Friday, December 14, 2012

Be Still

Yesterday while at the music store, I came across the clearance section.  There I stumbled upon a huge section of Christmas music.  I couldn't resist and ended up purchasing quite a few pieces.  Luckily they were 75% off...even better.

So last night I found myself at the piano.  I opened one book, filled with random Christmas favorites.  It was there, I saw the song, "Still, Still, Still."  I began to play the music, its melody surrounding me, its simple message ringing in my ears..."Still, Still, Still."

How ironic that the birth of our Savior was so still, simple in every way...and yet the world has created so much holiday hoopla that the "still of it all" isn't so quiet anymore.

It's LOUD! It's GREEDY!  It's NOW...sparkly decor raucously placed in parking lots, banners begging for holiday buyers on every corner, the SALES, the STRESS. No still.

The sacred stillness of the season is masked in the craze.  Can we take ourselves away from the hyper activeness that the Christmas season has become and simply, be still?

As Thanksgiving ushers in hearts full of gratitude, may we take moments to be still and remember Him...our Savior who came so humbly into the world to teach us to stop and listen and then follow...HIM.

Not a sparkle needed. No shouting necessary. No purchase required.

Just a willingness to be still, listen and follow.

And as a special treat, here is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing, "Still, Still, Still," as the story of Christ's birth is shown.  As you watch, notice all of the people in the crowded town, consumed with the bustle of life, not knowing what is actually going to transpire that very night.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I am a songwriter. This is because, well, I have written a song. Yes, moi, the sister of Hilary Weeks (singer and song writer extraordinaire) has written a song too.  Duh, I totally would be an obvious candidate for song writing with a sister like that.

So...I wrote a song many years ago.  In fact, it was so many years ago, I can't remember when...or why...or even HOW I did it!

Seriously, how in the heck does one even write a song!  I figure, if by some odd chance one could come up with a melody (odd chance it happened to me many years ago) and some lyrics are created, then BAM!, you are a song writer (or at least a one hit wonder in my case).

The song in which I am referring to is entitled, "Pollywog."  It is absolutely the stupidest song in the world, with its catchy nonsensical (totally dumb) lyrics and simple tune.  And yet, it continually pleases audiences of all ages, cultures and classes.

If you don't believe me, read them yourself (and if you are lucky, I'll throw in the melody in the next few days...I am sure you can't wait):


One day I was walking and I saw a dog. Her name was Lucy and she called me Pollywog. I said to her, that is not my name you silly dog. I said to her, "My name is Fred.

And she said,


Polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly...wog.
Polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly, polly...wog.

I went to my house and started to run, saying to Lucy, you ain't much fun.  I have me some legs and breathe in the air, if you don't see it, you really don't care."

And she said,


After the teasing from that old dog, I see myself in a puddle and there stands a frog. Oh my, I sigh and realize on the spot, indeed I was a polly and I had been caught.

And we say...


Is that not a seriously inspirational song?

Not only was it performed while I was in high school on many occasions, it had a four part harmony while I was a missionary in Denmark (I wish I had that recorded). It was sung at my wedding (thanks dad) and played during an awkward moment last year while waiting for a piano student to arrive (full house too). And today I sang it for the middle schoolers in their chorus class.  Bam...a total success.

Now, if only I could come up with some cool dance moves to go along with it (think Gangnam Style) and I would be set for life.

Because I know it is the one and only song I will ever write.  I am totally content with the success that Pollywog has encountered through the years.  But yet, there are still more ears that need to hear and hearts that need to open as they feel Pollywog's power.  Yep, I think the next step is to bring Pollywog to everyone.  I will be talking to my son (guitar player extraordinaire) and his band to see if we can spice up, dance up and totally spread the message of the Pollywog song (or maybe Hilary or another sibling will help). In case you didn't immediately grasp its message, here lies its meaning:

Not everyone is out to judge you, they are simply loving the you, you have become.

Or maybe the message is about judging (and bullying):

Some know it all dog, named Lucy (with her own self esteem problems), is going around taunting and teasing the new kid in town, Fred.  He just moved to the area, just up from the bog around the corner.  Just trying to fit in, he doesn't understand why this mangy mutt is following him around, chanting some "pollywog" nonsense.

It really is a song that morphs (hence the pollywog title) into any meaning to anyone.

I love you "Pollywog" and always will.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

And So We Are Reminded...

I was reading in Luke, chapter 10 the other day, I came across the story of Martha and her sister Mary.  We read that upon Jesus' arrival, Mary immediately sits at His feet to listen to His word.

