Saturday, March 27, 2010

Officially Official

There you have it folks! It is officially official. I am registered to compete in my very first triathlon on August 8, at Lake Chaparral, Calgary. My mind is still reeling a little bit... am I really doing this? The greatest thing is that YES, I AM!! I am even considering registering for a second one in September, in Banff because I think the experience will be amazing. Good friends of ours, Stan and Heather, have been into biking and triathlons for quite awhile. Stan has even completed the grueling Trans Rocky 200km road race. WOW! Stan is training Heather, Cindy and I all together to compete at Chaparral. It is so nice to have a great support group and to know you aren't doing it alone. I think we'd really like to design a team shirt for race days, so throw any ideas you may have our way!
For those of you not familiar with triathlons, they consist of swimming, biking then running. The Lake Chaparral triathlon for the 'sprint' distance {vs. Olympic or Ironman distances} are 750m of open water swim, 15.5 km of biking, and 4.5 km of running. In my mind I am not really intimidated by swimming or biking but the run terrifies me. I am not a long distance runner and I never have been so this is the area I am going to have to really focus on... or so I originally thought.

You know when you are a kid spending your summer days swimming away at the lake or pool, you don't give a second thought to how far you have swam, you just do it, over and over and over again. And it was easy back then. I have always been a strong swimmer. I could have easily been a lifeguard but I never did the class, I should have - but didn't. Last week I had my first day {night, actually} at the pool doing lane swim in a very long time. My goal was to complete 500 m since that is about 2/3 of my race distance I thought that was a good start. Hmmmm. First of all I think I nearly inhaled half the pool water. Did I mention that it is a salt water pool? And that public swim is right before lane swim? GROSS. My technique/form was terrible. And my endurance - that was even worse. I completed my 500m goal or 10 laps {25 m there and back} as I gasped, coughed and gagged my way along. I even had to use the flutter board for a couple laps. I was so sad and discouraged but strangely motivated at the same time. There is nothing like putting on a bathing suit to make you realize what you've been trying to hide under clothing for so long. If I could swim in unrevealing clothes I totally would. Needless to say I slept like a baby {or a log} that night and I look forward to every swim night now! I think 750m in 4 months will look like a piece of cake. There is still the biking and running to deal with though.

Last Sunday morning I met with Stan and Heather at 7am to take an early morning stroll up the Cochrane hill. This hill is massive! If you've ever been here you know the exact one I'm talking about. Highway 1A that goes up past Glen Eagles. Thank goodness we didn't take the highway route, I was a little leery of the traffic. We took the residential/path route up the hill which is actually a little more winding and scenic. I am not used to getting up so early and to my detriment I put my left sock on inside out, unintentionally. About 5 minutes into the walk I had to stop and fix my sock/shoe; it was rubbing a bit and I thought it was just slouching down into my shoe so I pulled it back up and kept going. About 3/4 of the way up the hill I finally asked if I could sit down and take off my shoe, it was getting very uncomfortable by now. I was really surprised when I pulled off my runner and my heel was covered in blood that was leaking through my sock! In Stan's words, I'm so hardcore that I trained until I bled! Sadly our walk/hike was cut short as I had to try to walk all the way home with a damaged heel. Lesson learned, I will soon be getting fitted at The Running Room for proper running shoes.

Thankfully before the hill/heel incident I was able to get in a workout every day of the week except Fridays which is my complete rest day. I have already biked 10 km on the spin bike at the gym, so I am confident that 15 isn't so far out of reach. I keep telling myself to remember that I need to be able to complete all 3 events back-to-back! Now that my heel is healed, I am back at it.

Stan in all his wisdom and experience is encouraging me to do a mock triathlon here in Cochrane one day soon so that we can get a benchmark and be able to track my improvements. I am very scared of not being able to complete it and the three ugly letters DNF {did not finish}. That is my goal for Lake Chaparral - just get across the finish line in one piece. I think it is a smart idea, it is just very intimidating since I just started training. I am sure he is right. Happy training!!

Heidi & Harrison
Kennedy, Cindy, Heidi and Harrison

Cindy and I



Heidi Jo

First training "injury"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Father's Mighty Love

It's not that I don't have much to write about because I do, a lot in fact.  I am struggling with putting it all into words that will do our gratitude justice.  How do you describe an outpouring of love?  I will do my humble best to share the rest of our week together.

Thursday morning we all actually slept in at the Burnett household.  What pleasant surprise when that happens!  Not too late though because Mom & Tots started at 9:30 am at the church.  I decided for our first visit I would leave Heidi at home with Mike and take Harrison by myself.  I'm really glad I did because I was able to visit with the other moms a little bit more.  I love meeting new people and had a great time introducing Harrison to the other familes represented at the play time.  Not much time for visiting unfortunately, as I had worried about.  Harrison hasn't had much play time with other children simply because we haven't been in one community long enough to make those connections.  Let's just say that we need to work on sharing.  I was sad to watch my son hoard all the trucks. He walked around the room and collected a not-so-small pile of trucks and cars, pretty much anything with wheels.  I know that his attitude about sharing will change the more often we go and play with friends, so that's the plan!  I was happy that by the end of our time I was able to convince him that it was kind to share and he gave another boy a truck all on his own.  It was fun morning and definitely worth going.  There was another mom there who drives a school bus, which is something I am considering doing until Mike is allowed to work. I was grateful to hear her perspective on the job.  We are excited and looking forward to this week's play time!

