Last Monday, Hudson and I attempted to make homemade noodles. Like a lot of things in my life, I had a picture of what the outcome would look like. In my head, it looked almost identical to the perfect noodles pictured in Joanna Gaines’ cookbook. Let’s just say they looked nothing like the picture. While her’s actually looked like noodles you would have bought from the store; mine looked strange and unnameable. I couldn’t even will myself to post a picture of the outcome because they looked so strange. Something clearly went awry. This was not the outcome I was expecting.
All week I have been thinking about this soup. I have been thinking about if my mindset was merely outcome driven, I would have been pretty disappointed. And here’s the thing, I usually am outcome driven. I am all about a clear measurable. My heart rests a bit easier when I can see a spreadsheet of all the things I did accomplish in a day. That is one of the reasons I love training for a marathon. I love the outcome of high mileage. Even if I produce nothing else the rest of the day, it feels good to know that I ran 20 miles. That is an outcome I can be proud of. But here’s the thing, what about the seasons where you are not training for anything? What about the seasons that do not have a clear goal or some outcome that can be measured? What is the indicator of success?
Those noodles the other night were not my definition of success. However, Lance did snap a few quick photos of Hudson and I making those noodles. And when I look at those photos, I see success. I see happy faces and floured noses. I see time well spent in the kitchen.
There are a handful of lessons this season of quarantine is teaching me. One is this: the process is always sweeter than the outcome. In times where we do not have races, or stages, or arenas to display our outcomes, the process becomes essential. We must lean in and embrace the sweet process of things and not be quite as concerned with the outcome.
For me, personally embracing the process looks a bit like this:
Getting out to run with zero expectations on mileage and pace.
Making noodles for the sake of spending quality time with my son with zero expectations that it will look like Joanna’s.
Writing words for the sake of creativity and the fact that I am a better person when I am creating + vulnerable.
Sending bold emails. There are lots of no’s, but I am embracing this process of putting myself out there.
Trying new activities with Hudson and being absolutely okay when they do not look like Pinterest.
Taking photos and capturing moments that are not perfect.
Journaling. This is one of the best ways I can look back on the process of my life + see the Lord’s kindness.
Prayer. This outcome-oriented girl needs a lot of help from the Lord to see new vision and embrace the process of things more.
Process over outcome. It is freeing. It allows room for grace. It allows you to sit down at the dinner table still smiling as you eat noodles that look nothing like Joanna’s. It allows you to create, run, write, love, and step out in boldness because it is not about the outcome. It is something more. Something greater. It is about who you are becoming in the process.
I found the process of naming the little things in my day that are bringing the joy to be incredibly helpful. It reminds me. It points me to the blessings all around me. It grounds me. Naming the ordinary joys I interact with on a daily basis grounds my head and heart from the ever-present temptation to complain and grumble. And let me tell you, I am an excellent grumbler. Instead of grumbling, I am doing my best to name the small joys. So, here are 5 more:
Just like running, I am finding a deep sense of comfort in the repetitive nature of knitting. I am no master, literally just beginning. I have already messed up a handful of times, and I am pretty sure the hat will likely have a few random holes, but still, I am doing it. I am a knitter.
This is actually my second time picking up yarn and knitting needles. The first was my sophomore year in college. One afternoon I had the sudden urge to knit, so I drove myself to the closest Joanne’s near LMU. I knitted on the 20-minute van rides over to the track for workouts. Amidst the blasting music and chatter of how painful the intervals would be, I kept my hands and mind steady on the stitches. During that season of sophomore year, I had fallen into a bit of a slump and picking up knitting brought steadiness that I desperately needed.
Nothing really came from these van rides of knitting on the way to the track. I quickly put it down as I became again distracted, but that season planted a seed. And I sense it pulling me back in. This time around, I have an actual pattern I am following. I have a clear goal of creating a hat. I even semi-figured out how to cable. I love re-entering this phase of knitting because already in this beginning stage, I sense a deep commitment to actually figuring it out. I sense a deeper maturity and patience. I sense progress, even if the outcome is an oddly-shaped hat.
7. Memory Keeping
Scrapbooking is that thing I always want to do, but it never seems to fit in my days. Now it does. And not only does it feel nice to catch up on Hudson’s first year scrapbook, it feels nice to look back at happy times. Not that these are not happy times, but most of our current pictures are within our backyard. It feels refreshing to see all the places and people and things that our lives a few months ago held. I am enjoying this process of not only looking back, but preserving all these memories by cutting out, taping in, and making a little remark with my pen about that particular moment. This work seems important, valuable, and I often picture my grandkids and great-grandkids flipping through and enjoying it. And that brings me a lot of joy.
On a quick tangent, most of my photos are all on my phone, but the process of scrapbooking actually forces me to get certain photos printed. There is something about actually being able to tangibly hold the memory. To me, it is like actually reading a book. The act of flipping through pages simply does not compare to reading the words digitally.
There is something about actually being able to hold that 4×6 moment in your hands. The smell of ink. The way they come shipped in those little paper envelopes. I love this process. It is also fun to slip a few of the extra copies into a card and send it the people in the photos. There is nothing quite like opening mail with a beautiful memory carefully placed inside.
8. Running Through Sprinklers
I woke up last Thursday feeling uninspired and unmotivated. And then, we turned on the oven, made delicious cookies, and ran through the sprinklers in our backyard. And things were good. I was hit with inspiration, and motivation came crawling back to me. Isn’t it amazing what some cookies and a little bit of water and laughter will do?
Also, walnuts, oats, and chocolate are my new fav cookie combo.
9. Trash Trucks
Beep! Beep! Trash truck! These have been Hudson’s words all last week since two amazing trash truck drivers honked and waved at him. This made such an impression on him. He has been talking about the beep, beep all week. And let me tell you, it has brought some major perspective.
These trash truck drivers have no idea the positive impact they made on a little toddler boy that dreams about trash truck Mondays. They have no idea that the simple act of honking their horn has made them seem magical and heroic all at once. This is making me want to honk my metaphorical horn a bit more often & not be afraid of doing the small and simple acts of kindness.
I want to mother and live my life in such a way that embodies the trash truck drivers.
