*Bring on the Treasures

I had just crossed the finish line for a timed Crossfit workout, which is my new fitness regimen that prides itself on being brief, intense, and full of functional movements for the athlete. This day’s particular workout was the following: a 1 mile run followed immediately by a total of 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, 100 pull ups, and 100 squats, followed immediately by another 1 mile run, for time. 38 minutes and 41 seconds later, I joined the two guys that had already finished.

Winded and recovering, the first to finish and I struck up a conversation. He commented on the fact I ran fast, to which I replied, “Yeah, but it is all I really got.” A few chuckles later, we began discussing running, our personal best times, our favorite races, the insanity of a marathon, and things of the like. Somewhere between “Yeah, mile 20 makes you regret ever taking the first step” and “Oh, 5ks are my favorite,” he and I agreed upon one thing with full gumption: “If I’m racing, I’m going to place and get a medal.”

“I just have to get a medal when I run,” he says. “That is really the whole reason why I enter the races. To place. To win.”

I chimed in quickly with a “Me too!” which was quickly followed by a “And I don’t really know why. The last medal I won, I didn’t even stay for the ceremony. It had to be mailed to me. The medal before that, they draped it on my neck and then I looked at it, smiled, yanked it off and handed it to my kids for them to play with. My huge one from the marathon is crumpled up in the bottom of a drawer.”

You see, even though I love getting the medal, I don’t do anything with it. In fact, I have a whole box in our attic full of medals, trophies, and plaques that have I won, some of which my mom lovingly had framed for me, which I was extremely thankful for, yet before being framed, all my medals from running actually were in a big plastic sack and had caused the medals to corrode from being tossed together unlovingly in a pile. All those medals, earned from winning, from crossing the finish line first, and they were grouped into a messy pile, forgotten.

The guy and I continued our conversations and complemented one another on past race times and the insane workout we had just finished. He astutely noted, “I mean, some medals you get for finishing but most you get because you are good.” We also both laughed at ourselves for the idiocy of pushing our bodies in order to win something we honestly cared little about in the end.

As I drove home, arms sore from the 200 movements that required them to perform, I continued to reflect upon that big box I knew was in my storage space, collecting dust, unseen by visitors. In fact, I don’t even think I have shown them to Thomas and I know for sure my boys have never caught a glimpse of my rewards. When we bought our first home, which we have since moved from, my mom trudged over with the two boxes and said “Now that you have a home, they can stay in yours.” Begrudgingly, I took them, placed them in that home’s storage, and then later hauled them to our current home, only to toss them back in solitude.

Yeah, I can run fast. I am certainly not the fastest ever, but I am faster than most, and people seem to notice that. Plus, I have the medals to prove it, so it must me true, right? However, where does being fast get me in the long run? Words emitted in jest, “It’s all I got” may get me trinkets, but what then?

Where do those moments of “glory” go? In the attic, a drawer, or my kids’ dress up trunk. That’s where, friends. They go away, and no one cares, not even me, the one that personally earned them. In fact, the ones I beat all the competition to earn and win, setting personal or school records in the process, are mingled in with those that I got just for not stopping when running extremely long distances. There is no distinction; they all tarnish the same.

This is why Jesus told us to take a different approach:

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ” Matthew 6:19-21

Where’s your heart? With things on earth or things above? To whom or what do you invest your time, energy, and money?

Besides, as I always said in high school when I won the stupid trophies, “That girl looks nothing like me. She’s too tall and her breasts are too big.”

Bring on eternal treasures, for the earthly ones are not for me.


Our Salvation has a Name…

He is Jesus, Savior,
Son of God, the King of Kings.
Our salvation has a name.

Jesus, Savior,
Precious Lord of Everything.
Our whole world’s about to change,

And it will never be the same.

-Chris August, “Jesus, Savior”

Merry Christmas to you all, near and far. May you know the name of your Salvation this Christmas.

