It’s the most wonderf…

It started around Thanksgiving with the big kids getting sick and keeping us homebound for the 4-day weekend.

Then I seemed to fight off whatever they had…and then 7 days later, deal with some nagging hip pain.  Thursday I spiked a fever and that night, I could barely sleep and then crawled out of bed (literally) unable to stand straight up.

The kids had their awesome Snow Concert that morning.  Sitting felt awful but we managed to smile and wave as the kids desperately sought our faces in the crowd.

I did get to see a PT later that day and had hope that my “psoas” problem was alleviated enough for me to function.  I felt good leaving but the pain and tightness returned after a few hours of resting that day since I still had some flu-like symptoms.

The weekend was a combination of lying flat on my stomach, back or stretching to try to fix myself.  Oh and I developed a cold sore.  Because I could.

Are you bored yet?  I am just reliving it.

True Confession: when I get sick, I look at everything I eat (have I allowed too much sugar?) every exercise and my form, my sleep cycles and pretty much anything in my control.  I feel embarrassed and desperate for an answer and in this case, relief.

When I get injured, I feel the same: embarrassed.  I take great pride in staying healthy and active and when that fails me, I feel like a failure.

Well, let’s just say the weekend was awful.  Brian was home (thank You Jesus) and he took them sledding in frigid weather, swimming on Sunday and enjoyed all of the leftovers in the fridge.

Monday was a new day and I figured some exercise couldn’t hurt.  It didn’t.  I felt great.  Tuesday we did our Christmas-kicking 1000 reps at the Y and I felt slow but managed to finish my 1000 (or was it 900?  1100? I lost count…).

We had dinner with dear friends that night and when all the kids were settled in bed, I looked in the mirror and wow: my eyes were Christmas red.  My throat was getting scratchy and my chest was congested in the matter of 2 hours.  “Could I possibly have pink eye?”

it's the most wonderf...

it’s the most wonderf…

The next morning, eyes crusted over, I texted my personal family practice doc and wiped the goo out.  Then I went to Q Care and my nurse had a “LOVE PINK” sweatshirt.  I told her it was ironic but I wasn’t laughing.

Thanksgiving (see Thank You Plan B) and we have all been grateful for it as we have been sick!  It was understood that this would be everyone’s gift this year.

But Calista peeked under the tree last week and noticed packages with the kids’ names on it.  “Mom, I thought we weren’t getting any more gifts?!”  Bless her heart.

“Oh Mom and Dad have ways to get you things without spending money!”  (We decided to use our Discover Rewards Points on our Amazon account to get them some little gifts.)

As the kids get excited, there might be some of us who are just ready to get Christmas, New Year’s and all of it behind us.  We have dear friends who have lost family members, babies and their marriages recently.  Others have faced health crises, financial stress and infertility.  Or maybe you just have a bum hip which reminds you 24/7 that you’re not 25 anymore.  And you get to wear your glasses all day because you have pink eye.  I never feel awake when I wear my glasses…

at least I got new glasses this fall that stay on my face.  They are nestled in the fruit bowl we received as a gift from our neighbor.

at least I got new glasses this fall that stay on my face. They are nestled in the fruit bowl we received as a gift from our neighbor.

I kept trying to find some humor, redemption and lesson in all of this all weekend.

It never came.

Yesterday as I put my eye drops in, I thought about how Jesus endured pain and suffering when He came to earth.  And Christmas is our nod to Him becoming “flesh and dwelling among us.”  We make it sweet and gentle, “away in a manger” and Mary’s beautiful blue robe and smiling face.  Silent Night, Angels we have heard on high and candlelit midnight services.

There is another view, however.  One where we acknowledge the suffering Mary went through knowing she was pregnant without Joseph’s involvement.  The birthing process which was anything but silent.  The revolutionary declaration of Mary’s Magnificat where she basically calls out Herod and declares her infant to be the future king.  The raw truth that Jesus would be born only to die for all of humankind.

Christmas has teeth baby and it’s sometimes as brutal as Duluth wind chills.

Jesus gave us comfort and power in order to be born through a narrow birth canal, sleep in a manger and be raised by a poor carpenter and his wife.  He maybe never had pink eye, but probably slammed a hammer a few times on his fingers.  He coughed.  He bled.

So, it can be the most wonderful time of the year.  But it can also be painful and pierce our hearts.

I have these blocks my mom made me one year for Christmas.  For fun this week, I have removed the “J.”


Next year I’ll make it say “yo.” It’ll be like Rocky greeting me every morning in my bathroom.


Just keeping it real here.

For some of you, Merry Christmas!  Enjoy the wonder of the season, the generosity of others and remembering those who do not have enough this year.

For others of you, may God meet you wherever you are this season.  Regardless of our state of mind, He is always and will always be Immanuel, God with us.

at least there is an emoji for this

at least there is an emoji for this

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Thank you Plan B

My friend’s dad suggested a blog post about my adventures as a novice Turkey Cooker so here goes.

8 days ago, Elam came down with what will forever be known as “the year the kids got sick and we couldn’t travel on Thanksgiving” sickness. He had it off and on for 5-6 days. 4 days in, Calista joined the battle against whatever demon is living inside their little chests, causing a deep, raw cough. There is also a nice fever that rises and falls about as unpredictably as the temps this November.

Monday morning, I started to brace myself that we would be the Asker 5 for Thanksgiving. By Tuesday I was hopeful we might be traveling. By Tuesday night, we were back up in the high fever-land and decided the demons had cooked our goose and we’d be cooking our own turkey.

