Category Archives: marriage

Reader request Friday

For 007 at https://bottomlesscoffee007.com/: I asked my son about the first birthday he ever planned and he laughed and said, “none , well maybe this one. ” We were sitting at the table eating pieces of a giant cake that his girlfriend had made for him. It was last Friday and he had called me on Tuesday to say he was coming home for his birthday. He brought his musical equipment and computer and his desire was for all the musicians in the family to make a birthday song together. That didn’t actually come together but good times were had.

For Rakellewrites  http://www.racquelwrites.com : Yes, 27 years is a lot of time spent with another human being and many compromises have been made on both sides to keep this ship afloat! While it’s easy for me to think of a long list of things I’ve given up for him, I must admit that he has an equally long list. Both of us are pretty easy-going , as long as we get our way. But , that only works if you both want the same thing! So over the years we’ve had to let go of some things. I think maybe he was the more generous one in the past and maybe I’m paying that back now . But who’s keeping track? Wink wink! One biggie for him was that in order to keep the growing family fed and bills paid he has had to sell some of his toys, as in cars, motorcycles, and other wheeled objects . Not always without some resentment and unhappiness, but we got past it. Another one is he’s been very flexible with me as far as giving me a lot of freedom, as long as all my work is done. In my case, I’ve had to learn to be patient when I want to go and do things and we just can’t afford it. In the past I’ve found ways to make travel and races happen , but it’s getting harder and harder . I have a strong belief in God and I rely on the Bible as my standard of right and wrong, therefore, even in some very trying periods of marriage, I have not felt that quitting was an option . I believe that Satan is real and he wants to destroy relationships. When things get rough , I pray harder! I also avoid people, authors, and other media that do not value the marriage vow. I know how easy it is to get sucked into that way of thinking. I think my husband and I are a good match and we usually enjoy the same things , but not always. And that’s okay. We are both independent and opinionated as well. We don’t always agree on politics but we agree on values and religion. Somehow it has worked for 27 years. When I hear that a couple is struggling, I try to encourage them to 1)remember their spouses good points and 2)remember their own faults. No one is perfect. I’ll finish with an example from real life. The weather is perfect today and I really wanted to go hiking . But I discovered my husband had other plans . Since I’m going trail running tomorrow, I opted to not push for the hike, even though he was willing to try to fit in both activities. There was not enough time in my opinion for both. I’m sorry to miss a day hiking in fall weather, but I had to be honest that I would do better to stay home and do chores. So I guess I’ve gotten better at not getting my way. I want to give God the credit for helping me mature and not be so selfish and stubborn. I have prayed specifically that he would make me a better wife and mother and I trust that he is at work .

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True Grit: Sky Island 25k 2018 Race Report

Me: “Hey ,honey ?! Want to run Sky Island 25k? My husband: “What? Oh, sure, why not? Sign me up! ”

Way back in March of this year,  I got the email for priority registration for previous runners of the Spectrum Trail Racing Sky Island trail race which took place September 22nd.  Even though this race is one of the hardest race I’ve ever run,and last year didn’t go very well, I still keep going back for more. I like a challenge! I was on my computer signing up and I yelled into the other room to ask my husband if he wanted me to sign him up, too. He had a goal of running a half marathon this year and this race offers a 25k distance as well as a 50k, so I thought it might work. Sure, why not, he said, and I signed him up. Plenty of time to train!

A little background info

What makes this running story extra special is that my husband has a surgically rebuilt leg. Not a prosthetic, his leg was saved from amputation and reconstructed from his own bones and muscle tissue. He has some pretty impressive scars all over his body.  Riding his motorcycle home from work one day in 1989, through no fault of his own, he was run over and nearly died. Along with being unconscious for a couple of weeks, suffering severe pain, and having multiple surgeries,  he spent a year lying in bed, then gradually using a wheelchair and  then another four months learning  to walk again . Surgeons did a good job of making his leg functional, but his hips are not level so it’s like having one leg longer than the other, which contributes to significant knee and hip pain when he runs. But my husband is a a determined man. I met him at a Halloween party when he was just getting back to being able to ride motorcycles and work again. We hit it off right away and were married in May.

