2.17.2017

My Laila is the sweetest ever. Hands down. She's sweet even when it comes to sports - and I can't have that, lol! I've been trying to get Lai to see that on the field/court it's ok for her to get aggressive! This year, something clicked - not all the way, but the beast is waking up. As you can see, Laila is almost my height - she's in the fourth grade. On the basketball court, no one can guard her! All she needs to do is keep the ball up, pivot and get buckets all day. That sounds easy, but the coordination of it all can be a lot, lol. All good. She's getting there. More importantly, she wants to get there - so she'll get there.

2.15.2017

My father in law bought me the Smart Rope and my heart was so happy because I really wanted one. I jump in the winter as an alternative to running and it keeps my endurance on point for when the weather is right and I can get back on the road. I'm truly late with this post but...here it is!

When I first used the rope, it felt heavy. That makes sense because of the technology in the rope. It wasn't an issue, though - after telling myself that my arms can use the added bonus of more weight and after jumping for a few minutes, the rope felt normal.

Try not to hit yourself with the rope because it will hurt! Ouch! 

I thought I'd jump too fast to see the numbers, but that didn't happen. Sometimes the numbers were up high, sometimes they were down low, but I could see them no matter how fast I spun the rope. 

The first time I jumped, I set a timer for 30 minutes. When my timer went off, the Smart Gym app said that I had jumped for only 15 minutes! Huh? After investigating, I realized that the app counts the time the rope is actually turning. So the small breaks I took to collect my breath when my foot hit the rope did not count toward my 30 minutes according to the app. Ok! I'm so competitive that I had to make it to 30 minutes on the app's time, which, in reality, was like 50 minutes. That made me rethink my whole workout, lol! 

When jumping, my goal has always been time related. Now, my time goals have been crushed! The smart rope gives me a new way to set goals - by the number of jumps instead of the time jumping. The app predicted how many jumps I'd do in 30 minutes - I did that number in 15. This motivated me to jump even more! Based off my 30 minutes actually being 15, I changed my goal to double the jumps since I was going to double the time. I ended up doubling the number of jumps before getting to 30 minutes (per the app) so I jumped until I reached 30 minutes and reached 4,000 jumps!

This new ability to set a goal by the number of jumps has been great way for me to compete against myself and challenge myself to do better!

Diggin' the Smart Rope!

1.30.2017

My goodness! In my last post I talked about juggling things and some things falling. One thing that falls, and I do NOT like when I drop it, are my workouts 😔 
A day or two before this pic was taken, I was motivated by a fellow runner to get a run in. It felt SO good to get back on the road. It always does after a brief hiatus. I had a lot of other priorities to attend to, which is crazy because, this is a priority to me! 

Two Lessons Learned

1. It is ok to take a break.
I felt horrible and guilty not running, but I also had to let myself off the hook because those feelings can lead me to depression - and I'm not going there, again! There's nothing wrong with a break. I know I'll be right back out when I can and healthy eating choices can help while I'm not running as much. 

2. Human accountability is awesome.
Most of my encouragement to run comes from within. That's cool, but it's helpful to have other people encouraging me as well - like so helpful! Sure I can see from social media and the Nike Plus app that others are running and that motivates me, but actual human contact and interaction goes further! Talking about the challenges and having someone align with you makes a difference.

During the winter, I jump rope more than I run and even that has been inconsistent. But I'm doing what I can and when I can, I'll push myself to do more. Live Life. No worries. Peace & Grace.

1.28.2017


Forgive me for the delay in posts - a TON has been happening. As much as I strive to be (and in doing so appear to be 😉), I am not a super woman and that means some balls fall when I'm juggling ten at a once 😄

This is November 8, 2016 - Election Day. This is a day that most of us will remember, forever. I've made it a point to take these little people with me any time I vote. I think it's important for them to participate now so it's not new when it's their turn. It's a wonderful time of learning for all of us. With the awareness that most kids have these days, if they're not getting answers at home, they'll get answers elsewhere and I want them to get as much as possible from HOME first!

