Thursday, January 28, 2016

Quiet Moments | Five-Minute Friday


Our Five-Minute Friday Word: "Quiet".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!
______________________

Quiet is beautiful and yet so hard to come by.

The kids are in bed and I sit here in the quiet, feeling a bit unsure of what to do with myself. Sleep would be my best bet as the 10 o'clock hour nears.

The Lord uses quiet to recharge the soul. In this wild and busy world, He is our one true Source of refreshment.

He sneaks those precious quiet moments into my day when I least expect it.

Snow crunching under my running shoes.
Pulling the kids on the sled on a sunny winter day.
Making memories unplugged from technology.
Curling up on the couch on a January night.

My soul is refreshed.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
PSALM 23:1-3
______________________

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse and quote added after the timer***



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review: "Whatever Is Lovely" Coloring Book


We live in a busy and hectic world with a million messages and images whirling through our minds every second. How can we find peace amongst the noise?

Social media and technology are great tools but they can add to the noise. In our technology-savvy culture, we are presented with a unique challenge: to escape the world's hamster wheel of busyness, quiet our minds and find peace we must be disciplined and intentional. We must take the time to listen to God's voice.
"Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world." PSALM 64:10 NLT
Whatever is Lovely is truly a resource to "color your way to peace", as the book's introduction says. While the book's author is clear that this is not to replace the time you spend reading God's Word, Whatever is Lovely is a supplement that presents Scriptures and encouraging quotes for meditation, reflection, and a time of openness to whatever God wants to reveal to you.


We do a lot of coloring in our house and coloring the Scriptures has been a great opportunity to bond with my toddler. He loves to color with mommy's "fancy" colored pencils and he has even memorized some of the Scriptures! Our coloring time is the perfect quiet activity for us.

Coloring calms the soul of kids and adults alike — except for in the case of my littlest, who would rather eat the colored pencils.

A photo posted by Amy W (@creativeaim87) on

Whatever is Lovely includes a Spotify playlist to accompany your time of worship and reflection. I'm actually listening to it while I write this post!


Worship is what this book is all about. Whatever is Lovely is a beautiful collection of Scriptures, quotes and artwork focused on holy meditation, creativity, and quiet time with God, the Greatest Artist and our Creator!

I would recommend this coloring book over and over again — may God be glorified in all of your creativity. I plan to continue coloring until every page is complete and possibly frame some to hang on the wall!

To purchase or to learn more about the Whatever is Lovely coloring book, visit the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own.

What is one creative way you worship the Lord?

Linking up with Mommy Moments.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Training Week 3: SLS3 Run Belt Review + GIVEAWAY

Disclaimer: I received this run belt for giveaway and review purposes. All opinions are my 100% own.

Another week of Fargo Marathon training is in the books and this week I had the privilege of testing the SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt!

Prior to this belt, I have stored my energy gels in my sports bra during long runs. Awkward, I know, but most of my shorts don't have pockets. My previous way of storage wasn't very comfortable, things get sweaty and, like I said, it was awkward at times.

Then came the SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt! I tested the belt on a few runs this week and I was blown away by this belt.

When running outside, I carried my husband's huge "smartphone" and an energy gel in the run belt. I carry a phone with me "just in case" when running in the winter or in the dark. When I carry the phone in my coat pocket, it annoyingly bounces around with each stride but it in the belt it didn't budge!


My Favorite Features of the SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt:

  • Comfortable fit and easily adjustable waist band.
  • Light-weight, doesn't feel bulky even when carrying items.
  • Stayed in place during my entire long run.
  • No bounce while running with a phone and energy gel in the belt.
  • Reflective front-side for running on dark early mornings.
  • The pockets are water-proof (and sweat-proof) 

I hit the treadmill for a 6-mile tempo interval run to test the SLS3 Run Belt in my "normal" (or non-winter-layered) running clothes — because you couldn't pay me to run outside in a tank and shorts right now!

The run belt did ride up during this run which was likely due to my shirt's more slippery material. Tightening the belt did help to prevent riding up.


So how much can the pockets hold? 

LOTS! Say your going on a super long trail run... I loaded up the run belt to its max capacity with six energy gels, a honkin' phone and my car keys just to see how much would fit.