10. Earl Grey Tea
Afternoons are really hard for me. I have my most inspiration and motivation right around 6 am. In this place of silence and caffeine and scripture my mind is sharp and my heart is open. From 6 am to 1 pm, something happens. Maybe it is the loads of laundry. Maybe it is that careless driver that nearly hit me as I was running. Maybe it is the constant “mommy, mommy, mommy.” Whatever it is, by 1 pm I feel tapped out. Even more so since quarantine.
So once Hudson is down for a nap, I go to the kitchen, turn on the tea kettle and I make myself a cup of earl grey tea. I let the tea bag steep a bit and then a splash in some almond milk and shake in a spoonful of sugar. There is something about earl grey tea. I am a fully committed black coffee drinker, but when it comes to earl grey, I always add some milk + sugar. Kind of like the burnt marshmallow situation I mentioned last time, it just tastes better.
Then, I bring my cup of earl grey tea to my little desk and begin to write. And every single time, the words come easier when I have my friend earl grey next to me.
I am going to be real honest here. I am over this. I am over staying at home. I am over not getting to see my family and friends. I am over hearing the words cancelled and uncertain. I am over wearing a mask to get our weekly groceries. I am over it.
I truly don’t want to come across as insensitive. I am fully aware of the realness and severity of this virus. I am not questioning the validity in any of it. I am just admitting my very human feelings of being ready to move forward.
The last couple weeks have been more of a struggle for me. The initial adrenaline of the quarantine has fully worn off. I began with a great deal of motivation and inspiration to tackle projects around the house and to do all the creative at-home things with Hudson. All of that is fully gone. My well is feeling dry and my ideas are slowly beginning to dwindle. I so desire for life to return to its normal rhythms once again.
Amidst this struggle and creative block, I am finding a few very small things that are bringing the joy. I wanted to share. Here are the first 5:
1. Audiobooks and Dishes
Is it weird if I admit I am enjoying doing dishes? The only reason I am enjoying this time is because I am listening to audiobooks. I just finished You Are the Girl for the Jobby Jess Connleyand recently began Big Magicby Elizabeth Gilbert. Very different books, but both are speaking to my heart. Connley is reminding me that I am in fact the girl for the job and Gilbert is reminding me to keep on writing.
2. Fire pit and S’mores
A couple weeks into the quarantine, we decided to buy a fire pit. It was something we always talked about, but our days never seemed to have the margin to actually sit down research fire pits, order it, and then spend leisurely time at home actually enjoying it. We now have lots and lots of margin so a fire pit seemed like a timely and good idea. And it was. We have spent a lot of time around our little fire pit. It has been our evening thing we do almost every night on the weekend. There is something about fire. The smell, the light, the warmth. It brings you in. It makes you want to stay a while.
Along with my love for our new addition, I have realized my deep love for burnt marshmallows. I used to pretend I liked my marshmallows golden brown. I did not, but I thought it seemed like the cool, more patient thing to like. A perfectly, golden marshmallow. Now that is something to be proud about. But here’s the thing, I love burnt ones. And I mean, like really burnt. Like near charcoal. Like if you were to touch it, you might think it would crumble to ash. I am done pretending I like the perfectly golden one. I am all about the burnt ones. They just taste better.
3. Minestrone Soup
I have also decided that if I were a food, I would be minestrone soup. This might seem like a strange choice, but let me explain. It is hearty- full of veggies. It is varied- we are not talking about chicken noodle soup here, there is zucchini, yellow squash, celery, carrots, onion, kidney beans, great northern beans, tomatoes, and of course the lovely shell pasta.
There is a lot of life in a minestrone soup. Each bite you are not exactly certain what you will get. Not only this, but there is a simplicity to minestrone soup. It’s flavor is warm and deeply comforting and reminds you of your mama, but it is not overly extravagant. It requires meticulously chopped vegetables, broth, a few cans, and pasta. That is all. It is a weeknight meal. A meal for a quiet Sunday evening. A meal for a new mom.
There is something about this soup that I deeply resonate with and I am pretty certain I would be happy if it was the only soup I ate for the rest of my days. I am falling in even greater love with this soup after making Joanna Gaines’ Minestrone soup from her new cookbook, Magnolia Table Volume 2. Clearly it made an impression if I just spent three paragraphs rambling about soup.
4. Pulling Weeds
No need to ramble about weeds, but I do want to note how good it feels to pull out a weed and get the whole root. The smell of fresh dirt and the satisfaction of knowing it ain’t coming back is unbeatable. The past few days when I started pulling weeds in our crazy front yard that needs a lot of TLC, I did not feel overwhelmed with the work that needed to be done. I was perfectly satisfied with the few weeds I pulled, knowing it made a small dent into the jungle of weeds that we call our front yard.
5. Picking Wildflowers
Today, I also discovered that I love taking scissors and cutting some of the lovely purple wildflowers we have in our yard. Hudson is obsessed with lawnmowers and all things gardener-related. This morning after our walk as he pulled grass and made his precious lawnmower noise, I cut and arranged the wildflowers.
This I decided is even more satisfying than the weed pulling. I washed an old, beautiful vase that had been gathering dust in our garage and put the flowers in their new home. Each time I have looked over at this vase full of purple, I have smiled.
Last Saturday I wrapped up my Boston Marathon training block with a virtual half-marathon. This of course was definitely not the way I imagined things to end. I imagined loud cheers and bright red numbers illuminating my goal time of 2:48. In my head, it was all pretty glorious and memorable.
That vision will have to be saved for another day. My virtual half was the next best option. And here’s the thing, it was entirely unglamorous. It was actually pretty painful. When you start hurting in a race, you can really rely on the crowds and people to carry you through. When I started to hurt at around mile 9, there were no crowds or expectations, and part of me just wanted to stop. Thankfully, Lance pulled me through and got me to a time of 1:23:45.
Before I dive into the miles, I just want to say that Lance is amazing. I would not have been able to run that time or probably even have finished if it was not for his even pacing and encouraging words. He is so even-keeled and I can be so dramatic. The last 4ish miles, every word amount of my mouth was a complaint and a whine. Lance is so good at not letting my negative thoughts or complaints change what he believes in me. The whole time, even when I started to half-cry, he said you got this, you are going to run an amazing time. I am so thankful God gave me a husband that not only cheers me on, but that believes in me more than I do.