Later, after Martha has been "cumbered about much serving," she says to the Lord, "Doth thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me."

Jesus' response surprises many of us (as I am sure most of us have felt this very way), "Martha, Martha (I love how he says her name two times...I feel the love and understanding He must have for her), thou art careful (which means worried) and troubled about many things...but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

I have read this story many times and have honestly been a little frustrated by His response.  While I completely understand his explanation of Mary choosing the "better part," I can't help to have sympathy  for Martha.

I mean, who doesn't start cleaning "madly" upon hearing a friend is stopping by?  We quickly straighten, light a candle and pop in a batch of cookies.  And if we are having really special visitors, we go all out, cleaning the entire house, baking, placing centerpieces perfectly...we do anything and everything to make our guest feel at home.

So here we have Martha, most likely preparing a lovely dinner for their special guest...feeling exhausted, wanting to join Mary at Jesus' feet but knowing the work needed to be done by someone.

But this time as I read these verses, instead of feeling like Martha was getting chastised, I felt she was given a simple reminder.

As we go through this life, there is truly only one thing that is needful...and that is our willingness to follow our Savior.

Too many times we feel we have to have the cleanest house, the skinniest bodies, the nicest cars, the best Sunday School lesson, the perfect children...and we become worried and troubled about many things...and with many people (who should be helping us).

But really, these things aren't important at all...and I think Martha knew that (and Christ gently reminded her).

Each of us are invited to bring all of our worries and troubles and for a moment sit at Jesus' feet. It is here He can comfort. He can heal. He can remind us what is needful...Him.

And then, when are "recharged," we can go about life's responsibilities.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"Boo" Unto Others...

...As you would have others "Boo" unto you!

The Halloween tradition of "booing" a neighbor is simply delightful for all ages.  It is fun to do the booing, and feeling the love of being booed. While I was visiting my parents in Utah, they happened to be "booed" one evening.  Although they were a tad bit confused at first, I quickly explained the entire process, getting them both excited about picking two friends to share goodies of the season with.

Now, it was all fun and games until I was the chosen "runner," to place goodie at doorstep, ring doorbell and RUN!  I think I looked pretty silly running down their street to the safety of their home without being caught. Once inside, we all giggled, excited about their friends receiving their "boo!"

And without even a kid in sight, three adults accomplished not only something "child-like" but kind by serving a neighbor with a little holiday cheer.  Completely simple but really "simply" how it should be done:

"Doing unto others, as you would have them do unto you."

And so upon my return, it was time for our family to do a little "booing."  We LOVE to boo our friends, the Leaps, especially their daughter, Brittany.  One evening, after gathering a little treasure, Ethan and Tate, quietly walked down the street with our treat.

Knowing how great it makes my children feel when our doorbell rings and a mysterious treat is left on our doorstep, they couldn't wait to do it themselves...sharing the happiness.

And so it goes...when you serve others, you not only bring happiness to others, you feel pretty darn good inside too (even the moms, grandmas and grandpas).

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pine Nuts: You Go and You Get What You Love.

My dad is what you call a good old fashioned, go getter...he goes and gets what he wants.  I witnessed my dad in action this past week on my visit to Utah.  Upon my arrival to their home, we sat at my parent's kitchen table, sipping Fresca and cracking open freshly roasted salted pine nuts.  I nibbled the meaty nuts and chucked the shells with ease not long after my father taught me the skill needed to fully master the pine nut eating ritual.

The next morning, I awoke to my dad packing up his car. He explained he was heading to the high country, some 4 hour drive to harvest more pine nuts.  The process was quite demanding, requiring a large tarp to be laid under pine laden tree and secured with rocks. Next, a long pole is heaved into the high branches and with pure muscle strength (and precision), the nuts are knocked from their home above to the tarp below.  My dad then takes the nuts to a water source and sifts out the fallen branches, pine cones and other unwanted items that find themselves on the tarp, mixed in with the beloved pine nuts.

After driving miles back home, the nuts were then washed and sorted, sprinkled with salt and placed in the oven for roasting.

Most people aren't willing to take the time and effort to acquire something as simple as pine nuts.  I mean, one can purchase a bag of pine nuts at the local grocery store (and they are even shelled for you!).  Who wants to drive for hours and expend large amounts of energy and time for a nut!?

My dad. Me. You.

It isn't really about the pine nut at all. It is all about what you LOVE and what you are willing to do for something you love.