Fast forward to when I first discovered the joy of running and racing back in 2011. Soon after, my husband decided he wanted to try it , too. Doctors had told him he would have limited mobility and would probably need a knee replacement someday after they rebuilt his leg, but he had already spent over 20 years walking, standing and working on his feet in a shop all day on that leg. Why not try running with it? We signed up for the same local 5k race that had been my first race, one year later. He pushed my daughter in her special needs jogging stroller and had my two youngest sons dragging along with him, so it wasn’t fast, but he had fun and it sparked his competitive spirit to try to do a faster race. After about two years of running 5k road races , he switched to trail races with me in 2015. Because of the way his leg looks, he gets some stares and curious looks which makes him feel a bit uncomfortable, but he doesn’t mind answering the question, What happened to your leg?!

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His first 10k trail run at Brazos Bend

A temporary setback

Evidently I inspire him, because when I decided to start a run streak , he decided to try that as well. Even with his bad leg he was running at least one mile every single day for 115 days!  He was doing well, feeling great about his accomplishment, and then one day a dog startled him in the dark and he made a sudden movement which caused a painful and lasting knee injury in the rebuilt leg. This was really unfortunate because running had greatly improved the depression that has plagued my husband off and on for the past 10 years.  He had to end his streak and stop running for many months. Even walking was very painful and he went back to using a cane.

But eventually he noticed his leg was feeling almost normal and decided to try running again. His pace is slower now and he’s lost a lot of fitness and gained some weight back that he’d lost from his earlier running but he is very happy to have the ability to run again. . He is only running once a week now, sometimes twice, and that seems to be the magic key to preventing too much leg pain, which leads us back to the current race on the schedule.

Coach/Wife

I really didn’t know if my husband could run this particular race. The course is rocky, technical, has big climbs and no shade. I can barely handle it with two good legs and pretty good fitness! He’s had some blood pressure issues and even heart concerns in the past , but was in generally good health. But I didn’t want to push him too hard. I knew he’d have to train very specifically and consistently.  Once we got started , he showed me that he was serious and put in the miles even when he didn’t feel like it or it hurt.  He told me that he mentally turned it over to me as far as how he stayed motivated.  He listened to my advice and heeded my warnings that this race was not going to be easy. We gradually increased his run distance until he ran his first ever unofficial half marathon, or 13.1 miles, on the road. This was a very special milestone!  After doing that he felt sure that he could make it 15 miles. To prepare for the race, we ran a few times on some trails that had some good steep and rocky climbs and descents to get ready for the race. There were a couple moments where we both thought he might pass out on those climbs. We also ran some flat, easy dirt trail miles.  Most of our training was in the usual, awful Texas summer high temperatures with high humidity, so we were looking forward to heading to the cooler temps of the high desert the first weekend of Fall.

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After a fairly busy summer of running, training, and traveling, September finally rolled around which means I was back to work homeschooling my kids, plus my son had a birthday, so the first few weeks passed quickly.  We didn’t run very much in those weeks which always makes a runner nervous. Finally race week arrived! The days flew by with me trying to get packed while still teaching school and making sure we had everything we needed for the trip. He was getting pretty nervous and told me he wasn’t sure he could do it. Maybe he would just be happy with 13.1 . Just taper madness, I reassured him. Oddly I was not nervous at all about the running even though I knew how tough the course is. I was more concerned about getting him to the finish line happy and uninjured. I knew this was going to be a big challenge for both of us, but that a successful race would be so rewarding.

Heading West!

The race location, Davis Mountains State park,  is 550 miles from home, in far West Texas, near the famous town of Marfa.  Leaving behind our dogs, cats, older sons and my daughter who was being cared for by my sister, we hit the road Friday morning  with the youngest kids, a cooler full of drinks, bags of snacks, and plenty of nervous excitement. Even with an 80 mph speed limit for much of the route, it still takes a long time to get there. There was rain in the forecast and sure enough, it started pouring down so hard that my husband could barely see the road and then something crazy happened. The rain was so heavy it was beginning to flood the highway and water started coming into the van under the door! That has never happened before. It kinda freaked us out and it got some of our stuff wet , but not too bad. We made it through the storm okay,  but some of our friends who were a little behind us were not so lucky. There was a flash flood that covered the highway and traffic was blocked for a few hours.

