Friday, November 30, 2012

What I am and am NOT doing...

Here comes another Holiday Season! According to most retailers it's been Christmas for nearly two months now, yet I have a feeling the worse is yet to come. Before this season gets the best of me, I wanted to sit down and decide what I am and am not going to do this year.

I AM... intentionally going to celebrate Advent.
This means I'm intentionally celebrating the birth of my Savior and not the birth of American greed. I bought an advent calendar and will anticipate with utter joy celebrating each day by reading the Divine Hours and that little piece of chocolate!

I AM NOT... filling my calendar with something to do every single night!
There are people to see and things to do, but unless I want to be unhealthy, stressed out, and frazzled for the next month, I will take time to clean my apartment, cook meals, read books, do laundry, etc.

I AM... putting up a Christmas tree.
I do this every year so I'm not sure where the thought came to my mind to not decorate. A beautifully decorated tree is one of the biggest joys of the Christmas season for me. Nothing is more peaceful than sitting in a treelite room with a book and a mug of hot chocolate. I will have that evening this year!

I AM NOT... waiting till the last minute to buy (and wrap) my presents.
Nothing saps the joy from me more than trying to figure out what to get my third cousin once removed (yes, I have to buy my third cousin, once removed a present) what to get on December 23. I've already begun stressing about what to get everyone and where that money is going to come from... this stops on Dec. 10!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Till I Collapse

'Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.

Eminem - Till I Collapse

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy 90th Birthday!

My grandpa turned 90 this past week! Everything that is awesome about myself is because of him. He's a fabulous man and I can't believe he is 90!

Every year for his birthday the whole famdamnly heads to the Illini homecoming game. This was a tradition dating back to my childhood; however, only recently have we tied this event to his birthday and getting request from more and more family members to join us.

We look forward to this game and time together and each year fear it will be the last. Actually, about 4 years ago, we all swore it would be our last, but Grandpa just keeps buying us tickets and we keep gathering in Champaign to celebrate him.

This year turned out to not be a good year for the Illini as we lost... horribly. However, we made the most of it together.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Goodbye Idols

God is in the process of ripping away my biggest idol. It's incredibly painful and I'm literally doing everything I can to hold onto it with all my strength. Seems a little opposite of what I'm really suppose to do...

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30 ESV)

The sad part of this is that I've been fighting this idol for years. I hate that I'm controlled by it. I want freedom from it; however, in my weakness my flesh takes over and I enslave myself constantly.

Oh may I know and live in the freedom found in serving Christ alone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Preview Review

We started a church! Well, we kind of started a church a couple Sunday's ago. The Journey Southern Illinois had their first preview service in Marion, IL (and have sense had their first Gospel Orientation). This has been a long time coming yet quickly approached as well.

A few years ago I made my first trip to Marion with a couple of our leaders to see what our possible options might be, but it just wasn't time yet. The opportunity we had we could have made work, but was just too many challenges/draw backs. God had other plans and a different time table for us.

About a month ago, things started moving and moving quickly. A launch pastor was identified and leaders started jumping on board. All of a sudden our January start date was moved to Oct. 21!

Normally this would stress me out and I'd question the decision to hurry this up so much. But, it was different. Often it can feel like we are pushing God along instead of walking beside Him. This time it felt like we were barely holding onto the tail of his rob he was moving so fast! There's much more freedom and joy found in keeping up with God instead of pushing Him along.

Because of the quick timeline, we didn't really know who would show up. Two weeks ago 30+ people drove up from Southern Illinois to attend a Journey service here in St. Louis. We met and talked about everything having to do with this new adventure. It is crazy and awesome how quickly so many people gathered around this vision for The Journey Southern Illinois.

Soon we were on our way to Marion to meet with their leaders before their first preview service. You could feel and sense the excitement and anticipation. Everyone was guessing on how many people would show up... 150, 200, 300!

Thankfully, we had a small army to help set up. And they were the best kind of volunteers... the kind that are happy to help, but just as happy to hang out with one another. You could tell they enjoyed simply being around each other and serving together.
Mobile church means one thing...set up/tear down
Before we get to set up, let's talk about how the trailer got to Marion. Our Belleville church "just so happened" to find a new semi-permeant facility in O'Fallon, IL. An area that was much more central to the population they were reaching. That facility "just so happened" to be available for us to use on Oct. 28. This meant that we would load the trailer at Belleville after service on Oct. 21, haul it the two hours north to Marion just in time to unload it and set up their first preview service. 

The trailer pull in right on schedule and we immediately get to work. I secretly love mobile church. It's a lot of work, but there are so many awesome, generally unseen benefits to it....

Mobile church can reorientate people's vision that THEY are the church and not the building. The church is a group of people and not an event you attend or place you go. Mobile church can better serve the community since funds aren't used on a building and it's upkeep. Mobile church forces some to hear the gospel cause it's their job (ie. the guys who work at the school, the convention center, the hotel and would never, ever step foot into our church building). Mobile church can provide a means of community and serving together during set up and tear down. But, mobile church can only do these things if the leaders and pastors believe it can. If you as a leader don't think you are a 'real' church until you have a building you'll slowing lead your people on a mission for a church building. Then you get that church building and your time and your people's time is taken out of the community and into your building to renovate it and to clean it and to fix it.*

Okay... off soap box.

Soon, this empty ballroom became a worship center. It was beautiful!

