Friday, May 24, 2013

Mailbox Meeting #2-Your Best is Not Good Enough

     I ran into H. a few days ago, and just in time too! My daughter is growing up,(ugh!), and I am having a hard time letting go! I want to protect her from everyone, and everything. Which is impossible, I know this in my head, but my heart has not caught up yet!
     So I was pleasantly surprised to run into H. at the mailbox, with lots on my mind, questions and digging for her support on how everything I am "doing" right when it comes to her. I am one of those overly involved mother, is there such a thing? I want to know where she is, who she is with, what she is doing, and when she will be home, back to the safety of my watchful eye! However, I know this is not practical, and yet every part of my body fights to protect her. Regan is a good kid, actually she is a great kid., and she hangs out with great kids.Its just that they are all starting to drive now, and she wants to go so many places. We are in a dilemma  I am not ready to hand her off to just any driver,it really scares me. I am fearful of her getting into the wrong car, with the wrong driver. I am afraid they will be distracted by the radio, the phone or texting.  Raising a teenager is much different than I thought. You no longer only have to worry about trusting yourself with them, but you have to put your trust into them, and the friends they are around. You can't be there for everything they do, first it would be weird, and second they would be committing social suicide!
     Anyway, I was telling H. and asking her advice on letting Regan drive with a friend of hers, and then I proceed to tell her all the reasons why she is not going to do this, or that. I explain about all the "rules" I have in place, and safeguards. I plead my case to her, while she stands there and listens, with a part smile on her face, because she has already been where I am. She looks at me like she has a secret to share and is waiting for an opportune time to tell me. I finally finish, and look to her to congratulate me on how successful I am at being  a parent. However, when she replies, it is not what I expected.
She says,"Brenda, you need to know, your best is not good enough,its never going to be good enough."
 What?? I look to see if she is joking.. My best isn't what? I mean, I get the best parent award, so I am confused. I start to wonder, does she think my standards are too low? Do I need to do more?
and then in true H. fashion, she explains to me this:
     As parents we can do everything we think is right or good, and still bad things will happen.  We cannot protect them from everything, and everybody and that is why we have to give them to Christ, and trust Him to keep them safe. She reminded me, what I had forgotten, that there is someone who loves my daughter more than me, someone perfect. Christ.  However, giving up control, is a very hard concept for me. Trusting completely is even harder.Our best, my best, is never going to be good enough, because we are human and flawed.We cannot see the future, we cannot predict the unpredictable, but Christ can. The most important thing I can do for my daughter, is to pray for her. Daily. Pray for her safety, for her protection, and for her health.
     I think Christ gives us children, so that we can learn from them, see Him through them,but mostly to learn about ourselves, and see where we need improvement in moving towards a Christ centered life.When they are little, it is easy to keep a strong grip on them, to keep the control over their needs and wants, but as they get older, learning how to let go of that control is even harder. However, by doing so, it allows us to give it back to the One who has  been in control all along. It helps us to grow closer to Christ,( I mean have you ever prayed more than at a time when your teenager is coming home at night in someone elses' car!), it makes us rely on the One, who created them.
     As H. and I finished our conversation, I felt lighter.The sole responsibility of my daughters safety is not a burden I have to carry alone. No, I am not ready to say "yes" to everything, I will still be cautious. Rules will still be in place, but I am learning that I need to put my trust in the One perfect parent, My Heavenly Father, who will never leave her nor forsake her, and loves her more than I ever possibly could.
And although, my best will never be good enough, I sure as heck am gonna keep trying!