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After escaping the flash flood, we drove into better, COOL weather, and finally arrived at our destination right on time and got our room keys. We were among the lucky ones to get a room in the lodge which was the headquarters and start/finish line of the race. The historic Indian lodge was very nice and my kids and husband took a moment to relax in our comfy room and check out the cable TV, which we don’t have at home,  while I went to explore. I found the starting area being set up and then just took a moment to look at the beautiful location. This is one of my favorite places in Texas. Later we went into the nearby town of Fort Davis for dinner at a favorite tourist spot, The Drug Store. Not my best pre-race meal ever, a small, lukewarm baked potato, but the service was very friendly. My husband and kids enjoyed their burgers and fries. We thought it was super funny that multiple employees kept coming by offering them soda refills. Seriously,  you can only drink so much!

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Race day!

We didn’t sleep much the night before the race, but that’s not unusual. The bed was okay and it was nice and cold in the room, it was just race anxiety. Our phone alarms went off at 5:00 even though we only had a one minute walk to the start and our race started at 7:15. Gotta have plenty of time to eat a snack, drink coffee, get dressed, and poop! I almost forgot that we still needed to pick up our timing chips. It was chilly (for us) , mid 50s,  and misting rain, but we figured it would warm up a bit,  so we weren’t quite sure what clothes to wear. First I put on capris, but then I decided I might get hot, so I changed into shorts at the last minute. My husband wore shorts and we both grabbed our lightweight wind breakers which we ended up shedding and stuffing into our packs about two miles into the race, but they were nice while we needed them. We both wore hats, plus our  hydration packs which I filled with GU Roctane hydration drink. I also packed a few gels and a couple of snacks. He chose to run in his Brooks Ghost 10 which aren’t trail shoes, and I wore New Balance MT910 trail shoes.

Ready, set , go!

We found the crowd of nervous and excited runners staying warm and waiting for the pre-race briefing in the lodge living room , which they call the lobby. Then it was time to line up in the sprinkling rain outside! The sun was not quite up so we used our headlamps for the first mile, then we stashed them. The race started off with a run down the asphalt park road to the park entrance, then down the side of the highway in the grass, under a bridge and then back up the road to the trail head on the other side of the highway. This was a nice warm up. The first part of this trail was pretty flat, including two crossings of a dry, but rocky, creek bed which had had about 8 inches of water in it the previous two years, so we had a pretty decent pace for the first 3 miles. After that we slowed down a lot as we climbed the first mountain on a long and winding trail. We were both encouraged by how good we felt and by the wonderful cool,cloudy weather.

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Staying warm before the start

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The desert terrain is tough but beautiful!

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Across the dry creek bed.

Primitive Loop

After we made it to the top of the approximately 550 foot gradual climb, reaching around 5400 feet elevation, where the aid station was located,  we began a 6 mile loop around the top that included some small inclines, and tons of rocks and awesome views. We were feeling good and enjoying the awesome views from the mountain, talking and keeping a fast walk/jog pace.  Sadly we did not have any wildlife sightings up there. Last year I saw a tarantula, frogs, and a Javelina . We started getting tired towards the end of the loop and slowing down. We got passed by one of the few people that were behind us when we had to stop to pee a few times and then to re-tie a shoe. The course was so rocky on that section near the end of the loop that we were mostly walking because both of us were starting to stumble. Our trekking poles had already saved us from falling several times.  We were both feeling  ready for that loop to end.  Finally we heard the sound of cheering and  a drum being played at the aid station by one of the volunteers and knew we were close. We stopped there and refilled my husband’s pack with water and he ate some peanut butter tortilla wraps that he said were delicious. Funny how good food can taste when you’re  trailrunning!

We were excited to go back down the trail we had came up on,  but it was not easy going. The fast runners from the 50k race began to pass us going down and the slower 50k runners were coming up the narrow trail which meant that we stopped frequently and stepped to the side. I was having trouble with my left foot, stumbling a lot, which was making me anxious, and my husband had a painful blister on his toe, so we were both not in the best mood at that time.  Then we passed an injured woman who was waiting for the medics to come carry her off the mountain and we realized that things could be worse! A few minutes later, the medic team went by.  We were both relieved to reach the bottom of the trail. My husband stopped to check his blister and discovered he had more than one and the one on his toe had already popped. There was nothing to do but keep going.  Meanwhile I went to pee in some bushes. During that short break another back of the pack guy almost passed us. We hurried up and got moving again,  went  under the bridge and back up the road into the park and then onto the next trail.