Setting up chairs for the 170 people that would attend
And then the people started coming. And coming. And coming. I didn't know any of them, but they knew each other. You could tell they already knew and loved each other, but a church was here to bond them together in one space to worship together in one voice.
170 adults, 39 kids, 31 staff and volunteers

What you don't see in the pictures are the 40 kids! Yes, 40 kids (20 of which were elementary aged!) The Journey Kids volunteers set up a space they weren't familiar with, with supplies they've never seen before, taught kids they may have never met, curriculum they weren't familiar with all for the Glory of God!! Towards the end of the evening I walked into the Journey Kids room and a leader pulled me over and said "look at this! take a picture! this is beautiful!" And, it was! It was a beautiful picture of the church. A group of people... a family coming together to proclaim and display the gospel through words and deeds; whether that meant unloading a trailer, setting up a table, running a sound board, or teaching children, they all displayed the gospel in either words or deed!

*This makes me sound like I'm against all church buildings, I'm not. My church owns several and are looking for more. Sometimes a building is needed. The mess and tension and weight of setting up/tearing down every single week becomes too much. However, I believe too often we look towards the building to be the solution to the tension and problems we experience. Yet, we can look at those and find creative ways to pastor people and/or fix the problems without needing a building.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Intentionally getting healthy

I've been sick for awhile now. I've tried to deny it and tell myself I'm imagining things or just need to toughen up. But, I started to notice a change with my body back in April/May. It takes a long time for me to really notice things and even longer for me to convince myself that something is wrong and I should go to the doctor. In June I headed to the doctor. I had narrowed my choices of what was wrong down to a few things and we talked about those. I figured it was my iron and yes, my counts were low. I went to another doctor in August and I learned a little bit more which solved some issues, but not the whole.

Finally last week I had had enough and went back to the doctor. I'm thinking it's going to be a long road which frustrates me to no end! From research I've done, I think I have a gluten sensitivity or allergy. It seems like all the rage right now to do gluten fee so part of me thinks I'm reading too much into it. And, I refuse to alter my lifestyle drastically without some sort of diagnosis or doctor recommendation. Mainly because I know I won't stick to it without one and apparently it can screw up your tests. Secondly, what the heck are you suppose to eat?! Here's the list from the Mayo Clinic:

Avoid unless labeled 'gluten-free' 
Avoid these foods unless they're labeled as gluten-free or made with corn, rice, soy or other gluten-free grain. Also check the label to see that they're processed in a facility that is free of wheat or other contaminating products:

Cakes and pies
Imitation meats or seafood
Processed luncheon meats
Salad dressings
Sauces (including soy sauce)
Self-basting poultry

Really, what's left after you take those out?!

In the mean time, I'm waiting for the results of another test and removing dairy from my diet (on my doctors recommendation). I didn't know how often I had dairy until I removed it. I miss cheese... and pumpkin spice lattes!

I have such mixed emotions about this whole thing. I HATE not knowing what's going on. I HATE the process of figuring it out. I HATE the possibility of completely altering my lifestyle. But, I feel so good about working towards getting better. I want to be healthy.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alone time

October is nuts with a capital CRAZY!

I think I can fill my calendar with something to do every single night (especially considering the Cardinals are once again in the play-offs). Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it. I love a busy schedule. I love hanging out with friends. I love being productive and getting stuff done. But, I need a night alone. I night to clean my disaster of an apartment, a night to read, a night to journal, a night to do laundry, a night to go to the grocery store, a night to pay bills. Oh dear... I think I need more than a night to do all of this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Intentionally Celebrating

I'm long overdue for a blog post especially considering I committed to blogging every single day this month. Not to mention the fact that I ran a stinkin' marathon and haven't posted about it yet!

I started training for the Chicago Marathon in May and since then I've ran nearly 400 miles in preparation for October 7th, 26.2 miles. You'd think with all those miles under my feet, I'd cross the start line with more than enough confidence to get me through till the finish line (or at least to mile 20). Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, I was nervous, but more than that I was overwhelming confident I would NOT be able finish. Never before have I doubted myself and my ability so much as I did running a marathon. I have absolutely no idea what propelled me on, other than my sheer determination and fear of failure.

I drove up to my parents house where my mom joined me and we continued to Chicago. We went straight for the expo where I picked up my number, timing chip, and of course bought a 26.2 sticker for my car.

We walked around a little, took advantage of a couple photo opportunities and found the official merchandise where we spent WAY too much on shirts and mugs to commemorate this massive event in my life.

After the expo, we checked into our hotel and headed to my brother's for dinner. I brought my own food and they enjoyed the lovely pie they had bought me for good luck. We left fairly early as I still had to set my stuff out for the next morning and try and get some sleep.

Before I knew it, I was awake, dressed, and on my way to the start line. At this point my nerves were there, but manifested themselves quietly. Since spectators weren't allowed in the starting area, I made my way to the start alone. The front desk worker told me that most people were walking the mile to the start which seemed absolutely crazy to me. I managed to find the nearest subway where I joined hundreds of other marathon hopefuls and one drunk man who argued with us that the marathon started tomorrow morning. Once to the corral, my nerves manifested themselves verbal as I became a chatty kathy who talked to absolutely everyone and anyone that was near me. Finally one girl looked at me and said "I'm so glad you sat down next to me. Talking to you keeps my mind off what we're about to do." That's exactly what I was doing, trying to not focus on the horror before me.

I was in the very last corral and consequently had to wait nearly an hour and half after the elite athletes had started to start my race. They were literally half way finished before I even started! Now, I did just about every single training run in miserable heat so it was quite the shock when all of a sudden on race day it was FREEZING! By the time I started I could no longer feel my feet; it took a full mile before I'd regain feeling again.


