Monthly Archives: March 2013

Stopping for Directions

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Charlie 13 weeks ruler

“I think you got the pick of the litter,” the veterinary technician told me (for the second time).

“Thanks,” I said, shoving my fingers in Charlie’s mouth to remove a wad of extraneous cat fur he had found in the corner.

“His energy really suits your family.”

I bent down to grab Charlie, as he had darted under my chair, and was eagerly mining for treasure along the baseboards.

I didn’t know what to say.

The puppy is a typical puppy: hyper at times, hungry all the time, occasionally bitey, and he nearly chokes himself to death coming home from walks.

But still…I think she meant it as a compliment.

I uttered something about how we approached this puppy venture: we didn’t rush into anything; we found a good breeder; and made certain the pup’s temperament was suitable; but each of those things sounded hollow, so I found myself ending my rambling proclamation with the fuzzy phrase, “It was meant to be.”

She smiled and nodded her head, “Yes,” she agreed, “It was meant to be.”

What I didn’t describe was all the prayer that went into this. I mean, how exactly do you tell someone you bother God with requests for puppies? It just sounds weird. Isn’t God too important to worry about whether I find a docile dog?

But I did pray.

I prayed that if God wanted us to have a dog, He would illuminate our path and allow us to find a pup that would be a blessing to our family and also a joy to others.

I had very little to do with the entire process except follow the trail and eventually dish up a few euro.

There is no way I could have orchestrated all this:

  • The breeder was reputable and wasn’t too far away 
  • They currently had a litter of chocolate labs
  • They had a submissive (or “feminine”) boy
  • He would be ready to come home ON the very day of my wedding anniversary
  • His personality is perfect

This is not to say that if you pray for a Maserati or a mansion you’ll get one. God is not ebay.

But if you know God, and He knows you, then you can approach Him with any little thing in your life.

He’s not bothered by it, in fact, He welcomes it. I have a relationship with God, which means we chat. And when I need advice, I go to Him. And when I think a puppy is a good idea, I ask Him to show me if it is or not.

In this case, Charlie was meant to be part of this crazy journey of ours.

So the next time someone praises the puppy, I’m just going to tell them–it wasn’t about finding the right breeder or doing research or being selective (though those things are important)–it was about stopping to ask directions, and perhaps most importantly, following them.

Because God doesn’t merely plan the route, He created the map.

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Under the Rock Pile

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Today was stressful for no one particular reason. Rather, it was a lot of little things stacking up like bricks in a wall. The last ‘brick’ was more like a pebble, placed jovially atop the rapidly crumbling structure by one of my unfortunate children, and the whole thing collapsed.

Yes, I lost my cool.

It happens from time to time. I almost didn’t blog today because I was so out of sorts, but my daughter said that I should talk about my meltdown because, “It is such a rare occurrence.”

I’m glad it’s rare.

There was a time in my life when fits of anger would build inside me, and the only way to alleviate it was through yelling, since violence wasn’t my thing. It took many years to break the yelling habit. After all, many women I respected assured me that they, too, yelled at their kids. It was ‘normal.’ But something about that never sat right with me. I knew I wanted something different. I didn’t want to pass on the yelling gene to my own kids. Or heaven forbid, to watch my theoretical grandchildren become yellers.

This morning, I didn’t exactly yell–it was more of a verbal pounce, but in our sensitive house, it was the same as full-lunged bellowing. Afterwards I felt so badly, I went to my study to ‘be alone,’ which means praying and leaving a little puddle of tears on the floor.

Normally, I handle stress through running (which is also my time of prayer and contemplation) and proper nutrition. But lately I’ve been lacking both sunshine and sufficient exercise. And let’s face it–it’s hard, if not downright impossible to feel happy eating salad when it’s cold and dark outside! I’d rather cozy up with some gluten-free croissants drizzled with Nutella.

It is hard for me when there is no sunshine, and the puppy, cute as he is, pees on the brand-new rug after I’ve been outside with him for an hour.

I know there are worse things in life, and that the puppy IS a little glimpse of heaven; but even small doses of stress are toxic, and if you let stress build up, it can lead to a meltdown of nuclear proportions.

After “Mommy’s Time-Out” today, I emerged from my study to find a pink card on my pillow, a loving email from a concerned teen, and a pint of my favorite ice cream, wrapped up with a bow, sitting right outside my door. Sure, one of my kids was completely oblivious to the whole thing, but that’s okay too. My kids are so loving and so forgiving that I think they came through it unscathed.

In fact, it might be good for them to see me fail once in a while and for them to see me make amends when I’m wrong.

Sometimes we stumble.

