Their purpose is not my pleasure.

We accidentally acquired a dog about four months ago.   

By “accidentally”, I mean that my husband’s coworker found her, my husband took one look at her, and she was home within the hour.  

pet dog

Lindsey is the best ever dog now, but this wasn’t always the case.  After she ate a whole pan of chicken wings off the counter, chewed up three pairs of shoes and countless children’s toys, peed on the carpet every time we let her in the house, and destroyed her crate when we left her in it (at all, ever), I was convinced that we had made a serious mistake in taking her.  I couldn’t stand the dog, who was quickly becoming a liability and not an asset.

Thanks to a lot of training and time (and anxiety medication!), Lindsey doesn’t do any of the things she did when she first came!  She stays calmly in her crate, chews on her own toys, sleeps on her own bed, eats only her own food, and takes care of her business outside.  Best of all, she runs with me and is loving and intuitive with our girls.  She has quickly won a permanent place in our home and our hearts.

Every once in awhile, Lindsey reminds us that, in spite of our diligent training, she still has a quirky personality.  Sometimes she sleeps with her feet straight up in the air or stretches so intensely that she lets out a loud fart and then is confused about what happened.  She pulls the squeakers and stuffing out of every toy she owns (but thankfully, only with toys she owns).  Occasionally, she darts after a squirrel during an off-leash run ... and occasionally I let her go.  

It is these little idiosyncrasies that make me love our dog the most, and I never want to put her through such rigorous training that she loses the unique things that make her Lindsey.  At the end of the day, she is a part of our family for our pleasure, and we certainly expect her to behave, but we want her to have a happy life.  We don’t want a robot dog, crushed under the weight of our expectations.

This post isn’t actually about my dog.  She’s a handy example right now, but I’m really writing about the purpose of children.

***

My oldest started soccer this season.  Her team lost every game.  Every single one!

When we showed up to her first game, the other team had matching shorts, socks, and hair bows custom embroidered with their names.  (I forgot which color jersey she was supposed to wear that day.) Several of their self-proclaimed “intense” parents had professional cameras with tripods on the sidelines.  Some of them encouraged their (five and six-year-old) girls to “get rough” and cheered loudly for our team when one of our girls ran confidently down the field toward the wrong goal and scored.  I don’t remember how badly we lost.  I stopped keeping track at 15-0.

As a parent, that game was hard to watch.  Not because I was embarrassed.  Not because I cared about the outcome of the game.  It was hard to watch because our girls felt defeated and frustrated, and U6 leagues are supposed to be fun.  That particular game was a competition between their parents and ours, to prove whose kids were a head above the rest.  It wasn’t really about the girls on the field.

***

When your kids look good and when they’re talented and successful, they make you as a parent look good, also.  Quite honestly, my ego would have loved it if P’s soccer team had gone undefeated this season! But unlike my dog, whose main purpose in life is to bring me joy, my pleasure is not the ultimate goal of my kids’ existence.  Joy is a byproduct of having children, but it is not the reason for having them.

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So, then, what is the purpose of having children?  I’m not sure that question has any one answer, but the longer I’ve had my kids, the more I’ve realized that God gave them to me more for the purpose of bringing about my growth and humility than my happiness and success. 

My parents didn’t crush me with their expectations of me, but I’ve always had unreasonably high expectations of myself and have feared placing those upon my kids, as well.  My standard has been perfection, which is unfair to everyone. Part of learning to be human is making mistakes, and I pray that my littles always understand the rules of our home while knowing that they will be accepted, loved, and cherished, regardless of their successes or failures.  I want to train them up to follow the path leading to true life, but I also want to allow them grace, molding their wills without ever crushing their spirits or causing them to lose the quirks that make them unique.

This has been hard for me.  I do cherish and love my people, but unconditional acceptance of them can be challenging.  From time to time, my kids have challenges, and when I see their purpose as my happiness (or comfort or ease or success), I get angry with them for struggling.  If I’m believing that they exist to make me feel or look good, I become annoyed when they need me to stop what I’m doing to help them, or embarrassed when they lack talent in certain areas.  