Once started I knew my mom and the two most amazing friends were waiting around mile 1 outside our hotel. Sure enough they were there and already cheering! Words can not express how I needed along this course!

Miles 3-10 were the absolute worse! Running is 90% mental and that proved correct during this race. At mile 3, I was already convincing myself I wasn't going to finish. I uncontrollably told myself I was stupid to even try, I was already the last person, and every other negative thought you could think of. I knew I was believing lies and tried to talk more positively to myself, but nothing helped. I got to mile 7.5 and saw my brother. My first words were "I'm not going to finish!" What I needed to hear was "yes you are! you can do this, you've trained for it!!" Instead he said "don't push yourself, if you need to quit it's okay." He meant these as encouraging words, but they deflated me even more.

At mile 11 Courtney (aka the best support system you can have), ran up to me. All I could do was look at her and say "I hurt WAY to much WAY too early in the race!" She immediately ran ahead and got me advil and pushed me along the way. Exactly what I needed!!

The best decision of the race was getting my name printed on my shirt. All of a sudden everyone was my best friend and had come out to cheer for just me. At one water stop the entire group of volunteers chanted my name as I ran through. It. Was. Awesome.

Soon enough I was at the half way point and I got a text from Courtney saying I had finished the first half in 2:56:58 seconds!! I FINALLY did a half under three hours!! This was the encouragement and motivation to keep going that I needed!

Matt and Courtney were at mile 14 where I stopped to use the restroom (added bonus, there was still tolet paper in the port-a-potty!). I saw Matt and Courtney again at mile 16 and I was still feeling pretty good, my legs were kind of tired, but my hipflexers was really starting to hurt and I stopped to stretch a couple of times.

At the corner right around mile 20 there was the whole gang; mom, my brother, Matt and Courtney. As soon as I saw them, I exclaimed "I'M GOING TO FINISH!!" It wasn't until that moment did my thought change from "you are stupid to even attempt this" to "you're actually going to finish a marathon!"

In my head I knew this was the time it was really going to suck....the dreaded wall, but I really never felt it. If anything I hit the wall at mile 3. By mile 20 I had convinced myself I was actually going to finish. Plus, having Courtney with me distracted me and the miles flew by!

Courtney somehow became obsessed with this girl in front of us. We'd pass her and a few minutes later she'd be in front of us again. She had about 4 or 5 people who jumped in to support her which was good cause my support was pushing me to beat her!

Once at mile 25.2, I told Courtney I wanted to do the last mile by myself. This had been my race, my accomplishment and I wanted to soak in every moment of the last mile. I bid her a farewell and ran on through the crowds and cheering people. Tears started welling up in my eyes that I had accomplished this. It's weird cause it's more than a physical test. It's a mental game of determination and discipline.

I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face as I rounded the last corner and saw for the first time the finish line. The glorious finish line!!

I kept going running as I could. And for goodness sakes making sure to keep that one girl behind me! They were literally taking down the signs as I ran through, but hundreds of people were still there cheer for the very last people to cross the finish.

After crossing the finished I grabbed a mylar blanket and made my way forward. I kept looking for the medals and didn't see any. I asked a couple of people, but no one would say what was going on. One woman started saying how they would mail them to us. Finally, I figured out they had run out of medals and I wasn't getting one. At this point I was already crying, but disappointment isn't a strong enough word to explain how I felt. Ask anyone who runs marathons (or even half marathons), the medal is more than a reward for a long run. It's your motivation, it's what you think about during every. single. training run. You visualize the moment someone puts that shiny, heavy medal around your neck. And, I was robbed of that moment. that feeling. Yes, they were going to mail me one, but it's not the same as walking around with a medal around your neck. A sense of community with the other runners communicating "we did this! we did this together!"

As that sunk in, I made my way to the beer tent. I haven't had an ounce of alcohol since May (technically I had a beer in Haiti in June) and I had been thinking of that cold beer at the finish line for MONTHS. Once to the beer station they told me they too didn't have enough. Just as I began to completely loose it, a guy informed us they just got another keg and were about to tap it. I waited.

With beer in hand I continued walking to the exit and join my mom, brother, Matt and Courtney. I really just wanted a picture of the medal to cherish till mine came in the mail. The first person I asked didn't speak english and thought I was going to steal her medal from her. Let's be honest, I probably would have tried. Luckily the next woman had pity on me and not only let me look at it, but she put it around my neck and took several pictures of me. What a true gift!

Once I reunited with everyone, we toasted the day with champaign and made our way back to the hotel. I felt pretty good, but decided to take the subway again. It wasn't until I was in the subway that I began to start feeling sick.

By the time I made it to the hotel all I could do was lay on the bed shivering. I couldn't move, couldn't eat, couldn't drink. I knew I needed to do something. My mom covered me with blankets trying to warm me up which didn't work. Finally after a warm shower and trying to drink some hot tea I got warm, but I still couldn't eat or drink anything with out getting extremely nauseous. A few hours later my brother determined I needed to go to the ER. I realized that much earlier, but needed someone else to make me go. After two bags of fluid I was feeling much better and could stomach a few crackers and water.

The next day I woke up SORE! Really it was just my right hipflexer that was impossible to move on it's own. I wanted to walk around Michigan Ave. and my mom obliged. After spending WAY too much money on shirts and souvenirs at the expo, I didn't really want to spend anymore money, but couldn't resist a finisher's shirt at Niketown. I mean, if I didn't get a medal to prove my accomplishment, the least I could have was a shirt.

