Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FTR 9/29

It's been a while since I recorded my swim.


.55, 1:07, 1:09, 1:11, 1:09, 1:10, 1:05, 1:10, 1:09, 1:11, 1:12, 1:09, 1:11, 1:12, 1:10, 1:14, 1:14, 1:10, 1:12, 1:15, 1:11, 1:06, 1:10;, 1:08.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Just a Thought...

I know I've mentioned that October is Pastor Appreciation Month and all the fun plans I have for my church.... but as I thought about it more I was reminded of all the pastors in my life and how they shaped me, challenged me and in many cases, simply put up with me without killing me. Seriously, I'm not easy or fun to shepherd!

So here's my thought: In addition to sending your current pastoral staff a note or a gift, (which you should be doing especially if you are as annoying as me), consider sending a note to the pastors of churches you grew up in. For me, I've kept in touch with nearly all the pastors I grew up with: jr. high youth pastors, high school youth pastor, college pastor. Many are still in the ministry, only at different churches. If I had their personal or their Church address, I sent them a note. To a church in Seattle with a newer Reverend, I send a note. (even though I've never met him). To the church I attended as a young married person, I sent a note. I have a few friends that are pastors and I sent them a note... basically, anyone who is a pastor and I thought would appreciate a little note, I sent it to them.

But I did so anonymously. And in Rhyme. Pure silliness, I know. But the point is: Their church appreciates them. Yes, I know I don't attend their church, but I bet you anything their church loves and appreciates them.

At the very least, I hope they smile. It might be a bemused, puzzled smile. Or even a smirk. But I hope it provides some sort of encouragement. And perhaps it will lead to a snowball effect and more awareness that we need to let our pastors know we appreciate them.

So, there's my challenge to you. Pick a pastor in your past and send a note. It can be anonymous, or, better yet, it can be a signed, heartfelt confession of the impact their sacrifice and dedication has made in your life. Mine were all lighthearted, but I hope that at the end of the month I'll follow it up with a personal note detailing that the seeds they planted are still growing today. I've truly been blessed by the wonderful men and women that God has placed throughout my life.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Never As Planned

Once upon a time I planned elaborate birthday parties for my children. Then I realized that all they really wanted to do was run around and play with their friends. No crafts. No games. Just freedom.

Then I had a little girl and little girl theme parties are so fun and cute. And most little girls like to sit still for crafts. On Katie's first birthday I went rather elaborate. It was lady bug (or "Katie bug") theme. I bought live ladybugs. I attempted to put 10 in a baby food jar with holes in the spray painted lid as a favor. I gave framed photos of Katie dressed as a ladybug. It was fun.

This year, after being introduced to The Wizard of Oz, Katie now wants to be Dorothy for Halloween. She also wants a Wizard of Oz party. So, I go online and there are so many fun ideas.... from invitations, to snacks and games. Lots of creative fun ideas. Now my head is spinning (like a tornado) with ideas.

Then I realize: this always happens. I get an idea of what I want and what it should look like, and it never meets that vision. It always falls short. Either the game I thought would be so much fun fails to incite interest, or the kids have their own agenda and my itinerary is not met. My expectations not realized. I suppose if one gauges "success" by happy kids I have met my goal, but too often it just isn't as perfect, seamless as I imagine it to be.

Yet, here I go again! Planning and hoping. Trying to strike a balance between what I want and contentment on what will happen, even if it doesn't go to my plan.

She really does make a cute Dorothy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

If I Only Had a Heart

A few days ago my kids watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time. They all loved it! Katie cowered and cried near the end; she's quite an animal person and couldn't dare watch anything frightful happen to Toto.

It was really grand watching their delight as they watched. Katie exclaimed that everything became beautiful when the movie turned to color. She wanted to know if it was all real; if there really was a place like that. Then she went to her room, and found all her McDonalds happy meal doll toys of the Wizard of Oz and proceeded to play with them. It was cute.

So featured here is the Tin Man who is in need of a heart. Some days I feel that I'm in need of one too, and some days I think my heart is too sensitive; it breaks easily for things and people. It is hard to see people hurting. It is hard to see devastation on the news, and even more heartbreaking at times is it when I see heartbreaking things and am so calloused to it. I don't want to be calloused, but I also don't like to be too emotional either.

I was told the other day that I "need a vacation from myself." That sounds horrible and I wondered if it meant I was too self-absorbed or just the usual: too intense. Of course, I'm too intense. Its not a new thing. I tend to be intense. I'm sure it bugs most people crazy, and I really do try to tone it down. The things that are important to me are VERY important! But unfortunately those "very important' things are actually not all that important to anyone else. Except someone like me.

I do try not to be intense, not to let things upset me. To believe the best, to relax. I'm not a very relaxed person! I kid myself that I need to learn how to like wine, but perhaps it is good that I don't! Still, I do think I'd be a bit more livable if I could relax a bit. I do think that the gym has helped but there are some things that still rile me up pretty easily.

If I only had a heart.... or a brain. Or courage. Or......

What would you ask the Wizard?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FTR 9/22

I jumped in the pool at lunchtime and looking back wonder if that was a good idea. I felt slow, had no energy. I only did about a half a mile.

.55, 1:10, 1:11, 1:09, 1:10, 1:10, 1:10, 1:10, 1:09, 1:10, 1:11, 1:13, 1:12, 1:10, 1:12, 1:16

I meant to go back tonight, but not feeling my best.

This is What We Do

We gather and we say hello, rounds of hugs (side hugs, of course, except for one church member who always seems to "capture" me in a full hug) Or maybe there's no hello; just a friendly wave across a crowded room. There. I've acknowledged that person. I don't really need to talk to her. We smiled at each other. All is well.

