13 July 2015

Running with the Marines

Last spring I began running again.  We were regular runners before the move west.  But then we had to adjust to altitude.  Then we had some major set backs (surgery, PF troubles, and traveling to name a few) in 2014 to our running game.  So when 2015 came around we were determined to get back up and get going again.  

Let me just say that relearning to do something that you used to do is really hard.  Starting from scratch, when you know that a few seasons ago you ran for nearly 3 hours, is not easy.  So very much of running is a mental game.  It doesn't take long to defeat yourself and give up.  The mental game is weak for me right now.  I do not have the resolve that I did 2 years ago.  I am relearning how hard every run is, yet how much I am capable of, and how good it feels to finish.

As I reenter the running scene there are a few things I had to relearn for me to succeed.  First: I need water.  A whole lot of water.  I am a thirsty runner and can not go without liquids.  Second: I need a light meal before and a light one afterwards. Food is key for me to succeed.  Too much and I die.  Third: I need a plan.  Free training app, C25k or C210K, is perfect for me to restart with.  Plus later the timers are great for interval training.  but eventually I need a race to keep up the training.  Lastly: I need to begin with the Marines.

I need ear noise (music, sermons, conversation).  I am not picky but do need headphone action to keep me company.  When I began again I tried music, but it failed and left me walking in boredom.  In the beginning my perspective was short and I needed shorter tunes.  After a few runs of trying to get songs to work, I remembered the Marines.  I switched to cadence and began running with gusto.  I love listening to the Marine PT cadence while I run and here's a few reasons why they inspire me:

  1. Motivation - One of the main purposes of cadence is to motivate the men.  Oh boy is it motivating.  As I listen to them downplay exercise it helps propel me onward.
  2. Training - The cadence reminds the men to train often and train hard.  It is just what I need to remind myself.  There is a battle and I need to be active and seasoned for my part.
  3. Historical - The lyrics often contain history about the battles and commanders.  It reminds me that I need to review my spiritual and biblical history to keep myself informed.
  4. Bigger Picture - They sing often of being part of the Corps.  I am reminded that I am part of a bigger story.  One that goes from the beginning of time and will never end.  
  5. Solider - Can not listen to any one of these tracks and not hear a solider reference.  I love this image because it is the same image Paul uses in the Bible to describe us.  Every Christian is a solider. 
  6. Weapons - They frequently mention M16's + K-Bars.  Frequently.  Hearing about their battle weapons reminds me that I am armed and equipped.  Not only for life but also for this run.
  7. War - So many references to being in combat or to an historical event.  War is woven throughout the tunes.  It reminds me that we are in a battle.  Not with people, but with the heavenlies fighting against darkness. 
  8. Love - Of course there are many a love songs.  The outcomes of the relationships are usually that the Marine sticks with the Corps and the woman either joins him or stays behind.  But nothing separated Him from His duty.  Just like us.  There is no relationship here on earth that can separate us from God.  HE is completely devoted to us. 
  9. All In - The cadences leave no room for maybes.  These guys are all in for whatever assignment they are given.  They are faithful to the group and to the mission.  As Christ says lukewarm isn't an option, we are to be all in for whatever this Christian thing means.
  10. Dedicated - This is a word that often appears, as it should, in the songs.  They pride themselves on being dedicated to the Corps and to each other.  They hold a high standard for character.  Integrity isn't an option, it's expected.  Today, the situation is the same for those who follow Christ.  We are to be motivated by love, be agile/flexible, responsible, take initiative/go, be noteworthy, have endurance and excellence.  

01 June 2015

Sarah + Rushing Ahead

Recently I found myself in an emotional hurricane.  The kind where something is brewing deep but you fear being out in it.  Fed up with condition I strapped junior into the stroller and headed out to walk and hash this out with God.  I walked with intensity and fervor.  Soon sweating and begging God to calm and clarify this inner storm.  At some point my son fell asleep, but I was not finished.  

For 90 minutes I crossed the neighborhood.
For 90 minutes I cried and yelled.
For 90 minutes I shadow boxed with God.

