Thursday, June 30, 2011

How I'm So Blessed

Wine and wedding cakephoto © 2011 Quinn Dombrowski | more info (via: Wylio)I had a lovely birthday. So lovely, in fact, that I went ahead and extended it through the next day. These kinds of moments make me want to reflect on why I'm so blessed.
  • My husband (willing to drive 3 hours so I could have the sandwich I wanted)
  • Blueberries (the kind that are so big and sweet and juicy, you want to eat them until you're sick)
  • My kids (they fixed me a full meal, including a from-scratch chocolate cake wreck)
  • My parents (gave me an amazing start on life and unconditional love throughout)
  • My friends (hundreds of facebook messages & tweets made me feeling all gooey)
  • Wine (the glass of Pinot Noir that I had that evening was just divine)
  • Laughter (my favorite thing to do is laugh and people provided me with tons to laugh about over the past few days)
  • Music (I've been listening to Josh Garrels' album pretty non-stop for the past few days and it reminds me why I love music so much)
  • Generosity (Friends, family & readers all pitched in and raised $370 for Nuru International! I cannot tell you how much that means to me!)
Thank you so much for making my birthday one to remember. 

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What are some things that make you happy?



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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let's Make 37 Young

No 37 - almost elegantphoto © 2011 Kirsty Hall | more info (via: Wylio)

So I'm a bit older today.

I was talking to Jason's grandmother last week and she told me that at 37, I'm still young. And really, here in the first world, that is absolutely true. I'm not old. I might not be young, but I'm certainly not old.

But in places plagued by extreme poverty, I would be very old. The life expectancy in most of these nations is just not that much older than I am today, and in some places, even younger. Unclean water. Not enough food. Preventable, treatable diseases.

At the beginning of the month, I asked you to consider making a donation to Nuru International for my birthday. And I love that we've already raised $198. That is severely cool and I am so thankful to those of you who have donated. You have made my birth month super fantastic already.

I would absolutely love it if we could reach $370 by this evening. Any size donation you can make is so appreciated. The folks at Nuru do amazing things and what they do is working. They are teaching people how to lift themselves out of extreme poverty so that they and their children can have better, longer lives. Here's a quick video on how Nuru works:


How Nuru Works from Nuru International on Vimeo.

Let's work together to help them help others to help themselves.

Let's make 37 young the world over.

If you want to donate in honor of my birthday,

(it's very large, because I know you want to donate!)

Thanks for making this a kick awesome birthday!

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Non-Negotiables

Safephoto © 2006 Rob Pongsajapan | more info (via: Wylio)
I have a confession.

I don't really "get" Donald Miller.

As a result, I missed his post about the list that his fiancee Paige wrote about what she wanted in a spouse. And I also missed the "open letter" that Karen Swallow Prior wrote in response to the list. But I caught them both yesterday in Rachel Held Evans's list of Sunday Superlatives.

In Karen's letter, she talked about non-negotiables. And, of course, as a Christian she included (as Paige did in her list) shared faith as a non-negotiable.

Before I go any further, let me state again that I am in favor of shared faith, particularly when seeking a spouse. It's not a small thing and I absolutely put it in my list of non-negotiables back in the day. Not sharing a belief system can be difficult. And I don't think for a minute that a list of qualities that you want is bad and I don't want to say that settling is good or acceptable. And while I don't like open letters, I didn't really think that anything that Karen wrote was all that problematic.

That out of the way, I want to talk about the idea of something being non-negotiable. When I look at something being non-negotiable, it's something that has no give. Which in the search process makes some sense, but how does that apply after the fact?

I never, when I married my husband, saw a loss of faith in our future. It was simply not on our radar. And yet, almost 2 years ago, something that would I would have considered to be firm and fixed was completely turned upside down.

So what happens now?

We look at the things that mattered and we see what still matters and what no longer applies. We bend. We flex. We negotiate.

