Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Miracle of Life

I have struggled with the decision to blog on this topic or not. How to word it? Should I even write it? Today being the last day of January the Pro-Life Month, I decided to go for it. It is my blog, my opinions for others to take it or leave it. In my first post I gave no promises to be politically correct in my topics. So today I write from my heart. This is not intended to offend anyone or give any person guilt. My prayers are with anyone faced with such an enormous life changing decision.  A baby at any stage in life IS a life changing event, whether it’s your first or your 5th, whether the child is born or lost. 

In our world today the life of a baby is considered a choice. More and more freedoms of choice of lesser value are limited and dictated by our government every day.  It is sad to me our world cannot find enough meaning in the miracle of life to fight for the unborn. Life is a gift from God, and not to be taken lightly. I share my stories of Miracles of Life because when people say they don’t have the right to choose for others, I think of these experiences and of so many little miracles lost because of that thought. I share them with the hope that maybe someone might change their opinion, or maybe this may give someone peace, encouragement or support in their decision. If this changes one person’s mind it is worth it to me even if I make thousands angry.

Our First Miracle and the Start of our Family:
We’d only been married a couple months, and I’d been a college graduate and working for one more month than that when we found out we were pregnant the first time. We knew we wanted to have children but hadn’t officially made our plan of when we wanted to start our family. I told my dad well it wasn’t exactly like we planned, but we are excited and we were. My Dad said, “People these days think everything has to be perfect to have a baby, if that was the case no one would ever have kids”. I am not sure those were the exact words it was almost 14 years ago, but it was a true and meaningful statement.

I can still see in my mind what my son looked like the first time I saw him. The doctors thought I was farther along so when they couldn’t find the heart beat they scheduled a sonogram. It took a little effort, as he was quit small, but she found him. His heart was bigger than any other part of his body, his arms and legs wiggled like crazy. After measuring his small body she said, “No wonder they couldn’t find the heart beat your only 10 weeks along” (which is only 8weeks after conception). She took a picture for me to take home. Our first miracle.

Our Miscarriage:
We were blessed with 2 more babies over the next 4 years a beautiful daughter and another wonderful son. Then after baby #3 we had a miscarriage. I was only around 6 weeks along, some may not have even known they were pregnant yet.  I remember the day before it started getting dressed and thinking, I don’t really feel pregnant now, which I hadn’t thought in any of my other pregnancy. Mother’s intuition I guess, the next night I started bleeding; a blood test confirmed that my hormones were dropping meaning the baby wasn’t growing anymore. I spent the next week worrying about when the baby would come out.  A weird thought maybe, the baby would’ve been so small I never would have been able to see him/her. But it was life no matter how small! I cried over the loss of life of someone I never met, someone that by law isn’t even considered alive. Thank goodness I can find peace in the fact that God considered our baby alive from the day he/she was conceived no matter how small. Without this struggle and loss we may never have had the chance to enjoy our next miracle our 2nd daughter who was born about 16 months later.

Our last Pregnancy:
We were perfectly even 2 boys and 2 girls when God decided we weren’t done yet, another little one was on the way.  I was nervous, I was older and our lives were so busy.  After about a week, I began to have some heavy bleeding. My heart sunk, I had been here before. We hadn’t even had the chance enjoy the thought of this new baby. It was my fault for not embracing this new life. When I went to the doctors they said all my hormone levels looked good. The bleeding continued and they did a sonogram and there she was kicking away. What a relief. The worry did not end, as the spotting continued almost halfway into the pregnancy. I was then 35+, considered an “old” mom, and they did a lot of checking on everything. The only break in worry was when I was praying for everything to be OK. Nine long months later our third daughter was born. She has brought such joy to all of our lives, and like each of the others we couldn’t image life without her.

