Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hut-to-hut dream vacation

San Cristobal Lake / Windy Point near Lake City, Colorado
Lake City, Colorado.  Ran there while in Colorado
(photo credit: pinterest.com)
     Like the nerdy runner I am, I was reading through an old Runner's World magazine today-- Spring 2011 in case you want to take a look in your own pile-- and finally found the article that captivated me two years ago and I've been looking for ever since.  It's called Cabin Fever, and detailed places in the US where runners can run all day from one lodging to another, all out on trails, and all beautiful!  Once I read that, it was sealed into my brain as something I will not die without doing.  I mean, can you imagine: nothing but God's creation, a Cambelback, and an agenda to run.  After my amazing experience in Colorado last summer, I am even more set on doing it, whether it be in Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, New Mexico, or Nevada-- I could go on forever-- I will get there.  Hold me to it!

Santa Fe, New Mexico


     We had already spent a good hour wandering around in the wind and snow, numbing our hands and feet.  With grit determination now frozen from our faces, we retreated back to the hotel fire.  I stood by that fire for a good fifteen minutes before I could feel how cold my hands were.  During the warming phase, I had a lot of time to reflect on my stupidity that had gotten us in this situation in the first place.  Namely: I was stubborn.  
     "Try calling dad," my brother suggested, "his meeting may be over by now.  Sure enough, my dad picked up and asked us how the adventure was going.  "It's freezing," I said, "we had thought it would be so warm!"  He reminded me that he'd warned us-- which I vaguely remember, but probably blocked out in denial-- and I reminded him that I was still frozen.  "We tried, but we didn't actually make it to the historic district," I confessed.  He seemed bewildered at that, "How?  It's just down the block."  My brother, overhearing the conversation, shot me a look that said: "you mean I'm suffering hypothermia for nothing!"

     My dad had a business trip during my brother and I's spring break last year, so instead of rearranging things, we came along.  Before spending a few days in New Orleans (RELATED: Unforgettable Runs: New Orleans), we headed to Albuquerque and then Santa Fe..err-- that was the plan.  In reality, our flight got cancelled and the only other one they had that day was through Roswell, New Mexico.  Surely you've heard of this alien crazed town.  In fact, it's too much of an experience to squish into this post right now.  I will however, explain the rest of the story.
The fireplace I was raving about
(photo credit: www.lanl.gov)
     We landed in Roswell, stepped off the plane-- onto the runway mind you-- and were immediately shocked.  New Mexico was supposed to be warm!  I panicked and lunged for my phone to check Weatherbug (RELATED: My Essential Apps, all interesting, all free).  "It's probably just a freak weather thing," I assured my brother-- and myself.  Unfortunately, Roswell doesn't have a very good, or any, T-Mobile coverage at their airport, so I left the town without getting the gist of the little surprise.
     We got into Santa Fe later that night-- too late for a run, so I hopped on an elliptical in the workout room.  I'd slept on planes and in the car all day, so after my workout: I was wide awake.  I walked around the hotel a bit, curious to see more of the beautiful southwestern design and architecture.  There was plenty of it, as we stayed in the Hilton Santa Fe Historic Hotel.  After some exploration, I sat down by the fireplace with an complementary apple, munching away as I watched to flames lick the logs.  It was so warm and homey, that I figured I could just sit there till I fell asleep.  It did the trick though, and I was soon back to our room and ready for lights out.
     The next morning, my dad had a business meeting till noon, so my brother and I were on a lone adventure to see the city.  I grabbed my jeans and the sweatshirt I'd brought.  Since he didn't bring jeans, my brother had on shorts and a sweatshirt.  We went for a quick breakfast down near the lobby, where we were greeted by another warm fire and a beautiful fountain.  I was beginning to think it was quite curious that there were so many fires in such a warm place.....then we stepped outside.
     To be honest, it was more of a dart in and out kind of thing.  Turns out, the elevation and mountains make Santa Fe a pretty cold destination in March.  We had not known that when we'd packed our swimsuits and tank tops.  My dad had told us about the historic district though, so we set out to find it and hopefully duck into some warm shops.  Not more than five minutes after we'd emerged from the warm hotel, did it start snowing.  Snowing!  I'm sure we reeked of tourism-- with our heads tied up in our hoods and I navigating the way on my phone.  As I've mentioned in the past, I'm directionally challenged.  We were quickly in the heart of the business district, with only a tattoo shop and a law office as our shelter options.
     Yep.  Turns out, we only needed to turn left and walk for two minutes to reach our destination.  In fact, my dad was already there.  Cutting out the complaining, I mustered up my last dignity.   "Warm yourself for a few more minutes and prepare," I told me brother, "we are going back out!"  And so, we made it.  We got to see the tapestries, the old church, the quirky shops, and the shelves and shelves of cowboy boots.  It was pretty cool, even cooler knowing the struggle it took to get there!
This shows the hotel on the left, and the street of the historic district to the right of point "A".  Yes, it was THAT close the whole time!
     I can't wait to go back to Santa Fe--in the summer-- when I can hike and explore more of the amazing New Mexico landscape.  I had such a fun time there, even in the bad weather, that I can't imagine how great it is when Santa Fe is basking in the New Mexico sun.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

10 ways to be awkward in the gym locker room


     I just returned from the gym, and once again my teenage mind is swarming with ideas.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who stands in the locker room wondering if everyone else feels as awkward as I do.  It's just an awkward place!  Aside from one lady who wanted me to join her efforts to defy the pool schedule, no one even talks in there. That brings me to my next question, the immature teenage one: what are the funniest things to do in the locker room?  Don't worry, I've compiled a list for you.  All you need to do is risk your reputation and sanity by testing the waters with one of these next time:   

*This article and the contained list are clean and appropriate of course!  


1. Run into all the bathroom stalls continuously flushing the toilets.  If someone tries to use one, forcefully assert: "Excuse me!  Can't you see I'm using this equipment right now?!'
2. Hide in a locker until someone opens it later that day--WARNING: this one could occupy you for a good 6-19 hours-- once they suspiciously place their stuff in another one and hopefully don't lock it, put their bag in another locker and jump in again.  It'll be even better the second time!
3. Bring your trumpet into the shower and begin playing some sick jazz music!
Oh...the many awkward options at the gym
4. Roll around on the floor, moaning: "germs! germs!"
5. Put on your best Bear Grills attire and explain to others that you've been searching civilization for the three days, but cannot find your way out of the thick forest terrain.  Ask them to join you on your journey.
6. Hand someone you camera phone and ask them to please take a picture of your foot, because your worried the fungus is coming back, and need to show your doctor.
7. Spring into the locker room in a beeline to the sinks, screaming: "Water! Water! Water!"  Proceed to turn on the faucet and just stare while singing a hip-hop rendition of Kumbaya.
8. Ask someone to spot you while you climb to the top of the lockers and practice your Spidey-skills by shooting webs at them.
9. Stand inside the locker room door and ask those who enter for a shoe, in return for admittance to your kingdom.
10. Come prepared with a two cartons of eggs.  Crack and deposit one into each unlocked locker, whispering tidings of "Happy Easter!" as you go.

I'd sure like to hear your stories of being kicked out of the gym!  And do tell me: are there any others you would add to the lists?