Since this day...the discussion has indeed been ongoing. They see and hear about everything, everything - and we talk about it. No topic is off limits if they bring it up. There's an appropriate way to talk about anything. As a mom, impromptu learning opportunities are my favorite thing to capture!

11.08.2016

I love this picture. We were on the way to practice for Manny and Jaelie. They weren't supposed to smile, but Laila can't help it 😊

These are our athletes. Life is our sport. We live to glorify God.

Like any sport, life presents challenges, adversity and opposition which promote arising, overcoming and teamwork. We win some, we lose some, but neither affect our drive to persevere. While we hope for a positive outcome, we know that the journey is the true gift because it's what molds us into greater athletes - into greater witnesses for the King.

Eternal Life - we're here for that.  (shout out to Sho Baraka)

11.07.2016

Kaelin, our oldest, turned 14. Every little person gets to choose what cake they'd like for their day and I bake it. They have challenged me, but I always rise to meet it.

This year, Kae asked for a brownie cookie cake - which we've done before, twice - once for him and once for his sister. Each time it was done differently so this time we'd have to switch it up again. But I used google instead of my brain, lol.

I found a recipe for a brownie cookie dough cake - whaaa? I was on it. As I was making it, I thought it may be a bit much. It was perfect, though. Everyone loved it.


The recipe can be found here.

I put the cake in the fridge when it was done, but someone just couldn't wait! It was Manny, the youngest. His finger swipe is often found on a birthday cake.



Here are some previous cakes that were requested...


11.05.2016

A lot of people told me they love this video of my mom passionately rapping my song. If you missed it, definitely check it out @toyathevirtuous on IG. She almost didn't share this with me! I needed it, though, and God's timing for me to see it was perfect.
It encouraged me to keep going. I used to rap. I love doing it. I love being able to share my faith through music. I haven't done it in forever. I stopped. Why? Life.
Life has a way of sucking the life out of you, lol - but you can't let it. Though I may not rap much anymore, whatever I can do to be a witness of Jesus, I'm going to do it, passionately. 


Check out some of my music by pressing play below. Click the forgiven link to hear more.

11.04.2016

ArtofMBB at the Jenkintown Festival of the Arts. We had a great time there - meeting people and selling artwork. This is one of my favorite pieces; it's called "McFlight". The gentleman who purchased it came back and picked up another one of my favorite pieces called "Fire and Ice". A lot of my Sweet  ðŸ’™'s artwork are my favorite pieces 😏  To see more of his work and to order these and other or your own custom artwork, visit mbbowens.com.

Shoutout to Back 2 the Future for almost predicting the Cubbies winning the World Series 👍🏽

10.28.2016

This run felt great. I still haven't got back in a nice rhythm but I took advantage of a beautiful summer-like day in the fall. My heart truly smiled the entire 4.56 miles. 

Running is so good for my soul.

It helps me physically, mentally, emotionally and definitely has tons of spiritual parallels. The conversations I have with God during my runs are the best. Running clears my mind so that I'm tuned in to Him and He shows me things that I can use immediately in real life. I thank God for the ability to run and for protecting me from injury.

10.27.2016

I began this post - like all the others - on Instagram (@toyathevirtuous) so I'm picking up from there. 

And then there's my engagement ring and my wedding band. My husband and I are married without these symbols, but the presence of them around our fingers means more to me than I realized. 
Just like my smiley ring, I lost my engagement ring before my Sweet💙 and I were married. To this day, I remember the sick feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach. I dreaded, absolutely dreaded, the idea of having to tell my Sweet💙 that I lost my ring. But I did and was relieved to be met with grace and understanding! His response was huge and made me love him even more. My ring was found very randomly and in a way where God was undoubtedly in control. I was absolutely amazed that He allowed me to have my ring again!