I think when we start talking about non-negotiables with people, we forget that we're dealing with people. And people are just not as predictable as we might think. We have experiences that shape us and that doesn't change just because we're married. I don't want my husband to stop growing as a person. I don't want to stop growing as a person. Lists can be great guides, but as soon as we attach the non-negotiable label onto it, we run the risk of A) excluding someone who may meet needs that we don't even know that we have and B) stopping the person that we love from being their most real self.

I love that my husband still has so many qualities that I want in a spouse and so many qualities that I didn't know that I wanted in a spouse. If that means being willing to negotiate a little bit, then so be it.

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Do you have any relationships that defy your list of non-negotiables? Have you ever had a non-negotiable in a relationship change and did it have any effect on the relationship?

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stuff I've Been Reading

Yet another weekly round up of interesting things I've found on the internet. Give them a look and be sure to let them know what you think!
  • Jeff Goins shared a magnificent Writer's Manifesto. If you haven't got your copy, you're missing out (particularly if you're a writer, but truly I think an artist of any kind would be inspired by this).
  • Rachel Held Evans has kind of been killing it on her blog lately, but I really just loved her piece about the reaction of the SBC to Rob Bell's book, and how that jives with their position on the age of accountability. 
  • I loved this post about roof wrecking from Tamara Lunardo. Absolutely beautiful and right on.
  • David Hayward messes with me all of the time, and this cartoon from earlier this week was definitely one of those moments. I just love this.
  • Even though it's full of language, I just adored this piece over at Cracked about becoming a published author. So much funny!
  • And the band I play in finally released our new demo. I'd love it if you'd give it a listen and let me know what you think!
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? I'd love it if you'd drop a note in the comments with one of your posts!


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Friday, June 24, 2011

Tell Me About You #2

Broken Icephoto © 2009 Langleyo | more info (via: Wylio)

It's been a couple of months since I've asked you about you and I've got a few new readers, so it's time once again to do that (it has nothing to do with family being in this morning and my more serious post simply not being ready). Here are your questions for today:
  1. Which character from Arrested Development are you most like? (If you're a Never Nude, don't feel like you have to come out here, but know that it's a safe place.)
  2. If you were a part of one of those singing flash mobs, what song would you be singing?
  3. If you got to pick the next extinct thing, what would you choose?
Lay it on me.



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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Post at The Well Written woman (6/22)

As seen on TVphoto © 2009 Ged Carroll | more info (via: Wylio)
I've got a new post up over at The Well Written Woman.
I particularly enjoy “gadget” commercials. There is something delightful about watching someone get Very Excited about how much easier their life is because this piece of plastic helps them crack open eggs in a way that they never could have managed with just their bare hands! (read more)
I'd love it if you'd stop over and give the post a read and let me know what you think!


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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Living for Eternity?

This weekend Jason and I finally got around to watching The Invention of Lying with Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner. I know it's weird to talk about a movie that's two years old, but it really spurned some interesting conversation around our house.

A brief synopsis for those who haven't seen it. Basically, Mark Bellison (played by Gervais) lives in a world where no one lies. They simply tell the plain truth always. For the writers of this movie, this also means no religion either. One can look at it as calling religion fiction, or simply that it's not something that we can KNOW, but regardless, for a long time in the film, there is no religion. When Mark sees the fear that his mother has about dying, he makes up the idea of a heaven-type place (eternity of happiness with those you love) to bring her comfort. It's overheard by the hospital staff and causes a whole rush of events that end with Mark creating a god-like character who speaks to him and tells him who is in and who is out.

There are a number of fascinating discussions that can be had after watching that movie (particularly when you've got an atheist and a Christian in the house together!), but one scene that really stood out for me was near the end.

Things aren't going as well for Mark as he feels they should be and he's sitting around the pool with some loser-type friends, drinking some beers. Mark asks this group of misfits why they aren't out living their lives and one replies that since the man in the sky is going to give him an eternity of happiness, he's not too worried about happiness in this life. Sure, he might be kind of miserable in this life, but eternity is coming and drinking gets him to eternity sooner, so what's the problem?

