Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Heart of Thankfulness

That is today's goal. Actually, thankfulness is this week's goal, this year's goal, and this life's goal.

As I've been praying and feeling very discouraged this week, messages have been popping up all over about being joyful now, being thankful for what God has blessed me with, and being persistent in prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. THESSALONIANS 5:16-18
So often I pray for God's will to be done, though I find myself wondering what His will is. By no coincidence, my morning's devotional said it plain and simple: "To be in the center of God's will is to be a woman who is joyful, prayerful, and thankful" (Made to Crave Devotional, Ch. 21). It's not my job to know God's will - His ways is too great for me to understand. It is my job to be in the center of His will, ready and willing to be used by Him for His glory!

The Trap of Comparisons

As parents, Leo and I want to ingrain a spirit of gratitude into our child's heart so he can be content with what he has and not constantly comparing himself to other children. The kicker is that if we want E to be thankful, he needs to see his parents living that way first!
James Ryle says, “Humility is the God-given self-assurance that eliminates the need to prove to others the worth of who you are, and the rightness of what you do.”
The world has a corrupt value system focused on material things and personal achievements. People are always striving for the next best thing - whether it's a product, profession, or season of life - contentment is rare and usually short-lived. Thank God we don't play the world's value game because we are servants of Christ!

Rather than exalting ourselves, we are to be servants. Rather than hoarding our own wealth, we are called to be givers. Rather than whining about what we don't have, we are to be thankful for all God has done. Rather than finding our identity in worldly things, our identity is in Jesus Christ.

I love how straight-forward God's Word is. Envy and selfish ambition = demonic. That sounds extreme, but it's the truth. As children of God, let us focus on pure things, being peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, bearing good fruit, impartiality and sincerity!
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.JAMES 3:13-18 (emphasis added by me)
Five things you are thankful for right now. Go!

Thankful Thoughts

While feeling discouraged this week, I've been writing a list of what I'm thankful for in my prayer journal to re-focus and choose joy. Here are a few wonderful blessings I am thankful for today!

My Supportive Husband. I am thankful for super hot running dates with Leo. I'm sure there is nothing he would rather do than run a 15k on an excessively windy day! Now that's love... He is so supportive of me as a stay-at-home mom and even with running. That means the world to me!


Friendly Dogs. This dog chased us for a short while on the homestretch of our run. I am so thankful this dog was nice! His size alone makes him a bit intimidating. In my runner vs. dog experiences, I've found that the ankle-biter dogs are actually more vicious!


This Cool Dude. I am so thankful for E and, wow, has he changed drastically over the past couple months. He now resembles more of a Tasmanian devil (remember "Taz" from Looney Tunes?") than an innocent baby. "Toddler" must be short-hand for Tasmanian devil. He is always looking for trouble but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love this kid and his joy in life!


Laundry-Drying Weather. The weather earlier this week was gorgeous! It takes a little extra time but I really love to hang clothes out on the line to dry. The sun bleaches them and they smell wonderful (and saves on the electricity bill)!


Homemade Bread. I've been practicing up on my bread-making skills and, much to my surprise, I enjoy baking! Making homemade bread with the Kitchen Aid is really easy and so much better than store-bought bread. I am so thankful for the very talented friend that taught me how to do this!



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

For Two Fitness Anniversary Giveaway!

I am thrilled to partner with For Two Fitness for an amazing anniversary giveaway. As my husband and I are praying for Baby #2, I look forward to wearing one of those cute "Running for Two" shirts one day. Finally, a workout shirt that will fit over my belly! For Two Fitness is running a phenomenal giveaway for their anniversary. Read the details below.

It's our anniversary month! We are so thankful to YOU -- our community, customers, and friends. In order to express our thanks, we are hosting a huge giveaway this week in partnership with some amazing brands and fit mom ambassadors.

For Two Fitness Giveaway

There will be three winners of the giveaway prize packages. A grand prize winner and two other lucky ladies. Here are some details about the amazing products that have been generously donated for you to win and enjoy!

For Two Fitness Giveaway
Giveaway items:

  • Sarah Haley Fit DVDs Expecting More and Sweat Unlimited -- prenatal and postpartum workout DVDs for fit mamas and mamas-to-be.
  • Kind Bars -- healthy snack bars to fuel your day.
  • Maclaren Beginnings care products -- oils, lotions, shampoos, and nursery/powder room products for both mama and baby.
  • GNC -- a three month supply of prenatal vitamins.
  • Happy Family Brands -- baby and toddler foods for your little ones.
  • For Two Fitness racerback tank and pair of pants or capris
  • Baby K’tan -- stylish carrier to aid in hands-free baby-wearing.
  • Zensah -- must-have compression leg sleeves. Relieve leg fatigue, increase circulation, reduce varicose veins, and get fresh legs.

