Friday, August 22, 2014

Diving TV Schedule for the Youth Olympic Games

NBC has given me the exciting opportunity to commentate diving for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games



Diving begins tomorrow in Nanjing, China. It will air each night on NBCSN and highlights from each week's events will air on the following Sunday on NBC.

The air dates and times (ET) are as follows:

Sat., August 23          9-11 p.m.            NBCSN

Sun., August 24          Noon-1 p.m.       NBC
                                  9-10 p.m.           NBCSN

Mon., August 25         7-9 p.m.             NBCSN

Tues., August 26         7-9 p.m.            NBCSN

Wed., August 27         7-8 p.m.              NBCSN

Sun., August 31          12:30-1:30 p.m.    NBC

Coverage can also be accessed at
http://stream.nbcsports.com/liveextra/

Good luck to all of the divers and other athletes competing!





Thursday, August 21, 2014

Baby Grenade

It's hard enough just being a parent, but then we pile on bringing our children to the airport, sticking them on a full plane with limited space to move and force them to be quiet. Yes, it's like pulling the pin on a baby grenade and just waiting for the explosion.

I have the opportunity to do some diving commentating this week for the Youth Olympic Games. Since I'm still nursing my almost seven month old, he gets to be my sidekick for the week. My mother-in-law was super sweet to volunteer to watch him while I work.

For the flight to New York, though, I was on my own. We had a test run on a shorter to trip to Knoxville a couple of weeks ago, and the little man was a saint. A poster child for all traveling babies to look up to. 

But in the last couple weeks since the anointing of his sainthood, this guy has grown (off the charts I might add), become mobile and started talking. See, that combo is a recipe for flight disaster, no matter how saintly your kid usually is.

So we get all checked in and through security, no problem. He started getting antsy and hungry while I stopped to grab a sandwhich. Then we hurried to the gate where everyone was already boarding, but I knew I had to nurse him before we got on or things would get ugly. 

Slightly stressed, I hurried him through his milk, and we rushed over to hop on the plane. We got seated by the window on a full flight, meanwhile he's making friends right and left with his big blue eyes shining and his smile flashing.


As we're settling in, they announce what everyone wants to hear: we'll be arriving early. Unfortunately it was followed by: they're making us sit at the gate prior to takeoff (because the airport is too busy to have a gate ready for an early flight). 

Upon hearing these words, my little man starts getting cranky, as if he knows exactly how disappointing this news is. He's suddenly extremely tired. I start going through all the things that calm him down. It worked for quite a while, but he just couldn't get comfortable enough in our tiny space to completely give in and pass out. Oh, and did I mention they turned off the AC? In Houston. In August. While we're trapped in a plane with three inches of breathing room. Yeah, that helped.

Then came the screaming. The inconsolable, desperate, blood curdling screaming. Yes... that was us. I was powerless to stop it. I was powerless to even tone it down. 

I started seriously stressing as everyone was watching us. Not a smile or knowing look of support in sight. The flight attendant even came to see if anyone was severely wounded. I laughed gently and said, "We're fine, he's just tired." But no one likes to hear that because they can't fix it. 

Finally. Finally the plane started moving. And my little man promptly passed out and slept a glorious two hours.



But the flight was over three hours long. He woke up confused and upset. Settled down, then got hungry. Ate then got upset from a diaper. He fussed while we had to wait out turbulence to get up. Changed him in the oh-so-small lavatory with the world's tiniest changing table. Sat down and he immediately started crying on decent because of his ears. 

Yes. That was my screaming child on the flight today. My precious little baby grenade, exploding in tight quarters for maximum impact.

I wanted to share my craziness with you because my immediate response in this type of situation is to always feel bad and apologize profusely. I do this for myself, and I find myself doing it with the kids. 

But as my little guy was screaming in my ear, I realized that instead of feeling bad, I need to use these moments as opportunities. The only opportunity I had in that moment was to love on my child and try my darndest. Focusing on him instead of worrying about everyone around me really kept me calm and in much better spirits. It didn't seem to make a lick of difference to the baby, but it helped me not only get through it but get through it with joy and peace. Okay and maybe some exhaustion, too.

Instead of being a tightly wound ball of stress with tears spilling forth upon arrival, I was pretty calm, cool and collected. 