Take the conversation I had with a man during the St. George marathon. He appeared next to me around mile 14.  I was feeling fresh and was he.  This allowed us to talk freely.  We struck up a conversation about our goals for our race. He asked what time I was shooting for.  After my reply, "Under 3:30," he told me he was going to stick with me.  That led to further discussion about this particular race. It was his first.  I told him, although I was from Virginia, I had run the last 16 of this race some 20 years ago with my friends after returning from an L.D.S mission from Denmark. He then replied, "Oh, you are a Virginian Mormon."  Upon hearing his tone, I quickly assessed he probably wasn't a Mormon. I then said, "Oh then you must be a Utah non-Mormon."  He laughed and explained he was a "Jack Mormon," which is a Mormon who isn't active in the church.

He seemed a bit embarrassed by his current state but I assured him not to worry. I said that it is essential we truly want to work for something. Those things we cherish, we work for and thus we hold dear. I explained that like our marathon journey, we wanted more than to simply finish the race, we hoped to finish with a specific time.  Because of such a lofty goal, months of orchestrated training runs, dedication and time would be required. It was important to us.

I continued to explain, "Like our relationship with God, if we want to feel close to Him, we must put our time and efforts on Him." I wanted him to realize that if he wanted a closer relationship to God he would be required to work...just like running.  And just like his ability to run fast and far, he would begin to grow closer to his Heavenly Father.  Similar  to the search for "pine nuts," requiring hours of driving, searching, knocking down, cleaning, sorting, roasting...we must go and get...and then we reap the rewards of what we truly want to reap.

I cherish my father's many adventures throughout his life, doing things he loves with those he loves.

Are you willing to go and get what you love?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Can Do This...St. George Marathon Recap

The alarm goes off at 4:00 (am!) and I begin my pre marathon ritual which consists of eating a large bowl of oatmeal, drinking a glass of water, hair styling (long thick hair if left alone will result in a sweaty rat’s nest) and making sure my running outfit is perfect for the upcoming conditions.

I head to the buses that will carry the runners on a 26.2 mile journey away from the finish line, along the race route to the start of the marathon.  It is along this drive, my seat passenger points out various aspects of the race that we will encounter along our run.  She shows me the road that drops us into the town that only leads us to our steep climb along miles 7 and 8.  We see groups of volunteers preparing each water stop that we will soon partake.  After what seems like a journey in itself, we leave the buses and enter phase two of any marathon, the bathroom lines.

It is dark. It is windy and extremely cold.  The lines are tremendously long and I search for the “best” one.  After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, my turn finally comes.

By now, the marathon start time fast approaches. I quickly place my valuables in the designated drop off area and make my way to the start.

I am alone as I stand in line with thousands of runners.  I am okay with being alone.  I truly believe running a race is an individual journey.  Although I know not a soul in my sight, I feel the support of friends and family with me.  I know they have seen my hard work. They know how much this race means to me and will be awaiting to hear from me at the end of my chosen adventure.  This gives me strength as the gun sounds.

I always seem to tear up just a bit as I begin the first miles of a marathon.  The miles of running, the early mornings, late nights, tempo runs, speed workouts…the commitment to a goal and the knowledge that I did everything I had promised to do takes center stage.  I am ready to face the hills, the heat, the muscle pain, muscle fatigue, mental struggles…I am ready to race.

The first few miles whiz by as my body wants to keep up with others running too fast (for we all are fresh), jockeying for positioning and adrenaline pushing me along.

The sun begins to rise above the mountains and its warmth settles on our backs.  Extra clothing quickly starts to fly over head as runners now get serious about settling into their paces.

My mind gravitates quickly to the daunting miles that lie ahead and I wonder if I will be able to keep my pace and succeed with my goal of breaking my personal record of a 3:30 marathon.  It is here, during these early miles, that I remind myself, I am capable of reaching my goal.  But in order to accomplish it, I must try.  I know it will not be easy  but it is possible…if I simply try.

With that I begin my descent into a little town…with a “big” hill.  I hadn’t really expected many uphills along this race but had been warned about it by my friends.  As the road turned, I looked up, and there, in the distance, I see it, the longest uphill road in history.

It is here, the pace group for the 3:25 runners (a pacer leads a group of runners with the goal of 3:25 along, giving advice, encouragement and keeping pace) approaches from behind. I can hear the lead pacer saying, “Okay, runners, gear up for this hill.  Keep a steady pace…we can do this!”

For a moment, as the group of about 20 runners passes along side me, I think I will jump aboard and give this pace a whirl…but seeing how fast they approached and passed me, I decide to forgo that stupid idea and keep my current pace.