Since there is facebook, I know all about her week; there is no reason to go and talk, and if I did go and talk, I'd probably be trapped there for who knows how long. It is safer to just nod and wave. "I see you"..... but I don't really see her.

Today while a friend was talking I realized I was completely uninterested in her conversation, and not only me, I wonder if everyone was! But we're polite. We feign interest and then as soon as possible we ask someone else a question, hoping that the person will remain quiet. Ah, this person is much better! No scary stories. No medical stories. What a delight this person is. We don't cut her off, we ask her for more information.

In a world of niceties, I wonder if there is ever a sense of assurance that anyone really cares? Should I even try to converse with someone, knowing that my words might bore them to tears? Knowing that even though they say come in, stay a while, they are really hoping you'll just realize that is just something hospitable Christian people say and the correct response, the polite response, is to decline.

I don't enjoy annoying people. I don't enjoy taking them at their word, believing they care or are interested and finding out later they don't. But what else can one do? Just listen, and excuse oneself to go to the people that are really interesting and pleasant to be around.

I don't really see where Christianity differs from just being a nice, good person. W'e're supposed to be a "family" and maybe we are! Maybe we resemble a dysfunctional, messy family a bit too much.

I really don't know what or why I expect anything different. And I don't know how I can genuinely love a person beyond tolerating them and hoping to move on to someone else that I find more exciting and fun. Truly, I'm so guilty of this..... hoping if I don't make eye contact they wont' talk to me. But they do. They always do and I plaster a polite smile, and half listen and escape as soon as I can.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Outlive Your Life - Book Thoughts

For some reason, I did not expect this book to resonate so much with me! It is a book that calls us to compassion and action in such a way you put it down and you can't wait to open your home and invite a friend to dinner, or even a stranger. He challenged me to really "see" people, to see the similarities in us all, and alerts us to the problem of poverty, not just around the world but also right here where I live. On page 58 he writes: "Every morning in America more than 39 million people wake up in poverty. In 2008, 17 million households had difficulty providing food for their families. An estimated 1.1 million children lived in households experiencing hunger multiple times throughout the year. And this is in America, the wealthiest nation in the history of the world."

Max Lucado made me cry, and made me smile. He both challenged me and encouraged me. I found this book to be an unexpected delight and I'm happy that I was able to read it.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

We Can Help

"There are seven billion reasons to consider his challenge. Some of them live in your neighborhood; others live in jungles you can't find and have names you can't pronounce. Some of them play in cardboard slums or sell sex on a busy street. Some of them walk three hours for water or wait all day for a shot of penicillin. Some of them brought their woes on themselves, and others inherited the mess from their parents.

None of us can help everyone. But all of us can help someone. And when we help them, we serve Jesus.

Who would want to miss a chance to do that?"

Outlive Your Life, Max Lucado Page 172.

The Gospel According to Jesus - book thoughts

This is a rather tough one to review. On one hand, I really like what he has to say, but there are times when I got a bit confused. In the front cover, the author, Chris Seay, writes this:

"The reason we are not living in the light of life that real Christianity ignites is that we have ignored, distorted, and misunderstood the gospel according to Jesus....We have a problem, and we must look again at the teachings of Jesus and seek the truth with our lives. Correcting our misguided assumptions is meaningless if we do not hold this truth in the forefront of our hearts, minds and lives. What Jesus was saying was that... righteousness was not just about tallying our rights and wrongs, but about a way of life in which people were called to justice and mercy and holiness all at the same time."

There was much about this book I liked, and certain things that I did not like and I know I need to go into the things I have reservations about but I'll need to re-read it. I agreed with everything being centered around Jesus and how easy and wrong it is to "do" things like social justice and leave Christ out of it, just as it is wrong to say one loves Jesus but sit and do nothing about it. After every chapter he has a prayer and an interview with such authors and speakers like: Dan Kimball, Mark Batterson, Rick McKinley, Shane Claiborne, and Alan HIrsch. If you like these authors, you'll probably love this book. If you are a bit wary of them, then you'll probably still like some of this book and dislike certain other parts!

For me, I'm still unsure what I think of this book. There is a lot to love, and a few things that bug me but I can't figure out exactly why. Regardless, it is a book worth reading.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Open Your Table

"It is no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing. When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: "You matter to me and to God." You may think you are saying, "Come over for a visit." But what your guest hears is, "I'm worth the effort."

Do you know people who need this message? Singles who eat alone? Young couples who are far from home? Coworkers who've been transferred, teens who feel left out, and seniors who no longer drive? Some people pass an entire day with not meaningful contact with anyone else. Your hospitality can be their hospital. All you need are a few basic practices.

Issue a genuine invitation. Let your guests know you want them to come. Call them on the phone, or step over to their desks at work. Are they neighbors? Knock on their doors and say, "We'd love for you to join us at our dinner table tonight. Please come." People weather so many daily rejections. The doctor can't see them. The kinds didn't call. The airplane is booked. But then you invite them over. We have room for you! Life altering.

Make a big deal of their arrival. Gather the entire family at the front door. Swing it open as you se them approach. If you have a driveway, meet them on it. If your apartment has a lobby, be waiting for them. This is a parade-worthy moment. One of God's children is coming to your house!

Address the needs of your guests. First -century hospitality included foot washing. Modern-day hospitality includes the sharing of food and drink. Time to talk and listen. No televisions blaring in the background. No invasive music. Make sure everyone has the opportunity to speak. Go around the table and share favorite moments of the day or memories of hte week. Like the Good Shepherd, we prepare a table and restore the soul.

Send them out with a blessing. Make it clear you are glad your guests came. Offer a prayer for their safety and a word or encouragement for their travel.