And as for my little baby grenade... He melted at the sight of Grandma.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Ice Bucket Challenge & 3 Other Fun Surprises

I was challenged by my dear friend Julie Carrier and my other sweet friend Rachel from church to do the ALS ice bucket challenge. My little girls watched other videos of people getting water poured on them and thought it was funny. I asked if they wanted to pour water on mommy, and they got really excited! Of course in the video they look a little unsure of themselves, but I think they were concentrating real hard on the task at hand.





Here are a couple other challenges that I thought were fun.

Charlie Sheen adds an unexpected twist, turning ice to cash.




Then George W. Bush steps up to the challenge.





And one of the best challenge fails that I've seen.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

3 Little Joys Shining In The Dark

This week has been R-O-U-G-H. On Tuesday I told my husband that I was already over the week. So of course, it only got progressively worse from that point on.

Nothing earth shattering happened, it was just a week filled with sickness, no sleep and lots and lots of toddler drama because of it all. It's now Saturday. The week is just about over but apparently no one told the dark cloud hanging over our house.

But...

Every cloud really does have a silver lining. Sometimes even a few beautiful bright spots. If you choose to see them and focus on them, they will bring you joy in the middle of the chaos. They are truly gifts from God as He is the light that breaks through the dark. I choose to see His light. Then the big, ugly, dark, scary cloud becomes just a distant shadow and eventually, just a fading memory. But His light not only brightens our dark days, it also guides our steps, lights our path and leads us full of hope into His unending joy.

Nothing about this week was life-altering, but it's hard to choose joy in a really hard place if you've never done it in your small, daily struggles. So, I'd love to share with you my joys in the midst of this dark week.


Joy #1 

In the middle of the sickness and no-sleep drama, Zoe up and decided she wanted to learn how to use the potty. 

Ya'll, I was NOT optimistic. All I could think about was the added stress, exhaustion, and of course, massive clean-up. 

But...

I couldn't have been more wrong. Zoe was ready, willing AND able. By the second day she didn't have a single accident and she's always willing to try. You all should celebrate with me because I'm down to just one kid in diapers!




Joy #2


We all think our kids are adorably awesome. And it's especially exciting when someone else thinks so, too. This week we were asked permission to use a cute video of the girls jumping in a crib together for a marketing piece. I will post the links and/or piece when it becomes available, but here is the the video they took a snipet from.







Joy #3

The biggest highlight of my week came from a complete stranger. Yesterday we had to make a run to the store to get another humidifier. Since we were exhausted and starving, we stopped to eat dinner on the way home. It was early, so hardly anyone was in the restaurant, and we had our own little corner.

As we were finishing up and I was spoon feeding Zadok some bananas, a lady stopped at our table on her way out. She said, "Hey ya'll." We all said, "Hi," and I turned back to feeding Zadok. Then she grabbed my attention. She looked at Eriek and said, "I just wanted to pay you a compliment, well, actually I wanted to pay your wife a compliment."

My head snapped around as I stared at her in confusion, wracking my brain as to what she could be talking about. I guess the kids were being good, maybe that was it. But they were also covered in ice cream. But a compliment? I must have had a very dumbfounded look on my face, spoon paused mid-air full of mushed banana dripping over the jar.

She smiled really big and said words the words I never saw coming, "A few minutes ago when you got up from the table, you kissed both your girls on their heads. It was just so loving and beautiful."

All I could do was blink.

I have been told my kids are cute. I have been told (once or twice) that they are well behaved. I have been told they are sweet, they are smart, they play well together. Which is all wonderful and I enjoy immensely. But never have I been complimented on how I loved my kids.

It was so profound and coming after a day of being stressed and frustrated at those very same kids. And here she stood, telling me that I loved my kids well. This woman's simple words left me baffled, and then began to refresh me and fill me with an unspeakable joy.

In the middle of hard, in the middle of stress, in the middle of a very dark week where I doubted myself, my patience, my endurance, my strength and my ability to parent, this stranger only saw my love.

Tears are still streaming down my cheeks right now. Small words from strangers can impact like a tidal wave. Thank you lady. You made my dark day radiant. I hope I can pass it forward.



What joys have you experienced during your dark days?


Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now

I've written several blog posts in my head over the last week but with a busy schedule, sick kids, potty training and hardly a lick of sleep, well, they never made it out of my head. A couple may be lost, trapped up there forever. One may have fallen out of my ear as I attempted to get 20 minutes of consecutive sleep last night.

But amidst the chaos and exhaustion that feels like a lead weight dragging me to the bottom of the pool, I started to see a little more clearly.