Awesome rain boots

BP. 'Typhoon' Rain Boot (Women)
My purple rain boots: courtesy of Nordstroms.com

     I forewarned readers that my main purpose for having and starting this blog, is to recount all the things I'm thankful for.  This includes-- especially-- the things I often take for granted.  So, with two straight days of rain where I am, I am extremely thankful for the rain boots my mama got me for Christmas.  My favorite color is purple,and although I'm fashionably-challenged, these are right on for me.   Not only did they keep me dry when sprinting like a dork into school yesterday morning, but they also made me feel super slick walking through the hallways.  "I knew it was going to rain," they say to students in the hallways, "and I'm looking good!"  



     Okay, maybe they don't say that, but I've yet to receive criticism...although that's not exactly a fair judgment, It's my blog.  Long story short: I love my purple rain boots.  They make rainy mornings a little less drab and a little more pizzazz!   

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Unforgettable Runs: New Orleans, LA

     Last spring break, my dad, younger brother and I traveled out west.  Not only did our journey re-route through Roswell, New Mexico, but we also got to see New Orleans.  My dad had taken me to New Orleans the past summer-- just the two of us-- but that's a story for a different day.  Anyhow, we had been flying all day and finally checked into the hotel a little before eight pm.  I was exhausted, but also aware that track season was right around the corner and my training had me doing 800 meter repeats that day.  My dad and brother came along as I warmed up by running to the waterfront.
This boat was sitting close to my 800 meter repeat turnaround point.  (photo credit: www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com)
     Measuring it best he could, my dad marked a there and back 800.  I had four to do, which didn't seem so bad, until I finished the first one and realized how jet lagged and fatigued I was.  True to character, I came through the first 800 with a fast split, a good six seconds faster then my coach had prescribed.  That's when I got tough.  My legs started to burn earlier and earlier, and I became even more annoyed with the occasional person I had to dart out of the way for-- heaven forbid I get in THEIR way.  All sarcasm aside though, the route was pretty solid in my head: 200 meters until I had to jump down three stairs.  The next part was down hill along the water.  Then I had a grueling straight shot to complete the first 400.  Making a sharp 180, I would then sprint back where I came from.  This time: uphill.  The starts were bright enough to light the path, and I would gaze up during my 90 second rest, to catch my breath and awe.
     Looking back, I clearly remember my legs burning and my mind screaming at me to just go to bed already!  But I also can remember the fun of jumping down those stairs, brushing through the trees, and flying past the black waves crashing on the dock.  It was beautiful.  It was impossible-- but I did it.  The last 800 came and my dad-- having paced me for the first 400 of the last few-- stood guard at my turnaround point.  He yelled and cheered me on as my weary feet pounded the bricks.  He simulated my coming races, calling my name as I flew down the second 200.  This time though, he stood further back.  "What are you doing," I angrily gasped, "The turn is up here!"  He nodded, "but I think it was a little short before.  This is probably more accurate."  I shot him a glare out of frustration, glad I didn't have the breath to say any more.  As in- "you could have told me that before, so I was doing them right!"  It hit me though: I was tired.  I was absolutely working to keep going.  Isn't that doing it right?
     So I let it go.  I switched on that final gear and powered up the hill as I crossed from the dock back onto the brick pathway.  The cold night air brushed my legs and filled my chest, and I tried to breathe deeper.  I imagined my freedom: my strength, and I pushed past that last crest of the uphill and flew down the stretch to my starting point: a small grove of trees.  With that final push, I keeled over at the trees and grinned from ear to ear.  I'd done it!  I'd sat in a plane all day, hardly had any water, got slapped with the southern humidity, and survived a killer headache as a result of it all.  I was ecstatic that I had it in me.  It was one of the first hard workouts I'd done for the season, less then a year after anorexia had stolen my freedom to run.
     I took one last glance up at the beautiful night sky as it fell into the black crashing water below, and gave my dad a high five.  "I did it," I whispered to myself, "I'm back."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Unforgettable Runs: East Lansing (Run #2)

      I will confess, there are many runs that stick out in my mind solely because I got utterly and hopelessly lost.  While I was in East Lansing on a college visit, I took this run (coincidentally: the day after my first East Lansing run/mathematical failure) from our hotel, figuring I could go check out Michigan State University's campus before we headed out of town that afternoon.  I had looked on Map My Run like all good runners do, yet I also have a terribly sense of direction- like many runners also do.  I'll try to spare you the boring details, but basically: I ended up running at least a mile onto a dead end road within the campus.  I tried to find a way out, but to no avail.  To make matters worse-- just being honest here-- I had to go to the bathroom really badly.  By the time I got lost within the urban campus, (Yes, I'm quite ashamed) I'd been running for almost an hour.  Because my math skills are even worse then my sense of direction, I had run 40 minutes out, on an out and back run.  Somehow, my confused little head chalked that up to a good 60 minute run.

   

      So, there I was: stuck at a dead end, with a mile to go before I could go to the bathroom.  I was so close to just peeing in a bush by the Education Department Building, but I saw so many people coming in and out.  My active imagination was also spinning a story of me finishing up my business while the Cross Country coach-- we'd met the day before-- walked by and saw me.  Determined not to "soil" my reputation, I kept running.  I went circles around that campus for another 15 minutes before the light-bulb clicked: Oh Ya!  I'd brought my phone!  In fact, it was right in my hand!  Then, I ran another mile because I was reading Google Maps wrong...ya-- pretty stupid girl right here.  My shining moment was standing on the street corner of East Lansing for 10 minutes waiting for my dad to come pick me up.  I was done.  Through.  And I just meekly smiled at the passing students, and tried to think "dry-as-a-dessert thoughts."
     So, In all honesty: I can't really tell you much about the run.  I remember train tracks.  Those were fun.  The campus is nice.  It's big...very big.  Other than that, um...that's all I have for ya.  Oh and in case you were wondering- I did make it to a bathroom before I wet myself.  Oh my goodness: I can't end a post with that sentence.  Um...hope you enjoyed the story :)