The event need not be elaborate to be significant. Don't listen to the Martha Steward voice, the voice that says everything must be perfect. The house must be perfect. The china must be perfect. Meal. Kids. Husband. Everything must be perfect. Scented guest towels, warm appetizers, after-dinner mints.

If we wait until everything is perfect, we'll never issue an invitation. Remember this: what is common to you is a banquet to someone else. You think your house is small, but to the lonely heart, it is a castle. You think the living room is a mess, but to the person whose life is a mess, your house is a sanctuary. You think the meal is simiple, but to those who eat alone every night, pork and beans on paper plates tastes like filet mignon. What is small to you is huge to them.

Open your Table.

Even more, open your circle. Be certain to invite not just the affluent and successful, "but when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed" (Luke 14:13-14 NIV).

The Greek word for hospitality compounds two terms: love and stranger. The word literally means to love a stranger. All of us can welcome a guest we know and love. But can we welcome a stranger? Every morning in America more than 39 million people wake up in poverty. In 2008, 17 million households had difficulty providing food for their families. An estimated 1.1 million children lived in households experiencing hunger multiple times throughout the year. And this is in America, the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.

When we provide food stamps, we stave off hunger. But when we invite the hungry to our tables, we address the deeper issues of value and self-worth. Who would have though? god's secret weapons in the war on poverty include you kitchen table and mine."

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado, Pages 56-59

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Hardest Thing

On Sunday we had a guest speaker at church. I'm really wary of guest speakers and wasn't too keen on the last one, but I was more than optimistic since I'd heard this guy before and he's funny and does a good job.

Boy, was he funny! Even his impromptu jokes and observations on the tiny bottles of water that were provided for him was funny. I guess it helps that he's a comedian.

And although he was quite humorous, his message was hard hitting. He opened almost with a "pep talk" about being missional and the good things his organization is doing that my church participates. It made me want to go and volunteer more. Then he used passages of the Bible to illustrate that when we do things by missing an "ingredient" or adding a wrong ingredient, it doesn't work. He then went on to use in classic pastor speak, rhyming words so I'll never forget his message.


Painted Service: Outwardly appearing to have a heart of service but motivated by self. Matthew 23.

Tainted Service: When motive is for personal gain and not honest; when it is more about you, then it becomes tainted. Acts chapter 4; Ananias and Saphira.

Fainted Service: Here he used the illustration of Demas, who deserted Paul and the ministry when he needed him most. Philemon , Colossians 4:13, 2 Timothy. Missional life is a long term journey that speeds up and gets better as we go. Don't faint.

He also had a wonderful "high five" illustration too but that's for another blog post.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Jon (the speaker) to join his team. I was so excited! I truly desire to serve and do something useful. But during his message I wondered if my motivation was right or if I was guilty of "painted service?" It truly made me happy that Jon even knew who I was and invited me on his team. I felt important. Would this "taint" my efforts in being in this ministry?

So I bowed out and it hurt. I wanted to be a part of his team and I really did want to help and be involved in this ministry because I do passionately believe in it, but at this time, I just don't know if I'm ready for it. Or maybe I'm just a coward and too scared to take a risk and do something wrong or not be "good enough" for the team. Maybe I just look like I"d be a good team member but they don't know me. What if they got to know me and rejected me? It would hurt.

Not sure which is the "right" reason for my declining this opportunity but I already regret it.

The Door to Uncommon Community

"Do you have a front door? A table? Chairs? Bread and meat for sandwiches? Congratulations! You just qualified to serve in the most ancient of ministries: hospitality. You can join the ranks of people such as...

*Abraham. He fed not just the angels, but the Lord of angels. (Gen. 18)
*Rahab, the harlot. She received and protected the spies Thanks to her kindness, her kindred survived, and her name is remembered (Josh. 6:22-23, Matt. 1:5).
* Martha and Mary. THey opened their home for Jesus. He, in turn, opened the grave of Lazarus for them. (John 11:1-45; Luke 10:38-42).
*Zacchaeus. He welcomed Jesus to his table. And Jesus left salvation as a thank-you gift. (Luke 19:1-10).

And what about the greatest example of all - the "certain man" of Matthew 26:18? On the day before his death, Jesus told his followers, "Go into the city of a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: "The chosen time is near. I will have the Passover with my followers at your house." " (NCV)

How would you have liked to be the one who opened his home for Jesus? You can be. "Whatevery you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40 NIV). As you welcome strangers to your table, you are welcoming God himself.

Something holy happens around a dinner table that will never happen in a sanctuary. In a church auditorium you see the back of heads. Around the table you see the expressions on faces. In the auditorium one person speaks; around the table everyone has a voice. Church services are on the clock. Around the table there is time to talk.

Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community."

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado, page 56

FTR 9/20

.55, 1:10, 1:08, 1:12, 1:08, 1:06, 1:06, 1:06, 1:08, 1:08, 1:08, 1:09, 1:08, 1:06, 1:07, 1:05, 1:10, 1:11, 1:11, 1:11, 1:20, 1:09, 1:13, 1:15, 1:06, 1:09, 1:13, 1:12, 1:15, 1:12, 1:10, 1:08, 1:08

:-) I think that is a mile. Felt slow and tedious today but good.

The Crossing Guard

Every day I pass my friend A as she (mostly) cheerfully fulfills her duties as a crossing guard in front of the school. Donned in a yellow safety vest and holding a large STOP sign, she helps kids and adults safely cross a busy street. There's a crosswalk but no regular stop sign, as it is not usually a busy street. Unless it is a school day. On school days this street transforms into something ugly, with parents who really should (and do!) know better doing all kinds of unsafe and unlawful maneuvers. The bottom line really is "it's all about me and my convenience."