The dual pockets expand to hold more gels than I could ever use on a long run! When not in use, the pockets collapse down to lay flat against your body.


My Final Thoughts

This is an awesome and practical running accessory to invest in! Carrying energy gels along for my upcoming long runs will be so much more comfortable with the SLS3 run belt.

Enter to win your own belt in the giveaway below and check out the SLS3 Dual Pocket Running Belt on Amazon at a limited-time introductory price of $12.90 (retail price is $29.90)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
.....

Fargo Marathon Training Week 3:


01/18 Monday - Easy: (Treadmill) 6 mi, 00:52 @ 08:37 avg pace

01/19 Tuesday - Hill Intervals: (Treadmill) 3.65 mi, 00:30 @ 08:13 avg pace
.
01/20 Wednesday - Easy: 6.15 mi, 00:57 @ 09:12 avg pace. I finally ran outside today with our pup! The fresh air and frozen fog felt wonderful and the SLS3 Run Belt was perfect for carrying my phone and house keys. They didn't bounce around at all!

01/21 Thursday - Strength training in the kitchen while cooking supper. The little ones and I get creative to fit the strength training in!

01/22 Friday - Tempo Run: (Treadmill) 6 mi, 00:49 @ 08:05 avg pace. Base pace run with 6 x 2:00 min intervals @ 6:32/mile pace. Leo has most Friday's off during the winter months so we all watched Mater's Tall Tales on Netflix while I ran :)

01/23 Saturday - Long Run: 11.2 mi, 01:36 @ 08:35 avg pace. Windy run but it felt good to get outside. Lots of snow drifts and loose snow to run through. My quads were done for by the end of the run! The dog joined me for the last 3 miles.

01/24 Sunday - Off.

Total Mileage: 33 miles

What is your favorite running accessory?

Linking up with Fitness Health & Happiness and the Wednesday Giveaway Round-up.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Strength for the Present | Five-Minute Friday

Good morning! Our word for today's Five-Minute Friday is "Present".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!


00:00 START the timer!
______________________

Years ago, Gram still lived in her own house. Waving goodbye as I backed out of her driveway and into the alley, tears started to form. I didn't know what I would do when Gram left us.

I didn't know a day of life without her. She was like another "Mom" to me and I truly thought I couldn't make it without her.

I was sure that when she died I wouldn't be able to make it.

Fast forward to the present. 

Gram went to be with Jesus on Monday morning. We all knew the day was coming yet to finally hear that she passed hit me. Gram's house that I remember so well only exists in my mind and now she's gone, too.

She is enjoying her time in a finally healthy body in heaven and I feel an unexplainable peace instead of heartbreak.

God has strengthened me to feel such peace in the present — such joy as I remember my last visit with Gram and the precious memories we have together. I smile as I think of her in Heaven and certain memories bring on the tears again.

She has shifted my perspective from the grief of the present time on earth to the joy of heaven and our eternal hope.
Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. PHILIPPIANS 4:7 NLT
Our mighty and sovereign Lord gives us the strength we need at exactly the time we need it — not a day too early or too late. I will leave you with my favorite quote from Casper and Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place.
“Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. "Corrie," he began gently, "when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?"

I sniffed a few times, considering this.
"Why, just before we get on the train."

"Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-just in time.”

― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place
______________________

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse and quote added after the timer***

Grandma Grace went home to be with the Lord on January 18, 2016 and I know without a doubt that her time here on this earth was well spent. She has been and will always be an encouragement in my life and a true example of a gentle spirit, sprinkled with a little sass.




Monday, January 18, 2016

Training Week 2: It's a Great Week


Happy Monday! I am deciding that this is going to be a GREAT week though it was off to a shaky start.

My Great Grandma passed away this morning at the age of 96. Talk about endurance! She was the toughest person I have ever met and I miss her greatly.

Her and I were very close and, though it's hard to see her go, I am thankful she is no longer in pain and she can fully see and hear again. Now she's in heaven spending her days with Jesus. It doesn't get any better than that, folks!
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. REVELATION 21:4
She was a supporter of my running and had her own witty way of encouraging me:
Gram: "How far did you go today?"
Me: "20 miles, Grandma."
Gram: "That's it?"
And her advice for running the Boston Marathon:
Gram: "You run fast now. I will be behind you poking you with a pin!"
I can just hear her saying that now and it makes me smile. I loved her sassy sense of humor!

