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?