Running

running I've always loved running.

In sixth grade I was on the cross country team; I had a crush on both Jordan Buhler and Anders Wick. I couldn't decide, okay? I had a light pink backpack at that time, a knock off brand which was so uncool - it was no Jansport. After cross country practice one day, I walked home in the rain and my backpack was such poor quality that it became completely transparent and everything inside of it got wet. But it was okay, because Jordan walked me halfway home and that made me happy.

I would have continued running on the cross country team if I were allowed to do both cross country and volleyball. But because they were during the same season, the time of year when Back To School sales are strong and the leaves begin falling to the ground turning crunchy, I had to choose. I chose volleyball, year after year, because I knew I would at least run a little bit during volleyball warm ups; up and down the court. If it were an extremely athletic day, I could also run before or after volleyball practice.

After middle school ended I had to choose between track & field and softball. Again, I knew I would be running during softball; throwing a shot put and a softball was similar enough to me, so I decided to lean into the game with the balls not-so-soft and became the backup Varsity pitcher right away. Center field was my primary position, starting as a freshman. I ran when I was able, whether that was in the morning before school or work, greeting the morning sun, or in the evening beneath the shining stars. But most definitely, I did not run daily.

While Loren and I dated, we ran together and prayed aloud for life and people and things. We prayed for women who have chosen abortion, women who are in the thick of such a huge decision, for our little church community, for our future togetherness, our future babies. Two months into our marriage we and our married-friends drove down to San Fran to run the Womens Nike [Half] Marathon. The next year, Loren and I ran the Corvallis Half Marathon and the Mary's Peak 25k [which was actually 17 miles] Trail Run. A few months after that ridiculously painful and arduous run, we made the big adult decision that we wanted to do a marathon. My generous grandparents sponsored us to run the Portland Marathon 2015. [That's this year...in less than 3 months].

It's the pressing of my feet into tennis shoes, lacing them up tight like a bow on a birthday present, the stepping outside into the breeze so brisk, lungs filling up with fresh air, the moving of my body, pushing it to its limit and then some, the pounding of my feet as my heart follows suit, the clear air inviting a clear mind, an empty canvas, ready to be painted. It is as though my mind and my heart are released into reality, the reality of thanksgiving and freshness, with every step, one foot in front of the other.

Running reminds me that everything will be okay. Though my body aches and often my heart too, running allows my brain moments of rest without to do's; all I have to do is keep going. Just keep on keeping on.

My last two years of high school and freshman year of college were severely distressing; my family was facing infidelity, alcoholism, workaholism, complete destruction. Nothing new for anyone who lives in this broken world; but its pain-filled. Decisions I made during those years were not so beautiful, with my actions and my words and my intentions. I was confused, my heart chaotic, nothing made sense. But running beneath the stars late into the night, laying in the middle of the field across from the tennis courts, breathing in the crisp air burning my lungs as I cried out to Him..those nights kept me partially sane.

Running is a space for me and God and God and me and us together, chatting and existing.

Running puts me back on my swivel.

Though running has always been important to me, though it fills me up full and I have my greatest revelations and sometimes my most intimate and raw prayers, it also has always been secondary.

I could go months, nearly a year, in between runs and get up and go steady without walking for 7 to 8 miles with an 8:30 mm. Leisurely. No big deal. The half marathons were nearly easy for me; I barely needed to train. I peer into my near future with this marathon in the early stages of October and for the first time I am nervous for this race. This run. This challenge.

Running has never been so hard for me as it is now.

I've been attempting to train for this marathon and I feel blocked up, obstructed, arrested from my usual ability. My maximum milage as of recent has been 4 miles at a 9:45 mm. Sweating profusely, breathing with difficulty, my lungs burning from scar tissue, my body aching all over but especially in my back. When I finish, my muscles clam up tight, contracting and clenching together, letting me know they are done working, done stretching. They feel solid in my body, muscles of molasses.

My friend said she thinks I'm having a brain-block. That I kind of have things rattling around in there.

I cannot help but think of bible reading and praying and spending time soaking in His nearness. This lifestyle of walking with Him in the everydayness, is so important to me, so pressing and all that I want. But how it is so easy to place that second, if not last, on our priority list. Like I ditched cross country for volleyball, I often ditch reading my Bible for community life. I justify it with, well its basically the same because Jesus is all about community. Neither volleyball nor community are inherently bad or evil; they're both beautiful and good and lovely. But when I make the decision, because it is very much my decision and yours, to look away and walk away from the nook of prayer time with Him, my heart becomes starved. The Holy Spirit in me is parched, running ragged, losing its nourishment. The muscles of my core are weakened and malnourished, gasping and reaching for His presence and solitude, and I deny it. 