Now obviously I disagree with Gervais's idea that religion is equivalent with fiction, but I have seen this kind of attitude among the faithful. We cover up depression by saying that we're simply longing for heaven. We don't need to care for the environment because God won't let us destroy it. The single woman in church gets overlooked because God is her husband.

I don't want to down-play how a relationship with God impacts the lives of a believer, but sometimes we allow it to keep us from having a closer relationship with those around us. We use it as a mask to keep us from interacting in an authentic way with those who need us most.

I want the abundant life that Jesus promised. Not later, but today.

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Do you ever find that you use your relationship with God as a wedge in other relationships in the here and now? If you are not a believer, have you seen that with those who are Christians?




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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lessons Learned

A Class Room as it was back then.photo © 2007 Michel Filion | more info (via: Wylio)
I intended to blog yesterday. I had a topic picked out and was starting to work on a post (I know, I'm supposed to be ahead here. I get it.). I got a few paragraphs in and got a call from Jason. About a month ago, he applied for a new job and we've been waiting anxiously to see if it came through. He was calling to let me know that he did indeed get the job. In that moment, my day was pretty shot because all I wanted to do was celebrate this achievement. That good news was enough to pretty much set me in a happy place all day long. (Also, not having my own laptop makes me a little crazy. Why is it so hard to concentrate on writing while using a different computer???)

I haven't written a whole lot about Jason's year and a half of school, since that's more his story that mine. But after yesterday's good news, I did start thinking about what I want our kids to take away from that long, difficult season. I came up with a few thoughts that I think are probably good reminders for me too.
  1. Education matters. Despite my hubby's excellent work ethic and job loyalty, because he hadn't finished college previously, a number of jobs that he was well qualified for were unavailable to him. Finishing a degree allowed him opportunities that he simply didn't have before. But even if the previous 18 months had not resulted in a new job, learning is never wasted. Jason's degree doesn't really have much to do with his former or new job, but the knowledge that he has still has great value.
  2. Dreams don't have an age limit. Many of Jason's classmates were very, very young (possibly embryonic) when he was in school the first time. He had some professors who were finishing up doctorates who were younger than him. But this has been something that he has wanted to do since we've been married. I'm so proud of him for not allowing his age to be an obstacle for pursuing his degree.
  3. Dreams require sacrifice. The past 18 months were hard. Working full-time and going to school full-time would be hard already. Add caring for a family to that mix and it's damn near super-human. The end result though was definitely worth it, but the season was hard on everyone and it's a good reminder that dreams don't happen without some blood, sweat and tears (or at least, the tears part. I don't think we had much bloodshed.).
  4. Other people are important for success. This year was tough, but none of us did it alone. We had to support one another right here in our family. But beyond that, we had the encouragement and help of our family and friends. The only person who could do Jason's work was Jason, but I don't believe that any of us can achieve our full potential without the help of others. We need community.
  5. Achieving your dreams is fun. Despite all of the work and sacrifice and loss of sleep and all of that, when you see something that you've poured yourself into come to life, it is exciting. It's easy to lose that sense of joy in the midst of the difficulties, but when we're pursuing our passions, we need to remember to have fun as well. To quote Dr. Seuss, "These things are fun and fun is good."
What dream are you working toward? Do you have any lessons that you have learned in pursuit of your goals?

