Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just-in-Time Blessings

There has been a string of events over the past couple of weeks, in which just what I needed came along at just the right time.

First was Rose's bicycle. She's been riding on a low-budget little garage sale bike, with training wheels. I think she was physically ready to ditch the training wheels quite a while ago, but she couldn't find the confidence just yet. However, she's grown so much that the little bike with training wheels is getting almost un-ride-able.

So the other week she was out riding the too-small bike up and down our street, and I'm thinking, "We really need to get her a new bike. Maybe in the spring." And then one of Rose's playdate neighbors (3 years older) and her dad come biking down the street. Playdate neighbor is proudly riding a big bike, just that day handed down from her older sister. Dad says, "Yeah, her little bike was really getting much too small." And I say, "Do you have plans for the little bike? Could I perhaps buy it for Rose?"

He accepted a pittance, but the new bike is much sturdier and upscale than anything we'd have sought out. Plus, it doesn't have training wheels, nor do the ones from the little bike fit it. Rose is delighted with her new toy, and will have great incentive to learn to ride it in the spring.

Fast-forward about a week... I'm backing the car rather carelessly out of the garage, with two girls distracting me in the back seat, and don't notice that I've mis-parked Joy's stroller so that it's sticking just a little bit out from its place.

Crunch. The poor stroller was held together with picture wire anyway, and I'd been mulling the thought of a replacement, but wasn't quite planning to stampede myself into it quite like this.

The next day I'm walking Rose to school, with Joy sitting solo in our old heavy double stroller, which was the only option left in the garage. And on that very walk, the same playdate neighbor girl catches up with us and says she & her dad were going through their storage shed, and since we took the little bike off their hands, would we maybe want to take a jogging stroller off their hands as well? I kid you not! Again, an item in good condition which, when new, was way pricier than we'd have considered shelling out for. So not only does Rose have snazzy new wheels, so does Joy.

The next couple of just-in-time moments were more idea-based than object based.

So Jess over at diary of a mom posts this cool entry about how she's been challenged to train for a half-marathon, and further challenges all her readers to join her. I can't imagine it. I'm too over-committed, and to work up to running that far just involves chunks of time that are beyond what I can do. I'll be cheering for her though... and a seed had been planted.

And then I read an article in Time magazine about the results of a long-term study at Stanford that started following 538 middle-aged runners vs. a control group of non-runners back in the 1980s. There were half as many deaths among the runners as the non-runners, and the onset of disability was 12 to 16 years later for the runners. No difference between rates of osteoarthritis and knee replacements. And, the article advised, "the best way to start an exercise regimen is to come up with a goal, such as losing 10 lb., running a half marathon..." Whoa.

And THEN my wild-woman fire-eating sister-in-law, Auntie Run-at-the-Mouth, posts a just-in-time link over at her running blog. It's a program called the Couch to 5K plan, where you do three walking/running workouts per week, under 30 minutes each, increasing intensity gradually until you're running 5K. Now, I hadn't run in something like 6 years, though I'm in reasonably fair shape thanks to my bike commute. But the bike commute will be ending soon for the season (will post more on that later), and we've got a perfectly good treadmill, on which I ran the first of the training sessions Tuesday. It felt just right.

PLUS -- when the weather is nice enough -- I've got a jogging stroller!!!

I'm going to set a 5K goal for now. But who knows?

On top of all that -- I've got yet another just-in-time blessing to report.

This one relates to my previous post about wanting my home to be a favorite place for Joy's therapists to work, and how a certain standard of housekeeping might relate to that.

Well, the very next Sunday our adult Sunday school class spoke to me on that issue.

Our church has been involved for a number of years in the work of Interfaith Hospitality Network, a program in which congregations take turns opening their church building to host homeless families for a stretch of nights, in a climate of overflowing "traditional" homeless shelters. Our church took an extra step over the past two years, helping mentor one specific family and raise money to rent an apartment for them, with the intent of providing a more permanent path out of homelessness. Things are now more stable for the family, and they've gotten Section 8 housing and the dad has a full-time job, and our church's intensive involvement with them has wound down. The mentors from our church did a presentation looking back on their experiences.

There were three mentors, one for each family member (mom, dad, son). Of the many things the son's mentor had to say, two things were paramount.

First, I learned that the son was on the autism spectrum. Whoof.

Second, the mentor spoke about the challenges of how homelessness can perpetuate itself. Kids who spend a significant portion of their growing up homeless, may tend to internalize it as just the way things are. There are also things related to having a home which, if you don't see your parents handling them, you won't learn them yourself.

Like housecleaning.

One of the goals that the mentors for all three family members worked with was teaching how to keep a home in decent shape. Basics such as how to hold and use a broom...

I think, in my favorite place post, I may have been somewhat too glib about the challenges that so many families face, focusing instead on the challenge the therapists encounter. Perhaps instead of the hint of competition that crept into my musings, I might think instead of providing a place where therapists can draw strength to carry onward to the homes where various challenges keep working conditions from being ideal. Those kids need the therapists at full strength, at least as much as Joy does...

Important food for thought, at just the right time for me.

I am reminded of how God gave the Israelites manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16), enough for each day, for forty long years.

Just what was needed, just in time.


Niksmom said...

Wow, certaily seems as if there is a greater power at work!

Anonymous said...

this is so beautiful . so perfect .. it really amazes me how everything ties together. when we need it, when we're ready to receive it, when we're ready to learn from it and share it, it's THERE. sometimes we just have to remember to look.

Thank you for the reminder.

And the 5k sounds great - and like a MUCH better idea than my ludicrously ambitious (reckless?) half marathon.

Casdok said...

Its funny how things just fall into place!
Good luck with your 5k goal!

Anonymous said...

looks like the handwriting is on the wall about running, eh? i recently got back into things myself, and although i'm sore, it feels great.

Anonymous said...

Inspiring and intelligent, JM. Thank you.

Like niksmom, I believe nothing happens by chance.

Exercise is the best studied and most effective for quality life and health. May you reap every possible benefit.

And having learned from the best, I cannot resist teasing. Today you reveal another trait demonstrating your fit with the in-laws. Specifically A-R-a-t-M. You could be tagged Auntie Run-at-the-Ringertips!

Anonymous said...

You're doing a 5K! How awesome. Have you picked out a race yet? There's nothing like signing up for a race and paying the fee to help give you a concrete goal to shoot for. Plus, once you run it you can wear the t-shirt!

Running is great for stress. As weight-bearing exercise, it builds bone mass. It's good for cognitive function. I could go on...

For me, though, the best part about running is that it gives me the time to think about things. Yay, running!

I am, BTW, completely adopting Barbara's usage of ARatM. It's not euphonious, but it's much more handy.