Running up that hill was completely insane.  Runners were walking.  Runners were huffing and puffing.  Runners were suffering.  I was suffering.  But I decided to try to keep moving forward and that I did. Before I knew it, mile 7 and 8 were a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, the uphill climbing did not agree with my previously pained hamstrings. I had taken a few Advil before the race and had planned on popping a few during…but alas, I had forgotten them in my bag.  After a few miles of some good pain in my right hammy, I chanced upon a spectator offering tissues and Advil.  I quickly put out my hand, receiving the blessed pills. 

At mile 10, I notice that at the water stops, there is also a med tent. There, two or three people are down on their knees ready to rub “Ben Gay” on any area in need of attention.  I decide to make a quick stop, where a person dabs this much needed cream onto my right hamstring.

Miles pass, with even more hills and I anticipate the promise of a 2000 feet drop in elevation. I can't wait to let my hamstrings take a break and let my quads take over.

It doesn't take long before the downhill portions begin.  I immediately and without much effort, begin making my way, down…down…down into Snow Canyon.  Here the constant red rock is met with white rock making for the most beautiful vistas.

My body is pleased with this new arrangement, letting the quads finally do some work. I begin to pick up my pace and quickly fall into a comfortable groove.

As mile 19 approaches, I look ahead and in the distance, I can see the 3:25 pace group.  I thought to myself at the time, “maybe I can catch them.”  I begin to slowly pass people and begin anticipating the descent into St. George.   It would be here that my friend Amy would be cheering.  I am so relieved I feel so good at this late stage into the race. 

Sure enough, right at mile 23, I see Amy and Reed. Sign in hand, they cheer for me, giving me that final push to keep going.  Newly charged, I notice the balloons carried by the 3:25 pace group only a few blocks ahead.  I quickly gain and by mile 24, I have reached them.  I can't believe I have actually caught them. I know at that moment I will  beat my 3:30 time. But now, I might actually beat it BIG time!  I am surprised I feel as good as I do. Normally in a race, there is a mysterious point of time that “a light switch” goes off and I feel horrible both in body and mind.  But here, at mile 24.5, I feel fine.  Stride in stride with the other runners, I make my way to the final mile.  As I turn the corner, the crowds are cheering, “One more mile!”  But then, it happened, the switch is flipped and my body says, “I have had enough.”

It is strange when this happens.  You wonder why you can’t simply keep running at pace when you only have a half of a mile left.  But you can’t. In fact, you can barely keep running.  Your mind is screaming at you to stop this nonsense…stop!  In fact, other runners around you are already walking.

With the temptation to stop looming, there is comes, the light ahead, the blessed finish line.  Turning the final corner, I see the balloons in the distance…only .2 miles to go. The crowds cheer with words of encouragement, “Only two more blocks!” I can do this!

My mind wanders back to the start of the race.  The place I was only 3 hours ago, with a long and an arduous 26 miles to go, now with only 2 blocks to go. I can do this!

The pace group I have joined finishes.  Countless others have too.

And now it is my turn.  I cross the finish line. Not only can I do this...I just did (and shattered my previous time by over 5 minutes) coming in at 3:25:27.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Success is One Who Decides to Succeed...and Works

If you want to run a marathon you can.  All you need to do is run... a lot.  In reality, if you want to accomplish anything in life, all you have to do is decide and then try...a lot. This morning, my father handed me a newsletter from the company he works for, written by one of the "big-wigs," Dennis Parks.

He said,

A Success is one who decides to succeed...and WORKS.
A Failure is one who decides to succeed...and WISHES.
A Decided Failure is one who failed to Decide and failed to Work.

Not everyone wants to run a marathon or become a doctor.  You may want to master knitting, become proficient at scrapbooking, golfing, skiing, or teaching. You may want to serve a neighbor, learn to play the guitar, get that raise!

But first you must decide and then you MUST WORK!

My first marathon took place 9 years ago, only 9 months after my fourth son was born.  My goal at the time was to follow the workouts outlined by my brother. My hope was to simply to lose "the baby weight" and finish.

But after following the plan religiously, I began to get faster and more fit.  My brother was thrilled and began to send me more challenging workouts.  Before I knew it, the goal to lose weight was met and a new goal was not simply finish the race but to finish under four hours.

After months of training, I completed my first marathon. Not only was I back to my pre-baby weight, I finished with a thrilling time of 3:53.

Not long after that race, I decided to train for another marathon. This time, I set a new goal. I wanted to qualify for the Boston marathon.  This training plan required more work. I had to run more often and add speed workouts.  After months of pounding the pavement, I accomplished by goal and ran a 3:42, qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 3 minutes.