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stuff I've Been Reading

Time once again for a list of my favorite reads of the week. You know the drill. Read. Comment. Share.
  • Great post by Matt Appling about some of the dialog that has been going on around the blogosphere about people (though more directly, women) letting themselves go. I think his points are pretty spot on.
  • Loved this list of television scientists from Astronomer Phil Plait. I particularly like that Professor Farnsworth made the list. I am slightly disappointed that Phineas & Ferb did not.
  • A bunch of bloggers wrote about creative blocks on Thursday. Matthew Paul Turner wrote my favorite with a letter from Creativity to Christianity
  • Rich Chaffins uploaded some new videos featuring two of his guitars, the Revelator and the Protos. I still think it's remarkably cool that someone I get to hang out with actually builds guitars, especially ones that are so stinkin' gorgeous.
  • I thought that Ed Cyzewski knocked it out of the park with his post about our need to be right. (Though I still love steak.)
  • And in my favorite feel-good story, after hearing of a church in Oregon being tagged with Flying Spaghetti Monster graffiti, Hemant Mehta and 200+ other atheists raised over $2600 to help pay for damages. You can check out his piece on Fox & Friends here. (Big time Christian bloggers, take note! The next time an atheist billboard gets mangled, maybe we could do something similar? We probably won't have to wait very long.)
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Leave a link in the comments to your favorites and feel free to pimp up your blog!

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Friday, June 17, 2011

The "How" That Matters

On Monday evening, Rachel Held Evans posted the following on Twitter:


Now I go to a pretty big church and we put on a pretty big show on Easter. So I admit, when I saw the tweet, I figured it was probably about a church spending way too much money on their production and not enough on helps. Which is kind of a legitimate gripe about a lot of large churches, but not automatically something that I personally would label a "sad story." I admit, I was really not prepared for the story that followed. You can watch the news video here about Jackson Helms being escorted from the service.

It's easy to look at this and assume that this is the result of focusing too much on putting together a schmancy service. A few years ago, I would have been right on that. Style over substance. Too cool for school. Caring more about getting butts in the seats than about caring for the butts in the seats.

And sometimes that's true for the big church. As we've seen in this example, it was pretty clear that the service going a certain way was more important than caring for a mom and her disabled child (and the rest of the family who was left behind in the sanctuary). People were hurt because they didn't fit with the style of the church.

What is easy to forget is that sometimes this is the case in the small church as well. The situation I wrote about on Tuesday happened in a small church. The style wasn't high-tech and put together, but it was theirs and deviating from that was seen as distracting. And people were hurt because of this.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what kind of church you attend or even if you attend church - the potential to hurt people because they don't fit in with your idea of how people should behave in a given context is there. We turn our nose up at the child who acts out disturbing our meal at a restaurant. We shout obscenities at the person in front of us who is driving too slow in the fast lane. We roll our eyes at the stupid barista who can't get our coffee order right.

Most of us who are Christian will say that we're the Church no matter where we are, but so often, we're not the Church anywhere. Jesus gave us a very simple way to show that we are his followers:
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35, NIV)
We can do this in the big, glossy church. We can do this in the small, country church. We can do this in our homes. We can do this at the grocery store, at the ball park, at the mall. We don't have to follow an order of service, use a special liturgy, have an expensive light show or say the right words in the right order.

If it's our desire to draw people to Jesus, the only "how" that matters is love.

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What is a way that you can show love to someone today? What is something that you like about a church that does its service differently than the way that your church does things?

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beware: Fat Girl Buying Running Shoes!

Even though I know you're not supposed to run with terrible shoes, I ran with terrible shoes my first time out. And while I knew that I was going to have some pain after running for the first time ever, I really didn't expect to be in that kind of pain. So my husband packed me into the car on Saturday afternoon and he took me to buy real running shoes. Like, that runners wear. When they run.

Now, in general, I don't mind shopping. I'm not like super girly about my desire to shop, but I don't hate it. And I do love shoes as evidenced by the vast quantities of footwear strewn about the house that belongs to me. And I hate being in pain, which was definitely the case after running on bad shoes. So one would expect that I would be stoked about this outing.

Yeah, except not so much.

