January 10, 2013


I have put off, avoided, grumbled about, and excused myself from exercising regularly for awhile now, for various reasons.  However, late last Fall, I finally got the motivation to set a goal that I've been able to stick with for 8 weeks now!  I've been doing the "Couch to 5K" program!  

I can guarantee you I do a lot of sitting on the couch.  I teach homeschool from the couch most of the day.  I e-mail, research, plan worship, Facebook and Pinterest on my netbook while sitting on the couch.  And some evenings, we watch TV or movies on the couch.  Occasionally, while my girls have their post-lunch quiet time, I take short naps on the couch.

The idea of the C25K program is to take a person who has no running experience through 9 weeks of interval training (some walking, some running) that leads you to finally being able to run 30 minutes in a row.  You have 3 workouts a week, lasting between 25-40 minutes, and 4 days off.  You can find the instructions for the program at coolrunning.com .  

Now, when I first looked at the program, I looked pretty far ahead and wondered if this would really be possible for me to achieve.  Run 5 minutes in a row?  Run 8 minutes in a row?  Run 20 minutes in a row?!?  Etc.  I don't think I even had run 2 minutes in a row in my adult life.  I may have in Jr. High track, but that was a LONG time ago, before I perfected my couch habit.  But my husband, who as a soldier has done a lot of running, and who regularly reads Runner's World magazine, encouraged me to take one step at a time, and that the program was created by people who knew what they were doing, and that it was attainable.

So I was already equipped with workout clothing (from the last time I attempted this, a year and a half ago, but didn't get past week 2), good running shoes, and a pink ironman stopwatch.  I found a time and place that would work for me:  2:30 p.m. at the community center fitness room that is a 5-minute walk from my house (which practically no one else uses, which suits me perfectly).  My 5-minute walk to and from the center gives me a built-in warm-up and cool-down, provided my children walk quickly enough with me for the warm-up, and the air outside isn't so cold that my muscles freeze.

It has been a successful attempt.  I have completed two out of three workouts for week 7.  It has helped to have a supportive husband who lets me share with him all my victories and challenges.  Also, I have posted my progress on Facebook where my running friends and others who have done the program themselves are keeping me accountable and encouraged.

It was a huge plus that when we were out of town for 2 weeks for Christmas, we were able to keep our workouts (my husband accompanied me to the gym) at a local Army base's fitness center.  So even though I was eating more than normal, especially Christmas cookies and candy, I felt good knowing my metabolism was staying up, and I would burn some of it off at my next workout.  My biggest setback was last week when we all had colds, and I took Wednesday and Friday off to rest.  This week I'm re-doing what I had scheduled to do last week, and then I'll go from there.

A friend said he knew of a free Christian Indie podcast download, so I searched and found it at http://www.buriedtalentsband.com/C25K/ .  Now I will say that this has a mix of songs on it, some really good, some mediocre, and some kind of hokie, in my opinion.  However, it's free, and it's Christian, and it has helped me keep my mind off of my concern about "can I run as long as I'm supposed to today?" and instead on the themes of Scripture.  Also, while you're listening to the music, there is a friendly voice telling you when to run, when to walk, and for the longer runs, when you're halfway, and almost finished.  I recommend you check it out.

The benefits of me working out include slimming my figure (which I noticed began at 2 weeks), feeling good physically with more energy and better sleep, and a huge sense of accomplishment at already achieving much more than I thought I could.  I'm not running fast - I'm doing a 4 mph jog - but I'm running, and my husband says I can work on speed later, which I plan to do.  I haven't really lost any weight, but I am convinced that my fat loss has been replaced by muscle mass.  I fit into my clothes, and my waist has lost much of its excess bulge. That's been motivation enough for me to continue.  My future goals include adding in a different workout on my alternating days (T, Th, Sat.) that will strengthen my core, and work some upper-body muscles.  I also hope to venture off the treadmill onto real ground when weather permits, as long as the allergens aren't killer.

I'm so thankful that a friend of mine from college shared her success with C25K on facebook, inspiring me to do the same.  I hope that I will stick with it for months to come, improve on my speed, and maybe, just maybe, participate in a 5K run one of these days.  She said, "if I can do it, you can do it".  So now, I say the same thing to you.  Want to join me?