A. is more than a crossing guard. She's a mom. I don't think you can turn that off. She has 2 boys at the school and I wonder if that is the compelling reason to taking this minimum wage job. A. is not only a mom to her two boys; she's a mom to every hurting or crying child she meets, and the younger kids love her. Some of the upper graders have no respect for her and I cringe when I hear the stories and wonder about those kids and their lack of respect for authority, especially toward a well-meaning mom who only has their best interest at heart. Rules exist for a reason and she is employed to make sure the rules are followed. And she gets disrespect not just from unruly upper graders, but their parents too. Even worse from the parents.

Today the bell had rung, which means all students should be in their classes. As I walked to the gate I noticed A was still there and I though that maybe they changed her hours so she'd stay 5 minutes after the bell rang. It made sense, because it is when a person or a child is in a rush that they don't pay close attention to traffic or the rules. And then I saw a little girl, perhaps a first or second grader, crossing the street in tears, crying because she did not want to be late. They make a big deal about being on time at the school, and I often wonder why they punish the students for it when it is clearly (often) the grown-up's fault. (except in my house.... usually if they are late it is because they couldn't find their shoes or backpack or were still finishing late homework they SAID was finished!) If a child is tardy, they have to go to the office, get a tardy slip which usually takes a good 10 minutes before they are back in the classroom. Ten minutes of wasted time for being 20 seconds late to class!

This child was upset, and it tugged at my heart. My kids have been late too and felt the same devastation, the stigma of walking into class late. I heard A coo softly in reassuring tones, "you're not late yet! It's okay, I'll help you" and she left her post to walk with this crying girl and assist her in to her class.

I have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom and there are some days I wish I actually had a "real" job, but most of the time I am grateful. I'm grateful that I can take my time and walk my kids to school from the house without having to enter the traffic wars and compete with the other parents dropping their children off. I'm happy that I know for sure they are on school property, and I'm thankful I am able to go on field trips and be available to my kids when they get home. (though I'm not good at making them do their homework as of late)

I understand that I'm blessed I don't have to work and it is the reality of many parents. I know it must be tough, and it makes me extra grateful to know there are folks like A. who care for all children, going above and beyond her job of making sure they are safe, to making sure they are loved and cared for. I think it is so easy to think when you are the person who is giving the care that these little things don't matter, but perhaps it is these little things that matter the most. Little unseen things like comforting a child, smiling and knowing every child by name, and just talking and listening can truly be important, and for that I'm touched by the type of person A is and thankful she works and volunteers at the school. We need more people like her. I need to be a person more like her.

Proper Care and Feeding

I'm beginning to realize that I have a lot of pet peeves, and one of the biggest is something I hear so often from others when they are discontent at church and need an excuse to go church hopping/shopping. "I'm not being fed." I wonder often what they really means to the individual person and if it is just one of those phrases that sounds cool and super spiritual. How can a person argue with it? You're leaving a chruch because it's not "spiritual" enough for you.... isn't that the best reason to look elsewhere?

Plus, I wonder what it is they are really saying, and if you are one of those folks that aren't being fed or have talked about not being fed, I'd love to know your individual reasons. I'm not saying it is all bad, because there are truly valid reasons for leaving a church. But i always cringe when I hear the words "not being fed."

First, whose responsibility is it? And is the pastor really not "feeding" you or is it just not a subject or in a manner that you feel comfortable with? What is it we really want from a message?

I've also heard the claim that it isn't "life applicable" or "practical" and I always go "huh?" on that one. What is the definition of life applicable or practical? My pastor did a whole series on the first 10 chapters of First Corinthians. I found it quite "life applicable" but talked to many folks who did not. One friend mentioned that another church in town seemed to be doing a series based on the book Fearless, about anxiety and conquering one's fears. THAT, my friend thought, is life applicable.

And I can't argue with her, but I do think that it all is life applicable..... it is all practical. Well, maybe not Numbers or Leviticus or..... (I'm kidding)

But back to "not being fed." I just challenge a person to really think through that and what it really means, what their responsibilities are, what their expectation of Church is, and what they find "life applicable? I know for my life, when I start complaining about "not being fed" and that nothing really challenges or relates to me, it is time for some serious self-examination.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

FTR 9/18

.57, 1:14, 1:09, 1:09, 1:09, 1:13, 1:25, 1:07. 1:07. 1:09, 1:14, 1:10, 1:13, 1:13, 1:19, 1:15.

I felt so slow tonight... not sure why. The time with the 1:25 is because I stopped to adjust my goggles.

:-) It's so hard to find time during the weekend to go to the gym!

Friday, September 17, 2010

FTR 9/17

When I got to the gym all the swim lanes were full, so I threw on my workout clothes over my swimsuit, headed upstairs and resolved to walk/run for about 10 minutes, thinking that after family swim ended in 10 minutes there'd be a lane open.

I happily, well perhaps not "happily" but I turned up my ipod loud and got on a treadmill. The whole row of treadmills was vacant, as well as the row in front of it. After 3 minutes into my brisk walk, a guy gets on right next to me and it bothered me. There's a WHOLE ROW of treadmills; why does he have to be on the one right next to me? I turned up my pace a bit, faster than him, and after a mere 3 minutes he gets off. I cranked up my music louder and I have to say that the Black Eyed Peas is really fun to work out to. So much fun that I wanted to "match" the tempo and increased my pace to 13 minute miles from my 15 minute pace. I could only manage to do that for about 4 minutes before settling back down to a brisk walk. After 10 minutes passed my new goal was 20 minutes. Then it passed to and my goal changed to 30 minutes. Finally, over 40 minutes, 2.5 miles, over 10 laps and 240 calories later... I stepped off the machine. And I though I was going to fall down. Seriously! What a feeling!

