Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Five Years Ago Today...

Five years ago today my life changed for the better.

Five years ago today began one of the greatest adventures of my life.

Five years ago, Edmund David was born and Walter and I became parents. He came earlier and in a way I never could have planned or expected (go back to the last blog post I did in 2009 to read his incredible birth story) and stole my heart.

He started out as the most easy laid-back baby ever, but once he started walking at 14-months, he was all over the place and has never slowed down. He is our crazy extrovert, which makes things interesting for two introverted parents, who loves life and lives it to the fullest. He loves people and anyone he meets he instantly calls his "best friend." It's been so amazing to watch him grow and change. I love hearing his stories and everything he learned at school that day -- he's learning to spell/write his last name right now (poor child). He loves his little sister and is so helpful with her. The two play together all the time and are the best of friends. It warms my heart.

Every morning starts with him running to me and jumping in my arms for a big hug. His smile lights up my day (and check out his amazing eyelashes!).

He has a servant heart, like his daddy, and loves to find ways to help me and others. He adores his daddy and looks more like him every day. The two have a sweet, special bond.

I'm so thankful for the sweet, funny, silly, playful, loving, wrestling, tackling, snuggly, smart, outgoing, friendly, little boy. I love you, Edmund David. You made me a mommy and changed my life forever.

Happy 5th birthday!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Little Princess Turns 3!

My sweet little Elise Madeleine turns 3 years old today! Where has the time gone!

One day old 

11 months old 

2 years, 11 months old

I am so thankful for my fun, smart, silly, crazy, busy, stubborn, cuddly, loving little girl. I love her smile and big hug first thing in the morning when she wakes up (even though it's around 5:45/6:00am). I love how she could spend all day in my arms -- and I will hold her as much as I can. I love her relationship with her older brother -- how she plays with him, adores him, and will tackle him when he's not looking. I love her fearlessness and playfulness. I love her beautiful eyes and long eyelashes that make it soooo hard to tell her "no." I love that even though she is just turning 3, she already has quite the opinion -- and I pray that her strong-will continues in life so that she will hold tight to her beliefs and values when surrounded by peer pressure. I love how deeply she loves her daddy and looks forward to spending time with him. I love that God gave me a girl when I thought I only wanted boys -- she is such a treasure.

As sad as I am that she is growing up so fast, I look forward to watching my My Little Pony-loving girl grow up. Happy birthday, Elise Madeleine! You are so loved.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Young Life Lived Well

This past Sunday evening, the world lost a beautiful life.

In just 18 short years of life, Clari de la Cruz did more and served more than most people ever do. She loved with a passion. She was full of joy and encouragement. She could welcome and engage anyone. And she served her Lord with all of her heart.

She served others constantly -- whether here, in Kentucky, in Honduras -- without asking or expected to be served. She loved her family deeply and had a sweet relationship with her mom.

I pray that my children grow up to be as loving, serving, caring, and welcoming as Clari. I pray that my children would hold on strong to their faith and their values, just as Clari always did. I pray that my children would put their faith into action they way Clari ministered to those less fortunate. Clari was an amazing young woman, gone all too soon, and we miss her greatly.

I'm so thankful that Clari knew and loved her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I'm thankful that she is no longer hurting or suffering, but that she is in heaven dancing with Jesus. I'm thankful that, as Christians, we have the assurance that this life is not all there is. "But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12). I'm thankful that I will see you again my friend.

I imagine that as soon as Clari passed from this life to the next, she ran with utter abandon toward Jesus, threw herself into his arms, and as he hugged and twirled her around, he whispered in her ear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Safe and Sound

I mentioned in my last blog post that I suddenly had to leave the Women's Holiday Dinner. It's kind of unfair for me to mention it, but not tell you the story...

Around 8:55pm on Monday night, I received a text message from my husband that something was wrong with Elise (our almost 3-year-old) and that I needed to come home right away. My husband is a rockstar with the kids and RARELY calls or texts me when I'm not around. It's awesome because I know that I can truly enjoy being out without worrying about the kids or what is happening at home -- it is a gift. For him to text me to come home meant it was a serious situation.