For this 13.1 mile course, Lance and I started at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes and ended at a random street in Manhattan Beach. The course was actually a really fun and beautiful one. It would have probably been even more enjoyable in an actual race setting. As a whole, there was a good amount of downhill, which I desperately needed. The first 5 miles were all in Palos Verdes and there was a good amount of rolling hills. Every time we hit a hill, I lost contact with Lance. I used to pride myself on being a strong hill runner, but I am really struggling on the hills. My glutes are so much weaker and I much prefer the free speed from a downhill.
Once we got out of Palos Verdes, it was mostly downhill + flat, but these were the miles I also struggled on, so a lot of this section of the course was about holding on and just making it to the 13.1.
We drove the course a few days before, so we knew we would finish right around the Manhattan Beach Pier. It was just about a quarter mile past the pier. Since the strand and beach is currently closed, we finished on Ocean Drive.
Mile 1- 6:15
Mile 2- 6:20
Mile 3: 6:17
Mile 4: 6:34
Mile 5: 6:09
Mile 6: 6:16
Mile 7: 6:01
Mile 8: 6:14
Mile 9: 6:33
Mile 10: 6:38
Mile 11: 6:30
Mile 12: 6:44
Mile 13: 6:38
The mile splits were a bit all over the place, but the average was 6:24 per mile. Right when I finished and hit stop on my Garmin, I smiled when I saw the 6:24 average. That was my exact goal pace for the marathon. Obviously I ran only half the distance, but I was proud to be on that pace in a non-race environment.
Miles 9-13 were rough to say the least. Aerobically, I felt great. I had the capacity to complain and whine to Lance. It was all in my head and the right side of my body. I was feeling pretty good up until the 9th mile. Then, began to mentally check out. Running hard on quiet streets is mentally tough!!! My whole right side of my body was also beginning to tighten up. My right leg was definitely in pain. And because there were no other racers or crowds, it was the only thing I could focus on. The pain really got in my head. I am a pretty tough runner, but I was so mentally and physically tired that I began to shed a few tears. People we passed at the end probably thought I was crazy. I definitely had trouble pushing through the pain and it definitely slowed down my last few miles.
Still, I finished. I definitely did not sprint in like I usually do. I was maxed out. 1:23:45 was all I had on that day. And I am really proud of this time. Not only, is it the easiest PR to remember: 1-2-3-4-5, it is a time that I can say I fought for. I pushed through. I did not give up. I adjusted when original plans fell through. I kept going because here’s the thing, running Boston was never really about running Boston. It was about honoring God. It was about chasing dreams. It was about remembering I can still fight and run hard.
All of this ended in a very different way than I had imagined it would. But in some ways it all makes sense. It ended on an alley. There was no music (headphones stopped working a few miles in), no people, no cheers, no finish line. Yet, in this place of quiet, in this place of literally being in the shadow, I put one foot in front of the other. I hit my Garmin exactly when I saw 13.1 and I immediately went to sit on the curb. Done.
As I was finishing in this quiet alley, my reflective self could not help but think that this is how I want to continue to live out my days for the rest of my life. I hope and pray that regardless of the stage, whether it is an alleyway or Boston or the Olympic Trials, I can run my heart out.
The same is true with my own life. Whether it is writing to an engaged audience of thousands or just one girl that needs to hear the words, I pray that the performance and the heart behind what I do always remains the same. The reality is that I have only an audience of one. This seems to be a theme in my own life. I wrote about this concept nearly a year ago. This is when I can actually act out what I write. It is easy to write it out, but I am convinced the real transformation happens when we actually live out the words we preach.
These past few weeks, I have had to really dig deep. What do I do when really no one is watching? How hard am I willing to push myself when the cheers are silent? Will I keep writing when it sometimes feels like only one sweet friend reads my words? Yes. I will keep running, writing, pushing, dreaming; until God says otherwise.
This is the freeing part. It was never about the stage. It was never about Boston. It was about saying yes to the dreams and visions God has put on my heart. Whether we are in a pandemic or not, I will continue to say yes to God even if that means running for 13.1 miles on empty streets.
In typical fashion, the words are running away from me. The point of this post is to share about my virtual half-marathon, but more so it is to encourage you to not be afraid of saying yes to God when the stage looks dim. To not be afraid to treat things like they are really, really big deals, even when you are running in the shadows.
With this goal virtual race complete, I am going to take some time away from running. I am feeling a bit burnt out. I am ready to take a bit of a break, but I so look forward to my next season with running.
P.S. SO thankful for my husband, coach, pacer, and encourager. You were the best coach because you know me so deeply!
I woke up Easter morning feeling a bit sad. I was sad because I knew we would not be going to Easter church service. I was sad to not see extended family. I was just generally sad that Easter could not be celebrated in the way we normally would. And so the first couple hours of Easter morning I had a bit of a pouty attitude. I was mopey and down as I whipped up pancake batter and failed at hash browns. Side note: if anyone knows the secret to getting really crispy hash browns, please let me know. Mine always turn out drenched in oil and soggy.
This is the true picture of how our Easter morning started. I write this because this is just further evidence of how special and beautiful Easter truly is. This girl, who still manages to get in a slump on the most joyous day when we celebrate the Risen King, this girl, needs grace every moment. Left on my own, I will quickly lose sight of the big picture.
Praise God that he chose to love us forever and to sacrifice his one and only son. This is truly good news! If it were not for this radical act of love, I would be stuck in my misery over soggy hash browns and changed plans. Thanks to Jesus our day of Easter celebration was not ruined by my poor attitude. Grace filled in. And our Easter was not like any Easter previous, but it was quiet, intimate, and full of worship. And it was good.
The quarantine is showing me a lot of my shortcomings. One of them is how dependent I have come to the hustle and bustle of life. While we sometimes complain about it, I have realized I love a full calendar. I love rushing from one place to the next and stuffing our days with as much experience, people, food, and laughter. This is especially true when it comes to holidays. As much as we sometimes dream about a quiet holiday at home, the reality is I love the rush of a full day of celebration and people.
While there is nothing inherently wrong in this, over the years, it has made my heart numb to why we are celebrating in the first place. We say Happy Birthday, Jesus and He is Risen! but our hearts and minds are easily distracted by the feasts, gifts, and people all around us. At least that is the case with my own heart.
This year there were zero distractions. And initially, my heart could not handle it. There was no rush to get out the door. No need to iron the dress. There was no pressure to make some elaborate meal because it was just the three of us. And with all the normal busyness that typically fills days of celebration, our small family of three was left in our pajamas on the couch in quiet and peaceful worship.