As we began to tumble deeper into our pit of toddler and baby fatigue, news seemed to be crashing in from every direction about pandemonium breaking out around the world. From the most recent Gaza War, the massacres in Iraq, the upheaval of Ferguson, Mo., the loss of our favorite actor that made us laugh in these dark times, to so many friends who seem to be battling one thing or another right now.

It can be overwhelming, depressing, terrifying. But in the thick of all of this, we have to make a choice.

We can choose to block it out, pretend it doesn't exist, move on with our day before we get upset.

Or...

We can choose to take action. If you don't know how to go about making a difference, start with some of these simple yet effective ideas:

  •  Pray. And pray. And pray some more.

On Sunday evening several of us gathered at church to pray together over the situation in Iraq because it was heavy on our hearts.  There is something powerful, encouraging, enlightening and moving when everyone takes turns praying out loud in a group of people. 

 "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” -Matthew 18:20

My sweet friend, Danielle, made an agenda for our prayer time so we could be wise and intentional in how we prayed. It was very helpful for me to direct and focus my prayers outside of the group as well. I want to share it with you in hopes that it will help you, too. Reformat it for the appropriate people or issue that is heavy on your heart. Invite other people to join you.

  1. Worship, thanksgiving, and asking for God's will
    "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." -Matthew 6:10

  2. Prayer for the persecuted church and others afflicted
    "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." -Matthew 5:4

  3. Prayer for the ISIS- justice, conviction and conversions
    "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" -Matthew 5:44

  4. Prayer for the response of the church worldwide
    "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." -Matthew 5:16

  5. Prayer for the preparedness of His people for the times ahead
    "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" -1 Peter 3:15

As I started writing this blog, I opened another window on my computer to search for something and found shear JOY! I stumbled upon this article: "Joy in U.S. at News That Yazidi Plight Is Easing"

This is so excited because this is a specific group I have praying for as my heart was burdened for the people stranded on the mountains. But supplies have been received and protectors have been escorting THOUSANDS of refugees to safety! Praise God that He hears and answers our prayers! There is still much to pray for and the battle will be long, but it is encouraging to see prayers being directly answered. It gives me hope and faith that other prayers we lift up will be answered as well, even if we don't see it in a news article.

I have been up for the better part of every night this week. But as tired as it's made me, it's also provided me time and perspective. As I pray worried mommy prayers over my little ones in the darkness of night, my thoughts quickly turn to those with little ones that have had to flee in a moment's notice. As I worry about my kids not getting a full night's rest, I pray for the moms whose laps are their child's pillow and whose arms are their child's only shelter.

I think about how desperate and scared I would feel in their shoes. And I realize that is exactly how we should pray for them, as if we are in their very shoes.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Ignorant Parent- Letters to Elizabeth

The Ignorant Parent posts are a series that some friends and I thought would be fun to write from our different perspectives on various topics. Our goal is to encourage you when you need to be lifted up, to show you hope in every situation, to let you know that you are never alone and to glorify God with the stories that He has written for our lives. For more background on who we are and how we know each other, check out our bio page.

The other day I asked Elizabeth to write from her heart about her journey to race in the Ironman. She finished her first one in Lake Tahoe last summer. On Sunday, she will race again. This time in Boulder, Colorado, alongside her husband, Travis.

Today, the girls and I wrote letters to Elizabeth to encourage her for this big day and to let her know just how much she has encouraged us through her faithful journey to the finish line.

Amy

Dear Elizabeth,

How inspiring it is to watch someone take on the world. I know you believe yourself to be just your normal joe-shmoe doing an IronWOMan, but you’re not. You are:

Courageous
Strong
Faithful
Inspiring
Motivating
Captivating
Encouraging
Joyful

And above all, you are showing us what it means to really “run the race” for God. You have shared with us your struggles, and you have displayed that your strength has come solely from the Father. And like God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)." You are fully living a “Paul” life and “boasting all the more gladly about (your) weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on (you) (2 Corinthians 12:10).”

You may not feel physically worthy of this celebration, but your trials and tribulations through this training for this race make the journey a success! So, Elizabeth, I celebrate you. I congratulate you for being willing to put yourself through the pain in order to run, swim and bike for Christ. This is a journey He has set before you, and you have not shied away from His desire for you. And you will be blessed!

Enjoy the moments of struggle. They make the end result all the more sweeter! I love you Sister-girl.

Your Sister in Christ, Amy



Danielle

To my sweet, strong sister in Christ:

"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together! I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant..." - Psalm 34:1-5

Elizabeth, you embody, you emanate these verses! When I pray for you, for your race, for your swim, bike and run, I envision your radiance, your love, your strength, your dedication, your faith, your desire for His glory above all.

