Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday's Thankful Three - The Knee Edition

I'm sure a thankful post about knees may seem random. For those of us blessed with healthy ones, we don't think about them much. We even take them for granted. Sometimes, we may even throw a little hate their way. I've never liked the way my legs look, and my knees are the primary offenders.

But a few things happened this past week
 prompting me to pause and give thanks for the sturdy joints in my life. 

Saturday, my parents and I completed the Color the Smokies 5K event. Mother and I rocked our tutus as we walked through color stations with Daddy tutu-less, but along for the fun. Both of them have had knee problems followed by surgeries. I'm thankful to God and their doctors to be able to make these memories with them.

My hemophiliac mutant ran into the coffee table last week causing a big ole knot to swell up just underneath his knee. Scary for sure, but I'm thankful his injury wasn't any worse. As the nurse explained, the fact that his knot isn't growing means that the internal bleeding has stopped. Barring re-injury (it will take several weeks to heal, so that's quite possible - prayers please!) he won't require a blood treatment this round.


Also, I'm very thankful for his hematologist's staff - most specifically the nurse who fields my "what should I do?" phone calls. I'm horrible with names, but this same sweet woman has talked me through several different incidences despite having never met me in person. She explains to me what to look for, how the injury should behave, and under what circumstances he needs to come in for a treatment. 

This isn't Pollyanna gratitude. Sometimes we have to remember that our burdens in life would be blessings to others. Ugly blessings (or hard eucharisteo as Ann Voskamp calls them) produce some of the most beautiful gifts God could provide.

For what are you thankful this week?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rethinking: Reading + Running

Sometimes the doing of a particular project begins to overshadow the heart and motivation behind it. I've been bogged down with 2 specific goals for myself this year - read 75 books for the year and set new personal records at each race distance available to me.

Last year, I read 72 books, making me feel as if 75 wasn't so crazy of a goal. I got behind early this year as I slogged through The Book Thief. I suppose the title is fitting, given it stole my desire to read for a few weeks following.

At this point in the year with only 26 books logged so far, I'd have to switch to short/quick reads if I have any hope of reading goal. When my aunt offered to loan me a 600 page hardback, I started to say "thanks but no thanks."

I have a big race coming up this weekend - the only 8K I have on my radar this year. If I'm going to PR at every distance this year, Saturday night's race is huge. The fear started a few weeks ago. The what-ifs nagging at my brain.

When I confessed my concern to a Facebook run group I'm a member of, one of the ladies responded:

You're going to do great! Even if you don't PR, you may have failed to reach that goal, but that does NOT make you a failure. You'll likely have worked hard and made big gains in your fitness, while enjoying the sport you love. I'm excited for you!
So now its time for an even bigger confession. I've not been enjoying my runs these day. Whether it be checking on the dew point to see if an attempt outside at lunch can be made, or slogging through yet another workout on the treadmill, running has become a chore.

Same with reading - when the objective becomes getting through this book in order to tackle the next, all the enjoyment of savoring the story and characters has been removed.  Compromising the type of book I enjoy merely to get my numbers up is a colossal waste of time and effort.

My goal for the remainder of the year becomes to refocus. To find my joy again. Because, after all, these things I do are merely hobbies. Sure they stretch my mind and my lungs, but at the end of the day I do them for the fun of it.

If I fail at these goals I've set, there is no punishment, save the frustration I inflict upon myself. I will not be forced to surrender my book collection to the local library. I won't be forced to take down all my race medals.

After my race this weekend, I think I'm going to take the month of August off from formal training. I trained for the Knoxville Marathon through April, then sprung straight into Expo 10K training. I gave myself a week off due to illness after that, then dove head first into this 8K training cycle. My body and mind are long overdue for a little R&R.

This doesn't, however, mean I won't run at all. Rather, I'll be running without the constraints of a training schedule with specific paces. If I get bored of easy runs, I'll throw in some strides or sprints. The point is not to slack, but rather release myself from the stress.