Monday, May 20, 2013

2013 Tough Mudder Finisher!.. The Race, What I learned about myself, and the human spirit!

     I am officially a 2013 Tough Mudder finisher! I got the headband and the t shirt and lots of pictures to prove it.What a great experience, it was a combination of challenge, fun, and camaraderie. I have to admit, there were times in my head before the race that I thought maybe I "shouldn't, couldn't or wouldn't" do it., However, once I arrived at the race all my fears of actually starting it subsided. I still held on to the the fear of some of the obstacles, and had even decided before hand, if there was one I didn't feel comfortable or safe doing, I would take the designated "safe" route.
     As the race begins, the announcer makes you feel so comfortable, and pumped up. You pledge to not leave any mudder behind, that it is a challenge, not a race, and that you will be more concerned about helping your fellow mudder finish an obstacle than you will be with your race time. Its pretty awesome, however, I wasn't buying it when the horn blew, and everyone took off from the corral. As we headed out to the first leg, wondering what lay ahead of us, you really could feel the excitement, and energy in the group. It was a different feel than road races I've done, or ever triathlons(although triathletes are some of the friendliest athletes I've met), this was different. We were going to go 11 miles, and complete 22 obstacles before the day was over. Obstacles with names like, Arctic Enema, Electric Eel, Mount Everest ,Boa Constrictor, Mud mile to name a few. And in between, you ran cautiously, through back road terrain, muddy water, and mounds, sometimes for long stretches, and you get to meet other mudders to keep you company. This is all before you get to the anticipated last obstacle of electric shock therapy, so that you can be crowned with your tough mudder orange head band.
     I absolutely loved this race! I loved it even more, doing this race with the Captain. We trained for this for months, and it paid off. We were able to finish the race under are allotted time, and when we finished we were not completely depleted of our energy. After every obstacle, we were looking forward to the next one. I did every single obstacle, successfully I might add! There were a few I was hesitant of, but with the Captains encouragement and patience,I did them.
     First,the Arctic Enema, this is where  you  jump into 34 degree water, you have to submerge yourself completely, they make sure of this because the only way out is to go under the wall that takes you to the other side! It was not just cold, it literally took my breath away, and when the Captain pulled me out, I couldn't feel my toes for at least 200 yards..
     The second obstacle, I was deathly afraid of was the, boa constrictor. You crawl on your belly through man made underground tunnels in complete darkness. The first time I went in I got to the turn and backed all the way out. At that point I had to decide, if I was going to complete it,and I decided to give it another try. When I got to the turn the Captain started talking to me from the other side,so I followed his voice and made it through.
     The third obstacle was jumping into a pool of muddy water from about 12-13 feet high platform. I was fine until I got up to the top and looked down, and then I froze. I kept having flash backs of public pools and high diving boards! But, after watching a few people go in, I took the plunge and it was awesome!
    The much anticipated electric shock therapy was painful,and almost unbearable depending on where you got hit.  The Captain got shocked, went down, and bruised a rib! I did get shocked so many times, by the end all I could do was lay there in the mud, and finally one of the guys in our group ran out and just pulled me through!
     The toughest obstacle for me was the funky monkey. I was never very good at monkey bars, and these are monkey bars on steroids. They go way up, then you have to come down them. I did much better than I thought I would, I got to the last part, and the bar twisted and my wrist went out, so I fell into a pit of red water.
     The easiest was the cage. You pull yourself on your back, through muddy water by holding onto a cage. I actually enjoyed this one, and glided right through it quickly.
      My favorite was Mount Everest. You have to run up a greased hill and pull yourself over the wall. It took me four times, because I was laughing so hard from sliding down into the mud! However, once the Captain got up to the top(he did it on his first try!) I knew all I had to do was grab his hand and he would not let me go, and he didn't and I made it!
       My most proud moment, at the end when the announcer had us do eleven push-ups before we could enter the electric shock therapy, but After we did Mount Everest,  and I being the only girl, pumped them out right next to all those boys,without skipping a beat!
       Most inspirational moment, was when I was in the mile mud slosh and a man came up behind me, with an artificial leg,pushing through, and was joking about we were all trying not to lose our shoe, he was trying not to lose his leg!
     The thing is, throughout this whole race, you didn't do it alone. You had your team,  the volunteers, the workers and strangers helping you complete your race. You were actually expected to help others once you got over the walls, ropes, or mud. Everyone adhered to the "pledge". It was so great to see so many people, willing to sacrifice their time to help someone else succeed. It was almost like part of your race was to finish well, but in doing so you helped others finish well. There were all types of people there,all ages, all fitness levels,and all nationalities, moving toward a common goal. It was a race where everyone comes together, gives advice, encouragement,and celebrates each victory. We shared water,salt,and energy gels, but more importantly, we shared an experience for those few hours in which we all had one goal. We became, "one team".It reminded me that in life, like this race, people need people. We need each other to help us get through the tough times,to celebrate the good times, and to keep each other company during the boring times.I could not have completed this race without the help of my teammates, and the help of strangers,it would have simply been impossible.
     Every race I do, I learn more about myself. I think that is one of the reasons I race. This time I learned that even though I was afraid, I didn't let the fear stop me. Yes, I hesitated, but I pushed through it and was better for it.That I will no longer listen to people telling me I "can't" do something, but more importantly, I will never tell myself I "can't" do something. I can and I will, because there are no limits, only limitless opportunities when you believe in yourself .That the Captain and I make a much better team together, than we could ever do alone.And that he will never let me fall,give up on me,or leave me behind.
     I also learned so much about the human condition. We are all the same, only different.We all want to do our best, and be our best. We all want to help someone, and we all need someone's help. That we all want to be successful, and we find joy in other people's success.That at the end of the day,what matters most,is people, and relationships.Like this race, we are not meant to "do" life alone, but together.
     The Captain and I are already planning on signing up for another one,we hope to have more people on our team, however, we know that on race day, we will be part of a bigger team, the Tough Mudder team, where no mudder is ever left behind!