Now we're married.
Marriage is beautiful because, like us, God created it and wants to show Himself through it. However, we have many ways of showing our ugly flesh instead of allowing God's Spirit to lead us and marriages tend to do the same. Ours did. There was a time when I removed those rings from my finger, but my Sweet💙 id not remove his. Grace and understanding was needed again, from both of us. I prayed harder than ever during this time. I also got to see more of God's characteristics; I got to know Him in different ways and deepen my relationship with Him. The same way God miraculously brought my engagement ring back, He performed a miracle in our marriage. My Sweet💙 and I will honor God through our marriage and will not allow challenges of any size to deter us from completing the race. I'll be honest, that is easier said than done, lol - but glory to God, it CAN BE DONE!

Themes.
Something can be completely gone, but God can do the impossible. 
Prayer works. Big Prayer, Big Power. Little Prayer, Little Power (I got that from James McDonald)

How. 
This post came about after watching I Am Second videos and as I listened to worship music. The past two weeks we talked about pride and humility with the little people at church. Today, God showed me that I need to check my pridefulness. I cried and asked Him to forgive me. Then I took my rings off to wash dishes and saw that they both represented significant occurrences in my life. Situations that shook me to my core and forced me to run to my Father, my Protector, my God. 

Significance.
I thought I lost my engagement ring forever.
I felt super sick and prayed.
God brought it back.

I thought my marriage was done.
I felt despair and prayed harder than ever.
God brought it back.

I lost my joy and felt like it would never come back.
I prayed fervently for God to restore the joy of my salvation.
God restored it.

I thought I lost my smiley ring forever.
I was super sad and prayed.
God brought it back.

Pride comes in many forms and most are not obvious. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Please don't let pride sneak up on you. When God reveals it (pray that He does), act immediately. 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9 
Tuck that one in your heart, for real.
Grace & Peace.

10.26.2016

Last weekend, Kaelin scored a goal with a header and my excitement was comparable to if he'd scored during the World Cup! This kid loves soccer. He plays passionately and gracefully like an expert cellist in an orchestra - able to move slow and methodically and ferociously fast when necessary. I truly enjoy watching him play the game. 

10.24.2016

Jaelie played soccer last year and it was fun. Jaelie is playing soccer this year and she's a beast! Her aggressiveness has jumped 100% this year and it's so exciting to watch. 

My Sweet💙 has dubbed them the new Sheryl and Reggie Miller. They are fiercely competitive against each other which makes them greater on the field.

This year they had to play against each other and Jaelie's team won. She also scored her 1st goal ever in that game. The play above is her 2nd goal.

She's focused. She takes a ton of shots on the goal. Once she gets her accuracy on point...oh boy!

10.21.2016


This particular Sunday, Manny ended up dressing like Marty Mcfly - which makes him Manny Mcfly. Ha ha, cool.

10.20.2016

10 years? 10 years! That was the quickest 10 years ever.
I knew she'd be my height or taller one day and one day is right around the corner.

I pray so hard for this girl. That she knows God in an intimate way that gets deeper and deeper still. That He protects her in ALL ways.
sigh.

love you, little one.

10.19.2016

This was such an exciting night - mentally. I prayed that God would give me the strength & wisdom to carry out the visions and that my joy would remain high!

There are times when God shows you something and, later, the excitement fades. Later, you don't think you can do what He clearly showed you could be done.

I don't have time for that. My family doesn't have time for that. The Kingdom doesn't have time for that.

Stay excited. Stay focused. Stay humble. Stay driven. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep dreaming!

10.18.2016


I had to take a running break. I didn't want to, but life demanded it. Back to school brought back to structured chaos! Life seems to be getting busier as these lil people get older - and I guess that makes sense, lol. 

I felt guilty not running. Like, I really felt like I was letting someone down. To erase the guilty feeling, I purposed to take a month off; a busy September would give way to a calmer October.

And here we are! October came and I ran again. It felt so great to be on the road again. My running hasn't been as consistent as I've wanted, but the drought is over. Now...consistency. 

