One Last Ride

I held back tears a few times this Thursday morning sitting on the saddle of a Schwinn indoor cycling bike. Tom was teaching his last, “retirement ride” on his 79th birthday. SEVENTY-NINTH!


Lesli, one of my bosses, had decorated the room with such detailed festivity, the way only a seasoned mom of three boys can. There was coffee, homemade protein bars, fruit and fun donuts.


Halfway through the ride, Tom told stories of all the jobs he’d held in the last few decades, and said this one–teaching indoor cycling–was his favorite because he got to hang out with pretty ladies. 😉 I suspect it’s for reasons far deeper than the ladies.


His wife is a marathon runner (also in her seventies). She and their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were there to cheer him on for his last ride. It was beautiful to watch them all interact. So proud of him; as they should be. His granddaughter took a picture beside him on stage and I thought about how she’ll have that photo framed somewhere special the rest of her life. Her papa taught cycling until he was almost 80 years old and inspired others to get off their bottoms and move.


Tom’s last song was “How Great Thou Art” and I thought I was going to lose it…yes; how great He is. He gives us breath and health and inspiring people like Tom to push us along in life. To nudge us toward the right decisions.

Lesli presented him with a t-shirt that read, “Most Inspirational Instructor  Just Keep Spinning.”


I’ll be taking over Tom’s cycling class next Thursday at 7:45am if you want to join me. I won’t do him justice, but I’ll try.


Peace’s staff and attenders are challenged yearly to choose one word–just one–to focus on, strive toward and pray for. I like words; they are important to me, so this was a difficult task. I wanted to choose just the right one.

After thought, prayer and following a reading plan on YouVersion Bible, I came up with the word


2014 was a year of unrest for me; mostly because Paisley was a discontent baby, difficult to soothe and unhappy most waking hours. As a result, I felt frantic, exhausted and irritable. Our recent move to Tulsa was not an easy transition for many reasons and I felt anxiety creeping into my spirit, my personality and even my dreams.



I want to be unruffled by my kids’ tantrums and messy playroom. I want to be at peace financially, confident in my Provider. I want to be able to really rest when a client cancels or while the kids are napping. I want to be a woman who trusts God.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Here’s to a more peaceful, calm 2015.

The Game

The kids joined me at the gym on Wednesday for my staff meeting. We were late and I cursed under my breath at our broken van door, juggling a wheelchair, diaper bag, my purse, and a car seat (with Paisley in it) in bitterly cold weather. I returned to SkyKids (my gym’s child care center) after the meeting and was told that Finn had been ramming the gate to Paisley’s section of the nursery because he wanted to see her, as well as ramming a worker in the shins because he didn’t want to share. I was so embarrassed.

We navigated our way through various other toddler tantrums that afternoon. Paisley had a couple blow outs, and I lost the fight for vegetable consumption at dinnertime.

The cutest little toot you ever saw...

The cutest little toot you ever saw…

It felt like motherhood failure.

Finn cried the next morning as I dropped him off at school. I turned my back on his pouted lip and walked away, so as not to prolong the protest. It’s sometimes hard to be a working mom–hard to trust someone else to parent your children, especially when they’re “atypical.”

But as I approached his classroom for pick up at the end of the day, I saw this:



we need a haircut…

He was happily and imaginatively playing alone. I wish there had been other kids around him, but whatever. He saw me and beamed; asking, “You play cars with Finny, momma?” We sat together zooming wooden race cars and flying airplanes for about 10 minutes. He and his teacher told me about their day…he went to bowling class (and apparently would only use the green ball)


and he made shape tarts in cooking class. Such a cool place!


As I was putting him into his car seat, he asked for a hug and a kiss and said, “Momma, you’re sweet.”


Motherhood success.

Some days I win and some days I lose, but this game is the most important one I’ll ever play.

Shake It Off, Spina Bifida

Taylor Swift + You Tube + Creative, Brave Parents + Their Rock Star Kids with Spina Bifida = This Awesome Video

A celebratory display of the wide spectrum of Spina Bifida and the resilient children who live with it. Finn is dancing and wheeling along at home. Take that, Spina Bifida!

