Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bad Bloggy Friend

Yes, I know that it is important to keep up with the whole blog thing. And I have been missing it. My blog time has fallen victim to a few things:

  • The cutest thing it has fallen victim to has 4 legs and the cutest, wagginest tail. Right now she is giving me a reprieve and is curled up on the floor at my feet. If I could only schedule that behavior. It is very much like having a toddler. But I am enjoying my Hadley.
  • Having a puppy also mean puppy class. So, we are practicing. Hadley now throws "sit" and "down" my way whenever she thinks she deserves a treat.
  • Running. I am running my first race since field day in elementary school. (Yes, that was a really long time ago. I didn't win then and don't anticipate winning now. But finishing would be good!) So, I've been trying to put time in running. The race is 4.37 miles (one sixth of a marathon as the folks that the running club like to point out).
  • This makes an excellent prelude to my competitive spirit. Yes, I have one of those. At work, we are having an 8 week health challenge. Everyone in my office is in on it. We get points for every minute of exercise, for eating fruits, vegetables, and having dairy, for reading about a health topic, for making a healthy dish and sharing it, for any number of things. It might not be too bad except out of 37 teams we placed 6th the first week. So, I've set the sights on 1st. (Last week we were 2nd.) The only problem is that rank is determined by the average number of points per person on each team. The one person team currently out front has an advantage. But they are also missing the advantage of having everyone in their office eating smarter. Our monthly junk food/pot luck day was turned into "Healthy Food Day." For every healthy dish that was prepared and shared we got points! But the competitive spirit has kicked in. Why only exercise 60 minutes when 120 will get you double the points?
  • Read immediately above if you cannot fathom why I'm tuckered.
But I hope to do better here soon.... If you think of it pray for me on Saturday at the race!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shaking Off Fears

Fear is one of those things with two sides, like two sides of a coin. On one hand, there things that it is healthy to be afraid of like the hot stove. These fears keep us from getting hurt.

But then there are fears that keep us from achieving what God may want us to do. These are the fears that say, "You can't do that" or "What will everyone think if you mess up?" I am way too consumed by these kinds of fears. They often keep me from trying, striving.

As you may know, I've started running the last couple of months. It's a program called "Catch the Wave" put on by the local running club for beginning runners. I missed the first two weeks, so I was already behind when everyone was suppose to run 6 minutes the third week. I struggled to keep pace with the lowest group, Group 10.

The next week, they added a transitional group and called it Tiger. I must of spaced on the idea of it being a "transitional" group and was sticking with that group. Last week, our leader was out so another experienced runner led the run. I ran fairly far ahead with her and we circled back periodically for the other members of the Tiger group. She told me four times that I should move up to Group 10. My initial reaction was, "I can't." It was intimidating to think about. Last week the Tiger group ran 4 and a half minutes and walked 2 and repeated that pattern. The other groups were running 16 and walking 4 or 5 minutes in between the running intervals. How could I even think of jumping up that much?

And then there was the other consideration. I've enjoyed getting to know Katie and Chris in the Tiger group. I would be moving up to a group where I didn't really know anyone. I have a definite anxiety about being around people I don't know.

I decided to take the leap. Tonight, I ran with Group 10. The plan was 5 minutes walking, 20 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 20 minutes running, 5 minutes walking. My mind started going with the "I can't" statements before we started. But I decided to not look at my watch and just run.

Somehow, I ended up at the front with one of the leaders. It was a slow pace, but I needed that. I found myself acutely aware that people were running right behind me and if I slowed down I might get stepped on. Amazingly, I made it 17:30! I did a 7 minute walk and then tried the second 20. I actually made it about 12 out of the 20 during that stint.

My legs feel a bit like jello, but it is a happy, satisfied feeling.

How do we shake off fears?

  1. Ask God if it is what He wants us to do. Is God concerned with my running? Maybe to a degree, though it isn't likely to impact things much. He is more concerned when I short change myself and, more importantly, Him.
  2. Focus on the task at hand and not the fears. I just needed to run. I didn't need to worry about the time. My task was to put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving.
  3. Focus on the God who gives strength and endurance. Things aren't always over with quickly. (It's amazing how long 20 minutes is!) In life, things can take years.
Elijah was a prophet who stood up to Ahab. But before things came to a head in 2 Kings, Elijah went through a drought/famine lasting several years. He was also pretty much on his own in terms of comrades. There were other prophets that God had saved, but none of them were near Elijah. Then God sends him to confront Ahab and Ahab's wife sends people out to kill Elijah. There were lots of scary situations. But God was with Elijah.

