Life is but a puzzle we try to put together…

Piece 1: You Are Here

The new year brings a refreshing new start. It’s like a beautiful blank piece of paper with endless possibilities. For our church that new start comes in the form of a ‘restart.’ We discussed the idea of hitting the ‘restart’ button which included a dialogue about figuring out where you are. It was a pretty vivid visual for me. If I am hiking somewhere and wanna find the top of the mountain I first need look at a map. I need to find where I want to go, where I am and THEN I can determine the best route to take. If I have no idea where I am or cannot find that lovely ‘you are here’ pin then how can I possibly navigate myself to where I want to go? Apply this to your faith journey. If you don’t know where you are how can you find the path? So, we all took this survey asking us various questions to help us take a personal inventory on where we are and help locate ourselves if you will. For me it was like a splash of cold water on my face that was much needed. I was sort of stuck but didn’t realize it. I also didn’t really want to face the fact that I wasn’t opening the Bible enough.

Next came excuses. I never read anymore. As a mom of 8 I am on the go from the minute either a child or my alarm goes of until the kids go to bed. And then some. I have tried to read during the day. Forced myself to sit down at 1pm every day and try to read. Yup, that ended with a nap of sorts which isn’t helpful for anyone in my home. I tried reading before bed, same thing. I decided I needed to change the bucket. Rather than find time to read I found the time to be read to. I opened up the YouTube app on my iphone and searched “dramatic reading of the Bible.” So for the past 4-5 weeks I have been listening to the Bible every day. I just put my phone in my pocket and go about my daily chores listening when I can and pausing when things pop up. I cleaned the kitchen while listening to Genesis, folded laundry to listening to Leviticus, and even listen in the car with the kids. I listen when I can a little each day with no pressure to go faster than I can handle. It’s been interesting to be reminded we are all human, we make mistakes and families are messy-even biblical families. I am enjoying this method of ‘opening’ the Bible daily.

Piece 2: A Word and a Dream

As a mom of little ones I don’t usually get a lot of sleep. Even when I do get a nice bout of sleep it’s usually light sleep and I wake easily. I don’t remember dreams often and sometimes wonder if I even have time for dreams with such little sleep. So when I recently woke up with not memory of a dream, it was VERY vivid and even strange. We were in our van with my husband was driving and the kids in the back. We were navigating road and road filled with twists, turns and crazy construction. At one point I recall looking at my husband thinking “Thank goodness he’s driving because I couldn’t do this!” You see at that moment we were driving straight up a ridiculously steep hill that was filled with construction and we couldn’t see the other side of the slope. I was terrified we wouldn’t make it but he floored and up we went.

I woke up at that moment with the word “Logos” as if it was written on my forehead. At first I thought maybe I was just wrong and it was Legos…after all so many of my boys play Legos. I let it sit for a bit and couldn’t kick Logos. I didn’t know what the word meant and just felt I had to look it up. At that moment the day started and I figured I would look it up later. While in the van with my family I was reminded of the dream and told my husband all about it. He smiled and asked me if I wanted to know what “Logos” means. He said, “it’s Greek for the word.”

Putting the Pieces Together

I am not one to always understand my dreams, I certainly don’t understand all of the Bible but I did feel that this was God’s way of telling me to continue to listen to the Bible and trust in the path is has laid out for me. As a type A control freak letting go isn’t my strong suit but somehow He seems to find subtle ways to remind me to keep on keeping on. It’s was certainly a nice feeling to have a couple pieces put together. 🙂

If you are looking for a nice audio version of The Bible I also like The Story which is available in a variety of places but I have enjoyed it on youtube here: https://youtu.be/MBc9CCi9XGU


iTri

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I tri. Yup, I am a triathlete although I really don’t feel like an athlete most days. I sometimes feel as exhausted as an athlete at the end of the day but certainly don’t fancy myself an Athlete with a capital “A.” As I have mentioned before I try to stay active and do races here and there but by no means do I have the body of an athlete. I race with my mom-bod just fine. 😉