I have never purchased a large turkey before. They are huge. Trump “huuuuuge.” Of the 20 or so left in the case, there was 1 bird close to 10 lbs so I grabbed it. It was also frozen solid. I was glad I work out, wondering how little old ladies cooking for their families get these beasts out of the frozen section.

It also struck me I had no idea how long these suckers took to thaw! What if we bought the turkey, tried to thaw it only to be forced to wait until Friday to eat the dumb thing… a call to my mom and a bit of logic from the hubs and we set it in water overnight.

Thank God there has been a decent amount of snow lately. The boys had plenty to do while we waited for the food.

Instead of just buying one new plastic, gentle on the deck paint shovel, yesterday Brian got the boys their own shovels (put to good use by clearing the neighbor’s driveway after the plows left about 6′ of slop into the road). Shovel made guitar by our rock star.

he always makes that face. do guitar players have Picasso like features or what is it with that face?!

he always makes that face. do guitar players have Picasso like features or what is it with that face?!

Well I was grateful for the extra time today to clean off the deck and the driveway.  Brian had to take it to the next level.  Literally.

Since our garage damage from the summer storm has not yet been repaired, we have been advised to shovel off the heavy snow... but apparently its safe to walk up there... makes perfect sense to me!

Since our garage damage from the summer storm has not yet been repaired, we have been advised to shovel off the heavy snow… but apparently it’s safe to walk up there… makes perfect sense to me!

The boys clumped on the roof making the reindeer proud, I stuck my hand in a turkey.  Ew.  Covered both with butter.  Ew.

I did read some of the advice I was given.  Some of it seemed simple (rub spices on bird).  Some was too complicated (make brine solution with 12 cups of vegetable or chicken stock in a 5 gallon bucket).  We did a dry rub and had left it overnight, uncovered in the fridge.

I did some reading about the stuffing.  I wasn’t willing to make the real thing, plus always felt like it was unnecessary carbos in addition to potatoes and bread, my favs.  So we did just carrots, celery, onion and a ridiculous about of spices and herbs.

We had decided to cook the turkey in the roaster instead of oven.  I hadn’t made anything ahead of time so the fries (when you have kids…) and bread needed that oven.  Gosh I had all these great cooking food pics and they aren’t loading… PLAN B I guess.

I had one of the tin foil “breastplate” one dude told me to make after cooking the bird for 30 min on 500.  I had one of the bird through a steamy lens — caption “This is how NOT to take a pic while cooking a bird.”

Well, I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  Imagine here pics of fluffy pull apart rolls, fluffy indeed (Rebekah: best bread recipe EVER).  Crispy, browned legs next to deliciously pale, tender, thinly sliced turkey (thanks to my hubs who somehow knows how to wield the electric knife).  We had simple fruit, green beans and I don’t know, some kind of potatoes.  The kids wanted fries so fries I made.

We ate and cleaned up in about 55 minutes.  Boom.

What’s the big deal?  Plan B isn’t THAT difficult.  Buy a turkey, give your ailing child Tylenol every time the thermometer says 101 something and do some dishes.


Even he knows it’s nothing to sweat over… boom.


I did throw out a table cloth and some nice napkins.  That fruit was in a Tupperware tho baby. Calista in her jammies from 3 days ago.  And the sour cream was in a Chinese soup bowl:)  But our glasses matched.  And we were thankful.

I find I can be thankful IN the midst of the plan B.

My friend Chris came by with the turkey bag I ended up not using – that’s a true friend.  But he lost his son April 21.  Remember him?  That guy has had so many plans go awry this past year.  We talked about how it is hard for them to be grateful this year.  “Maybe Paul meant for us not to be grateful for everything that happened to us, but to be grateful IN the struggles.  Not that we are glad Isaac is dead, but for our friends, faith and community who has seen us through it, ” I suggested.

I wasn’t grateful that when I went next door to share our Thanksgiving meal with our widowed, lonely neighbor, she asked me to drive her to the ER.  I didn’t praise God that I got to spend 2-3 hours waiting, driving and then waiting at the pharmacy again… BUT I am so glad we are home today and can help her.  I am glad the pharmacy stays open on Thanksgiving!  And for the sassy nurse who helped us.

I don’t know what hasn’t worked out according to plan for you: the election, the cops being shot, the news coming from ND, the white supremacy talk, the fact Bernie didn’t make it on the ticket or that the election news is just getting too much.  The cancer, the marriage, the job, the stubborn anxiety or the simple fact you never get enough sleep.

But I do know in the midst, somewhere, the Hound of Heaven pursues us.  He shows up at our door when we need to go to the ER.  He gives us friends when our son dies.  He opens up dialogues that didn’t exist before.  He raises up His church when the government fails us.  He gives us hope when the unexplainable happens.  He stands for justice and fairness when those in power don’t.  And He shows up even in the darkest places where we cannot imagine finding anything for which to be grateful

And He gives you extra long workout classes the day after Thanksgiving – at the Y every day after Thanksgiving my favorite Duluth Personal Trainer does a “90 minutes kick your butt and make you cry for mercy but you won’t miss it for the world class.” I can’t wait.


Note the crispy turkey, the matching glasses and tablecloth!

So our Asker 5 stayed home for Thanksgiving this year. We shoveled. The boys went sledding.  Brian may have taken advantage of a good deal on a TV for our basement (our first TV we have ever bought in our married life!).  I visited the ER.  We may have also started to decorate for Christmas.