See, I couldn't just walk in, pick up something, pay for it and walk out. I don't know anything about running and I really don't know anything about running shoes, so I was going to have to talk to someone about the best shoes for me. People who work at stores that sell running shoes tend to be athletic-type folks. I am a decidedly non-athletic-type. So this overweight, middle-aged mom was going to have to go and tell some kid who probably did an Ironman Triathlon last week that she needed running shoes. The imaginary laughter ringing in my head was absolutely deafening. I had visions of him pointing me next door (seriously, who designed this???) to the Great American Cookie Company. I mostly just wanted to cry and not do this.

For a long time I've put off any kind of exercise because I've just seen myself as too fat to work out. I've assumed that if I even suggested to someone that I'd like to get out and do something active, I would be met with eye rolls and jeers and snickers. Not because this has ever happened. Nope, it's just that the voices in my brain are downright mean. They like to tear me down and keep me from making positive changes. Depression, even when it's not full-blown, can have a voice louder than even me, and that is really something.

Anyway, when the salesperson came over, I rattled off that I needed help finding shoes because I was just starting the Couch to 5K program and I didn't have anything safe to run in and I don't know anything about shoes so just tell me what to do and I'll buy it. And you know? He didn't point and laugh. He didn't sullenly guesture the door with a look that said, "Seriously? Leave now." He didn't make any barnyard animal noises. He just congratulated me on starting to run and helped me find shoes that will help me stick with the plan. In fact, he helped me pick these shoes:

My Brooks Adrenaline running shoes
They are a dream. I love running on them. Well, at least to the degree that I love running, which is to say, enough to keep doing it for the seconds when I'm done and feel freaking awesome, but cursing the whole time while I'm actually doing it. Plus, they're purple and I do love purple.

And in that same "it has some really horrible and bad and hurting, but also some awesome" way, I love finding that, in order to change myself, I have to look to other people for help. I had to go to the store and pay for the shoes. But I needed help to get the right shoes for me. I have to get up and drive to the stadium and put my feet to the track, but I have a massive stack of people cheering me on.

I have to look at my fears and negative thoughts and say, "I'm not going to listen to you today," but I have a Heavenly Father who wants to drown out those bad voices with words like, "I rejoice over you. I dance over you. Come rest in my love."

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Are you facing any fears (real or imagined) that keep you from pursuing something good for you? How do you overcome those negative voices? What are your favorite shoes?


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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guest Post at JoyInThisJourney.com

Today I have the great honor of guest posting for one of the most beautiful writers I've had the privilege of meeting in the past year. Joy is a lovely woman and I am constantly amazed by the way that she graciously deals with the difficulties that life throws at her. She's one of those people who make you feel like a better person just for knowing her. My life has definitely been enriched by having her as a part of my virtual village. She wrote a lovely piece for the Not Alone series and is a wonderful, encouraging friend. So I was humbled to be invited to guest post for her. Here's a snippet of my piece:
For as long as I can remember, music has been a part of my church life. Growing up, I sang in and played the piano for my church choir. In college, I studied music and played the piano at the school’s Newman Center. As an adult, I have played in churches of all kinds, from a fledgling start up with just a few families to a packed service that has 2500 people in attendance. Church music is woven into the fabric of my life. 
But there was a season where that fabric had a hole. One season where lies eclipsed my passion. One season when the song was silenced. (read more)
I'd love it if you'd swing over to Joy's and check out the rest of the story. Thanks, as always, for your support!

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Nothing But Butts

Butt Rockphoto © 2008 Chuck Coker | more info (via: Wylio)

One of the best things that's happened to me in the past two years has been getting to play with Under Shelter. These are some of my very favorite people and I love getting to hang out and make music with them. It has it's frustrating moments every now and again (doing even just minor parts of life with six other people can have tense times), but honestly, I love people who make me laugh and every single one of the folks in the band are crazy funny. Even when we're trying to hash out the stupid Cha Cha Slide (really, I have dark, evil thoughts about whoever thought that "song" was a good idea), we still manage to laugh it up.