In other news, the baby crawled for the first time today. He is a mischievous little one that keeps me running whenever he is awake! Him and his big brother get into everything.

We have been in a cold streak here and I ended up running on the treadmill for 4 out of the 5 runs. I can't complain! The treadmill was quite enjoyable, especially for speed-work and the tempo intervals. Our streets are so icy that it would be insane to try that outside.

Here's my little crawler and a breakdown of Fargo Marathon Training Week 2:

A photo posted by Amy W (@creativeaim87) on

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Fargo Marathon Training Week 2:


01/11 Monday - Easy: (Treadmill) 6 mi, 00:51 @ 08:34 avg pace. I haven't been feeling well over the last couple days and decided to pass on a -16°F morning run.

01/12 Tuesday - Hill Intervals: (Treadmill) 3.57 mi, 00:30 @ 08:24 avg pace. 6 x 90 second intervals @ 6% grade, 6:47/mile (2.5 minute recovery jog in between). 5 x 1:00 planks. Feeling exhausted with a gunky cough still. The kids have whatever this is, too. The upside is that the run helped to cough up the nasty stuff!
.
01/13 Wednesday - Strength Training.

01/14 Thursday - Easy: 6.53 mi, 01:00 @ 09:11 avg pace. Quiet morning run in the snow with our pup. The 10°F weather felt GREAT compared to our sub-zeros lately!

01/15 Friday - Tempo Run: (Treadmill) 4 mi, 00:32 @ 08:03 avg pace. 6 x 90 second intervals @ 6:47/mile pace.

01/16 Saturday - Long Run: (Treadmill) 10 mi, 01:23 @ 08:18 avg pace. Ran long on the treadmill today and actually enjoyed it! Our treadmill handled the distance really well (usually don't run long indoors) and it felt great to not run on our icy streets. Ran @ 8:34/mile average with 5 x 5 minute intervals @ 8:00.

01/10 Sunday - Off.

Total Mileage: 30.1

What is one great part of your Monday?

Linking up with Mommy Moments and Fitness Health & Happiness.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Life Well Spent | Five-Minute Friday

Hey there, Five-Minute Friday fans! Our word for this Friday is "Time".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!


00:00 START the timer!
______________________

"You only live once." That's the motto of my generation, a.k.a. the YOLO's or the Millenials.

There is some truth to that statement. Our time is limited. It's something we spend but can't ever buy back. Once it's gone, it's gone. How we spend our time reveals what is truly important to us. It makes up our life.

Am I spending it on what really counts?

Since we only get one shot at this, is what I'm doing eternally valuable?

Is my life well spent?

When I head back to my hometown, I stop by the nursing home to visit my Great Grandma. She's 96 years old and as sharp as a whistle. I love seeing her but it is hard to see her at the home and so helpless.

The days for her are monotonous and long. Time seems to have frozen in the nursing home. Back in her 20's, I wonder if she ever thought about living to be 96.

Did she ever dream of having so many grandchildren and great grandchildren? Or even meeting her great GREAT grandchildren?


The slowed time at the nursing home leaves much time for reflection. I wonder if she constantly runs through the thoughts of "what if" or "wish I would have...".

It is far to easy to live like I will be a 20- or 30-something forever. This is only the beginning. The times with my Great Grandma remind me that there is so much more to life.

This life is but a breath and each day is nearer and nearer to my death — and an eternity spent with Jesus.

When my life is over and I meet the Lord face to face, will He tell me my life was well spent?
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. EPHESIANS 5:15-17
______________________

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse added after the timer***

Grandma Grace went home to be with the Lord on January 18, 2016 and I know without a doubt that her time here on this earth was well spent. She has been and will always be an encouragement in my life and a true example of a gentle spirit, sprinkled with a little sass.




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Faro Roasting House K-Cup Coffee Review


What is the best part of your morning routine?