January 07, 2013

Training Children in Good Habits

Argh!  Some things we are trying to teach our children are a source of constant frustration because we hear ourselves continually repeating the same instructions over and over.  For example, the last several days I have had to remind my daughter that getting dressed includes putting on socks and brushing her hair.

Another recurring mantra I hear coming from my mouth is when one of the girls comes out of the bathroom and I say, "Did you wash your hands?"  The youngest of my three girls has made hand-washing a regular habit, while the others have not.

"Did you change your underwear this morning?"
"Did you hang up your towel after your bath?"
"Did you clean up your Legos when you were done playing with them?"
"Did you put the books back on the bookshelf?"
"Did you put your dishes in the dishwasher?"

The most intense series of parental advice packed into a small amount of time comes at meals:  table manners.  We have a list of table manners posted in our dining room for all to see.  They are:

1. Sit on your bottom with your feet and knees down.
2. Say "may I", "please", "thank you", and "you're welcome".
3. Mealtime is not playtime.
4. Do not play with your food or dishes.
5. Don't sing or make silly noises.
6. Chew with your lips closed.
7. Don't talk with food in your mouth.
8. Wait patiently for food to be passed to you.
9. Eat your food without complaining.

My poster is pretty cute, actually, with a table drawn above the set of manners.  Each manner is color-coded, and I will say, "What does the green rule say?" to someone who is violating the green rule.  Everyone knows you should not talk with food in your mouth.  But this bad habit is one of the most highly committed offenses in our home.

It's really getting old.  There must be some way to break the vicious cycle, to stop the insanity of repetitious reminders.  I'm getting tired of hearing myself talk.

We have tried rewards for doing daily responsibilities.  Didn't work.  Nobody checked their list to ensure they had done what was expected of them for that day.  There are certain privileges the girls cannot enjoy unless some things are done.  For example, no TV or computer games if your room is a mess, or your clean laundry is not put away.  Yet, sometimes I forget to ask, or check, or sometimes Dad forgets too.

I know they're only 6, almost 8, and 10.  I want to see them taking initiative and responsibility for all these areas of personal care, manners, taking care of their rooms and belongings, and practicing their piano without my constant nagging.  I don't like being a nag.  There must be a better way.

I think my next approach will be to tackle one good habit per child per month, or until it's mastered.  It's going to probably require a lot of diligence and energy on my part until they are trained.  I guess that's my job as a mom anyway.  Ugh.

January 06, 2013

Learning Contentment

Last year, it was a struggle for me to be content.  I complained a lot about the Army making us move from a place we enjoyed to a place we expected not to enjoy.  I complained about the places I felt I had been thrust into volunteering immediately as a leader when I'd rather fill a supporting role instead, after taking plenty of time to assess where I would like to use my talents.  I complained about the limitations my life had on it because we are homeschooling, and how much time and energy it takes in my week.  I complained about the remote desert environment we live in, and the things I dislike about the military housing we were assigned, especially my side-by-side fridge.

Contentment can be difficult.  Life is never ideal.  Maybe for you, it's financial, or about your job, or something to do with broken or unfulfilling relationships.  My situation really hasn't been that bad off, and in spite of all I had to complain about, there have been multiple blessings.  I have had to continuously resolve to focus on those.

I expect it will continue to be a struggle for me to be content this year.  I certainly haven't mastered it.  I can still choose to complain about all the same things.  But I hope, with practice, prayer, and perspective, I will learn to focus on the blessings.

I am blessed to have a fantastic husband and great children.  I am blessed to have a home provided for me and a refrigerator that works.  I am blessed to have great friends living in the remote desert environment with me.  I am blessed to have a great chapel congregation with which to worship and study each week.  I am blessed to have extended family members who care about us through phone calls, mail, packages, and occasional visits, even though they live far away.  I am blessed my husband enjoys his work, and makes a steady living that provides more than we need.  I am blessed to be able to stay at home with my children and also be their homeschool teacher.  I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve in a couple of ways where I am needed and appreciated and can bring glory to God through my service.

Honestly, I'm pretty much spoiled rotten.

January 05, 2013

Bold Prayers

A couple weekends ago, I visited my parents' church, where a young man I know preaches.  His energy of presentation and vision of what God can do made a huge impression on me.  God surely spoke to me through him.