The Seagull Lady

     This post isn't really about a Seagull, or a lady, and FYI: the Seagull lady is not any normal lady.  No, this post is about my uncle.  He's the one who let me spend the night at my cousin's house just about twice a week during my childhood.  He's the one who taught me how to shoot a basketball.  He saved me from stingrays,  and yes-- he is possibly the reason I am petrified of birds.
     Growing up, my family would pack up the car every summer and head to Sunset Beach (RELATED: Sunset Beach).  I'm not talking about just my immediate family: I'm talking 10 kids, 4 couples, grandparents, and a couple stray relatives.  We would rent a big beach house and spend a week going berserk, jumping waves, and being a family.  At the time of the Seagull Lady concoction, I was the youngest of the three girl cousins.  This one particular uncle would always take the three of us down to the beach early in the mornings when the tide pools were high and the beach was ours.  This is how he came to save us from stingrays, and it's also how the Seagull Lady was born.
     To be fair, I probably would've been terrified of birds regardless.  However, the Seagull Lady is my first memory associated with birds, so I'll never know for sure.  Anyway, we were down on the beach one morning when my uncle pointed at a Seagull nearby.  He then proceeded to tell us that it wasn't just any Seagull.  "It's the Seagull Lady," he professed.  My eyes widened in horror as he told us about this witch that turned into a Seagull to disguise herself.  I don't know if this witch ate children or something, but whatever he told us was enough to terrify me of Seagulls for a few years.  Just to play with it, he would occasionally point to a Seagull during walks for ice cream or other times.  "That's the Seagull Lady," he would say.  I would back away carefully and stay close to my seagull-identifying uncle, to keep safe.  My two older cousins caught on after a year or so, but prodded me on by pointing out the Seagull Lady themselves.  She was everywhere!  I believed that story for a good three years!
      When I finally found out though, I just pretended I'd known all along.  "Of course she wasn't real," I would say to my uncle.  He would chuckle at my bluff, and that's just how he was: he was a kid.  One time, I he was driving us back from picking some stuff up, and began joking from the front seat.  My cousin-- and his daughter-- began getting upset that he hadn't buckled up.  Finally, when she began yelling, he snapped on his seat-belt and proceeded to take us for a joy ride in the parking lot we were leaving, and over all the speed bumps.  
     That's the best way I would describe my uncle: he went at life full force.  He had fun, he had faith, and he never forgot to be a kid.  He was the one who convinced my mom to let me play select soccer, and then he helped me get better as I progressed.  When my soccer days were over, he continued to follow my running and pray for my faith.  What's even more amazing, is that he kept it up all the way.  When I was younger, he was the fun uncle to hang out with, the one who had the best ideas and the most adventure up his sleeve.  Yet, as I grew, I began to equally admire his faith in God.  
     I didn't know what to do when I heard he was diagnosed with cancer.  I just cried.  I can't even imagine the pain, the doubt, and the struggle he went through during the long battle he had.  I didn't see him cry though.  Not once, until I visited him a month before he died and gave a little gift to him I had found.  He was joking around and smiling, but I saw the little tear in his eye.  I'm sure he was scared-- I know he wasn't a perfect man.  But I will tell you that I never saw such confidence and joy: regardless of what the outcome might be.  My uncle may never know the impact he made in my life, but I was able to tell him I loved him.  I was able to spend those precious moments with him.  I will also tell you, that every time I see a dang Seagull: I can't help but picture that look on his face, "Look-- there she is!"

Robert

     While headed back from lunch at a recent ten event with my church, I met Robert.  He was sitting alone on a bench with an almost empty box of pizza and a smile.  A guy on our group asked him if there was anything we could pray for him about, and Robert lit up.  He said he loved that we were going out of our way to bless him.  He asked for prayer for his two sons and that they would always follow after the Lord.  Our group began praying for Robert and as we finished, he began to pray!  I say that with enthusiasm because I could sense the Lord's presence when this homeless man opened his mouth.  He was praying boldly, joyfully, and he was praying scripture.  Straight out of the KJ version, Robert was ministering to us.  He prayed for provision, blessing, joy.  He prayed for us.
     When we were finished praying, we began chatting with Robert.  At first, I felt badly-- like I shouldn't look at him in his rags and dirty appearance.  Then I realized that he didn't seem to notice.  Robert was so full of joy that I started to forget that he lived out on the street.  After we chatted for a while, this man looked straight into my eyes.  "Consider the lilies of the field," he said with a gesture to nearby flowers.  He then continued by speaking into me the very encouragement needed for what I'm going through.  He kept looking at me as he told us how God creates those birds and flowers to survive whatever life throws at them.  They are equipped and they are loved.  "How much more," he repeated with a smile, "does your heavenly father care for you?"  
     Far beyond a typical story of being blessed by someone I sought to bless, my encounter with Robert reminded me of the utter joy of Heaven.  A few years ago, I had a dream of Heaven.  It was so amazing, so joyful, that I began to cry when I woke up.  In my dream, chains were broken off of me-- even chains I didn't know existed.  They were strong paper chains, more undetectable than iron shackles, yet they were previously unbreakable.  Once they were broken, all joy was set loose.  My soul seemed to fly within that moment, and understandably  I was crushed when I woke up. 
     My point of retelling the dream, is to show you how similar that was to Robert's demeanor.  That man was more joyful then anyone I ever remember meeting.  It wasn't just his face either.  Although he was smiling ear to ear, Roberts joy came from the way he spoke, the peaceful way he just sat on that bench, and the bursting happiness when the scripture poured out of him.  
     I'm not sure if I'll see Robert again on this side of eternity.  Perhaps he was an angel, as Hebrews 13:2 speaks of "entertaining angels unaware."  I am not certain of any "angel test" that exists.  Perhaps we was a homeless man filled with the spirit of God.  However,  he wasn't "just" anything.  I doubt I will ever forget meeting Robert, because he renewed my amazement for God's goodness on earth.  Ya, it's a painful and broken world, but God is right here among us.  
    Right before I met Robert, I had been facing discouragement.  I wanted to see God, I wanted to be amazed again.  My dad and I prayed for God's mercy and joy to be revealed to me.  I stepped up on the curb, and there was Robert.  How can I not be grateful for divine appointments like that?  How can I not be amazed at the faith and joy of a man who lives out on the streets in the dead of winter?  And how can I forget that we are called to the same reckless abandon and utter joy-- we who have every technological and economical opportunity we can Google?  
     Thank you Lord for Robert.  Thank you for the way he moved my heart.  Thank you for holding my heart, and cherishing me so much that you would orchestrate that divine appointment.  For you care so much for the ravens and the lilies of the field, how much more do you care for me?!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What kind of runner are you?

   
   
     No, I'm not referring to the distance you run or the enthusiasm with which you call yourself such.  I'm talking about the quirky appearance that most of us have when we run.  I'm talking about your form.
     Before you feel to insulted, understand that I've included myself in this playful list as well.  At least on my track and cross country teams, we like to joke about each others' running forms.  Note that these are pretty extreme and usually are displayed when the runner  Here's the list, in no certain order:

1. The Bobber
I came across one of these at the gym today, which prompted me to write this post.  The Bobber is the one who is running on that trail/treadmill like their wimpy little neck can't handle it.  Their head is bobbing around, and as the observer, your wondering when their gonna get whiplash.

2. The Loper
This kind of runner reminds one of a long legged gazelle making its way across the African plains.  They  make a snakelike movement with their body by protruding the neck as one foot leaps forward, and then retreating again.  An important thing to note about the Loper is that they look somewhat like an angry bull with their legs lunging forward-- that's the best way to describe it: lunging.

3.The Reacher
I am a proud Reacher myself.  Usually, only when I'm sprinting at the end of the race, do I punch my clenched fists forward to propel myself.  A Reacher appears to be pulling on an imaginary rope, and well: looks pretty stupid for the most part.  Sorry fellow Reachers, it's true, but at least it makes us think we will go faster.  I'm all for mental trickery on the running front.


4. The Pounder
Watch out runners: the Pounder can be a dangerous one.  And when I mean dangerous, I mean that they can be highly annoying and anger provoking.  Although a Pounder sounds furious, chances are, they are just really really tired.  What follows is how they get their namesake: they pound.  They smack the ground as hard as they can.  Perhaps you've seen one before.  He's training for the army!  Maybe he's in the marching band, or..or: smashing a bug!  No, no (cue dramatic superhero music) he is: the Pounder!

