My dear friends Andy & Katie have a fun little crew, half of which consists of redheads.  Katie is an exceptional mother, and I asked her if she would share a little about what it's like to be a mom. She did a BEAUTIFUL job of articulating this season and what she is learning.  Well worth your time to read, especially those of you who are mothers.

This last year and a half I've learned a lot about myself and it all started with a goal. I have NEVER been a runner. Ever. And yet, part of me has always wanted to be a runner. To be able to say that I ran a race and finished it. Growing up I always wanted to be a mom above anything else. In the winter of 2009 we welcomed our first born and twenty-nine months later we welcomed our second born in the summer of 2011. Those first two years of being a mom I was so consumed with my job title of being a mom that I forgot about me.

As a mom our automatic response is to put others before ourselves. Our kids, our spouse, the families needs as a whole, friends, commitments,  etc. It is good to sacrifice and prioritize others ahead of us...to a point. You have to be able to find a line so that you can also take time to prioritize yourself. And that is hard. Really, really hard. It goes against our natural instincts of putting others ahead of ourselves. It's so ingrained in us as moms that it's easier sometimes to put others ahead of ourselves rather than take time to focus on us.

After I gave birth to my second child I realized that I needed to prioritize me. To do something for myself and my health. Which is a hard thing to do when you have small kids. There were many days when I was tired, exhausted, and flat out didn't want to spend time working on me.

Last spring, I decided that I was going to run a half marathon...even if I had to walk the whole thing and was the last person to cross the finish line I was going to do it. That's a pretty hefty goal for someone who was never a runner previously. I then got a really wild hair and decided why not do two half marathons back to back in a span of less than six weeks! And so I began training.

There were lots of days that I thought to myself what in the world was I thinking?!?! On top of that it was hot, it was cold, it was windy, it was rainy, it was humid, it was pollen season, and I could go on and on. Not every single run was great and there were days when I flat out didn't want to do it BUT I knew that I had set a goal for myself...and I needed to complete it.

Over time I began to look forward to spending an hour to myself stretching and running. It was a chance to decompress, process my day, evaluate how I was doing as a mom/wife in that particular moment, and it was also a chance to put headphones in my ears and listen to music uninterrupted. This winter I completed two half marathons back to back. Here is an excerpt I wrote on my blog earlier this year after I finished the first half:

I crossed the finish line with my arms raised over my head in jubilation. I had done it. I had run 13.1 miles and finished. Unreal. When I began running a year ago my goal was to accomplish something I never thought I could do. I was overwhelmed that I had done it. I was overwhelmed by God's faithfulness. This last year had been high and low in so many, many points and the entire time I was running I kept coming back to the thought that in all of that God had been faithful. Faithful to provide. Faithful to carry my burdens. Faithful in sickness. Extremely faithful in all things.

There is something else in this that I've come to realized. I want to be able to tell my kids to dream big, set goals, and that they can do anything that they put their mind to...and have them believe that I mean that wholeheartedly because it's reflected in my own life. Set goals for yourself and take time to focus on you. It's hard and challenging but it can be so rewarding. Completion of that one goal has now set up a domino effect for future goals in my own life and I can't wait to see what lessons God has in store for me as I set out to complete them one by one.

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