As for reading, I've officially given up hope on my goal. I originally set reading goals for myself so I wouldn't be tempted to be lazy watch TV instead. Now that I've got a hammock on my front porch, I have no trouble taking a hour or three to kick back and enjoy a good book.

What are some of your personal goals? Do you have plans in place to help you reach them? Have you ever gotten so focused on a goal you missed the whole point?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WARNING: Dangerous Prayer Ahead

Back in the day, my Sunday school leaders (along with people all across the country) caught The Prayer of Jabez fever. One day in class, we were handed coins with those few, unique verses in Chronicles written on them.

If you are unfamiliar the passage, 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 interrupts a long string of genealogical information to give a bit more information on one specific man.
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
My teachers explained that "enlarge my territory" for us would be metaphorical. When saying the prayer, we would be praying for God to enlarge our sphere of influence, the places where our witness for Christ would reach.

I still carry my coin in my purse. Before starting each of my post-collegiate jobs, I prayed these verses. Before my first date with a certain scruffy Ohioan, I lifted these words to God. During our wedding, the minister cited this scripture. Never did I think I should have prayed a disclaimer, but it turns out God took me literally.

Since marrying my darling, I have become a real estate investor. We've bought and sold several pieces of land. We bought and sold "our" first house, and moved into the cabin where we currently live.

A couple of years ago, he found a 1 bedroom cabin foreclosure. We bought it for the price of an average car, and have since had it with a rental management agency. While I wouldn't exactly call it passive income, Lots of Lovin' (the cabin name) has been a good low hassle money-maker so far.

Now there is this...

...a cabin with an indoor pool in the basement. Super cool, no doubt, but this one also comes with a heftier price tag. If Lots of Lovin' is our affordable Honda, this is our sports car - tricked out with all the bells and whistles (or will be when Jay is finished with it).

This cabin is not only expanding my territory according to the property tax assessor, but also stretching my comfort zone. For over a decade I've made it my #1 financial goal to be debt free. I think it goes without saying that (baring anything unforeseen) its just not gonna be happening anytime soon.

picture from the porch of the one that got away,
freeing us up for this opportunity
I've written this blog a million times in my head over the years. God granted {her} what {s}he requested. I hesitate each and every time. 
Am I encouraging the prosperity gospel that so many Americans chase? I pray that's not the case. While I'm convinced He is using this for us, its not a reflection of how He chooses to bless anyone else. Likewise, while I certainly don't assume its going to continue for us. I don't discount the possibility of a Rich Young Ruler type encounter for us somewhere down the line.

Am I bragging about the material blessings in my life? Once again, that's not my intention and I hope its not how this blog comes across. I am only here by God's plan, and equally true His plan for tomorrow may hold something completely different for Jay & me.

My purpose in this blog is simply this: I prayed an audacious prayer. 
God heard. He answered me - literally. 
And that terrifies the living snot outta me.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Post 5 beautiful pictures of yourself.

This meme is making its rounds in my Facebook circles. Yesterday I found myself  tagged - challenged to find 5 pictures and share them with my timeline. 

The homework was harder than it seemed. I found myself sorting through pictures, dismissing them for one reason or another - the crinkle in my nose, the lines around my eyes, the poofiness of my hair. This task, meant as a reminder of my beauty, almost led me down a depressing thought pattern.

My life rarely finds me in full make-up and formal wear. Even when it does, I'm hardly the beauty who stands out. I don't even enjoy the hair/make-up/clothes routine. In fact I find it exhausting and overwhelming. One morning this week, I found myself checking Twitter while curling my hair because I felt like I was wasting my time standing still with a hot iron in my hand.

The moments in my life that I enjoy don't typically have a dress code. Whether it be a run event, an adventure with Jay, or hanging with my family, most often I have to make sure I'm dressed casual enough for the activities.  After all, the Alpine Coaster would have been a completely different adventure ridden in a skirt!