12 years ago while living in Colorado I worked with a super amazing woman who competed in Ironman Triathlons and I was inspired by her to give one a try. No not an Ironman! Not even a full olympic length triathlon. My goal was to complete a sprint triathlon so I had to train. I started running (pushing my jogging stroller with my princess) in the mornings. I had to go early enough as to not get hit by all of the morning lawn sprinklers & there were lots of hills but I did it. I biked pulling a trailer but didn’t train much for the swim until later. After moving to Minnesota in June of 2006 I started to train for open water swim in a nearby lake. I felt ready but was still pretty nervous so convinced my husband and brother-in-law to join me and form a team to compete in a sprint tri.  Team Menne successfully completed the North Mankato Triathlon!  I swam, my brother in law biked and my husband ran. I felt really good after my swim….really good..so much so that I decided I could do the whole thing on my own. A couple of weeks later I completed in my first solo triathlon, the Elysian Rookie’s Triathlon. It was a bit different from the other one but I liked it! I was hooked!

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Since my first tri in 2006 I have tried to complete 4-5 tri’s a season and run a few 5k’s in between. Living in Minnesota there are plenty of lakes for swimming and I have been lucky enough to live in an area where there are lots of tri’s to pick from. I have a few a have done each year and then a few I have tried for something different.

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Over the years I have learned a few things and gotten into my own way of racing. Here is the quick and dirty.

  • First and foremost it’s fun for me. As long as it remains fun I will continue to do them.
  • It’s challenging but doable. My only goal is to finish although sometimes I get pretty competitive and push myself to be stronger. I don’t have the time or resources to train like the elites and I’m ok with that.
  • 10 years later I am still a rookie. Yup, a rookie. Just because I have done lots of sprint tri’s doesn’t mean I am good them. I’ve never won 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in my category although I have gotten close a few times. Again, I am totally okay with it. I’m not a serious racer.
  • It’s what you make of it. I have a hybrid type of bike so it’s not a mountain bike but it’s not a road bike…I guess it’s in between. I don’t have bike shoes and I don’t wear a wet suit. I’m pretty old school I guess. 😉 Again, I am ok with not having the awesome equipment. I just leave that to the pros.
  • Pre-race jitters never go away. Some of these races I do each year so I already know what to expect and am familiar with the race route yet still get the jitters. It’s a bit frustrating because I KNOW I have no reason to be nervous but my body has other ideas. It is what it is. :/
  • There are always other rookies and newbies. I really enjoy meeting other racers and love that the sport is so inviting of new people. First timers get so much great advice and support of more experienced racers. (Just don’t touch or knock over their expensive bikes).
  • It’s a family affair. Our kids do kids tri’s and enjoy them. Our oldest just competed with my husband and I as a relay team. It was his first adult race and he did well. My hope is that my racing instills an active lifestyle in our children.
  • Register Early! The cost varies from race to race and gets more expensive as the date gets closer so I have learned to plan out what races I can do and get registered early. It not only ensures you have a spot to race it also keeps the cost down.

Here’s some feedback on some of my favorite races:

North Mankato Tri (North Mankato, MN) 1/4 Mile Swim/2 Mile Bike/3 Mile Run | This is a well run race. The swim is in Hiniker Pond making it less scary for those who are uneasy about an open water swim. It’s a wave start but not too bad. The bike is very challenging with a few big hills but never fear, you get to come back down those hills. The run is nice and flat with plenty of water stops. The swag bag is usually pretty good too. Over the years this race has grown and has attracted more serious competition but still has some rookie participants. Overall a great race and well run.