Since that day many people have asked if I'll do another marathon. To be honest, I'd like to. It's addicting; the sense of accomplishment, the feeling of race day and crossing the finish line. But, the sensible side of me things 26.2 miles is crazy by itself. Add the fact that I obviously need an IV at the finish line and it's down right idiotic! So, I'll keep my accomplishments to the 13.1 races and be happy to continue chasing new PRs there.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Intentionally ignoring intentionality

Life is busy! October is flying by with no end in sight (of the busyness - the month will end on the 31st no matter what).

On a month where I was going to live intentionally, I've only managed to intentionally ignore being intentional. I feel a change within me though. A change to being organized and on top of stuff and focused and intentional once again. There's a craving inside of me that comes and goes. It's been gone for awhile and I'm excited to be in control of life again.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Signs from Chicago Marathon

I'm so happy some random stranger tweeted some of the best signs along the Chicago Marathon route. They were awesome and such a needed distractions.

Mile 3: "The end is NOT near."
Mile 4: "Run faster, I'm bored." "worst parade ever."
Mile 5: "Your training lasted longer than Kim Kardashian's marriage!"
Mile 7: "Why is everyone in such a hurry?"
Mile 8: "Don't worry, this race will be measured in Paul Ryan time." Paul Ryan took an hour of of his marathon time.
Mile 9: "Run faster, there are zombies behind you."
Mile 10: "Status update: kicking ass."
Mile 11: "The Kenyans went that way."
Mile 12: "You have great stamina! Call me maybe?"
Mile 13: "Hurry up, the Bears play at 3!"
Mile 14: "WTF: Where's the Finish?!"
Mile 16: "26.2 miles...because 26.3 would be crazy!"
Mile 17: "Motivational sign."
Mile 18: "Just remember: right, left, right, left, repeat."
Mile 19: "Those shorts make your butt look FAST."
Mile 20: "Longest game of tag ever."
Mile 21: "Ibuprofen Appreciation Society"
Mile 22: "Shit just got real."
Mile 23: "My arms are tired, how are your legs?"
Mile 24: "Run to save Big Bird!"
Mile 25: "The marathon is your bitch! You've got this!"
Mile 26: "Channel your inner Kenyan!"

ps... I full marathon report is forth coming. I just have to get back in the swing of things in life and work. Oh! and I need to regain the full use of my legs. But, I FINISHED!! I am a marathoner! And, I'll never do that again!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Intentionally Resting

Yesterday was my last run before the Chicago Marathon. A measly 2 miles. Seriously, why even walk out the door to just do 2 miles. So, today begins two days of intentionally resting before putting my body through the ultimate physical test of running (ie run/walking) 26.2 miles.

I would be a liar if I told you I was calm, cooled, and collected about this. No, I'm scared out of my flippin mind!!! What in the world did I get myself into and HOW IN THE WORLD DID IT COME SO QUICKLY?!?!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Intentional Relationships

Confession: I'm horrible at relationships.

I'm not so good at pursuing relationships with my existing friends let alone new ones. Unless we meet often or schedule time together in advance, I just forget; as bad as that sounds, I really just forget. Time passes so fast and all of a sudden I realize I haven't see someone in months. I try to tell myself it's not because I don't love them. Really, I love them so much and would do anything for them (whoever it is).

Earlier this year my boss resigned; I saw it coming, but still it was sad to see him go. He's a great man of God, a stable force in an unstable environment, and an overall amazing boss. As our time together whined down and our meetings became fewer and fewer, I knew for us to still have a relationship, we'd now have to be intentional.

Last night (reason this post is a little late) was senior night for his oldest girl. I've been looking forward to watching her play for some time and last night's game didn't disappoint. Em is a great player and young woman and it's a joy to get to watch her on the court.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 2 - Intentionally getting ready

I'm now only 5 days from marathon day. FIVE DAYS!!!

How in the world did this happen?! Honestly I've kind of forgotten about it; pushed it to the back of my mind. Maybe it's denial that I HAVE to complete this mammoth task in a few days; maybe it's from being in Haiti all last week.

Today that all stops. Today I intentionally start getting ready for race day.

This means:
reading blogs about preparing
planning my meals for the rest of the week (consequently go grocery shopping)
calling my mom to organize last minute travel details
make a packing list
look back at my training (gain confidence)
go for a run

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 1 - Intentionality

Intention: A determination to act in a certain way

I can be an extremely determined person. Yet, very rarely do I live my life with intentionality. I prefer to float through life on a whim. To set a course of action for myself without the burden of a strict plan. Typical that ends of with a lack of intentionality. But, this October, everyday I'll set forward to live my life with intentionality in a different aspect or area of my life. This will look different each day whether it's a simply text to a friend or something much larger like blogging about my latest trip to Haiti. Each small step of intentionality is a greater step towards a goal.

What goal?
Being intentional automatically means I'm intentionally setting forth towards some goal. Maybe it's explicit like with intentionally living within a budget, but often the way I set up my life doesn't explicitly march towards a common, overarching goal. My goal, with everything I do, is to glorify God.   So for the next 31 days, each day I'll blog about one thing I've done to intentionally glorify God with my life.

What's your life goal?
How are you intentionally reaching for that goal?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Days of Living Intentionally

Hey... remember when I took up a photo a day challenge?! Or, that time(s) I committed to actually blogging about training for my half marathons?! Yea, I'm really good at saying I'll do something with this lovely blog, but horrible at actually doing it. But, after hearing about The Nester's 31 day challenge,  I was hooked.

