Today I am excited to introduce you to our guest, Renee . Here is a little bit about her. Renee, of www.barefootwalks.com, is passionate about the family. She writes in hopes of encouraging families to live intentionally, to embrace the moments God gives them, to create moments out of the everyday, and to make memories and establish family traditions to unite and bond the family. She is married to her high school sweetheart and mother to their three boys. They live in North Carolina, where she also writes for her community magazine. In her spare time, Renee enjoys running, reading,scrapbooking, and small diy home projects.
2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Training for a race is not much different than walking the road of parenting. To become a runner, to train for a race, requires planning, intentionality, priority setting, discipline,and perseverance. You will shed blood, sweat, and tears. It takes pushing through the cramps, wiping off the dirt, and continuing to put one foot in front of the other. Even when all you want to do is throw in the towel. Even when you wonder if each step is making a difference at all.
I want to encourage you today. Each step makes a difference.
How can we stay the course? How can we see beyond this moment?
1. Set a goal: Statistics tell us that when we write down our goals we are exponentially more capable of achieving that goal. When I ran my first 5K, my goal was to finish the race without having to walk and with a respectable time. Knowing what I was striving for kept me focused during the race. Without a clear vision or goal there is nothing to measure against when the going gets tough.
When we release our children into the hands of the world, how do we want to finish? Take some time to write down your parenting goals. What can you do to parent them intentionally? How can you capitalize on every moment God gives you with them?
2. Get an app: I’ve been training for my first 10k. Knowing I would need help, I found a free app to download to my phone which has the ability to coach me or to simply keep me posted on my progress. Every ½ mile it tells me my distance, time, and average pace. I find myself picking up my pace when my app informs me I was doing better than I thought. However, when my app informs me that I’m running slowly, I am never encouraged to pick up my pace for some reason. In the same way, we should surround ourselves with people who can encourage us to keep up the pace. People who can look into our lives and keep us focused on the course. And we can be that encouraging app to others as well!
3. Train for the challenges: I watched an interview during the Olympics with Michael Phelps where he shared how his coach would coach and train him using sometimes aggravating techniques. The goal was to prepare him for any obstacle that might pop up during an actual race. His coach shared how he would fill Michael’s goggles with water during practice without him knowing. These techniques really paid off because throughout his swim career, he faced numerous unexpected race challenges and found himself better prepared for them. He didn’t view them as necessarily unexpected. In the same way, we should view parenting through the same lens. Each day with our children will pose a new set of problems. Rather than become discouraged by them, we should arm ourselves for them. We can do this by reading parenting books and blogs or spending time with parents we respect, particularly an older generation who has much to offer. In addition, we can view each obstacle as a means of strength. Each hardship will make us stronger for it.
4. Keep a positive mindset: When I’m running it takes me almost 2 miles until I feel good. During those rough first miles, I keep my mind focused on something other than my misery. I am not thinking about how hard that hill is I’m running up. I’m not thinking about how hot or thirsty I am. If I’m thinking at all, it is about how strong and healthy my body will be. I’m thinking of what kind of time I will have. Or I’m distracted by something else completely. I’ll pray or I’ll listen to a sermon on my phone. In our parenting journey, we can look to the positive in every situation. Many hardships that we are facing hold opportunity for us to instill godly character traits into our children. We can keep our mind focused on God’s work in their lives. We can keep our focus off the hard of the here and now and focus on the good for eternity that can come from what we are in the midst of with our children.
5. Don’t stop running: One of my friends was running in a 5K when her shoe came untied. Although she was concerned about tripping, and it was quite irritating to feel her shoelaces flapping around, she wouldn’t stop running. Her fear was that if she stopped, she might not be able to start back up or she would lose time and not achieve her goal. In the same way, we can’t stop parenting our kids intentionally. We have to keep running. We have to stay the course. Keep moving forward.
6. Follow a training plan: Before I began training for this 10K, I thought to be a better runner just took practice at running. I thought if I simply ran 3-5 times a week that over time, I would increase my times and running would get easier. After 2 years of not progressing, I began to think that I would never be a better runner. Then a friend asked me to train for a 10K. Well, I had never “trained” to run before. When I began reading running sites and training plans, I was stunned to realize that so much more went into becoming a better runner than simply running. I needed to incorporate stretching, strength training, and most importantly REST. Rest. One of the keys to being a great mom is rest. How often we overlook this critical component to our parenting training plan. Time to recharge our battery, to have some quiet, to think, to have a little time to ourselves can do wonders for our hearts and attitudes to our children. A daily quiet time to read the Bible, pray, and meditate can change the entire course of a day.
7. Train Future Racers: Remember we are training the future. We are training our children to run their own race one day. We need to set a course we want them to follow.
Parenting is a beautiful gift from God. We will face challenges, we will experience triumph, we will feel sorrow, and we will feel joy. Unlike a 10K, parenting is a race that we will never completely finish. It’s more like a never-ending relay. We can run our best, then pass the baton and cheer on the ones we’ve been training all along.