That night we were blessed with another wonderful meal.  If there is a new family in your neighborhood, or church I strongly encourage you to take them a homemade meal. It is amazing how much this simple act will bless someone!  I realize our situation is a little different than most, but I can only speak to how much it has blessed us.  Friday was a great day too and Mike and I had a chance to visit with my good friend Jill who conveniently lives only 20 minutes away now! YAY!  Friday night was pretty special.  As dinner time approached, I described to Jill all the blessings that have been poured out on us since our arrival in Cochrane, and that someone would be bringing dinner shortly.  When dinner arrived, we invited Jill to stay as there would be plently to share.  Not only were we blessed with a delicious entree, but also a tossed salad, a fruit salad and tons of baking!  The special delivery also included 2 boxes of diapers (in each child's size) and diaper wipes! Wow!  I was really floored by the thoughtfulness of this special woman.

The biggest surprise of the evening came when a wonderful couple knocked on our door.  They didn't want to stay, they just wanted to drop off a card from their care cell group.  I graciously took the thick envelope with tears in my eyes, knowing it was stuffed with something wonderful, and said thank you.  Once they had gone, I couldn't open the envelope because I was so overwhelmed.  Mike opened the beautiful card and stuffed inside was $1000 worth of gift cards to a local grocery store.  I couldn't hold back the tears of joy and gratefulness a second longer.  I read the card to discover that I only personally knew 1 couple from the home group.  Everyone else was perfect strangers.  People who were willing to recognize a need and to give so generously!  It is hard to describe just how large the lump in my throat is even now as I write.  Mike and I were finally able to meet and thank all these amazing people at church the past Sunday morning. A good friend stopped us and asked if she could bring a meal by our house this Tuesday as well.  Thank you Father for all that you have provided for us!  Yesterday the friend who is bringing dinner stopped by with some "goodies", as she called them.  When she returned from her car she was carrying a huge box of diapers, a refill box of baby wipes (all 900 of them!), toothbrushes, floss and Qtips.  **sigh** It is hard to take it all in when so much has happened at once.  So much love!!

Sunday after church and lunch Mike had a guys day out with Paul and his boys at a car show in Calgary.  Afterwards they invited us over for dinner and games. It was such a wonderful evening out with friends, something else we have desired for a very long time.  Another indescribable blessing. Paul and Cindy have really been prayer partners for Mike and I over the last year. They have been instrumental in helping us survive this struggle.  They have also been a major catalyst in this move to Cochrane by sharing our needs in a loving way with their care cell. They love our children like their own.  When we spent the weekend up here at their house to consider if we were going to make the move, Cindy took Heidi and kept her for the entire night so that Mike and I could get a good nights sleep. That was the first time I didn't have to get up and feed since Heidi was born.  I don't think I could ever put into words how much their friendship means to our family.

All the pieces have really fallen into place. A home, provision with money, food and supplies, friends, church, community, our house in Abilene has sold, and I had two job interviews for part time work. How do I begin to thank everyone, especially you Lord? Words hardly seem enough.  I am so grateful you can see how happy we are and how our hearts are overflowing.  I love you Father God. Thank you for showing us your love too!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It Takes Your Breath Away

We, as a family unit, have been settled in our own house since Saturday. Our own house. Those words are sweet music to my ears that also tug gently at my heart. I have shared how much "home" means to me. Our apartment/townhouse is small, about 500 sq. ft. upstairs and the same downstairs but is it perfect! We have a small balcony to grill on, Harrison already loves to "go outside" on the balcony. The kitchen and open living room are upstairs with a large walk-in pantry/storage space, and a couple of closets. Downstairs is another storage space under the stairs (Harry Potter style), the bathroom, two bedrooms, and a large closet that houses the washer and dryer plus all laundry supplies. Perfect. And it is our home.

Not only did we arrive on Saturday to all the wonderful blessings that Cindy had described to me but more. Way more. God has been busy, and people have been answering the nudges and urges they've been experiencing. There is not one thing we've wanted for and haven't been able to find it in the house. Toothpaste - in the vanity. Strainer for noodles- in the kitchen cabinet. Food- every cabinet, shelf and fridge - over flowing. A large, comfy chair to curl up in and snuggle my babies - in the living room. It's all here. We're all here and that has to be the best feeling of all.

To top off the experience God has provided us with meals all week! People have stopped by to welcome us to Cochrane, often bringing dinner for that night and one for the freezer. So amazing! The love of the Father knows no boundaries.

