Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Iron Tribe, One Year Later: "Mommy, When Are You Gonna Use A Big Girl Box?" + #whyiSTILLtribe

I walked into Iron Tribe, my gym, with my three year-old daughter a couple of months ago, set down my water bottle, and struck up a conversation with Phil - my favorite 12:15pm-er because he will ALWAYS engage me in some sort of "THIS IS GONNA BE AWFUL" talk, and I inevitably feel better knowing he is suffering as much as I am.

Box jumps were on that day's menu, as were burpees and some sort of "get the bar off the ground" + "hoist it over your head in any manner possible" kind of cocktail. I gave a cheesy grin to my coach as I made my way to the back, and in his usual manner, Josh quipped, "Come on, Sarah. This is gonna be fun." He is one of THOSE, y'all.

After a "quick" (#LIES) warm up, also known as A FULL ON WORKOUT TO ANY SANE INDIVIDUAL, I set up my box and bar, pulled my workout pants up over the "I've had five babies here" section of my body, and got to it. I finished somewhere near the bottom of our class (read: DEAD LAST), died DEAD on the floor, and laid there going through the list of treats I'd reward myself with for making it through another day at Tribe - because, as it turns out, I AM A DOG. Will burpee for treats.

I was laying on the ground stretching, and my daughter whispered in my ear, "Mommy, when are you gonna use a big girl box?" I looked over at my 12" box, set up next to 20" and 24" boxes and leaned into her, "You know, that IS a big girl box. It doesn't matter what KIND of box you use, just that you're using one and working hard." I love that I get to teach her this, and that she is watching her mama fight like the DICKENS to be stronger.

Today, it's been one year. ONE YEAR since I first walked through the doors of Iron Tribe. ONE YEAR since I first laced up my ratty old "tennis shoes", pulled an old pair of "lounge pants" from the bottom of my drawer, and bought my first "this actually fits me" sports bra. (Y'all. The struggle was so very real to get me there.) I walked into the gym at 6:30am on a freezing cold February 8th morning and I've now walked through that door over a hundred times since.

I suppose I could tell you my successes at Tribe - the triumphs, the PR's, and the way my body looks and feels NOW compared to how it looked and felt a year ago. But, I won't. Because like with anything we stick to, those physical successes always follow hard work and determination and resolve. But, these successes? They are absolute treasures to me. They are sacred victories - won with sweat and TEARS and a WHOLE LOT of hauling ass.

But, I will tell you this: My FAILURES this year at Iron Tribe are the things I hold as most valuable.

I've learned that my body, the ONLY one God has given me - I honor Him when I take care of it, even when it fails me. When I hustle through a workout - determined to be a stronger, healthier, BETTER physical version of myself, it's an act of worship. It's me saying to God: Thank you for giving me this body, when it can and when it can't. Thank you that I can do HARD things, and THANK YOU for the ability to try the things that seem impossibly hard.

It has been in my FAILURES that my mind and spirit have been made better and I've seen the POWER of community in pressing towards a goal.

NONE of it, not a single overhead, not one burpee, not a squat, not ONE SINGLE anything with a barbell or a mat or a box has come easy to me. But, the things that mold and change us, the things of TRUE value and worth - well, they never do. And the people who walk with us through the "Not-Easy" of life, well - THEY are the best reward in achieving our goals.

- When I drop the bar in frustration, Ashley gives me that knowing look from across the room and says, "We got this, Sar. We got it."
- When I'm 200 meters from finishing a wretched, horrible, awful row, Chad walks over (because LORD KNOWS he finished LONG ago) and says, "YOU WILL FINISH THIS. Come on."
- And when the hot tears are falling, because there's just not enough time left to do TWENTY more burpees, Jason (my SWEET, and VERY fit husband) leans in and whispers, "I could NOT be more proud of you."