I sauntered downstairs, clutching the railing and made my way to the locker room, got ready for swim and entered the pool, already breathing hard. I eased my body into the water and just started. The first lap felt good and my pace was .55 seconds but there was no way I could keep that up. My goal was 10 (20) laps and I did 16. (32..... nearly half a mile, I think)

.55, 1:11, 1:09, 1:06, 1:09, 1:08, 1:07, 1:12, 1:08, 1:08, 1:12, 1:13, 1:05, 1:12, 1:13, 1:15.

While I was in the pool, I realized that I tend to really notice and "compete" with those around me. (unless they are way better than me) There was an older woman in the first lane, swimming leisurely laps with a kickboard. Then a guy who I have no idea ho long he's be in the water, me in my lane, an empty lane until later on when a guy started swimming there, and the final lane was an older guy who I've seen plenty of times. Last time he was faster than me, but he usually has a pool aid between his legs for buoyancy, and supposedly that makes it a bit easier. Today I was faster than him, buoy or not. To the guy on the left of me, I was faster too and took less rests, and even the guy who just started, I was faster too. (but he was doing a variety of strokes: breast, back, etc.)

I always have a tendency to feel a bit proud when I am faster and swim longer, taking less breaks than those around me, but I'm beginning to see that I don't know the whole story. I don't know if the guy next to me has been swimming for the last hour and is not on mile 3 and exhausted because of it. I don't know if the other person was injured and is slowly getting into swimming. Or maybe they are working on technique. I don't know there story so it is impossible to compare, yet I still think there must be some universal measure. Fast is fast, slow is slow, right? 40 laps is 40 laps...... right?

One thing that bothers me a lot is when people talk about their "faith journey" and how individual it is. To me, right is right, wrong is wrong. I want to lump everyone into the same "pool" as me. But perhaps it is similar to my swim experience. Perhaps it is impossible to truly judge because I don't know where they've been I don't know their experiences. I don't know their difficulties.

It bugs me so much to even think that things are relative and I still don't, but I do wonder if perhaps we're all different. Held to the same standard, but because of our experiences and situation, it is rather unique for everyone.

Not sure. Just a thought.

Too Much Fun

Embedded in this QR is the URL to my blog. If your camera has a QR reader (for an iphone just download the app) All you have to do is open the reader, take a picture of the above strange looking "artwork" and it will automatically bring my blog up! Or I could've written text or anything else in this funny looking image.

Isn't it fun?

Do you currently use QR? Do you see areas in which companies, products, or even churches can use this technology? I just read a blog post about using QR in church life, everything from bulletins, to pre-service slides, posters, fliers, and even business cards!

What can I say? I'm a sucker for something different, new and novel!


Today the kids have no school and the weather is quite still and unremarkable. The day is grey so far and not altogether cold, just very still, with a feel of moisture in the air. So pleasant is it that my cat who craves being indoor is sleeping contentedly outside. Or maybe the cat knows there is no rest to be had indoors with 3 children romping about!

Smart cat.

It feels like Autumn, and I am enjoying it. I almost wish I liked coffee because it seems like a warm-drink kind of day and hot chocolate seems to have too many calories I'd curl up with a good book by the fire, but the room with the fireplace currently has no flooring in it, it is down to the ugly plywood and there's not a single piece of furniture present, so instead I'm in the front room and am amazed by the Quiet and enjoying the new flooring and freshly painted walls.

I'm looking forward to the cooler weather and visits to the pumpkin patch. With our newly remodeled rooms (we tore down a whole wall that separated the living room/dining room area from the kitchen) I'm excited about Halloween and Christmas.

Today is a perfect day to take photos, and I wish the pumpkin patches were open already but I must wait a week or two and I'm still contemplating which costume Katie will wear this year; she has so many that fit her.

I know this is a rambling post with no point, but I'm actually enjoying it. The silence. The weather, The possibilities and promises that the seasons bring.

I'm hoping that you have your fill of the delights of this season! Whether it be a child's laughter at the pumpkin patch, or a pumpkin spiced latte, may you enjoy these special days to its fullest.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

FTR 9/15

I wasn't able to swim until the late evening. I still can't believe all the lanes of the pool were full at 10 at night! Wow. So I went in the smaller pool and swam about 800 yards/meters whatever it is. It is way too warm in the smaller pool.

Hopefully today (the 16th) I'll be able to swim longer and David tells me I really should be running and biking now too.

I really don't enjoy running.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Suit Required

The last few weeks I've had a lot of fun shopping. Usually I shop for Katie but she has so many clothes, and I really don't like buying things unless they are on sale.

Last week or so I purchased cycling shorts, jerseys, sock, tights, gloves, a running shirt, shorts, and a cycling jacket. I even bought a friend a Pearl Izumi wind breaker because it was such a great deal. (75 dollar jacket for 18) On Friday I purchased a pair of running shoes.

Today after my swim I realized my swimsuit was getting stretched out and it really wasn't ideal for swimming laps in the pool. So, I decided to go to Sports Basement to buy a new swimsuit and look at the other stuff they have. (I love a bargain)

I hate trying on swimsuits! Oh, it is the most painful thing! It leaves no room for self deception and makes you regret every tootsie roll ever eaten. (and the snickers bars and mcdonalds, and birthday cake, and....) Truly; it was near humiliating If I ever for one second thought I wasn't THAT bad, today I realized I AM that bad, and actually worse!

I tried on over a dozen suits and actually nearly liked a TYR one but it was still over 50 dollars! Hoping that eventually all this work will cause me to shed some pounds, I went with a Very Ugly Suit that fit me and felt good, hoping that when it no longer fits (or wears out) that I'll be able to purchase a suit I really like later.

So I walked out of there with the Very Ugly suit because it was cheap(er) and a 20 dollar pair of goggles so I wouldn't have to keep stealing David's from him every day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So much Fun!