10.03.2016


My guess is Jaelie, the 7 year old 2nd grader. 
She likes to voice her whatevers publicly on the dry erase board in the kitchen. I happened to catch this one evening and the next time I looked, it had been erased. 

They did let me rest. They always do when I need it. The little people that God placed in our care are so...wonderful. Truly, they are great human beings and I thank God daily that he allowed me to be their mom. 

What cracked me up, again, while looking at this later are the three dots after "feeling". Ha ha, did Jaelie really put those there on purpose? 

10.01.2016

I was feeling this combination of AI Answer IVs - you know, the ones he was wearing when he stepped over Lue in the Finals - and my MayPac tee by BBSketch. The Word of God is powerful and I think it chose my outfit this day!

I had been reading Hebrews and the 27th verse of chapter 12 stuck with me:
Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
The verses before and after are very relevant also - the entire chapter actually - but I'll let you check those out when you can. Verse 27 specifically hit me as a call to be Unshakeable.

There is beauty in winning and in what seems and feels at the time to be a loss. We feel very victorious after a well earned win. What I'm finding is that after a well fought fight, I have the ability to still feel very victorious even when the world sees a loss. They see the small picture. My God shows me the bigger one. As my relationship with my Father deepens, I'm able to stand firmer and firmer because of the example that Jesus set.

9.30.2016

I speak with more confidence as I get older. I like that. 

9.29.2016


I found it! The restaurant where I ate this delicious meal is called Licha's Cantina in Austin. We ate outside - which is not my favorite thing to do - but it was cool. When I went into the actual restaurant, I was wow'd by the atmosphere they created. It was cozy, it was southern, it was Mexi-merican, it was lit, lol, and I found myself looking awkwardly around just trying to catch the vibe.

The mason jar touch was one of my favorites because it felt very authentic. I'd definitely visit this jewel again.


And afterward, I was instructed to go to thee best ice cream spot in town, Amy's. Amy's did not disappoint. I had a flavor combo called "All about the Butters" (I think) which had mexican vanilla, golden oreos, butterscotch and homemade whipped cream - Oh Em Gee!

9.25.2016

Challenges are a part of life. Taking them on is like fighting in a boxing match - after each round you're so ready to go to your corner to get what you need to continue the fight. This day, I was ready to go to my corner.

All I could do was look up and cry out to my Father in heaven. I know He sees the challenges facing me. I know He hears my cry for help. I know He's directing my feet and giving me strength to take and deliver blows. Most importantly, He told me I'd win the fight so I can confidently keep fighting no matter how defeated I feel. 

While in my corner, I got some much needed hugs, sleep (so necessary) and encouragement from my Father to keep trusting Him and keep fighting the good fight! And then the bell rang...it's go time.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Psalm 46:1-3

9.21.2016

This past weekend was one of the busiest of the year! Logistically, Sunday was a challenge and I am thankful for grandparents' - our parents - willingness and excitement to help. While my Sweet💙 and I were at an arts festival, selling his amazing artwork and meeting people, the youngest lil people had soccer games. Actually 3 lil people had games that day, but thankfully the oldest can get around himself.

While working at the festival, I started to receive game texts from my mom. Btw, my mom is one of the greatest fans I know - if she's a fan of you or the team, she's the biggest. Soccer is important to Manny and his team lost their first game so I knew he was taking this game seriously. Well...the text above says it all. This is how it ended:


Ha ha, that third goal must've really been nice since my mom sent that text twice! I was so happy for Manny; I wish that I could've been there. Since this isn't the first time this has happened, I'm sure it won't be the last.

9.16.2016

(continued from Instagram, @toyathevirtuous)
So, like I was saying, it has now been about 3 weeks since my last run. It's frustrating and freeing at the same time. I beat myself up for not getting out there and taking advantage of beautiful running days, BUT I've been able to accomplish so many things that need to and have needed to get done. These days, sleeping and running compete for my precious time. Two handsome choices are courting me and...it's complicated.