Found this on the Choo Choos and Tutus blog. Colleen’s son, Nate, was born with Spina Bifida. She works for the Spina Bifida Association and encourages SB parents via cyberspace. Thanks, Colleen!

Living the Adventure

Our wedding invitation reads:

Ashley Dawn Rosell and Joseph Earl Armstrong

Choosing to live the adventure…together.

Adventure has been a part of our marriage from the beginning. We believe life is better spent taking risks. (Read post: Big Things.)

To prove it…

We dated long-distance for 6 months and were engaged long-distance for 9 months.


On our honeymoon, an elk charged us while hiking in Flagstaff and we were kicked out of the national park in Sedona because we were “too close to the ledge.”


We lived in Baylor athletic student housing with men twice our height where Joey was the resident chaplain. RGIII lived above us…before he was a household name. And the next year we shared a two bedroom apartment with another couple to save money. So much fun!


We hitch-hiked in Slovenia for an entire summer, ministering to local rock climbers and outdoor athletes. We slept either in a tent or on a dirty tile floor. We documented six days that it did not rain. (Read posts: Bovec: A Memoir and Slovene Rain)

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We traveled from Venice to Rome to Florence to Salzburg on a whim that same summer.


We worked three summers in Durango, CO as wilderness guides for a Christian adventure camp called Compass. (Read post: Water Gushed Out)


We house-broke (is that a word?) a lab puppy. (Read post: Jersey Girl)

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After five years of marriage, we chose to have a child (and the Lord allowed). However, this child for whom we prayed may never walk and would have 8 major surgeries before his first birthday. We were told in the NICU he may be severely mentally handicapped and might never communicate with us. (Read post: The Valley)


I chose to leave a comfortable (though unsettling) job at a large gym and open a personal training studio with Angie, my training partner. She and her husband owned it and I helped manage it. All my clients followed.

Angie. My boss and partner. Client and trainer. Friend. Love you, girl.

Angie. My boss and partner. Client and trainer. Friend. Love you, girl.

We chose to get pregnant again (and the Lord allowed) despite the risk of having another child with disabilities. (Read post: Pink Bows)

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We choose daily to expose Finn and all his beautiful differences to the world, risking our pain, his embarrassment, lots of staring and/or pointing, and even a little meanness. (Read post: On Being Different)


We followed God’s leading to Tulsa and to, leaving a large, traditional denominational church and all the wonderful people we met there. We said goodbye to some of the most generous, fun friends we’ll ever encounter, but we’ve already said “hello” to such genuine, cool people in Tulsa, particularly at It’s truly an incredible ministry and we are humbled to be a part of it. (Read post: Let’s Go)

I believe good things come to those who risk; those who are willing to step out in faith, expecting God to show up–yet understanding that He may choose not to.

Pastor Craig delivered a fantastic sermon this evening on faith and risk.

“But without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6)

It’s one of the core values of our church:

“We are faith-filled, big-thinking, bet the farm risk-takers. We’ll never insult God with small thinking or safe living.”

I love this. I can rally behind this.

Once, in high school, I asked the Lord to expand my faith. I’m not naturally a very faith-filled person. I’m skeptical, logical. I like to be in control. But the Lord answered my teenage prayer and has given me multiple opportunities over the years to increase my faith. And He proves true. Every time.

Joey and I’s latest “risk:” the Daniel Fast. Along with the staff and attenders, we’re restricting our diet in the first 21 days of January to fruits, vegetables, whole grains (though Joey and I are choosing not to include whole wheat or tortillas), nuts and beans. No processed foods, sweeteners or chemicals. But we’re adding chicken. And coffee (I blame this on Paisley).

The goal here is to feed my spirit more than my flesh. Denying myself things I want will help me focus more on what I need. And the only thing I need more of is Jesus. Join us as we fast!

(Happy 60th Birthday, Terry! You’re a good one.)