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Elysian Rookie Tri (Elysian) .4 Mile Swim/8 Mile Bike/4 Mile Run | Who doesn’t love a race with “Rookie” in the name?? This is a lovely short sprint tri. This race is also a wave start but has plenty of space on the beach to spread out. The swim is a bit longer than others but the bike is short with ‘rolling’ hills. The run although longer than the typical 5k is flat on the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail. It’s a very organized local race. I highly recommend this race to anyone who has EVER thought of completing a tri. As a rookie tri they allow life jackets, snorkel or whatever (as long as it does propel you) which makes it less daunting for first timers. Although there are some serious racers who participate in this event it is really fun and full of supportive triathletes.

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River City Days Tri (Chaska, MN) .3 Mile Swim/ 16 Mile Bike/ 3 Mile Run | This is my favorite race but hasn’t happened two years in a row. (They took a year off for construction at the venue and then this year had to cancel due to low registration-big bummer). I love this race because it’s challenging but such an amazing course! The swim is at Fireman’s Park and has a time-trial start. The line may seem long with that type of start but gosh the rest of the race route is far more enjoyable with everyone more spread out. The bike is challenging being a longer one with some hills but it’s a beautiful route through the countryside. Be warned the bike route does go over train tracks! There is always a pile of water bottles in that area and I myself lost my speedometer on those darn things. Anyway, the run starts uphill but you get to run back down that hill flying right to the finish line. They have great music, and emcee AND you get breakfast after the race! Ahh-mazing!! This race entices many hard-core triathletes and has filled up fast.

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Lakefront Days Tri (Prior Lake, MN) 1/4 Mile Swim/ 14 Mile Bike/ 3.3 Mile Run | This race is ultra organized with tons of volunteers to ensure it goes smoothly. It’s not super easy to get in and out because it’s a Clearly Lake Regional Park but it is a nice venue for the event. They have an emcee, great music, delicious post race meal and race professionals on hand to assist with any bike issues you might have. The race begins with time-trial start and has a great swim course. The bike is out on an open course so pay attention to traffic. The run is mostly on the parks paved trail and ends with a nice open area for the crowd to cheer you through to the finish line. The volunteers make sure you get enough water at the stops and every finisher receives a medal. The race was cancelled last year and I hope it starts up again next year.

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Lake Waconia Tri (Waconia, MN) 1/2 Mile Swim/20 Mile Bike /4 Mile Run | This is a very challenging race because the 1/2 mille swim can be a bit much on a windy day. A number of swimmers need to be rescued. The bike seems long but is a beautiful route around the lake. The run is out and back on city streets with lots of people cheering you on. This is a big race with LOTS of competitive racers but still fun.

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Green Lake Tri (Spicer, MN) Sprint Course: 1/4 mile swim /13.4 mile bike/3 mile run
Olympic Course: 3/4 mile swim/21.3 mile bike/6 mile run | This race is filled with competitive racers and offers both a sprint course and an olympic length course. It’s a very fun event and the route is beautiful! Green Lake is a larger lake so the swim can be a bit scary especially when there are whitecaps. The bike route goes around the lake and the run is on a nice wide road for plenty of space for runners. This is a big race and so much fun. They do a great job of making this race a weekend full of fun. It’s worth making it a full trip staying the whole weekend in Spicer.

If completing a tri is something you have always wanted to do I encourage you to try one. You can do it! It’s not about wining, it’s about crossing the finish line. I have done them pregnant, post baby and everything in between. It CAN be done. Be active and have fun!

With God all things are Possible. ~Matthew 19:26

I’m Not Superwoman

The human body is amazing. We ask so much of our bodies forcing it to do so many things…even when our minds tell us we have reached our limits we manage to push beyond that point. Personally I have asked my body to do plenty. I have asked it to be athletic in high school & college for cheer team. Hours of tumbling, stunting, dancing, lifting weights, running, etc. I have asked it to be a flexible and strong not once, not twice, but SEVEN times to carry and deliver my babies. Months of crazy changes inside & out gaining and loosing roughly 70lbs each time. I have asked it to be active for the past 10 years doing sprint triathlons & runs. Swimming, biking, running sometimes pregnant, sometimes not and sometimes so post baby I had to hurry to the finish line to nurse my baby. I have asked it to feed my babies on and off for the past 13 years. Months and months of refueling to produce milk & feed my babies.