I grabbed my purse, ran to my car, and hurried home. As a mom, you can imagine all the thoughts that went through my head and I worked hard to fight down the panic. I tried calling my husband and sent him multiple text messages to get more information (illegally since I was driving his car and my phone wasn't hooked up to the bluetooth) but couldn't reach him. I knew he was busy taking care of our daughter and simply couldn't get to the phone or hear it. As I drove with tears in my eyes, sending out fervent prayers, I just kept quoting scripture to myself to calm myself down.

On my way home, I cross the railroad tracks on Ogden Avenue. As I got closer, the train gates came down. I was stuck. I remember praying, "Please God, just let me get home to my baby so that I know she is okay." The trains that usually go along that track usually have 100+ cars and, at that time of night, they tend to go super slow and even stop on the tracks. I texted Walter "TRAIN!! :( " and then looked up to see one car -- yes, only one train car -- go by and the gates go up. I continued on my way and got every green light (which is almost impossible to do along Ogden in Oswego). I honestly believe that God helped me get home quickly that evening.

I arrived home and rushed in to find Elise quietly sleeping in Walter's arms in the family room. She had just fallen asleep and his phone was in his office.

Elise woke up while I was gone struggling to breathe. She had no cold, not even a runny nose, but suddenly had trouble breathing. You could hear it even while she slept. I tried doing a steamy shower to help, took her out in the cold in the middle of the night (although Monday was in the 60s, so it was in the upper 40s overnight), but none of it worked. We had her sleep in our bed with us that night. We suspected that she had Croup and I took her to the doctor the next day to make sure. We had experienced Croup with my son, but he had the typical barking "seal" cough and never the stridor (breathing issues). Croup usually is caused by a cold virus moving to the vocal cords and causing them to swell, but she never had even a cold! I'm so thankful that it wasn't in her chest, it wasn't asthma, and that, even though it woke her up and sounded horrible, she was getting plenty of oxygen as she breathed.

Our God is good. As scary as the moment felt, I knew that God was in control and that he held my little girl in the palm of his hand. He was keeping her safe and calming my heart.

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10

"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you along, O LORD, will keep me safe." Psalm 4:8

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Friendships and Healing

Monday evening was the annual Women's Holiday Dinner at my church. I'll be honest, I was a little reluctant to go. I love my church and the women there, but I also struggle with women's events in general. And I feel like I struggle to connect with women at church. I know a BIG part of it is me -- I'm not always super vulnerable (I love talking with people, but I keep it a surface level) and I hate getting emotional (although, I swear I always end up crying and talking more than anyone :) ). I would rather hang out with guys and talk sports than hang out with a bunch of women. I've struggled to make strong friendships with women and many of the friendships I have developed over the years have fallen away through moves and distance. 

I mentioned recently how God has brought amazing change in my life through the relationships with my neighbors. It's funny, I often feel more connected to my neighbors who take me as I am. They actually want to spend time with me. I am real with them and they enjoy/accept me. I look forward to spending time with these women and hanging out with them...and it has nothing to do with sports! We just laugh and have fun and be

I love these women and their relationships have been incredible healing for me...although I am a little more sleep deprived from the late nights. ;) During this month of Thanksgiving, I am incredibly thankful for every single women that I have had the chance to spend time with this year.

I had a wonderful time at the Women's Dinner. I enjoyed my time and sat next to one of the ladies from my Bible Study small group. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Becky and hanging out with her. The evening came to an abrupt end for me (another story I will post later), but I had a wonderful time. Oh, and I won a gift certificate to Naperville Running Company. Woohoo!

Monday, November 10, 2014

This Man...

This man is one of the most amazing men I know and love...he loves his family deeply... he works hard to provide for his family...he works long hours so that his wife can be at home to watch the kids...he's the first to respond to a friend in need of help -- moving houses, fixing computers, etc...he has a heart for the poor and oppressed...he is money-wise...he is introverted and quiet and often misunderstood...he is humble and caring...he is funny and fun to be around...he is athletic and outdoorsy.

This man has changed my life in so many ways...he helped me to be less judgmental, to see through the eyes of those in need, to see myself as beautiful...he has shown me what it means to be adored and loved.

This man is my husband and I am so blessed to be married to him. Today is his birthday and I pray for many more to share with him in the future.

I love you, Walter. Happy birthday!

Sunday, November 09, 2014


It's done. Finished. The end. Woohoo!