No, what makes me beautiful isn't my hair, nails, clothes, or make-up. Instead my beauty comes from my smile and confidence when I am surrounded by those I love, doing things that I love. 

Its a confidence of knowing no matter what - I'll always have these moments, this love. Knowing that though my circle may not be big, those who are in it adore me. 

Its {figuratively} letting my hair down. Or {literally} putting my hair up and diving head first into the moment. My beauty is a reflection of those around me. Those I love, and who love me are the best mirror this girl will ever have the pleasure of looking into.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tourist for a Day

When the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster was being built, Jay and I knew we wanted to give it a go. Despite driving by it every day on my way to work or church, months have gone by without us taking a ride - until now. My sister and her kiddos were in town for the 4th of July holiday, and much to my surprise everyone wanted to try it out.

The little man isn't big enough to ride solo, so he paired up with his mommy to ride. Despite being tall enough, the princess wanted to ride with her favorite auntie.

Each car has its own breaks, and is controlled by the driver. I made sure she understood that no brakes would be used for the entirety of our ride before agreeing to double up with her.

Best practice is to put the fastest person (or person less likely to use the breaks) in the front. It is possible to come up behind another car, if that driver is braking more. For our ride we put Jay in the first car. The princess and I went next. Kelly and the little man next, and Baby (my dad) bringing up with the rear. (My mom opted out this round, but wants to try it in the future.)

 That's Jay in the middle of the hill.

The ride up (they say) takes 5 minutes. I'm not sure if it was that long, but its the time to sit back, relax, enjoy the scenery and let the mechanical thing-a-majig pull you up.

I put the phone away when it was time to ride. To not actively push down the handles is to brake, and I didn't want any part of that!!

Wooooooooooooooooosh!! We zipped down full blast, and never saw Jay's car up ahead. My sis and the little man never braked on their journey down the hill. 

We had time for an selfie (us-ie?) complete with a photo-bomb by one of the workers before my dad finally rolled in.

We did the weight limit math - 375 on a dry day and 330 on a wet day - and both Jay & I and my mom & dad want to couple up and go for another ride soon!

In no way did Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster compensate me for this post. We did get a discount on our tickets, but so does any local showing proper identification. I was just pleasantly surprised that the slide would be so much fun for each thrill-seeker level and wanted to share the experience with anyone visiting the area.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Random texts

How weird are the texts you receive out of context? I'm borrowing this idea from someone else (who I'd identify if I could remember) - post text snippets, starting with the most recent.
Um. Okay so that was boring. Let me try person #2, text #2:
I love you * death!!
*I think she forgot the "to"

Person #3
How convenient you missed the lesson on honoring your parents.
Yes, very convenient. Cause at the pool my dad smarted off about not carrying what I thought. I, ever so respectfully retorted: Old man I got 2 words for ya - nursing home!

On to person #4 (my favorite number and my sometimes favorite person):
My wife is 69% awesome according to this Facebook linked poll. Jason P's wife is 90% awesome. But I think he lied in the questions. Or must have! You would have been less than that, but I gave uou* the benefit of the doubt on a couple questions that could have gone either way!
*typo his
AHEM. Moving right along to #5
No she told papaw that night to finish and get s shower
Number 6:
oh ok
Friend of few words. On the phone. Definitely not in person.

#7 - Definitely a runner friend: 
 I've already pooped twice.
And I don't think I'm done.
Okay I decided that I'm parking at Dunkin' Donuts
OK, be careful
 And finally number 10:
Shoulda brought my gin

Now your turn!
 Go to the 4th person in your text list
 and post the 4th most recent message they've sent you. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Zombie Prostitute Gives Thanks

Yesterday I blogged about volunteering for the Fireball 5K last week. I didn't add any pictures because the story wasn't about me. The race story is all hers. The blessings, however, are mine.

Before the race, a couple of my friends and I met up to get ready. Hair, make-up, the whole 9 yards. Not sure how those girls rocked the make-up and I ended up looking like a "zombie prostitute" as my friend Kelly so lovingly worded it.