Body Changes with Baby #5

Body Changes with Baby #5

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5 Months Post Baby #5

None of this makes me a superhero. It doesn’t even make me supermom. It makes me human.

I have asked it to do so much and always bounces back. How? I move. I’m active with my kids. Being a mom of so many kids I just don’t have time for the gym. I run when I can. I am active with the kids. I push a double stroller up a hill once or twice a day. I pull a bike trailer with kids in it….No magic pill. No special drink. No special diet. No specific program. No gym membership. I just make the effort to be as active as I can.

Body Changes with Baby #6

Body Changes with Baby #6

After baby #2 I started running and competing in sprint tri’s. Since then I have done about 4-5 sprint tri’s each summer and a few 5k races each year. People ask me how I train for these races and I am somewhat embarrassed to admit my response each time is, “I don’t.” It’s the truth. I don’t really train.  I add, “I have kids so I am pretty busy chasing them around. I stay as active as I can.” Honestly, I just do the races with the goal of finishing and of course have fun. It’s not always easy but it can be done. With God, all things are possible. I believe so deeply in this that I completed my first 1/2 marathon while 27 weeks pregnant with baby #7. It was hard. SO hard! I ran when I could and walked when I couldn’t run. The last 2 miles were the most challenging miles I have ever walked in my life. It was all worth it (It was for Team WorldVision). My wonderful hubby was with me every step of the way (ok, so not every step…he took a few of bathroom stops :0). Needless to say I was a sobbing mess of hormones at the finish line so happy to have finished.

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Half-Marathon with Baby #7

By body will never again look like it did in my early 20’s and I am okay with that. I have earned plenty of stripes (stretch marks) and have cellulite but feel very thankful my body has been able to carry my babes.

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Amazing Belly Tricks with Baby #6

I am currently beyond the 5 month mark with Baby #7 and am not yet back to my pre-baby weight but I am not worried as I am still nursing. I’ll get there.

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Pre Baby #7 & 22 Weeks along with Baby #7

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39 Weeks and 2 days with Baby #7 & 4 Weeks Post-Baby #7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Body Changes with Baby #5

I’m no poster-child for athletes and am certainly no fitness guru. I’m still a rookie when it comes to ALL races. I am just a mom who stays active. I pray my being active helps to teach my children to be active as well.

For any of you out there who struggle to be active and stay active, keep at it! Just get up and move. Walk, jog, run, roll. Whatever you like to do. If you don’t like it you won’t do it so pick something you enjoy. If you like to walk, then walk! If you like to bike, bike. If  rollarblading is more your style then do that. Just get out there and be active.

For with God nothing shall be impossible.-Luke 1:37

 

 

The Writings on the Wall

scripture on mirrorBackground: A few years ago my husband and I committed to re-aligning our family to be more spiritually centered. One day we woke up realizing our family priories were out of whack. We were eating on the run (not at the dinner table as a family), we were shuffling back and forth from home to hockey rink (not bible study), we were driving to church separately because one of us had to leave early to get someone to practice (not enjoying fellowship with church friends). We committed to focusing our eyes on the Lord and teaching our children by doing what we would want of and for them. (By the way, not having the kids in Hockey was harder on us than it was on the kids. We missed seeing them on the ice but they loved having their ‘time’ back to play and just be kids).

We have really focused on reading the bible with our kids and to our little ones, daily devotionals for all the kids (even the little ones), talking about what they learn in Sunday school & youth group, participating in church events and following up with family activities from sunday school. We are far more selective on how we spend our time now and guard our family time as it is very precious to us.