Monday, May 13, 2013

First Issue "Mail Box Meetings"

     I have lived in my neighborhood for 8 years now, and one of my favorite houses is the one directly across the street. Its a yellow house, always manicured neatly, and simple. I always feel like the sun is just always shining on that house. I don't know if its the sunbeam color, or if I just imagine that the house is just happy. Can houses have personalities? I don't know, but if they did, this one would be saying "welcome, come on in, put your feet up and have some ice cold tea!" I think I also love it, because a very special lady lives there. I don't get to see her much, or spend lots of time with her, because we are both in different seasons of our lives.
      H. is starting her empty nesting phase after raising five boys, homeschooling all of them! I am in the middle, with a very busy teenager, a preteen and a three year old. So what happens is, every few days to a week, we end up meeting at our mailboxes. Its not on purpose, we don't plan them, they just happen. We deemed these are "mail box meetings". You see neither of us have a whole lot of time before we know we will be  interrupted by one of my kids, or she will need to get back to something she left on the stove, or her beloved  husband  (she is the caregiver), so we only have about fifteen to twenty minutes  of precious time to visit. We, of course, start out with the formalities  how is this, how was that, how is_____? Then we get to the real conversation, the meat of the visit. I have learned a lot about life, myself and H. in those small nuggets of moments.
   1.  Time is short, and if you don't get to the "good" stuff right away,you may miss it altogether.
   2.We can choose who we spend time with, and sometimes 15 minutes with the right person, can lift your spirit more than hours with the wrong the one.    
   3.That conversations are supposed to go two ways, and there is always time to listen and to speak.
   4. Wise advise can be summoned up with few words,and lots of understanding.
   5.Even when you have your own issues, you can  always make time for someone else's.
   6. Time is precious, so you need to make good use of it.
   7.Its not about the quantity of time you invest in a friendship, but the quality of time.
   8.In the midst of struggles,disappointments,and heartache there is still hope, but more importantly faith.
   9.That are kids will grow up, and we will have to let them go.
  10.That life is hard, but God is so very, very good.
    Our mailbox meetings, have become something I look forward too. Its the off chance of surprise that we may meet up, its an announced gift, its the fellowship we offer one another, its the friendship that we share. I will be posting future issues of "mailbox meetings", and hope you will get as much out of the rich conversations as I do!
So, next time you go to your mailbox and spot your neighbor; wave, say hi, because you may end up having some mailbox meetings all your own!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How Do You Define Beauty?

