Thursday, November 14, 2019

Novelty Races: The Color Run

I ran The Color Run this past weekend. I might not have chosen it, but I did it. The Color Run is technically a 5K, "the happiest 5K," if you believe the advertisements. But it's a little different. Let me explain.

The Color Run is more of an event than a race. There are no timers. Groups start in waves that the emcees randomly select. The swag is stuff like tie-die headbands and gold sun tattoos (and you pay for all of it). More people walk than run. (And some people apparently even lie down and do "snow angels" in the color powder, as I saw Saturday.)

So how does it work?

1) You register.
2) You pick up your packet (the day before, or there is a $5 extra fee).
3) You dress in white. 
4) You go to the race.
5) You stand in the chutes until they release you.
6) You run (or walk, or crawl, or push your stroller or wheelchair--I did like that this was an open event for everyone).

There are no mile markers, just color arches. As you run through each arch, volunteers throw powder at you. You hope they get you, but sometimes they don't. (We missed the pink and yellow almost entirely). The course winds back and forth a bit for this to happen. Then you get to the finish line, get a medal, and get more color. There's an after party. There are "adult beverages" for those of age. There are pictures.

The run was okay. The pictures were fun. I was a little disappointed with some of the adult innuendos, and even the alcohol, to be honest. This was a family friendly event. Couldn't we leave those things out for once?

The race was fairly well set up. There was adequate water at the "after party." There were blowers on the way out to get the color dust off. There were fun giveaways. The race just wasn't what I was used to.

Would I do the race again? Maybe. If it was a group, "just for fun, run" kinda thing. But I think overall, I like actual races. I'm more into course novelty than novelty, novelty. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Real Talk Marriage: Our Relationship Still Needs Work

I am a counselor. We are two mature adults. We really don't fight. So I guess I thought at some point things would get easier. I thought we'd "arrive." Nope! This marriage requires work, and that's been especially evident over the past five months.

The longer Chris and I are married, the more I realize that marriage is not easy. It is a choice and a commitment. It is a process. We have to work at our communication. We have to work at honoring and respecting one another. We have to work at making joint decisions. We have to work at prioritizing. We have to work at spending time together. I cannot expect to ever reach perfection in any of these areas.. 

Five months is a short time. And yet, five months is a long time. We are already forming patterns and habits. We are "falling" in love more and more each day because we choose to do so. And as we do so, I find I need Chris more and more each day. The love in my heart grows exponentially, even in the hard.

Marriage is hard. It is sanctifying. It is refining. But I'm starting to think it's supposed to be that way. Our relationship needs work, but the work that it requires brings us together, binds us together. And that's what marriage is supposed to be: an irrevocable bond that images Christ and the church.

To God be the glory.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

A Basic Guide to Meditating

I read a book recently about how "affirmative action reduces negative hormones" (Galloway, 2012). That got me to thinking about my thoughts and how they affect my health. If you've read this blog very long, you've probably gathered that I'm a pretty stressed person who struggles to stay calm. But lately, I'm trying to change that. Or at least, I'm trying to change my thinking.

When a negative thought or worry comes up, I'm trying to say, "You are God of ______." Or "God can take care of __________." I've then taking to trying to meditate on that thought by repeating it over and over.

The basic idea of meditation is to calm the brain by sitting, breathing, and thinking of one thought, and then no thought, and eventually getting to a place of "emptiness," or "floating." Here's how that works with the above scenario:

"You are God of ________________."
(Repeat until my brain feels calm.)

"You are God."
(Repeat until my brain feels calm.)

(Repeat until my brain feels calm.)

I usually stop there, because as a believer in Christ, I think emptying my mind is a dangerous thing. I want God to always be filling me. So ending on God is where I want to be. 

Sometimes I practice meditation while doing an activity (such as walking or running). And when I'm done. I'm done. Other times, I do it while trying to fall asleep. So it ends when I sleep. And other times, meditation is a short break, a "rest" for my day. 

Whatever way you do it, meditation works. Basic or not. I'm thankful.


Do you meditate? If so, how do you do it? Please share below in the comments.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

I Love My Husband More....

I love my husband more than anyone else in the whole world. Maybe that’s a given. But for me, it’s kind of surprising, because I love other people so much too, like my mom, and my dad, and my brothers, and my granddad, and my best friends. But I love my husband more, and increasingly so as the days go by.

As I ponder the love that I have in my marriage, it seems right. My love for my husband should be second only to my love for Christ. Because that’s the way it’s supposed to work. But my love is also a choice and I think that’s part of the reason I love so much.