5. The Ragedy Doll
This runner is a jumbled mutt of all the running types above.  This runner is the one you hurt for when you see their painful form.  They could be pounding, reaching, loping, and bobbing: all at the same time!  On the bright side, this type of runner will definitely make you feel better about your own flawed gait.  If you are a Ragedy Doll...um...I'm not sure what to say.  Maybe you can take up the elliptical, or at least wear a neck brace or something.

6. The Oh-my-goodness-that's-ryan-hall!
I have previously mentioned my deep admiration and love for Ryan Hall (RELATED: Ryan Hall).  It only gets better my friends; not only does Ryan Hall have strong faith and a undeniable attractive quality: he also runs like he's floating in the wind.  I'm sure he hurts while running marathons, but to the rest of the world, Ryan Hall is having fun.  He is having a nice jog and he's enjoying every minute.  This type of runner is very rarely seen, and mimics that same heavenly gait and demeanor.  If male, their hair is generally tousled in the wind just right.  Their running clothes are always the best, and they are extremely photogenic as they run by.  If you are an Oh-my-goodness-thats-ryan-hall, you are extremely blessed my friend.  Keep that hair tousled and never stop running!


     I hope you enjoyed a playful look at running forms like I did.  Take some time to make fun of yourself today.  I promise, it will be good for you and you'll get a pretty good laugh.  I'll start it off for ya: Which running form are you?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Laughs for today


     With my self-professed Pinterest addiction (RELATED: Pinterest Inspiration), I'm hoping to provide you all with some laughs for today.  Enjoy my random collection of funny pictures!


Help wanted. Must already own a sword.
.“my grandmother got an iphone, but she’s having a little trouble texting.”Christian Memes

Healing

     I was just about to re-hash my post from last night-- one that got deleted-- about my strained foot tendon.  (RELATED: see my rant).  It had been an eloquent piece on how I had lost lost some appreciation for running until my recent run on Monday.  During that run, I just let it go and had some fun.  Unfortunately, that was also when I tweaked my foot enough to finalize the damage from the indoor track last Saturday. I spent three days working out at the gym, which doesn't seem like long, but greatly insults the hardcore image I have built up in my head.  Worse, it degrades the already wimpy image of a distance runner.
     I was getting angry that I kept praying for healing and my foot wasn't even getting better.  However, I tried to step out of my own view and consider how God might be using the experience.  Right away, I realized that my time at the gym was making me yearn even more for a trail run outdoors, regardless of how bad the weather was/ is.  I am so grateful for running because although it's just an activity for some, it's a way I communicate with God.  When I run, I am the way he made me: fast and free, joyful, listening for his voice. Up until Monday though, I'd been going through the motions for the most part.  God really used these few days to show me a greater appreciation for the gift he's given me.

     You know what else?  I finished that post last night, wrapped up my evening, and headed to bed.  After waking up this morning: I can walk on my foot!  No pain!  Praise God-- both last night and this morning!
     Aside from being grateful for running, this experience has also shown me just how grateful I should be to work alongside God.  He lets me be part of learning experiences like this, he loves me enough to grow me rather than just let me be.  That is something so powerful, yet so overlooked, in daily life.  I think we sometimes view it as a cop-out, a reason that the difficult things are really "good things," so God essentially is off the hook.  How mixed up is that?  Who am I to judge what is good or bad, especially from a finite moment.  He is looking at the infinite and is looking to bless me.
     I hope that you take time to be thankful for the things God uses to grow you today.  I am sorrowfully aware that not everyone enjoys running, but I'm sure there is a gift you enjoy every day without much thanks for it.  Take the time!  I remember after a bad race once, my dad finally answered to my complaining: "You know, there are kids in wheelchairs who aren't able to run, kids in other countries who aren't given the opportunity to run, kids who will never race like you do."  Boy, did that lay on the guilt-- and for a good reason!  Take the time to be thankful for the talents and passions God has given you today, and for the opportunities he gives us to come alongside the work he's doing in our lives.

So you're a teenager?

Hilarious and appropriately fitting picture I saw on Pinterest
     Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is an extreme social expectancy of teenagers to, well expect everything and do nothing in return.  We are labeled inept for a good six years and then thrown out into the world, expected to have shed those characteristics that we may have never had. 
     Surely that's not the case, because according to society, aside from being hormonal wrecks and expertly awkward, teenagers have a lot on common.  In fact, from what I've gathered teens must:

1. Be unmotivated, unfocused, and indecisive (although I'm not sure if I agree with that last one..)
2. Despise their parents and younger sibling(s)
3. Go to bed at three in the morning and not venture out into the light till noon.
4. Have absolutely no knowledge of how to drive, only a passion to hit things with their car: mailboxes, puppies, and old ladies with puppies (that explains the suspicious scowl I received when smiling and waving to a neighbor as I drove past last week.)
5. Have terrible memory, and selective at that.
6. Natural reside in either a dark basement of video gaming or a shopping mall. They can be spotted by their typical sweatshirt and sweatpants.
7. Update their twitter and/or Facebook account every 13.7 minutes, according to completely made up statistical evidence.
(Oops, I'll be right back.)
8. Have an intrinsic hatred of books
9. Have an intrinsic love of fire!
10. Be unable to think about any concept outside the bounds of the immediate pleasure, or set goals beyond "I want waffles right now," or the primitive growl: "fooood."
11. Be religiously devoted to every show on ABC Family
12. Have terrible memory
13. Have no regard for personal hygiene (if male) or walk around with an orange, greasy face (females).

 Any other stereotypes you would add to the list?

Lost brilliance

     I am angry: I went back to look for two posts-- one I made last night and the other two weeks ago-- to find that they were strangely missing. At least on my computer, they had showed up as published. Apparently this is not the case.  Now I'm going to have to rack my brain to recreate "the magic" once more. Although I'm also aware that I'm giving my writings and blog much more notoriety than reality has. Alas, you readers will be presented with rehashed/not so good efforts to recreate my old posts.  I'm not sure if you should blame my computer or Blogger, but let me know so we can collectively direct all our anger and frustration on the same source :)  
*It's either that, or take it up with the Complaints Committee for my blog, which is currently on an indefinite water break...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ryan Hall


Ryan Hall - Running Awesomeness!!!

     I am utterly shocked I've made it almost a month without mention of Ryan Hall.  If you don't know who that is: open up a tab, Google the name, and be amazed-- before I shun you forever.  To me, there is no one more attractive than a good looking, marathon running, faith advocating, Colorado based runner named Ryan Hall.  I love him.  He is married, so it looks like that door is closed...
     But in all seriousness, I really do admire the way Ryan fearlessly and joyfully shares his faith.  He did it when he set the American record in the marathon, and he did it when he had to drop out of the Olympic marathon this past summer.
     That is such a testament to me, that faith is something we need to hold onto regardless of the situation.  It's also something made clear in one of my favorite quotes by him:

"One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Elijah outrunning a chariot to Jezreel (a distance over a marathon...I'm pretty sure he ran faster than any of us elites are running today). Sometimes God does give supernatural strength. Knowing that God does move in this way is what makes going to the starting line such a thrilling experience for me. I believe with all my heart God can do something miraculous through me. While I cannot coerce God into moving in this way I still have childlike faith knowing it’s possible, which I reflect in my running by being bold, taking chances and giving God an opportunity to do something amazing. However, I have found from my experience that often times what I hear God telling me is, "My grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9)." God has always provided enough strength for me to do what He wants me to do on the race course. It doesn't mean I always win or do something miraculous but I always have enough to accomplish the purpose which God called me to race for." ~Ryan Hall~