With my fourth marathon, a new goal was set, to run a 3:30.  An entirely new training plan was needed and I committed to even more miles per week, tempo runs, and speed workouts.  After 18 weeks of serious work (and not one mile missed), I ran a 3:30:40 (which in my book counts).

Other marathons were run the next few years.  Most, simply for fun, brought me closer to friends as we trained together, ran the races together and traveled to various places sharing the joy of our accomplishments.

This year has been difficult in many ways.  I decided in the late spring to set a new marathon goal, with the hope of finding an outlet and a focus for myself.  I decided I wanted to run a sub 3:30 marathon.  This meant I would need to run my marathon under a 8 minute mile pace.  I knew once I set the goal, I would be setting myself up for miles upon miles of running in the heat and humidity of Virginia.  I knew I would be required to not only run a ton of miles but I would need to run a ton of them fast.

I made my decision to succeed and then came the work.

Just shy of 900 miles, many of which were run alone, with intense heat that couldn't be avoided, humidity that enveloped me with every step, I stood confident at the start of the St. George Marathon on this past Saturday.

I stood at the start of my race in the early darkness of the morning with the knowledge I would succeed.  I had worked (run) and worked (run even more) countless hours to reach my ultimate goal.  I knew I had the strength, both in body and mind to run a steady pace that would carry me to the finish I had so desired and worked for through the summer.

The announcer counted down, the starting gun went off and thousands of runners began their individual journey 26.2 miles away...a finish that held different meanings for each person.  And it wasn't just wishing to run fast that made me fast that day, it was the just working to run fast I did each and every day for 16 weeks that made my race a success.

Working for success rather than wishing for it...I did just that, and because of my work, ran even faster than I could have imagined, 3:25:27, taking 5 minutes off my fastest time!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Training Plan

Earlier this summer, in the midst of my challenging marathon training, a conversation between me and my older children began as I lamented about an upcoming long run.

"Mom, if you are getting sick of running, why not just stop running so much."

This led me to share a wonderful analogy with them that flowed perfectly with the challenges they face as teen-agers.

I said, "I know I have the choice at anytime to skip a run, forgo a speed workout, or to even stop my training. But if I do, I immediately give up opportunities I may have had to reach my goal. If I quit or decide to do less than is expected, I may no longer have the ability to run my fastest marathon.  By giving up or making choices that are not in "my plan," can make my "potential" in this race unreachable or even impossible.

I want to have the confidence as I stand at the start of my race, armed with the knowledge that although there will be challenges that lie ahead, hills that will be necessary to climb, vales that will require strength to descend, heat that will be beat upon me and long miles to be passed...I have done everything required of me to conquer and reach my goal.

Because I will spend hours training for this very race, I will know I have the potential to reach my goal.  I will have the confidence to withstand the challenges I will face and the ability to not only finish strong, but to finish even stronger."

I proceeded to explain to them, "Here you are in the throws of your teenage life. In these few short years, you will face serious challenges and temptations at every corner.  You will have the choice to keep with your challenging "training program" or to follow the crowd that tends to lead one down the easier path...a path that does not prepare and can destroy.

If you chose to work hard in your schooling, stay far away from the filth of the world and do your best to "never miss a workout" by participating in wholesome activities, attending church with an open heart and mind and spending time on your knees developing your relationship with your loving Heavenly will have the ability to conquer all and finish your race.

Sometimes we think the training plan we have been given restricts us, takes away our freedoms and even our choices.  But in reality it does the opposite.  A training plan strengthens us, teaches us and allows us to have the ability to finish strong.  It isn't always easy and it may even seem unfair...until race day.  You will be standing at the start of your race, surrounded by thousands of other runners, nervous but completely confident that you can accomplish your goal, because of that very plan.

And because of it, you can.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A New Season

So I was complaining about my "trials of life" to a friend of mine when she told me, "I am so sorry Heather you are going through these things, you know, we all have some serious trials." She then proceeded to share with me hers.  I had no idea she had suffered many years of her life with such pain.

This sweet friend, reminded me (I seem to constantly need reminding), that everyone is given difficulties in life.  And sometimes these trials are pretty darn tough.  I absolutely don't want someone else's tribulations and there are times, I absolutely don't want mine.  However, I know the difficult things I have, I can handle.  And how grateful I am for those people who have been there through mine.

As we wiggle and squirm, attempting to bear our heavy burdens, we have the opportunity to become stronger in every way.  We learn to depend on our loving Father in Heaven who knows of our pain and will open doors as we place our faith in Him.