It is easy to go an entire week without opening the pages and unfolding what He has for us, for me and for you; when we do finally return to that place, it feels awkward and weird, scary and vulnerable. Unsafe. Which is so much a lie. After weeks of soul-malnourishment, the returning run, the returning-meeting in solitude feels off and abnormal; it feels broken. But I am convinced that habit and ritual will turn this back into beauty, into a freedom place where my heart runs towards Him.

As of recent, I have been carving out an hour of moments with Him in the nook of our nursery, the corner near the window, on the rug that is so cushy and inviting and perfect for my knees and my tears. I do my best to ignore the lie that it is scary and too vulnerable, that I will hear nothing from His heart, and instead enter that place of silence and solitude and fullness and presence. The place of holiness because He is so there. Every morning, waiting for me. When I do not enter that place of presence, I feel Him beckoning, calling, sweetly saying, "But this time means something to me too, Dear. Not just you. I need this time, too." And so I lay down my to do's and my work and the nagging of my scull and I enter into His nearness.

nursery nook

 

Soon there will be a rocking chair in this corner, inviting me to rock and to lean into Him, to lay my heart on His chest as it rises and falls with the breathing of in and out. I hope to create a space of prayer here, in this nursery nook, building a habit into this room of prayer and grace and presence. A no-phone-zone. It's not some guilt-ridden thing that needs to be engulfed in condemnation, but rather a delightful, filling-up invitation.

A place to meet Him, daily.

the coffee date

the coffee date If we were on a coffee date, you would be in France with me. Paris in particular. Two weeks ago, I would not have believed you if you told me we would meet up in Paris. To my knowledge and our planning, our 3 week trip was to Germany, and Germany alone.

If we were on a coffee date, I would either order a macchiato or a cappuccino, dairy free and with caffeine, because I can no longer avoid the deliciousness of caffeine. Its thrill through my veins is too awakening...addiction much? But I would also let you know that as soon as we get back to the states, my coffee intake will need to change because my body cannot go on enduring this constant thing of pain that it brings. What might you be sipping?

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I had a good day yesterday. I did my best to remain as present as possible and soak in my now; I failed at times, slipping into where I should be. But mostly I worked hard to breathe in the present air.

I stood before this amazing landmark with my husband and we chatted a lot of good words back and forth. I would tell you that when I was 16, my grandparents took me to this very place and I thought, "I wish I could come here with my husband some day. But who goes to Paris twice?"

Wish granted.

 

If we were on a coffee date, I would share with you that last Monday in Rothenburg ob der Tauba, I told Loren I was going to write a book after this trip. We were on a walk through some farm fields, the green pastures beautiful, hills rolling, hands holding, and I shared that I have been aching to write until I couldn't anymore. Which may never happen (not being able to write). But I don't make time to write the way I crave to. I am determined to make writing a priority the day we return home. After a long nap of course.

If we were on a coffee date, I would then share that just two days later I began writing said book. In the last 7 days I have collected words of many, scrambled them together so carefully and so honestly, reaching nearly 10,000 words of the first [crap] draft. Part of me knows deep down that I will never talk or pay anyone into publishing those words, but part of me screams to stop doubting and keep writing, keep creating, keep honestly sharing.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I have read four and a half books on this trip. Three of them being just for fun novels to get wholly lost in; it has been awhile since I have allowed such pleasures. And I think I may allow it a little more.

If we were on a coffee date, awkwardly I would share that I have a full marathon in 5 months. Run? Who? Me? What? That is something else I am going to change when I get back: prioritize exercising and running again. It keeps my mind clear and my heart happy and my soul rejoicing. I have not been inspired to run until today when we walked through a large park in Paris (hoity toity) and I saw dozens of runners...I then craved free movement.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you how you are doing. I would remind you that I have zero expectations of perfection from you, freeing you of any unnecessary fear. I would let you know that however you are doing, good or bad or great or just okay, I still think you're a wonder. I would ask you what you are struggling with, if you feel separated or close to Him, and how your friendships are.

I would share, vulnerably and transparently, that I fear I am losing a few of mine. My friendships seem to be on rocky cobblestones these days and I can only ask Him for strength. Only by His grace can I make it through each day.

If we were on a coffee date, I would remind you that He sees you and relishes in you. He sees you in your most vulnerably honest state and He says, "You are mine and I love you." Do you hear Him?

