Halfway Blessings, Halfway Thanks

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This is Part 2 of a two-part post. If you haven’t already, you may want to read Post 1 before reading on…

If you remember, we left off here:

My run involved ten minutes of semi-dodging wheelies, one sweaty hand holding my cell-phone timer, one hand scrolling through all 34 chapters of Deuteronomy before I could get to the next real song (which was a slow one anyway), and one jogging stroller running into the grass while I tried to push it with my forearms…

This was the routine that continued for a couple of weeks. One afternoon, after a 25-minute run, I was making my way back along the busy road to our home. Every ten feet or so I would have to pull off to the side of the road while a car or two came speeding by in the lane closest to me. Lydia was eagerly asking to get out of the stroller to “run with you!”, which can’t happen until we are off the busy road and closer to the house. I was hot and tired and wishing for a longer stretch between cars so I didn’t have to keep exerting all my energy to roll the girls into the grass and wait for more traffic to pass. I wanted to get home, get clean, and get some water.

Then I saw in the distance a red truck pulling a noisy trailer. I continued walking along the side of the road with my eyes glued to the truck, waiting until the last minute to pull off into the grass again. Just as the truck closed in on that particular distance when I have to turn off my path, the driver changed lanes. He turned his big truck and trailer into the left-most lane and zoomed by at a safe distance so that I wouldn’t have to pull off into the grass.

He made my day. I was so happy I didn’t have to do any wheelies or take any breaks. I just kept walking on that skinny bike lane on the side of the road. And, as I rejoiced in that little blessing I was struck by my attitude change. I was still making an inconvenient trek from the trail where I could safely run, but I was rejoicing in a blessing instead of sulking over the inconvenience.

There were so many factors about my runs that I was considering “halfway blessings”.

The stroller that allowed me to go running…but didn’t maneuver well.

The cell phone that kept time…but was hard to see and couldn’t strap to my wrist.

The charged mp3 player that gave me good running music…but a whole lot of other content too.

The running trail that allowed me to run without stopping for cars…but the distance I had to walk to get to it.

The sidewalk that made my trek a little easier…but was only five houses long.

OR

The red truck with a trailer that came zooming by…but changed lanes so I wouldn’t have to stop.

It is so easy to focus on the half of my circumstances that aren’t what I want them to be. But how much happier it is to focus on the “blessing half”. Isn’t that true all throughout life? The grass is greener on the other side, where the stroller wheels swivel and the sidewalks don’t end. But watching that “greener” grass grow does nothing but leave me grumpy and unthankful.

Thankfulness. It’s been a theme lately, and I feel like I’m just learning the same lessons over and over again in different ways. But even as I write this I think…

I’m learning to be thankful…but I’m just going to have to learn again.

I’m so glad God doesn’t give up on me.

Halfway Blessings…

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I don’t enjoy running.

When I was in seventh grade I joined the cross-country team. I dreaded every practice. The thought that kept me going during each race was “Before I know it…I’ll be done…”, and then I would picture my water bottle and my couch. I finished the season. I stayed on the team. And I ran every race without stopping to walk. At the end of the season I was devastated when I lost my team picture and later my team t-shirt was also lost in the laundry. There was no evidence that I had ever survived the whole season or that I had even joined the team.

After seventh grade I quit running until my college days. There was gym just across the street from my apartment that I could get into for free with my college ID card. For a few weeks I walked to the gym every weekday and ran around the track. Then I came down with a cold and decided to rest rather than run. My resting continued right up through college graduation. That was my second attempt at running.

When I was pregnant with Lydia, another Mama gave me a brilliant idea. She had trained couch-to-5K after her fourth baby was born, her fourth c-section at that. What a great way, I thought to get back in shape after nine months of pregnancy. I took that idea and decided to follow the same plan after Lydia was born, and then again after Abby.

I succeeded in my Lydia-5K, but then Abby came along. Training for a 5K with two littles is a lot harder than training for a 5K with one baby and a daddy who is in school and home often enough to babysit. After a couple of false starts at my 5K training this year, Dan and I both decided my running wouldn’t be able to continue until we invested in a double jogging stroller.

So began my search. Every day I would get on Craigslist and check for a stroller that was in usable condition but within our price range. Finally, after a handful of disappointing emails and texts (Please, take your item off of Craigslist when it sells!), we paid $25 more than we wanted for a blue baby trend double jogger and I got to start my training again.

Day 1
I realized that we don’t even own a stop watch so my only timing device was my cell phone. Not ideal, but I could carry it while I ran and check the time whenever I ran underneath some shade. (The screen is too hard to see in the sunlight). I buckled up the girls and we took off for a short walk/run to test out the stroller and get my training back under way.