Two Teenagers Choose Life:
When my parents as an unmarried teenage couple found they were expecting. Neither had a high school diploma or even lived on their own. Neither ones family was financially well off. People told them to consider all their options. Instead they planned a wedding. My mom graduated early, my dad got a job, and a few months later they were married and 9 months later became a family. Did they struggle yes, renting attic apartments, borrowing bread for sandwiches, and walking to the store. What a life many would think, but in every picture of them they are smiling. They embraced the life God set for them, naïve maybe; sometimes being naïve is a statement of faith. People thought they’d never make it.  In March they will celebrate 40 years of marriage and have brought into the world 5 children and now have 13 grandkids to share their love of life with. Despite a hard start they built a successful life by society’s material standards too. Owning a beautiful house, motor home, cars, built 2 successful businesses and a cabin, and have had many rewarding jobs along the way. Neither went to college. Their life not a perfect plan and they have had their ups and downs, but this is their fairytale. They had faith and they respected the miracle of life. Because of their choice their 5 children now look at them with respect and have had the opportunity to enjoy wonderful lives of their own and will be able to pass that love on to their children. 

People say these stories are few and that is not how it normally turns out. I disagree. I think there are many stories like this we just don’t notice because their lives are good, and those are not the stories that gain the most attention.  There would be more too, if our world would look upon these young people or those of all ages who have made a selfless decision with respect rather than pity. Give them support and encouragement, and let them know God has a hand in everything we do. Celebrate life for the miracle it is. We many times make choices as humans that lead us down a difficult path, but God will travel with us and guide us through.

A scientific feat or a miracle?
Isn’t it a miracle? Every mother knows the feeling. A baby is growing inside you and you know it immediately, and I am not just talking about morning sickness. Before you feel the movement, before you hear the heartbeat or see your baby inside you, you feel love in your heart. The first 3 months are the most important doctors say.  You stop drinking alcohol, limit your caffeine, the prenatal vitamins begin, extra sleep, extra water and eating well.  There are so many recommendations from doctors to help your baby grow. So many things have to go right to allow that baby to grow and be able to survive in the outside world.

“Despite all the advance in biology and genetics, no one can explain how every cell in the embryo knows what to do and what part of the body to become, that remains a mystery among the many mysteries of how human life develops” (excerpt from “How your baby Grows” given to me at my first prenatal visit).

 A mystery indeed, a mystery of Faith, God is how it happens. All we can do is give our babies the best home before and after they are born.  A baby is a miracle, no doubt in my mind.

My thoughts:
As a Mom who watched a new life move inside her before any other sign of life was evident and felt the loss of a baby before any other sign of life was evident. I say thank you God for the miracles of life you have given me.

As the baby that two teenagers celebrated and made the choice to build a life on 40 years ago. I say thank you God for the miracle of my life.

When you look at young pregnant women you may think her life will never be the same. You are right. I don’t think there is a person that after their first child was conceived who's life was ever the same. You may ask are the struggles worth it? I don’t think there is a parent out there that wouldn’t say the joy outweighs the struggles. I don’t think there is a person out there that at some point in their life hasn’t questioned why something hasn’t gone their way only to have it find out that later that it HAD gone their way and it was blessing.

 I cannot understand how there is any choice in the matter. God gives life. The value of the life vs. the struggles or joys it may bring is not ours to weigh. Our only choice is to embrace the path God gives you, no matter the struggle, no matter the inconvenience; the reward in the end will be great.

Monday, January 28, 2013

FOCUS for January 28- Feb 1, 2013

Goals for a better Home:  In this area I struggle with  goals that involve others. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be done but they just may require a bit more effort, and probably should be discussed together before making them so they are family goals and not just my own. I did accomplished my last minute add of Running. I made it 4 times last week, and was happy I went each time and the Lent studies are making progress.

As always New Goals, comments, and excuses are in purple below.
Goals for a Better Home
1. Personal Focus to better my relationship with God.
Daily: Start and end each day with prayer. Read two chapters in the Bible. I started reading 2 chapters a day last fall. I read some days from the Old testament some from the New. I have been given check lists before that jumped around, but they didn’t seem to work for me so I am reading the old fashion way from front to back of each. I have 3 books in each complete. This has lasted longer and I am farther than I have been before.