The key is to get up and look ahead.

Because you can’t see clearly from under the rock pile.

Puppy Sunshine or Why Runners Should Love Dogs

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Training

Training

Last week I ran 44 miles in five days.

That is what a little dose of sunshine does to me.

Unfortunately, the sun went away and it began to snow again, which means a corresponding household spike in Maranatha Raw Organic Almond Butter consumption.

My husband says that I am solar-powered, and it is no joke. I feel like a completely different person when the sun is shining.

When it is gloomy, I want to cuddle up with my Mac while dipping my Wasa gluten-och laktosfritt Knäckebrot directly into the jar of almond butter and (ironically) shop for marathons. But when it’s sunny, I am the person I like to be–the one who actually goes running, rather than the one who thinks about it.

When the sun shines, I go running AND clean the house. The residual effects from last week’s daylight were so profound, I even cleaned out my pantry. And if you’ve ever been frightened by my pantry, you will understand what an accomplishment this was.

Yesterday I came home from a busy day and the sun was out. It was cold, and even though I am sick of the cold weather, the sun lured me out. Also, we have our houseguest Bailey here, and she is an AVID runner, so she coaxed me out-of-doors. So, I set down the jar of almond butter and put on my shoes. I even thought, “It is SO sunny out, I won’t need my balaclava!”

I know, I know…I should NEVER tempt fate like that.

It turned out to be like some kind of twisted joke, a cruel irony, bad karma, or in Christian terms, a time of refinement, as halfway through the run, the clouds swooped in and it began to snow directly at me.

Bailey and I were both covered with snow on the left sides of our bodies, as if someone were shooting a plaster-gun at us.

I had to laugh. It wasn’t the maniacal laugh that sometimes scares my children when I’m at the end of my rope. It was, strangely, a happy laugh. And the only reason I could laugh was because of the ever-cheerful labrador.

Bailey doesn’t care if the snow is blasting at the side of her body. She doesn’t care if the frigid wind blows her ears inside out. She doesn’t care if the snow accumulates on top of her head like a wobbly little party hat. She is just thrilled to be outside running. And her cheerful nature is infectious. How could I be miserable when she looks up at me, and snow is plastered to a single side of her goofy grin?

This is part of the reason we added Charlie to the family. I hope that someday he will love running as much as Bailey does–and that his good attitude and cheerful outlook will rub off on me, whether the sun is shining or not.

Down Time

Down Time

Almost Never Christmas

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I saw my shadow today!

I saw my shadow today!

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve quoted the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe since December 26th. Though Lewis has written more inspirational lines, none can capture Germany’s winter this year quite as well as his phrase: Always winter, never Christmas.

And I’m not just whining. There was a reason for chasing my vitamin D pills with multiple shots of espresso.

My husband sent me a link to an article in der Spiegel that states this has officially been the darkest winter in Germany in 43 years, which completely validates my compulsive macaroni-and-cheese eating.

After nearly 13 years living in Alaska, I know I shouldn’t complain. But at least in Alaska, I knew what I was getting into. I KNEW the Arctic Circle wasn’t arbitrarily named. I KNEW polar bears only lived near a pole, which meant, coldness. But Germany duped me.

When we moved here seven years ago, they had the mildest winter on record. It looked like the shire in perpetual spring. Gazing at the emerald fields in February, I thought, “This isn’t so bad!” In fact, the winters have typically been more mild than my native midwest, where you can go from 80 to zero in a day.

But this German winter won the fight. I have posts on this very blog describing the beauty of running in the snow–when the road is frozen and gentle flakes are falling all around–blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Enough! I am done with winter! So done with it that I briefly stopped running. I was simply sick of feeling cold. So, I slunk away and hid in the Crossfit box until things began to thaw.

Fortunately, the sun came out a couple days ago, and with it, warmer weather. It was above freezing for the first time in weeks, and I was able to run without a jacket and YakTrax. Today, I didn’t even need mittens. It wasn’t particularly sunny today, but it was warm, so I stepped out into the fresh air, and it felt so incredible, I ran for 12 miles.

I’ve heard rumors that winter will be back again, but I don’t want to think about it. In fact, my friends won’t even talk about the forecast in front of me (bless them…I have the most awesome friends).

For today, the sun is peeking through the clouds, the birds are singing, flowers have pushed their delicate white and yellow heads through the mud, and I went running.

Yes, I had mud to my ankles, bugs in my face and some remnants of snow to slide through, but I went running and did NOT feel cold! That is a reason to celebrate! That is a reason to hope! Christmas WILL come eventually! And we shall call it “Spring!”