FTR 9/14


.58, 1:13, 1:10, 1:07, 1:07, 1:10, 1:05, 1:13, 1:09, 1:11, 1:11, 1:13, 1:15, 1:15, 1:03, 1:06, 1:08, 1:10, 1:16, 1:17, 1:16, 1:15, 1:17, 1:17. 1:23, 1:14, 1:14, 1:19, 1:15, 1:18, 1:15, 1:14, 1:14, 1:13, 1:16

For a total of what I believe is about a mile. :-)

Now if only I could somehow manage to run a mile! Or 3.


I don't really think about my life much, and when I do, I'd never describe it as "perfect." I look around me and compare with others: how much "better" their houses are, how much more money they make, how better at decorating they are, how better a parent someone is, how thin and in shape.... I could go on and on.

As I sit here, my house is in shambles. We're putting in new flooring and its not all in yet. Maybe after the weekend. Our walls are freshly painted and looking at them I wish the color was a tad bit darker. I want new furniture. We need new windows. I have a list of things that "I want."

Today I read a blog I go to now and then. It is written by a med student who writes poignant, beautiful and oftentimes sad posts. Sad because they deal with kids and neglect, sickness and dying. And the absolute beauty and frailty of life that plagues us all.

As she recounted the story of a little girl, entering kindergarten who went for a well child check up and the doctor saw something in her eye, later operated on but left with severe disabilities, the mom recounting it was supposed to be just a check up, with plans to purchase a lunchbox afterwards.

For some reason, it hit me so hard. Perhaps it is because I have a 5 year old daughter who just completed kindergarten and know that one of the delights of school is picking out a lunch pail. It is a big deal. Perhaps it hurts me because this family's life changed in an instant: from the normal exciting milestones to an altered life and set of expectations. Perhaps it hurts me because I realize I take my healthy kids for granted every day.

I do. I think things will never change. But they could.

Right now I'm thankful. Thankful for Katie's smiles, hair bows and affinity for twirly dresses. I'm thankful for her loud voice, even though I so often tell her to hush. Oh, what a sweet voice she has, how come I find it so annoying at times? Her little hand in mine as we traverse the few blocks to school together and how she wants me to blow kisses to her as she enters the classroom with her friends.

And my boys; healthy and fun loving. They drive me crazy too but there is such a deep love towards them! Reid and his stubbornness that causes me to clench my teeth... it is that persistence that fuels his athleticism. Conor and his love for reading and figuring things out.... how he talks so much that I tend to tune him out. I'm thankful.

Truly, thankful.

And I hope that whatever happens in life, even if these "blessings" are taken away from me, I'll still continue to be thankful. I've been given so much. I really deserve nothing.


Monday, September 13, 2010

The Nativity Collection - Thoughts.

I love Christmastime and can't ever get enough Christmas books, so when I saw The Nativity Collection by Robert J. Morgan, I knew I wanted to read it. I was not disappointed. It is a wonderful collection of Christmas stories, beautifully written that really draws the reader in. I couldn't help but read them all in one sitting, which is not any difficulty because this is a small book; just a bit over 100 pages.

It is simply a sweet, beautiful collection of stories that highlight the beauty of the Christmas season. I think any one who enjoys Christmas stories would love this book and it would make an excellent Christmas gift that others will cherish every year as they incorporate it in their holiday traditions.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255


I've not swam in a few days and was dreading going to the pool today but it was a delight! Unfortunately I couldn't get my watch to work properly. I know my first few laps were under a minute, and then after that all I know is that I swam over a mile; 40 laps, but I guess one counts them the other way so that'd be 80 laps. I swam for about an hour, maybe a bit over 45 minutes.

I'm thinking of going back tonight.... we shall see!


I found this at Trevin Wax's blog over the weekend and loved it.

Litany of Humility

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Just Wrong....

Today is the first "fall-ish" day of the season.... it even rained a bit today! So my kids decided that they should have hot chocolate. Sounds good and fine, but the only hot chocolate in the house is the "good" hot chocolate. (meaning the stuff that I like) My kids are happy with Swiss Miss and even happier if it contains the little petrified marshmallows.

It is wrong to give "good" hot chocolate to undiscerning little munchkins. I'm sure others feel the same way in regards to wine and novices like me who don't appreciate the "good stuff."

It is wrong to throw away your McDonald's Happy Meal in the trash can in front of the gym while on the way to a workout. (no one will take you seriously) Especially if you belong to the Gym of Perfect People who don't even know what a Happy Meal consists of and will never partake of a chicken mcnugget.

Those are my observations of the day.

Unanswerable Faith

I know all the pat answers and once upon a time they even satisfied me. I was one that knew all the "Sunday School answers"..... those answers that are what I'm supposed to know and say but haven't really thought it through, waded through the questions and uncertainties, figuring out where the theoretical meets real life and that things look very different in the midst of these questions. When the questions become reality, it so often seems different.

I've wondered at times what "faith" is.... is it just not thinking? Not allowing oneself to question? We always say that a person has "great faith" when they stoically respond in unwavering trust. I don't think I'll ever be one of those people. I question. I cry out. I want to understand and make sense of life and it is hard to let it go. I know the answers; I know that I'm finite and God is infinite. I know His ways are higher than my own. I know that it is best to have a God I don't understand because if I did, He'd be just like me and how "Godlike" would that be?

We have faith that God sees the big picture and has a plan, but sometimes I really seriously wonder about that. I don't see it. I wonder if God is so omnipotent why can't He accomplish certain things without the things I feel are unnecessary or even cruel. How to grasp a kind, loving, merciful God with so much pain? I know we're fallen; I know this world will bring us pain and to look forward to Heaven. I know.

Sometimes I think there are two sides to me: The one that knows the "right" answers and the other side that isn't satisfied with them.