In our quest to be a more well-rounded cover band, we are wanting to put together a tribute to the derriere. So many songs have been done about the butt, and we would like to pay homage to them with a medley, detailing the numerous musicians who have come before us who have given the booty so prominent a place in the annals of pop music. We're going to call it the Gluteus Miximus (courtesy of my husband).

What we need from you is to know what songs must go into a medley about the hiney. We cover music from the 50's through now, and would really like to include something from each decade. So in the comments, please share your favorite song dedicated to the rear (please include the decade from which your selection hails).

And if we ever become famous for being "that band that plays the ass medley," know that you helped.



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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Stuff I've Been Reading

It's Sunday, which means it's time once again for the weekly round-up of my favorite reads. I hope you find something here that gives you a little something to think or smile about.
  • Rachel Held Evans started off the week really strong with her post about litmus tests. "I can spend my life trying to figure out whether other people are true followers of Jesus or I can spend my life trying to figure out if I'm one." 
  • I love a good love story and Joy Bennett shared hers this week. These make me all gooshy.
  • Five of my favorite words I've read this week from David Nilsen.
  • Shawn Smucker wrote a wonderful post about moving forward and how we sometimes sabotage our efforts by expecting perfection right from the start.
  • Shaun Groves wrote a fantastic piece about doobies and listening to our kids
  • Ashleigh Baker wrote a spectacular piece about the look of pretty over at A Deeper Story.
  • I don't know if this is the worst or best parent ever, but this makes waving at the bus awesome again. Thanks to my friend Bev for finding this. 
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Drop a link to your favorites!

(And on a personal note, thanks for all of your MASSIVE encouragement about the running thing. Fo rizzle. You're all the bomb diggity.)


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Friday, June 10, 2011

The Day Running Didn't Kill Me

Potato Head - Couch Potato : )photo © 2006 Ian Burt | more info (via: Wylio)

As per yesterday's post, I decided to get started on the Couch to 5K program right away. I've read all the stuff about not worrying about the beginning of a week or month or whatever to start something, just start it. And since I'm loathe to be any more of a cliche than absolutely necessary, I decided I'd get moving.

Of course, starting this in the summer in the midst of a heat-wave means that I had to wake up EARLY this morning to get to the track as soon as it opened so I didn't collapse from heat bitchiness. (Yes, I know that real runners don't run on a track. But I live in WV with many, many hills and there's just no way I could do any part of this on the actual roads, not to start, anyway.) What follows is a detailed look at my first C25K morning. Enjoy.
  • 5:45AM alarm: Why did I post this on my blog? People are expecting me to do this. I could be asleep right now. It's summer vacation for heaven's sake!
  • 5:50 AM: Get dressed. Realize I can't find any ties for my hair. Raid the kids' silly band collection. Hope I find one that looks like a runner. Actually find one that I don't know what it is. 
  • 6:00 AM: Tweet that I'm doing this. 
  • 6:01 AM: Check to see if anyone has offered encouragement. Realize that it's flippin' six in the morning and most people are asleep. Like I want to be.
  • 6:07 AM: Get to the track. Pray that no 16 year old hard-bodies are out there to laugh at me. Realize again that it's very early and all 16 year old hard-bodies are probably asleep. Stretch, based on clips of what I've seen on TV, not from any actual fitness information.
  • Five minute warm up. Here we go. I have survived 20+ hours of labor at a time. I can do this for 27 minutes.
  • First 2 minute run, beginning: What was I worried about? I'm a rockstar! I can totally do this!
  • First 2 minute run, 13 second in: What the hell was I thinking? This is the worst thing I've ever done in my whole life.
  • First 3 minute walk: The podcast guy is telling me that I should be breathing heavier, but should recover in the 3 minutes. I don't think that is going to happen. I'm pretty sure I will be breathing like this until sometime after lunch.
  • Second 2 minute run: Already? Okay, I caught my breath, but...already?
  • Second 3 minute walk: Oh, this is bad. I have to do this two more times. You know, if I quit now and just sat in the bleachers until the end of the podcast, I could pretend I'm awesome. No one is here. No one will know. I'll still be plenty sweaty to pretend that I did the whole thing.
  • Third 2 minute run: *expletive deleted* Are my legs on fire because of the running or because the friction between my thighs is causing some kind of chemical reaction? *expletive deleted*
  • Third 3 minute walk: I'm dying. I'm dying. I know Janet Oberholtzer does this with with one leg, but I'm not that strong. I'm just a fat old lady and I can't do this. I'm dying.
  • Last 2 minute run: *many, many expletives deleted* Where are my effing endorphins???? I was told I'm supposed to get some kind of high from doing this!!!!! Why don't I feel high???? *many more expletives deleted*
  • Cool down: Holy crap, I just did that. The sun is coming up over the trees and I kinda' want to cry because it's so beautiful. Is that what they're talking about? Cuz that's not the worst feeling in the world.
  • 6:42 AM: Home. Wait, you mean I have to walk from my car to my house????
I survived. It was horrible and exhilarating and painful and empowering. I'm pretty sure I'll never be the runner that many of my friends are and that's okay. I'm not going to be skinny and that's also okay. But I can be a more fit and certainly happier version of me and that's VERY okay.

