Oh, that wasn't there last time I checked.
Another one? Yikes.
Woah. This wasn't supposed to happen to me yet.
*sigh* Oh well. I figure it isn't that bad since my natural hair color is a light brown now, so the gray might just look like highlights. We'll see how it goes. If it looks bad just let me know and I'll figure something else out.
I do feel a bit wiser when I see those gray hairs poking through, I must admit. I guess it is a signal that I'm gaining more years under my belt on this journey we call life. Each year lived is another year of lessons learned. These verses from the Bible about gray hair are pretty cool too:
Proverbs 16:31- "Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life."
Proverbs 20:29- "The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old."
And honestly, I like the fact that I'm going gray. In case the UPS man thinks I'm not old enough to sign for a package again, I'll point out those pesky white strands and say, "Hey there. I've earned these stripes. Don't let this 5 foot frame and baby face fool you. I'm going to my college 10 year reunion this year. 10 years! College. Not high school. I'm old now, you know." And then I'll probably scare the poor man away.
As if the gray hairs didn't remind me of my biological clock ticking away, my back pain became unbearable this last year. I've struggled with it for 12 years and finally took the chiropractor plunge. He said my back has some problems, so photographing weddings, running, and playing guitar just aggravated those problems. There is still hope, he kindly suggested, because I'm only 30. Oh thank goodness.
Speaking of running... I've been having a BLAST with winter running! I bought some good running winter gear like gloves, face mask, hat, and extra layers (all moisture wicking so I don't feel like I'm drowning in my own sweat) and it makes a HUGE difference. Seriously. It does take about 15 minutes to get all geared up and ready to head out the door, but once I'm out there I feel amazing. The cool, crisp air and silence is breathtaking. My phone plays upbeat music (I don't use headphones) but I can still hear the "crunch, crunch" of my feet hitting the snow and the wind whipping past my body. On days that are dreary and long, I look forward to these runs to boost my mood and energy. You wouldn't think exercise can give you more energy, but it does! Of course I am drained after a four mile run, but after showering and eating, I have an awesome energy boost. I highly suggest outdoor exercise in the winter for these reasons. I'm still a bit afraid to see another bear like I did last summer, but for the most part the silence and seclusion is very relaxing.
Not only was running a huge confidence booster in my life when I first started 1.5 years ago, but running in the winter brings it to a whole different level. Not only would I have previously doubted my ability to run more than a mile without stopping, but running in -10, 0, 10, or 20 degree weather on top of that? No way! When I get out there in the cold, I feel strong and brave. I feel that nothing is impossible. All my previous doubts about myself start to fade away and I view the future with excitement and courage. I have heard this same statement from many of my online runner friends. We all agree that the confidence gained through running has leaked into our normal, every day, average lives. If we thought running was impossible and have overcome that fear, than what other impossible feat is waiting to be challenged around the corner?! I have so many dreams. So many ideas. So many thoughts. I have the faith and the courage to dream big and believe that anything is possible through God and and the strength He gives me.
And you know what? I'm not afraid of failure. Not anymore. Failure is not the enemy. Failure can actually be our friend. It can teach us, train us, help us. I would rather take a leap of faith and fail than to never leap at all. I want to live life BIG! I want to try. I want to dream. I want to step out. And if I make mistakes along the way, that is okay. Mistakes are a part of life. As long as I learn from my mistakes and move forward, I am not afraid of failure. Failing means I'm human. It reminds me that I am in need of a Savior Who never fails.
One lesson I have learned over the past few years has been that keeping my time with Jesus a priority will reap abundant rewards in my spiritual life. As long as I am connected to the Vine, I am not afraid of failure and mistakes because I know Jesus will carry me through it. Just like the poem, Footprints in the Sand, there are times in my life when I know I wasn't walking anymore. He was carrying me. When I can not take another step, He picks me up and brings me to where I need to go.
To keep my Jesus time a priority first thing in the morning, I decided to help set myself up for success. The worst feeling in the world is to wake up in the morning, slowly meander down the steps, only to walk into the kitchen and stumble upon a huge mess. Dishes. Crumbs. Leftovers. Toys. You name it. All of it all cluttered together first thing in the morning makes me grumpy and automatically takes my focus off devotions. I get sidetracked and start picking everything up in a cleaning frenzy only to be swept away into another cleaning frenzy in the next room.
So my solution?
I force myself to clean the kitchen every. single. night. When I walk up those steps and say goodnight I leave the kitchen picked up, floor swept, dishes done, and clutter put away. I've graciously asked my husband to honor my decision and he has done an amazing job of keeping his clutter off the kitchen table as well. (MIRACLES DO HAPPEN PEOPLE!!! Can I get an AMEN!?)
It takes extra time that I would much rather spend on reading or relaxing just a bit longer before bed, but it is so worth it the next morning. It never fails, this is what happens every single morning now.
"HONEEEEEEY! Look at this kitchen! Oh my goodness, aren't you so proud of me?"
"Seriously. Look at this kitchen. I did such a good job cleaning it last night even though I didn't feel like it. I am in SUCH a great mood right now!"
"Yes you are, dear."
"Thank you SOOOOOOOO much sweetie for picking up your stuff from the table every night now. It means so much to me."
"Your welcome, honey."
(So, basically... I am always crazy hyper happy about it and that is just not the usual grumpy zombie I'm used to being in the morning! I'm just not a morning person, so this is a huge help.)
After getting the kids' breakfast ready I proceed to make a cup of coffee, grab a chocolate (or two, or three...) and head on over to the couch in the living room to spend time reading my Bible and journaling my prayers (which usually go something like, "Dear Jesus, PLEASE HELP ME TODAY. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HELP MEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEE...." and you get the idea...)
So not only does it start me in a good mood for the day, but I have NO excuses NOT to start my devotions right away. I've also tried to do a good job having everyone help me pick up the living room and homeschool room every night as well, so the downstairs is generally tidy when we wake up. Even though a tornado hits by lunchtime, at least my morning started out calm ;)
Getting devotions in right away in the morning has set me up to have such a better day. I used to fit them in later in the afternoon when Peter took a nap and the house was cleaned up a bit, but I would be a bit crabby until then. Now it boosts my mood and my relationship with God right from the get-go.
Before I became a mom, to be honest, having devotions first thing in the morning wasn't so necessary. I could do my devotions any time of the day and it would be fine. But a few years down the road and two kids later, I turn into scary mommy by 10:00 am if I don't keep myself in check. As much as I would love to keep this a secret, it's just not the truth. I am crabbier and less patient if I haven't spent time listening to the Lord and reading the Word to start my day. The reality is my kids are sitting next to me or running around playing with their toys while I'm reading, so I learn to use Star Wars-like laser beam focus and get all that I can out of those 15 minutes on that couch every morning. I always look forward to spending more time reading and praying later in the day as well (during Peter's nap or while Sitora's doing schoolwork) but those first 15 minutes of the day are CRUCIAL to my worn out mamma's heart.
So, my dear friends, that's where I leave you. My gray hair, running, and clean kitchen have changed me, and I'm not ashamed to admit it :)
I pray the same for you, that you would find refreshment for your soul, courage to do the seemingly impossible in life, and determination to focus on your relationship with Jesus.
Here's to growing older and wiser. Together :)