Man, that’s a lot of h(e)arts! 🙂
I am so excited for you to meet my lovely friend Jen. We met through the online running community and instantly bonded because she used to live in San Diego. She has been such an encouragement to me with running, as well as with personal life and faith. She is so incredibly kind, has a huge heart for serving others, and is one busy lady – so I’m so grateful that she took the time to share her story with all of us! Let’s dive right in to our interview.
SGMG: Jen, thanks so much for joining me for a Heart-to-Heart! It’s a bummer that you moved out of San Diego before I came to it…I wish we could be having this coffee date in real life! You are one of my favorite “internet friends” because you constantly exude positivity, love, and joy and pointing others to Christ — it’s so uplifting! Please introduce yourself to any readers who might not know you.
JH: Hi! I’m Jen Hartmann, I’m originally from CA but currently live in the hill country area of Texas. I have been married to Chris for 16 years this May and we have 4 kids. Ben is 11, in the 6th grade, Abby is about to be 9 and in the 3rd grade, Sam is 7 and in the 1st grade and Nate is 4, home with me 2 days and goes to a preschool 3 days a week. We have moved 9 times so far, can’t say each move got easier but grateful for God’s faithfulness in the ways He connected us to the community in each place we have called home. Being a stay at home mom wasn’t my original plan as I have a clinical laboratory science background but have only used my degree for 8 months due to Ben being born sick. God continues to refine me in seeing His plans are always greater and better than mine.
What’s your running background? Has it always been a big part of your life?
I ran a few 5ks in my 20’s but never had the interest to train for a longer distance. My love for running increased when I became a mom and purchased my first Bob Jogger while we lived in Boston. Living near the start/finish of the Boston Marathon was very inspiring and loved the vibe of how the community came together during that time. Ben wasn’t a big fan at the age of 1 to run with me but the parks along the Charles River were a great incentive for him to make the best of it. When we moved to the hill country almost 2 years ago God placed it on my heart that I needed to spend more time with Him in solitude and stop feeling alone in our new home. At the time I was following another blogger, @fitandfaithful and loved how Chelsy shared her passion for running through her faith in Christ. She inspired me to train for my first half marathon. With 9 weeks to train and had never run over 3 miles I knew there would be challenges but as I worked through Chelsy’s half marathon training plan God began to show me I really can do all things through Him when I rely on His strength and not my own. I finished that half marathon feeling really sore, grateful I finished that hilly course but could barely wobble to my car and thought that’s it for me. Satan’s doubts and lies didn’t settle in my heart too far and I felt God’s prompting to train for another half but this time be more diligent about strength training.
Way to not give up! 🙂 You are a very busy mama, and I love that you make your health + passion a priority, too. What are your secrets for balancing marriage, kiddos, running, leading YoungLife, and more?
I pray to prioritize each day starting with my quiet time with God first in the morning before the kids wake. I love Proverbs 31 Ministries First 5 app and the experience guide you can order that guides you to dig deeper into God’s Word and the principles being taught. I’ve learned I’m able to balance my days in a more joyful spirit when I get filled up with God’s truth and some coffee 🙂 before the juggling act of the hardest and most rewarding mission I’ve been called to, motherhood, begins each day. I feel God is still refining me in what full surrender is and allowing Him to ordain my days. I knew when we moved this last time I wanted to be more intentional filling my agenda with what God wanted instead of what I wanted but I too am human and get disappointed when my plans don’t work out. God is currently showing me more what it looks like to embrace disappointment, I’m currently not running due to a internal rotation tendinitis, hamstring injury. For the first time I have had to cancel races and praying fervently to not allow satan to steal my joy, remain praiseful and trust where God needs my attention to be. I have this reminder on my fridge from Renee Swope.
Your Instagram bio says, “Rescued to be a Rescuer.” What does that mean to you? Where does your strength come from?