And, when my tiny girl asks me when I'm gonna use a "big girl box", I can look down the row at all the boxes, see mine sitting there amongst them, teach her that it's all in the TRY, and know that because of the PEOPLE jumping on those bigger boxes, I'm better and stronger.

So here I am - one year after walking through the doors of Iron Tribe and DECIDING to trade the sofa for sit-ups and packs of Oreos for a six-pack. (BAH HAHAHA! Just kidding. Still rocking some sort of, I don't know, bowl of vanilla pudding in the midsection over here.) You won't see me competing in the CrossFit Games or running a marathon or going all pre-Gov Arnold on the world.

BUT. Carrying in those grocery bags sure is easier, and squatting down to kiss the sweaty foreheads of my kids ain't so bad anymore. Man, that is REWARD that changed my life.

Honoring God with my body, pressing on when it's IMPOSSIBLY hard, teaching my only daughter that being strong is WORTH THE FIGHT, and celebrating victory and defeat with a community of THE BEST kind of people.

Well... that's #whyitribe.

That's #whyiSTILLtribe.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

When God Says "No". Or "Wait".

When I was in high school, I had six different operations on my hips and knees. Which landed me in a body cast for months.

For many, many months. Three separate times.

So during all four years of high school, when I wasn't in surgery, staying in the hospital for physical therapy, or home recovering, I walked with crutches. I didn't have a boyfriend. And, though I was just like every other high school girl who longs to be noticed and loved, I didn't really expect to have one.

Because what high school boy wants to date the girl who can't walk?

As God began to heal me - after my third three-month stint in that horrible body cast - I dropped my crutches and learned to walk with a cane. And, the day I graduated from high school, I decided it was time to let go of the security of my cane and walk - and I walked for the first time since the beginning of ninth grade.

But, I would look down at the scars on my legs, or cringe in pain from the arthritis that I would soon learn would never go away, and I couldn't let go of the question:

Who will ever want me?

Less than three years later, I met my husband. The sweet and tender boy who looked past the scars that cover my legs, who walked slowly, hand-in-hand with me when my arthritis kept me steps behind everyone else, and who sat next to my hospital bed, hour upon hour, after my first hip replacement just after college.

The happiest day of my life was that cold, December day when that boyfriend became my husband. And, his love for me made my scars seem to fade.

As we began to think about starting a family, I looked down with freshly doubting eyes at the scars on my legs - the evidence of the trauma of my many surgeries in high school and double hip replacements years later. I could feel the effects of arthritis on my body and I was filled, again, with doubt. Upon doubt.

Will I ever be a mother?

I got pregnant with my first son, this miracle child who surely signified the end of a season of doubt, and four months later, my Dad committed suicide.

God, wasn't I due a season to just ... not wonder what on EARTH you're doing?

We all have them, right? Seasons of questions and doubts about who God is and WHAT He's doing. Doubts upon doubts. Over and over. Wanting. Waiting. And, wondering.

Will I ever get married?
Will I have children?
Will I get the job?
Will I ever stop feeling such pain?
Will my heart ever heal?

I can remember every season I've walked through where I just didn't know what God was doing with me. Some have been LOOOONG, and some - well, not as long. I know how it feels to not know if or when. I know what it means to LONG for and want and JUST. NOT. HAVE. And, for GOOD things I desperately longed to experience and "God, why does it always feel like your answer is 'No'? Or 'Wait'?"

But here's what I've learned:

"No" and "Wait" are the words God uses to teach me to trust Him.

His "Nos" and "Waits" are always the dark tunnels of my life through which I call out, "God, Where are you?" and He says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Friends - He. Will. Never. Leave. You. Not when things are going as you want them, not when He says "No" or "Wait" and DEFINITELY not in that dark tunnel of doubt.

You know, my legs still bear the scars of the trauma from those many years ago. And, I still have doubts, I will ALWAYS have doubts - about new things and old things and the same things. Don't we all? Doubts and wonderings and "Oh, God, you haven't forgotten me, have You?"