The Writings On The Wall

About 5 months ago I listened to a sermon on Deutronomy. Afterwards this particular piece of scripture was weighing heavily on my heart.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

I really felt called to diligently teach my children the commandments of the Lord. I couldn’t kick the feeling of not screwing this up. How in the world can I follow through with what this scripture is calling us to do?? So I prayed on it and eventually found some clarity. My husband had placed decorative scripture on our walls to help remind us of who we live our lives for and why we do what we do but I still felt called to do more. The kids were given scripture verses to memorize each week and would bring them home printed out on paper to hang up at home why not write them on the walls? So I did. Ok so I didn’t write all over all walls. I used something that we all look at multiple times a day…the mirror!

Each week when the kids received a new scripture for memorization I would write it on the mirror in their bathroom & the mudroom bathroom. I also would select other scripture for a mirror in our entryway and the one in our master bath. These were to help my husband and I as well. It has gone well and the kids have responded well to it. I like that it gives me more time on my devotionals and those that I do with the little ones as well. It’s also nice to provide prompts for discussions on some of them as a family when the kids have questions.

It’s not too much work on my part and it has been pretty successful at the Menne home. You can even find inexpensive dry erase markers at the dollar store. 🙂

If you have any ideas from your families please share! I am certainly not an expert and appreciate other ideas.

 

Reflections of life…

Being a Mom of many when I go places I do head count, after head count, after head count. Trying to keep my ducks in a row isn’t always easy but I love it. So when we get in the truck to go anywhere I typically do a roll call but it’s really turned into more of a fun thing for the kids. You see our 4 year old can’t just say ‘Here!’ or ‘What?’ like the others. When his names is called instead he has to let us know that his little brother is here, “Peter is here!!” Reflections

One lovely day while we were heading out to grocery shop I did my normal count and roll and briefly looked in the mirror one more time. As I glanced back I saw their beautiful smiling faces. For a moment, all happy and smiling. I immediately thanked God for each of those blessings he has entrusted me with.

I couldn’t get over the reflection in the mirror. It seemed like yesterday I was glancing in the mirror to check my lipstick or make sure my hair was ok. Just one face, me. When I glance in the mirror now I still see part of me but I see so much more. Seeing part of my face yet all of their faces. It’s still me, just a different me. I see me in each of my children and I see me with them.

I feel so blessed even if they aren’t always happy and smiling. I like reflection I now see. It’s bigger than just me.

Courage, Faith & Public Education


My days can be a blur with all that do. Someone recently asked me why I am always in a hurry and frankly they were right-I am. Well something happened yesterday that made me stop and think. I was something I had never seen before and was absolutely amazing.

While walking through the cafeteria of a traditional public school I saw what I usually see. Lots of children busy moving around getting their lunches and finding a spot to sit. Usually all looking around at what everyone is doing and chatting up a storm as they quickly eat. The tables were really filling up and the noise level was steadily increasing.

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As I turned to exit the cafeteria I notice a boy (maybe 4th or 5th grade) bow his head and fold his hands in his lap. I stopped and watched. He was surrounded by other boys busily eating and talking, opening their milks, and going about

their usual lunch business. None of their actions affected him. His lips were moving and his eyes were closed. As I watched I did my best to read his lips and then I was certain he was praying. WOW, just wow!

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the public school cafeteria filled with students and staff this boy stopped to pray before breaking bread. I was so unbelievably amazed, impressed and moved. As I walked away the tears welled up in my eyes and my heart sang. There are seeds of faith growing inside the doors of public education. What a courageous boy.

I pondered this event the rest of day. We could all stand to learn from this boy. I imagine his parents have taught him well for him to carry out his faith despite his surroundings. Would we as adults have the courage to do what he did?

Many times we are working hard to share our faith by talking with others, inviting them to attend church with us or come to special events. We may be over thinking it…This boy made me think that is may be more of what people see us do than what we say. Sometimes we say a lot without saying anything at all.