Plan B baby.








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It’s My Party…

When I was in 7th grade, most of my small class of 37 people stopped talking to me. I don’t remember all of the details or if I deserved it, but I still get sick to my stomach remembering how hard it was to get up for school every day and face them. I remember fearing that I wouldn’t get a partner in gym class for sit ups (remember how we used to have to sit on each others’ feet? GROSS).

The mercy was a group of 4 girls who didn’t follow the crowd. Tami, Shelly, Tina and Stacey were my friends through it. They stuck with me and held my feet so I didn’t end up with the gym teacher who never let you cheat on those exercises.

The other day XS was feeling sad and left out when his brother was asking him to stop following him. I told him this story and agreed it never feels good to be left out.

The last few weeks I have had numerous hard conversations at work, regarding my husband’s work and at home with my bent 6 year old. We have the lovely election season which also brings some added drama to conversation.

Tonight, I was working really hard to make a social event happen in my basement for my neighborhood. Despite my husband’s surprise information that he couldn’t get home before 9 and the fact that I had 3 kids to get into bed at the same time as the aforementioned social event, I was giving it the ole college try.

We decided to go pick up Brian (in Superior which meant a trip to Aldi [score]) and come home for late bedtimes but still had an extra adult in the house. I put away a ton of groceries and emptied lunch boxes etc… And then the text messages started pouring in with cancellation after cancellation…

What is worse: cramming in the girls’ night when I had a really long day but I was going to make it work? (like this: I noticed as I went to the bathroom for maybe the 3rd time all day that my leggings are SHREDDED in my inner thighs and I’ve had meetings today, took the kids to swim, shopped and even had a meeting with the boss/pastor! EW)

Or going through all of that work and ending up with zero friends who could come?

Well, I didn’t cry, but thought about it.

I said, “I don’t even know what to do.”

Calista said, “Mom, you should play a game with me.” and brought out Candyland.

Other than getting the Gingerbread Man when I was about to win, it was very restful. We laughed. We ate popcorn.

And I was reminded that the world doesn’t hate me. Not even my friends who cancel did so b/c of me, they just were throwing up or had husbands who were also working late. My 8-year old still liked me after I was a very stressed momma tonight.

So, we turned the heat on tonight (first time: BOOM). I did some work emails. Oh and I blogged.

The other day I noticed my friend at the Y help a “new girl” get set up for class. She asked questions, was friendly and I noticed. It was a simple act, but I’ll bet the “new girl” returns and isn’t afraid to come back.

Somehow, can we try to be people who are able to have hard conversations, even about which candidate we are/aren’t going to vote for (even IF we do vote!), what we believe and practice and come to realize our good friends disagree with us, and still be friends?

Many of those kids in my grade who stopped talking to me eventually started to talk to me again. The feeling of being sick to my stomach went away and we all grew up. We share pics of our kids growing up and celebrate when good things happen.

Elam just woke up, called my name and he needed to know I was here.

Don’t we all?

In the times ahead friends, we are going to have so many chances to be the kids who shut others out or the ones who stand up to it or the ones who let the disagreements melt into the past. Or the ones who blog/post on social media about being nice at such a time as this.

So I am going to reschedule my girls’ night and then go to bed early.

“Honor all people. Love the brotherhood/sisterhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” 2 Peter 2:17

And if you’re in the Woodland Neighborhood and want a good girls night out, let me know!

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Heaving, Dancing and and Drinkin’ the Kool-aid

“In the beginning God created the heaves and the the earth.” I read the slide as the introduction to my talk at UMD this past Thursday. I read “heaves” and made eye contact with a female student in the front. “Well, this should go well tonight.” She looked at me, bored out of her mind, I feared.

Well, I giggled and moved on.

It was that kind of night.

They even have a "keep calm" meme.  I felt doomed... ha.

They even have a “keep calm” meme. I felt doomed… ha.

Earlier I was pouring juice for the response time after my talk (taste and see that the Lord is good… I was thinking grapes and other tasty fruits and was too cheap so went for juice and small Dixie cups instead) and a lippy student walked by. He said, “You’re not really going to ask the students to drink the Kool-aid are you?”

I froze. “Do they still teach about Jim Jones?” Unfortunately 3 more students confirmed that asking students to drink something in response to my speaking that night might create some uneasiness. “It’s a saying!!” (see meme! duh)

Well fabulous… But I was already committed and had 60 cups or so already poured out.

So I went with it.

My talk was on Genesis 1. It says God “hovered” over the waters. Do you know that word can also mean shake, making one wonder: What IS God doing here, hovering, shaking, dancing? Like is He warming up before THE biggest workout of His eternal existence? Shaking “it” (Does God have a booty to shake?) as He warms up for this world-changing – well, world-forming – event?!

I love the image of God dancing, hovering and just waiting to make all the things that He did so that one day, we could be sitting at UMD that night, laughing over “heaves.” God maybe did make the “heaves” – I’m sure there is something redeeming about emptying one’s innards…

Well, I preached through the cool progression of how Genesis 1 talks about the earth’s creation, God made it and saw that it was good. He called it out as what is was: GOOD.

I have never thought about this. God makes it and then it says He saw it, then He said it was good. Have you ever done that? Made a meal and the whole time you’re eating it, you’re that annoying person going “MMM. Yum. This is tasty!” Or written a paper and said, “Nailed it!” Or ran 2 marathons, turned 40 in between and felt good doing and said, “yay me!” I’ve done all of that. And now I declare that my saying so is actually a Godly thing to do! (said briefly and not pridefully of course!)