This week my cousin's best friend, nearly a sister, though one is black, one white, died. I found out about it on Facebook. At first I just thought it was some type of kindness; it was written as a letter to her friend, recounting her character and how much she cherished her. She mentioned their anniversary was tomorrow and she'd miss her. I thought for sure her dear friend, who had been in her wedding just a few years prior, was out of town.

I was mistaken. As it unfolded on Facebook it became clear her friend had died. Dozens of folks were asking what happened? And there was no response.

I wondered if it was suicide, though it did not make sense knowing the little I knew of her friend. But if it was a car crash, that would be mentioned. If it was anything, wouldn't it be made known? WIth the secrecy I assumed it was suicide, and I wondered how a Christian could do that and wondered if it (depression) was chemical, why did God make a person that way?

Today I discovered it wasn't suicide. I don't know much of the details but her friend died of an asthma attack at the "happiest place on earth" while vacationing with her 15 year old and her 2 year old. And it brings me to tears to even contemplate that. What was intended for fun and pleasure transformed to a nightmare. A toddler without a mom. A teenager left to graduate and go to prom without mom's beaming pride and smile. And both left with the imprint of such tragedy.

My pastor last year preached a message that I'm still musing over. He said he no longer believes we have a "death day"...... that our choices dictate our death. Later on when I questioned how God's sovereignty fit in, he called it a paradox and really never fully explained, at least to my satisfaction. There's a part of me that wants God to be in control of EVERYTHING and to think our choices don't really matter. But, of course they do! If I wanted to die, could I do so? Would it be what "God wanted" and "ordained?" Yet...... when there is such tragedy like today, I wonder if it is comfort in knowing that God has it under control and is in control of this and how she died? Or is it a comfort to think he's not in control of the manner she died? Really, which is worse?

I know my answers but for me of little faith, they often fail to make sense and be of comfort. I truly desire to understand. I want to know these answers. I want to know the extent of things. I desire to know a God that is all loving and yet there is so much sadness in the world, and I get it but sometimes it doesn't help.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Never Again

Tonight I attempted to swim, this being after I just swam at lunchtime 66 laps! It wasn't a good idea; I was tired and sore and my arm really hurts! Still I managed to eek out a measly 20 laps, which is about the distance of the water portion of a sprint triathlon. My times were not good, started out under a minute but the rest were mostly in the 120s, with the very end finally settling into the 112's... but I was done. I lacked form. I lacked motivation and was wondering why I was here?

My arms seriously hurt. David has brought up the excellent point of variety. It is time for me to begin biking and running. Not sure what I think about that.

FTR (For The Record)

Went swimming at lunchtime. Did 33 laps, which should be a mile.

.56, 1:01, 1:09, 1:16, 1:02, 1:10, 1:02, 1:08, 1:01, .58, 1:06, 1:06, 1:09, 1:10, 1:12, 1:13, 1:09, 1:08, 1:13, 1:06, 1:09, 1:15, 1:08, 1:03, 1:06, 1:07, 1:10, 1:15, 1:13, 1:14: 1:13. 1:12, 1:15

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thoughts on The Boy Who Changed the World

Some children's books inspire and inform not only the child, but also the adult reading it to them. This book by Andy Andrews, The Boy Who Changed the World is one of those rare books that accomplish both. I knew who George Washington Carver was and what he did, but I had never known "the butterfly effect" his life had on so many other influential people. This book was short, yet informative and the message of "you can make a difference!" is unmistakable in these pages.

".... every choice you make, good or bad, can make a difference."

The illustrations in this book are stunning. As soon as my copy arrived my children looked through the book, captivated by the colorful pictures. Later we read the book and they all seemed to enjoy it and understand the simple yet important message that we all need to hear and believe..... that you can make a difference in the world.

A delightful book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I have a startling confession to make: I eat McDonald's Happy Meals. Well, not all the time. It depends on what toy is in them. Right now it is my favorite toy: little cheap Madame Alexander dolls. I don't know why I like them so much, but I do. Or maybe its just my nature to be obsessed and collect things? Not sure.

I do believe I've been collecting these things for over 5 years now. This year there are eight dolls in the series: Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood and the Wolf dressed up as Grandma, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter. They are really cute, though I know they are worthless junk toys. Still, Katie loves to play with them and I was obsessed to gather the whole collection! It has taken me two weeks and I've finally accomplished it.

During those two weeks I noticed a change. Happy Meals now contain "mini fries"...a very petite serving of french fries along with apple dippers and the usual hamburger, cheeseburger or chicken mcnuggets. I've discovered that I really don't miss the larger order of fries, but had they be in my happy meal box, I'd eat the whole thing. All I really need though, is a taste, so I'm quite happy with the meal. Before the "mini fries" I had plotted out that the fries were about 230 calories and if I ate the patty only it was 90 calories. Now with the mini fries, I'm guessing the calories from french fries are half that amount, if not more!

Doesn't really matter; in another couple of days the next toy promotion will begin and I won't feel like I need to buy a happy meal!

PS. Photo taken with my iPhone.... I was lazy!

For the Record....

.57, 1:08, 1:10, 1:09, 1:10, 1:09, 1:10, 1:10, 1:10, 1:11, 1:09, 1:10, 1:07, 1:13, 1:13, 1:13, 1:12, 1:14, 1:09, 1:12

(I had to stop, the gym was closing!)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ready, Set....

I know this is not what you want to read but if I don't write it down I won't remember it and then I'll not realize that I'm improving.

If you've been reading my blog you know that I started swimming in preparation for a sprint triathlon. (come join me!) The first two times I went swimming I was slow, sore and had to stop and rest every lap.

But then something clicked and now I like swimming and have been getting steadily better, with fewer rests, more laps and now even faster!