Weekly: Read one article from the Leaven Newspaper and one chapter in Reasons to Believe I will keep this until we start my book for lent. Run 5 days.
Monthly:  Order books for Book Study in Lent.   A decision is made! The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn 
2. Remove distractions at key times.
Daily: No computer 6:30-8:00am and 3:00-5:00(after everyone is home) THIS WORKS WELL FOR ME!
Weekly: Limit volunteering for the soccer league this week. Sometimes you can get too wrapped up in things and spend more time than needed and sometimes you have to Say NO!
Monthly: Plan a NO Electronics evening for the family. ONLY 4 days left YIKES!
 3. Add something to give more of me to my family.

Daily/Weekly (these seemed to go together): Give my family a proper send off and welcome home each day. Focused one on one time with each kid and my husband every day! Bible before bedtime prayers. I did not do as well at this last week.
Monthly: Plan a study for the family for Lent. READY!

Challenges this week in Goals for a better House: The house gave me three main challenges this week. 1. A clean house at bedtime continues to be my most challenging check point; I will keep working on this it will come with time.   
2. I found myself going to the computer many times to check my goal lists. I needed my lists to remind me what needed to be done, “Out of sight, out of mind”. I also like to cross things off; it adds a sense of accomplishment. I’ve been known to add something just to cross it off. So I finally finished my refrigerator cheat sheets for chores and tasks.  I really think this will help me to have them hanging in front of my face! Maybe the kids will even get involved with checking some of them off. I noticed that after one week of making my kids beds in the morning, my oldest daughter made hers both days this weekend without being asked! That is progress. 
3. Cleaning day still was not much of a success. I think I was a little over ambitious on what I could accomplish on Fridays. So I have broken my cleaning down strategically throughout the week. Less going up and down the stairs, Ha Ha! For those who are better housekeepers, no laughing. I started with a schedule that would meet Martha Stewart’s standards, but quickly realized that was not realistic. So some chores are given only bi-monthly or monthly time slots trust me for this mom if I accomplish everything on this cleaning schedule it will be a vast improvement in my house.

Below is what I came up with and printed. You are welcome to download and adjust these to fit your house and life.

Monthly Cleaning Schedule Download

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Run like your Melody Fairchild, run like your Suzy Favor-Hamilton, Oh JUST RUN!!!

(Inspired by "Embracing the 12 Minute Mile" by Lazy Mom Running(one of my K-State track teammates)

Many of you probably have no idea who either Melody or Suzy are but they were inspiration to me when I was a runner. I used to watch my shadow in high school and think I looked like Melody Fairchild running.  Yes exercise was on my New Year’s Resolution list and yes you are right it hasn’t made my focus goals yet for many reasons. 1. I wasn’t sure how it fit it, 2. It seemed a little selfish, 3. Like Lazy mom running, it’s hard to accept I’m not as fast as I used to be!

My mom is continually trying to get me to start running again; her and my Dad actually just completed their first Marathon, which should have gotten me motivated. But it took reading Embracing the 12 minute mile to get me out the door. No, check point 1 was not complete, but I was going running. The kids were home so I wouldn’t even have to push the buggy for my first New Year run. 

Despite the fact that I had Peach Cake for breakfast, at least it had fruit in it, no water yet, my 2 cups of coffee had enough water in it right? I quickly went to my closet and got my running shoes before I lost the spark. Looking for additional motivation I put on my Turkey Trot t-shirt from Thanksgiving, a fun run I ran with my kids mostly because I didn’t want to know how slow I would run on my own. Over top my K-State track sweatshirt and jacket. I put my ponytail high like I used to and topped it with my ponytail hole hat that my daughter makes fun of. I purposely didn’t look at the thermometer, I already knew it was cold(30deg when I finished) and headed outside. I did feed the cats and dog on my way out and to my 13 year old dog’s disappointment I locked her in the back yard. I was lucky to have the motivation to get myself going I wasn’t sure I had enough for the both of us. 