For the month of October, I'll be blogging every single day...

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's Happening!

Sometimes when you've been looking forward to something for so long you forget that it is actually going to happen. Or, you begin to think it's always a long ways away. Like when you register for a marathon 9 months before the actual marathon.

Back in February when I registered it seemed like October 7th would never come. But, now that I am a few weeks away, it seems like it's speedily approaching. How does time do that?!

This past weekend was my last "long" run. This was the day I saw approaching and was fearful of... 20 miles! If I could do this one, I could do the marathon. Guess what folks?! I did it!

The first 10 miles flew by! I felt great except I got really hungry. My stomach didn't really like me that morning so I didn't want to eat anything. So, by around mile 8.5/9 I was starving and knew I had to eat something or I wouldn't finish. I texted a friend and asked if they were home to put a banana on their front porch. Odd message to receive I imagine. When they didn't have one, I simply headed up to use the restroom and eat a light snack. Confession: I sat down to eat the banana. As I was eating, I got a text "the kids and I will totally pass you small cups of water and cheer you on if you give us the heads up if you run by our house! We can even try to talk with Chicago accents and say things like 'da bears' as you run by :)" I LOVE LIVING WITHIN COMMUNITY!! How could I pass up this offer?!

I gave them a heads up and headed straight to their house! It was beyond cute to turn the corner and see three little ones jumping with paper cups of water. I took one, down it, threw it on the ground and grabbed the others. Of course, I stood and chatted for a few minutes before finishing up the last 9 miles. By that time, I didn't want to be doing it anymore. I was sick of running. I feel like I could have pushed myself harder, but I just didn't want to. My stomach still didn't feel right and I was overall tired. I through and finished at 5 hours 20 minutes. Which is REALLY slow! But, that time gave me a lot of confidence because I knew I didn't push myself as hard as I could have. I knew that with the crowd and energy of the race that I'll be able to finish the Chicago Marathon under time.

As soon as I finished I had to hop in the shower in order to get to the office and meet our painter. I had  few hours of rest before church, but I was still surprised I wasn't getting sore. That night I went to church and my legs were really tired, but I was able to stand for most of church even though I really, REALLY wanted to be sitting.

The next day I spent the whole day walking around Six Flags with friends with no problem. I really couldn't believe I was able to do it. And, really I'm not exactly sure how I wasn't sore or tired or anything! Today I feel really normal and almost anxious to burn some energy.

To add fuel to the fire in my belly, this little booklet came in the mail today....AHHHH it's actually happening!!

Anyone else surprised how quickly this is coming?!
Are you ready?

Friday, September 14, 2012


The day I started training for my very first half marathon happened to be the day my uncle endured an 18 hour surgery for mesothelioma (the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos). As I started my first run, I realized it was the exact moment they were wheeling him into surgery. I started praying and thinking back on his life and how he'd give anything to be running with me instead of in surgery. However, we all know he'd rather be sitting by the pool or on the golf course. The entire time I trained just about ever single run I'd think about him and it seemed to put the struggle I was having to keep going in perspective.

That year my first half marathon would be cancelled because of the remains of a hurricane making it's way through St. Louis. My tears for missing my first chance to run a half marathon soon became determination to do it on my own. That night I laced up my running shoes and ran 13.1 miles alone on the city streets of St. Louis. As I rounded the corner on the way back to my apartment I had tears in my eyes from not letting a little thing like a canceled race get in my way from accomplishing a goal.

The next morning I would be awaken by a phone call from my cousin. Her dad lost his battle with cancer in the middle of the night. After I called our family I sat and reflected on his struggle. I realized he was taking his last breaths just a few hours after I took my last steps of my personal half marathon. 

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of his death and I will be completing my longest run in my history... 20 miles. What a better way to honor his anniversary but complete the lost long run of this training schedule.

Christmas Eve tradition - Steve's Whiskey Sours 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grace with Discipline

This last week or so I've been giving myself much more grace when it came to my training schedule. I feel like the bulk of it is over and I can't do much at this point to really help. And, I'm extremely tired and my legs just can't do it anymore. But, there comes a point where giving yourself grace turns into an excuse to be lazy.

This morning was exactly that. The schedule called for 10 miles. TEN MILES! That's not the long run... that's the mid-week run! CRAZY! I knew there was no possible way I would be able to wake up and get out the door by 5 am, but even at 6:30 I couldn't myself get up. My head just kept telling me "give yourself some grace, you're tired, you've trained enough for this, sleep!"

Where does grace stop and discipline begin?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Grace Upon Grace

I have done a really good job training for the Chicago marathon. Not a perfect job, but a really good job. Just to boast a little on myself, I have skipped a total of three runs the entire time (this does not count the week I was in Haiti and of course couldn't run).

I realize how much I trust my training and how much my body is used to it. Because of the storms two weekends ago, I rearranged my long run thinking it wasn't going to be a big deal. Really it shouldn't have been, but my body is just so used to the routine and I couldn't recover.

Last week I was scheduled to do 5, 9, 5 and 14 miles, but I had to skip one because of my rescheduling. I figured I'd just skip one of the 5 milers and be on my way. I tried twice to do that and my legs just weren't having it. They were exhausted. And, not the "I just need to push through" exhausted, but the "you're risking injury" exhausted. So, Saturday morning when I was prepared to run 14 miles, I quit. It's the first time I've ever in my life quite in the middle of a long run. To be fair I figured I'd do 14 on Sunday. I would have... probably... if I didn't stay out till 1 am and then work all day.