Thursday night I swam my longest: 70 laps! I was sore, so very sore, because not only was it the most laps I've ever done, I also was pretty consistently around 1:15.

The really odd thing is: even when I relax I tend to go about this pace.

Today I went to the pool and tried to really swim fast. My first lap was 56 seconds! But I suffered for it. I inhaled water, was coughing and sputtering.... I was so tired already! And here I was feeling smug that I did 70 laps just the other day and now I was struggling with just a few! But as usual, I finally settled down to my own pace, a "rhythm", and relaxed and enjoyed swimming. Again, I was surprised to see my numbers pretty consistent, except this time I started getting a more consistent lower numbers: 1:10, 1:08, 1:12. I did a total of 22 laps (44) and felt I had to get out if I wanted to take a quick shower before the gym closed.

Here's my times: 56, 1:12, .58, 1:14, 1:12, 1:08, 1:10, 1:19, 1:15, 1:14, 1:15, 1:11, 1:20, 1:11, 1:15, 1:12,
1:12, 1:11, 1:10, 1:13, 1:16, 1:14.

I was so disappointed that the gym closes early on Saturday nights! I really think I could have done another 20 laps.

I'm really amazed I am enjoying this as much as I am.

A Month Away

What can I say? I'm a planner, and an impatient one at that! I get excited about things and want them to happen NOW! Tomorrow my church is having an all-church picnic. I've been waiting for this since it was announced back in May or June! Likewise, it both bugs and excites me to know of upcoming events or a message series; I just want it all to happen or know all the information immediately; I hate waiting until the end of the month or months later!

I suppose anticipation makes it sweeter, but it also fuels and elevates my expectations. Not sure that is a good thing.

Now that it is Autumn, (I know; technically it is not but if you have kids, then the day they return to school marks Autumn, AKA the "New Year." I'm looking forward to all those Fall things: Back to school night (well, maybe not that one), Halloween, my kid's school walk-a-thon, going to the Apple Farm with K8's class and taking lots of pumpkin patch photos! (this is one of my favorite seasons for taking photos).

October is a busy month for us. 2 of my children have birthdays, my father-in-law has a birthday as well as my brother-in-law. All the things I noted in the above paragraph happen in October. (except Back to School night) October is busy, but there's one more thing that happens in October that I look forward to:

Pastor Appreciation Month.

Last year I facebooked about 20 church friends, inviting them to join me in showering our pastoral staff and their wives, with notes or gifts. Anonymously or signed, simple or elaborate, inexpensive or pricey.... none of that mattered as much as inundating them with kindness. I started it with a box of socks and a card saying we were going to "bless their socks off" and right now I'm trying to figure out another fun, creative way of announcing the intent to bestow upon them our love and appreciation. (if you've any ideas, let me know!)

This year, I'm hoping that everyone will recall from last year that October is Pastor Appreciation Month. I think it often gets overlooked because most pastors don't announce it and most people don't know that Pastor Appreciation Month even exists! I think if people knew, they'd respond.

I've been collecting books and other little things in anticipation of Pastor Appreciation Month, things I find on sale or for a good price. It is mostly books because I love books. I guess I figure if it is something I like, they'll like it too! Not sure it truly works our that way. I'l probably end up giving them a gift card to itunes or a restaurant as well.

As I said, last year I had a lot of fun! So much that I don't know how I'll be able to compete this year. I tried to send a note or put a note or a gift in the senior pastor's box daily. The others were weekly.

Whatever church you attend, I encourage you to join in the fun of participating in Pastor Appreciation Month. Even if it is just a handwritten note of 3 sentences encouraging or thanking your pastor, I know it will be appreciated.

I'm looking forward to October! Hope my pastors have a great month!

Friday, September 3, 2010


I've always enjoyed shopping for bargains. Perhaps it is just that I'm cheap and loathe paying full price. Or perhaps I just enjoy the excitement and fun of finding a bargain. In a way it is a bit like a treasure hunt, and who doesn't love a good treasure hunt?

The drawback to this hobby is that I find and buy things that I really don't need. I'm beginning to realize that a couple dozen cute outfits hanging in a closet really is of no good if she has so many clothes she can't wear them all, no matter how cute or how cheap I purchased them.

Plus, the excitement fades so quickly. It feels so amazing in the store, but once home, it fails to satisfy. I really haven't been out shopping in a very long time, but this week I've had a taste of freedom since the kids were in school and David back to work, so I ventured on Monday to the mall. Nothing at Target. Nothing at Gap. Got a few things at The Children's Place but the place with the best deals for me was one of my favorites: Gymboree. They were having a storewide sale of 30% off PLUS I had a 20% coupon.

I love a good sale! I bought Katie a Halloween costume but will probably return it since I couldn't find the tights and because she has a ladybug and butterfly costume from last year.

Today I went to the Pearl Izumi outlet since they sent me an email advertising an additional 20% off all previously marked down items. Lately I've been having so much luck with their women's clearance. Now that I'm "in training" with my friend for a sprint triathlon, I decided it was a good time to get some clothes. The women's stuff seems to be marked down a lot more than the men's. I bought a few pairs of running shorts normally priced 30 for about 8 dollars, some for only 6. I purchased a running shirt for myself and a friend for 5.99 and a pair of cycling gloves, normally 30 down to 12.

Then I bought a jacket for 30 that normally is 160, cycling shorts for 20 and a really nicer pair for 40. (normally is is 120
....they are really nice!), cycling jerseys for 11, and a few pairs of socks for 5. I also bought a few men's cycling shorts for David because he rides so often his tend to begin to wear out.

I was quite happy with my "treasure hunt" today, but hopefully I'm done "hunting"..... I really cant' afford to do this all the time!