     How do you define beauty? Does it come from within, or is it the outward appearance that is portrayed? As women, but more importantly as mother's, we need to really think about how we define beauty. Is it the number on the scale or the size on your jeans? Is it the miles we run, or the salads we eat? Is it giving back to the poor, and helping the needy?
 The media would like us to believe, its all about what is on the outside, but we as mother's need to take a hard look at that approach.We are allowing the magazines, television, and movies to define beauty to our daughters. Maybe, we ourselves are also in this trap, trying to look like how the world tells us we should look like.
     I love to exercise, I will admit it, but I have to be very careful that I am setting a good example of health to my daughter, and not portraying a warped sense of body image to her. I want her to know that her self worth, is not wrapped up in the tag size on her ambercrombies, or that her beauty is defined  from having flawless skin. I want to teach her that beauty isn't something you find in a lip gloss, or a new fad.
      Beauty is about individuality, and being exactly who you are without excuses. Its embracing your flaws and imperfections, and celebrating your  uniqueness in which you were created. It is about selfless acts of kindness. Beauty is about humility, strength and courage. Its about standing up for what is right, and sticking to your morals and values.There are so many facets of beauty that each woman contains beauty all her own.
    We need to stop letting others define beauty for us, and start deciding what beauty is  for ourselves, and then teach our daughters. Our daughters need to know that outward beauty fades, but inner beauty last a life time. So how do you define beauty? Believe it, live it, be it. Our daughters are watching!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Its a Pilots wife for me!

     This week has been exhausting being a pilot's wife... and it's only Monday! Ugh! The Captain has made an appearance for the last few weeks, just enough time to get clean clothes, mow the front yard(not the back) catch one of the kids baseball games,give his daughter a 30 min driving lesson, a quick peck on my cheek(okay well a little more than a peck) and back out the door! Whew.. Its not always like this, so I am not complaining too loudly. Sometimes he can be home for days on end, and I pray for his next trip:)
      But this week we have a lot going on and I am a little grumpy to be flying solo! We have the last week of baseball tournaments,and a daughter going to her first prom. I know its probably harder on him, then me because even though it is chaotic, I don't have to miss anything. Women will often ask, how I manage such a crazy,schedule with a husband who travels so frequently. First, I don't handle it by myself, I know it looks like it from the outside, but the Captain is always involved in our day to day routine. I make sure that our children know that even if he isn't home,he is informed,and inquires about everything that goes on! So, really its not all that difficult.
When the Captain is home he is all about being with us, spending time with the kids,and getting as much done around the house as he can before the next flight.So, its not all a bad thing. I know many husbands who work from home and spend less time with their wife and children. I have  adapted after 18 years of marriage, and I honestly couldn't imagine it being any other way. It works for us. Its not a lifestyle for everyone, but for us it seems to make us stronger, happier, and more connected. Maybe its the endless phone calls while he is on the road, that keep our communication constantly intact or the old saying, absence makes the heart grow fonder. It could be the never ending excitement to see him each time he walks in the door, or the enthusiasm the kids have when they see his car pulling into the driveway. Even in this electronic world with their noses stuck on an ipods, iphones or xbox, the kids will stop everything and run out jumping around like crazy because, Daddy is home. I am not sure most dads get that same kind of greeting!
 I also love the fact they we have both been able to keep a balance between being a couple, and maintaining our individuality.We both have mutual respect for the paths that we each have chosen, and how we have decided to raise our family.
      However, there are times like these past few weeks, I would have like to have had him home, it would be easier to have two parents dropping off at activities, taking the kids to get new shoes, cleaning the pool, or just snuggling up to watch a show. But, this is our life, the one we chose to be committed to forever, the one that we fought for while working towards this dream, and I wouldn't have it any other way, well, maybe just for this week!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fear Factor

     In two weeks the Captain and I, along with a few friends, will be competing in a little race known as the"tough mudder!" Its a 13 mile run, with over 26 obstacles along the way,such as: ice bath, fire pits, mud crawls, wall climbs, and even electrocution at the end, in order to receive an orange tough mudder head band, a beer card, a shirt and bragging rights.
    Actually, we have been having a blast with the training, holding each other accountable on the days the Captain is out of town. Encouraging each other when one of us wants to give up. Pushing one another to stay the course, and reminding each other our end goal. This has been a huge marriage builder. I know that throughout this race, we can not finish with out each other, there is no possible way. We need each other to pull  through  the course, to lift one another up, to crawl and even comfort each other through the pain. The course is designed to push you to your limits,face all your fears, and realize your potential along the way.
     Why would I put myself through something so rigorous, strenuous, and dangerous? I think for me its about the challenge. Its about facing my fears and knowing that not only am I stronger than I think, I am more capable than I imagine. I won't let my fears hold me back, and put limits on my possibilities.I would rather know that I tried and failed, then sit on the sidelines. I have never been one to see the world with limits, not even my own. I tend to jump in feet first, then figure out the" how" later. We all have fears, but we must reach past them, if we ever want to see our full potential. Every time, we go out of our comfort zone, we grow more confident,stronger and become the person we are called to be. When you  put yourself in situations, that you cannot control, it allows you to lean on the ONE who is in control of everything.
 Here is what I have learned about myself through racing.
1.I get out of it what I put into it.
2 My mind is my biggest asset.
3 When I finish my race, I am not the same woman who started the race.
4.I will feel fear, but I will do it anyway.
5.What if..I can?
6.I will finish my race
7.I am a competitor
8.praying while running is better than an ipod
9.I am stronger than I thought
10.I am worth every ounce of sweat,and every mile I pass
     So on May 19th, when the Captain and I race together for the first time, I am going to enjoy being a team on the race course,powering through the most difficult obstacles together,gaining strength from one another,drawing encouragement from each other, and finishing our race as one.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What's the Secret?