Well, my invitation to taste and see that the Lord was almost thwarted by the Jim Jones of the past. But instead, I simply told the students that there are many imitations out there. And I was NOT inviting them to drink the Kool-aid. Instead, I had 100% Juicy Juice!

Well the dancing, the heaves and the Kool-aid all worked together. One girl even felt like God was telling her He is still dancing and wants her to join Him. Overall it was a good night.

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How do I take a picture of that?

All of my kids went to school today.

Sound the bells. Pop the cork. Put on a party hat.

Let me share with you the wonderful pictures of how the back packs were all set the night before and how the kids slept happily in their beds, visions of new teachers and friends dancing in their heads. Look at the cute breakfast photos around the table. Get ready to see the smiling faces, one at a time by our tree in the front yard, compared to the same picture I took last year of the big kids. Watch their cute little feet travel up the steps on the bus, smiling over their shoulders and waving good bye to mom and dad waiting at the corner bus stop. And lastly, be envious of the shots of me and Brian going out for a wonderful, quiet brunch after the little ones were off for the day.

It was a dream. We had talked about it for years (8.5 or so years) – The Day They All Go To School! Ta DAH!!!

Well, I can’t show you those back packs (which had been packed for a week, mind you, all 90 minutes worth of forms I filled out stuffed in the correct folder, in the correct backpack). I could have tried to take a picture, but see the power was out and it was dead dark from 8:30 pm – 11:00 pm Monday night.

Funny joke eh? Especially for those of us who survived the storm of July 21, 2016.

I also didn’t take a picture of them because about 20 Scholastica students were in my house from 5pm – 8:19pm. They ate, got trained in how to change the world (in under 90 minutes) and left about 5 minutes before the power went out.

We managed to get most of the chairs and tables, plates and red Solo cups (wouldn’t be a college party without them!) of the deck before the downpour. But the house was a mess. The dishwasher not started (no power). And who knows what else wasn’t finished. Dead dark.

Found the candles and stupidly told Calista we needed to be careful so we didn’t start her desk on fire so we would have to blow them out before we went to sleep. Between the threat of fires in her bedroom, occasional trees falling on her home and the random lightening strike blowing out the nearby transformer, plus the excitement of day 1 as a 3rd grader, funny – she wasn’t asleep until at least 10:00. So no picture of her asleep… I was practically asleep by the time she was.


By 10:00 XS managed to wake himself up and complain about his leg. This happens about once a month. It’s the mystery leg disease that pops up. Then he got so hot he wanted the fans back on or a nightlight. Yep. Me too.

Hard to take a picture of a sleeping kid when he’s not asleep.

— by 10:15 Elam wanted to join the party too. Or at least go to the bathroom. He couldn’t get the lights on and sleepwalked and talked with dad about why the lights wouldn’t turn on. He was so angry about it.

About 10:30/50 the power came back on.

Then Brian came to bed and wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep (had to Tweet his Bible study) and I lost it. I just wanted peace and quiet. And seriously after the long night we had and the power finally coming back on and turning our fans back on, I was ready for sleep.

Don’t ask why the sound of the fans puts me to sleep and the small clicking of his thumb on the circle button of the iPhone keeps me awake. It just does.

Tuesday 6:00 AM my alarm goes off.

Boys wake up. Happily. Snuggles and excitement.

XS gets dressed and eats breakfast as if he’s done this a million times. Rocks it.

Big kids. Not so much.

You wouldn’t have wanted a picture of Brian and me retelling the big kids from about 6:25am – 7:00 am that we were going to be late. Eat your pancakes. Stop giggling. Stop staring at each other.

It was 35 minutes of ugly.

7:00 am Calista is in the bathroom, brushing teeth. Elam’s laces are knotted.
7:02 we race out the door with backpacks in hand.
7:02:35 I make them stop for this photo. Enjoy it. It’s all you’re gonna get.


7:02:45 Brian sees the bus at the top of the hill. We are supposed to have bus arrival at 7:04 but last year the first week it was late. All of those parents taking pictures…

Where the heck were they now? You were on Facebook posting pictures but somehow your kid doesn’t ride my kids’ route.

The bus is coming down hill and we have about a 90 second race down hill to make it in time … maybe.

“She is never going to stop at our driveway Brian! It’s the first day! Maybe it isn’t even our old bus driver.”

Brian races across the street (it’s almost black outside by the way since it was foggy from the rain). Called C to come across until I look down hill and see a van racing up the hill, trying to get her kid to school on time I’m sure. But going fast enough that I thought we were going to be short one kid in the future.

“STOP!” I yelled. She actually listened.

And another miracle happened: the bus driver stopped! At our driveway!

And as I apologized, she said, “Hey its the first day of school!” and looking at XS says, “and who is this? A new student?” “His name is Tobiah” I said. “I’ll never remember that one!”

Well, let’s be nice to her since she stopped.

My 3 kids raced up into the bus and she drove away so fast I felt like I had been run over.

You know that feeling when you’re about to leave on vacation and you’re racing? You’ve forgotten the tickets (ok pretend it’s 1999). You left your book in the bathroom (1999 we didn’t have the Kindle). Your stroller wheels are locking. Your flight has been moved up to an earlier time than you remembered. Your kid has to pee and you don’t let him stop at the potty.

and you just keep telling yourself “when you sit down on the plane you’ll relax and then vacation starts.”