Finally, drained of all fight I returned home.  Better.  But with many more questions.  Before I did not know what was gnawing on my soul.  In the walk, it was named.  But now I needed to know what direction to go next.  

I had spent over an hour revisiting old wounds.  Asking God why He hasn't answered my many of my prayers?  And why my dreams aren't good enough to be?  And if He is strong and able why won't He give me a miracle?  Lots of big questions attached to a very deep gaping wound.

At the end I recognized that I was at the end of my rope.  I was done with this mess.  I didn't want healing I only wanted my way.  Desperately wanting my will.  So much so that during our conversation I saw that my heart was willing to break boundaries God had given me years ago.  I was at the end of my rope.  Hopeless.  Hurt.  Isolated from God.

And then He, as He frequently and graciously does, pointed me to His Word.  Sarah was my example this time.  Sarah's story is found in the early part of Genesis.  As I reread her story I was struck by how long she had to wait until God chose to fulfill His promise and how much damage she did by her choice to step ahead of God.

Sarah was 77 when she lost patience and chose to bypass God.  77 years of waiting and praying and trying and hoping.  I just can not even imagine how she made it so long.   But finally, after 77 years she decided that she couldn't wait any more.  Actually, she decided to take matters into her own hand by making a choice that, from the outside, appeared normal to her community.  In the land she lived in, it was not wrong for a man to have several wives.  Although her idea of having her husband marry her servant may have looked typical to an outsider, I believe Sarah must have known that she was stepping ahead of God  Her choice to escape pain and relieve impatience cost her.  BIG.TIME.  

As soon as her servant was elevated to a wife, Sarah's impatience turned quickly to bitterness and resentment.  Her plan failed.  Miserably. And now there were lives of others wrapped up in this mess. From the servant came a son that would forever be against Sarah's son.  FOREVER.  Strife, bloodshed, arguments, and war.  Always against each other.  Never peace.

Sarah! Part of me is astounded that she was able to hold out for so long.  And yet I am irritated that she could not have waited any longer. And then I look at myself.  Nearly 5 years of infertility and I find my heart impatient.  Like Sarah I find that I want to force open these closed doors.  And then the LORD ever so gently reminds me that there are consequences.  The last thing I want are consequences like that!!

So what am I left with?  Today I have the words "Faithful" and "Wait".  They are sitting with me in this tender stormy season.  I don't like them, but they are what I have been given.  Wait for Him, don't rush ahead like Sarah.  And know that He is faithful to you just like He was faithful to her.  Same God.  Same abilities.   

07 May 2015


From Wikipedia: The Oxford Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church 
defines acedia (or accidie) as "a state of restlessness and inability 
either to work or to pray". Some see it as the 
precursor to sloth—one of the seven deadly sins.

With the new year came a deep sluggishness in my being.  I was just out of all of my "want-to".  My normal activities and habits weren't happening.  Sometimes it felt like nothing was happening.  All I truly wanted was to lay on the couch and check out.  But that wasn't an option most days.  There was laundry and dishes and groceries and volunteer work that needed finished.  Although I was able to function (which is a strong distinction between acedia and depression in my opinion) my heart was far removed.  

When I came across acedia in April, it's use, history, and definition illuminated my struggle. I am a highly self-motivated person, and achiever, and a do-it-myself kind of gal.  This detachment had me both concerned and asking why.  I tried to embrace it and just let the pieces sit where they wanted.  But at the end of each day I would lay in bed and tally all of the "should haves" and "ought tos" from my day.  Although I tried to embrace the relaxed lifestyle it is not for me and left me with guilt, frustration, and lacking. 

Near the end of March I figured I had tried the "embrace" theory long enough.  I decided that I needed to just start.  Start something.  Start doing the things I loved even if I didn't "feel" like it.  "Pick up a book, anything, and just read!" I would tell myself.  (Well ... maybe it was more of a demand, but I am totally ok with that.)  I made myself unpack the camera and go somewhere and use it.  I forced myself to go outside and just walk.  I have been prodding myself to write again.  Next on my force-list is sewing a project.  Start.  Just start being you.