I'm in a place where I refuse to lose my peace and my joy. This means I had to find a way to make not running "ok" in my brain during this busy back to school, everyone is playing soccer and I chose to be an assistant coach, the oldest lil person is playing two sports at once and wants to apply to a really nice boys only high school, work gets crazy at this time of year and crazier as the year comes to an end and there is just always a ton of things to do time. Ha ha...'tis the season and soon this season will be over - meaning the lil ppl will be grown and all this running around will cease.

Time does not come back. Yes, I love running and Yes, it's ok to take time for myself to run and stay healthy. Priorities have to be set. God gave me such a gift in the family that I have - from my Sweetheart to these beautiful arrows he gave us to fill our quiver. If taking a month off from running means creating memories and pouring into lives that will one day impact our world and the Kingdom, it's more than worth it. The ROI is priceless.

9.15.2016

Wow...Willy Wonka is gone. Well, Gene Wilder is gone, but to me, he's Willy Wonka. One's acting skills have to be pretty legit to make people think you're someone your'e not. I still would love to one day visit the chocolate factory! I'm hoping someone has the desire and the funds to create it; I would so go there. I'd go there and I'd ride the Wonkatania while singing, 
"There is no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going. There's no knowing where we're rowing, or which way the river's flowing. Is it raining? Is it snowing? Is a hurricane a-blowing? Bleh! Not a speck of light is showing, so the danger must be growing! Are the fires of hell a-blowing? Is the grizzly reaper mowing? Yes, the danger must be growing, for the rowers keep on rowing and they certainly aren't showing any signs that they are slowing...Quite right, sir. STOP THE BOAT!"



9.14.2016

My first pair of All Stars! They're actually II's so I'll never experience that original All Star feeling, which is fine. I have to thank my Sweetheart for getting me into these Chucks. I like'em - especially the color. I never thought Chucks would look good on me, but they're not bad. I debuted these in Austin and got so many compliments. I appreciate things that can stand the test of time 😉

9.07.2016

My Sweetheart and I were able to go to the shore for a few nights before Back To School hit. The time away so super overdue and truly appreciated! I've always wanted to run on the beach so I was pretty excited to get up and out early. I brought my running shoes but I was like, "I'm gonna run barefoot and get the real experience!" 
And it was great! I ran close to the water so the sand was packed and pretty firm. There were times when the sand wasn't so stable, but I was good. The 1st morning I ran 4 miles and the next I got close to 2. On my 1st run, I saw a lady running in her running shoes and I thought, "Why is she doing that?" Sand must get into her shoes and that wouldn't be comfortable! However, I now know why she did it.
A day or two later, my feet were sore and I couldn't figure out why. Like SORE. Then it hit me...it was from running barefoot! Something I had never done before - duh! My feet are used to ALL the support of my Brooks Adrenalines which are a stability shoe. Running 4 miles in the sand without shoes was like running 4 miles anywhere with no bra - which I would never do!
So...as fun and freeing as it was, I will not be running without shoes - probably ever again. 

9.02.2016

I always wanted a running partner. Then Kaelin got old enough to bike as I ran. Soon he was running with me and I'd have to adjust my runs for him. NOW - I'm trying to keep up with him which improves my pace, drastically, lol. I couldn't be happier about this evolution! He also runs on his own in the offseason - training for soccer and football. I've tried to show him the importance of preparing for your sport and working to be better at a time when most are not. He gets it now. He trains by running and working out without me telling him to. I love it! 

shirt by Active Faith

8.12.2016

I came across @thekorproject on Instagram, followed them and observed for a while. The more posts I saw, the more I aligned with the vision. I dig it. I feel the passion and can rock with the mission - so I'm supported by buying a shirt. Keep on Running is much more than my feet hitting the pavement. It's a way of life for my family. #WeareTeamBowens and it's what we do! ðŸ’ªðŸ½ðŸ˜Š *Raising Athletes*

8.04.2016

I can't be the only one that dreads these manilla envelopes that arrive each summer in late July? I am thankful that our lil people have the opportunity to go to school. This parent homework, though, is brutal, lol! You see those 4 labels? That's one for each lil person. 4 packets of info to fill out for each. Whew! There's gotta be a way to digitalize this paperwork for the earth's sake 😉 (and mines and maybe yours). Mmm...my fingers hurt just looking at the envelopes. Now I have to purpose not to procrastinate and take advantage of the head start I've been given.

