Thursday, May 28, 2020

Not the Races I Planned to Run

My two favorite races got cancelled this year. Okay, well most races are my favorite (except the ones that aren't). Anyway, I ran neither Pat's Run nor the Whiskey Row 10K this year, at least on the scheduled dates. I gave up on training and even took April completely off running. But then Pat's Run shipped me my bib, medal, and t-shirt. I felt I had to run, or at least I wanted to, so I got out and did it.


I wasn't fast, but I wasn't as slow as the first time. And I hadn't been training. Completion of the run was my win.

I wasn't going to run the 10K because I hadn't trained for it either, but then I decided to run it too. I didn't race. I ran. I ran not for time, but for completion, and I finished. Praise Jesus.

There were not the races I planned to run. I'd gotten down to an 8:11 minute mile in training, and I wanted to practice it. But when the plans I made got cancelled and I decided to break from training, I didn't know when or if I'd run, or run far ever again. 

Returning to running after rest reminded me that running is not all about the races. Running to run, not to race, has been good for my psyche. Race-less days have granted freedom in my schedule. Completing races virtually has made me more relaxed. Running is a blessing in and of itself. I look forward to competing again, but until then, I'm thankful for every day I get to run in this race of life I'm in.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Balance


If you haven't noticed, I tend to be a kind of black-and-white, extreme, all or nothing type person. But I continue to realize that life exists in shades of gray. Maybe if I lived there a little more often, I would experience a more free, more joyful, and less stressful life. There's moral right and wrong, sure, but when it comes to other things, maybe there is more than one right way.

Maybe my bedtime can shift 15 minutes or so if that causes less stress.
Maybe it's okay if my yoga was 5 minutes instead of the 20 I desired.
Maybe I can eat breakfast in 20 minutes, even though 30 minutes feels a lot nicer.
Maybe the walk I need is however long feels good, instead of a certain number of miles or minutes.
Maybe my diet should not be low-carb, or no-carb, but some carbs.
Maybe I should use butter and margarine and canola oil and olive oil and coconut oil.
Maybe I can mix white and whole grains.
Maybe I can have caffeine sometimes, when it will serve my body well.
Maybe I need a little less pressure, not no pressure.
Maybe I can work really hard and relax really hard.
Maybe I can live "in the middle."

Life is a trip. Life is an adventure. Don't I always say that? There are definitely highs and lows in this life. The "sweet spot" is probably somewhere in between.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Reframing Our View of Money


I've always been frugal, maybe not as frugal as I could be, but frugal. My mom is a missionary kid who had to learn to make do on very little. My family lived on one income growing up. I was taught well. I started a budget around seventh grade and haven't really looked back. We even started marriage on a budget. But recently, our budget has changed.

When COVID hit, our budget categories kind of went out the window. I spent whatever money it took to buy whatever food I could whenever I could find it. We didn't really eat at restaurants before the pandemic, so we didn't do takeout. Even with increasing the amount I spent on food, I figured I could always buy more at the store than at a restaurant. But then restaurants starting going down. In the downtown area where we live, restaurant after restaurant started closing and saying, "Watch for re-opening" or "We'll be back soon." But would they? My husband and I started growing concerned. So we made a shift. We re-adjusted our grocery budget and decided to eat more basically in order to have more money to eat out. Sound crazy? It kind of is, but not to us.

We realized that our money is not just about the amount of product we buy, but about people. When we buy food at the store, we buy product. When we eat at a restaurant, we invest in people: in the people that serve us, in the chefs that make our food, and in ourselves and our enjoyment. We have now stretched our budget to do takeout at least every other week. Does that cost equal approximately a week's worth of groceries? Yes, it does. But it may also contribute to putting groceries on someone else's table. We're okay with that, more than okay. We're happy about it.

Am I advocating for people to go blow money they don't have on takeout just to contribute to the good of the economy? Well, no. I am challenging myself and others to reframe their view of money, especially money spent on entertainment and "luxury" items. If nothing else, this pandemic has showed me just how many people's livelihoods depend on "non-essential" services. And essential or not, those industries are good, good for consumers, and good for the jobs they provide.

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Have "extra" money? Have corners you could cut? Well maybe now is the time to reframe your view of money and budget for some "extras." Decide to get coffee once a week. Order out. Save some extra money for tips. There are lots of "non-essential" workers whose lives have been devastated by this pandemic and its ensuing shutdown. Those workers are people, and those people are essential. They are our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and friends and comrades, and they need income. If you can support their livelihoods, please do.

Monday, May 18, 2020

A Little More Dangerous


We were talking about the re-opening of society after the COVID-19 outbreak, my supervisor and I. We discussed various safety precautions and the physical, spiritual, mental, and social implications of enforcing them. "Maybe life is just going to be a little more dangerous," He said. That comment struck me.

"Maybe life is just going to be a little more dangerous." Maybe we will be more worried that we will get sick after going out in public. Maybe there will be more risk to life. But hasn't there always been risk? Traffic accidents take lives every day. Natural disasters steal lives. Crime steals lives. Genetic disorders and cancer and old age steal lives. And yet we still go on living.

I am not saying we should disregard safety precautions. I'm not encouraging you to disregard orders from the governing authorities. I am saying that life has always been inherently finite, because it has a beginning and an end. Life has always been inherently dangerous, because all life ends in death. So maybe as we go back to living (outside our homes at least), what we we need is not greater fear, but rather greater appreciation. Maybe we need to value full shelves at the grocery stores. Maybe we need to value our commute time to and from the office. Maybe we need to value time with friends and family more. Maybe we should take a few risks. Maybe life is just going to be a little more dangerous.