We were not checking our watches to make sure we made the family Easter brunch in time. We were not scrambling in the kitchen. We were present and at peace and in full awe. The words of worship felt more crisp. The faces of my husband and son were in clear focus. The truth of the gospel has never felt more real.
This Easter will not be another blur of a holiday full of too many things and obligations, no, Easter 2020 will be the one where we really allowed ourselves the quiet space to sit in the emptiness of the tomb and truly feel the joy of what that means.
It will be the one where we worshipped on the couch.
The one with the big brunch.
The one where Hudson had an egg hunt all to himself.
The one where we all napped and then soaked in all the amazing online church services we could.
The one where we Face-timed and zoomed with family.
The one where we just sat out at our new fire pit and watched Hudson play.
The one where we ate too much candy and had a simple dinner.
This Easter I am thankful for the quiet, the extra time, and mostly I am thankful that Jesus rose for us. Even on mornings when we wake up with bad moods and eyes fixed on earthly expectations, God is gracious and loving and meets us where we are.
Happy Easter! He is Risen! Thankful that this truth remains just as true, regardless of the state of the world. And for that we have a lot to celebrate.
This week Hudson turned 22-months! How has it already been 2 months since I wrote his 20-month update? In that same amount of time we will have a 2-year old!
In the two months since last I gave an update, Hudson’s language has really developed. I am daily amazed with the words that he can say. Some of his favorites include: ball, bowl (when being given a snack, he always requests it in a bowl), bat, glove, catch, Dodgers (grandpa can be thanked for that one), pool man, gardener, lawnmower, boom (fav book), pout-pout (another fav book), more, please, mimi (kitty), ala (nala-our dog), treat (which he says every night after dinner), straw, car, choo choo (train), roar, baby, bear.
Of all the random words he can say, like lawnmower, he still has trouble saying his own name! And another word he does not say is NO, which I am thankful for! Instead of saying it, he just shakes his head wildly to indicate “no, don’t want to.” Personally, I prefer the head shake over hearing NO, NO, NO! But hey, I am sure that is coming. For now, I’ll enjoy these silent, head shaking no’s.
Along with all the words, Hudson has become even more accustomed to a very specific routine. He is a creature of habit. This mostly shows up in his nighttime routine. First he gathers all of his closest friends (beary is his first priority, then slothy, then bear, then another blankie, and his Buzz Lightyear pillow. Once all of this is taken out of his crib and put in our reading corner, the reading of his favorite books begins.
I cannot tell you how many times Lance and I have shouted “BOOM!” from Stormy Night or read the line: “I am a pout-pout fish, with a pout-pout face, so I spread the dreary wearies all over the place.” Once we read the classic line up of books, without fail, as daddy gets up to leave the room, he asks for a “nana” (banana). He usually just wants to hold it as we read Good Night, Gorilla because there are bananas all over the pages of that book.
Once he is put in his crib, his quest for routine and comfort continue. He points to his feet for fresh socks. He then holds up each of his stuffed animal friends and wants me to kiss each one. So I do. Slothy always seems to get an extra kiss. And then I say good night, love you and he is ready to drift off. In some ways this process seems excessive. There are quite a lot of complex layers in this nighttime routine, but it never really feels like a burden. I mean come on, kissing stuffed animals for your baby boy because he wants them to feel loved and comforted right before bed? Does it get any sweeter?
I write all this out not because I think you necessarily care, but because I do not want to forget it. I want to look back in ten years and remember our precious 22-month baby boy and the things his heart needed and clinged to. This time is so sweet. Yes, the tantrums are wild and listening is a lesson we work on daily, but as a whole, these are the days.
One thought I have not been able to shake the past few days is how much Hudson teaches me. I am not just saying it because it sounds cute. I truly mean it. When I watch the way my 22-month old baby boy lives out his simple days, I am drawn closer and closer to the Father. Let me explain.
Lesson #1: Pray for the Pool Man
Every night as we pray at the dinner table, Hudson immediately says with a sense of urgency: pool man, gardener. Not sometimes, but every single night, without fail. His eyes get big and he pulls on Lance’s arms and he keeps repeating their names until Lance prays for them. This whole process is then repeated with bedtime prayers. At first, it started as something that was just cute, but it has become such a consistent rhythm that it has actually really ministered to my own heart and prayer life. I desire to pray more like my 22-month old. I hate to admit it, but Hudson is more consistent in praying for the people on his heart than his mother. Talk about learning from our children.
My prayer life can be so inconsistent. My prayer life can also be very me-centric. Hudson is teaching me daily the power in consistency and to pray for the people we might not know well, but that we interact with in our daily lives. Hudson loves our neighbor, Howard. He loves the lady that works at Trader Joe’s. He loves the pool man, the gardener, the trash man, and any truck driver, for that matter. He loves the people that we might not know intimately as family or friends, but he loves the people in our local community well and I have a lot to learn from him in that area.
Lesson #2: Feel Sad for the Pout-Pout Fish
As I mentioned in his list of words, “pout-pout” is one of them. The Pout-Pout Fish is one of his very favorite books and is read at least 3 times every day. And here is the thing, we all know the ending of the story. Things end well, but this does not stop Hudson from truly being concerned for the fish in all the pages when he looks sad. He points and makes a sad face. He actually almost begins to cry. He feels deeply for Mr. Pout-Pout. A few pages in when the fish is on his back and still has his pout face, Hudson just about loses it. He points again with urgency and his breathing picks up. He mourns the sadness and despair of the fish every single time. He knows the ending, but this does not keep him from feeling real, genuine sadness.
I am the opposite. I want to skip over the sad, the hard, the painful, and move on to the joy. I tend to ignore or not allow myself to fully feel the parts of a story or life that are in fact sad. Hudson is changing this for me. He is reminding me that even when we know how the story ends, we should still feel the emotions along the way. In a lot of ways, it makes the joy at the end of the story that much sweeter because we felt the sorrow first.
There is a page towards the end of the story where there is a big picture of the fish smiling because he realized he was actually a kiss-kiss fish. Every time we turn to this page, Hudson’s whole face lights up and he literally kisses the pages of the book. He does this every time. He cannot contain his joy!