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This post-genre was adopted from Amber Thomas at Mr Thomas and Me. Hop on over to read one of my favorite writer's blogs. She inspires me daily.

"As you choose Must, your actions affect everyone and everything around you. How will you inspire others?" -The Crossroads of Should and Must

Thank you for choosing your Must, Am.

Training for a 25k Trail Run

Last Monday, Loren & I were determined to find another run for this summer. We have an envelope started and knew our budget made for slim pickins, but we were set. Insert: Mary's Peak 25k. $49 each. Most runs were already at $100. This is how it went:

"Loren! I found one! And it's close. And it's on a Saturday! And it's...only $49 each!" He glances over. We read "Blodgett to Mary's Peak" and all that registers is "local." Not "trail run," not "2,500 elevation," not "14.28 mm average pace." Nope: we saw Local + Saturday morning + >$50 + free swag bag {literally, that's our prize}.

We are signed up within 6 minutes of stumbling upon it.

Something about me is that I had bi-lateral pulmonary embolisms. That's the technical term for big fat deathly blood clots in both lungs. From those little killers, I formed very big scar tissues in my lungs. Running was a difficult re-start for me after my PEs. It hurt, I could barely run a 12mm for one mile. My chest burned, my lungs didn't want to expand, I was devastated. But over the course of the following 4 years, I kept at it. I pressed on. I ran my first half marathon in October of 2012 {2 years almost to date since my PE}. My second just last month. Road running had become fairly easy -- my body handled it well, my mind was cake, the only rare ache I had was the occasional lung stabs.

Nike Plus Corvallis Half

After our second half marathon, I wanted a bigger challenge. I love challenges - it probably has something to do with me trying to find worth in the wrong places; but maybe it doesn't. We looked into full marathons but most of them for this year were already up and over $100. A lot of them are on Sundays and out of town, and we value being part of our church community on Sundays. When we stumbled upon Mary's Peak 25k, I read 15 miles and thought, "there is the next challenge! 2 more miles." I didn't even think of the trail-straight-uphill-kill-me part.

I didn't think of the intense pain I would endure in my lungs. It's a whole new game, trail running is.

3 days pass since signing up. We decide we should try this trail running thing. We drive to Chip Ross & we run a difficult 1.47 miles - straight up, bumpy down. We almost die. I am pouring sweat off of my body like a man. Loren is shirtless. And we are unsure of our tightened calves and glutes. I was slightly discouraged as I am used to running 10 miles with ease.

The next day rolls around and we decide to run up the back of Bald Hill. We hiked it during our engagement and knew it was going to be quite the challenge. This 4 mile run was difficult, but encouraging. Straight up, straight down, flat. Though I was tempted about 800 times to stop and walk {and though I may have moved quicker that way} I didn't. Loren didn't. He cheered me on, he rooted my name, he told me I could do it. What a babe.

Our third run last week was up the easy side of Bald Hill. For each of these runs, Loren would constantly be saying, "Wow! It's beautiful up here! Look at this! Wow!" Every time he said these things, I was reminded that I was stating at his feet. Staring at the ground directly in front of me, focusing on my breathing, trying not to quit. I wasn't looking up to take in the beauty. I wasn't looking around, basking in Gods creation. I was tunneling my vision to the dirt. The rocks. The feet pounding before me.

As usual, I could not help but think of my walk in life: my adventure towards Jesus. How often do I unconsciously stare at the dirt, the muck, the rocks below me. The feet pounding ahead of me. Thinking how I am behind others in my growth process and how far I have to grow. Why can't I appreciate my surroundings of just where I'm at? And how often do I miss out on the green, lush, beautifully captivating life that surrounds me? How often am I so focused on my own inner pain {and turmoil}, thinking through the best way to breathe {quite literally}, and not allowing myself the freedom to look around, soak in the blessings? Instead, I focus on self. I look inward. I constantly am trying to improve self, step by step. Which has it's pros and it's cons.

It is good {I believe} to be self-analytical. But only to an extent. It can be dangerous. If all I am doing every step of my adventure is looking at the feet ahead of me, pounding the dusty dirt, inwardly focused on how I should breathe so that I can avoid pain...I won't be impacting anyone's life but my own. I won't be changing this world for the better, bringing hope that this world needs. I won't be doing my job as a follower of the best God-Man-Savior-Lover.

Today, I want to breathe with the ease of peace, not comparing myself to others.

Today I want to look around and soak in the beauty that engulfs my life.