I've decided I'm tired and my body needed the break. Realizing that I have trained to the best of my ability and that missing one long run on a cut back week won't hurt me too much. I also realized that I should forget about the miss and concentrate on my last long run before Chicago. So, that's exactly what I'm doing; giving myself grace and looking towards Saturday's 20 miler.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Two more...two more... two more

AHHHHHH!  Somehow the time has passed soooo quickly. I feel like I just started training and now I'm just a little over a month away. Where did the time go?

The past week or two have been much better emotionally and I think I might be over that hump of training. I'm beginning to think I'll actually be able to do this and am excited... well, probably more excited to get it over with than to actually run it.  But, excited none-the-less.

This weekend what was left of Hurricane Isaac made it's way across the mid-west and into St. Louis. According to the forecast it was going to storm ALL day with a 100% chance of rain every single hour on Saturday. After stressing out and becoming a nervous wreck that I wouldn't get my 18 miler in on Saturday, I realized Monday was a holiday so worse case scenario, I'd do it then. Of course, I woke up Saturday morning to sunny skies and was angry I didn't push through as planned. Mainly I was angry that the 18 miler would hang over my head for another day. I resolved to do my long run Sunday come hell or high water!

Sunday I woke up and it was cooler and overcast... PERFECT! I headed out the door towards Tower Grove to swing by one of my friend's house as she joined me for the 6 miles. I'm so unbelievably blessed to have such supportive friends that are willing to keep my company. Since she was with me, I definitely went slower and was more relaxed than I normally would have been, but I'd rather have the distraction than be a few minutes faster. After running around the Tower Grove/Shaw neighborhood I headed to Forrest Park. Somehow I managed to not plan a route so I free styled my way through 18 miles. Once at the park I HAD to stop and use the restroom; I'm not exactly sure how restroom breaks will work out at the marathon, but it looks like one will be necessary. Up to this point it wasn't necessarily raining, but with the humidity around 140% and I was soaked.

The first 14 miles were pretty pleasant; I really didn't start hurting till around mile 14 or so as I went up the slow, long hill on Skinker. I pushed through and soon I was at mile 16 which was my previous longest run. Something came over me at this point and I uncontrollably started chanting "two more miles. two more. two more. two more." I promise I couldn't help myself and I'm sure if anyone would have been around a padded van would have come up to take me to the mental ward. I really wanted to stop and either walk the entire way or call a friend to come and get me. Actually, I had already worked out the whole conversation in my head and knew who I would call. Fear of their judgement pushed me on. Finally I heard the lovely words of my dear app friend say I had reached mile 17. With just one more mile to go, I knew I could make it and was actually just about exactly 1 mile from my home. As I crossed Hampton I ran one last time before giving up and walking the hill to my apartment. At mile 17.98 I grabbed my phone exhaustedly hoping to be done.

I WAS DONE! 18 miles finished... the longest run of my life. I wasn't excited about my time, but I think with the excitement of race day I'll actually make it in time. Every single time I run further I wonder how in the world I'll add another 8 miles (in this case). But, I can remember back to my first half marathon and my longest run of 10 miles. I would think then "how in the world am I going to add another 3 miles." Hopefully the same will be true on October 7.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to be discouraging

Someone has told me the same story about three times. Normally this wouldn't bother me that much cause I can fake a laugh with the best of them. But here's the story....

" of my friends decided he'd do a marathon so he just went out and did one without training. I think it took him like 6 hours or something ridiculous!"

As I mentioned, this person said this about three different times just to drive the point home.

Why is this discouraging? Two reasons...
1. The person didn't train.

I'm spending hours and I mean HOURS of my life training for this stupid marathon. Not just running hours, but preparation hours. It's ruining my Friday nights (not that my Friday nights are all that spectacular to begin with) as I spend the evening resting and preparing for the next morning's torturous hours on my feet. Not to mention the hours of sleep every morning I give up as I get up at the butt crack of dawn (a loving term I learned early in life) to run 4, 8, or 9 miles before work.

To say "he wanted to do a marathon so he just went out a did one" says "why are you bothering training, just go out and do one!"

2. The proclamation that 6 hours is a ridiculous time.

I'm slow. My half marathon PR is 3:01:22 (recently I knocked that pesky 1:22 off of there, but I don't think it's official since it wasn't in a race). This means, at my best, I'll finish a marathon in 6:02:44. Proclaiming that time as ridiculous is...well...utterly ridiculous. In fact, my goal is to simply finish before they close the finish line. In Chicago this means within six hours and thirty minutes. I'm actually HIGHLY concerned that that won't happen.

So to say "6 hours or something ridiculous" says to me, "if you can't do better than that, why are you even trying?"

To be fair, my friend wasn't trying to communicate discouraging words, but wanted to be a part of a conversation. Marathons are one of those things that most people have stories, but few have personal stories. And, I'm frankly a lot discouraged at myself and a lot on edge with this whole thing! Yesterday I was running with one of my friends and a car nearly hit us (well her). My first statement after dodging it was "if they're gonna hit me, hit me hard so I don't have to do this anymore!" That sums up my basic thoughts at this point of training. I REALLY want this to be over! I REALLY wish I hadn't registered.

I REALLY want to quite.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Color Run

I'm training for this little thing called the Chicago Marathon! It's taking over my life, yet even though this blog is all about training, it's not taking over this blog. Which means, it's time for a glance at my training thus far.

It sucks.