Big Apple Adventure

Movies show the Big Apple at Christmas time. It always looks magical. I had always wondered what it would be like to actually visit the city during the holidays and see all the sights first hand. That idea, plus a summer of VBS focused on NYC, I was even more intrigued. I mentioned to Thomas in early November that we should do that together as our Christmas, and even though it was in passing before Bible Study, Thomas took it to heart and he set out to find some good deals on plane tickets. When we realized the cost was not near as much as we anticipated, he and had a mission to try and make it all work out. When my mom got on board to watch the kids for a few days, we booked the hotel and plane and began counting down the days.

Turns out, everything is a big, busy, bright and loud as it appears on TV.

(and this was 11PM at night……Times Square staying hopping until 2AM. Insane)

The Statue of Liberty was empowering, not to mention much larger than you expect.

(Isn’t Lady Liberty gorgeous? And isn’t the hubby a great photographer?)

The 9/11 Memorial is simply unforgettable and moving. Seeing the reflecting pools, which are literally built in the footprints of where the Twin Towers once stood, is something I think everyone should experience. Being that the memorial just opened in September, there was still some constructing and creating going on around the area, but the pools themselves create a quiet solitude among the loud sounds of the city and rebuilding.

May we never forget the lives lost on that day.

We also took a visit to the Today Show. Let me just say, I enjoyed this more than I anticipated. It was SO much fun. We literally turned on the TV from our hotel the morning we went and saw the show already in place. Less than 15 minutes later, we were there watching Scarlett Johansson and seeing Ann, Matt, and Al firsthand.

Speaking of hands, I shook Al’s! (side note: his gloves were soft)

Again, I am surprised about how giddy I got at Rockefeller Plaza seeing these people. I usually care absolutely nothing about celebrities (except maybe Joel McHale, but that is a different story for another time). The Today Show folks though just made me excited. And yes, Thomas was on TV! I was too short though, so no me.

Ice skating had to be one of my highlights. It was just magical. The love of my life, the chill of NYC winter, Christmas music, Christmas lights, and just joy all around made it simply perfect.

It is truly a moment that I will always remember, and I am so proud of Thomas for taking his first try at ice skating with me in such a big way! (He did really well too!)

Central Park was a bit of a let down you might say. We couldn’t really peg if that was because A: It was winter and all the greenery was muted B: We didn’t travel through something that was possibly impressive or C: We are accustomed to lots of nature and green where we are from, so what seems great to the city folk seems dim to the country folk.

Purusing 5th Avenue and Macy’s Holiday Windows, along with grabbing a few gifts for the kids made up for most of our shopping.  I did try to hunt down a clothing item I saw at one store, but with there being about 4 of that store within just a handful of city blocks, it was not too likely to find it again. Oh, and the hubby experienced heaven on earth inside the Lego store. He even made Lego men/women that reflect the look and style of himself, Daniel, and me.

A Broadway show, which was amazing, was on our to do list. It was so cool to just walk a few blocks from our hotel and be “where the neon lights are bright” and where there “is always magic in the air.”

The cool thing about watching this show on Broadway, where it stays, not floats around like we would have in our home state, is that every little detail of The Gershwin Theater was devoted to creating the vibe and flow of _Wicked_. From the witch hat lights to the Emerald city glow on every wall, the theater echoed the play, which was such a great experience on a whole. If you get a chance, go see it, even if not on Broadway.

Subway rides, taxi rides, ferry rides, the most delectable meal I have *ever* eaten, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a viewing of The Dead Sea Scrolls, Irish Pubs, a pizza lunch, coffee to go, traffic galore, and a few more events rounded out our adventures.

It was truly an amazing experience, and even though we could have stayed much longer and taken the opportunity to see so many other things, our two sweet boys beckoned our hearts back home.

It’s Your Turn Now, Hero!

Thomas has made himself a list of some audacious goals for his 30th year. One thing on his list was to run a half-marathon. If you had asked me this time last year if my hubby would run a half-marathon, he and I both would have chimed in with a resounding no. He, however, set his sights on running the St. Jude’s Half-Marathon and the training began. He even chose to go above and beyond and run as a hero for the hospital!