Wow, we are thrilled to have some amazing products for you to win with a grand prize worth over $600.

So, here's how to enter:


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Body Image After Baby

The Fargo Half Marathon is less than a month away! Training is going well and I'm really enjoying training for a half.

Compared to training for full marathons in the past, half training has been more speed-focused, weekend long runs are less stressful (20-milers can be a bit daunting to me!), and training is more baby-friendly! Since my training runs are generally a bit faster, time-wise, they fit perfectly into naptime or E can join me in the jogging stroller.

12.27 miles down for this weekend's long run and I even brought "fuel" of some sort with me. Do Snoopy fruit snacks count as fuel? I'm out of GU gels, so they needed to work for the time being!


Having a "Mom Body"

With it being over a year now since E was born and since my body began the journey to find some form of normalcy again, I have been thinking about how pregnancy changes your body not just for 9 months (or 8 months in E's case), but forever. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I have a "mom body". The term doesn't bring about very positive thoughts because I think of the dreaded "mom jeans", though being a mom is something to be proud of!

First, you make it through pregnancy, then the big delivery day comes, and, there you are, totally in awe of that precious new family member in your arms. As first-time parents, Leo and I were in survival mode for the first two weeks as we adapted to the daily challenges of newborn parenting. Nurse, diaper, sleep... repeat... repeat... repeat. (Who knew a newborn could go through so many diapers!?)

The first month postpartum was like a grace period to mainly sleep whenever possible and to focus on taking it one day at a time. After that grace period ends, the pressure to lose the pregnancy weight and fit into your pre-preggo clothes enters the picture.

My sis-in-law and me (just over 30 weeks pregnant)

I only gained about 20 lbs while pregnant with E and yet the day after he was born I remember thinking how weird and ... "fluffy"... my stomach felt. I felt like asking the doctor, "Are you sure you got all the babies out of there? I still look pregnant!"

After E was born, I returned to my pre-pregnancy weight relatively quickly. Getting back into running after E was born was a challenge, but it felt so good at the same time. I signed up for a marathon 7 months after he was born and that helped to keep me motivated. Having a baby didn't change my body running-wise though it changed training drastically! Breastfeeding and irregular sleep taught me to be more flexible with training and to listen to my body.

Baby weight gone and another marathon down, yet my body is not the same a year later. Actually, my body will never be "the same"! But I'm okay with that.

Perspective-Changer

Having a baby has changed my perspective and my priorities immensely. Rather than worrying about being in shape for vanity's sake or to fit into a certain size of clothes, my body's purpose has changed to more "function over fashion". I am doing my best to appreciate the body God has given me and what my body can do.

This little guy is totally worth it all!

Loving Your "Mom Body"

Here are a few points to keep a positive perspective on postpartum body image.
  • Be Thankful. Health is something that is so easily taken for granted until you don't have it anymore. Pregnancy can be easily taken for granted, too! Being able to grow a life is a (sometimes very uncomfortable) blessing from the Lord, not a burden.

    I'm reminding myself to be thankful for the blessing of carrying our son, for each run, for each day that I can chase our toddler, and for the health God has given me. I would love if the Lord blessed us with many more babies and I know my body will change drastically with each one! I don't want to waste the rest of my life feeling self-conscious and discouraged.

  • Don't Compare. Every woman's body is so different that you can't compare your postpartum progress to other moms or to your pre-baby body!

    Reading about other mom's postpartum fitness journeys and goals can be encouraging, but it can also drag you into a comparison trap. Just remember that even those super fit moms are human, too! It's very likely that she has those days of feeling bloated and discouraged just like every other woman.

  • Take Care of Yourself. No matter how busy you are, it is important to set aside time to exercise! If regular exercise seems daunting, start with 30 minutes at least 3 to 5 days a week. It will make such a difference!

    Being able to keep up with my son and any future children is enough motivation to exercise for me. I want to be able to jump on the trampoline, play soccer, and go for family walks/runs when our kids are older!

Susan at Sole Searching Mamma summarizes it well: "To every girl striving to get fit... Always remember that your body is an instrument for the Lord, not an ornament for the world." Take care of your body for the right reasons. Be a good steward of your body because it belongs to God.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20 (emphasis added by me)
Mr. E is proud to be 13 months old!

How has pregnancy and/or motherhood changed your body image?
What is the best advice you've received related to body image?

