Category Archives: women

How I Find Time for ME (As a Mom of Young Children)

This post originally appeared on the Grit and Grace Project

Self-care is becoming a buzzword in our society. As we are able to work from home (read: anywhere), connect with hundreds of people are the touch of a button, and multitask like true professionals, we’re only getting busier. The call to slow down and take care of yourself is simultaneously getting louder and more difficult to heed.

As a SAHM mother of three children under five, who also works part-time, finding time for myself is often not at the top of my to-do list. But I’ve also realized that I’m a better wife and mother if I have a little time to myself. It looks different each day, and I spend it differently each time, but here are a few things I do to ensure a little time for me.

1. Plan it with my hubby. He’s my support and my biggest cheerleader, and he’s always willing to help me have time to get my nails done or even to just take a nap. He encourages me to write, to practice my music, to go out and have coffee without the kids. I plan with him for when he can keep the kids and I can sneak out for an hour or two to refresh, to relax, and do whatever it is I need to regroup.

2. Let some things go. Sometimes, when my kids are napping or go to bed early, I get the urge to clean all the things, fold all the laundry, and prep all the meals. Other times, I let it all slide (even though those chores are still waiting on me) to take a long shower, read a book with un-re-heated coffee, or watch a movie with a glass of wine. Believe me- the dishes aren’t going anywhere.

3. Hang out with a girlfriend (or a few). My girlfriends are a mix of fellow moms and also gal pals who don’t have kids. Sometimes it takes a lot of planning (and babysitters) to get together with them, but other times, I can just have a friend over for morning coffee after preschool drop off, or a post-bedtime chat over wine. Being with a girlfriend can refill the relational and feminine parts of me. And never underestimate the reinvigorating qualities of a girls’ night!

4. Take a power nap. Napping isn’t for everyone, and it wasn’t for me until I had kids. But now that I often choose many things over sleep (including things I love doing, not just chores), a power nap can work wonders. A 20-minute snooze during their nap time can be just as good as napping the whole time they’re asleep! If I know I have things to do after their bedtime, the power nap can keep me going a little longer.

5. Get dressed. I always feel more productive and happier with myself when I make the effort to get out of my pajamas (even if I’m not leaving the house), wash my face, and brush on a coat of mascara. It sounds silly, but it gives me a boost, and makes me feel more like myself, even if I don’t need to do it.

What things do you do to make sure you’re your best self?

RACE DAY!

Y’all! I finally ran the race! I got up early, ate a healthy breakfast, got there on time, managed to poop beforehand (fellow runners, you know how important that is) and CRUSHED it. My goal was to finish within two and a half hours… and I finished under two hours! My typical pace while training (on my long runs anyway) had been 9:45-10 minutes per mile. Almost exactly in that window. So I figured I’d be slower on those last couple of miles, or need to walk a little bit, or whatever. But y’all, I didn’t walk at all, I didn’t stop to pee, and I only grabbed the Gatorade twice (you know, so I didn’t die). My jitters went away pretty quickly and I got into the flow quicker than I thought. I had my two energy goos (we might talk later about how those things make me gag but they’re super necessary) earlier than normal – one at mile 3ish and one at mile 7ish – which I think was helpful. I usually wait for the first one till mile 5 or 6, so I was afraid it wouldn’t last me till the end. But it did! Can I tell you my favorite part about the whole race?

Community.

Lots of runners just did their thing. Or they ran with people they’d probably been training with. Or they just rambled on (that Led Zeppelin song was on my playlist, by the way) through those miles without much thought for anything. Or maybe they were thinking a lot. Who knows. I myself was jamming to my music, praising God because the rain held off, and praying that my knees wouldn’t die at mile 10 like they sometimes seem to want to do. But I was near this one guy the whole race, who I found out at mile 11 had just turned 30, and just proposed to his girlfriend/fiancee (who was also running the race) and so his friends were stationed every couple of miles with signs and shouts of congratulations/happy birthday. It was actually quite a contagious amount of fun, and so I got caught up in the happy. He was also acting as my “pacer” because he was going a little faster than I usually went on my training runs, but not so fast that it was unreasonable to keep up with him. So anyway, at mile 11, his buddy come on and started running with him, realized I was close by, and started telling me that story.

Another gal who I realized was going our same pace was close by as well, and she noticed I was starting to fade, but trying my darnedest to keep up with them. So she started looking over her shoulder for me, and saying, “Come on! One more mile! You can do it! Last hill!” every time I fell a few paces behind. I had my own built-in cheering section, y’all. Runners know how to do life together.