8.03.2016

Cleats, shin guards and a soccer ball for $40 - an unexpected and well appreciated promo  at @DicksSportingGoods. We only went to get shin guards so Manny's thankfulness is all in that smile 😊 He's so ready to be on the field. This dude is super sweet, but on the field he is a super beast.


8.02.2016

Coach Summitt. When I was younger, I went to MSG to see Tennessee play Rutgers. I was hype. Halfway through the game I realized that I wasn't watching the game - I was watching her coach. That's how much I dig Pat Summitt. I never met her but I feel like I knew her. I respect her hustle and her legacy.

8.01.2016

My Squad. This is the team that God blessed me with. So many gifts; so much talent yet to be discovered. Life is our sport and we're raising athletes. This is challenging. This is fun! Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, gentleness and self-control are all required. 

7.31.2016

Shortly after the champ died, I went out and ran 7.55 miles. He was my inspiration. I added "Gonna Fly Now" to my run playlist. It made me bully those hills and run half a mile more than planned. Greatness is in you, but you gotta pull it out. ❤️work courtesy of my Sweetheart, @bbsketch.


7.28.2016

(late post) These two. Four years apart. They have their differences, but the similarities outweigh them all. Why? They're on the same team. Teammates don't always agree but they do always have each other's back.

(Lai made Kae a lovely card with his fave colors and very kind words before his semi-formal 😍)

7.23.2016

Accountability is real. A lady ended up running behind me today on the hardest part of my run. I don't like when someone runs behind me 😐 especially when I'm tired. However, it did what it always does - it pushed me to run harder, better, faster, stronger. And it coincidentally happened the day I decide to kick up the mileage 😏 To push through, I shout internally, "Legs, go! Legs, move!" Repeat. And I also thank God that my legs can respond. In life, share your dreams, your vision, your goals with someone you trust; with someone who will run behind, alongside and sometimes in front of you and motivate you when you're getting tired but pushing toward the mark.

7.21.2016

Jumping is the cardio I go to when I need a break from running or when it's cold outside. It's fun, burns tons of calories and workouts a lot of muscle groups at once. I like jumping because it helps me to maintain my endurance. If you begin jumping for real exercise, invest in a good rope. They're not super expensive and it'll be worth every penny. I've had the rope in the picture for maybe 5 years now. I had one before this - which I still have - but this one has cushioned handles and the other one doesn't. I jump for at least 30 minutes and the cushion helps my grip.

The new Smart Rope has caught my eye. Hopefully I'll be able to try it and post about it in the future!

7.20.2016

368 miles in these Adrenaline GTS. They were great to me. We had good times. On to the next ones.

Shout out to the Nike+ Running app for giving me a heads up.

4.12.2016

My 9 year old daughter sent this to me and it was so on time. I was amazed that she somehow knew I needed this encouragement because I didn't share my feelings with her. 

Something prompted her to share a positive message and she did it. That's the key - she did it. 

We all get those urges to text or call someone to say hello, to share something beneficial and uplifting, to give love in some form - but then we think and sometimes we don't do. 

It's a goal of mine to follow through on the small nudges in my spirit to spread love. Not to think too much about it, but do it and do it ASAP (or else I'll forget, lol). 

That nudge is there for a reason. In any sport, we're going to cheer on our teammates and encourage them to compete at their best ability! Someone needs our love as much as we need to release love - it's a beautiful cyclical flow. 💕