Friday, July 29, 2011

Running is like a box of chocolates...

So I haven't quit yet. I am still semi-training for that tortuous upcoming race. Except that I took a 10 day break and re-initiated my body back into it this week. It wasn't pretty folks. But, as always, each run gives me plenty of time to reflect on how life is like running. Or how running is like chocolate. (a friend recently tweeted about eating ghiradelli chocolate morsels and I CANNOT get the idea of them out of my stinking head. Thank you, Rachel, for the blog title and for my husband's new understanding that if he leaves me alone with his wild human for 3 days again, he must leave chocolate chips). Digression much?

Anyhow. Day one back into the running shoes was Pa.the.tic. About 1.5 miles in, the cramps had already started?!?! I was talking to a friend to try to pace myself and apparently talked too much (me? noooooooo!)  The cramp was not like a stitch. It was a burning that I have never felt and truly could not be alleviated without stopping. So, previously running 6-7 miles without cardiac arrest, I ran 3.5 with 2 stops and a pace that Mary Kate could out crawl. I left defeated and convinced that my $85 race fee would simply be a donation. Maybe we could count it as tithe??

But as I get older, I do find myself a little more forgiving of my shortcomings. I praised my lazy self for at least making the attempt and getting out of bed before our little early riser to attempt that run. And I went back yesterday. I dropped the gremlin in the daycare and said a little prayer over her that she would not cry incessantly. I put my pal Steven Curtis on Pandora and hoped that the good Jesus juju would propel me along.

And propel me He did. I ran long and well and without so much as a cramp. I could have kept going but had a work meeting and a baby to feed. I do NOT love running. But I do love the reminder that less than 48 hours before was one of my worst runs in months. 48 hours later, I felt on top of the world. You really do not know what you're going to get every time you put on your fancy stability running (not tennis, Fr. Tim!) shoe. Some days will be total busts. And some days will be full of energy and confidence.

Just like with mothering, working, praying, being a wife, there are good runs and awful runs. I just have to make the first step, open the Bible, lace up the shoe, smile at the 5:45 am wake up call, go in for a hug after an argument. I can never know where that first step will lead me.

Okay, enough of the metaphors.

Have a great weekend. And if any of you reading happen to have a minute, could you please shoot a prayer for a beautiful woman awaiting hard news on her 5th pregnancy (4 previous miscarriages/still births). She is at the doctor now. Please God, fill this precious girl's arms with a baby.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Old friends, new beginnings

This week we have gotten to spend some rich, rich time with close friends. It's one of the ways Ross blesses me most, this ability to spend time with friends while he is working for our family. First we said good-bye to our favorite Padre. Father Tim is moving to Rome, (Italy) for a few years. He will be serving in such an important role but I won't pretend I haven't wished they would re-think their need for him there! Father Tim has been absolutely integral in my life for over 10 years. He has guided me through dark spiritual times and presided over the most joyous of times (our wedding, MK's Baptism). He blessed us by coming to Atlanta this weekend, saying Mass in our home, blessing our girl and our home and sharing a meal with us. We are so thankful to call him our friend. Padre, you will be missed. arrivederci e buona fortuna.

Tuesday we headed east to the Classic City. Lizzy and Ryan have moved their family to Athens and Jennifer and I decided to coordinate visits. So we packed our Atlanta and Augusta babies and invaded poor Brady's new house. Helen braved the zoo and it was a great little mini SVA reunion. At one point, we realized we had 3 babies (all born within months of each other) who were napping in different rooms. When did we go from lying to our parents about whose house we were spending the night at to throwing our heads back in relief that these babes were, indeed, asleep? The only picture I could get where MK wasn't crying, Langston wasn't wrestling MK or Brady to the ground and pinning them or when Brady wasn't trying to protect his toys from the invaders! (we told them there was a dog outside so they'd stand still!)


To top it off, the girls agreed to keep their ear out for Mary Kate while I went to meet my newest love. My dear, dear friend Natalie had her second baby boy and I got to go snuggle Brooks. Natalie has been a constant encouragement to me as a new mom and watching her do this whole sha-bang again puts a little bug in my ear that maybe two wouldn't, in fact, kill me. I didn't take any pictures but I stole these without her permission! (She's too tired to read blogs and see this to yell at me anyway!). Brooks is an absolute doll who sleeps all the time, has a perfect head of black hair and most precious button nose. Here's to new life!

We are so excited for our friends and their new adventures. May God bless your travels, your new homes, new jobs, and new babies!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The S is for...