I did most of my training alone, and so I expected to race alone. But I didn’t. I raced with hundreds of strangers, all of whom were pretty cool. It was neat to see everyone’s style: some raced in tutus, some in basically nothing at all, some decked out in shirts that had their running troupe’s name or a scripture that resonated with them. Some, like me, had jackets tied around their waists because it was freezing when we started. Some had iPod earbuds, or huge Beats By Dre (is that what they’re called?) that I don’t think I could’ve worn for the whole time.

OH! I almost forgot my other favorite thing. At mile 5, and again at mile 10, there was a bagpiper! WHO DOES THAT?! If you are reading this and happen to play the bagpipes, please attend the next race nearest you, so that the people can enjoy your pipes. Seriously. It was awesome.

Because I ran way faster than I thought, I finished earlier than I told Hubby I would. I told him about 2:15, and I finished at 1:56. Crazy. So naturally he and the kids were parking and hadn’t made it to the finish line yet… but they did hang around for the donut truck, taco truck, and beer vendors. Every race I run is gonna be a beer run now, by the way. I finished tenth in my gender/age group, which made me really proud. It’s not award-getting, but I was REALLY stoked to have done as well as I did. I definitely will be racing again, and hoping just to get the same time. I know that was a PR for the books, so I won’t set my standards TOO high.

I’m just so proud that I had to share with y’all. Thanks for reading, and for all the encouragement I got along the way. Half-marathon, you were pretty good to me. See you again soon. Real soon? Maybe in the fall.

10 Thoughts I Have On a Long Run

 

Every time I run in the morning, my steps “goal” is achieved in short order.

 

As a busy, part-time working, mostly-SAHM of three, and a fairly recent long-distance runner, I think a lot about random things while running. I do a lot of over-analyzing, some to-do list building, and some praying. I mean, I’m training for a half-marathon and that takes a lot of time of feet hitting pavement. All that considered, here are a few things that go through my head often while I’m out on a long run.

1. Do I know someone close by? I need to pee. Having three kids has pretty much wrecked my bladder. A friend recently recommended Kegels. I told her I thought that was some bullshit.

2. This is my fastest run ever! This is rarely true. Typically it’s just a bare-minimum pace, combined with a train of thought that’s made me feel like time has passed more quickly.

3. This is my slowest run ever! This is more likely than #2. However, it’s also not always true. Sometimes I’m actually running quickly, but the song I am listening to is too slow. I feel like my feet aren’t hitting the pavement quickly enough.

4. Do I need a snack before I run any farther? I have learned that if I haven’t eaten enough calories (or the right calories) before my run – since I often run in the morning – I’m going to get super tired after mile 4 or so. I’ve been packing some light snack options in that tiny pocket in my leggings. You know, something I can eat while running, without feeling the need to vomit afterwards. This is either a milestone of reaching a distance that feels really far for my body, or else a milestone of being 31 and too tired for this mess.

5. Haven’t I heard this song already? I only take my phone with me to listen to music. I use my FitBit for tracking, and make my iPhone an iPod. I don’t have many songs downloaded on there, and so when I put it on shuffle, and run for an hour, it’s actually possible that I start hearing things a second time. But I’m never quite sure… because what if that was yesterday? My memory’s going.

6. But seriously, when do the park bathrooms open? It’s March, it’s not that cold, and I’d like the bathrooms at my neighborhood running park to open up so that I can pee between mile 2 and 3, and again between mile 5 and 6. It’s a thing. I need to pee. All the time. (Let’s just say it’s because I’m super hydrated.)

7. Tomorrow I’m totally running 8 miles. Or however many miles I think is way farther than today. Because today isn’t a good day for it, but tomorrow will be. Right now, I’m a little tired.

8. Please Lord, don’t let me bite the dust. Inevitably, I get super tired on the stretch just before the homestretch. When I’m almost back to my house, I’m all, “Sweet! Just another half mile!” But just before then, I’m all, “Why did I ever let myself run for this many minutes in a row? I clearly am not hydrated or energized enough for this. I made a horrible decision and I’m going to chip my teeth on the sidewalk when I fall.” But I’m definitely not being over-dramatic about the situation.

9. These leggings are totally too big. I usually run in leggings, especially this time of year before it’s too warm. Recently, I’ve been having issues finding leggings that don’t ride up, or slide down, or twist, or keep me too warm, or let too much wind in. I have several different brands, and they’re all fine, but not amazing. Any tips for me, the OCD running queen?

