Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blessed...on our birthday and always

Bryan is not one for huge parties.  Nor is he one for shallow friendships.  He prefers smaller groups and deep, meaningful connection.  I'm totally with him on the meaningful connections, but my circle of friends could eat his circle of friends for snack (we're talking quantity only here).  If given the opportunity to create a guest list, you'd better fetch me a couple of sheets of paper and brace yourself for an eclectic group.

However, this year I really wanted to do something that focused solely on Bryan and would bless his socks off.

I knew he'd love a date night with his closest friends.  And I knew he'd love one restaurant in particular.  So, I sent the invite...and waited a few weeks before calling the restaurant.  Bad idea.  Bad.  When I called four days in advance, they were already booked for Friday night.

You can see how experienced I am at this.

So, I moved on to another restaurant.  Then another.  Then another.  I even reached out to my foodie brother and friends for creative suggestions.  And ended up at Houlihans.

It's a fine restaurant, but not what I was aiming for on this special occasion.

The good news is...  We were at my back-up restaurant's, back-up times ten.  But were with first rate friends.

As I glanced around the dinner table, milestones, memories and inside jokes coursed through my brain.  Schooling, baseball, graduation, weddings, divorce, babies, miscarriages, infertility, adoption journeys, promotions, lay-offs and countless entreprenurial ideas.  Suffering, sick parents, death.  Worship, Bible study, tears shed, hands held, prayers whispered.  A sibling found, vacations taken, retreats attended, ministry served.  Hospital visits, family dinners, holiday celebrations, spontaneous get-togethers, nights out.  Babies first words, cheering on kids' sports, preparing boys for their freshman year of high school.  Exchanging encouragement, advice, and a listening ear.  Hours long phone calls, coffee and lunch dates.  And unexpected, no-reason, gifts, cards and flowers.  These are people we've done a lot of life with.  People we count on.  People we trust.  Our go-to people.

Eric and Kellee
Robert and Lynne
Brian and Emily
Aaron and Christina

As I thought about all that we've been through over the course of our friendships, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  And my heart swelled out of an abundance of love.  These are brother/sister-friends.  Dear people, without whom our lives would be so very different.

On this morning-after, I'm still basking in the glow of a great night celebrating my man (who is now in his 40's - gasp!) with great friends and the many calls, texts, and birthday wishes from countless people I'm blessed to call friend, family, brother and sister.

Happy birthday to us, indeed.

As the vase says...  So very grateful for simple blessings.  My girl Lynne brought the flowers to the party.  Of course she did.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.  Psalm 100:1-5

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Getting closer to a Shrader Family 5K

The boys ran their first 5K on April 20, 2013.  I'd expected that we'd start and finish together, and in between there would be some sprinting, walking, whining, sitting, and even a little crying.  I was right and wrong. 

As we pulled into the parking lot, Luke asked if anyone was feeling nervous.  He shared that his tummy felt a little funny; that he was excited and a little intimidated.  I remember feeling that way before my first 5K.  And I remember the following year, when Sandra had to go to the bathroom 3 times in the 20 minutes we waited before the race.  She was so nervous, and she's on TV every day!  I could totally relate to my guy's nerves.

(I love that Luke always wears these gloves backwards.  The design you're seeing is the rubber non-skid surface meant to be on the palms!  He prefers for it to be decoration.)

But, once we gathered in the chute, he was beaming with excitement.  As we crossed the start line, he was shouting like a maniac, "I can't believe I'm doing this!  I'm really doing this!  I'm running my first 5K.  That is THREE MILES!!!  I'm in a race!  A real race!  Can you believe it?  This is AWE-SOME!!"  It was the most adorable thing I've ever seen.

About two tenths of a mile later, Zach was sprinting uphill and Luke was tired.  He needed to rest, but his brother was getting away from us and I hadn't talked to the kids about what to do if we got separated.  Who knew that Zach would have so much energy and determination??  So, in an effort to try to keep up with Zach, I hoisted Luke onto my back and ran uphill with a passenger.

You should try that.

When we got to the corner, I put Luke down and he ran a few more blocks.  Then, back on my back, then running again, then walking, you get the picture...  Zach waited for us for about 3/4 of a mile, then a friend of mine asked what he was waiting on.  When Zach said, "My mom and Luke", the friend told him to stop waiting and make his mom proud by running on to the finish.  I didn't see him again for over two miles.  And I had no idea that this conversation had transpired - Zach recognized the person, but has no idea who it was.  I prayed the entire way that he'd have the wisdom to wait at the finish line, and not get distracted by the table of donuts, his friends, or the pancakes calling his name from inside the cafeteria.

Luke and I covered the entire 3.10 miles together.  He was such a champ.  He did get tired, but he never whined or stopped.  He only asked for rides for very short distances; just enough to catch his breath.  He wanted so badly to win his age group, and when the reality set in as we headed downhill into the last mile, he began to cry.  He wasn't going to finish first among 1-10 year olds.  At that point, I picked him up and cuddled as we walked - no piggy back for crying guys.

When we turned into the school parking lot - approaching the final few tenths of a mile - Zach came running over to finish with us.  Prayers answered.  He'd waited.  And the three of us crossed the finish line together!  At their first 5K.

I could not be more proud.

Zach sprinted/walked the race with friends from school.  His goal for next year is to run with buddies, and not wait around for me at all.  He wants to finish in 25 minutes.  It's good to have a goal.

Great job, boys.  I love running with you.

Luke, I will always remember training for my first 5K.  I'd run the 1.5 mile loop around our house twice.  You'd come out front to wave at me and bring water between my first and second lap, and then you'd ask to run with me when I was done.  You and I would run a block...and sometimes even the shorter quarter mile loop.  You were at my first 5K - this very race.  You crossed the finish line with me, wearing your blue jeans and a KU sweatshirt.  You were 3 1/2.  I will never forget.  I'm moved to tears to have crossed this finish line with you again; but this time with you wearing a bib and timing chip.  Way to go, Buddy!  You've come a long way.  We all have.

Next time, Daddy needs to run.