I never really got to sit down on the plane today.

When we got to the Y (late of course) Brian and I got the last sets of weights. Good thing we wanted to go heavy today and all the suckers (just kidding … sort of) who slacked all summer left them for us. It was packed.

I told my friend it had been a rough morning. Brian and I barely had time to sit down and eat the eggs I scrambled for us. I was cleaning up from last night’s party and he was fixing clocks and the wifi.

We didn’t take a picture of us horking our eggs.

I did have time to eat a corner (or 3) of the pb, cococa, zucchini brownies that have become my obsession. It was that kind of morning.

But when I told her, she gave me a big hug (this was before the sweating).

Then I lifted my dumb bells, did everything Anna told me to do and about half way through class I found my moxie.

Before 4:54 all 3 kids had had tantrums. I broke a sweat getting dinner started. I made a soup for XS lunches. I ate a waffle. (I even went for a walk to get away from it all while dinner cooked – the day my kids were all away at school for the first time and I needed a walk by 4:15pm. What kind of mother am I?)

I didn’t take pictures of much today. Not sure if that will bother me and tmrw I’ll make up for it or not.

But it went so fast, you know? The morning yes.

But the parenting kids 24/7/365. It went fast.

And I’m not sure taking pictures will really help me process all that this means:
my kids are in school all day now.

I’m at home. Working part-time. Brian is leading the charge on many campuses this fall.

And our kids are not here much anymore.

Maybe it is fitting to not have pictures …

* disclaimer: Kudos to all of you disciplined enough, with your flexible schedules to spend extra time with your spouse, your bestie or your other kids still at home. And kudos for the pics of it. No offense intended. I normally would have a lot of pictures too. If I didn’t just have an epic bad morning. Seriously epically bad.

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I learned to walk this summer

Today was a cut your tongue on the Swiss Army knife kind of day.

granola knife

I was eating my granola with a knife b/c it was either eat with the knife or my fingers. Then I sliced my tongue on it and I thought, yep, this is a cut your tongue on the Swiss Army knife kind of day.

Not exactly what I was going for. Instead, I was striving for something more like those memes that tell you to be amazing, do more than you imagined and change the world.

I didn’t have a spoon because I was supposed to eat my lunch at work about 2 hours earlier. But I forgot it.

I was supposed to eat my lunch earlier so I could work out at noon. Which I couldn’t b/c I forgot my shoes.

I forgot my shoes because I had 6 kids at my house and at 11:30 2 of them hadn’t eaten. I threw pizza at those 2 and ran out the door at 11:40.

I didn’t make the noon class.

running arms up

I’m a runner. I wake up running and fall asleep running.

Last night I dreamed I was a secret agent hiding in Italy, running from the Polizia.

I wake up with an agenda and kick into gear the moment my feet hit the ground. Then I fall asleep wishing I had accomplished more.

So I had this day nailed from 7:30-1:00pm… Or so I thought.

“Momma loves to sweat.” The boys repeated this mantra about 25 times today from the backseat.

Don’t get too close. you might smell it.

I like to sweat on a daily basis. Sue me.

I trained for the 2016 Grandma’s Marathon for about 6 months, running 1-3 times a week. I spent the rest of my training days weightlifting or trying to keep up with my Y peeps..

And in April I learned to walk.

I hadn’t done walking as part of my training before. Really ever.

Walking felt like a waste of time. Like not worth it. It is what you do when you are shopping, mowing or heading to the bus stop. But it wasn’t exercise for me.

Until this year.

Saturday and Sunday mornings, I would head out for 30-45 minutes and I simply felt better. Not so achy. Not so stiff. And it helped me find time to be alone for a few precious minutes on the weekends.

And then during Grandma’s I found I had to walk. It was hot. Black flags came up around mile 16 for me. I decided to walk so that I could run again someday. And so I didn’t have to be carted off in an ambulance or visit an aid tent like hundreds of others did that day.

Good thing I had learned to walk. And to walk fast.

(Golly even writing about how hot it was that day I find my heart beating faster and my lungs trying to get deeper breaths in anxiety. It was brutal.)

Well about 10 days after Grandma’s my friend Carrie said – hey, want to do a trail marathon?

I thought she was nuts. I didn’t tell my parents or my friends for a while b/c I had sworn after the black flags that I would never put myself through this again. I mean what am I trying to prove? I’ll never be running for a medal or even placing in the top 5% of my age division…

But a TRAIL marathon intrigued me.

And Grandma’s was awful.

And I was in marathon shape.

So I did it.

“A morning in the woods.” “You were made for the woods.” This is what my friends who have run it described it to be.

They were right.

Jarrow Beach

It was wonderful.
Possibly the highlight of my summer.
I was muddy for days (See the fingernails). My toes were not clean for at least a week.

I was not fast either race. But I was able to run 2 full marathons in 4 weeks. In the midst of that, I turned 40. Yay me.

And guess what: You have to walk in a trail marathon. For me, it was a lot of walking.

So today my day was not all I imagined it would be.

I didn’t get my sweat on. That’s really all that happened and now blogging about it, it feels trivial. But that one snafu which led to another really had me tempted to blow up and get frustrated and lose it…which would be normal for me. Just get irritated and stay that way until a new day starts…

Instead I took the boys swimming. They jumped off rocks. I swam too. Boys found a huge frog. Then we hit a new-to-them playground en route home.

And while they played, I took a walk.