I was blessed to grow up in a loving family. In that family, love was reciprocal. I didn’t necessarily choose to love. They loved me and the love just came to me. With Chris, I made a conscious choice to love, even before I knew if he loved me. And that choice was what led me to make the commitment of marriage.

I said in my vows, “I choose you.” Sure there are hard days, but I still choose Chris. And I’m committed to choosing abs loving him for as many days as God give us. Is it always easy? No. Are there days I don’t feel the warm fuzzies of love? Sure. But then there are the days God grows my heart increasingly ever bigger for the man He gave me as a husband. I’m thankful and grateful and blessed to love this man more than anyone I’ve ever known.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Pumpkin Recipe Round-Up (Year Two)

We all know I like pumpkin. So in an effort to care for myself and enjoy life, I made October about the pumpkin, vowing to make at least one pumpkin recipe a week. I succeeded, barely. 

Here's what I made:

Pumpkin baked oatmeal (a riff on my traditional baked oatmeal)

Pumpkin protein oatmeal (My own concoction)

Also, I realize I posted last November 1 about pumpkin. I guess it's a thing now....

Monday, October 28, 2019

13.1: My First Half-Marathon

I did it. I rain my first half-marathon Saturday. (Okay, Runkeeper officially said 13.02, but I'm counting it.) I've trained for months for this. (I started in August.) I prayed to stay well. By God's grace, I ran. Praise Him!

The Details:

The race: Janis Best

The Course: Peavine + Iron King Trails

My fuel: Clif bar plus banana before, Nuun during, and a Clif shot of energy gel at 6.6 miles (halfway)

My time: I hoped to finish under 2 hours, but I ended with 2:03:37. I got to a 9:30 mile pace, though, and I was happy with that.

How it felt: Good until about mile 10 when my knees starting hurting (Ten miles is the longest I ran on my training plan). I pushed through and my knees hurt afterward until I stretched. Then just the left knee hurt. 

My Conclusions:

Will I run a half marathon again? Maybe. It depends on how this knee soreness goes, to be honest. Otherwise, I'd definitely say yes. Training is hard, but it gives rhythm and routine and structure to my life. And accomplishing this run today proved to me that I can do hard things, and that my entire life is not going to pot (as it has felt at times). God is good. Running is good. I hope God allows me to keep doing it.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

What's Wrong With Church is Me

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I wrote recently about my struggles with church. I was writing about the church corporate, as well as some of the individual churches I've been and am a part of. I could church hop and try to find a church with which I don't struggle, but as Oswald Chambers so aptly wrote, "The day we find the perfect church, it becomes imperfect the moment we join it." That's what I didn't write about in my first post. I didn't write about what's wrong with me. Because I am part of the problem.

So what's wrong with me as part of the church?

I'm judgmental. As much as I want grace and peace and understanding, I don't always give it. I fail to speak the truth in love. Instead, I speak the truth passive-aggressively, or with barbs or manipulation. The truth of the Bible is the truth. Don't get me wrong. But there is a way to speak it in a kind way. Jesus did that. I need to be more like him.

I tend to be a silo. I don't always like meeting or greeting new people. I tend to stick with those I know. And people like me are what makes the church unwelcoming. I need to practice more hospitality.

I burn rather than build bridges. I am slow to forgive. I sometimes feel that I need to assert my way instead of listening to what others have to say. I need to be slower to speak, and as a result, slower to anger and more likely to build relationships.

I act like I have it together, and I don't. There are places and times for boundaries, but as Juli Slattery wrote in a recent book of hers I read, we need to be authentic with discernment. That means not leading people to believe things that are not true. I don't often intentionally mislead people, but I think people believe I have it more together than I do. That is maybe partly their perception, but also partly what I give off. I need to work on being more genuine.

I don't serve, and I don't always support those who serve. There are times and places for service and rest, but we're all called to do something to support the body, even if it's just praying. And we are called to respect and support and encourage those who serve. I do not always do that, either.

There are probably many other problems with me as a part of the church. I am a sinner. I have a responsibility in that. As Bob Goff writes, “If you try out yet another new church, all that will happen is that you will simply encounter as much trouble as you found in the last one. There is nothing wrong with your spiritual environment, but there is something desperately wrong with you. If you fail to correct that, you will be a spiritual tramp all the days of your life” (p. 144). I don't want to be that.*

But grace. God's grace. God's grace saved me. God's grace sanctifies me. May it continue to grow me so that I am less and less of a problem in the church. And may the church grow increasingly into what God intended until his final, perfect kingdom comes.

*Let's be clear. There are good reasons to leave a church, like heresy, or poor theology, or scandal. I don't think that is what Goff is talking about here. I think he is talking about leaving the church for more "superficial" reasons.