We had pre-race photo ops a-plenty. (These are the same dudes I got a picture of 2 years ago dressed as the Avengers.)

My marathon training partner Amy (tie dyed shirt, blue skirt) raced the 5K, as well as plenty of other KTC Socialite teammates.

For my Ragnar van-mates turned friends, for my KTC Socialite teammates, for the coworker who follows me around everywhere:

today I am thankful.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fireball 5K - Volunteer Race Report

Given my distaste for running in the heat, I opted out of running the Fireball 5K. The atmosphere of the race is fun, like other KTC races, so I signed up to work the race instead. True to form, my crazy friends decided we needed to dress up for the occasion.

Christal wore flip flops, and was unable to run the mile to and from the water stop, so I gave her my slot at the finish line. I've never worked a water stop before (my apologies for any awkward water hand offs!) but enjoyed it. My voice was hoarse from yelling "water in the from, Gatorade in the back" over and over and over again.

I got to watch the early leaders, and cheer on my friends as the finished up the first mile strong. I stayed on the "out" side until the last person passed, so I did miss a lot of my friends on their return (this was an out and back course. We were positioned just before he 1 mile marker and just after the 2.)

None of this, however, is noteworthy. My friends, teammates, and I have fun all the time. This blog isn't about me, but rather the lady I met at the tail end the race. After we cleaned up the water station, I began my jog back to the start/finish. After a few minutes, I noticed the police car ahead. I would have to switch to a walk to avoid passing some racers.

I didn't officially introduce myself, but I learned her name is Eva from the race results. I trotted alongside her and asked if she wanted company.

I would love to share our conversation, but somehow I feel like posting it would be a break of confidence.

This woman is an inspiration. She knew her limitations, put aside her doubts and pressed on.

No excuses.

Often I need these reminders. Running isn't about pace, place, or personal records. Sometimes the best moments come when I am honored to hear, and even become a part of someone else's story.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Heroes & Perspective

In my childhood, I idolized my sister. I wanted to do everything she did, be everywhere she was. So when we were in middle school (maybe she was high school age?) and she read a book on Hank Aaron, I, too, chose a baseball book to read. Of course I didn't want to be a copy cat, so I picked a different author, different ball player.

My Luke & I, the (auto)biography of Mr & Mrs. Henry Louis Gehrig was my first selection. After that, I read every book about the Iron Horse I could get my hands on. My love for the New York Yankees started that day, as I stood between the stacks of my local library.

Seeing the Yanks play in the same stadium where Gehrig played so many of his 2,130 consecutive games was near the top of my bucket list. In the final season before it was torn down, my love and I traveled north for a game.

Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's legendary speech.

...yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth...look at these grand men. which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day...when you have a mother-in-law who takes sides with you and squabbles with her own daughter, that's something...when you have a father and mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education...I might have been given a bad break, but I've awful lot to live for. Thank you.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a monster, which slowly robs its victims of their motor skills. How could Gehrig stand before the crowd and say he was lucky? He'd already lost the the ability to do his job, his sport. He eventually lost his mobility. Less than 2 years after declaring himself "the luckiest man" he lost his life to the effects of ALS.

Perspective changes everything. 
On this Independence Day - it seems fitting to celebrate a son of immigrant parents who rose above his meager beginnings, set records which would take decades to be broken, and humbly inspired a nation for generations to come.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

On Procrastination

Like much of America, I'm on the couch watching the USA versus Belgium "futbol match."

Only I've seen this part before.

The game started at 4PM when I was at work. Thanks to live streaming I watched it at my desk while I worked.*cough*

I skipped my after work run because I have stuffs to do around the house. My in-laws will be at my house in 2 days, so I only have tonight and tomorrow to get my house company ready.

When I got home, Jay was watching the match on DVR. He was 25 seconds into the game when I sat down with a bag of chips.

Right now I know the match goes into extra time with no score. Jay does not. Yet here I sit, watching.
Because the alternative is to get up and start cleaning.