I woke up this morning at 4:45am to get ready to run the half marathon. Most of the night I slept great, but the last two hours were horrible -- I had one of those dreams where I missed my alarm, woke up at 5:25am, friends came at 5:30am, we didn't leave my house until 6:55am for the 7am race, got there late, everyone had already started, hurriedly checked my gear, and took off. I woke up shaking from the adrenaline coursing through me after that dream. Ugh. So thankful, that's not how it went. Everything went smoothly and great. Whew!

I have a love/hate relationship with taper week. I love it, because it means the race is near and I finally get a break. My life doesn't revolve around my workouts, keeping my kids preoccupied while I run, moving our schedules around. I was in the BEST mood this week. I've been needing the break.

I also hate tapering. Last night, I was filled with so much anxiety about this race -- namely how in the world would I do it or feel if the longest run I ran was two weeks ago! I mean, all I did was short runs, was I really ready? Of course I was! That's the point of tapering -- to give your body a chance to recover and make you stronger for race day. And it worked. I felt good. My Achilles and IT Band were tight, but didn't hurt at all during the race (that hasn't happened in months). My body and my brain needed the time off.

I need to learn to taper in life. There's this constant pressure to constantly be doing something and just go, go, going...until I am utterly exhausted. I need to take a week (or even just a weekend) every once in a while and just "be." A chance to mentally check out from life and just enjoy my family. As hard as it was to taper this past week, I LOVED getting the chance yesterday to finally have a Saturday morning where I just laid around in my pajamas watching cartoons and snuggling with my kids, instead of rushing out the door for a long run. I need more of those mornings. :)

I told myself to enjoy the run and I did. I enjoyed running with my neighbor and friend, Jen. My parents and best friend, Lauren, were along the course to cheer me on in the final miles and it was awesome to see them (as well as everyone else I ran into too). I'm glad it's over and I'm ready to get started on some different workouts. I enjoyed a nice hot shower when I got home and applied Ortho Sport massage oil all over my legs, along with Deep Relief and Aroma Siez on my tight hamstrings.

It was also great to get a bunch of post-race snuggles with my cuties. :)

Thursday, November 06, 2014

He Knows My Name

I admit, since having kids I'm not always clued in to the popular music these days. I don't want to have to listen to kid music all day, so when the kids are in the care I put on Christian music (Air1 to be exact). A new song by Francesca Battistelli really struck a cord with me the other day. The chorus goes:

I don't need my name in lights, 
I'm famous in my Father's eyes. 
Make no mistake, 
He knows my name. 

I'm not living for applause, 
I'm already so adored. 
It's all His stage. 
He knows my name.

There are a variety of reasons why the words touched me so much. Yes, I am singer, but it actually isn't about not being famous musically. It's all about finding my worth in others' opinions of me.

The Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon are this weekend. Back in June, I signed up to run the marathon. I signed up for me, not to impress anyone. As I started my training in July I was already beginning to develop Achilles tendinitis in my left leg. As typical fashion for me, I have a high pain tolerance, so I just ignored the pain and pushed through it. With no rest, no icing, and gradually increasing mileage, the pain just got worse...and moved to other parts of my body. I got to the point where I had IT Band issues in my right leg (not Runner's Knee, but up in my hip where the IT Band inserts) that I couldn't lift my kids, walk up stairs, or even sit comfortably. I took a week off, saw my chiropractor, etc. but it wasn't enough. I altered my training plans, but eventually realized during a super painful run toward the end of September that I wasn't going to be able to run the marathon. It wasn't worth pushing through another 1 & 1/2 months of training and not being able to play with my kids because of pain. So, a day before the deadline to switch, I switched to the Half Marathon. The sense of relief was huge. But, what I didn't expect was the emotional struggle hidden underneath...even though I was doing the marathon for "me," letting people know I was only doing the Half (only -- it's still 13.1 miles!) was very humbling for me. I'm naturally competitive and I kept feeling like I was giving up or wasn't good enough...or that people would think less of me. Then I came across that song. "I'm not living for applause, I'm already so adored." It was my prayer and the desire of my heart. What race I run doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I run a race at all. I am so adored by God as I am.