Then I began running!!

I was actually pretty excited. I really do love to run, I just want to start where I left off, not start over. Training has given me so much strength in everyday life. I too like Lazy Mom Running credit running to 5 childbirths with no epidural or pain meds. In Lamaze when they gave me a sheet showing the progression of contractions, it looked like an interval workout to me and I knew I could do it.  I dream about running and  feeling strong again like I used to.  Watching my son race cross country, and daughter in the 5th grade track meet brought tears to my eyes. In the fall when I see the beautiful leaves I think of cross country, the smell or rubber and sweat gives me visions of indoor track, the scent of new blooms in the spring and I am back in outdoor track season. As I was thinking all this I actually started to cry. I had to make myself stop, from crying not running.  I knew in about 5 minutes I would have enough trouble breathing as it was, I didn’t need to accelerate the process.

Later on my second hill, I was regretting wearing my K-state track attire hoping no one would drive by and see them. As slow as I was moving they would likely think I had a kid who ran at K-state instead of it being me. Maybe I should have brought the buggy at least I would've looked younger that way. After 2 houses of mean barking dogs, a cow that wanted to run along the fence with me, and praying the “Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be” to distract myself up the last hill. I made it! It really felt good, mentally. I am not sure of the distance, but I will be clocking it next time I drive that way.

When I got inside, I was thirsty, I guess coffee doesn't cut it for hydration. My legs already felt a little tight walking downstairs to put wood in the stove. When I came back up my 6 year old said to me, “Mom, you look like a runner”.  I smiled, hugged her and said thank you. She had no idea how much that meant to me.

 I am happy to report within an hour of finishing I was caught up on the chores, had Pizza Muffins in the oven from a recipe off pintrest and wrote my rough draft of this post. The rest of the day was much more productive too, even with all the kids’ home.  

I always thought it was silly when I heard Mom’s say they need “ME” time, but maybe it’s true. My Mom always said running was the way she was able to refresh herself. I may not need a shopping trip or a night out on the town, but maybe I needed to run! Running wasn’t on my list of Focus Goals this week, but it is now. It DOES fit in. It build’s my relationship with God what better place to spend time with God than outside in his space. It also gives me fresh energy, which gives more of me to my family, not to mention setting a good example to my kids.And who cares if my shadow looked more like someone who’d never ran before than Melody Fairchild yesterday, that’s OK,  I was still glad I went, and I plan to go again today.  

Sometimes Mom’s are right, I wish I would have listened to her sooner. Don’t get any ideas Mom; I am not training for a marathon yet :)
I stopped briefly to take the picture of one of the hills and I was hoping to share it, but couldn’t figure out how to get it off my phone so all I have to share is the picture above. Which is what the hills looked like to me and my number one rule on running hills: 

Never stop on a hill, no matter how bad you feel, you’ll lose momentum physically and mentally.  Just another way running applies to life. I made it to the top without stopping, maybe I'm not be as out of shape as I thought.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Keep Running, but watch out for the Lightning!

I actually wrote this over the weekend, but didn't finish it until this morning. I still left it in Saturdays context, as it made more since that way! My Focus goals for January 21-25 are at the bottom.

 Life isn't about how you survived the's about how you danced in the rain.(author unknown)

This morning I prayed for focus, as I do many mornings, but this time I also asked God to help me to not let myself off the hook so easy. While drinking my coffee I decided I’d read a couple chapters in the bible. I am reading the book of Numbers, if you have read it before it is easy to let your mind wonder.  So a few paragraphs in I was negotiating with myself, I’ll just read one chapter today after all it is Saturday. When I came to the end of the first chapter it ended with, “spoke to him...…..” Really!? I cannot remember another chapter that ended that way. It was unfinished, to be continued if you will. Have you ever noticed sometimes when you ask God for help with something he sends you a challenge?  So I took the challenge and read on thinking I bet I am going to learn something great reading this chapter. It wasn’t bad but not inspiring like I had hoped. Then I realized maybe that was the point, it wasn’t about what I was going to get out of reading on, it was about the focus to continue that mattered. I felt better, for at least once this week I did not give in to my negotiations.