And it is possible to still feel happy, content and faithful during these difficult times. 

Take today for instance.  The oppressive heat is gone.  A light breeze passes through my open window. The leaves shift ever so slightly showing a slight change in their color, reminding me that a new season isn't far away.  I feel happy. I am content.  I have faith.

We are all given new seasons throughout our lives.  We have opportunities to grow and become beautiful. Other times, our seasons shifts and we may crumble a bit, lose our color and wilt.  In these moments we may feel cold, lost and alone.  But we are always given a new season. Here we can become beautiful once again.  And we always stronger.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hawaii With Aunt Lisa

Our children are very blessed to have their Aunt Lisa.  She takes each one of our kids on an adventure of their choosing when they turn 12.  Ethan finally hit the 12 year old mark this year and the planning began.  The first question is always:
Where do you want to go? 
As always, they can pick anywhere in the U.S.  Ethan narrowed his choices to the Grand Canyon and Hawaii. 
After much thought, Hawaii was chosen.  Aunt Lisa then takes over, planning the ultimate experience.
Remember Sommer  (Sommer went back due to a complication)and Calvin's big trips?  Amazing...
A few days after school was out, they began their adventure to Hawaii.
 Their first stop was Oahu.  Upon arrival, they were greeted with fresh leis (which Ethan said smelled amazing)!

 They explored every nook and cranny of this Island, touring, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, beaches, waterfalls, snorkeling and even parasailing (scroll down for awesome pictures)! LUCKY!

They spent some time on the North Shore, visiting BYU-H (I went there for a semester and LOVED it), the L.D.S. temple and a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

 Aunt Lisa knows how to pack in the fun...and tire out teenagers!

 After a few days on Oahu, they flew to the big Island of Hawaii and saw plenty of volcanoes, turtles, toured caves and purchased a ukulele!

 More sleep was necessary due to the huge amount of FUN that was had!

 They even spent time at the Kona temple!
 Ethan brought home a ton of stuff...but he loved his stash of foreign candy!  His siblings and neighbors gathered 'round as he talked about his trip and shared his loot!
 The highlight according to both Lisa and Ethan, was the Parasailing adventure!

 Thank you Lisa for making amazing memories for Ethan.  We love you!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In the Silence, Listen

The house is completely quiet, except for the humming coming from the printer.  The dog and 2 cats are sleeping at my feet, every now and then, Rigby's whiskers suddenly twitch.  The children are spread at their various locations:

1.  Sommer just finished her Varsity Field Hockey game and is watching the JV (I attended this but made it home already)
2. Calvin is playing his first scrimmage football game (Garth attending)
3. Ethan is at guitar lessons.
4. Tate is at football practice.
5. Ashton, not quite sure but rumor has it Pop Pop took him along with Ethan.

In a matter of minutes, my children will begin running through the doors of our home with sweaty faces, laughter and stories a plenty to share.

But in this small moment, it is quiet.  I have time to focus and ponder.  It is amazing the thoughts that run easily through my mind without the constant slamming of doors, neighborhood children seeking companionship, the dog hopping up each time, searching for a shoe to present to each visitor, the phone ringing, hungry people requesting food...and on and on.

I had an experience last week that reminded me how important it is to seek moments of quiet.  It is here we can clear our minds of the everyday hustle and bustle that crowds into life which may make it more difficult to hear guidance from our Heavenly Father.

In one small moment, sitting quietly in my room, I felt the need to check on one of my children.  And without hesitation I did...

I can't go into detail about what transpired but I know at that very moment of pause, the heavens were able to speak and my soul able to listen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When Life Hands You a Lemon...

...Make Lemonade!

I have decided I am going to make lemonade today...and tomorrow...and the next...!  Starting today, I am going to pour an excessive amount of "sugar" into my daily life.

Yep. That is what I am going to do.

No one is exempt from a little souring that creeps or sometimes simply dumps unexpectedly into rour life.  What makes the difference is how we react to these challenges.

A lemon, unpeeled and sitting in my hand is a rather useless item.  The rind is quite hard and the pulp inside is too sour for most to simply eat (unless you are my dad who loves to slice a lemon in half, put salt on it, squeeze and's actually pretty darn good).

No one wants to carry around a lemon. And no one wants to be around that lemon either. 

And for the past few months, I have been that lemon.

But everyone wants a tall glass of ice cold sweet lemonade!  Just last week, my dear friend Melanie took me to the quaint town of Middleburg.  There, we found a hidden gem of a shop tucked down a few steps of an old store front.  Tired and overheated from the hot summer day, we ordered the "lemonade smoothie."  What we received was pure bliss. A tall glass filled with the sweetest, smoothest, iciest goodness.

