is so important to me that they are surrounded by people who not only love them, but people who respect them and demand respect in return. School has helped Mya curb some--not all--of her crazy emotional rollercoasters, and it has helped V find a voice on different levels.

I can't believe this year is already over. I just can't believe it. Onto 3rd and 1st grades!

motherhood currently

currently, motherhood is...
-waking up early to make turkey/cheese or pb&j sandwiches for school lunches
-skipping a shower so the girls make it to school on time
-applying two shades of lipstick on Elle--lighter shade on the top lip and darker shade on the bottom lip--before dropping her off at preschool
-grocery shopping with two tiny humans who drop my precious apples or smash my bread with their feet in the cart
-changing hundreds of stinky diapers
-reading book after book on the couch with Birdie while cuddling under a warm blanket
-sitting on the deck watching Timmy discover leaves, pinecones, and spiders
-laughing at Birdie as she gets really into a conversation, but I have no idea what she's saying
-smiling at Timmy's attempts to walk a step or two
-washing at least 10 loads of laundry a week
-scrubbing at least 4 toilets a week
-nursing Timmy 3-4 times a day
-playing horse with Birdie and Timmy on my back
-helping Elle learn new sight words every afternoon before quiet time
-tucking my tiny babies in bed before nap time and listening to them suck on their blankets for comfort
-sitting in a ridiculously long line of cars to pick the girls up each afternoon
-pushing 3 swings at the same time at the park to the chanting of "higher, higher mama!"
-slicing apples for an afternoon snack
-whipping up dinner with two babies tugging at my pants
-setting the table and always forgetting the forks
-cleaning the dinner dishes in silence
-reading stories before bed
-snuggling with each kid before kissing them goodnight
-working late into the night to provide the necessities for said kids


Motherhood is by far the busiest job on the planet. I know some pretty good multi-taskers in the workforce, but I dare say my ability to multi task can beat any of my friends. Not only do I do so much every single day, I do so much at the same time. I have really come to appreciate the design of the human body as a mother. I use my hips, teeth, elbows, knees, toes, etc. in ways I never imagined as a single lady. But motherhood has stretched me past limits I never dreamed of, but am so grateful for.

I love my kids. Like I love them a ridiculous amount. That said--you should know that I was totally happy they went to bed tonight. I couldn't stand the sight of them for one more second tonight. They were all so whiny and fussy; I needed to be done with them before the sun went down. But even still--even in my irritation--I love them so much.

he's 1.


The day I've dreaded for 364 days has arrived. Somehow I knew that the moment he turned 1 would be the moment that forced me to face the fact that no matter what we do, kids always grow up. 

I told Tim today that I needed to be alone soon for just a little while so I could have a healthy cry. A cry about everything I've gained over the last year. A cry over my growing boy. A cry of losing babyhood. A cry about the scary future of no more babies staring at me in the face. It will be a bittersweet cry, and I am sort of looking forward to it. 

Timmy is--as I have said before--an absolute light in my life. His smile and bright eyes turn away any dark from my days. Sometimes when I am feeling blue, I can't wait for him to wake up from a nap because I know that feeling will fade away within minutes of being with him. I am forever grateful that God allowed me to have a son. 

What can I say about Timmy at 1? Well, he reminds me of the main character in Harold and the Purple Crayon. I love his round face and wispy hair. He eats everything but green vegetables. He spits them out the moment they touch his tongue. He adores his sisters and is always searching the house for them when they're gone. He crawls like a maniac and is pretty resilient to all the tumbles he endures. He loves to play with the strings on my sweatshirts, and he grabs at my nose when he nurses. He loves when I blow raspberries in his neck and on his thighs. He has the most delicious hands. I would freeze time just to freeze the growth of those dimpled things. He's probably been my easiest baby when it comes to going to other people; he at least allows other people to hold him. My girls were a bit crazy when it came to anyone helping me. He is everything I could've asked for, and I am so happy that I have slowed down this year to enjoy every bit of him. He has made motherhood so enjoyable, and I hope it continues. 

Happy birthday baby boy. You are my love. Thank you for being my son. 






a bit of reality

I know I must make the idea of motherhood seem dreamy, and it is--it really is, especially lately. My kids often seem to be full of pure goodness and joy, but there are days, like today, when I am jarred back to reality with cranky babies and boogie noses.

Oh man--today was a doozy. 

Timmy cried 80% of the time he was awake. At one point I just laid him in his crib just to get away from him because I couldn't hold him a second longer, but I also couldn't listen to him scream like crazy. He eventually fell asleep. 

Birdie is in the particularly frustrating 2-year-old phase where she wants me to do everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, with her. "Read 2 more books mama. Up mama. Make tookie with you mama. Nack mama. Pweas mama. Tassle (castle) mama." And so on and so on. And as I explained to Tim, nearly out of breath from frustration, it's not that I don't love to play with the kids because I do--I really do, but I also have to get things done.

My house is a constant mess. The Texas me would be going crazy every waking minute of the day. I had a great routine in Texas. But things are different here. The house is bigger. School hours are different. The kids are playing outside more (read: I am outside more), and it's just different. Plus, all 5 of my kids are mobile but still need me for one thing or another so I'm not actually detached at all. It's wonderful, and it's unnerving all at the same time. 

So there's a bit of reality right now. I want to remember the lovely moments and my personal pep talks when I'm older, but I also want to remember that I too went bonkers a lot. I struggled with the daily juggle of kids, chores, meals, school pickups, etc. It can be a lot. And I don't see it ending any time soon, but at least summer is coming, which gives me a little more flexibility in my schedule.