S-eeing old friends at Mass, at dinner, walking the neighborhood.
A-avoiding all types of nutritious eating, exercise or routine
V-aluing the extra set of hands for baby duties, always eager to help
A-dmiring old moss-strewn trees, Forsyth park, the view of the ocean
N-ever forgetting the scent of the marsh or the memories made in my old neighborhood
N-eeding this break where everywhere I look I see friends, feel less anonymous
A-ccepting the wonderful life we have in the Atl but ever hopeful of a life on the coast
H-appy to be from a place that warms every part of my soul.

The S is for Savannah. We have spent a glorious week here with just a few bruises while we adjusted to life in another home. We have celebrated MK's birthday with her Savannah family, let my grandmother show off her great-grandbaby to her ladies on the cushioned handicap row at Mass, visited our friends at Saints and Shamrocks, had lots of meals out with grandparents entertaining baby, let memaw make morning bottles and turn on baby einstein. It was wonderful. It was home.

Mary Kate was RELISHING all the attention by the big girls!

The Garmany girls. Taking care of those 2 girls is what paid for my college and taught me a million life lessons along the way.  

3 second cousins born within 8 weeks of each other. Thanksgiving is about to get much more lively!

My grandmother's 5 children, all in one place. She was happy to have them all at one table. They were happy there were boiled peanuts on the table.

A sweet photo of a girl and her memaw at Bonna Bella Marina. Love the place and love those two girls!
My favorite bed-headed gal in the rocking chair we had as a child (so proud of her new-found ability to get in that chair)



Thursday, July 14, 2011


Your birthday Mass and breakfast at the Gift of Grace. Sister Brunetta was trying to make you laugh!

That plant sings and dances and comes out at every party. You were petrified!

"So big!!"

Telling mommy all about it while everyone gets ready for your party

Why would you get into any less trouble on your birthday? You have eaten half the dirt in the pot! (your diaper cover is from memaw and aunt roo- an early nickname for our little chicken nugget!)

Telling daddy to stop cleaning the pool and come play with his girl!

So excited to see your cousins when you woke up. You had a snack while we waited for the rain to stop and take the party outside.

Joy Elizabeth stopped by and Aunt Roo made y'all matching BFF frames with your pictures from 3 months ago. Sweet Joy has gotten smaller and you got bigger!

Loving your private float rides by aunt Roo and happy that the rain stopped!

Tasting your smash cake. That was about as much as you had but it was close to 7pm at this point so you were starting to wilt! (Thanks to aunt Roo for making your birthday plate and both cakes! I promise mommy did do some things for this party (but more along the lines of toilet cleaning!)

Aunt Rae got you nice and clean and ready for presents!

Playing with uncle Steve, your Godfather while daddy rests (you had probably just been crawling on his face)

Loving all the paper and ribbons (and of course, the generous, sweet gifts)

Mary Kate Franccs, you are the absolute light and joy of our lives. That you are ONE is incomprehensible to me. Every single day brings a new trick, a new sound, a new part of your little personality. That God would love dad and I so much to give us you, that is incomprehensible too. You are truly "more precious than rubies" and we adore you. Happy 1st Birthday to our precious girl!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My thoughts exactly

A few years ago, I began reading Rachel's blog. She is a young mother with a bunch of kids, living her life as a devout Christian in the Catholic Church. I became one of many on-line groupies. One day, while talking to priest-friend Fr. Tim, I mentioned my new on-line bff and said that I read she lived in Augusta, his hometown. He laughed and told me that Rachel's husband was his bff and one of their 5 sons was his Godson. Here I was thinking for a year that Rachel lived on some Catholic commune in Wyoming, and now I find out that she and Padre are lifelong friends. Of course Father hooked me up and I got to actually talk to Rachel and then, gasp, actually meet her. She has been an encouragement, both in person and through her writing, on everything from mothering, to faith to natural family planning. She is witty, real, and sincere. And when I grow up, I want to be just like her. Her recent post could have come straight from my mouth (less eloquently of course). So many of my college friends and I talked about mission work and serving the poor overseas. Many of us have made brief stints to serve abroad, some of them are doing it full-time now. Lots of us, however, have entered the world of mommy-land where we only dream of "contributing" on such a grand scale again. Rachel puts it perfectly. Read down. You won't regret it.

The Mission Field (by Rachel Balducci)
"I used to imagine, years ago, that I would spend some time as a missionary in a third world country. Once I was married and had children, I assumed my husband and I would take our brood out amongst the poorest of the poor to spread the good news about God’s great love. As followers of Christ, we’re called to share this good news, and what better place than halfway across the globe!