Have you started any new projects lately? Do you have a favorite Couch to 5K podcast? And if you're celebrating this achievement with me, maybe you could do so with a donation to Nuru for my birthday?


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Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Boring Life

Boringphoto © 2008 Owen Massey McKnight | more info (via: Wylio)

On Tuesdays I generally hang out with my best friend. We talk about our families, music, books, whatever. This week we were recapping our day. He told me about some new guitar designs that he was planning, some of the work he was doing in the shop, some entertaining conversations he had with some of the parents of his students. And then he asked what I'd been up to.

And I had absolutely nothing.

Seriously, I did a little laundry, mopped my kitchen, cleaned up in my sons' rooms and that was basically it. I've been in a huge reading slump for months now (I'm re-reading an old favorite right now, hoping it will jump start me back into my love of reading again), so nothing there. I've listened to some new music, but we've been working on new stuff for the band, so most of my listening lately has been Lady Gaga and Bon Jovi. I've been catching up on some television shows that I've missed on Netflix, so I haven't even watched any interesting documentaries lately. We're still in kind of a decompression stage with Jason finishing school and the kids' last day of school was yesterday, so we haven't had a chance to go do any family trips or anything like that.

It's hard to write anything interesting when you're not DOING anything interesting.

Don Miller talks a lot about living a better story. Right now, what I'm doing is not very story-worthy. And since knowing is half the battle (it's always amazing to me that it can take so long to recognize something that is right in front of me!), now I figure the other half is doing something about it.

So here are some of my plans. I relish your input on these.

  • Read more: I've got a stack of books sitting here that I haven't read. I'm going go finish re-reading my all-time favorite (A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving), but then I'm going to tackle these other books. Included in the pile: Quitter by Jon Acuff, On Writing by Stephen King, Love Wins by Rob Bell, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs and The 11 Secrets of Getting Published by Mary DeMuth. (affiliate links). There are others, but those are at the top. 
  • Exercise AT ALL: I downloaded a Couch to 5K podcast. Tomorrow I'm going to wake myself up at o'dark thirty and go make myself start this. Forty is looming. It's time to make a change. 
  • Listen to more music: I have downloaded some new stuff from NoiseTrade, but I haven't given any of it the real thorough listening that it deserves. Plus, I haven't busted out any of my instrumental music for listening in a long time. I'm going to try very hard to devote at least an hour a week to simply sitting still and listening to music. Not doing something while I listen, but just listening. I find so much inspiration from music, but I haven't given time to that inspiration lately.
  • Visit with friends: I have two friends that I have been talking about getting together with for six months now and we STILL haven't made it happen. This is unacceptable, as they live within an hour or so from here. Tina and Becki - let's get something on the calendar. This is ridiculous.
  • Plan day trips with the fam: We've deeply neglected doing much together as a family over the past year. And while that is totally understandable, we definitely have to fix that this year. We're within driving distance to the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope and we've never been. Our hope is to remedy that this summer. 
  • Take a month off from blogging: I'm still planning to take August off from blogging (and really, most social media). I've already received my first guest post submission and I'm excited about all of the awesome bloggers who have volunteered to post for me. Seriously, I'm on track for a post almost every week day. If you're interested in participating, shoot me an email. I'd like to have all of the posts in by July 20th so I have time to get them loaded in and scheduled to post ahead of time.
There are probably other things that I need to do to live a better story, but those are at least a start.