I can't say that making myself is eliminating the acedia.  But what I can say is that making myself is awakening and reattaching me to my inner self again.  It is helping restart much that was shut down.  Much is coming alive again.  I feel that the coinciding with spring is somewhat divine.  

02 May 2015

Panic Attacks

Wikipedia: "Panic attacks are periods of intense 
fear or apprehension of sudden onset..."

"A Beautiful Disaster" / Marlena Graves / chapter seven / page 96
"There is almost nothing as terrible as this feeling, 
this sensation of being helpless, panicked,
 and alone without God and without hope in the world."

After reading this paragraph from Mrs. Graves book, I had to stop and put the book down and process.  I have never heard of this disorder applied to the spirit.  Is this possible?  Is this a true thing? Is she over reaching her descriptions?

The longer I have sat with this idea the more I noticed my own heart does have a tendency toward panaic + fear + alone + helpless.  Since relocating a year and a half ago, there have been days that were debilitating.  I considered it my "funk" and hoped it would pass.  The wild emotions and the forgetting orf truth would lift as quick as it set in.  I woud again see clearly.  The fear would disapate. The weight and worry would dissolve.  And thankfully my husband waits patiently with me during these long days.  

Since these have begun (READ: moving across country), I have wrestled with why?  Why does this happen?  Is it only me?  Is there something that needs medicated?  How can I see it coming and run away?  Can I actually avoid it?  Can I shorten it's duration?  So many unanswered questions.  And no game plan to combat it either.  Other than prayer, very little has been helpful in clearing the fog and bringing me out of the pit.  

And then I read this chapter and heard her word of idenification.  Her chapter gave my "funk" a name.  It gave it a shape.  It defined the condition of my heart and thus pointed me toward an escape route and hopefully a detour to avoid this pit.  

Now I can pray speciaifcally about peace.  I can meditate on the truth that God is with me and never leaves.  I know that if another one comes, that prayer is the best/only option.  And I know that they will not last forever but will end.  ( I am grateful that they are fewer and further apart than when we first moved.)  My next learning area is to see what my triggers are.  

In the meantime I am so glad to have a grasp on this struggle.  I find understanding helps me reduce the crazy.... well maye only just a little :)

18 December 2014

Mudpies for Cake

I made mudpies as a child.  After a rain (which was often in Virginia) a neighbor girl and I would use sticks to stir up the smoothest mud hole.  Then we would carefully place rocks around the perimeter as decorations.  And typically there was moss available, from the tree in my yard, that we could harvest and add to the concoction.   Sometimes grass or bark would find it's way in as well.  All depends on what was available and how crafty we were feeling.  Mudpies.  The original playdough.

I was recently reminded of this pastime as I was praying to God for help with some old wounds.  Pain from my past was revealed and I didn't know what to do with the hurt.  So I asked God what I needed to do.  He told me to bring it to Him.  Then I saw the picture.  {Being visual means God often gives me pictures to help me understand Him + I.}

Little me, a lovely drippy mudpie in hand, placing it into the hands of God.

Eww gross!  was my first thought.  Why would I EVER consider this a good idea?  Why would I give the King a mudpie?  It isn't a usual gift, it isn't costly, nothing even close to pretty.  And of course it's terribly messy.  Why would He ask me to do that?  I didn't understand the image.

But as I have been pondering this for a few days I think mudpie is a great image.  God asks us to give Him our past, pain, failures, and questions.  When you think of it, everything we have to offer is earthly.  It's all dirt.  It's nasty compared to His glory.  It's sinful and dark.  He is vastly far above mud, no matter how well you dress it up.    

Although childishly simple and earthly dirty, He receives the mudpie with great delight.  As our Father, He is thrilled to have us offer Him ourselves and loves being invited to the mudpie party.  And what is best is that  He can transform our mess to beauty.

God offered me birthday cake.

I am not sure what it will be for you, but for me, the King offered me birthday cake in exchange for mudpies.  A yellow birthday cake with chocolate frosting complete with sprinkles and candles.  It has to be birthday cake because that symbolizes full on celebration.  And that is what God does.  God celebrates each of us wholly and individually.  Always.  He celebrates us with His love, His delight,  and His acceptance + joy.  For me the image of birthday cake speaks of each of these.  Birthday cake can also connect to the ideas of growing and maturing.  A product of giving your dirt to God.  Birthday cake is one of my favorites and God knew that.