I don't know what valuing life looks like for you, but I encourage you to explore it. Danger doesn't keep us from living. It might make us need to be more contemplative about the way we live, however. Maybe this pandemic is just what we need to motivate us to cultivate more thoughtful, more intentional lives.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Make Your Own Happiness.


I made my own birthday cake this year. I wasn't sure how or if we would get to celebrate my birthday, and I wanted to do something. I felt a little selfish cooking for just myself, but knew I'd be happier for it. I think sometimes life is like that. We want people to make happiness for us, but sometimes we need to make our own.

My birthday came at an odd time this year. It was in the middle of a pandemic. It was in the middle of a work week. It was in the middle of college finals week. We'd planned to go see my parents the weekend prior, but didn't know if we could. I could let my birthday pass and be grumpy and mourn, or I could take the initiative and make my own celebration. That's what I did. In the end, I actually got to see my family to celebrate, and my mom made me a big cake. My mini celebration made room for a larger celebration with others.

Sometimes we need to take ourselves out for coffee. Sometimes we need to plan our own dates. Sometimes we need to make our own cakes. Sometimes we need to initiate our own celebrations of life. Sometimes we need to make our own happiness.

Making our own happiness prepares us to celebrate with others. Making our own happiness gets our brains ready to receive joy. I'm not saying be selfish. Still care for others. Still serve and give selflessly, but don't wait for permission to take care of yourself and live. Putting in a little time for personal celebration may make room for more, or at least make you a more pleasant person to be around. (In full disclosure, I ended up freezing the cake I made and brought it out later to celebrate my husband.)

So here's to celebration. Here's to happiness. Here's to a little self-care, a little more self-love, and celebrating with those we love when we can. May the world be better for it.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

My Mother's Legacy


My mom joined her first prayer group sometime when I was in elementary school. I don't remember thinking much about it until we moved to Arizona and she started wearing her pink Moms in Touch button everywhere we went: to school, to the store, to the library, etc. She said she didn't know of any local prayer groups, and she was determined to find one.

Fast forward a few years, and Mom found a group. I don't remember the details. I just know she joined.

Fast forward to my college years, during which Mom was more and more involved in Moms in Prayer. Post-college, Mom was the first one to remind me of the National Collegiate Day of Prayer each year. When a friend of mine (also the daughter of a Moms in Prayer intercessor) asked me if I wanted to meet for weekly prayer, I was on board. We even used Moms in Prayer sheets with the ACTS method of praying as our guide!

My friend and I eventually quit praying together. I think one of us changed jobs. I know I eventually moved. I kept up the practice of making weekly prayer sheets and spending 30 minutes in prayer, however. Thirty minutes was not the length of an actual Moms in Prayer meeting, but it worked for me.

As I've entered my third decade of life, I've continued my prayer practice. It isn't always as regular as I would like, but I do it. My mother, meanwhile, continues in Moms in Prayer. She has taken on more and more responsibilities as time has passed: praying in multiple groups, leading groups, and even serving on the area and state-wide teams. Two years ago, I had the opportunity to go to a Moms in Prayer conference with my mom and my sister-in-law. My sister-in-law was actually pregnant with my niece at the time, so we had three generations present. It was a special time for all of us.

This year for Mother's Day, I bought two prayer shirts from Moms in Prayer. The, "Pray 'Em Up" quote on the shirts referenced the movie War Room, and the talk my mom, sister-in-law, and I heard at the Moms in Prayer conference from Actress Karen Abercrombie. I asked my husband to do a little photo shoot with my mom and I wearing the shirts. It was the most tangible way I could think to document the legacy my mother is leaving me: the legacy of prayer.

My mom has always prayed. She prayed before Moms in Prayer. She prays through Moms in Prayer. She prays outside of Moms in Prayer. I can always text, call, or e-mail Mom with prayer requests and know they are covered. My mom has prayed me through some of the lowest lows and highest highs of my life. I no longer live with or even near my mom, but I feel the power of her prayers, day in and day out. Prayer is Mom's access to a Higher Power, and because Mom taught me to pray, and I prayed a prayer of saving faith many years ago, I now have access to that same power. And Christ's power is the greatest power and legacy of all.
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Happy Mother's Day, Mom, and to all the mothers out there!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Real Life Marriage: The Story of the Dish Sponge



"You know not to use the green side of the sponge on the non-stick cookware, right?" My husband turned to me and asked one night. (We'd been having an ongoing discussion about the waning presence of the non-stick coating in our pots and pans.)

I looked at him with wide eyes. "No," I said. "I always use the green side of the sponge."


He looked back at me with the same wide eyes. I burst out laughing. He started laughing with me. In my defense, I didn't really grow up with non-stick cookware and the only dish washing lessons I'd ever had were on how to get things clean. My way to get things clean is to scrub, hard. Well, I guess we've found the culprit for our dishware issues!

My husband could have approached me about the dishes with accusation. He brought these particular dishes to the marriage, after all. Instead, he approached me with a nonjudgmental question. I received that much better. When I confessed my habits, my husband could have responded in anger. Instead, he responded with empathy and an understanding that my experience was different than his. He approached the situation with grace, and we were able to laugh, forming a funny memory and improving our marital bond.


Marriage is two different people with two different experiences and two different lives coming together. Sometimes this uniting causes some upset. Sometimes bonding results in some loss for a greater gain. Non-stick enamel in this case. It's all part of the process, though, and it's all worth it.


To God be the glory.