What do you do to get out of a boring rut that you've found yourself in? Do you have any book suggestions, musical recommendations, or ideas on how to not injure myself when I go to the track tomorrow? What are your summer plans?


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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Podcast with AgnosticRadio

I'm still a little bit amazed by the interesting people that I meet and the fascinating things I get to do around this big old internets. I love that I'm able to connect with so many folks from such divergent walks of life. Honestly, I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.

This weekend, Jason and I had the opportunity to interview with J.G. over at Agnostic Radio for their weekly podcast. A few months ago they announced that they were looking for couples where one person was religious and the other was not to interview and my friend  The Agnostic Wife mentioned to them that Jason and I fit that description. We got in touch and after our schedules FINALLY synced up, we were able to sit down and do an interview.

This is our first time talking about our marriage out in public together, so please keep that in mind as you listen to me fumble around. Also, keep in mind that we're really just a boring old married couple. I'm thinking next time we'll need to drum up a little more hostility for one another to make it more exciting. Mostly, we just like each other an awful lot and see our religious differences as a relatively minor part of our relationship. But I'd still love it if you'd swing by and check out our interview! Don't forget to leave a comment and let them know that you stopped by.

You can follow Agnostic Radio on Twitter, on Facebook and subscribe to their podcast.

Thanks again to J.G. for the opportunity! If anyone else would like to speak with one or both of us or schedule any kind of interview, you can contact me through Twitter, Facebook or email.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Messy Moments

And a mess is still a moment I can seize until I know that all will be well.
~Gabe Dixon Band

Joplin Tornado Responsephoto © 2011 The National Guard | more info (via: Wylio)

Like so many, I've spent much of the past month watching tweets and updates come in from friends who were in the path of the outbreak of tornadoes that we've seen. I know that a few nights I stayed up altogether too late waiting on word from friends around the country, making sure that they made it safely through the storms. I'm lucky because all of the reports that I have received were positive. No loss of life, no loss of property, all safe and sound. For some, the news was more grim.

The picture above really struck me when I was looking for an image for this post. At a first glance, all I could see was the devastation wrought by the tornadoes in Joplin. But on closer examination, I could see that there were National Guard members sifting through the debris, no doubt looking for survivors of the storm.

In the midst of hopelessness, rescue was there.

This picture rings true for my own life.

I look around and see the mess. The times I've lost my temper with my kids. The nagging tone I've used with my husband. The broken promises, the laziness, the regrets. Parts of the life I'm supposed to be living, lost in the wreckage of my poor choices.

And in the midst of that, it's easy to lose sight of hope.

The cuddles with my kids after I was too harsh with them. The grace shown by my husband when he doesn't point out the numerous ways that I've screwed up after I've pointed out the one way that he has. The love of a Savior who promises me that I can't escape it, no matter what I do wrong.

Our lives are full of messy moments. Places where we fail, or disappoint, or harm. We can focus on those things. Or we can choose to see the places where rescue is available.

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What messy moments do you tend to focus on? Where do you find rescue?

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