10 things "good Christian girls" don't do

     Like I mentioned in a lighthearted post previously (CLICK HERE), there is a certain stigma surrounding Christians.  Being one of them, I deem myself qualified to speak on the subject.  The problem is, some of us are trying to go around like perfect little angels, while the rest of us are laying low to avoid the heat created by our goody-too-shoos neighbor.  Sometimes, I even find myself doing something that is stupidly insane and think: Wow!  ___ would never do this.  Good Christian girls don't do this!
     The reality is, a "good Christian girl" or really a "good" person, doesn't exist (as I believe).  We're all a bit quirky and messed up.  However, it seems like this is a little known fact.  Either that, or you all are like myself and despise not being perfect.  To break out of that shell, I've comprised a list-- based on no statistical evidence-- of things "good Christian girls" don't do... so I guess that means I haven't done any of them...at all...ever  :)


1. Ask someone how they are without listening to the response
2. Tell someone you'll pray for them without ever doing so
3. Pray for yourself silently when the group is currently praying for someone else (or just falling asleep)
4. Speed in the school parking lot (10 mph speed limit)
5. Clam up and retreat at the mention of: sex, radical Christians, hypocrites, hell, or curse words
6.  Judge people by the intervals between their Facebook status (ex. 1 hr- bored, 25 min- desperate, 10 min.- come on!)
7. Take food out of the microwave and leave it with 2 sec. remaining, which highly annoys family members (I would assume...)
8. Hope that you'll do better on a test because you read your Bible a lot last night.
9. Hope that the person next to you doesn't, because they are arrogant.
10. Give God permission to do "whatever is necessary" to smite said person into humility.
11. Forget the motto that "Modest is Hottest!"



     Any other unrealistic expectations you would add to the list?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ostriches

     Don't judge me: I love Ostriches.  Yes they are smelly.  Yes, they are kind of stupid.  Yes, they are rumored to be suicidal, and yes: I am TERRIFIED of birds (I'll leave that for another post)!  I have a perfectly good reason for my strange obsession though.  Allow me to explain:
 
                                                                  They run.
photo credit: birdsguide.blogspot.com
   
     Plain and simple: these birds are goofy idiots, but they just love to run.  They can run 40 mph, and we're talking distance here, not "wow that Cheetah is blazin' for 18 seconds" fast.  I also read that a kick from an Ostrich is powerful enough to kill a lion!  Ya- they are pretty hardcore.
     I guess the Ostrich also reminds me of myself (usually) when I run: carefree, joyful, and just about as all-out as I can go.  As if I need any further proof of the legitimacy of the Ostrich, any other Christians out there can now revel in the fact that the Ostrich makes an appearance in the Bible.  I realize that it speaks of the Ostrich being oblivious to her young, which is definitely a bad thing.  If you read on though, the verse mentions exactly what I've been saying:

13“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,
but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork.
14She lays her eggs on the ground
and lets them warm in the sand,
15unmindful that a foot may crush them,
that some wild animal may trample them.
16She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;
she cares not that her labor was in vain,
17for God did not endow her with wisdom
or give her a share of good sense.
As much as I love Ostriches...I would be scared to stick my head in this Ostrich Pillow...
I saw this Ostrich Pillow on Pinterest
and though it was too hilarious
not to share!
18Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,
she laughs at horse and rider.


     Yes, there is a very good chance I am misinterpreting this, but after Googling reputable commentators, I have seen nothing of the sort.  The way I see it: the Ostrich is one dumb animal, but man does it run!  It just gets out there and has not a care in the world.  Therefore, the Ostrich is my favorite animal.  Maybe you still don't like Ostriches yourself, but then: maybe you don't like running either....  *In that case, you're just a lost cause :)


*I promise, I will not make a habit of insulting my audience.  I guess it wasn't fair to disclaim my post by seeking you to abstain from negative judgement, while making one myself-- oops.  But I've already spent like ten minutes writing this, so give me a break on this one.

Hebrews 10:32-39

     It was probably about three years ago during a morning meeting of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) that I heard someone mention their "life verse."  She explained what hers was, and encouraged us to share ours with others like she was.  Immediately, I was flushed with embarrassment: what was my life verse!?
     To be honest, I don't think that there is a huge significance to a life verse or passage in the Bible.  I think the point is that we see God's word moving in our life and speaking to us, and that we take it for what it is: the very words of our Heavenly father.  That being said, the very winter I discovered the notion of a life verse/passage, I began my battle with anorexia.  Although I'm not quite sure when I heard these verses-- probably from my dad-- I can point to the specific moments I have clung to them in desperation and found Christ's encouragement to me.  I am extremely utterly blessed, but I have also faced many trials so far in my life.  The reason this passage is so special to me because it speaks to "holding on," through the difficult things in life and waiting for "he who made the promise."  That is who I am: an over-comer, a fighter, and a broken child of God who has a promise of restoration and hope.
     I am so thankful for the power of God's word in our life, yet I take it for granted so often.  If you're anything like me, you often grumble that God isn't speaking to you.  Yet, right in front of us we have the living and active word, "sharper than any double edged sword."  Perhaps we need to absorb all of that before we start complaining (and FYI- you will never completely absorb all the Bible has to offer!)  I hope you meditate and even write out Hebrews 10:32-39 and receive the same joy I have from this passage:



Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while,
“He who is coming will come and will not delay.38 But my righteous one will live by faith.  And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
     39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Unforgettable Runs: East Lansing, Michigan

image
Part of the trail (photo credit: lansingrivertrail.org)
     While on a college visit this summer, my dad and I ventured out for a run in East Lansing one morning.  I had found the Lansing River Trail while Googling for good trials to run, and it looked like a very promising option.  We arrived and parked behind a small Seven 11.  I had my little Iron-Kids Triatholon watch that was my older brother's many many years ago (I've since gotten a Garmin for Christmas!), so there was no telling how far I was actually going to run.  I told my dad I was aiming for 8 miles though, so we planned to meet up in an hour or so.  He was planning on getting in five-ish miles.  I took off onto the trail, and was immediately glad I wasn't in Ohio.  There was beautiful foliage, bridges over running water, and the most  beautiful scenery to run by.  I honestly won't ever forget it, because it seemed like a trail you would see out west in the way it was perfectly carved into the surrounding nature.  It was hard to remember I was in East Lansing, MI.
image
The oh so tempting pond...
(photo credit: lansingrivertrail.org)
The beach part of the Hawk Island Park
(photo credit: http://pk.ingham.org/ParksTrails/HawkIsland.aspx)
     After a while, and a near heart attack from squirrel jumping up at my from a fence, I found myself in the coolest Splash Park and lake area.  I so wish we had one of those here.  Plus, there was a boardwalk that went nearly the whole circumference of the lake.  There was a small dog park as well as fishing area, and the water looked like an irresistible way to cool my sweaty self off.  That was just on the way there too, you can imagine how appealing it seemed on the way back.  That is where the run got interesting.  I passed by a cross country team, a cool looking zoo/park, and some more neat scenery before I stopped at a sign to judge the distance.  "Ok, it says 5 miles, so to get to 10, I just need to go a few more."  Don't ask me how that logic entered my head.  I can only argue that I was tired, out of my element, and burning up from the heat.  I made it 1.5 more miles before my hip started acting up and I looked at my watch  in shock.  "How am I running so slow," I wondered to myself-- misjudging my distance of course.  At that point, I turned around and made my way back.  I'm built for the longer distances, so I always do better after I've got four or so miles under my belt.  Despite the heat, the way back was pretty easy, at least until I was two miles out and saw the beautifully tempting splash park.  My legs were burning, but I knew it was socially unacceptable to either jump the fence into the park or jump into the murky lake beside the pools...
The tempting water... (photo credit: Hawk Island website)
   