10. I must be crazy to think I can do this. A half-marathon is 13.1 miles. The farthest I’ve gone recently is 7.2 miles. It seems I have a ways to go. I MUST BE CRAZY, Y’ALL.

But hey! Running makes me feel good, look good, and be able to talk like a crazy exercise freak with a lot of other people, including strangers. Cheers to the insane runners!

Some Thoughts on Evangelism.

Evangelism is something that used to scare me. In my youth, to me it meant that we would go around handing out gospel tracks, or randomly starting conversations with people, so that we could pray with them, hoping to lead them to Jesus. It had less to do with fostering a love of Jesus or a desire to worship him, and more of a way to get another tick on our evangelist’s counter.

As you might imagine, this didn’t work very well for me.

As an adult, the word still scares me a little bit, because I don’t quite know how to put my feelings into words. The scars are still there from my misinterpretations as a youth. But there is so much hope, for me and for you, to be able to overcome the scars of myself and others, and continue on into the love of Jesus in a true sense, and then share it with the world.


Recently, during my quiet time (I’ve been studying through the Psalms, in case you didn’t know) I was convicted as I read Psalm 71. I’ll put the part I’ll focus on here so you don’t have to look it up…

Psalm 71:14-18
But I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.

Well, I have to begin by saying that the psalmist surely stirred up some excitement and laid a healthy burden on me to share more of the Gospel. Our mouths should tell of His righteous acts and deeds of salvation! We should proclaim His wondrous deeds and His might! It not only encourages our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only spreads the truth of the Gospel to all ears, but it fosters our believing but sometimes wayward hearts by proclaiming and declaring what we know to be true.

Let’s talk for a moment about “proclaim” and “declare”. As a worship leader, sometimes I am moved during a song to encourage the congregation to proclaim or declare some of the lyrics we’re singing. There’s a slight difference between those words, and so it’s important to do both, sometimes. To proclaim is to announce something openly, publicly, and officially. To declare is to solemnly and emphatically say something. Another definition even says to reveal one’s intentions or identity. To proclaim the righteousness of fearsome and loving God, and the salvation attainable through Christ Jesus are things that should be proclaimed, shouted from the pulpits, platforms, and rooftops. To declare that death has been defeated, and that we are made new in Christ is a truth that can reveal our identity, and alter our intentions.

So as I read those verses of Psalm 71, and then read them again, and then prayed them then and there over my life and my vocation, I was convicted. I was reminded that we, as followers of Jesus, are called to live by his example, which was indeed proclaiming God’s righteousness and mighty acts, proclaiming His wondrous deeds to every generation and all those to come. In one of the books I’m reading (Lioness Arising. Lisa Bevere. Find it. Buy it. Devour it as I have done.) she encourages us to use our circles of influence to share God’s truths and Jesus’s words. While I’m on the platform, every Sunday, worshiping the Lord, and hopefully bringing everyone in that journey alongside me, I have even more opportunity than I allow myself (or at least remember that I have) to actually speak Scripture and truth into the congregation. I have this very site where I share funny quips from my kids and what we ate for dinner last week, but I shouldn’t neglect the possibilities this site provides for the sharing of God’s Word. I have family members, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes strangers that I can come alongside and encourage, pray for/with, and speak truth into. Why should I be scared of being an evangelist? Why should I be nervous to do what Jesus did?

When you’re about to get REAL serious about running. 

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve signed up for a fitness challenge and I can’t decide whether I’m so excited I could jump out of my skin, or I’m so nervous I could… um… have to run to the bathroom. Like I’ll be doing in the middle of every workout because CHILDBIRTH KILLS BLADDERS.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you about where I am right now in my fitness journey.

I’ve decided to train for a half marathon. That’s 13.1 miles, in case you’ve somehow never driven behind that annoying person who’s got a sticker on their rear windshield. (And yes, if I am able to complete a half marathon, I will forever be that annoying SUV in front of you with the very same sticker. Because DANG THAT IS FAR.)

When I decided to train, I had been running 3-4 miles 3-4 times a week, plus at least one other weight-based workout per week, and probably some yoga. That was a little less than a month ago. During this month that I’ve thought about really getting my game on and running until my legs fall off, I started back up talking to a running friend of mine, who coincidentally leads a mom’s fitness group here in town called Stroller Strength (here’s the link if you’re local!). Melissa is amazing, encouraging and inspiring, and when I realized it was challenge time (I’ve done three of these babies before) I jumped out of my skin with excitement and anticipation.