Mudpies for Cake.  A beautiful exchange.  

01 October 2014

Wrestling With A Dream

I find myself stuck.  One foot in a dream and another in my reality.  I am balanced in the middle and cannot seem to move forward or backward.

Behind me is the dream I have owned since childhood.  The picturesque life I believed I would have.  The job, family, house, and lifestyle that is serene, vivid, and joyful.  This dream was sculpted over time by media, observing other's lives, and my wild imagination.  It has been chiseled for so long that it is set like concrete in my head.  It's a beautiful work.

But, the problem is that it won't budge.  It's engraved.

Ahead of me is reality.  My life has fragments from my dream, but it is not the life I thought I'd be living.  The location isn't right.  My family wasn't drawn according to plan.  My identity has been shifted and skewed in ways I didn't expect.  Reality isn't nearly as lovely nor is it as easy as I prepared for it to be.

Most importantly.... reality doesn't match my dream.

This is a problem.  I try to let go of this childhood dream and try to embrace the truth of today, but it doesn't seem to work.  Instead I find my heart collects discontentment, disappointment, and distrust.  I am not sure how to release a dream well.  I do not know how to forgo expectations and in it's place hold hope.  I have yet to be able to be flexible, keeping the future in an open hand.  It just doesn't click for me.

Others can do it.  I know it's possible.  I read about it in their books.   They inspire me to try it again.  So I do my best to release this backwards dream.  But it's not too much further down the road that I find I'm back where I started clenching what's behind and begrudging the look of what's ahead.

One day I hope to find myself, with joy gazing onward toward tomorrow, with both feet planted happily in my reality of life.  One day I hope to be able to, with honest understanding of what is best for me and trust in God's plan, walk away from these childish backwards dreams of what life ought to be like.  One day I would like to walk in freedom, no longer shackled in between the "should be" and the "is".

24 September 2014


I was in the closet last week trying to get dressed for bible study.  Translation: I wanted to look cute but comfy.  Unfortunately, I have a hurt heel and can only wear sneakers or hiking sandals.  Otherwise I choose to walk all day in pain.  I finally settled that I could wear my cute-ish black flats, IF I first ran to the Mart of Wal to get a shoe insert.  Once the shoe choice was complete I was now free to dress myself accordingly.

That is when I faced another, slightly deeper, challenge.  Clothes.  Having some unexpected weight gain this summer, currently 80% of my clothes are tight.  I am in a season where I feel chubby most days.  Although I've never been "skinny" but, I typically possess less of myself.  Naturally, having "nothing to wear" I began to do what any mature woman would do.  I threw a fit.

Why this morning?... Why can't I seem to make jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt cute?.... Why can't I loose weight faster?.... Why can't I have more money to buy cute shoes with arch support?... On and on I dramatically went until this gem came stumbling out of my mouth... Why can't I just have one decent outfit that will hide me?

Whoa? What?  Apparently I want to hide and not face the truth.  Two thoughts immediately  emerged from this complaint: 1.The self-insights from my closet are amazingly deeper than I expected and 2.Accepting truth is hard.

It seems as though I don't want to see truth.  I want to dismiss it.  Walk away like it isn't standing naked in my closet (and having a fit).  But if I choose to walk away from truth, then it appears my only option left is to believe lies.  Since truth is black and white, if you're avoiding, dismissing, running, or hiding from truth, then you're keeping company with lies.  

I don't want lies.  But neither do I want truth. 
I don't think I get to invent a middle option.
So I am left with a choice.

It takes boldness and courage and humility to believe and accept truth.  It isn't easy and it can be downright ugly at times.  Occasionally there may even include some throwing of fits.  But I believe that accepting truth will work better in the long run than compromising with lies.  I believe lies will steer you wrong 100% of the time.  But truth.... well truth can set you free.  And that is a much better gift than cute clothes.