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Trust your Trainer

Sometimes the hard stuff neaks up on you… like misspelling “sneaks” (this might be a long one folks; sneaks just came out ‘snakes’ and it was only b/c I already misspelled sneaks…)

Let’s try this again: Sometimes the hard stuff sneaks up on you. I have friends who have had so much come out of left field recently. Breast cancer. Divorce. Death of their spouse at the beginning of their romantic retirement years. A nephew die after conquering cancer (so they thought) just months before. Children diagnosed with arthritis. Breast cancer – actually had 3 friends deal with it in the last 3 years. Spouse caught in an affair. Pregnancy of their fourth, unplanned child. Lack of pregnancy of their first or second child.

For us, the most recently “hard” thing that we have journeyed through is adoption. I had my tubes tied after giving birth to Elam via c-section and let me tell you: I did not doubt that decision for a minute. This body had had it with pregnancy and child birth. I have never understood what you ladies love about pregnancy. I never loved much. The good skin and hair was about it and it in no way made up for the rest… The 75 pounds of it was hard to make up for…

Well surprise, this tube-tying chick has three kids. Never would I have imagined we would have another child. Much less a boy. And the last two weeks have been hard. Tantrums. Kids fighting. Transition drama. Melt downs. Near vomiting during tantrum after fighting to get him to eat his meal. Dealing with his constant fear of being left out, of injustice somehow making him extremely angry and … well that’s enough.

My friends who just recently lost their baby keep asking questions and dealing with their loss. We recently spoke about God and what He knows and what He prepares us for.

My friends could never have seen it coming. In now way were they “prepared” for the challenge. But now that they are fighting through it and facing each day, I can say that in some ways, they were prepared.

My friends have build wonderful friendships in their neighborhood, in the running culture, business world and school realm of their kids. They have spent time building their spiritual foundation with church and our community group and their personal disciplines. They have learned to parent with affection and attachment and have a high value for family time.

I hope there is a good downhill after this.

I hope there is a good downhill after this.

Tomorrow I’ll be running a trail run for 26.2 miles. This is not something I have trained for. This is not in the 2016 fitness plan for Sandi Asker.

So why in the world would I try to do something I haven’t trained for?

My friend asked me. Grandma’s was zero fun. My body is in “marathon shape.” I’m 40. My other friend kept talking me into it. I think I like adventures. I won’t die.

And as I kept thinking about this race, I thought it fit after all. Things that we couldn’t have foreseen have been hard but we have done them together.

“In normal times, community blesses; in hard times, community saves.” Our pastor said this a few weeks ago and it has been true for us.

Our community is formed around our neighborhoods, our kids and and their schedules, our need for respite care and love of eating together. But the community that has saved each other this spring is much more. We have a Trainer leading us, keeping us ready for whatever is ahead. He can see more than we can and He knows when we need rest (every week He says) and He knows when we need to work hard. If we listen, He will keep us going on the race with perseverance.

So while we do normal life, we get to enjoy our friendships and our daily tasks. When the really tough uphills come, we do it together and we celebrate together. We will probably scrape our knees, hands and even fall face first. We might cry. But we trust we are not alone while we do it.

As I texted my girlfriend tonight about what we are wearing and packing, I was working on my nightly reading. This is what I read:


So just like I blogged before Grandma’s to “trust your training” I think this race I will trust my Trainer and enjoy the race with my friends.

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Meditation on subway tiles

Sit down and grab journal while kids are in pool. 5 min later, middle child bursts out of the pool and hands you the green torpedo to throw to him in said pool.  Drips water all over said journal, Kindle and chance at some reflection.

Second chance to journal: open page to last entry and see it was 5/29/15.  Entry previous 4/3/14 then 1/4/14.

Suffice to say going from 2 kids to 3 kids severely decreased my journalling exercises, saving the planet at least a few trees since I used to love to write down – like with pen and ink and even pencil sometimes – what was going on.

Today I really thought I had a chance.  I really did.

Then tonight I was certain I had a chance.  Bedtime in the hotel here in Madison has been sweet – games after dinner, long chapter book reading time and devotions times 3 kids.  Then snuggle in due to the ridiculous AC and they are out like trout.

View from our hotel room.

View from our hotel room. We are here with Brian as he leads small group leaders who are caring for new staff joining IVCF.

Well first it was Elam crawling into my bed and asking for snuggles.  Then complaining he couldn’t sleep in my king sized bed.  Then complaining about how hot it was in here.  Then something about a toe hurting and I finally caved and went to find ice.

Then my stomach chose that moment to remind me that last night was my first really big meal in days.  I have had zero appetite since running the marathon and last night, the chicken and yummy salad had me taking 2 trips to the buffet.  Then the salad and pizza had me at hellO! (thankfully Jana has befriended me and found the olive oil in the kitchen for me!).

Too much salad.  Too much walking.

I raced back to the room, found a Ziplock for the ice and the toe and found the bathroom.  OY.

Meanwhile C and XS are on the pullout, arguing.  XS is upset that Elam got extra mom time and really REALLY wanted to know what we were talking about.

I almost wrecked the sliding doors in this hotel room (who puts sliders in a hotel room?) while racing to the bathroom the second time.  Then almost crashed the tank lid (that thing you lean back on when sometimes the stomach doesn’t feel so good?) while I was trying to be patient with my belly, entrails and my kids.

Meanwhile, as I hunched over looking at the nifty subway tiles (they have recently redone this hotel and I keep looking for ideas) I thought to myself:

I wish I had more to show for my life than putting 3 kids to bed tonight.  More than taking them to the Children’s Museum today (which was amazing today!)