My morning routine varies — mainly because there are little ones in our house and I sometimes head out for an early run — but two things I can count on are reading my Bible and a cup of coffee.

As a coffee-lover, I was so excited to have the opportunity to review Faro's Bold Colombian and Italian Blend K-Cups.


The Faro Roasting House is a small coffee company that offers single-origin and direct trade coffees. They have distinctive flavors of their own creation as well as industry classics. Their coffee is roasted in small batches to ensure freshness and best taste and aroma!


Since I have to pick a favorite, my vote goes to the Bold Colombian! The dark roast's strong, sweet yet slightly bitter flavor won me over.

The Italian Blend has a rich flavor and I thought it wasn't too bad, for a medium roast, that is. Sorry, Italian Blend, I am heavily biased towards dark roast coffee :)

As of today (01/13/16), the Bold Colombian and Italian Blend 24-pack K-Cups are on sale for $15.99!

Find more Faro Roasting House and many more coffee products on Javafly.com.

Have you tried any coffee products from Javafly.com?
What is your favorite part of the morning?

I was sent this product to review through my affiliation with the Association of Food Bloggers. All opinions are my own.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Training Week 1: Six Reasons to Train Through the Winter


I'm all cozied up in my warm bed, everyone is fast asleep and...

[Insert random non-smartphone alarm here]
The phone alarm goes off. 5:30 AM, already?!

I turn the alarm off as fast as possible and sneak out of the bedroom. Quickly, I throw on a few layers of running clothes and jump out the door before the kids sense that mommy is trying to make a break for it. (I swear they have a special alarm that goes off)

I do sometimes wonder "why". Why on earth am I leaving the warm house to exercise in the freezing cold? Logically, that makes zero sense.

After a few minutes of running, I remember why I do this. On a clear morning run, the stars and the moon shine so bright. I love the quiet, the crunch of the snow and I even love those cold mornings - only when the temp is at least above zero and the wind is light!

I do most of my writing in my head while running and this list was assembled on a particularly freezing cold run late Saturday morning.

There are many reasons to train through the winter. Here are just a few to motivate you through the chillier months:

6 Reasons to Train Through the Winter


1. Take in the Fresh Air.

Fight the cabin fever with a dose of fresh air and sunshine (if you're lucky)! Staying at home with little ones means the boys and I are stuck inside when the weather is below 30°F-ish or it's too windy. I love taking the kids out but sometimes the winter weather just doesn't cooperate.

Training for a spring marathon gives me that extra motivation to get out the door, even though a warm house is much more comfy. I never regret waking up early for a run! I try to do my long run during the daylight hours on the weekend to get a little sunshine, too.

2. Get The "Glow".

Whether you are running outside in the dark early morning hour or later in the day, your neon reflective gear or wind-chapped face is very likely to "glow".

Buy a super-stylish reflective vest from Walmart and you will be the envy of the town... like me! (note heavy sarcasm) And, who knows, maybe your wind-chapped face will be mistaken for a nice sun tan.


3. Break Up The Winter Months.

Winter gets looooooong around here! November through April qualify as "winter" to me.  Training over the winter makes the freezing weeks fly by and it also helps to burn those extra holiday calories.

4. Justify Your Ridiculous Amount of Running Clothes.

Summer running is so simple. You just need the basics - shorts, top, socks and shoes. Running in the winter here means layers upon layers upon layers. When I head out for a winter run, I grab whatever clothes are in reach and layer it up.

Running tights, more tights, winter coat, shirt, another shirt, maybe one more shirt, stocking cap, neck warmer, gloves, tall socks, reflective vest - all fashion sense goes out the window!

5. Appreciate The Treadmill.

There are some days when it would be downright miserable to run outside. Those are the days I hop on the treadmill and feel thankful I have access to one! Running outside in the extreme cold can be dangerous and it sure hurts my lungs after.


6. Every Town Needs a Crazy Runner.

Doesn't every town have at least one? I know my hometown did growing up (and it actually wasn't me!). Don't be afraid to be that "weirdo" out running in the frozen tundra wearing all sorts of random clothes to keep your behind from freezing.

If you happen to be the town's crazy runner, just keep on running. There is something wonderful about long-distance running and you just might inspire someone else to head out for a run, too.