We took our drinks and literally fell into a huge soft leather couch.  There, we not only enjoyed the lemonade, we enjoyed each plain hard ol' lemon in site!

My exterior is a bit like the rind of a lemon right now.  But I am ready to take the seemingly pointless outer peel and create a little zest.

Today I received a text from a friend asking how my day went. Instead of quickly going into my complaining mode, I simply said, "Great." I left it at that. If you take notice, you will see that "great" was not followed by an explanation mark as one might normally put with a word such as "great." Not yet. Not today.  But it is a start. 

Tomorrow I hope to squeeze a little juice, add some sugar and see what happens next.

I may just find that pointless old lemon has turned into a "GREAT!" glass of delicious lemonade.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

She is...

She is...

The one that is a constant in life. She comforts and is simply "available" to meet your every need.

She is...

The one that runs in the rain, the snow, the wind, the heat, the distance...even though she isn't the one who is training.

She is...

The one that hears the desire and makes that dream happen.

She is...

The one that stops her life to listen.

She is...

The one that will say yes and make it happen.

She is...

The one that gives without expecting anything in return.

She is...

The one that hears a cry and runs towards you with open arms.

She is...

The one that listens without judging yet leads you along the correct path.

She is...

The one that sees your successes and the the first one to cheer.

She is the one that wisks you away for a moment and returns you stronger.

She is...

You, my dear friends.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Ride

I have a bunch of biker friends.  Not so much "biker" as in Harley but "biker" as in Trek. These friends are road biking people.  They all meet a few times a week and ride 30-50 miles (maybe more, I don't know) at lightening speed.  If you want to join them, they welcome you...but they won't "wait" for you.

And so I found myself with nothing to do last night except the option of riding with my biker friends.  I sent a quick text to the ring leader (and dear friend), Kenny, to just check what kind of pace they were going these days.  You see, I haven't ridden with them for at least a year and I know how they roll...very, very fast.

He quickly texted me back, easing my mind like he always does saying, "You'll be fine Heather. Just come and join us."

That actually means, "You will suffer Heather. We will not slow down for you just because you are a girl or haven't been training.  Just come and join us...and good luck."

I know this. I accept this.  I am used to this and actually appreciate it. I don't want the group to make special conditions for me, especially when I " show up" every now and again. I can't expect wouldn't be fair to those that ride and ride and ride.

I understand because, I run and run and run and therefore I can.  My brother told me a few years ago after I asked him how I could bike faster. He told me quite frankly, "You have to bike to bike."  Okay. I completely understood but I have failed to make that happen.  I average about 3 biking workouts a month. Can you imagine trying to run a marathon with 3 RUNS a month?!

See, I understand.

Armed with total understanding, knowledge of the pain I would be in, the group I was riding with and the acceptance of my lack of training (I do have a wonderful heart muscle you know... biking quads...not so much)...I packed up my bike, water and other necessities and went to join the group.

I quickly see Kenny (the fastest dude ever), Pete (another fastest dude) and a myriad of acquaintances that I have seen from past rides...yes...all fast.  I then began to search the unloading cars for the following:

other women or "out of shape" men.

Today was not my day. No other ladies and no men that looked out of shape.  I knew it wasn't going to be an easy ride.

The only hope I really have when I ride with these guys is drafting.  If I can stay right on the tire in front of me, I have a chance to hang with the group and avoid "getting dropped." If you get "dropped" you can say good bye to a lovely "pull (when you draft behind someone, you really get a ton of help and you exert less)." You can also say good bye to everyone and hello to a solo ride.

No one waits.

And I am totally okay with this. Growing up with a brother that was and still is an amazing athlete, taught me early on that "waiting" for someone makes the slower person's workout torture as well as the faster person's.

The ride began and I was ready to push myself just enough to stay with the group until the first set of hills.  The first hill, Waterfall, is a lovely place where each rider blazes past me (except for the one really fat guy...who then races past me on the downhill...yeah, Newton's good old, "Law of Motion" takes over).  For the next 8 miles, you are pretty much on your own.  Groups of riders with similar abilities make their way up and down hills, catching some, leaving others. It is a complete free for all.

I was pretty much alone for that section due to my inability to move quickly up a steep hill.  My heart was racing, sweat was dripping (even off my legs) and the mass of riders could be seen leaving me in the distance.

The good news for me (and maybe 4 others), the lead riders wait at one of two points in the 30 mile ride.

And then, off they go.