Today, I want to keep my head up and my eyes forward, forgetting myself and remembering Him.

He covers us, friends. He is everywhere. Look around and soak Him in. Breathe Him in.

He will bring you freedom.

2 Half Marathons Down: What's Next?

You can do this too! I promise. If I can, you can. My first half marathon was October 14, 2012. My friend Melissa and I put our names in for the Nike Womens {Half) Marathon down in San Francisco. In April that year I was in Boise visiting Loren and I got an email saying we were accepted! About a month later, Melissa and I began running more consistently. I n those 5 months of training, I didn't go over 8 miles. The most I had ran was 7.56 miles and that was only one time! I mostly stuck to 4 mile jogs.

I hope this will encourage you!

My finishing time for the NWM was 1:55:44. My goal was 2 hours and I beat it! Let me tell you, the hills were nasty and my knees never locked up so bad as the car ride home. If I ever do a run in another state, I will not get in the car immediately for the drive home. We will be doing more stretching!

My second half marathon was my favorite of the two because it was with my husband! Such a great friendship building time. It was just yesterday, April 13, 2014. The last week of December, I saw an ad for the Corvallis Half and asked Loren if he would run it with me. He jokingly said yes and I took that as a yes so therefore I paid and there we were: signed up. He thought I was crazy.

We finally started running consistently in...March. January and February were full of hopeful thinking and great ideas of going out for a run, but I think we ran about 3 times total in those months! And each of those runs were no more than 3 miles.

For a month and a half, we tried to run 3x a week. That was our training. There were a good few weeks that we didn't run at all because of the rain (yes, we are whimps!) or because of sickness. In the last two weeks, we got up to 10.5 miles which was Loren's record mileage. We were averaging 10:30 minute miles in the long runs, and our goal would need 9 minute miles.

Race day arrived after a hectic week and we were ready to let those endorphins go! We stood in the 9mm area in hopes to reach our goal of 2 hours. Our first 4 miles were an 8:31mm and we felt good! After that, we were at 8:57mm for about 4 more miles and then hit 9:07 for a few. We ended up with an average of 9:11mm and I was so proud of my husband! Mile 11 was the wall. Loren was feeling it in his toes (time for new shoes and better socks).

There is something so surreal about being cheered on. We never run that fast or that hard, but boy when the people on the sidelines are cheering you on, it is quite a boost. It is so needed in order to keep going. There would be kids lined up ready to give you high fives and Loren kept telling them they were giving him power - it was awesome. Just when you feel like you might need to die a little bit, someone yells at you that you are doing great and they are proud of you. A stranger. Time and time again I was reminded that I need to be better at cheering on my friends and family in everyday life. But not JUST friends and family, but strangers. Waitresses. Baristas. Walker-by-strangers. We need to cheer one another on! It is so powerful, it brings so much encouragement. Even something as little as a "you can do it! keep going!"

Can we commit to growing in encouraging each other? What a difference it makes, especially when you're running out of inner fuel. You know yourself how much of a gift it is to be cheered on (I hope anyways!) - remind yourself of the blessing, next time you have even the smallest inkling to encourage someone else.

We crossed through the finish line, kissed, and grabbed a metal - which is hilariously awesome!

Hotty! Pre-Race The course Free dry fit!

I have done 2 Half Marathons and Loren has done 1. We have been talking about running a full because, well, we are crazy. We are flat crazy. But let's be real: if we can run a half, why not go for the full? We love achy knees, sweating like a pig, letting salt dry out our faces, and having our bloody toe nails fall off. After all, doesn't that make for a great need for a pedicure?

Who is with us? We are looking into a {half} marathon for this fall. Maybe in Washington or Idaho. Would you join us if we did? Please comment & let me know! Or message me. We would love to have running partners to encourage and be encouraged by! Another idea we have been really talking about is doing the Columbia River Gorge Marathon. They also have a half. Why not brave the crazy with us? What are friends for?

Nike Plus Corvallis Half Corvallis Half 2014

The Weeklies

Happy spring break! We have an odd but blessed week ahead! Monday & Tuesday at the beach, Wed-Thurs in our beautiful city Corvallis, and Friday & Saturday back at the beach! Do you have any plans this week? 20140324-135824.jpg

I am currently in the passenger seat with the window rolled down, heading to Lincoln City! Loren and I enjoyed a nice run this morning but were bummed that it turned out to be less than 8 miles. We then had a sweet surprise by a man we cherish; Allan! He gifted us with means to treat ourselves to a date this evening on the coast. Cannot express my deep gratitude. I feel so deeply loved by Jesus and do not want to take these moments for granted.