He began by describing how we typically pray for protection and safety, for people to get well, and not much else.  He asserted that perhaps God thinks, "yeah, I got that, but I'm BIG, so ask me for BIG things!"  He challenged us to bold prayers, as the Christians in Acts 4 prayed.  Even though they were in danger and being persecuted for their faith, these believers asked God for more boldness in speaking His words, and for more opportunities.  The preacher challenged us to pray that God would do big things through us, and that He would extend His miraculous power to change what we can't change ourselves.  We can still pray for protection and health, but let's not limit ourselves to those simple requests.

Truly, our God is able to do much more than we ask or imagine.  Truly He is powerful, mighty, loving, forgiving, just, righteous, pure, faithful.  I know His heart is that all people would come to Christ.  I was truly inspired by this vision of praying boldly for those in my own community and spheres of influence.  So I came up with 12 prayers for the coming year that I intend to pray regularly, and encourage others to join me.

Perhaps there are some bold prayers you can be praying starting today as well?

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." - Ephesians 3:20-21

January 04, 2013

Breathing Room

I have thoroughly enjoyed the past three weeks of break from homeschool and our busy weekly routine.  It feels like it's been so long since I've had so much time to let the girls just play all day long, and to let myself enjoy a good book.  I've enjoyed several good books on this break, and it gives me the itch to read even more!

Next week we will jump into school again, as well as the volunteer leadership work I do.  It fills my week completely.  Most evenings I am either spent mentally, and absorbing mindless television, or browsing facebook, unless I'm doing last-minute prep work for something due the next day.  Occasionally I'll have time to get out of town for a date with my husband, but not nearly often enough.  My schedule is more full than any non-type-A person should ever have.

Consequently, I have learned discipline.  I am not a naturally disciplined person.  I like freedom in my day.  I say that I am an idealist, wanting things done well, but I hate structure.  I value cooking tasty, healthy food for my family, homeschooling our children, volunteering at our church, and spending some time with friends building relationships.  In the last two months, I also chose to value getting exercise 3 times a week.  There is no way to accomplish all this without structure, so I have managed to create it and stick with it.  I wouldn't say I enjoy it, but the results of being structured have been motivating.

So I give all the glory to God for how He has trained me this year, and how He has blessed my human efforts for the benefit of others.  He prepared me for what I am doing now, and He has brought me through a year of growth while doing it.  I have a feeling this coming year, God will build on that growth.  I know I could use yet more discipline in some areas.

So before next week hits, I am really enjoying the breathing room.  It's been a time to prioritize, envision, read, pray, hope, reflect, organize, and enjoy.  I hope I can find a little time in the coming 52 weeks ahead for at least a little breathing room.  That time is really a part of my growth Spiritually as well.

January 03, 2013

Living Legacy

My grandpa was born in 1908.  Today he has his 95th birthday!  We were privileged to spend some time with him and my grandma at Christmas, as well as two other days we were invited to their house for visiting and a meal.  (My grandma is a fantastic cook.)  I'm thankful for the opportunity for my children to reconnect with them any chance we get.  (We also visited my grandmother on the other side of my family, and I'm so glad we did.)  I want them to remember their great-grandparents, because they are all wonderful people.  I'm sure I saw joy in my grandparents' faces when they got to watch our children play and listen to them talk.

My grandpa, in particular, makes me think of a rock.  His faith in God is solid, unwavering.  He raised four children to share that faith, and they have raised his 16 grandchildren in this faith as well.  Now many of those 16 grandchildren are married and raising his great-grandchildren (18 so far) to be faithful to God as well.  Look what my grandparents started!  Including those who have married Grandpa's children and grandchildren, that is a whole bunch of people living faithful to God!

Sometimes it's hard to be faithful in my thoughts, attitudes and actions to a God who is invisible, intangible, and often leaves more questions unanswered than I am comfortable with.  But having parents and grandparents who have fully trusted Him with their lives, and who unwaveringly serve Him with their lives the best they know how gives me an anchor for my own faith.  Like the saints who have gone before, referred to in Hebrews 11, my grandparents are part of that "hall of faith" group of people who can bear witness to God's activity, faithfulness, healing, and forgiveness in their lives.  They show, that the morals God gives in His Word lead to God's best for us.  They exemplify a proper perspective of what is most important in life.

So I am thankful for my Grandpa.  I don't know how much longer he will be with us on this earth, but I'm glad every chance I get to see him.  Happy 95th birthday Grandpa!