There are definitely chemicals released when you work out (Endorphins, I love you.) and I think I released them immediately when I got on board with this challenge. Here are a few things that are involved with the challenge:
1. Friends. I realized that some friends I’d made during my stints with SS in the past were still going, and I’ve already met some new gals I’m excited to get to know. It’s always more fun when you’re not alone, and accountability makes a HUGE difference when you’ve set a fitness goal you’re trying to actually achieve. Melissa also puts us on goal-based teams, so naturally I’m on a running team, and I’m psyched.
2. Food/Exercise/Water/Rest Log. This baby is DETAILED, and we check up on each other’s logs throughout the 9-week challenge. We also have clean eating weeks (cutting out all processed foods) where we cut even more crap out of our diets for a week at a time. It’s magical (and so hard).
3. Extra workouts. This is everything from regular SS class (boot-camp style weights workout), “fun run” together, yoga, Sculpt class (for toning) and running my booty off on my own time until I achieve my goals. When I’m mid-challenge, I shoot for a workout of some sort every day, even if it’s short, even if it’s not strenuous. Get moving, burn calories and build muscle. Every. Single. Day.
4. Meticulous scheduling. I don’t usually work out at the same time every day. I don’t even work out on the same days a week. But this time, I’ve got a few more things going on if I want to make it to lots of classes and get my miles in. Obviously, the farther I run, the longer it takes, so I have to plan longer and longer into my schedule the farther I am able to go. Also, one of the classes is on a morning that I work, so I have committed to making it to the other two classes a week EVERY WEEK to make the most of them. Perk: I can bring the kids to class if I need to. Best thing about SS, ever. I’m gonna have to start sleeping in my workout clothes to save time.

I already feel like I’m in a pretty good place, fitness-wise, because I eat fairly healthy most of the time, I’m already working out regularly, and I’m enjoying this healthy lifestyle instead of being miserable in it like some folks are (shout out to you guys, because it’s tough to do it when you don’t like it). But my goals are steep. They’re things I’ve never done before, and that’s scary. Here goes…

Goal (9 weeks from now): Register for and run (read: survive) a half marathon. I will be adding a little bit about upper body strength to this, because that’s a separate goal that won’t necessarily just come alongside my runner’s training.

Halfway goal (so 4.5 weeks from now): Survive ten miles. In a row. I know right. That’s WAY more than half a half marathon. (Say THAT five times fast!)

For the past couple of months, my “goals” when I go out to run are to make sure every single mile is under 10 minutes, and to make sure my first two miles are under 9:30 or so. Those are loose goals, and I don’t always keep to them. But today at our baseline weigh-ins/stat recording, my timed mile was 8:31 and my 400m “sprint” was 1:39. I already started faster than I thought I would, but I think that has to do with being on an actual track. I typically run in my neighborhood, which is hilly, so my miles aren’t as accurate. I’m going to have to adjust my perspective on timing when I’m running on a track, apparently.

In other semi-related news, today while grocery shopping at Costco, I happened upon ONE LAST FITBIT Charge 2 in my size. It was destiny. I’ve been looking at those, Garmin running watches, and the Apple Watch, and just hadn’t decided what to get until today. So now that I’ve got a tool to use, I’m going to get used to it (and get it used to me) and be obsessed with it for the next nine weeks at LEAST. You’re welcome.

SO! Now that you’ve gotten a complete update on how I’m working on my fitness (cue the song that will be in your head all day) you can say you’re keeping me accountable. Is anyone else working on their fitness? Tell me your goals! Tell me your process! I’m open to suggestions and can’t wait to hear if you’re committed to a health goal, also!

10 Things I Miss About Being Single

This post also appeared on the Grit and Grace Project. I’m a contributor there – go check it out!

It seems I should start this off with a disclaimer: I’m a happily married woman. Now that I’ve told you that, I can tell you the rest. There are some things that I miss about my days being single. Most of those don’t have to do with guys or dating or anything… but just about who I was during that time, and how I was able to live. Being in a healthy relationship certainly has MANY perks, but every once in a while, I pine for pure alone time, less responsibility, and a different lifestyle. Here are some of the things I miss about being single.

Only being responsible for myself. I mean that in the best way, but I’m serious. I almost can’t remember the last time that I got ready to go somewhere alone, packed only what I myself needed, and didn’t worry about what would be forgotten if I didn’t make my list and check it twice. Only worrying about yourself is just easiest.