Indian Lodge trail

My husband’s only real goal for the race was to finish, but he also said that he’d be very happy if he could finish in under 5 hours. Both of us have a competitive streak and neither wanted to come in last! He has a history of go-kart racing, drag racing, and motorcycle racing and enjoys giving a race a good effort.  Since the 50k had taken me over 9 hours both times I’d run it, I knew this 25k would take us a long time, but I was trying to get him there in under 5. We still had about 2.5 miles to go and  that included a very steep climb and rocky descent. I had been nervous about this trail ever since we signed up and waiting for it all day! It was on this trail that my husband reached his longest distance ever run, when he passed the 13.1 mark. After that point the thought crossed his mind that maybe he would just stop there because he was having a low point and had blisters! But thankfully, he kept trudging along. I gave him a pure Maple syrup packet and that really perked him up once it got into his blood. But the climb was very steep and his heart was racing and he was even feeling dizzy, so we took it slow until we made it to the top. I was praying hard the whole time. Faster runners were passing us but even those speedsters were slowed a little by the technical trail. This trail that had terrified me the first year was not even hard for me this time, I was so focused on my husband. I would move forward a little, then stop and give him time to get almost to me, then move again. There was not much talking going on other than me telling him to take his time and catch his breath and watch his step.

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Starting the climb, stepping up and over a rock on the trail.

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Near the top. You can see another runner to the right coming up the steep climb.

The end is near

With great relief , I watched him make it up and over the top edge of the mountain. We knew after that we only had about a mile or so to go! No turning back now. The trail along the top of this small mountain was still fairly technical and we were not going fast. I wanted to push him a little because I knew we had a chance to make sub 5 hours, but I didn’t want to cause him to fall, so I just kept moving and pulling him along.  You could see and hear the finish line way before you could get to it, and that motivated us to move as fast as we safely could, while allowing the faster runners to pass. As we got closer to the bottom, we met a woman who was going even slower than us on the steep, rocky, uneven trail. She was afraid of falling, so we gave her encouragement, then passed her and kept going down. By this point we were both excited and eager to be done.  The trail ended and we ran a short way across a parking lot then down a small hill to a drive way and through the finish line holding hands ! Official time 5:01. We had done it!

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Our finisher awards were Sky Island logo trucker hats that were handed to us as soon as we crossed the line. We were both a bit overwhelmed at the cheering crowd and feeling like, now what do we do? The race had been a very intense experience emotionally and physically.  After speaking to a few people who were very happy for us, we decided to head over to our lodge room, which was so convenient, take a few moments to process what just happened,  take a shower and rest a bit. First I took a quick photo of my husband.

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Wearing the hat that only finishers get!

Later we had a delicious lunch at the lodge restaurant of Angus beef patties with grilled onions, bacon , and fried eggs on top. Plus french fries. Then my husband rested in the room with the kids, who had been watching TV the whole time we were running,  and I went and hung out with some friends by the pool and had a celebratory beer. It was a great day all around! The following day I was able to take my sons on a hike on the Indian Lodge trail, which made me very happy.  They aren’t really into hiking,  but I just had to show it to them! Then we went for a lovely scenic drive through the mountains and to visit the unique town of Marfa. We also had plenty of time to talk about and relive the highs and lows of the race.

 

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Resting

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Almost there

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We made it!

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Happy mom! Indian Lodge in the background

I want to give God all the glory for bringing us across the finish line happily and  successfully, as well as getting us safely to the race and having a wonderful 4 day vacation in the Davis Mountains. I believe that He answered prayer after prayer during the months of training and the race itself. Everything could not have gone better, except for the blisters. 🙂 We have talked about different races we might want to run in the future,  but for now we are just enjoying the good memories.

 

 

 

 

Got the Seven Year Itch?