And then I actually did grow up and get married and as the children came, practical life took over. Once I had these babies, I realized the incredible mission work of simply being a wife and mother — how much of myself it took to be the hands and feet of Jesus for these people living in my own home. I blinked and the vision of mission work was something of a distant dream, and that was okay. God had placed these precious souls in my care, and most days the energy to do that was the exact amount of wherewithal I possessed.
But it stayed on my heart, as my boys were very little, that sharing God’s love with others is a crucial part of Christian living. While my days consisted of wiping runny noses and stepping on Legos, I would every-so-often think about serving others and the importance of teaching my children to do the same.

“When they get older,” I would think, “we’ll take them out to the mission fields.”

Over time, I slowly realized that beyond looking after those in my immediate care, there were chances to spread God’s love at every turn. The joy of Jesus was a message for the entire world — not just a world away, but right here in my daily travels. I started to recognize opportunities to be a missionary in my favorite grocery store, at the boys’ soccer games, to the people beside us at Mass.

None of this necessarily meant preaching the Gospel — it just meant operating out of it. It was the reality that living what you believe can speak volumes, without having to climb up on one single soap box.

In this hurting world of ours, what so many people need is love. People need a reminder that they matter, that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and that Jesus loves them. People need to hear that truth — including you and me. Loving our neighbor is being in the mission field — and some days it takes even more energy than third world excursions.

Practically, of course, the world is filled with chances to serve others (beyond just being nice!). Now that our boys are getting older, I do pray for these opportunities. It’s important to learn early on that the world is filled with chances to serve others.

My husband’s work as an immigration attorney recently brought us on a mission adventure to a parish within our diocese. There is nothing like being at a Mass that is not in your primary language to make you feel the beauty of the universal church — but also make you feel like you are very, very far from home.

As we sat in that church, I was indeed half-way across the world, though I was only a half gas tank away from home. I was grateful for the chance to be a part of practical mission work, and moved by all the people whose lives are poured out for the less fortunate.

“The duty of the moment,” writes Catherine Doherty, “is the duty of God. Anything done for Him is glamorous, exciting — if only we can see it for what it is.”

In this messy world of ours, we have so many chances to help. Mission trips are important. Caring for the poorest of the poor is critical. Being the hands and feet of Jesus every chance we get, even in the smallest moments of our day — that is where we truly grow in our quest for holiness.

This originally appeared in The Southern Cross.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I am struggling today. A beautiful girl that both Ross and I know was found brutally murdered at her apartment in Macon. It has shaken us both. Ross called from work this morning after looking at a picture on his desk. There she was, standing next to all of his closest friends on his 30th birthday. I didn't know her as well as Ross did but enjoyed her very much and was excited for her new venture into law school at Mercer. I am broken for her family. I am broken for what she didn't get to have. I am even, as my best friend reminded me, a little broken for whatever was inside of the person who did this.

I woke up this morning angry, despite rich prayer with Ross last night. I was in physical pain, emotional pain and incredibly unrested. R took the baby for an early morning waffle house date and let me get some much needed sleep. But still, I woke up so sad.

I have been unable to pinpoint what is making me so sad (other than the obvious). I hadn't spoken to her since she left Atlanta, knowing only about her adventures through facebook. But as I sat at lunch with our precious Stanfield girls, I called Ross to see if he was home from work for lunch. He was, and instead of a playdate, I said I needed to go home. I needed for my husband to hold me. I needed to rest my head on his chest and tell me that he would protect us. I realized the feeling. I felt unsafe. I felt vulerable.

And while he did hold me and tell me that he would do everything to protect these girls of his, I know that ultimately, he cannot be the protector. I have spoken on here of precious Kate Mcrae, battling an awful brain cancer. Her parents's faith (and hers) have inspired me daily. In her last post, her mom said something that haunts me. "...when life still feels uncertain, unpredictable and painful, we look to the One who can heal, not only Kate's body, but our hearts as well."

In my efforts to not think about all the 'what ifs' of having to endure what Lauren's family is enduring, I am giving myself a headache. My heart hurts for them, and for the idea that this does happen, every day, in this broken, broken world. Tonight my husband is picking up a pizza and meeting MK and I at the park for a picnic to see his girl swing and squeal and eat woodchips. He doesn't want to ask any friends along, just wants to comfort his wife and revel in the good of the world. But, precious Lord forbid, if we ever face such terror in our lives of a family member lost so horrifically or a child fighting so valiantly, I hope we can do as Kate's mom is doing-trust that someday, somehow, HE will heal our hearts.

Please, please pray tonight for the family of Lauren Giddings. Please pray for what I'm sure for them feels impossible, that their hearts will be healed.