     I made my final sprint and finished the run in about an hour in a half.  The first thought that rushed to my head was, "Oh, he's gonna be mad!"  (thinking of my father waiting in the car.)  Only-- he wasn't there.  I figured he'd misjudged the distance as stupidly as I had, so I sat down to stretch and do my leg drains.  Ten minutes later though, I was getting dizzy and realized that I was suffering from the heat and my 13-14 mile run.  I hadn't run that many miles before and I knew I needed some water so I wouldn't pass out.  The car was locked with my phone inside, so I sheepishly walked into the 7 Eleven and asked the cashier for some water.  She gave me a free cup and I gulped it down, giving my stomach that all-familiar ache from too much too fast.  After ten more minutes, I walked back and the cashier graciously lent me her phone, which I used to call my dad, mom, brother, dad, and mom again before someone picked up.  I asked her to keep calling my dad, and went outside to lay on a picnic table and quietly die in my exhaustion.  Finally though, I saw my dad running in--er..."slogging."  He looked like he actually had jumped in that pond.  "Rats," I grumbled to myself, "I told ya' you could have gotten away with it!"  As he explained, he had taken a wrong turn on the way back and didn't realize it for a couple miles.  Hoping I hadn't made the same mistake, he turned around, got lost some more, and then finally made it back.  Crying, I explained to him that 1. I was glad he was safe, 2. I was REALLY worried!, and 3. "I need WATTTTTEERRRR!!!"
     All in all, it was an unforgettable run to say the least.  The trail was amazing-- so much so that I just kept running and was too amazed to properly add up my miles.  Ya, let's go with that.

Argument

     I'm just going to file this one under "Randoms," because I refuse to make another category just for my everyday rants.  Here is your disclaimer though: this is in the realm of rants.  Basically, it all started three weeks ago when my AP Composition and Language class was introduced to argumentative writing.  As part of the unit, we have to write an argumentative essay.  I mean, that's kind of the point.  Right?  I love writing and I enjoy the essays we have done in the past.  This one, however, is giving me a headache.  I can't figure out what to write about!
    This is not writer's block, its I-don't-even-know-where-to-start block.  Understandably, we are advised not to tackle a huge issue within the minimum of four pages, paper.  I've thought and thought though, and can't think of a solid enough idea.  I guess the irony of this is falling short for most of you, because you have not seen me in every day life.  I will go as far to say that I seriously thought about becoming a lawyer because I love to argue so much.  I grew up with two brothers (one older, one younger) as well, so I got my share of expertise in the area of arguing a point.  I had to when my older brother and I fought basically nonstop!  Is that okay to admit anonymously to an internet audience: I like to argue.  Let's put it in nicer terms though: I enjoy "debate."  Granted, I am soft-spoken and overly desire to please others, but inside this head is a roaring flood of evidence for "debates."
     Regardless of the euphemism, I have a problem on my hands: the girl who loves a good "debate" doesn't know what to "debate!"  I have a few ideas, but they're not concrete enough.  To make matters worse, it's not exactly something the world can help me with.  It has to be a topic that I am truly interested in and is relevant to me.  So, I guess I just wasted the past few minutes of your life...Bummer.  Don't try to nail me on it though, I'll probably launch into a full scale "debate" for ya'.         :)
   

¡Español!

Don't ask me why, but language just fascinates me! I started taking Spanish five years ago and I'm going to continue studying it on Spanish. However, with very few people in my Spanish class today due to a "skip day," those of us remaining were grumbling over the work to be done.  Although I'm the first to say I don't enjoy getting up and learning in a classroom for 7 hours and then spending even more time on homework, I know I am so fortunate to get an education. There are also classes that I really enjoy-- like Spanish-- that are a blessing because they break up the monotony my day. I am so thankful for Spanish because I love learning about the culture and language! I think it's so cool that I can eavesdrop on people speaking Spanish at the store....err- could if I wanted. 
     I guess it goes back to the diverse and unique way Good has made all of us. That, ultimately, is what I'm so grateful for. It means I don't have to "be" anything or anyone. It means that I can travel all over the world and not once meet the same person or see the same things. And with seven continents and seven billion people- that's a lot to be grateful for!

Monday, February 18, 2013

All of Me

SweetThank you Lord for loving all of us!  We don't have to be perfect or flawless, you came for us while we were still sinners.  I just saw these pictures on Pinterest and had to share!


YOU ARE SO LOVED!!!
mercyme

My Favorite Songs

     Oh my goodness, this is a really hard one.  But at the same time, I want to share my favorites because I know how much encouragement they bring.  I feel bad though, even choosing one God glorifying song over another...Oh I'm so heathen!!!  (Just kidding, but if you want to check out what I'm talking about with Christian guilt, CLICK HERE for my recent satirical post on it.)  I have conveniently linked the Top 11 (it took forever: you're on your own for the rest!)  Drumroll please....
Lyrics from 10,000 Reasons
(photo credit: http://www.tenjuneblog.com/2013/01/
10000-reasons-free-chalkboard-printable.html)

1. 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman
2. Beautiful by Mercy Me
3. Our God by Chris Tomlin
4. Desert Song (Live) by Hillsong United
5. Shadowfeet by Brooke Frasier
6. Promises by Sancus Real
7. Alive Again by Matt Maher
8. I Can See Your Love by Leeland
9 Where I Belong by Cory Asbury
10 While We Sing by Leeland
11*. Hallelujah by Heather Williams

*I Couldn't stick with just 10.  TOO HARD!


     Here are some others that I have really enjoyed lately.  We'll see if they stand the test of time and make it onto the Favorites List (although yes, I know: 10,000 Reasons and Promises are quite new.  Their greatness surpasses their release date of course!)  

- Your Love Never Fails by Newsboys
-Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave
Lyrics from Your Love Never Fails
(photo credit: cnhfaith.me)
- Good to Be Alive by Jason Gray
- Worn by Tenth Avenue North

     Lastly, here are some that I don't listen to everyday, but I would be ashamed to leave them off the list because they are so good:

- The Only Things that Matters by Luminate
- Holding On by Jamie Grace
-White Flag by Chris Tomlin
-You're Beautiful by Phil Wickham
-Always by Christian Stanfill
- I Can See Your Love by Leeland
- No Matter What by Kerrie Roberts
-As it is in Heaven by Matt Maher
-What Faith Can Do by Kutless
Lyrics from You're Beautiful
(photo credit: 

     Clearly, I've listed a whole bunch of songs.  Which ones on my list are your favorites?  And what are your favorites?