Linking up at No Rules Weekend Blog Party, Shaping Up for Summer, and Click and Chat Social Media Linkup.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Healing by Faith

Recently God put something on my heart that I rarely talk about yet it's something that is always there. While reading through Mark 5, the story of the sick woman took on a new meaning to me. I was thinking, "Why did the woman wait twelve years to ask God to heal her?!" (Though she deserves a break because she didn't have the guidance of the Holy Spirit.)

After I read her story over a few times, I realized I'm no different than her!

Sixteen years ago, I was in a horse-related accident that led to a severe concussion, two skull fractures, and a ruptured ear drum. It was a miracle that I had no brain damage though it did leave me with a constant ringing and damaged hearing in my right ear (a.k.a. Tinnitus). The ringing isn't debilitating, yet it can be very distracting and frustrating at times. While running today I was thinking about what true silence would sound like without constant ringing.

God put it on my heart that I should pray for healing. All these years I have been scared to ask mainly because I've been afraid that He won't answer me or that He doesn't want me healed! I had just accepted that my ear will ring forever and that's just the way life is, until now.

Key Points from Mark 5:24-34

If you aren't familiar with the story of the sick woman, here is a brief refresher:
  • The sick woman suffered for twelve years!
  • She suffered a great deal and spent all she had on doctors, but her condition only worsened.
  • She was bold enough in her faith to reach out and touch Jesus' cloak! She thought to herself "If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed." (v. 28)
  • Immediately after touching Jesus' cloak, her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering!
  • She was afraid of how Jesus would react to her reaching out.
  • Jesus spoke to her and said "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." (v. 34)
Reading this story of healing spoke directly to me. Though, I would take ringing ears over constant bleeding any day!

My hearing has been frustrating me for a long time.
The last time I was at the doctor for my ear, they removed the blood clots with a long tweezer-like thing and that may have helped a little?
I want to be bold in my faith and reach out to Jesus for healing.
I know that Jesus has the power to heal me immediately, if it His will.
I have been afraid of reaching out to God for healing in the past.
And, no matter how God uses this situation in my life, I have faith that He will work this out for His glory.
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His Holy Name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all His benefits—

Who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
Who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

PSALM 103:1-5 (emphasis added by me)
How do you choose joy while going through life's trials? (James 1:2-3)
What stories of healing in the Bible stand out to you?

We are very excited for Leo to come home next week! Until then, we are enjoying more time on Grandpa and Grandma E's farm. Morning runs are our favorite. Some days this is the only time E will nap...


E, Abbey (dog), and I went for a jogger run down a quiet highway near the farm. Abbey always ditches me when I run alone, but she wouldn't leave my side while running with E!


I love outdoor adventures with Mr. E. Thank God for this beautiful weather!


Linking up at Shaping Up For Summer and Mommy Moments.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Simple

These days E and I been spending some time on my parent's farm. There is something about being in the country that is so simple and peaceful. Today Colossians 3:15 is my focus verse. It is so easy to be distracted in this world and swept away in a tornado of busy-ness!
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. COLOSSIANS 3:15
I just can't picture Jesus constantly in a hurry and stressed to the brink with His to-do list. Though He was a very important Person and He had many things to do in His short time on earth, He had such a peace from God and such sincerity and compassion for others. I don't want to be so wrapped up in the busy-ness of my own little world that I completely miss all that God is doing each day!

My goal is to be thankful, give my day to the Lord, and have joy (even though I am secretly counting down the days until Leo comes home again!). The simple things in everyday life can be such huge blessings. We have been blessed with the opportunity to visit family, catch up with old friends, and I even held a brand new baby girl!

This weekend's non-blizzard-like weather is a huge blessing! And having Grandma who watched E for me while I went out for a run - I'm so thankful for the help. My long run "for time" was 1 hour 45 minutes and it was so beautiful outside! Windy, but beautiful.


When I was a kid, I loved to lay on the trampoline on those clear sunny days and watch the clouds go by. The sky this weekend reminded me that even "grown ups" should still take time to watch the clouds.


The long run was a success, despite being super hungry at mile 7! 12.2 miles down in 1 hour 45 minutes. The pace for the long run isn't super fast and the main goal is to spend time on your feet. Overall mission accomplished.


In that same 1:45, my dad hauled a whole load of round bales. We left the gravel road together and got back at the same time... Tell me, who was more productive in that time? (Wait, don't answer that question!)


E really enjoys the farm life. That hardy red wagon was a very special birthday present for him and it works wonders for cruising around the farm. Radio flyer wheels couldn't handle that mud!


And here is E's latest development - his "CHEESE!" smile :) Have a wonderful week and take time to be still and appreciate God's creation!