We built this city... on rock and roll

We built this city… on rock and roll

More than a lack of patience for 3 kids who really are quite wonderful.

And then I thought if I can’t put 3 wonderful kids to bed without losing my bleeping temper than how can I expect to lead others around me in groups greater than 3?  (But for the love, why don’t my children go to sleep like normal elementary kids might after busy busy days of running from 7am-8pm???)

So, journalling and processing the day and the events that have filled the day seem to just roll into another week and another month and then suddenly you realize your journal still smells new.  And even though your husband offers you a new one you think why, the one I have will last me until they go to college.

So Moms, Dads, especially you with more than 3 kids, maybe you do it alone most days and shiver with excitement at the prospect of peace and quiet – here’s to you tonight.  Here’s to all those interrupted moments you attempt to reflect.  Here’s to those attempts at quiet time.  Here’s to the dreams of being self-aware and forgiving because you’ve done your business with the Lord.

We may wish we had more to show for our days of parenting, cleaning, telling them to get those hands out of their mouths and eat just 2 more bites of meat. But sometimes we just don’t. We don’t.

Last thought: I could have spent the last 10 minutes writing this down in the journal, oh yes I know I could have.

But I am such an extrovert that after all that happened tonight I simply couldn’t introvert the night.  I had to know at least one other person would read my night and laugh, emote, sympathize and nod.  So for you 1-2 people out there, thanks for not letting me keep this to myself.

Now, where is a new episode of Downton Abbey when you need it?

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It was brutal.

The marathon that is.

First there was the heat.  The need for water, for the love of all that is good and holy more WATER! Down my neck, over my head (watch out for the FitBit) and down into my shoes.  Oh and ICE thank You Jesus ICE.  Ice on my wrists.  Ice in my hat (please just dump that cup right into it thanks).  A breeze – yes alleluia maybe I can actually do this thing if this breeze lasts.  And the wisps of cool humid air off Lake Superior – oh my sweet hope above hopes that cool air.

Then the smells – we did not smell pretty.  Neither did the port-a-potties.  Oh dear even 10 hours later I could still remember and experience the feeling of my breakfast rising in the back of my throat as I passed the biffies.

For the strangest reason, these dehydrated folks were still able to expel something from their lower extremities and fill those potties with horrific substances which cooked for over 4 hours in the heat.  It was brutal to breathe in that smell when you just wanted to get a fresh breath.

Then the frustrations of 6 months of training going down the toilet (see what I did there?). In the span of 5 hours, I lost 6 months of training towards a goal that I really hadn’t had set in stone until I was honest with myself.

My plan was that I was going to work out hard and furious as I normally do M-Th and then add the long runs in on Fridays while the kids were all 3 in school.  The family barely felt the push of my training since all I did was walk about 30 minutes Sat/Sun.

But after 13.1 and my 9:30 pace quickly slowing down, I knew I wasn’t going to make my sub-4 much less sub-4:15.  After the moderate risk flags gave way to the extremely high risk you’re gonna die unless you slow down right now and don’t kid yourself it’s hot out here flags, I quickly decided I would pay attention.  I slurped down some lemonade mix straight from AdvoCare’s ‘no you’re not gonna die’ mix that my friend Curt gave me.  I decided to run to my family at mile 19 and then see what happens.

Well after I saw mile 17 the thoughts of quitting, lying on the concrete and having to tell my 88-year old father that he was right, this is ridiculous starting to overtake me.  I knew I had to just give way to the walking.  I hate walking a race.  I didn’t pay this money to go for a walk.  I didn’t train with 25, 30 and 35 lb weights with Anna McGee for 6 months for a walk.  I didn’t buy this new hat which says “RUN HAPPY” TO WALK!

But it was brutal.  So I walked.

(This blog is going to be about as long as the marathon was so strap in folks.  Even if only 3 of you read it, strap in.  It’s going to be a long one.)

Then I got to the bridge where Brian was and I couldn’t find him.  Thank God Amy and Susan were there, got me ice and a banana and kept me together until I heard “MOM!” Strawberries. Admitted I was miserable. Then I had to keep going.

Thankfully I met a guy from New Prague who was about 2 feet taller than I and twice as tired.  We chatted as we walked a bit and then I saw Lemon Drop Hill.  There I decided I would have two new goals: I would run the 2 hills left and I would finish running the last 2-3 miles.

I left Mr New Prague and then saw Maribeth.  I told her I was getting sad, thinking about losing baby Isaac, the hard times my friends have gone through lately, my friends who have conquered or dealing with cancer and all the disappointment of the day.  She told me to just finish and time didn’t matter.

So I ran.  I ran up the hills, thanking God for dead lift squats, that lemonade goo, Jesus never letting me feel alone even when I felt alone and for the will to keep going.

Then I saw Ann.  She took a video of me and for the love of Jesus and forgive my pride: I was so glad I was actually running when she videoed me!

Then I ran up behind SuperOne.  I ran it people and a fierce, gorgeous Pacific Islander man go down right next to me.  He grabbed his leg and yelled I NEED HELP.  Wow.

Then I saw Chrissa.  On a bike.  Then JoHanna on a scooter since she had surgery (or something) and she had…  She had the best thing ever.  ICE.  I hadn’t had any for way to long.

Then my family again and then, I realized I wasn’t going to stop running.  Or at least moving my feet in the way they normally moved when I ran.  Pictures show me barely lifting my feet.