Until about a week ago, I got up at 5 am Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday in order to get my run in before the oppressive heat came. Correction... before the REALLY oppressive heat. Even though I was out the door by around 5:30, I was still running in 90 degree heat. Needless to say it's been hot in St. Louis!

However, the last few weeks have been AMAZING! The weather has been much cooler which led to several 70 degree early morning runs... GLORIOUS!

In order to not bore you with a synopsis of every run, I'll skip to Saturday's long run cause it was exciting! A few months ago I registered for St. Louis' Color Run knowing I'd have to run 16 miles on race day. If you've not heard of the Color Run, it's a 5K where every kilometer they throw a different color chalk on you so by the end you are fabulously colorful!

Our group before...
Since I had to run 16 miles I decided the best thing to do was to run to the race. This meant getting out the door by 4 am, running around my neighborhood, and then heading to downtown St. Louis. I've always seen people running before races and thought they were crazy. Why on earth would anyone do this? Apparently you'd do this if you are training for a marathon. My goal was to get 13 miles in before the race and finish the 16 during the 5k. However, my sleepy little head couldn't get out of bed and started about 30 minutes late. By the time we got to the corral I was only 11.5 miles in.

As we stood waiting (and waiting...and waiting) for the race to start my legs started cramping. I realized how difficult it was going to be to start up again... and I was right. By the time we started I had nothing left, but not starting wasn't an option... there was colorful fun to be had!

Luckily it wasn't long before we were at the first color station. It's kind of like a water stop, but instead of water in those water bottles, there was chalky color. Volunteers lined the street squirting us with a different color each kilometer. We soon learned we needed to be a tad aggressive in order to get covered. Not so much aggressive as overly excited.

Breathing in the midst of the chalkiness was as hard as you would anticipate, but here's the crew and I after the final kilometer. Some of us are a little more colorful than others, but that was all about to change at the color party.

After we finished the 5k we headed to the main stage area where every 10 minutes or so everyone would rip open color packets and throw all our color into the air. It was as crazy fun, but we were out of color (along with being sufficiently colorful) so we headed to the car.

Once we got to the car I realized I still had a mile and a half left on my run to do. This was really bad news as my legs were EXHAUSTED! I didn't think I was going to make it at all, but somehow when I got home I immediately changed back into my good pair of running shoes and headed back out the door. Two miles later was a little worse for wear, but had completed 16 miles! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The wall...

There's a lot of talk about "the wall" in marathon running. That point in a race where you feel as if you can't take another step. It's actually a real thing; around mile 20 or so your body uses up all it's glycogen (aka stored energy) and your muscles have to look elsewhere for energy. I'm not sure if the training wall is a real thing, but if it is I've hit it.

I'm on the cusp of the unknown right now as I've just completed what would normally be my half marathon training. But, that training didn't end at a finish line with a medal around my neck. Instead I was rewarded by another 10 weeks of training. Up to this point, I kind of knew what to expect; I've done it before.

To be honest, I'm scared. My mind is full of voices telling me "this is stupid," "why are you even attempting this," "you aren't going to be able to finish," and "even if you finish, you won't make it under time so what's the point?" During Sunday's long run I hit a training wall and nearly started crying. I convinced myself I couldn't do this. Immediately I texted one of my friends "Can we do a run together this week? I need help."

This week I've done all my runs with her. Considering this morning was especially difficult, knowing she was waiting and had even made breakfast for us after the 4 miler was my only motivation to get out the door. As I type this I'm sucking down an iced coffee as I'm so tired, but also extremely thankful for friends that will run with me, encourage me, and convince me I will finish.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A close call...

Last week I spent a few days in Chicago with two great friends. This mother daughter duo had never really been to Chicago so it was tons of fun to explore that great city with them. We got a great deal on everything including our super cheap tickets on the Megabus.

By now many of you probably read the news about the deadly Megabus crash. We originally figured we'd take that bus, but while booking we decided at the last minute to hang out in Chicago a few more hours. We were so set on this time that even the day before we thought we planning our Thursday to make sure we made it to the bus stop for that bus.

My friend's husband called as we were leaving our last museum and told us about the accident and making sure we weren't on that bus. Really it didn't scare us that much cause we figured what were the chances this happening twice in one day. Friends started texting and calling knowing that we were taking the Megabus home that day. And, as we waited for our bus, we continued with our plan to send one person on the bus quickly in order to save the upper deck front row.

Around the time we were suppose to board our bus, they announced that our bus had been cancelled and we were to call customer service to make other arrangements. Because of my friends stern, but polite attitude, we were able to take a rental car home that night.

On the way home we learned that one person died. The person in the front seat over the driver. The seat we had plotted to get; the seats we sat in on the way to Chicago. We talked a little and the general attitude was thankfulness that we weren't on the bus. At one point though I said "today would have been a good day to meet Jesus though." This became my overwhelming thought. I kind of wished it was me on that bus. Not in a 'I'm depressed and just want to die' way, but a 'I really love Jesus and feel a little gypped that I didn't get to meet him.'

Last Sunday our sermon was about Paul's statement "to live is Christ and to die is gain." This is what was going through my mind during our 5 hour drive home. I think I understand that truth a little bit better.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Desk

A lot has happened... a lot! I can't say I've been overly busy, but blogging is just never on the top of my to-do list. I've got much to blog about - Louisville trip, Chicago trip, my new desk, marathon training, my next Chicago trip. We'll start with probably the funnest (not a word) and most exciting (to me).

After living in my apartment for a year and making do with a folding table for a desk, I finally got myself a real bonafide desk. See, I've gotten picky in my old age. I don't want to just have make do furniture any more or "I got this cause it was free" furniture anymore. I want a grown up place, ut this grown up has no money. Lucky for me, this grown up also loves getting cheap things and making them great things!