Maybe that is an over simplification of things. I need to figure out how to apply it all in the rest of life. But for today, I feel like I gave the fear of "I can't" a good swift kick.

A couple years ago, my friend Allison tried to teach me to run. She moved suddenly and the running stopped. I had a goal of running a mile straight. If I reached that goal, I told her girls I would take them for ice cream. I called her tonight to tell her they needed to do an ice cream run. That was a fun phone call -- even if it was a couple years in the coming.


Something to Think About

Just wanted to post really quick and ask all of you to pray about something. I received an email yesterday that had an opportunity inside. The person who emailed me asked me to pray about it, so I'm asking you to pray as well.

Honestly, my first inclination, is "Yes!" But I do want to ask God what He thinks too. While I am good at my job and such, I often wish that it was something I could really put my heart into. This is not a new job, but it could be an on going ministry and it could be something I could invest my heart in.

So, I'm praying for a few days. I do want discernment that will over ride my gut level response if that is what God wants. If not, I'd love to hear a "Go for it!" from God too.

Sorry. I don't feel like I should say much more than that right now.

Thanks for praying.


Monday, April 13, 2009


I had a dog for a bit as a child. Her name was Heidi. I was probably about 7. She would start out in her bed on the floor, but she typically ended up in my bed. I didn't invite her, but that is where she would be found in the morning. I was crushed when my dad insisted that she had to go. We gave her to an aunt. I don't think my yearning to have a dog has ever gone away.

A few years ago, I got a dog from the Humane Society. Her name was Cassie. I had her for 6 months and was crushed when after consulting with the Humane Society we decided she was probably best in a different home. She was pretty high strung. It turns out that she was very anxious to the point that she was on meds. She really needed to be around someone who was home more often.

The Humane Society encouraged me to try a cat. As you know if you follow this blog, I now have two cats. I'm crazy about them.

But still, something in me has longed for a dog. I liked going for walks with Cassie and such. So, I've ended up with a puppy. Her name is Hadley. I've had her about a month. I think she is a bit like a toddler. Everything goes in her mouth if I'm not looking! But I have enjoyed her. I'm just not sure the cats have!

Seriously, she is pretty laid back and incredibly social. She gets along well with other dogs and is friendly with people. She has done reasonably well with the cats. She chases them on occasion, but she also puts up with unprovoked boxing of her long ears. Mali, in particular, has made it her mission to keep Hadley in line.

Why Hadley? Well, the folks who had her before me were calling her Harley. I just couldn't manage to stick with that. Yet, I didn't want to confuse her by changing it too much. So, I went with Hadley.


Adult Onset Athlete

Last Wed as we were walking to the car after our Wed group run, another runner, Chris, used the term "Adult Onset Athlete." She said that it was original, that she had read it somewhere. I really liked the term! It describes exactly where I am at.

We really weren't encouraged much in sports growing up. We played a summer or two of Tee Ball and one fall of soccer. I liked Soccer, but my mom thought that we got too dirty, so that was nixed.

As an adult, I did take horseback riding lessons for several years. That did require my legs to be strengthened and a certain amount of stamina. But, I could only afford lessons once a week, so it wasn't the regular exercise it might have been.

Running is a new thing for me. I feel like I am making progress. Last Wed I ran fairly far ahead of the Tiger Group. Laurel was subbing for Peggy. She encouraged me to try moving up a group. So, I may try Group 10 on Wed.

The hard part is that I joined the Lake Run Club for two competing reasons. One was the exercise. I've always admired people who could run. The second reason was social. If I run in a different group I will be moving on without Katie and Chris.They are the people I've most connected with. But perhaps moving up will give me a chance to meet a couple more people.

Adult Onset Athlete. I've noticed some advantages to this. One is that I feel better. Running is somewhat painful at times because you push yourself. But there is a good feeling of accomplishment. Second is that I am tired. I know this might not sound like a great thing, but I have a history of difficulty sleeping. This has amazingly gone by the wayside in a dramatic way. Third, my clothes fit differently.

I need to be off to work. Have you considered becoming an adult onset athlete?


Monday, April 6, 2009

Pass It On

This past Christmas I ventured into new territory in my gift giving. I love giving gifts, but sometimes it is really hard to know just the right gift for the right person. Yes, you can always give gift cards. I do that sometimes. But I prefer the gifts I give to have more thought behind it. Though at times, a gift card is the thing with a lot of thought behind it.