And with my family, my sweet friends who just had their 4th baby.

I couldn’t hardly look at them but I heard Nate say “there she is!” with such pride in his voice and endearment that I choked up.  I couldn’t stop I told them. For many reasons, but suffice to say, it was just brutal.

It was so hot people were quitting their volunteer positions b/c they couldn’t handle the heat.  Yet here were my parents, my family (my hubs who took care of them all plus pushing my dad in the wheelchair – who incidentally just fixed the sink in the hotel where we are staying — he is AMAZING) and my sweet friends with their 4 kids cheering as if it were 50 degrees and lovely.

He is my best friend and a great coach!

He is my best friend and a great coach!

It was so hot.  So hot.  Brutally hot.

And then I finished.  I ran across the finish line.  And all I wanted to do was go home.

I have never walked so much (FitBit makes me think it was about 27 minutes).  I have never not wanted to run so badly in my life.  I have never felt so unmotivated and ready to quit.  I have never felt so done before being done in my life.

You don’t quit until you’re done.  That’s like a motto for us at the Y and in our family.

And I wanted to quit.  Oh boy did I.

And no shame to those who did.  I get it.

But I didn’t want to.

Because the Gardners didn’t give up when they lost their baby.  Carrie didn’t when she had breast cancer.  Our church didn’t when they faced yet another challenge and another pastoral search.  Matt Damon didn’t when stranded on Mars.

I kept thinking Jesus hung on the Cross and endured such suffering for such a purpose.  And yet here I was running a race for less than 5 hours for what?

Well I did it because I finish what I start.  I like having goals.  Because time alone to reflect is best for me when I am active.  I work stuff out there on the streets and roads.  I get energy by exhausting my body.

I did it because my two kids want to run a 5K now in July with us. Because they knew I could finish.

The day before they got to run too.  It was so sweet.

















They had a blast and did so well all day. Proud of them.

It was brutal finally because it was so humiliating.  I had so many people telling me “You got this!” and “you’re ready” and “you might even beat your goal!” that I just am so disappointed in how it all turned out.

But ironically, Sunday morning came, I walked into church and heard Philippians 2 preached:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

This happened Saturday.  None of us cared how fast we went.  We just wanted to look out for each other and make sure everyone was safe.

It was brutal.

It is over.  The brutal-est day ever is over.  And I’m so glad.


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Trust your training

I literally sat down about 3 hours ago to start this blog when I heard blood curdling screaming coming from the garage. XS was screeching and sobbing.  I waited about 3-4 minutes and realized it wasn’t dying down.  I opened the door to find Brian comforting a bleeding XS: ear bleeding and small bruise behind said ear.

They said they wanted to play with a real baseball and now we know why those little t-ball sluggers wear batting helmets!

Ah, life is never boring around here…

I had wanted to write about training.

I had just been reflecting on my stinky shoes.  I had removed them from my gym bag in preparation for my swim work out tmrw.  I actually got a little sad: tmrw will be my last “workout” at the Y before the marathon Saturday.

be grateful you can't smell these...

be grateful you can’t smell these…


These shoes carried me during a 1/2 marathon last September and were my shoes at the Y for a lot of the winter and spring.  Good shoes.  Second pair (first pair was Grandma’s Marathon last year…)

How can shoes bring such emotion?

Well tonight it might be b/c a 20 minute trip to the library took 60.  Because it’s day 2 of summer vacation.  Because I am a girl.  Because it’s been grey, cloudy and cool all week.

It might also be b/c these shoes represent what I have been training for since January.  The risks with heavier weights.  The noon classes I shoved into my Wednesdays after work and before momming.  The conversations with friends about magnesium, avocados and eggs (friends: some people eat a LOT of eggs…)  The push-ups, lunges and renegade rows that still make me cry.

I wore these shoes when I met my friend who lost a nephew to cancer and struggles with faith.  I wore these shoes when I found out a long-term relationship had died.  I wore these shoes when I cried with a friend who cried for unknown reasons – sobbed really.  I wore these shoes when I found out Isaac died.  I found these shoes in my gym bag later that day, tied together by an unknown friend who wanted to make sure I didn’t lose one that day as I rushed out of the building.

I put the shoes aside and thought: Trust Your Training.  There’s literally nothing else I can do at this point to help me run this race.

And isn’t life like that?  Stuff comes up and you just have to take a deep breath and tell yourself to trust your training.

When you’re sitting holding your kid and you’re debating on an ER visit, you call your friend the ER pediatrician.  I trust his training.

When you’re stuck alone on Mars and you’re Matt Damon, you’re glad you’re a botanist and trust your training.

When you get a call that your friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer, you sit down and trust Mayo doctors’ and their training.

When you don’t know what to do during a taper week, you trust others ideas about tapering and their training.

When you get kicked in the teeth by life, aren’t you going to wish you had trained for moments like this?

I won’t run (many or any…) more marathons.  (Don’t look now but she’s dreaming of another race in another city… not sure which one but dreaming.)

But I’m sure I’ll face challenges in other ways.  Death.  Sickness.  Offensives that will run deep.  Friends that will move.  Heartbreak with teenagers.  More national tragedies.  Christians who will live in such a way that make me and the world hate our worldview.  Drama that will overwhelm.

And I want to be ready.  When the gun goes off, I want to be able to run the race with perseverance.  One more race.  One more day.  Surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses.  Cheered on by dear friends.

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.  Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way as it holds promise for the present life and the for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8


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