Taking this all outside of the context of the pout-pout fish, makes me think about the time period we are in today: in-between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. A large part of my personality wants to just rush to the joy of the empty tomb. The Lord, through my little emotional boy, is teaching me the importance in sitting at the cross. He is teaching me to feel the pain, the sadness, the sacrifice. And in the same way that Hudson kisses the fish at the end with such joy, I can thank the Father with an even greater joy and gratitude for all He has done for me.
Lesson #3: Worship Freely
Hudson is also reminding me that worship is not confined to a church service. We should be constantly living in a state of worship to our loving Father. Ever since church service became solely online, H has been obsessed with worshipping on the couch together. He wants to sing and put his hands up all the time: on the couch, at the dinner table, when he is playing baseball. It doesn’t matter where he is or what he is doing, if he feels the urge to look up and thank God, he will.
And let me tell you, it is humbling to say the least, when you see your not-yet-2-year old worshipping in a more authentic and real way than you. I have a terrible singing voice, so I tend to sing pretty softly in church. Throwing my hands up has never been comfortable to me, so I usually keep them glued to my sides. But you see, Hudson does not care. He dances wildly, he sings off-key, he waves his hands in the air, and he asks for more and more and more. Oh, how I desire to worship, like that of a child.
Lesson #4: Pursue Passions
Back to our prayer time, after Hudson says pool man, gardener, he usually will pretend to swing a bat. Sometimes he even says “Dodgers,” so we aren’t exactly sure what the prayer request is. Dodgers to win the World Series? For him to be on the Dodgers? Or for God to help him be a good baseball player? We are not certain, but one thing is clear: Hudson is passionate about baseball and soccer and really anything involving balls.
He practices his swing in the living room every day. He does pretend practice pitches. He wakes up in the morning saying, “catch?” He raises his hand and yells “corner” when he is about to kick a soccer ball. This kid is all in when it comes to ball-related sports. Who knows what it will look like for him in his life, but I feel pretty confident that he will pursue some type of sport or sports with a great passion.
As I have been watching this obsession develop over the last couple months, I can’t help but be inspired. The way he watches the ball so intently before he swings it. The way he claps when he does a big hit or surprises himself and actually catches the ball in his glove. The way he pursues his passion when he doesn’t even know what that means, inspires me to be more forward with the passions I tend to bury down and not boldly proclaim.
I want to wake up like Hudson and proclaim the things I am most passionate about: Jesus, family, raising little ones, running, writing. Just like he rises and asks who wants to play catch, I hope to become more of a woman that rises with all the things I love most flowing from my words and actions.
It sounds cute to say my 22-month old is teaching me these things, but the bigger truth is that the Lord is teaching and maturing my heart of these lessons THROUGH my little boy. I sometimes want to pull out my hair because as sweet and precious as our Hudson Boy is, he can be a real challenge. He is bold, stubborn, wild. And I know with certainty, the Lord placed him as our first son to do some major heart work and teach us valuable lessons in our faith. So, really, these are lessons from the Lord, but he has been gracious enough to use a sweet and hilarious little boy to teach me them.
Last Saturday morning, I sipped my coffee and ate my typical pre-race breakfast of almond butter + oatmeal. And to the pit of my stomach, I felt the race nerves building.
Here is a little confession: I was nervous for my virtual 10k I was running in a couple hours. You might think this is funny. And I can see why, but I was actually really thankful for the nerves I felt on that virtual race morning. From the outside world, it might seem strange and even silly to be nervous for a race that has no crowds or audience or big outcome. But internally, this is the greatest sign to me that I deeply care about being the best runner I can be, not because of the major marathon on the calendar or the applause of the crowds, but because I love the sport and every time I step on the line (or virtual line) I want to perform at my very best.
In college, the nerves often stemmed from a fear of disappointing my coach and my team. The pressure I felt collegiately ran deep.
The first year postpartum, the nerves stemmed from wondering if I was even that good at running anymore after a couple years off and a baby.
But last Saturday morning, the nerves were my friends. They reminded me that I care about running no matter what the stage is.
It is easy to care and be nervous and feel the adrenaline when you are running on the track with some of the best collegiate 5k runners in the region. It is easy when you have crowds cheering and yelling for you. It is easy when it feels like a big deal. But how you respond, when it is very much not a big deal, to me, that is the better indicator of your drive and motivation and love.
So those nerves Saturday morning over coffee and oatmeal, were welcomed. For those that have run virtual races in the past, you know that one of the hardest parts is not having the adrenaline of a typical race full of crowds and a big finishing line. I knew those race butterflies would be helpful to get a little adrenaline to push me through.
The nerves seemed to quickly subside when I started running. Taylor Swift’s Reputation began on shuffle right as I started my Garmin for the 6.2 miles. With music booming in my ears and the lightness of my racing flats beneath me, I focused on the back of my husband, ready for him to pull me along.
The first mile felt easy and controlled. 5:50.
Miles 2 and 3, I settled in and got comfy. 6:04 and 6:03, respectively.
Miles 4 and 5, I started feeling tired and the reality that I did not have the normal race energy and crowds to pull me through, hit me. I was suddenly made very aware that I was running through a relatively empty street. I turned Swift up a bit louder in my ears and tried to not let my husband run away from me. 6:07 and 6:06, respectively.
Mile 6, my legs came alive again. I took a quick glimpse down at my watch and knew I would definitely be under the 38-minute mark. At this point, I was definitely feeling fatigued and a bit unmotivated, but as we were getting closer to the “finish line,” I saw a group of familiar faces clapping for me. This was totally unplanned, but seeing familiar faces from the local running community, including my high school coach, who I adore and look up to, really made a difference.
With a bit of extra energy, we stopped our watches right when we hit the 6.2 mark at 37:20. Hands on knees, I smiled and high-fived my wonderful pacer.
A Year Ago
To be honest, I was hoping to be sub-37, but I was still really proud of that time. It was even more significant because almost exactly a year ago I ran LA’s Race to Remember. It was my first race back postpartum. I ended up winning the 10k with a time of 38:04. That race was really special to me. It was a reminder of my love for the sport. It was a reminder that I was not only still a runner; I was a competitor. You can read the full race recap here.
Even though this past Saturday, I did not get to run through finishing tape or get interviewed at the end, it felt like a lot of progress to be 44-seconds faster in a non-traditional race setting.
This makes me excited for future races (both virtual and in-person).