You can probably guess by the last statement I am disappointed and unsatisfied with how last week turned out. Not because my house wasn’t clean like I had hoped at the end of Friday, though it wasn’t. Quit honestly I spent so much time “planning how to get it all clean” I never got to the actual cleaning part.  I am disappointed in my lack of mental strength to get things done. I actually justified not getting chores done because I was making a schedule to help to get them done better. What sense does that make?
When I wanted to break 5 minutes in the mile in college, I didn’t come to practice and tell my coach I couldn’t workout today because I was working on a great training plan. I also did not stop halfway through because practice wasn’t going as I planned. I showed up each day and finished each workout.  Sometimes I wondered if it was even worth putting my shoes on, but I did it anyway and it was worth it.

Getting better at things requires practice. I tell my kids this all the time when they ask if they could just play games and not practice. Just like training for a race or a game you should not skip a workout or even worse give up in the middle of one. Some practices you trudge through and maybe even walk through the finish line. In this case never get past the morning chores for the day. It’s easier to start negotiating the worth of the day and decide it’s a loss and give up, just like I wanted to stop reading. The days you keep your focus despite the fact you may not have a sparkling clean house at the end are the best days of training. Days, weeks or what the heck months like this build your mental strength. Ask any athlete how far they can get on a good training plan alone, not very far. Do you really need mental strength to clean the house?  I don’t know about you but my mind is what normally lets me off the hook in anything I do.  I used to be so productive and mentally strong sometimes I wonder if that strength is gone?  No, I think I am just mentally out of shape, physically too but that’s another story.

With this said we need take into consideration the kid factor. Kids are kind of like the weather. What do you do if it starts storming when you are working out, allow yourself to be hit by lightning? No you head in and adjust the workout for the day.  When you become a mother the ability to have uninterrupted work time is over. Let’s face it despite the drought we are having outside it storms daily at my house.  How many times have I been cruising along feeling good about my progress only to turn around and see the toys I just organized are in a big pile again? Or just when I am thinking how nice it is to have quiet while balancing the checkbook my thoughts quickly change to, oh no why is it quiet?  You explore a bit and discover your two year old decided she was hungry and spilled half the bag of cereal on the carpet. Working through lunch is no longer an option. Then when I am folding the third load of laundry and am nicely asked to unscrew the lid of her chapstic, and without thinking I actually do it. I later clean it off of her, the coach, and a Rubbermaid tub of toys; those are only the spots I found.   Let’s face it your routine is interrupted daily, wait hourly, no wait by the minute! Seriously when’s the last time you went to the bathroom without someone hunting you down?
Right now you might be wondering which is it Samantha, stay focused and stop making excuses or don’t worry you have kids and they are your excuse?

Both! There will be days you’ll get up and put your running shoes on and never make it out the door. But don’t take them off and put on your slippers.  At the end of the day just like at the end of Numbers 8 the result may not be inspiring. Some days you just do the best you can. If you did you best it won’t bother you if your goals for Monday become your goals for Tuesday.  Only you know what your best for that day is, and there will be days when you don’t give it all we are human. When this happens instead of trying to justify it take a moment to refocus, re-tie your shoes and keep running. You never know when you will finally break the 5 minute mile. When I finally did it was in practice.

PS:  I have nothing against training in slippers I do! It was just a fun comparison. :)

A friend of mine shared a fitting story on FB, "If you give a Mom a Muffin". I always liked reading Laura Numeroff's books to the kids, now I know why. I can relate! With that said I better put my coffee down for a minute and go see what is happening in the bathroom since the water has been running for the last two paragraphs I’ve typed.