Being on time. I won’t pretend that I was on time anytime I went somewhere, but I was punctual about 50% more when I was single than I am now. Even just being married and adding a man into the mix made me chronically late. They think they don’t take that long to get ready, and so they wait until four minutes before you need to leave to hop in the shower. Come ON!

Saturdays. Once upon a time, a Saturday was entirely my own. Sleep? Okay! Have unlimited and unhurried quiet time with the Lord? Absolutely. Read a book or three? Yes, please! Shower whenever (or take a bubble bath!), leave the house (or don’t), eat what I want, and lay on the couch for a movie marathon? ALL OF THE YES.

Having my own spending money. Don’t get me wrong- I have spending money, and I don’t need permission to use it. But inevitably, I don’t splurge on things as much as I used to, if only because I have a conscience. What I might’ve spent on a new dress usually gets spent on a new dress for my daughter. What I might have saved up for a new handbag gets whittled away by this son’s need for new shoes, that nice dinner out, or my husband’s birthday present.

Living in a small space. I know, a small space isn’t necessarily something that is just for single people. But somehow, only having a few rooms to keep clean, or furnish, or lose things in does actually appeal to me. However, my family of five can’t quite fit into a one-bedroom apartment, no matter how many toilets I don’t feel like cleaning.

More frequent girls’ nights. I know, I could have girls’ nights whenever I want – and I do! But it used to be that most nights of the week were girls’ nights. Grabbing dinner with a friend, getting with the girls to watch The Bachelor, or spending a night out on the town all dressed up, it could be any or every night. Now, it takes planning not just on the part of the girls, but their significant others, their kids, and/or their babysitters. It’s enough trouble to plan and prepare that it definitely doesn’t happen a few times a week.

Having my closet to myself. I took for granted the joy of having a closet to myself. My color-coded closet was a thing to behold, not to mention the way my laundry was the only laundry I did, so I was never behind. There was plenty of room to look through my clothes – and now the closet is so stuffed with suits and ties that I hardly have room to hang my nice dresses.

Eating whatever I want, whenever I want it. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to have to worry about what time someone else can have a meal, or to cater to their dietary needs and your own. That’s one thing I miss about being single- if I wanted cereal for dinner, I ate it. My hubby, on the other hand, would be mortified if we sat down to a dinner of Frosted Mini-Wheats.

Having truly alone time.  There’s something to be said for having some moments of relaxation, quiet time, and introversion that are completely your own. Having a SO can sometimes cut into those times, even if it’s not always in a bad way. But I often find that there isn’t a place in our home where I’m truly alone, without interruption or at least knowledge of someone else close by. I haven’t had more than a few minutes of total by-myself time in years.

5 Things You DON’T Need on Your Baby Registry

The industry devoted to “baby stuff” is making a killing off of new parents who don’t know what they will and won’t use when they have a baby. And like every parent, I went through trial and error to find the things that I love. I even used a few different things with each kid, because I found a new product I loved, or brainstormed an easier way to get a task done. But either way, there are a few things that you just will not need, no matter what. I’m not saying you wouldn’t use it if you got it, but if you’re in a spot where you’d like to save money, you can cross these things off your list.

Newborn shoes and coats. Your newborn will spend most of their time swaddled, in blankets, in fleecy suits that cover their feet, or sleep sacks. You don’t need baby Pumas or a baby North Face to keep them warm. And you can’t let them wear puffy coats in their car seat anyway.

A “Peepee Teepee”. If your little boy is going to pee during a diaper change, this thing isn’t going to save you. You have to have ninja reflexes to keep yourself from getting soaked if he pees without his diaper on. (As an unfortunate aside, girls can somehow soak you, too!)

Diaper Genie (or similar). Any trash can with a lid will do. Or you can do what we do: just take them outside to the bin. Yes, I’m sorry, but there will be diapers you’ll want to take straight outside.

Bottle warmer. It sounds nice in theory, but wouldn’t the warm water from your faucet warm a bottle just fine? Or put the bottle in a pot of water on the stove, and warm it that way. I’ve found that bottle warmers aren’t any faster. It’s basically just money a person could spend on diapers.

Changing Table. Just put that changing pad on top of the dresser, and boom! More storage, and less furniture you’ll just get rid of when they’re three. You might change half the diapers on the nearest surface, anyway.

This might seem cold, but it’s like I said: when you’re counting the dollars you’re spending, these are just a few unnecessary things. What are some things that you would add to this list? Did you get any shower gifts that you absolutely never used?