But, when I'm doubting His goodness to me now, I cling to this promise:

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

I used to think this meant that God was making a way for things to work out the way I wanted. Or work out in a way that I could understand or KNOW that He actually knows what He's doing.

But, friends - when we travel down each new road He's asking us to walk - or crutching, or hobbling, or wheeling, or crawling with tears of doubt falling onto the wasteland below us - we can know that God NEVER wastes our wounds.

These scars? The "Nos" and the "Waits" and the hard seasons? He is using them to draw us near to Him.

And, in time, when we look upon our scars - the ones on our bodies and the ones on our hearts - the evidences of seasons of doubting and waiting and sometimes that really hard "No" - we may not get any answers that satisfy us on this side of heaven. And, man - is that hard.

But. We have a promise that ALL ALONG, always - He is indeed making a way...

Straight into our hearts. His favorite place to be.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why Every Mother Wears A Crown

I was checking out at Target today and glancing at magazine covers and I began thinking about Kate Middleton.

I mean, how could I not, right? She's on the cover of almost every news outlet and the world over celebrates every moment of her growing family - a future king and his little sister, a princess in pale pink Mary Janes.

I was imagining what it must be like - to dream of and decorate a nursery and playroom with no budget or limits. No old, builder-grade "just a shade off" carpet or creaky floorboards. To have the very best designers in the world at her disposal ready to create dreamlike, perfect spaces for her prince and princess.

I was imagining what it must be like - to have the world waiting with intense curiosity - eager to know every detail of her labors and who was there and who she called and told first and do they even use telephones for such a thing?

I was imagining what it must be like - to watch her husband, William. A future king himself who lost his mother so young and all of that pressure and all of those memories and expectations and comparisons hovering overhead as he raises his young children.

Their lives seem like a fairy tale. Truly. A real, life fairy tale unfolding right before our eyes and I, for one, just can't help but look and wonder and imagine what it must be like to live in that world.

And, yet - I already know.

Because not long ago, a most majestic title was first bestowed on me.

It is noble and honorable and the jewels on this crown are bought over time with self-sacrifice, patience, long nights, and tears. They are warrior jewels - representing many not-small victories over selfishness and pride. A dying to self. A pressing, ever eager sense of another's needs. In a thousand ways. In a thousand moments.

This crown? It's worn on the heart.

It's worn on every mother's heart.

But, the title?

I love the way it sounds.
I love how it feels.
I love what it means.

So, tonight - as I read the news again and see glimpses into the life of the world's favorite royals, I sit and wonder what life must be like for the future queen. I imagine her favorite title will be the one she's received twice now, in that sweet little boy holding her hand and his tiny sister gripping onto her shoulder.

The noble and honorable title she shares with so many others:


Monday, July 18, 2016

First Day of School and HELLO, Kindergarten!

Somebody started Kindergarten today!



Nah to the ah to the no no NOOOOOOO!

I asked him if he wanted to stay home with me.

His response:


Jason: I don't think anyone has ever been more ready for Kindergarten.

I mean. I guess I can't argue with that. He's only been counting down for the last EIGHT months.

"How many more months til Kindergarten, Mom."
"How many more weeks now?"

And, at about for months out, we started on days.

"MOM, Dad said it's only one hundred and seven more days!"

But, the BEST part of starting Kindergarten for our confident, free spirit is that he FINALLY gets to go with his brothers.

No more looking longingly out the car window.
No more I AM SO BORED.
No more NAPS! (Naptime graduation is BIG TIME in our house. Congrats, Whit!)

They're headed off to a new adventure - my four buddies.

That one on the left starting middle school? He's been down this road six times before - this new year thing.

He's the leader of this band of brothers and he stands so tall in that role.

They're so ready to take on the new year. All FOUR of them.

I walked Whit in today - wondering if he'd have ONE shred of pause.

Nope. He never looked back.

He was made to fly.

And, he's gonna soar.