Last week one of my friends asked if I wanted to go to an auction with her. Now this friend is an antique store junky and also has the gift of making cheap things, great things so how could I resist?!

I remember going to one auction before, but my dad was in charge of the bidding. I was instructed to stand there, not look at the auctioneer, and for Goodness sakes keep your hands at your sides.

We didn't exactly know what to expect, but got our number looked around and strategized on what we were going to bid and where we were going to stand. It ended up being REALLY fun! $67 later I had brought home this loot.

Like I mentioned, I have little money and it didn't make much sense to spend more on paint and supplies than on the desk so I rummaged through my paint supplies. Added bonus, it matches my apartment color scheme perfectly!

First step: sand and prime

After I had finished priming I walked into the kitchen to clean out my brush and the paint fumes noticeable changed. As in, smelled exactly like gas fumes. The closer I got to my stove the worse the smell got. After walking back and forth several times I decided to call the gas company to have it checked out. I'd rather be the idiot that called for paint fumes than the idiot who died in the middle of the night from carbon monoxide. Turns out, I was the idiot who called for paint fumes. Thankfully the guy was nice about it and assured me he'd been called for this before. Apparently the paint fumes will burn off your pilot light too.

Step 2: base coat

I decided on white for the desk, but wanted something fun on top. After seeing the prices of stencils online, I landed on a chevron pattern in purple and green. I was actually going for green stripes with a purple under color, but realized too late that I should have started with green instead of purple. Live and learn.
After doing some touch up it was time to tape the chevron stripes. This was a lot more tedious than I anticipated as I'm not one for detail and exact measurement.

I decided I wanted three peaks on the desk top so I measured the desk width and divided by 4 using chalk to mark my measurements.

Honestly, I stalked some blog posts of other people painting chevron stripes and modified their instructions. That person measured up every 6'' for each stripe. I tried that first and it was just too large so I halfed it and it was perfect. On the lines I just marked, I measured every 3 inches. However, every other line I made my first mark 4 1/2 inches up in order to make a peak then continued down the line marking every 3 inches. Then came the easy part of painting the top green. Of course, everything that was tapped remained purple and boom... chevron stripes!

After a couple of coats of clear sealer, I had myself the perfect little cheap desk!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Haiti in Review: Final day

It's been over a week since returning from Haiti so I'm long over due for a post describing and processing through my first international ministry opportunity. Here are previous posts about day 1work day 1work day 2, and work day 3.

Well, this last day of work started out a little different than the others. Pastor pulled up (late for the first time ever) to get us and I immediately saw the flat tire. Normally this would get everyone down, but I think we were all a little excited to get a few more minutes of rest before heading out into the heat and work.

Too quickly, we had a new tire and were ready to go. We loaded up and were back at the job site. Thankfully Grace was feeling a little better and was able to join us. 

The day started much like the two days prior with song. It was so great to sing with these guys! Although, I don't think our team contributed all that much to the joyful noise.

 I had been pestering Tyler to teach me to weld every single day, but it just didn't seem right for him to stop teaching someone else in order for me to play around. Finally, it was my time! I figured, I'm good at a lot of things surely I can weld. Well... I am good at a lot of things, but welding isn't one of them. Although, to give myself some credit, I wasn't horrible, just need some practice.

This day was a little slower than the others as we were tired and had handed off a lot of the work to the Haitian volunteers. We got some time to joke and play around. James broke out his phone and showed off his family at home. He asked the guys if they had any siblings and one of them responded, pointing at the other guy "he is my brother; my brother in Christ." then pointed at James and said "you are my brother." This moment accurately described how each one of us on the team felt. We had come so far to a place we had never been to meet people very different than us, yet we found family. There is a unmistakable and tangible bond through the blood of Christ. It's mysterious, but real.

I think the heat was getting to Tyler because late in the day he looked at me and said "wanna weld this?" And, I said "heck yea I wanna weld that!" Big mistake! Actually not horrible, but maybe he simply responded "you mind if I clean that up" after I had finished.

Remember how on the first work day I mentioned the digging beginning?! Over 3.5 days Jim and Travis dug the entire time! We decided that we had time and people to dig the hole for the cistern. It's crazy how much work they got done all by hand.

Our day slowly came to an end and Pastor brought us all some sugar cane to celebrate the end of a job well done. Of course, something new meant multiple photo opportunities even though we classified sugar cane as an unattractive food to eat.

Before leaving we had to take a few more pictures of our team and friends we had made.

That night we spend one last night with the congregation in the tent city. This was a special night, not only because it was our last worship service, but because Tyler got to preach. 

Earlier in the week Pastor had learned Tyler was a seminary student and said he needed to get some practice. This service was bittersweet. We were so thankful to get to go home and enjoy our family and air conditioning, but sad to say goodbye to people we had grown to love. At the end of service each person came up to us shaking our hands and giving us hugs. Once back at the guest house we decided we wanted to end our night all together on the roof. Tuesday night we had spent a couple hours on top of the roof just talking and hearing our guest house manager's story. It was extremely peaceful.  

Finally it was time to head home. I was amazed the time went so fast. Friday morning we got up especially early in order to get to the airport on time. We made our way through all three security check points and were hopeful for a smooth flight home with no delays. Unfortunately that's not what we got. The team got delayed about 8 hours in Miami, but thankfully made it home around midnight to their own beds and neighbors without roosters!