It makes me excited to keep chasing down times.
It makes me excited that my progress as a runner does not need to be dependent on a race or crowds.
I can still push myself. All I need is a watch, my flats, an empty road ahead, and my speedy husband.
Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to pushing myself on big stages, like Boston, but for now, these virtual races are a welcomed and needed friend.
Rambling Runner Virtual Race Series
Thanks to Matt Chittim from the Rambling Runner Podcast and the sponsors for making these virtual races happen. There are still two races left! The half-marathon and full-marathon. You can find all the info on how to join, right here. It has been a really key aspect to keep me focused, motivated, and excited to keep stepping out the door.
Easter celebrations are likely going to feel quite different for most of this year. There will be no bunny photos or large egg hunts or dressing up in our Sunday’s best for Easter service. In a lot of ways, Easter this year will be quite simple. They will be quiet, without the rush and bustle and people that usually surround all of our favorite holidays. And while in some ways this disappoints me; in a lot of ways it is allowing my heart to be even more focused on the reason we celebrate Easter in the first place.
Taking away the external elements of Easter, we are left with the one thing that truly matters and is forever unchanging: a cross and an empty tomb. Jesus is alive and we get to be with Him forever! That will never be taken away. That is just as true now during a pandemic as it was before. That will never change. In a time where everything seems to feel different, this Easter, we have even greater reason to celebrate our great, unchanging Father that loves us SO much.
Even though things feel so different, I am very much in the Easter-spirit! To me, this is what Easter is all about. It is about facing the darkness of the cross, but then it is also about looking past it and seeing the light and hope that lies beyond it. Jesus’ resurrection is one of the greatest reminders that death and darkness DO NOT get the final word. Death is defeated. There is hope. We will get through this.
This may sound silly to you, but one thing that has helped me to be more focused on the hope of Easter is a week full of Easter-centric activities and crafts with Hudson Boy (21-months)! Each day this week we did an Easter-themed activity. All of them were very simple and with materials that can mostly be found around the house. These activities absolutely brought some joy to our indoor days & reminded us both of the great hope we have in Jesus!
With Easter just about a week away, these activities could be a great way to count down the days to Easter Sunday with your kiddos.
Quick side-note: we packed a lot of fun intentional activities into our week, but if you look at all my pictures in this post, you will easily find dust all over our floors. To the mom that struggles with a comparative heart (ME!), don’t worry if it was a week with less hands-on activities. It is all about give and take. This week we did a lot together, but my kitchen and floors and whole house for that matter is a bit of a disaster.
1. WATERCOLOR CROSS ART
I was inspired by the Resourceful Mama’s tape Resist Cross. We did not have painter’s tape on hand, so I cut out a cross with construction paper and taped it to the card stock. Obviously painter’s tape is ideal, but it still worked out for us! This is a great project to do on Good Friday to focus and teach on Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection. This project is simple and the result is really beautiful with the watercolors. I have ours on our mantle. It has been a really powerful reminder to me all week about how the dark cross does not get the final word. There are beautiful colors on the other side.
2. INDOOR EASTER EGG HUNT
After this egg hunt, all Hudson seems to be able to say is “eg, eg, eg!” I had saved a handful of plastic eggs from last year’s Easter egg hunt, so used these. If you are feeling stumped with what to hide in the egg for this random, indoor hunt, you could do a “Resurrection Egg Hunt.” There are ideas for this type of egg hunt all over, but I was specifically inspired by Meredith over at the blog, Wait ‘Til Your Father Gets Home.
For Hudson’s egg hunt, I quickly wrote down what each item represented, along with the correlating Bible verses. As Hudson gets older, I will use this activity to go through scripture and have a more in-depth discussion on Jesus’ resurrection. For my 21-month old, it was still a good activity for him to hold each item and for me, in a few, simple words explain to him what the item represented. This was a great activity that helped make a random indoor egg hunt feel a bit more meaningful.
Since this one hunt, we have done a few. Usually with empty eggs. He is obsessed with it and it is a fun way to pass some time.
3. POM POMS + EGG COLOR SORTING
With those same eggs, we did this color sorting activity. So simple and great for practicing colors with toddlers! Also, great for fine motor skills, as Hudson tried to pack as many pom poms as he could in a single egg. We just used our hands to sort pom poms by color, but you could also use plastic tongs or a spoon to really work on those fine motor skills.
4. CHRIST-CENTERED COLORING PAGES
My favorite resource for free, Christian coloring pages is Christian Preschool Printables. It is an amazing site with some wonderful + free printables. I look forward to using this resource even more as Hudson gets more into the preschool years. He really enjoyed coloring these crosses and immediately started to run out the door to give it to someone. Coloring pages, like these, are a great thing to have on hand, especially when someone wakes up way too early from their nap! Coloring in the afternoon with a few snacks seems to sit well with Hudson as a solid afternoon activity.
5. EGG + BUNNY EARS COOKIE BAKING
To end the week, we spent time with auntie and made Easter sugar cookies. At this point, I am convinced that Sally’s Baking Addiction has the very best sugar cookie recipe. I made this same recipe for Valentine’s Day and these Easter ones were just as delicious. I was totally inspired by the way she used the same cookie cutter to make both eggs and bunny ears. How cute!
Our cookies, look NOTHING like hers, but we all had a lot of fun making them! I set up Hudson’s own little decorating station with wax paper and a few cookies already frosted in white for him. This allowed him to spoon some color on to each cookie and shake some sprinkles on. He was a happy camper with this set up. I intentionally made a really small egg that he called “baby.” This was a fun one for him to decorate and I didn’t mind him eating the whole thing since it was so tiny!!
There are a few things we did not get to and are hoping to fit in next week!
Other Easter Things To-Do with with Kiddos
Dye Easter Eggs! (Excited to try these PAAS Marble ones). If your Target has a Drive-Up, you should utilize it! I just made a Target trip the other night and it increased my anxiety times 10.
Easter Photos! No mall bunny photos this year, so hoping to make a spring little set-up in our backyard to get some cute Easter photos of Hudson!
Write Easter Cards to Family! Holidays are my favorite times to write words of gratitude to those we love most. I have a mild obsession with Trader Joe’s seasonal cards. Picked these up the other day and I am excited to spend time with Hudson pouring love into each card. We might not be able to see all of our family members this Easter, but we certainly can show them we are thinking of them.
