Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happier than a pig in Mud...

In January, 10 months ago now, my husband and I decided to improve our physical fitness by creating a training and meal plan that would enable us to increase our strength and stamina while...never mind, we started counting calories and moving our backsides because we wanted to stop gaining weight and get in shape.

Being 40-something with three kids does not, in fact, doom a person to a life of going least not coasting down at high speeds.  If I am going down, I am doing it with two parachutes open and the brakes on!

Soon after, my husband discovered a worthy motivation.


This is an event where you pay the organizers to let you run miles and miles stopping only to crawl through, jump over, climb under, hang from, get shocked by, or freeze in whatever obstacle they have set up.  Oh yeah, the proceeds benefit Wounded Warriors.  Your thanks for completing the course?  An orange sweatband and a beer. (Oh don't get all worked up, just don't drink the beer if you don't want to...its okay to be the salt you know...)

So, my husband trains and I walk. We write down calories, a surprisingly easy and cheap way to alter your eating for the better, and I lose a size and my husband loses 30 pounds.  *sigh*

The day arrives and we drive down, all five of us, the kids are crazy excited.  They have done lots of "training" with him (health, it's not just hereditary but contagious, yes?) and they are ready to watch some funky monkey (monkey bars) and the kiss of mud (crawling through mud under barbed wire) and other obstacles with slightly edgier names whose double meaning was lost on the kiddos.  (I just used some of the less conservative elements as a springboard to brainwash the kids with my own point of view.)

Look at the hands on the right edge of the pic above, those hands waiting to help a stranger up.  When was the last time I helped anyone up?

This is not a commercial for the Tough Mudder but a commercial for the world around you.  I had forgotten that people are not just mankind but uskind and we are loved, if not always by each other but by our Creator.

Everyone was so nice, participants, volunteers, family members, everyone.  Some of the costumes were skimpy but really, we saw the same amount of flesh in a fast food restaurant the night before.  There were signs encouraging determination, reliance on--wait for it--OTHERS, doing your best and getting back up when you fall and above all, HELPING OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE DOWN.

You see, in my insulated little world, I fear I have lost my saltiness.  I admit to you that I stand apart when I venture outside my circle of family and church.  I don't know quite how to handle the world at large because I seem to be rarely in it anymore.  And considering my faith, this makes me quite useless.  So I was really encouraged to see what potential we have to impact the world around us.

I saw people at the Tough Mudder wearing their faith, talking their faith and walking their faith and these real people and the others there who were having fun on behalf of a noble cause, these should be some of our heroes, not the folks on TV who are paid but the ones who have paid just to help someone else.  A worthy model, don't you think?

The Tough Mudder Creed

As a Tough Mudder I pledge that:
I understand that Tough Mudder is not race but a challenge.
I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
I do not whine, kids whine.
I help my fellow mudders complete the course.
I overcome all fears.

Now, with your permission, I would like to editorialize...

Abba Father,

I understand that life is not a race but a challenge and the goal is a race worthy of a "well done" from you, and certainly NOT to finish first!
I put love of you and love of my neighbors before MY chosen course.
I do not whine but try to be thankful in all circumstances because You are God and I am not.
I help my fellow mudders complete the course, enough said.
I overcome all fears only through You who strengthen me.

And another thing, this event was physically and mentally challenging.  We need more of that in general.  Let our men and boys, many of whom were made to be warriors, let them have challenges and do hard things and fail and try again.  Let them test and exert themselves. Spiritually, can you imagine how salty they could make an event like this if they were to come in droves?

And for your girls, what an inspiration.  My daughter watched a beautiful young woman cross the monkey bars (these bars, about 20 of them, followed the inclined roof line going upward, peaking and coming down), with the guys in her group cheering her on.  We were so impressed because those fitness nut guys cheering, they had fallen from the bars into the muddy water before that girl crossed.

Events like this are springing up all over now.  Test them to make sure the cause is worthy but we are inspired to action.  The boy, 9, watched his daddy cross "the monkey"and said out of the side of his mouth, "How old do you have to be to do this?"

Trying to be worth my salt,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Superman's Secret Identity Revealed

Let me let you in on a little secret, Superman is real and I know who he is.  I married him 12 years ago.  I know he has super powers because a friend who lent us a mower once said my husband could break an anvil.  Maybe that isn't what he meant...

He can hit baseballs out of the park, coach for days in freezing February weather or 102 degree sun, if you put oranges in your water cooler it makes a difference, you know.  But let him go too long without sugar and, lets just say hunger is his kryptonite.

As crazy as I was about him, I didn't even know his secret identity.

But then something happened, a miracle actually (but that is for another post) and we found out we were expecting.  A baby shoe with an apple seed to show the size of our child the day we learned he existed and a poppy seed to show the size of his already beating heart.   Twenty-one days wonderfully made and our child's heart was beating.

Superman became Mr. Safety, spending two hours in the car seat aisle before actually making a purchase.  I am not kidding.  He did the finger sticks to test the sugar in my blood and worked in his gymnasium office while I walked that sugar off at 10:00 PM.  While I lay in a hospital bed recovering from a c-section, he changed tar-filled diapers, eventually becoming such an expert by our third child that he made a list of the supplies he wanted, forget cotton balls, you need industrial wipes for that stuff.  I began to suspect that he was not to be taken for granted.

He is the "master swaddler" who kept vigil over me and the new ones every minute we were in the hospital.  He came in the door from work, kissed me (is that how all this got started?) and says, "Give me that baby, he needs Daddy-time."  He is the daddy who took the boy to daycare the whole first week because I couldn't stand to do it and then hurried there to get him first.  He always has room on his chest for a sleepy little one.  I reach out to the little one who can't lay down while he sleeps, strapped in a seat to keep his milk down, and I touch him to feel him breathe but his daddy's hand is already there.  These are the things you do when you are a daddy.  These are the ordinary things that turn men into heroes.

He is learning to live on kid-time and how to eat with a person on his lap.  The man of steel drives slower now.  He has used words like "onesie" and "exersaucer" and he says, "Sorry, not today, I am with my kids."  He learned to appreciate the sounds of babies breathing, squirming and talking to their toes while we tried to sleep because that means they are there and they are healthy.  These are the changes you make when you are a daddy.  These are the ordinary changes that change you.

He likes to be with the kids and misses us when he can't be home with us.  He tells me, his wife, that I take good care of our children when it is 5:00 AM and one of them is up again.  He says I did the right thing when an emergency room visit spawns a $1,500 bill because our son shook strangely without cause when he was nursing.  He bundles our children for the trip to church.  He worked long and hard to get his National Boards and principals' degree because he looks to the future and wants to take care of us.  The man of steel has made a commitment of steel.  Commitments of steel make it possible for ordinary men to leap tall buildings.

He loves me, the mother of his children, chooses to love me every day.  He works hard so that I can raise our children and it matters.  They wait for the lights of his van (major sacrifice there!) and run when they see him. They still cry sometimes when he has to work too many nights in a row.  They don't miss TV heroes but they need him and he is there.  Above all, these kids know, day after day, minute after minute that he loves them.

He endures an ever-lengthening bedtime routine and says daddy prayers over them.  These are the things that teach your children what a daddy does, what a hero is.  These are battles fought  with hard choices and adventures lived in wee hours and a legacy well worth leaving and I know that his power doesn't come from the planet Krypton but from a holy place that is not fiction.  He knows it too and that is why he is more than a man, but a hero to four of us whose day really gets started when daddy comes home.

Love always,