Just a normal day

(Photo credit: Fitsugar)
     I don't know how to say this without sounding disrespectful, but in all genuineness: thank you presidents, for giving me the day off of school.  I was able to wake up in relaxed manner and catch up on the news while eating breakfast.  Then, I finished my homework-- I'm so grateful I won't be doing that tonight-- and reveled in the freedom of a Monday at home.  I was planning on heading out on the trails outside my house for my distance run of the week, but at my dad's suggestion, we drove over to the trail by the river around noon.  I love running, but it gets boring running the same trails/sidewalks over and over.  Today was such a nice change of pace!
     I just pulled my hip flexor last week, so I wasn't planning on going too hard, just a comfortably paced 10 miles.  But I've also been trying to gain confidence in my running, and I doubted that a slow run would do as good a job as a fast paced run would.  For me, the first few miles are always the hardest-- I'm a true distance runner.  Once I got about four miles in though, I was feeling a lot better.  The only problem was that my hip flexor/groin and my foot (that's a new spot for me, probably because I was altering my gait for my hip flexor pain) were starting to ache, so I had to stop a good five times throughout the run for a quick stretch.  Other than that, I had an enjoyable run and gained a great amount of confidence. It was about 50 degrees out too, so the weather was just about perfect and the water was gorgeous to watch as I ran by.
     I just got home, and am now pooped out in the basement with two bags of frozen veggies: one for my groin and the other for my foot.  However, one of the bags was open, so frozen corn got all over the place.  I'm sure I look like a freak with my feet propped up on the wall, veggies in my pants, and icy corn puddled around me....  Happy Presidents Day!  I hope you take joy in the simple pleasures of the day, like I have.  I'm so grateful for just a simple day.  Nothing about today is extraordinary, and it doesn't have to be.  God made it just right, and I am so thankful that he does that day after day of my life.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How to lay your church bulletin to rest

     First of all, don't you dare "throw away" a church bulletin.  No.  You did not just sing of the love of God only to dispose of a verse-containing-pamphlet-of-hope with such disdain.  In the church, we "lay to rest" our church bulletins after Sunday worship.  However, even this is very tricky to maneuver.  Here, I'll lay out for you the best methods for laying your bulletin to rest:

1.The Praise and Slide
     In this first method, it is crucial to stay after service.  Loiter a bit after the last song, making sure to righteously sing along to the last song, and smile at the worship team to acknowledge that, yes, you are the only faithful one still praising.  Next, pick up your bulletin and sandwich it in between your notebook and Bible (if you don't have a notebook for the sermon- then you should be keeping the bulletin containing the sermon notes anyway!).  Also, do not forget your pen, as it is crucial to the plan.  Greet some of the elderly and fellowship your way down the center aisle at a meandering pace.  Make sure to throw out a few 'Praise the Lord's on the way.  Spur of the moment is fine, just make sure you blurt it out there at least three times.  Finally, as you gleefully pass the sound booth you've been aiming for, peer in to "check a song name."  Under that cover, lift your notebook and pretend to write a song title.  At the same time, stealthily slide the bulletin from your Bible into the trash, humming a new Mercy Me song as you go.  Straighten up, keep humming, and make your way to the snack table for some more intense fellowship-ing to rid you of any remaining shame.

2. The Judgement Re-directer
     This method only works if you have a sibling or close friend to throw under the hypothetical bus.  Spend the last few minutes of the service in deep prayer over which brother/sister in Christ to choose.  This will decrease the level of guilt you may experience later.  Once the decision has been reached and the service has concluded, fellowship for 9.4 minutes and then grab the bulletin and clutch it to your chest like the holy-treasure-of-God it is.  It also helps to walk up to an established believer and discuss the power of the verse on the bulletin this week.  Make sure they know you took notes on the sermon outline insert and are attending every single church event listed for this week (you'll see them at the Men's Life Group on Wednesday).  Still talking, look down at the bulletin with a puzzled face-- it may help to rehearse this beforehand-- and call to your "chosen one" in a sweet voice: "Oh Joe, I must have picked up your bulletin by mistake!"  Don't give them a chance to register that their bulletin is still in the pew, but rather continue, "I was just mentioning what a blessing the bulletins always are to me.  I wouldn't want you to miss out on that!"  Hand the puzzled victim the bulletin and smile at the brother/sister in Christ you were talking to.  Tell them to have a blessed and highly favored week, then mention your need to go find and pray for the boy who was sick last week.  Crisis averted!

3. The Praise Offering
     With this method, the steps are less comprehensive, but it only is effective if you have previously established a squeaky clean image.  Otherwise, you will come across as cognitively deficient or self-righteous (note: mentioning that you pray for the self-righteous while completing this method, increases the success rate by a mythical 22.7%).  Carefully gather up all remaining bulletins of the heathens who've already made a beeline for the cookies and snacks in the fellowship hall.  Mutter prayers of forgiveness for them as you labor through the pews of the sanctuary.  To anyone who asks, sweetly explain that you are gathering the sacred bulletins as a praise offering.  If they look confused, stare in disbelief that they are so weak in the faith to not know what you are talking about.  Follow up with a light pat and word of encouragement.  Ceremonially make your way towards the main entrance of the church, allowing the flocks of curious children to flank in behind you.  This will occur more so after three successive weeks of your praise offering.  Next, open wide the doors and let the "little children come."  Tell them to rip up the bulletins in little pieces and put them all in the little basket that you have them go fetch.  Recite a powerful verse about the Holy Spirit, and then fling the shreds up into the sky.  Although a windy day is quite helpful, you also have the option of bringing an industrial fan or just throwing the papers into a bush-- drawing a comparison between the burning bush of the Bible and this bush, which is now covered in the holiness of God.  This method gains you quick approval, but also can be hazardous around eco-friendly believers.  If this is the case, assault them with the manna from God story and ask, "was that considered litter!?"

     I hope these all provide a few laughs, and that you are a little more lighthearted the next time you "lay to rest" a church bulletin that you don't need.



     

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Peace and Assurance

     I just got back from a not-so-stellar first indoor meet of the season.  As my description implies, it wasn't so great.  I'll chalk it up to really sore calves (as in: knotted real bad afterwards) and a time crunch that didn't leave time for me to eat very much today.  Granted, I also know I haven't done any speed work yet either, but I already knew that.  Basically, I was excited to race, but really disappointing in the results!  I got pretty angry when I saw my time.  The third cross country meet (September) was the last time I had a race I really was proud of and excited about, so that is a real bummer.  But in the same way, I know that I am feeling really strong and determined about this season.  It's all for God and I my mind is set that I'm going to trust him.  I'll take what I can from today, and focus on glorifying him next time.  Besides, I want to be on the top of the podium come March, this is only February.
     All rants aside, I am really grateful to God that I was just able to race.  It was not at all what I had wanted, but it was still really fun to get out on the track again and build that fire!  Nothing's changed: I still love it, and I guess I was subconsciously worried about that after the wreck of a cross season I had.  I'm going to state this now so I can look back on it months from now and know I was holding tight:

    God is good and he has an amazing plan.  I don't know if it means victory at the state meet in June, but I do know it is what's best for me.  He loves to see me run and glorify him, and he wants to bless me, and I want to bless his name!  The one who made the promise is faithful, and I believe in his promise, and his promise of goodness.  It is fun, it is joy, to let my legs fly and see results that do not come from me.  The devil always wants to steal, kill, and destroy.  I will not let him take neither my running nor my life for anything other than the glory of God!