Easter Play-dough Play! Planning to make a new batch of play-dough. I will dye half orange and the other half light pink, so we can use our carrot and bunny cookie cutters!
And of course, we will be reading all the Easter books on our shelves. A couple weeks ago, I put a list of our favorite Easter books. Another one that is not on that list that we have been reading constantly is Here Comes Peter Cottontail! We have Hudson’s grammy’s version and I love this edition’s illustrations. This week would also be a great time to delve into the Easter stories in The Jesus Storybook Bible. We keep reading the story, “God’s Wonderful Surprise,” over and over again. It has been a comfort to both of us this week.
What are some simple things you are doing with your kids and family this coming week to celebrate the coming hope & joy of Easter? I would love to get some more ideas + inspiration!
For all those that say they don’t have time to have a day of rest or sabbath, there is no better time than now to intentionally create a sabbath day for you and your whole family. With the world shut down right now, this is the very best time to set some new healthy rhythms into your typical chaotic and busy schedule.
Sabbath is a gift and it is my favorite day of the whole week. It is the one day, we sleep in. The one day, I ignore the dishes and the laundry and the dust. The work can wait. I do enough of that during the week. This is a day set apart and it is sacred. Last summer, I put together a post full of explaining the importance of honoring the sabbath and some practical tips to incorporate this weekly day of rest in your own life. You can go back and read it here.
“To Hell with the Hustle”
I just finished reading Jefferson Bethke’s book To Hell with the Hustle. It is such a great read and a really great book to add to your list, especially if you are a hustler and struggle incorporating rest and margin into your days.
There was a lot of really insightful wisdom packed into the pages, but the thing that stuck with me the most was actually quite simple: be faithful.
Not just a faithfulness when God is pouring you with blessings upon blessings, but in the seasons of your life that feel more barren and ordinary. This is true faithfulness. A commitment to living your life faithfully to God, your spouse, your kids, your church, your neighbors in the ordinary days.
Bethke puts it best in the epilogue:
“I think we hate faithfulness so much because at its root it’s obscurity and ordinariness, which is the biggest cultural curse we have today. There is a certain paradox in making changes and choices that don’t seem to have obvious benefits. It’ll feel uncomfortable to resist technological advancements. To rethink how we communicate. To question the noise all around us. To not hustle to get ahead, but to rest to be human. The more I root myself in a place, in a job, in mundane repetition of my life with love, the more I find joy springing up all over the place.”
I don’t know about you, but my soul feels a peace and joy that has been missing for a while. Don’t get me wrong, there is also a lot of anxiety and uncertainty and fear melted in there, but as a whole, my head feels more clear and my heart feels more open. And I think a large part of it is because the extra noise has paused for a bit.
The morning rush of throwing things into my bag and quickly getting Hudson into his carseat has ceased. There is no pressing timeline. We are home and for the first time in a while, I am truly thankful for the very mundane elements of my day. I am thankful for fresh air outside. I am thankful for the ability to take a long walk with my family.
I am seeing things with a new vision. I see the beauty in the ordinary.
To give you an idea of what I am trying to convey, this is a little glimpse of what sabbath looked like for the Capel fam last Sunday:
Last Sunday’s Sabbath
Drinking coffee and just watching Hudson play
Worshipping on the couch
Watching our pastor teach on the biblical concept of work. Our church’s online sermons can be found here
Packing a lunch picnic of bread, turkey, cheese, figs, and slices of cara cara oranges
A drive on an empty 405 freeway
A beautiful family walk
Picnic on a big grass field
Baseball and soccer play with Hudson
Knitting (a new thing. I am trying to make a hat, so far it is a struggle).
Lounging in beach chairs while Hudson and Nala entertained each other
Zooming with dear friends
Steak on the barbecue
Apple crisp in the oven
Scoops of vanilla ice cream
Dreaming about that Stanford baseball scholarship as we watch Hudson hit on his tee before bed (kidding…kind of).
Bedtime books, mostly reading Stormy Nighton repeat. His current obsession because of the page that says “BOOM!”
The Sunday Bath. If you don’t do this, oh, you really should. It is one of my favorite sabbath elements.
A little more knitting
Time with Lance and talking about what the week ahead looks like
Peace in the Ordinary
I wanted to list all of that out because I wanted to show how ordinary it is. Nothing spectacular, but it was a new favorite day in my book. It was simple and rich and meaningful. This is sabbath to me. A day where the blessings of my life are in full-picture. With perfect clarity and the tender whispers of God, I see with new vision that this is exactly where he wants me. He wants me present with open hands and an open heart for all that he is showing and teaching me through these simple days at home.
So, in the midst of uncertainty and fear as the number of coronavirus cases seem to keep getting higher and higher, I am finding a whole lot of comfort and peace in just focusing on the here and now and leaning into this day of Sabbath that will never be cancelled or taken away from us. It is a gift given to us with open hands by a Father that loves us so dearly.
Will you accept it and step into this sacred place of rest? There is no better time than now.
I know we each are affected by the coronavirus in very different ways. Some in life-changing types of ways, and others in smaller disappointments. I know there is this temptation to down-play our own feelings right now, with the preface of with everything going on, it feels silly to… or I know others have it a lot worse, but…
I know that temptation well because I have most certainly felt it in the past couple weeks. It feels silly to complain about a postponed marathon, when others are losing jobs, weddings, graduations. It feels silly to complain about not getting to play at the park when we have a cozy house full of toys to play with. It feels silly to feel the pressure of keeping up with all the other moms that appear on social media to be handling it so much better than you.
All of it can feel silly, especially in the face of death and unemployment. But, it is your feelings and your situation, and it is okay to feel real sadness, disappointment, and anxiety over things that may feel small in comparison with everything else that is going on. It is okay to own our struggles, even if they may be small.
With that said, in the past couple weeks my emotions have been all over the map. I have felt a whole lot of disappointment. Disappointment over the marathon. Disappointment in not being able to attend church in person. Disappointment over not being able to go that basketball game or have that couple over for dinner or attend that birthday party.
Then, I went from disappointment to determination. Last week, especially, I was determined to make the best of these situations. This means keeping my whole routine as normal as possible. These choices have helped the initial disappointment to fade, but it also has created some unrealistic expectations.