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If you’ve read the Bible at all, or seen movies, you’ve heard how God used Moses to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and was leading them to the land God had promised until God got so frustrated by their constant bad behavior that  he punished them by keeping them in the desert for 40 years until all the originally freed people were dead. Then he used Joshua and Caleb to finally take the people until the land. They were allowed to go in after the 40 years because they had trusted God when he sent them to spy out the land, but the other spies were afraid and said it was a bad idea to go into the land.  The other spies scared the people with stories of giant soldiers and gave them bad advice and the people didn’t want to go. Even after God repeatedly proved his ability to save them from every calamity, they still did not trust him or want to serve him. This lack of faith and wandering off to worship other gods became a well-established pattern for the Israelites.

In the New Testament Christians are sometimes referred to as the ‘bride’ of Christ and other words such as marriage, adultery, marriage ceremony,  are used to compare our interactions and the intimate relationship a believer has with the LORD. It occurred to me that what happened over and over with the people of Israel is the 7 year itch. The 7 year itch is a phrase meaning that after seven years of marriage, one or both partners might get a little bored and start looking around at other people for the excitement and intimacy that has dwindled in their relationship. The ”honeymoon is over” is a common saying during the years when people start get over the infatuation and lust stage and move into the more routine days of living with someone who has faults and wants things their way.

It’s the same with how many people treat their faith and relationship with their Lord. Most people are pretty excited when they first believe and have their sins forgiven and realize how blessed they are to saved. They usually read the Bible, go to church and tell others about what God has done for them. But over the years, they may let the busyness of life creep in, stress, old habits, old sins and before they know it, they are not following God at all!  They might still do some of that or none, but they don’t listen to the Holy Spirit, they ignore it and they put themselves back in the driver’s seat of life instead of relying on God’s wisdom and commandments. No time for Bible study or fellowship or prayer other than in time of crisis, if that.

The spiritual closeness and power they once had is so low they can’t even feel it. They come to depend on other things when they feel anxious. We all know what those things are.  Booze, drugs, prescriptions, caffeine, exercise, food, shopping, internet, porn, drama, power, work, video games,  and other idols that do nothing to truly love us and care for us like God does, like our LORD will if we turn back to him. Most of these can be used in moderation without being harmful, but when we NEED them to get through a stressful day, we have become dependent. As Christians, we are to depend on God. (I’m not taking about never using medication.)

Why did the Israelites turn to idols? Well , remember that in those days Jesus had no come. Every person did not have access to God directly through Jesus and the Holy Spirit like we do now. They were dependent on their leaders, namely the priests, prophets and later the kings, to guide them and keep then on track with the Law. But over and over, even after they left the wilderness, the leaders went astray in their own lives and the people followed right after them up to the hills to sacrifice to idols, even placing their live children on the altars. Humans of other cultures have done the same but these were God’s chosen people. If even these people could not maintain their faithfulness, how could anyone? If people who had been privileged to have GOD living among them, showing them his great power, performing miracles and wonders , could not keep that in their puny minds for a lifetime, how can we? We have seen and heard it all in the Scriptures, yet we fail.

But, God! Praise God that he knows our weakness and he sent his only son Jesus to take our punishment and to cover  us  with his righteousness and bridge the gap. Praise Him for his mercy and grace on our  failure as humans. Praise Him for his patience and kindness in sending us Jesus and his disciples and giving us the written Word . He will be coming back and he will be executing his plan to redeem his chosen people at the proper time along with the Gentiles that have been grafted in. The judgment will also come in which those who have rejected his Son will be eternally punished. Pray that you will be ready. Pray that you will be found doing the Lord’s will. Pray that you will be counted a good and faithful servant.

What do you do all day? A job description

  • Walk the dogs!
  • Take care of Grace’s needs
  • Go for a run to stay healthy, happy and sane
  • Supervise, instruct, guide, lead teenage sons in school and chores
  • Plan, shop for and cook meals, do dishes and clean kitchen
  • Laundry, endless laundry
  • Pay bills, juggle bills, plan budget, file papers
  • Plan for holidays, birthdays, trips
  • Plan for homeschooling, organize books, buy and sell curriculum
  • Schedule and go to doctor appointments
  • Get multiple types of vehicles inspected and registered and titled
  • Sell things on ebay and other sites, like books and eggs and misc. stuff
  • Send and receive Messages, texts, emails, faxes and phone calls .
  • Listen to everyone’s stories, concerns, complaints and offer sympathy and advice as needed
  • Pray for constant help and wisdom from God to accomplish the goals of being a good mom and wife and friend and human
  • READ everything I can to help me do this job!