"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth."

If you never told me, I would never know about your insecurities, your weaknesses, your questioning, your doubts... If you never told me your times, your place, I would never know you are slower than others or finish close to last or feel weak... Because to me you are leading the pack, you are so strong, because you ARE. You are a leader! You are so strong, and so strong in your faith!

"My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad." 

If you never told me, I would never know your struggle, and I would never see His success, His victory, His glory! If you never told me, I would never be able to share in it, to join you in exalting Him!

"Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!"

Elizabeth, He loves to watch you race! He loves your obedience in it, He loves that you seek Him in it, that you pray, that you memorize His Word, that you come to know His deep love for you more and more with every stroke, every pedal, every step. And in it, His radiance shines through you!

"I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to Him are radiant..."

Tahoe was just the beginning of the story. Boulder is this chapter. Only He knows what He is planning to write next in this inspiring story of your life! I know you will be faithful, I know you will say "yes", and I know you will continue to inspire us to be more faithful, to be more obedient, to be stronger and to be Boulder (pun intended) in the stories He's writing for our lives too!

"...finish now what you began last year. You were the first, not only to act,
but also to be willing to act. On with it, then, and finish the job!
Be as eager to finish it as you were to plan it, and do it with all you now have."
- 2 Corinthians 8:10-11

I love you! I'll be watching your radiant face cross the finish line, I'll be oh.so.glad, and we'll exalt His name once more together!

Love, Dani


Laura

Oh my sweet Friend,

You amaze me. Not because you are doing an Ironman... for the SECOND time (although that's still crazy amazing!) but because you trust God so BIG that you would take a flying leap of faith and trust Him when He asks you to do something light years out of your comfort zone, maybe even your reality or possibility zone.

You amaze me because you trust Him even when things look like they're falling apart. You praise His name even when you can't see the finish line. You believe Him with your whole heart even when you think you cannot go on. "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." -Philippians 4:12-13

 You amaze me because even though it's hard for you to publicly share your journey, you do because you know God wrote you this story to share, to be a light to others, to glorify His name. "...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." -Matthew 5:16

You amaze me because you have always tried to see life through our eyes as well, so you could better understand what we were going through. "To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." -1 Corinthians 9:22-23
 
You amaze me because your big day is almost here, and even amidst nerves and emotions, your heart is steady. God goes before you and has made your path straight. You are ready to run, friend. This is how you have trained, and I know this is how you will run:
 
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." -1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Every stroke, every pedal, ever step He has already written into your story. Trust Him now with the results. It's time to enjoy the ride.

Love you sweet sister, La


Elizabeth wants her Ironman to have an impact on others beyond her immediate reach. Please consider joining us in donating to the A21 Campaign. Your donation will help bring healing and justice to a young girl who has been forced into sex trafficking. She can have hope because your gift will help give her a voice. Your donation is important in the fight for freedom and will help sustain every day care (food, clothing, shelter) and legal obligations such as court fees, medical tests and expense for representation.

Follow this link to make an online donation today


Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Ignorant Parent- Ironman

The Ignorant Parent posts are a series that some friends and I thought would be fun to write from our different perspectives on various topics. Our goal is to encourage you when you need to be lifted up, to show you hope in every situation, to let you know that you are never alone and to glorify God with the stories that He has written for our lives. For more background on who we are and how we know each other, check out our bio page.

Today I asked Elizabeth to write from her heart about her journey to race in the Ironman. She finished her first one in Lake Tahoe last summer. On Sunday, she will race again. This time in Boulder, Colorado, alongside her husband, Travis.

Her words are beautiful and heartfelt. Sport is such a great analogy for life. I think God likes to use it much like He does with the parables- teaching us in easy, tangible ways that will impact us and give us a greater knowledge and deeper wisdom of who He is.


Elizabeth

My Weakness: Where Christ will Shine

I started to use triathlons to boost my confidence and gain some health benefits along the way. That's always been the main drive. The first time, I had just had a baby and needed it physically and mentally. When I signed up for Ironman, I had some health issues that had turned my mind into a black hole of anxiety and brokenness. I needed to take my focus off the hard days of life, to think about something other than healing myself everyday and doing all I could just to feel well.