Tuesday night was our first night welcomed at the connect group/care cell. Just a reminder, these are the people that are paying for Mike and I to live essentially. They have committed to us for the long term, 6-12 months, as long as it takes to get Mike's paperwork approved so he can legally work and provide for our family again. This wonderful group of believers has adopted us, truly extended the arms of Christ and lovingly taken us in. We are so blessed and look forward to the discussions and friendships as we grow with them.

Heidi and Harrison are adjusting to our new home beautifully. They will be sharing a bedroom, though not now for the moment, not until we have our video monitor up and running. Heidi will stay in our room in the playpen/bassinet until then. Harrison has always been a good sleeper but his quality of sleep seems to have improved since he's been in his own room. Our sleep and marriage has improved as well since I am no longer a couch dweller and I share the bed with Mike. At least I try to share!

There is an awesome park just down the street from us that we have walked to with Harrison and he absolutely loves it. People drive from all over Cochrane to take their small kids to this park because instead of rock or sand they have recycled rubber ground so it is very safe for toddlers. I have connected with another mom whose daughter I recognize from the CAC (Cochrane Alliance Church) nursery; I hope to get to know them and their family better over time. Tomorrow is Mom & Tots time at the church where moms can take their kids to socialize and play (a.k.a. wear them out!) while the moms chat and visit. It will be my first visit there. I plan to just take Harrison the first time to get him used to it. I am looking forward to meeting some moms/families that are in the same stage of life as we are and making some friendship connections. MOPS (Mothers of Pre Schoolers) is next week, too. I belonged to MOPS in San Angelo, TX and I really looked forward to going each and every time to connect with the moms, be built up and loved on, appreciated and blessed. I met some of the sweetest women there during my brief stay. The social time was really good for Harrison as well, which I am hoping he will grow to love here too.

Each morning I wake up here in Cochrane I breathe a sigh of relief. Yes, this is real. Our life has finally made a turn for the better. We have really been blessed with all that we see. The crisp mountain air fills my lungs as we stroll hand-in-hand-in-hand and I am filled with awe by the peaks that have been blanketed by a fresh snowfall, seemingly so close I would be tempted to reach out and touch them. I look at my family, they look at me. We take it ALL in; the scenery, the change of events, the blessings. And it simply takes our breath away.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sometimes God has a different idea...

Things aren't always what they seem. The job in Montana hasn't happened yet. Mike had the phone interview and said they would process him to the next step but no one has followed up with him yet. We are not sure if there is still an offer on our house or not due to some property line issues. These are a few of the concerns on our plate this week.

Good news is... we're packing, AGAIN! If you know me, you know I am not a big fan of moving. I grew up in the same house my entire life until I went to college so always being able to return "home" and have roots is something I highly value in my life. I so badly wanted our kids to have the same experience that I did but so far it hasn't worked out that way. This time God is moving us, and it's a totally amazing experience!

One of my very best friends emailed me last week Tuesday night at 11pm to say she really, really needed to talk with me but I didn't get the message until the morning because I just happened to go to bed that night at 8 pm. (Guess I needed the extra rest!) She called the next morning because she couldn't wait to share about their bible study the night before. Cindy said that they are working through the book of James and studied a scripture speaking about taking care of the widowed and the orphaned and putting your faith into action. Paul and Cindy's care cell has been praying for Mike and I for a long time, over our houses, jobs, babies etc. They were discussing the scripture and one of the older gentlemen in the group said something along the lines of "who are we if we know this couple in need and we do nothing about it but pray?" He said it was on his heart for some time now to do something tangible to help our family, and everyone in the bible study agreed. Cindy called to ask Mike and I to consider moving to Cochrane where a 2 bedroom apartment would be rented for us, all bills paid with money to help buy groceries etc so that their care cell could support us and love on us!! I was so blown away I didn't know what to say. I definitely did not see this one coming! I told her I would talk to Mike and we'd have to pray about moving our family yet again.

We took the rest of the week to pray about it and we actually went to Cochrane last weekend to spend some time there, see the apartment, and seek if this was really what the Lord would have us do. The more time we spent seeking the more obvious it was becoming. We need to belong to a community of believers who can build us up and help us recover from this terrible year. This was the next step for us.

We have been so entirely grateful to my parents for all that they have done for us. Being at the farm has its disadvantages though. We have been so isolated here. It is 25km to drive anywhere, to Lethbridge or Fort MacLeod. Driving to work would cost a lot in gas, just like driving to church a couple times a week would. Living in a small town where we can walk or bike everywhere will help us stretch our budget so much further.

Not only has a house been provided for us but the more people that hear about our situation, the more help keeps showing up!! God is moving and people are being so obedient and the blessings are over flowing! Furniture, appliances, baby clothes, baby supplies, grocery gift cards, cash.... you name it and He has provided it all through His faithful followers! Praise God!!

Cindy keeps saying she can't wait for us to see the house because we are going to be SHOCKED. I am already blessed to the point of speechlessness. Tomorrow is the big day. As we are fully dependent on Him, we actually regain some of our own independence. Lord you are so amazing! Thank you for hearing our prayers and blessing us!!