Rescued to be a rescuer is what our Pastor from our last home church wanted each of us to know in our hearts. It was there my love for discipleship grew that has led me to volunteer for YoungLife. Jesus created us for relationships not to go through life alone. That word alone stirs up a raw part of my heart that dates back to when I was abandoned by my birth mother at a very young age. Growing up not understanding the why for her choices wrecked my heart for 3 decades. When I dated Chris it was through the love I saw in him and his family that drew me to Christ and to wanted to know why Jesus would want to call me rescued, redeemed, wanted, chosen, and beloved. I said yes to a relationship with God at the age of 22 but it took some more hard times for me to fully surrender at His feet that led me to want to go through believer’s baptism last November. Through growing in my relationship with Christ and studying His Word I began to see I wasn’t meant to carry the bondage of my unforgiveness by myself, I wasn’t meant to find my identity through my circumstances, by God’s grace our sins are buried with Christ and through His selfless sacrifice we have been resurrected with Him, to live this life not in our own flesh but through the Holy Spirit. Throughout my walk in my faith and through being discipled I began to see the spiritual gifts God has created in me and the ways He wants me to use them to further His kingdom and persevere through the mission He has called us all too, to follow Him, share the love of the gospel, connect with others and offer encouragement, and make discipleships.
What a powerful story! I love that you have not stayed stuck in your pain, but that you’ve used it to draw closer to God and to serve others.
What running accomplishment are you most proud of?
The running accomplishments I’m most proud of would be being able to share my passion to run with my kids and having the opportunity to do races with them as well. This has been the biggest gift in my running journey because it allows me an opportunity to show my kids what depending on God looks like. To show them where our true strength and endurance comes from. It’s our spiritual discipline where our physical discipline should take root from.
Are there any running goals that you are currently working towards?
Last year was a time for me to explore different kinds of races and found I have a love for the trails and long distances. I completed my first marathon last November on the same course I did my first half, guess I kinda like the torture of hills 🙂 My goals for this year Lord willing, I would love to do my first trail marathon this June, so far I’ve run up to a 30K on trail, and my first 50k this November, which would be at the same road course of my first half and full marathon.
Woohoo! I can’t wait to cheer you on to crush that 50k!
What advice do you have for other #motherrunners, or for anyone who may be finding it hard to make time for fitness in the midst of all of life’s crazy demands?
The best advice I can give is to pray to be flexible. There is not one race I have trained for where I was able to follow the training plan perfectly and you need to allow yourself to rest in His grace. Kids get sick, you get sick, injuries happen, family life is non stop, embrace the times God is asking you to hit pause and embrace the times He allows you to fly through the miles. Never lose hope, trust the journey He has you on because He is always with you and He knows where we are needed more than we think we do. I do think its important to carve out time for something that makes you feel alive that is just for you, that renews your spirit and recharges you to be a better, mom, wife, friend etc. but I pray to be aware I’m not using it to find acceptance, acknowledgment, contentment and joy, we only find those in Christ.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse? What does it mean to you?
Isaiah 40.31 has been a verse God placed on my heart when our son Sam was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD 4 years ago. With 3 of our kids having chronic lung disease to say the least I was feeling a bit weary. This verse has given me strength to persevere through the emotional and physical stress through this journey and despite how uncertain times can feel He is always there to lift us up. It’s easy to get so focused on our concerns and forget our Heavenly Father is never lacking wisdom nor strength, nothing comes to us before going through His hands first, He empowers us when we feel weary, we just have to trust Him, remain praiseful and glorify Him. That’s my all-time favorite verse too! 🙂
Just for fun, what are three things you’re loving right now?
One of the things I love right now would be gelato!! When we vacationed in San Diego in January we found a yummy Italian gelato place called Bobboi Natural Gelato in La Jolla, never knew how much I loved gelato!! They had the best dairy free vegan gelato I have tried yet. Wish you could mail me some 🙂 I haven’t found a great gelato place near us yet but I’m on the hunt for one. A second love is a cook book I recently bought, Run Fast Eat Slow, all the recipes have been amazing and have never been much of a cook, till now :), make the superhero muffins first!! And a third and most favorite love would be meeting at small town coffee shops. My heart thrives off of friendships, community and coffee 🙂
Oddly enough, I have been to Bobboi in La Jolla! Their vegan gelato is fantastic! If you ever visit San Diego, be sure to take Jen’s advice and put this stop on your list!
Jen, thank you SO much for taking the time to share your heart with me. I have been so uplifted by your story and by your true love for Jesus and I know it will encourage so many readers. Much love to you and your family!
You can connect with Jen on Instagram: @jenchartmann
To catch up on previous Heart-to-Hearts, click here.