My long-awaited jogger has a fixed front wheel, so I have to do a wheely every time I want to turn. Since the stroller was lightweight, I didn’t think it would be a problem. Right? Wrong. Our neighborhood is all curves. The neighborhood across the street is all curves. And the neighborhood next to ours is all curves. By the end of my short run, my arms were aching. To make things worse, all the neighborhoods around are tiny one or two street neighborhoods, fine for a 5-minute run, but not practical for anything longer.

Day 2
I decided to find a route other than the neighborhood across the street. I ventured out onto the road, but that road is busy. Very busy. Semi-truck busy. And there is no sidewalk. I started the run in the “bike lane” but the first car that zoomed by at 50 miles an hour was far too close for comfort. I ended up jogging with my eyes and ears parked for the next batch of cars. Whenever some cars came I stopped my jogging, did my wheely to get off the road, and waited in the grass for the next break in traffic. All those wheelies were giving my arms a workout, but the stop-and-go running wasn’t what I had envisioned.

The good news: there was a sidewalk for the stretch of about 5 houses. Five houses of non-stop jogging.

Day 3
This time I didn’t even bother to jog for the first 15 minutes. I repeated the previous route along the busy road with the tiny patch of sidewalk until I made it to a bike trail. Then I was able to complete my run in all its glory with no semi-trucks, to stopping, and fewer wheelies.

By now my runs were up to more than ten minutes and it was definitely time to bring along some music. I was happy to find my mp3 player but disappointed to realize the USB cord was packed away in some hopeless location and the player was dead.

I was back to running without music. And you know I don’t like running.

One day I had the idea to try Dan’s phone charger on my mp3 player, and it worked. My next run was so much happier, but with one down-side: the music last loaded onto the mp3 player also included the entire King James Version of the Bible, all 1,189 chapters of the KJV Bible. Great for listening, but not while running.

Now my run involved ten minutes of semi-dodging wheelies, one sweaty hand holding my cell-phone timer, one hand scrolling through all 34 chapters of Deuteronomy before I could get to the next real song (which was a slow one anyway), and one jogging stroller running into the grass while I tried to push it with my forearms…

TO BE CONTINUED.

I promise I am going somewhere with this. It’s a lesson, and a good one. But baby nap times only last so long, I have a counter full of dishes to wash and two loads of laundry to fold so you are all going to have to bear with me and wait patiently for the next post which will contain the rest of the story…

Changes…for the Better

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When I was a little girl, I remember coming home from church and promptly going to our rooms as we announced, “I’m going to change”. We, of course, meant that we were going to change our clothes. But my dad would often respond, “Change for the better!” Well there have been changes happening around here lately, and they have all been for the better.

First of all, I know all parents think their babies are the cutest, as they ought to think. So I know I am completely biased, but, isn’t that the most adorable picture you’ve ever seen?

Abigail has been sleeping through the night all week. The first morning we wondered if something might be wrong with her. Lydia, despite half a million attempts to get her to sleep through the night, continued to get up once a night until she was almost two. Abby has been sleeping from about 10 until about 6 or 7. Lydia doesn’t know the difference. Mommy is thrilled. And Daddy might be just a little bit concerned (will she keep gaining weight now?). Abby is over nine pounds now, and continuing to grow at a satisfying rate.

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This kid is getting bigger and bigger, and her hair is (finally) getting longer and longer. The big change for her, though, is that we’re going to be attempting potty training starting on Monday. Our first potty training attempt didn’t work out, but we are hoping the past few months have prepared Lydia a little more. We’re stocking up on “potty books” from the library and we’ve been spending a little time each day this week praying that all will go well.

And now that Abby is sleeping through the night and we’re settling into our routine, I’ve actually been able to start getting things done. After calculating that I have about half an hour extra each day to do something profitable, I made a list of all the tasks that need to get done and asked Dan to prioritize them. We prayed about it but didn’t feel any one thing was more important than another, so I’m tackling them each one day of the week. It’s only half an hour a day, but it sure makes me feel great to make some progress on long-awaited projects.

Along with tackling those projects, I’ve begun my post-baby tradition of training for a 5K. After Lydia was born I actually trained and ran a 5K, but this year I’m just doing the training. Since the whole point is to give me a workout plan and get back in shape from months and months of sitting around, I didn’t feel it necessary to spend extra money on the race part this time.

So that’s us: sleeping through the night, potty training, exercising, and getting things done.