Last year I ran the St. Jude’s Marathon.
26.2 miles later, I was greeted by a proud husband and some very loving friends. A year later, our friends no longer live in the race city, so we had to stay in a hotel, and with a pending Christmas trip sans kiddos on the horizon, we decided to take the boys with us on the journey, which made for a bit of a crazy day for me while Thomas ran. On the way to the race city, we took all highways and back roads, so it was a very scenic journey. Some of our friends live outside of where the race would be (too far for us to crash there for the night) and we enjoyed catching up with them and their little girl.

At the hotel, we bathed the boys and basically called it a night. After the road trip, everyone was tired and Thomas certainly needed some rest for his big race.

We had a good idea on when Thomas would begin the race, along with what pace he would keep. With that in mind, I set a morning schedule for me and the boys. We packed everything up, ate breakfast, and drove to the closest parking place we could find before roads were closed off for runners. I got the boys out of the car and put Wesley on my back in a carrier while Daniel and I hauled it to Beale Street in order to catch Thomas and cheer him on in his race. Thomas was using his iphone as an ipod while running, so I texted him “We’re at the turn on Beale ready to cheer!” He texted back “I just passed that.” Yeah, we missed him. Daniel was *really* upset, and so was I for that matter. After running last year, I know how much it means to see a familiar face or have someone yell your name. Daniel kept thinking that if we stood there long enough, his Daddy would run past us anyway because people did start coming from the opposite way, but those people were marathoners and were looping though. Thomas would not be doing that in his half-marathon, and working with the logistics of walking to another place to cheer on the course and getting back to the finish stadium with two kiddos in tow, I had to admit that we missed him en route. We had to just look for him at the finish.

The boys and I waited in the stadium for Thomas to finish his race. They got quite a bit bored and started pulling on each others cheek and weird stuff like that. I can’t blame them, for waiting was a little boring, and I was constantly afraid of going off somewhere with the kids and missing Thomas cross the line, so we just sat and waited. My nerves got a little overwhelmed trying to corral the boys and keep them happy among so many people. I was able to shoot Thomas some encouraging texts while he was running though, which helped me to also check in with him on where he was at in the race. Daniel saw someone with food from a concession stand and asked me to go and get him something, for he was hungry and I was out of the snacks I had packed. I told him no because I did not want to miss Thomas finish.

Finally, I knew Thomas was on his last mile, so I got the kids up close to where we could see him straight on as he crossed.

They were making me nervous while on that railing because they were trying to keep climbing higher and higher, so I made them both get down and just stand next to me and wait. I was keeping my eyes on the entrance to the stadium, for that would give me a tiny bit of notice before Thomas crossed the finish. I was geared up, camera in hand, ready to cheer.

Suddenly, I realized Daniel was not standing next to me anymore. I called out his name and looked around at the seats behind me to try and locate him. I said his name again and still could not see him. I looked at the lady that was right behind me and she just shrugged her shoulders, most likely thinking I was a crummy mom that just lost her kid. Finally, I called him name a third time and he came over to me. I squatted down and told him that he could NOT walk away from me, that I had already asked him not to do that, and that I was disappointed with him for not listening to me. Scolding over, I got up and faced the finish line again to look for Thomas.

And then I saw him….past the finish line, already done. That’s right, I missed it. I was so upset but Thomas didn’t really care. He just smiled and waved at us from the ground, promising me that there were three ladies that crossed all together right in front of him that would have prevented me from any picture anyway. *Sigh*

We then went to the family reunion area to give him hugs. The kiddos were really upset when we had to walk away from Thomas. Wesley was crying, Daniel was crying, and I was about to cry too from stress and missing the finish. It was at that point I decided actually running the marathon last year was easier than taking two kids to watch someone else to finish the half-marathon.

However, when we finally got to him, I was was SO very glad we could celebrate his amazing feat. Thomas ran 13.1 miles as a hero, raising over $500 dollars for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital!

We’re all so proud of you, Thomas! We celebrate your accomplishment, and we know for sure that the kids at St. Jude’s are grateful for your hard work and dedication to the hospital and its case to heal children. You did it, hero!