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Burning down the house: A chapter in our life that lead to big changes including PTSD, faith, and babies

August 2000

“What is that noise?!” We both woke up at the same time, groggy and irritated and yet also startled by the very loud and obnoxious sound of the smoke detector going off. Scrambling awkwardly out of the water bed, we suddenly became aware of the burning smell. Instinct took over. My first reaction to any crisis is to become very calm. His first reaction is to get in motion and get loud. He headed to the hallway from our bedroom with me on his heels. A quick glance into the open living area revealed no fire, but we knew it was somewhere. Looking up at the hall ceiling, he reached for the cord for the attic stairs. Pulling it down slightly, the truth was revealed as he saw the flames and smoke.

“Get the kids out!”, my husband shouted at me as I stood watching. No longer able to be calm, I rushed to their bedrooms. My 2 year old son was sleeping soundly in his crib, unaware of any danger. I grabbed him with one arm, hoisting him onto my hip. My 4 and 8 year old sons were sleeping in their wooden bunk beds with matching Hot Wheels comforters. I shook them urgently and said, wake up , wake up! The house is on fire! I’m not joking! Surprised and confused, they woke up and we rushed together down the hall to the front door, me grabbing my purse and for some reason, the cordless phone,  and outside to safety.

It happened at night time, maybe midnight or so. This was the beginning of a series of events that would eventually lead to a new life, but it would be a very difficult journey.

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I’ve lost the photos from that time, but I recently came across this printout and it inspired me to write about our experiences.

Life before the fire

My husband has worked since I’ve known him as a mechanic for a classic car repair and restoration business, mostly on cars from the ’50s and ’60s.  When we met at a Halloween party in  1990 he was only working part-time because he was still recovering from nearly being killed in a motorcycle accident and spending a year having his leg rebuilt and relearning how to walk.  We hit it off immediately, probably both a little desperate for love, wasted no time getting married in May 1991, bought and moved into this house and had our first son in November 1991. Our second son was born in 1995 and third in 1998.  Before we met I had a small business, but I sold it after my son was born and became a stay at home mom . We lived in a fairly quiet neighborhood of patio homes in far West Houston before the big migration into that area. We had some good friends, mostly bikers,  and good times, lots of hanging out in ice houses and riding motorcycles. But little did we know how much things were about to change.

In 1997 his boss decided to move out of the Houston area so we started looking for a house in small towns and rural areas near the new shop. We couldn’t find anything we could afford  so my husband decided to open his own shop in Houston. Although he worked full-time, we were barely making it. We had gradually spent all the insurance settlement he had received from his motorcycle accident. But we got pregnant with son number three anyway. I was thrilled. I was obsessed with having a big family. But I was also stressed constantly about money. I was babysitting other people’s children in my home for extra income, which I liked doing, but it had it’s share of difficulties. We were getting deeper and deeper in credit card debt and I really had no idea how we were going to make it if those bills got any bigger. It was at this time that the fire happened. In hindsight , I see that God used it as a blessing, but at the time, it was chaos and stress.

Please check your smoke detector batteries

The night of the fire we ran  to my neighbors’ house to call the fire department. They were good friends who readily got out of bed to comfort and assist us with our children. The local Volunteer Firemen fought valiantly to put out the fire and even took the time to bring out many of our family portraits, photo albums and my husband’s guitar. The fire had started in the attic, according to the insurance investigators, most likely a mouse had eaten through some wires. If it weren’t for the smoke detector waking us up,  we all would have died of smoke inhalation. Please make sure you have a working smoke detector.

Eventually, the details are fuzzy, the fire was out and things were safe enough for the fireman to leave and we went to my parents’ house , about 10 miles away. We were in shock. Thank God for my parents who took us in and gave us guidance. I’m not sure but I think we stayed in their guest room for a few nights or maybe  more. And thank God for Farmers Insurance. They took care of our immediate needs with a check even before they sent out fire investigators. God was so obviously taking care of us, but at the time , we were still feeling very vulnerable and wondering what was going to happen to us. The anxiety and feeling of  loss of control was overwhelming.