All that being said, here's to completing my first week of training for Fargo!
.....


Fargo Marathon Training Week 1:


01/04 M - Easy: 5.52 mi 00:51 @ 09:14 avg pace. Cool, windy and icy run outside with the dog.

01/05 T - Hill Intervals: (Treadmill) 3.65 mi 00:30 08:13 pace. 6 x 75 sec. intervals @ 8% grade, 6:49 pace. Finished with 10 minutes at 8:34. 5 x 1:00 planks.
.
01/06 W - Strength Training.

01/07 H - Easy: 6.1 mi, 00:56 @ 09:13 avg pace. Beautiful morning in the 20°F's with little wind, icy.

01/08 F - Tempo Run: (Treadmill) 4 mi, 00:32 @ 07:52 avg pace. 6 x 75 second intervals @ 6:31.

01/09 Sa - Easy: My "Frozen 5k". 3.14 mi 00:27 08:38 pace. -5F actual temp, -15F windchill. That run felt ridiculously cold! My hat and face mask frosted over the minute I left my parents' driveway. Cut the run short and I'm glad I did!


***Ran double long runs last week, 8-miler and 10-miler, due to time constraints this weekend.

01/10 Su - Off.

Total Mileage: 22.41 miles

Do you train through the winter?
What is your favorite winter activity?

Linking up with the Fitness Health & Happiness link-up.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Perks of Being First | Five-Minute Friday

I hope your 2016 is off to a wonderful start!

We are getting back into the normal routine after all of the Christmas and New Year festivities. The time with family and friends was wonderful but a little part of me is happy to return to a semi-normal routine again.

That means we're also back to the regular Five-Minute Friday this week and our word is "First".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!


00:00 START the timer!
______________________

There are definitely perks to being the first.

That's what I was thinking as I split up a toddler vs. baby "wrestling match" for the millionth time today. I am a firstborn and, whew, I had no idea how good I had it growing up!

Our second is such a tough guy. He spends his days navigating life with a whirling, twirling toddler tornado. There is nothing gentle about that older brother.

Those firstborns sure have it good. No siblings to sit on you or to steal your toys, no one to share attention with...

Our toddler's world turned upside down when his little brother was born and this whole sharing business – I'm sure he would rather do without that.

But I can see deep down under his wild toddler exterior that he really loves that little brother.  They are two peas in a pod, always together and I hope they grow up to be best friends (if they could just get along for a few minutes... at least!).

The sibling squabbles, repetitive lessons in toy sharing and occasional moments of affection are good for our little guys. But I still think there are are perks to being the first!
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity. PROVERBS 17:17
______________________

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse added after the timer***



Monday, January 4, 2016

Book Review: Things I've Said to My Children

Since becoming a parent almost 3 years ago, the most surprising things have come out of my mouth. I'm not talking inappropriate things, but just... well... surprising. A few recent examples include:

"You need to at least wear underwear if you want to sit at the table."
"Quit riding the baby!"
"No, you can't eat a candle."
"No, you can't sleep with your hockey skates. How about the stick instead?"
"The lightsaber is NOT coming into the grocery store."

There is never a dull moment in a house with little ones (especially the ones called "toddlers")!

Nathan Ripperger's book, "Things I've Said To My Children", hit the nail on the head when it comes to random and hilarious parent-and-child conversations. He wrote and designed each page of this book from his own experience as a father of five boys who are all under the age of 10.


One of my favorites from Ripperger's book is "No lightsabers at the dinner table!". Our neighbors recently borrowed us their toy lightsaber (which the toddler is temporarily banned from now) and this particular graphic made me laugh out loud:


Ripperger, who is a videographer and graphic designer, created unique graphics for each all-too-familiar saying from "He's your brother, not a pull toy." to "Why is there a toilet seat on my coffee table?".


I thoroughly enjoyed Things I've Said to My Children and highly recommend it for parents and non-parents alike. It is full of laughs for everyone - even the kids enjoyed paging through the colorful graphics together!


Visit the Penguin Random House to learn more about the book and author or to buy your own copy. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own.

What is the craziest thing your kids (or kids you know) have said?

Linking up with Mommy Moments.