During this section, we head down a steep road that turns quickly onto a smaller road lined with fields of corn, cows in pastures....simply beautiful. I normally enjoy the view, take in the beauty of my surroundings but not when I am riding with these boys.

They cruise around the corner and pick up speed and start some silly "let's see who is the fastest rider" game.  I try to hang on but quickly get left in the dust.  It is a slight uphill section which just doesn't work for me.  I find myself with a group of three guys.  I hang onto the back tire of the last guy knowing, I must, if I want a free ride on a flat, long section of road that is coming up.

If I lose them, I am once again on my own, exerting more energy than if I were drafting (and letting one of them, get tired out).

I begin to fall further behind.  And before I know it, I am twenty feet behind. I spin like mad trying to catch these fellers before they hit the open road. No luck.  They take off and I am solo. I must use my own power to make my way down this road until the next meeting point.  Darn.

But, if you think I am the last rider at this point, you are wrong.  I actually make it to the waiting riders with guys still to come. Yay me!

The final section of the ride is tough. We have to make our way back the way we came (remember the hills). The guys are all warmed up, ready to "race" each other once again as they rocket themselves home.  I simply want to burn a few calories and chat about the goings on of my day.  See men and women are so different...

We begin the first hill and I can't believe it, I am leading...okay for only a matter of seconds!  Then the entire group starts passing me one after another, leaving me with words encouragement:

"Get off your seat and start pedaling!"
"Go faster, woman."
"Spin girl, Spin!!!"

As each passed, with their "encouraging" remarks, I stand up, I feel faster and I spin like nobody's business. But it doesn't work. 

Until...Mike pulls up next to me and says, don't move, keep straight.  He then pushes my bike and I rocket past everyone.

He does this a few more times, keeping me with the group.  In addition, he tells me to focus on someone in the middle of the group, rather than simply keeping with the last guy.  With words such as, "You got this," "Awesome," "Steady," "Don't lose sight of that tire," I am able to keep up with everyone.

Until...they all raced down the final hill and onto the last 8 mile stretch.  This section is fast and furious. This is the part I totally need a tire to keep focused on....someone to pull me along in order to keep up.

But remember, these guys don't wait. And they didn't.

I saw two lone dudes up ahead...and I tried with all the power I could muster to catch them. I could not.

I was alone for the final stretch.

A few minutes in, I teared up.  I thought, "Why am I crying?"

It wasn't that I couldn't complete the final miles, I was in great shape for a bike ride.  It wasn't like these guys had done anything mean, I knew what this ride entailed.  It wasn't like I didn't know what I was doing or didn't know where to go...I did.

I then thought about offers each of us so much.  Along our "ride" we have others to encourage us, help us when they can...but it is still up to us to ride.

If we want to ride fast, we have to train fast. If we want to be strong on the hills, he have to build a stronger body.  And we need to spend more time on the road to give us the ability to endure. 

It is up to each of us individually to make that happen.  Mike can push, Kenny can encourage, Pete can cheer...

But only Heather can finish.

How fast or slow you up to you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

St. George Marathon

I am currently training for the St. George Marathon.  After a few tries, I finally made the lottery. Most of my east coast friends have never heard of this coveted race.  This race boasts, ideal weather conditions, an awesome drop in elevation (perfect for a PR) and is limited to only 7400 runners.

It is also:

Voted "Most Organized" by Runner's World Magazine survey. January 2010 issue

15th Largest Marathon In The USA 

Listed in Runner's World as the "Fastest Fall Marathon" and included as one of Runner's World"10 Most Scenic Marathons and Top 20 In the USA." And one of the "Cream of the Crop"marathons in the nation. 

Just take a look at that drop from 5240 FT to a blessed 2680 FT.  I like.

I am determined to beat my fastest time of 3:30 (and some change) finally, after years of trying to accomplish this goal.

It takes time. It takes determination. It takes a lot of pain. It takes  A LOT of running.

If you think I am kidding, just take a look at this week's runs:

Monday: 6 miles with 6X 100's
Tuesday: 12 miles
Wednesday: A Much Needed Day Off
Thursday: 11 miles with 6 at 15K Pace
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: 20

Total: 54 Miles

The toughest two things about training right now are the blasted heat/humidity and having the kids home. Getting up before the sun rises is NOT "my thing."  And trying to fit a 2 hour run in while shuffling kids to and from swim team, camps, and piano lessons can be tricky.

But you know what?  I am actually doing it!

I make each day its own.  I focus only on that days responsibilities.  After completing one day, I move along to the next...and something amazing is happening...I am doing it.

St. George, here I come.