When I see my children as precious simply because they are mine and when I am able to view their unique issues as opportunities for my growth, it becomes much easier for me to keep my arms wide open for them in every circumstance.  When I admire my family through the correct lenses, I can say confidently to my non-robotic kids, “You can lose every single soccer game and it’s okay!   You can lose them 15-0!  You can struggle with friendships and emotions and grades.  You can be afraid of the dark and wear clothes that don’t match and you can run off every once in awhile to chase the proverbial squirrel ... and every once in awhile, I might let you ... because always, you have a home in my heart and our family, exactly the way you are.

Fan Club Friday: Wahoo! Running

Guys.  I know I get excited about every Fan Club Friday because I seriously have so many talented friends, but this one ... {Insert heart eyes emoji here.} 

Meet my friends and fellow runners, Christie and Carlee.

I've known Christie for years, and she has walked (or should I say, run) with me through some of the hardest and happiest moments of my life, imparting wisdom all along the way.  Though Carlee and I only met within the last year, our similar status as runner moms of two little girls has allowed us to strike a fast friendship.

A couple of years ago, Christie single-handedly spearheaded a kids' running club in which children of all ages trained with her and then ran a 5k as the culmination of twelve weeks of practice.

wahoo kids running club

Since that first season, Wahoo! Running has become far more than a kids' running organization, though it is still that, too.  While kids run with Christie, Carlee coaches their parents to accomplish a variety of running goals from simply getting up off of the couch to completing a first marathon or half marathon.

With literally hundreds of combined races between them, Christie and Carlee have a wealth of knowledge to offer to both newbies and seasoned runners.  So, they have started creating customizable training plans to share their insight with others!

wahoo training plan

Because I wanted to get the full Wahoo Running experience, I decided to order my own training plan from my coaching friends.  I am aiming to "crush all of my goals" (a Christie Thomas-ism) at the Prairie Fire half marathon in Wichita, Kansas, in October.  

I have used a couple of other training strategies in the past, but none of them were specifically tailored to my body or running goals.  Wahoo goes above and beyond to do just that.  Prior to constructing my plan, Wahoo sent me an Athlete Questionnaire.  In addition to basic demographic information, Christie and Carlee asked me about my height, weight, previous running experience, best times, goal times, average times, how often I workout,  other types of exercise I enjoy, and why I run.  (That sounds like a lot of information, but I completed the whole thing in under 10 minutes.)  Now, Christie and Carlee are using my answers to customize a twelve-week calendar that tells me precisely what I need to do each day.  Since I'm the most Type A person you may ever meet, I need an exact schedule which includes rest and stretching as an integral part of my program.  

Along with my training plan, I'm expecting my Wahoo! Winning Kit to arrive on my doorstep day!  My box will include a lacrosse ball, resistance band, and other goodies to motivate me and keep my muscles healthy for race day.  Dare I say that I'm pumped about running again?!

I get to train with Christie and Carlee because I am fortunate enough to live locally, and we do more than run together.  In our group of girls, we laugh, we cry, we laugh until we cry, we poop on the side of the road (I personally haven't done this one yet, but don't put it past me), and we run the literal and figurative hills and valleys of life together.  If you don't have a running community where you live, I know that the faces behind Wahoo would encourage you to start one.

Wahoo Runners

I'm a big fan of winning, but that isn't why I run.  Christie and Carlee get this.  In a matter of months since they have launched their business, these coaches have guided multiple runners to set new PRs and win age categories in the races they enter.  However, Christie and Carlee's main goals are for runners to stay healthy and to have fun.  Their desire is for people to "experience running the way it's meant to be."  In other words, they want runners to never outrun their love of running.  

If you've lost your purpose for running or are looking to find a purpose for the first time, Christie and Carlee can create the perfect plan to get you on track within a week.  After that, they will follow up with you to see how things are going, not because they're trying to build a business but because they genuinely care about you as a runner and as a whole person.

Check out Wahoo! Running on their website, Instagram, or Facebook page.  You can also email the coaches directly at christie@wahoorunning.com or carlee@wahoorunning.com.  

WAHOO!

Photo credits: Christie Thomas and Teena Moore Photography.