     The captain and I just celebrated 18 happy years of marriage..Time has gone so fast, it makes my head spin. Although its all relative, anyway. Its longer than some marriages and shorter than many. However, when you say you've been married for 18 years to anyone, the next thing out of there mouths is "What's your secret?" So I started to think about it and I asked a few long term married couples.
Here is the responses:
Popop (married 60 yrs this June)- There is no "divorce"alternative, you find the solution to the problem, and fix it,period.
Memaw (married to Popop)- its a secret, but I promise it will be worth the wait!
Pastor Martin (married 62 yrs)-you make sure you marry the person from the head up, because we are all the same from the head down.
Evelyn (married to pastor Martin)-You make sure you continue to have the same interest, if he likes bowling, you better go bowling.
Mary (married over 30 yrs to a pilot)-make sure when he comes home you have great sex together, because when times get tough you have the sex, it will hold the marriage together.
The captain (married 18 yrs)-Let your wife win..most of the time.
And Me (married to the Captain)Choose to love you husband for ALL the things he does right, and not for the few things he may have done wrong.
 Marriage takes hard work, determination, dedication, and down right stubbornness! It requires lots of patience,respect, a whole lot of compromising with a little bit of luck! Marriage, is a gift from our heavenly father, although sometimes we may feel like its a curse! To tell you our marriage is perfect, would be a lie. There is no "perfect" anything.We are imperfect women, married to imperfect men, so there will be struggles,and challenges. Its how we handle those that bring us to the joy, and successes..Every year in  marriage, and in every season, the secret changes. There is no "one" secret, but many different ones, that you collect along the years, tuck away, and reflect on.
After 18 years of marriage,I've learned that having a great marriage, isn't about a secret, its about loving ,honoring and cherishing the other person more than yourself. Its about being selfless, on a daily basis.It's not just the big events, or surprises,that happen a couple of times a year(bdays,Christmas,Anniversaries etc) ,but the small moments in our every day life that creates a great marriage.
Its going out of your way to bring her coffee home from her favorite place. Its  always having clean sheets on the bed, even if he is out of town for only one night. Its going to Walmart for tampons, at 1am because, she forgot them at the grocery. Its  letting him sleep in, and getting the kids to school all by yourself. Its  bringing her flowers on a rainy Monday, for no reason. It's doing his laundry at midnight for a quick turn around trip. Its rubbing her head at night when she can't sleep. Its in the compliment you say about him to your friends.Its allowing her to take a long, hot bath, without the kids finding out what she's doing.Its letting him pick Sonny's for the umpteenth time. Its in the way he looks at her,in a crowded room and she knows exactly what he is thinking or wants.Its pushing him to follow his dream,and supporting his career with minor complaints. Its being at every finish line of every one of her races.Its about touching his hand,and he knows he's gonna get lucky.Its agreeing to one of her crazy ideas,to see her happy. Its singing his song at karaoke.  Its dancing with her with his two left feet.Its watching shows about airplanes and acting interested.  Its taking her side every time,even when she is wrong.Its in every kiss, every look, every glance,every sigh, and every day.
No, I don't know "the secret" to a happy, successful marriage... But I know "our" secrets to a happy, successful marriage.