Fast forward a bit. We  found a home in the same neighborhood that was for rent. ONE. There was only ONE house available. This was the first of many blessings.  Wonderful friends from our biker community and even  people we didn’t know came out of the woodwork donating furniture,clothing,toys, household goods and cash. We didn’t lack for any material goods, only peace of mind over the future. In fact, I  donated a bunch of extra stuff to charity. 18 years later we still have the same dining table that someone gave us. And my mom contacted someone from the bedding company who provided my kids with replacement Hot Wheels comforters, sheets and curtains! I only recently have finally relinquished those memory-filled bedding sets. All of our material needs were taken care of. We almost felt guilty about that.  Why were people being so good to us? We didn’t feel like we deserved so much compassion and generosity.  Even now I feel like I haven’t done enough to repay or pass on the kindness. I hope God will help me do that.

We made the decision to demolish what was left the house and build a house on the same slab. It was completely destroyed from the roof collapsing. The insurance company considered it a total loss.  However, we were able to go in after things cooled down and discovered quite a lot of personal items, toys,  and clothing and even some larger items that were salvageable.  This was a very emotional process. The chimney had fallen onto our bed where we had sleeping, a shocking reminder of how God had saved us from death. Some of our belongings were just smoky, others were in worse condition but still worth saving, especially a filing cabinet with important papers. I still have a folder with the blackened edges and it still smells like smoke after all these years. The insurance company wanted an ‘itemized’ list of everything we’d lost, so I made a very detailed list. Turned out later I really didn’t need to be so detailed, but it did give me a task to focus on during a time when I felt so out of control. We were fully reimbursed and able to replace our belongings. God did not miss a thing.

Rebuilding our lives was not a fast process. Oh, did I mention that I was pregnant at the time of the fire?  Yes, five months pregnant with my daughter.  During all the time of dealing with a contractor and construction delays and taking care of three little boys, homeschooling the oldest one, and our dog having puppies and my husband missing time at his business, I was growing a baby and going to prenatal appointments. Two of my sons had birthdays during this time. Thankfully one of my good friends was nearby and she helped me with a party and keeping my kids busy. Our marriage was under a ton of stress. Pregnancy alone can do that, but all this other stuff was just more than most people can handle. We didn’t always handle it well, we took it out on each other,  but somehow God kept us together. We also made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My baby girl was born in January 2001 while we were still living in the rent house.

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My youngest at the time of the fire.

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The boys in a donated chair in a rent house.

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Grace in the new house

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After quite a few delays, in April 2001 we finally moved back into our old/new house. It was really beautiful! We had chosen all of the paint, tile, wallpaper, and had new furniture. But according to my husband, I really can’t remember why, I was the one who had  the idea that we should sell it and try to move to the country. I vaguely recall thinking we should sell it at that time since it was so new and nice. This had to be God’s doing because there is no way we could afford the house we now live in if we hadn’t bought it back then. It’s worth much more now due to rising land values. Buying and selling brought many stressful hours including learning that we didn’t exactly OWN the house we were living in due to the type of contract we had with the people we bought it from. Thankfully they were honest people and didn’t try to cheat us and we were able to get things done.  One particularly scary time was when we needed a paper signed by the owner who was at that time out on a drilling rig! Somehow God worked it out with modern technology. Then at the last minute before closing on the deal,  a huge windstorm with straight-line windows, similar to a tornado, came through our neighborhood and all through West Houston, knocking down fences, trees, and garage doors, but we were spared! A nice, very unique, couple paid cash for our house. Being the cheapskates we are, not willing to pay for movers,  we loaded up our vehicles and trailers and the trucks of friends and moved to the country in a caravan in January 2003.

 

Several other very difficult things happened during this period.

One, my infant daughter was not developing normally and we began to go through the process of finding out what was wrong. This was not a quick or straightforward thing. Eventually, after some not so good doctors had dismissed my concerns, we were cleared for genetic testing and in August 2001 we were given one of the worst possible diagnoses you can get for a child, Lissencephaly, smooth brain, Miller-Dieker syndrome.  Thus began a hard time of shock, grieving, appointments, therapy, and learning how to do life with a very special baby who we learned would never sit up, walk, talk, or even feed herself or play and would have seizures and possibly be blind. Thankfully she was able to breastfeed which helped her and me. However as soon as I weaned her , at 11 months, and tried to give her a bottle, she got aspiration pneumonia because she could no longer suck and swallow normally. She got her feeding tube after that. She also began having seizures which meant a long period of trying to gain seizure control after our first fear-filled trip to the Emergency room.