I don't need to be a professional singer, I don't need to be an amazing athlete, I don't need to be the perfect size, the perfect wife, or the perfect mom. I AM ADORED BY GOD

Check out this video for "He Knows My Name." It's a little bit long, but totally worth it:

Those days that I find myself looking for others' approval or beating myself on, I play this song loudly in my car and sing it at the top of my lungs to remind me:

He calls me chosen, free, forgiven,
wanted, child of the King,
His forever, held in treasure...
I am loved.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Gettin' Oily

People have asked me how I use my Young Living Essential Oils. Here's how I pretty much use them on a daily basis:

I love my oils and use them for so many things. For my workouts/runs, I use Peppermint on my wrists (for energy) and along the back of my neck and down my spine (to cool me off -- great in the warm weather), Valor across the bridge of my nose (to open the air passages), and Raven for my asthma and to help me breathe. I also went off birth control five months ago and have been regulating my hormones with some different oils (Sclar Essence, Xiang Mao, and Progessence Plus). I went on birth control to regulate me and now I am regular for the first time in my life without the use of birth control! After I shower, I use Relaxation Massage Oil or Ortho Sport Massage oil (depends on my workout) on my legs. I put a drop of Peppermint in my morning breakfast drink (USANA Nutrimeal) to wake me up. I put Grapefruit in my water to curb my appetite (helps me make better food choices) and sometime Lemon to detoxify.

I regularly do this as well: I diffuse Purification to get the poopy Pull-Up smell out of the room (or dog smell). I also diffuse Thieves to get rid of any germs in the air. Both my kids get Thieves on their feet before we head out to keep them from getting sick. I can get gassy ad put Peppermint on my belly (or Tarragon or Di-Gize) to help with it. I've used both Lavender and Peace & Calming to help my kids settle down and go to sleep. I use Stress Away multiple times daily. ;) I put Frankincense on the top of my head to ground me and calm me down when things feel like they are getting out of control. I use Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint together to help with allergies.

There are so many other oils I use when the need calls, but this is how I have incorporated them into my life. :)

Monday, November 03, 2014

A Subtle Transformation

To say it's been awhile since I blogged would be an understatement, so let's get over it and move on. ;)

I was telling someone recently how different my life looks today than it did a year ago. Not some big transformation like a huge weight loss (outside of pregnancy my weight has maybe fluctuated 5 lbs over the past 20 years) or even the addition of more children, but in small subtle ways. It's really been in two different areas: my relationships and a healthy environment.

For all of my life I have seen my loquaciousness as a curse -- I just don't shut up. The past few months I have come to realize that the way God made me is not a curse, but a blessing. I have an ability to talk with anyone and engage them in conversation and make them feel welcome. And God has used this gift this past year.

I spend a lot of our summers at the neighborhood pool with my kids. To be blunt -- I will talk to anyone hanging out at the baby pool and that is how I met my friend Christine the summer of 2013. Fast forward...her husband and Walter became friends through brewing beer and they invited us to their New Years Eve party. We had a wonderful time and through Christine I began to meet new people and develop relationships with people in my neighborhood (she also introduced me to RumChata with Fireball whiskey that night). Christine asked me to attend an essential oils workshop in March and, since I try to go to almost anything people invite me to, I agreed to go.

At that March workshop, I learned all about the natural God-given power of Young Living essential oils and decided to start using them. I've never been a fan of going to the doctor or using medicine, so this was right up my alley. Plus, last November I was diagnosed with allergy-induced asthma (after cracking my rib from coughing) and wanted some alternative ways to manage it. As they say, one good things begets another...I decided that spring to grow an organic garden in my backyard and started using Norwex cloths for cleaning (clean with just water!). I wanted to get the harmful chemicals out of my house. I'm now addicted to my oils and love sharing them with others, enjoyed delicious organic vegetables from my garden all summer, clean (house, laundry, dishes, etc.) with only Norwex and other natural cleaners, switched to using Arbonne products for skin care and shampoo (fruit based with no harmful chemicals) and recently made homemade deodorant! :) The changes are subtle but huge.

I have also continued to grow my relationships with my neighbors and have made amazing new friendships. Friends that I treasure and look forward to spending time with and hanging out. I thank God for every single one of these women and for the privilege and opportunity to engage in life with them. I am learning to listen and just be -- I pray that God uses me to be a light to my neighbors and that when they see me, the see Him.

I am blessed beyond measure. Thank you, Lord, for all you have given me. Your mercies are new every morning!

Here are some recent pictures of my family. :)