The fact of the matter is that we are living in a global pandemic. This is new territory for all of us. It is new, weird, strange, scary, confusing, and uncertain. While I still stand on the fact that it is important to keep things as normal as possible and still goal-set and look ahead to the future, I am learning I need to add room for grace.
To give you an idea of how my brain works…
Circumstance: Race postponed.
Response: Keep training hard and run a sub-80 minute virtual half-marathon.
Circumstance: All classes, parks, museums, and stores closed.
Response: Be the best Pinterest-worthy mom. Do ALL the sensory bin activities. Do a craft every day. Read ALL the books on the shelves. Create fun learning experiences. Avoid screens at all costs.
Circumstance: All restaurants are closed, except for takeout.
Response: Bake and cook gourmet recipes for every meal.
Response: I must learn to knit, organize every cabinet/drawer in the house, and finally finish Hudson’s baby scrapbook.
Get the picture?
Not a whole lot of room for grace. This is new. This is weird. I am doing my best and God will fill all of the holes. He always does. I don’t need to put added pressure on myself to be super-mom, super-wife, super-human. This pandemic alone is pressure enough.
Before getting into ideas to keep an active toddler busy at home (I promise, we are still heading in that direction), I wanted to preface it with the fact that I too am struggling and feel this weird sense of pressure to do all the things. I am learning daily that the mundane elements of our day: taking a bath, watering the grass, calling a grandparent are enough. We don’t need to get crazy.
We Are Still…
We are still good runners during a pandemic if our mileage suddenly drops drastically.
We are still good moms during a pandemic if we do not always have a scheduled craft for the day.
We are still good wives during a pandemic if we become a bit more reliant on frozen pizzas than we did pre-pandemic.
We are still good productive humans during a pandemic if we have not acquired a new skill and the junk drawer is still full of junk.
Let God’s grace enter. You don’t need to be all the things or do all the things or learn all the things. Keep it simple. Keep folding the laundry, washing the dishes, reading bedtime stories, running, and cooking. In other words, keep doing the normal life stuff you would do all the time, no need to add the pressure to become a gourmet chef, a Pinterest-perfect mother, or super fit.
With all that said, here are some very simple things I am doing with my very, active, almost-2-year old that is keeping us both sane and happy, mostly.
1. Keep a routine
Keep waking up at similar times, keep changing out of pajamas, keep snacks, lunches, and dinners at normal times.
2. Walk/Run Outside
Take the jogger out for a short run or walk around the block. The days we go out for a morning run always seem better because it really breaks up the day. We have been calling our runs around our neighborhood, “dinosaur runs” because we stop by a nursery with giant, metallic dinosaurs and Hudson gets to roar at them. It is the small things!
Also, the sunshine and fresh air does a whole lot of good for the both of us. If you’re new to the baby jogger, I have some tips on running with the stroller, you can find here.
3. Take Long Baths
We now take baths in the morning and the evening. If Hudson is acting crazy, the bath is always a sure way to calm him down and get some sensory play as he plays with the bubbles and his bath toys. Typically, we will take a quick shower and rush out the door to our scheduled outing. It has actually been a real joy to embrace these slower, bubble bath type of mornings. If you are looking for more bath activities, here are some of my favorite products that always make bath time more fun:
There is always a chunk of our day scheduled for getting things done around the house. I try to always incorporate Hudson. Sometimes he just watches me or wanders off to play independently in the playroom, but sometimes he grabs the broom or his pretend lawn mower and goes around the house “working.” This is a win-win because I get things done around the house, while he imagines and helps me through play.
5. Bounce House
Set up something fun in your living room or playroom that is typically not up. It could be a tent, a fort, a ball pit, or a bounce house. We have this bounce house. It is not very big, but it already has been a well-worth it investment. As a family, we seem to always end up hanging out in the bounce house after dinner. In these scary and uncertain times, I feel pretty certain I will look back to our evenings spent in the bounce house with great fondness. There has been a whole lot of laughter happening in that little house- Nala (our 80 lb. golden) even joins and things get real crazy.
6. Songs + Dance
We usually break out the Greg & Steve tunes midmorning. This is a fun way to transition between activities and is a great way to burn off some extra energy before nap time. Here are a few songs, that are especially great for dancing with your toddlers:
Here’s the honest truth, our house currently is chaos. And this is entirely intentional. Part of it is laziness, but part of it is strategic. There are TONS of invitations to play all over our house for Hudson. He can jump in his bounce house, he can color on his chalk board, he can pretend play with his trains, he can practice his baseball swing on his tee. I am simply leaving things out all over to invite him to play. This creates a very messy house, but it is not like we are having guests over anytime soon and it takes the pressure off of me to constantly entertain.
8. FaceTime Family/Friends
This has been a great way for him to still have social interactions and see the people he loves most! We have been doing this almost daily. It has been the perfect way for both of us to feel more connected. Not to mention, great for him to practice names.
9. Make Cards
So far, we have made 2 birthday cards and one thank-you card to our amazing pool man. This is an easy “art project” and Hudson is at the age where he LOVES giving things to people he cares about. We don’t have a ton of art supplies, so I have kept it really simple with crayons and card stock. For auntie’s birthday card, we even broke out the water colors. I am not very creative or artsy, so making cards is a great way to incorporate some art + also teach Hudson the importance of appreciating those we care and love for.
Self-explanatory. Lots of indoor and outdoor scootering happening over here.
11. Mud Play
I will be honest, I have been on Pinterest more than ever recently. And it gets pretty overwhelming. I am all about simple activities with few supplies and ingredients needed. When I saw this mud play recipe, I knew it was perfect. You just combine water, flour, and cocoa powder. And there you go, the best smelling mud ever. It was perfect for creating dinosaur and truck tracks on paper.
12. Window Clings
If you are able to make a quick trip to the dollar store, they have really cute Easter window clings. This was very entertaining for Hudson. He especially likes the gel clings, which I am not crazy about because it attracts dog hair and H always ends up ripping them. But it is just $1 and entertains him, so still worth it in my book. The day we brought them out, he kept going back to the window to rearrange the bunny and the chick.
Okay, I am going to stop here. This is becoming too long. Here is the bottomline: use this time wisely. Soak it in and appreciate it for what it is. Sit in the quiet, the slow, the mundane. Don’t feel like you need to do all things. Keep it simple. Invite your little ones along in your ordinary days and take lots and lots of bubble baths.