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Daddy’s girl

Two, the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the same day my daughter was scheduled for her first MRI, which was cancelled along with everything else in the country. I will never forget that day as long as I live. We were in shock and frightened and just waiting for more attacks. This attack affected the world in many ways. One of them was that it hurt my husband’s business.

And, three, my wonderful father, only 62 years old , passed away suddenly in March 2002 from colon cancer that we didn’t know he had. He went to the doctor for some tests and was admitted and never left the hospital. My mother was in disbelief, devastated and life changed instantly for her and my younger sister. Thankfully I can report that they are doing well now. My mom is an amazing person.

 

The last big event,  I discovered that I was pregnant with my fourth son the week that we moved into our country place.

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The kids in 2004. 

 

Now it is 2018. We have been blessed with five sons and one daughter. I think God knew that was all we could handle because the stress really hasn’t stopped since moving to the country. But God has always been faithful to provide for us and also give us hope through the trials. My husband ended up having to shut down his business and go to work for other people. This was very hard on him.  My health got pretty bad and I gained weight and my thyroid was a mess. We have both suffered through clinical depression needing medication,  both still have anxiety and I had panic attacks. I think we both have  PTSD. And there were some tough times with my daughter being in the hospital for pneumonia and me being away from the home for weeks at a time. Thankfully my health is better since I removed gluten from my diet and starting running, and my daughter has improved after some years as far as her seizure control and immune system. She has beaten the lifespan prognosis by many years. My oldest three sons are now working and two are financially self-supporting. I’m still homeschooling the two youngest who were born after moving out of Houston. God lead me in 2011 through my church’s 5k race  to the first serious hobby/sport that I’ve ever had, running, and that has become a very important part of my life, to state it mildly, and very therapeutic.

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Before and after going gluten free, soy free and discovering running.

Everyone has a story and this one is not very terrible in the big picture. In fact, it’s a picture of God’s love and grace and mercy. He has carried us through these painful events day by day and lifted us up. He has not let us be destroyed. Our church friends that we met when we left Houston and our family and other friends were also there praying and helping with tangible help  in the early years of our move.   I hope you, too, will trust that God loves you even when evidence seems to say otherwise, and remember his words.

31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. 

Matthew 6:31-34 ESV

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday : Before I was a runner, I was something else

I don’t know if there’s a neat category to describe myself,  but in the time right before I started running  I was an early 40s , full-time homeschooling mom of a large family, who put all her time, thoughts, and energy into taking care of her husband and children.

I did a whole lot of cooking, eating, and sitting, along with the rest of a busy mom’s day. In the past, in the city, I was a pretty active mom, took lots of stroller walks, bike rides, even had a bike trailer to put the kids in. I also worked out at a fitness center.  But when we moved to the country and I had two more babies pretty close together and a whole lot more stress, it got much harder to stay active.

By the time my youngest son was 5 years old, I had put on some weight, a lot of weight for a 5 foot 3 inch person. I was just teetering at 180 pounds. But it was crazy how it snuck up on me without me really noticing.

I’m going to write a series of blogs about my weight loss and life changes, but for now I want to post some before and after running photos.

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Top two are before diet change. My thyroid was messed up. Bottom two are after going on a low-carb, then Paleo and gluten free diet and not going back.

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I ran a ton of 5ks when I first discovered running in 2011. This one  turned out to be cross-country  which I was not expecting.  A very hot August race. I placed in my age group because of the low turnout. That ribbon was very motivating for me!

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Just a few of the tons of race medals I’ve collected since 2011.

 

It’s no exaggeration to say that running has changed my life. I’m the same person, but much more confident, disciplined, and goal-focused. I highly recommend it!

Are you a runner? Has it made a big impact on your life? Or do you want to try it, but don’t know how? I am very passionate about helping new runners. Please feel free to post your questions here.