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.