I am so grateful that God stands by me and he has a plan.  Because of his plan, I can rest assured with peace, that I don't have to worry about the outcome.  It's easier said than done, but writing or speaking a statement like I have above, helps to solidify that and make it real.  If you are going through anything similar, I would highly suggest writing down a.) what you seek from God, b.) what you are going to do while you wait, and c.) how you will glorify him no matte the outcome.  There is power to a spoken word!  I hope you experience the power in his message of peace and assurance.  I know I do.

Unforgettable Runs: Honolulu and Waikiki Beach


the famous Duke Kahanamoku statue
(photo credit: gohawaii.about.com)
     I have to flash back five years for this one, but I still remember it well: Honolulu, Hawaii.  It was the trip of a lifetime, but I'll save the trip portion for another post.  Right now, I want to talk about one of the most difficult runs I had done up onto that point in my life.  I was only in middle school, and our first track meet was right when I got back from the vacation.  With that in mind, I was set to do a distance run on that particular day.  My dad and I got up early as we usually did, and headed out for what I had determined would be four miles.
Ioloni Palace
 (photo credit: enu.wikipedia)
    The sun heated things up fast though, and as we made our way past the beautiful beach and into downtown Honolulu, I was feeling like four would be a little too far.  My dad urged me on though, and we kept going.  We passed the beautiful "Duke Kahanamoku Statue," waved to the Hawaiians surfing to the right, and kept plodding on past Waikiki beach.  The best part about the run was seeing Honolulu awake in the early morning.  It was about eight, so we began to see surfers and natives alike set to their day.  Small beach shops were opening, women were showering "Duke" with more leis, and the tourists were no where in sight.  Once we passed the stunning Iolani Palace, my dad and I turned around and made our way back to the hotel.  I waved with my beet red face as we passed the surfers again.  Almost there, I saw a small Saturday morning church service setting up on the beach and tuned my ears to the Hawaiian praise as I passed by.  Beautiful.  Seeing my exhausted face my dad leaned over, "the hotel is right around that next bend."  With his permission, I took off and sprinted the last half mile with all I had.  He found me again collapsed on the floor of the hotel room with a determined grin on my flushed face.  6 miles-- the most I'd ever done.  I was so proud, so elated, that I'd reached such a milestone.  I reveled in the glory of my accomplishment for a few minutes, and then slowly peeled myself up off the floor.  After all, it was already past nine, and I was ready to head for the beach!

Care for more?  Then check out my "Unforgettable Runs: Puerto Rico" for more!


Snorkeling

     Blah winter days like today remind me why I'm not a big fan of the Midwest.  I was also thinking of how much more I love the warm tropical climates, and specifically: the snorkeling I've done in many of those places.  I've been blessed to have been able to snorkel in Hanuma Bay (Hawaii), Puerto Rico, numerous locations in Mexico, and John Pennekamp State Park in the Florida Keys.  The big thing I love about snorkeling is that it opens up an entirely different world than I typically see.  I can see vibrant colored and bizarre looking fish, sting rays, starfish, and turtles- that get to live in such beautiful coral reefs.
     I got to thinking just how grateful I should be for the beautiful things God has created!  Each and every one of those ocean creatures is patterned and designed uniquely.  We are too!  That means that God loves each and every one of us enough to create us with our own quirks and passions.  That is something I often take for granted, just assuming that either I'm like everyone else or-- although I'm ashamed to admit it-- I'm the only one that he put so much thought into.  Nope, he did that for every one of the seven billion people on this earth (and all the animals!)  How amazing is that!?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Unforgettable Runs: Puerto Rico

     I wouldn't call myself an expert on destination running, but I have been blessed to run in numerous exciting and offbeat places.  To start my "Unforgettable Runs" series of my best vacation running memories, I'm headed back to Puerto Rico.

Vieques is the tiny island on the right (photo credit: geog.nau.edu)
     My mom, brother, and I traveled there three summers ago, set on a week of adventure.  We opted out of  old San Juan, and instead focused on the area of El Yunque and then 3 nights on the Island of Vieques.  Though I ran throughout the trip, the most unforgettable runs I had were on this small, wild island.  For vacationers, Vieques is often skipped over in favor of the big island.  It's no wonder either, with very little amenities tourists usually look for.  For us?  We could care less about the lack of city center, fast food, or much of anything.  That's exactly why we chose Vieques.  Our choice was confirmed when we picked up the rental car (one of the two cars they had at the rental car place) and promptly came across a wild horse along the road.  While in Vieques, we stayed at the Hacienda Tamarindo, a gorgeous and homey inn with sweeping ocean views.  And that, is where I took off the next morning for my run.
     Carrying my phone in case of trouble, I made my way down the road and before long, saw four wild horses in the brush.  Now, I am terribly scared of horses, so I wasn't sure what to do.  I waited for my mom to catch up behind me, and then took off again.  Watching for any other horses (or chickens- also common) I ran towards the beach.  The run itself was great because I got great views of the ocean, and got to see native Puerto Ricans' houses along the way.  One such house was having a little "event" when I passed by.  I saw two of them sitting across the dirt road from their house on fold-able lawn chairs.  They had drinks in their hands and were gazing intently towards the house.  Confused, I slowed my pace and also directed my eyes to the house.  They were slaughtering a pig!  No joke!  In the lean-to beside the house, a man was tying down a giant hog on a table!  His knife was ready, but he smiled as I fearfully darted on my way.  Yes, I made it to the beach and saw some gorgeous stuff there, but seriously: my mind was on that pig!  When I finally ran back to the Hacienda and by the house where the pig had been, he was no more and the people were picking up there lawn chairs.  Again, they smiled and waved.  Very friendly people, but I couldn't get past that bloody pig- as much as I love ham.
This is when I finally made it to the beach that day.

     All drama aside, I will never forget how cool it was to see native Puerto Rico in such a "wild" way.  The water is clear, the sun is warm, the nature is gorgeous- the run was amazing!  I can't wait to get back and do it again!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

     Piggybacking off of my "Do They Like Me?!" post earlier this week, I want to delve into the wonder of Valentine's Day.  When I was little, it used to be very fun at my house.  Mom and Dad would have thoughtful cards and little gifts, and my mom even made her card by hand (which was a big deal)!  Now, Valentine's day has lost its luster.  It seems like a fun day to spend with someone special...if you have one.  And it's probably a great time to enjoy the blessings in a romantic relationship...if there is one.  See my dilemma?  In all honesty however, Valentine's Day isn't about human love at all.  What would we know of love without the true love of Christ?  I've always known it, but I struggle with that reality sounding too cliche.  How can I accept that?  
     Well,  I did some thinking and I realized it goes back to what I posted last week about wanting everyone to like me.  The opinion of God is the only one I should care about.  That ties into the feeling of "needing" a relationship to celebrate love- or a "day of love."  First, God showed us love by creating us and being with us.  Then, he gave up his son for us, and Christ showed love by dying for us.  
     So today, I am grateful that his love supersedes any other.  I am so thankful that he is teaching me these lessons now, so I am better prepared for my future husband someday.  I will know that it isn't human love that completes me or makes me happy.  Those blessings stem from the father of Heavenly lights who dances over me and loves to be with me.  

Happy Valentine's Day!  Don't forget to spend some time with the one who loves you most!