This past Christmas, I gave a friend's family two things -- 3 flocks of chickens and a child. That is to say, I gave a gift on their behalf sponsoring 2 flocks of starter chicks through Heifer International and money to Compassion International's unsponsored children's fund.

I've given to Compassion for awhile now, but this was my first involvement with Heifer. One of the things I liked about it was that once a family has received a gift, they are expected to give back by passing on some of the fruit of that gift to another family. I love the idea that the investment in those chicks will be passed on and on. Who knows, maybe some will end up in the hands of one of the children I sponsor through Compassion.

I don't know if you are a Survivor fan or not. But this week there will be a spotlight on the show about Heifer. I don't know how long it will be, but I think it is neat that Survivor is doing that. So, even if you don't normally watch, think about taking a peek on Thursday.

If you want to know more through info on the internet, click here.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Child's Fear

I just got home from BN a bit ago. I thought it was just going to be a typical night. But God stirred up an old longing.

I staffed Kids for most of the night. When Will went on lunch and break, I covered customer service. At one point, a boy about 9 or 10 walked up with tears in his eyes. "I can't find my mom or dad, " he said as he struggled to hold back the tears.

I got their names and paged them to customer service. They were there in an instant. "We were right . . . ." The dad paused mid sentence and took in his son's face. "Come here, Buddy." And then there were hugs.

I was reminded of a story my mom told about when my sister and I were 2 or 3. We had arrived home from a trip to the zoo and had both fallen asleep in the car. My mom carried my sister inside. Before she knew it, our neighbor was at the door with my twin and I. She had plucked us from the car when we awoke screaming and disoriented for our mother.

I don't know how many times I heard this tale. But it struck me tonight that the part that was always missing was where she gathered us in her arms and told us it was all okay. The retellings always felt like being chided for having such silly childhood fears in the backseat of our familiar car in our familiar drive way when she had only been gone for minutes.

It hit me tonight. That the parental reaction tonight was the one I longed for as a child and even sometimes as an adult.

So, I'm rolling it around in my brain. How does God respond in the midst of my fears?

He scoops me up and holds me close. He whispers in my ear. He does not chide. He stands beside me, even leads me even in the valley of the shadow of death. He comforts me. And then, He gives me rest.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Two Choices

A friend forwarded the following story to me. These are not my thoughts and I'm not sure where it originated. I thought it worth sharing with all of you.

At a fundraising dinner fo a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its staff, he offered a question:

"When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?"

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued.

"I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child."

Then he told the following story:

"Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?'"

"I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others inspite of his handicaps . . . ."

"I approached on of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'"

"Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a borad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted."

"In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three."

"In the top fo the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and playd in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

"In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again.Now, with two outs and bases loaded, the potential winning run was on the base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bay. At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?"

"Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat."

"Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Sahy's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact."

"The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed."

"The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay."

"As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game."

"Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all teammates. Everyone from the stand adn both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first! Run to first!'"

"Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed adn startled. Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!' Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to base.'"

"By the time Shay rounded towards secomd base, the right fielder had the ball. The smallest guy on thier team who had his first chace to be the hero for his tea. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runner ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screamin, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the way Shay!'"

"Shay reached thrid base becuase the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction third base, and shouted, 'Run to third! Shay, run to third!'"

"As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on thier feet screamin, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'"

"Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team."

"That day, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world."

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy and coming home and seeing his mother tearfullly embrace her little hero of the day!

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least fortunate amongst them.

My thoughts:

I believe that wise man is right. But what if it isn't just the society that is judged by how it treats it's least fortuante amongst them. What if we are judged by how we treat those least fortunate that cross our life's path?

Where would you be in the story? What choice would you make?

Given the chance would you have let Shay play?

Would you have been willing to forfeit the game by letting Shay bat?

Would you have lobbed the ball softly or thrown it wide?

Would you have cheered Shay home?

I like to think that I would have done all of those things. Maybe on my better days I would. But on my bad days, would I make that choice? I hope so.

This month is Autism Awareness month. Autism is an odd disease. It covers a broad range of diagnoses. Some are the ones you can readily identify. The child who doesn't want to be touched and lines things up over and over and over. Some are more subtle with conversations just being strange or off. It depends on the degree of the illnesses and the diagnosis itself. You may or may not go, "Something is off."

When you recognize it, do you rise to the occassion and act with compassion?

What about when you don't? Do yo act compassionately then?

Laura Story has a song out with the song starting, "Everyone needs compassion. A love that's never failing. Let mercy fall on me."

What if we recognized that need in everyone? I wonder what our world would be.