Last week we memorized and focused on 1 Corinthians 16:13. I can tell you, I loved it! It inspired and motivated me to move out of my comfort zone many times. Did you have any moments of bold strength, courageous love, or standing firm in the faith?

This week I will be memorizing & internalizing & focusing on the very next verse: 1 Corinthians 16:14 "And do everything with love."

Love. It's patient and kind, it doesn't boast nor is it rude! You know how easy it is to boast? I mean, about the little things we do, like emailing someone. I find myself boasting too often. Love doesn't do that.

It does not demand or even seek it's own way; even if it's certain that it's own way is best. It is not selfish -- I get to put my phone down when asked by my husband...not in "1 minute," but that immediate moment, when asked.

Love is humble, not proud --> it sees others as better than self, it accepts other peoples love with joy {aka love doesn't reject people's blessing of truth, compliments, gifts}.

Love is not jealous -- when my friend has an opportunity to drive to Canada for her anniversary, I don't get to be jealous! I get to be happy for her!

Love is not irritable {boy howdy do I need to work on this!}. When I am making dinner or working on a task and Loren wants me to pause and pay attention to him {instead of "multi task"}, I get to choose light hearted joy, not irritation. OR when my computer doesn't do what I want it to {aka I don't know how to use it}, I don't get to throw a tantrum of irritation!

Love keeps no record of being wronged, so let's not bring up last week's hurt and hold it over that persons head.

Love does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices when truth wins out. No gossiping - that's injustice. No rejoicing in sexual impurities. No rejoicing when someone "gets what they deserved." No joy over bullying or harassment of any kind. No, let us only rejoice when the truth wins out. When love wins.

Love never gives up. Never loses faith. Is always hopeful. Endures through every circumstance. Let's do everything with love! And when we are tempted not to, we will remember 1 Corinthians 16:14 and we will be courageous, standing firm in our faith with the strength of Jesus.

What is amazing to me is that love will never fail me. Every time I choose love, I know that I will not be failed. And neither will you, contrary to popular belief.

Will you memorize and focus on this verse with me this week? Which areas of love do you need to be reminded of most?

20140324-142430.jpg On our run this morning I snapped a few photos. Surprisingly, not too blurry! We saw 3 deer, crossed 4 creeks, and climbed lots of hills! It is a great opportunity for us to encourage and cheer one another on.

20140324-142554.jpg

The Weeklies: Now Including Exercise Goals!

Here are our menu/evening plans, exercise goals, and a verse to memorize. Feel free to join me in any of these weekly goals! I will also post any links to recipes for the meals. What are you eating? Do you have any plans this week? menu & plans

We used this recipe for Corned Beef: click HERE.

A little green salad for this St Patty's day, and Irish coffee made by Jesse:

Green salad & irish coffee

Friday's gluten free pizza recipe.

Memorize this week's verse:

Verse

This week I am praying for discernment and protection; to be on guard. I fully believe that committing to be on guard means that I am soaking in Jesus truths and promises, clothing myself in His armor. I ask Jesus for His spirit and angels to guard me and my heart, as well as my husband's. I pray that we will stand firm in our faith in Jesus Christ, even when this life threatens our joy -- He has so many promises that we get to stand on, firmly. Promises of peace, patience, and fullness of joy. I pray that I stand firmly in my faith, choosing not to have any hints of boasting or slander, knowing my identity is wrapped in Jesus. When I stand firm in my faith, believe that Truth, I have no need to prove myself anywhere.

Sometimes, being courageous is telling a trusted friend that you are struggling. Sometimes being courageous is letting others see you're broken and a complete mess {which was me from Saturday 3 am to Sunday 10 pm}. And that's okay, because well, we're human. Courageous is forgiving someone. Courageous is praying for that person that persecutes you. Courageous is reaching out to someone who is lonely. Courageous is smiling at the grumpy store employee. Courageous is walking in love when it's easier to walk in something other.

This week, I will be courageous in the way I speak with people -- I will declare truths, calling out the good in others. I will courageously declare the gifts in people.

I will be strong; not in my own strength, but in Jesus. I must rely on His spirit to carry me through each day. I will strongly lean into His grace, remembering that sometimes "strong" means being vulnerable. Being strong can be recognizing I am weak, and in need of Jesus.

I pray these things for you, too. Please memorize and internalize this with me?

Read HERE why I encourage memorizing scripture.