I am here to win. This life. For my God I desire to the depth of my soul to see others be passionate about the life God has planned for them every day, every detail. To feel how the tiniest steps of obedience in loving others and Christ affects ALL of us. I pray ridiculously that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than I can ask or hope. Not sure why, but I want to go FAST. I want to believe this body is capable. In fact, I am not even average. I am bottom five nearly always. But every once in a while, something happens, and I get a tiny taste of speed and power. It's exhilarating! And even if it's an entire year before I experience it again, I keep trying, pushing, believing God will eventually bring a new level out of me. I know His greatness is in there in all things. I pray and work so hard to be faster, to be more than last place, bottom of the pack. I TRY SO HARD. I use this body the way God made it, but truly the only thing I can do is show up and start the training. Not one of us is built the same. We are all unique. I am crushed and exhilarated all at the same time when my speed is the same as always, but I just did something I shouldn't have been able to finish.

Elizabeth crossing the finish line in Lake Tahoe in 2013.

I have seen the same tiny glimpses of His majesty and power in my life spiritually. The same carrot keeps me seeking Him regularly because when you grab hold of it, you don't want to let it go. Usually reading, writing or meditating on scripture, if I take down my wall and have a little faith that He is using it, He tells me something about where I am in life. To grow in love with Him, to read that He delights in me and believes I am worth the sacrifice to allow a relationship into my life, that is the reason I am alive....Well that takes purpose. It takes discipline. It's never easy to find the time. And if I let go of the noise of the world and pay attention, God shows me how He is a part of it all. Just look for it, it's the tiniest thing that sings to you and seems insignificant to others.

Every swim stroke, pedal stroke, and foot step I am offering to God. I know I am not capable to do this without Him. I feel weak and incapable of finishing any workout, but I believe He wants me to. I overcome my insecurities, my doubts. I say NO to giving in when He has more. And always (what has taken me years to understand and believe) God smiles. He rejoices. Because this is how He has chosen to show me I am worthy. To think I am amazing enough to be loved, whether I am fast or not. It doesn't matter. For yet while we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Not because we were lucky enough to make it to the podium, or finally go out with the fast group. He loves us as we are, where we are. Nothing we do will change that.

I don't feel like I chose this for my life. In fact, I would say it was the least likely thing for this girl to pursue. I was not ever an athlete. I could not swim without holding my nose (it was a one-armed breast stroke). But I could visualize the peace and rhythm of myself swimming. I would walk when we were suppose to run at school. I still walk into gyms, look around and feel weak. I see others and think God made them stronger and that this fitness/health life and family is easier for them. I watch other moms serve, entertain, organize, craft, and think it's easier for them. I read books and blogs and think they are so smart. I feel this way, but what I believe is that I matter somehow, too. Just like a simple prayer, Bible verse, kind act from a friend or smile from a stranger matters. God is using those simple acts to show you His love. To say you are His BEST. He worked generations upon generations to make you for this time and place. No other parents could have brought you to this world. His plan for you and all the generations it took to create you was laid into play long ago.

I have learned to be open to those divine moments when God is leading my hand. He is always directing us when we desire to go His way and nothing will keep it from happening. "What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against (Romans 8:31)?" Turn off the noise and watch for God daily. I don't always listen though. But I know God is for us, so even my own stubbornness or misunderstanding can not be against.

So what I have just come to realize is that I have always felt like God was going to do something "big" in His name with me. Mainly because I want to see His power displayed on earth and have a reason to believe more than with blind faith and little glimpses. The big thing...it's already in the works. It starts when you say "yes" to doing the thing you think you cannot do. And then live by faith, for Him to complete it. A tiny step, turns into something big. I am reading Rhinestone Jesus, and I got caught up in how big her story and work for the kingdom is. And then it hit me: none of it would have happened if she hadn't started her blog, writing. With no real way to see how God was going to use that simple thing and turn it into a HUGE thing. When I signed up for my first Ironman, my son, in the middle of a melt down, said, "Mom, I am so glad you did the right thing. On your phone just now, you did the right thing." Praise God for that with me.

We all need to know when we step out in faith, do the right thing and follow the path you're on, it's the right one. It's yours. You are the only one who can be on it. Don't feel bad for sticking to it or believing in it. You're already shining, beaming with a win. We all win together.



Elizabeth wants her Ironman to have an impact on others beyond her immediate reach. Please consider joining us in donating to the A21 Campaign. Your donation will help bring healing and justice to a young girl who has been forced into sex trafficking. She can have hope because your gift will help give her a voice. Your donation is important in the fight for freedom and will help sustain every day care (food, clothing, shelter) and legal obligations such as court fees, medical tests and expense for representation.

Follow this link to make an online donation today