How do you find peace in the hustle and bustle of daily life?
Were you a cloud-watcher as a kid?

Linking up at Heart-Filled Fridays and Babies & Beyond.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April ≠ Spring

Some say April is considered "Spring" but I definitely disagree. On Sunday afternoon, we took a family stroll around the block because the day was gorgeous! The roads were melted off and we even had a little grass showing in the backyard.

The next day we were hit by 18 inches of snow and returned back to the winter wonderland... E didn't understand why he couldn't see out of the window on Monday!


At least I could get out of the house through the garage door!


Snow, snow, more snow! At least it's kinda pretty.


Best Date Idea

Before Leo left for army training, we went on a SUPER hot date. The day all started with a romantic "race simulation" 10k run (translation: we ran our tails off).


Then we took a very sweaty picture together. We haven't taken many pictures of just the two of us since E arrived!


Later that night we went out for supper, shared a blizzard at DQ, and walked around the Shopko in town. By the time 8:00 pm rolled around, we were both yawning and decided to head back to my parents' place. They were so awesome to watch E for us!

Is it lame that we were tired by 8 pm? ... Maybe a little, but we're cool with that.

Joy in Trials

We miss Leo already but we're making the best of our time... I've been praying a lot and God has definitely given me peace. It's hard for me not to dread the times when he leaves but I truly want to find joy in them and be thankful for all God has blessed us with. I know that if Leo ever deploys, God's peace and joy is the only way we will make it through!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. JAMES 1:2-3
E and I are finding joy in the simple things of life and taking it one day at a time. That means we're keeping busy with Bible study, play dates, and I'm even practicing up on my bread-making skills. This batch didn't turn out perfect but it still tastes good!


We're taking in every second of sunlight we can get, too! Can you believe it's April 2nd and we have this much snow?! Fortunately the snow is melting today...


Thank God for technology - we love Skype-ing with daddy!


What are you up to this week?
Has Spring sprung in your geographic region?
Any amazingly simple date ideas?

Linking up at Hearts for Home, Shaping Up For Summer, and Fitness Friday.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Not Your Typical Obstacle Course: Reebok SPARTAN Race Entry Giveaway! {closed}

Have you heard of the Spartan Race?

I hadn't until last week! I'm just a simple long-distance runner but, I have to admit, it does appeal to the farm kid side of me.

Growing up on a farm is like living on an "impromptu obstacle course". What kid doesn't love to run around in the pasture, clean barn, and climb anything and everything? And then there are the less enjoyable obstacles... running into the electric fence, excessive dirt (aka manure!), and hauling square alfalfa bales that are a bit too green. Now that I'm off the farm, I push myself through running (well... and through parenting).

In whatever physical activity you do, there is a thrill in pushing yourself beyond your limits.

The Spartan Race is a hard-core obstacle course designed to do just that. They even have barbed wire! What a treat. Make the wire electric and I'm sure any farm kid would feel at home!

Dirt, fun, sweat, and no couch. What's not to love!


Spartan Race Mission

Spartan Race is on a mission to get you active, healthy, excited about change, and return to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life. Our events are all about challenging today’s perception of normal.

Our events challenge the familiar, today’s perception of normal living and getting you out of your comfort zone! At Spartan Race, we do this everyday and it shapes everything we do.

Having experienced many different racing events, we wanted to make adventure racing more accessible to everyone, but do not be fooled by the word ‘accessible’, as our events have a challenge for everyone’s needs.

Spartan Race now introduces a level for everyone beginning with the entry level Spartan Sprint, intermediate level Super Spartan, the advanced Spartan Beast, and the ‘99.9% need not apply’ extreme level Death Race.

Whatever your level, SPARTAN RACE will test your strength, stamina, and sense of humor. (Source: SPARTAN RACE Obstacle Racing)

Learn more about the Spartan Race here.

Enter the SPARTAN RACE Entry Giveaway!

***This giveaway is now closed*** Sarah is the free race entry winner!

Are you ready to accept the challenge and take on the SPARTAN RACE? Enter below for your free SPARTAN RACE entry!

The winner will be chosen by Random.org. The deadline for the giveaway is April 8th! The winner will be notified and also be listed on this post after the giveaway closes.
  1. Leave a Comment: Which race would you enter? See event map below. (required)
  2. Follow Life to the Full on Facebook.
  3. Follow Spartan Race on Facebook.
  4. Share this Giveaway on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.


Even if you do not win the free entry, click here for 15% off any Spartan Race!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this giveaway all opinions are of my own. Reebok SPARTAN Race was kind enough to offer a free race giveaway in exchange for this post!

Linking up at Fit Tip Tuesday and Healthy Tuesday.