Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I started something a few months ago – something I never thought I would ever do – I started running. Not just running here and there, but for real – long distance (if you will) – with the goal of running a 5K as soon as it seemed plausible.

This running is really out of my comfort zone. I ran a bit in high school (one track season) and I was pretty terrible at it – running the 400 – not a sprint and not long distance – this terrible, in-between distance that I wasn’t ever properly trained to handle. I gave it up as quickly as I had started.

Over the years I have dabbled in exercise – bike riding, playing tennis, walking, pilates, aerobics, circuit training and resistance machines – but never stuck with it more than a year or two consistently. Kids came along and I never thought I would be able to move again, which was true for a period of time.

I was inspired by my brother who took up running while working in Africa over a 3 year period. He lost 100 lbs. I was blown away by what he was able to accomplish.

I downloaded the Couch-To-5K (C25K) app on my phone and…did nothing for a couple of months. A week before vacation I just got out there and did it. Trying to keep up with it on our vacation was hard, but I had lots of encouragement from my brother and sister-in-law.

After about 3 weeks, I was outside watching the kids and I looked at the sidewalk stretched out before me and I was itching to run it. I was mentally committed to this and to actually crave it was something I never thought could happen to me.

After 5 weeks I was amazed at how I was actually able to breathe through the running intervals. I wasn’t so tired all the time. I could hike through sand with beach gear and not get winded.

My goal was to run to lose weight, but although the weight is being stubborn, the other benefits made it worth it for me to continue. At about 6 weeks, I ran my first 5K – before I was finished with the training. I walked about 5 minutes of the run in 3 small intervals. I finished in 42 minutes and the rush of running through all of those people at the finish line was incredible. I felt great after I finished and was surprised at what I had just done – me - a non-runner – running 3.1 miles.

I recently finished the C25K program. While I don’t consistently run a 5K during each run, yet, I can’t believe that I can keep running for 30 minutes straight. I have much to learn and more training to complete, but I think it is safe to say that I’m a runner now. I’m still having trouble believing that and I find that running is not only very physically demanding, but it is also a mental game that I’m constantly fighting. But I’m not done yet – I have another 5K scheduled and then I will see where I go. The idea of running the Detroit Free Press half marathon this time next fall sounds very appealing. Crazy, eh?

Monday, October 22, 2012


I’m restless tonight…I have this sense that I should be doing something, but when I look around at the messes made, to do list unfinished, books unread, sewing projects ½ done, I know that those are not the things that I should be doing. I look at my laptop on…then I turn it off entering the avoidance once again.

But this time, I walk through the rooms of this tired house looking for something, looking on my phone for something…always looking and not finding. Irritated I pick up the laptop and turn it on knowing that this is my destiny yet fighting it kicking and screaming.

The screen glows blue and then white…my fingers begin moving, creating, searching and maybe this time finding.

I stumbled upon a book recently called “You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)” by Jeff Goins. I stared long and hard at the cover. I knew at that moment that I did not need to read this book, I only had to do what the title said – start acting like a writer. (I'm reading it anyway.) The truth is that I’ve been hiding over here and allowing the distractions of the day-to-day to get in the way of who I am and what I’m supposed to do. Only until now, there was no guilt or pain or discomfort in doing so. Over the last several weeks everything I allowed to distract me has lost its luster or has been removed. I can’t focus on anything for any length of time if I even have the desire to begin it.

This same author, Jeff Goins says in another short book he has written called “The Writer’s Manifesto” that a writer writes because he cannot NOT write. If I had read this six months ago I would have laughed at the idea of that. Now that I’m here in this desolate, unrelenting, purposeless place, I can’t agree more. These words will push their way out of me one way or another and it seems lately they are intent in coming out in painful ways.

So, I’m writing because there is this part of me, once small, yet growing and pushing and relentlessly calling me to put the words out there and maybe I will just find what I’ve been looking for.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Fall colors are just about to peak here in southeast Michigan as they do roughly around the first to second week of October every year…typical. But there is something about this year that is just so drastically different. This transition from summer to fall was so slow and deliberate for me this year. It was as if I was watching the world in slow motion. But one day last week it was as if the trees were painted overnight. Everywhere I looked was breathtaking color. The most brilliant reds, oranges and yellows I have ever experienced. It’s as if I woke up one morning to see that God had finished painting unbelievable watercolors.

Every day I’m searching and looking hard at the trees as they change. I’m in awe of what I see. It is almost as if I am witnessing individual leaves changing right in front of my eyes. Why didn’t I notice last year? Were the colors not as vibrant? Surely that can’t be true…

Maybe the answer is that I’ve finally figured out how to slow down – to weigh down these moments with my full attention. To accept the grace of this moment…Sara Groves one of my favorite singers says that “grace is an invitation to be beautiful”. If this moment with my full attention is all grace, given by God, than isn’t extraordinary beauty possible? Even expected?

When I observe the splendor right outside my window, yes, grace…here…a gift for all of us. I don’t always get it right…I move too fast. But right here, this season, I’m all here.

Friday, October 05, 2012

When We Don’t Understand

It seems as though I have entered a season in my life when God is asking me to change, but the reason for the change is unclear. I am sitting here in the middle of things and changing each thing in my life one-by-one – knowing that is what He wants and yet not understanding why. Little glimpses confirm my decisions, but the overall plan is fuzzy.

I don’t like change – even small change. Moving my seat at the dinner table unnerves me a bit – I have a habit of putting things in the same place over and over even if it doesn’t make sense after a while. I eat the same thing for breakfast nearly every day and the absence of coffee in the afternoon could undo me a bit.

Yet so many of the new things I decided to try after I started staying home with the kids are slowly being stripped away. I don’t understand why it is happening, but I know that He is asking me to do a new thing. He is asking me to give thanks – He’s telling me I don’t really get it. One night in desperation I cry out to Him – He tells me to open “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp - p. 30. Here is where the core idea of the book is expressed – that eucharisteo – a Greek word meaning grace – thanks – joy is the secret to the full life. He compels me to read this and He says, “You don’t get it.” It is true, I don’t. So I sign up for a new Bible study to reread the book. I go to the first meeting – the leader says, “I don’t know why you are here, but God knows and I’ve been praying for you.” And He knows and I know that what she says is true and we don’t really understand how it is all woven together.

I do not pray well and if praying is talking to God then I guess we don’t talk as much as we should. So I am reading – 6 chapters in 1 week to keep up and I’m writing new gifts – because 1000 written down over a year and a half haven’t left their mark on me. And Ann says in the book that to become a praying woman I must give thanks. That to get rid of ingratitude we nail it out by nailing in thanksgiving and it is physical and it isn’t a blanket of thanks, but a moment-by-moment physical act – it is NOW – when we give thanks and doesn’t that make sense? Grace is not for yesterday or tomorrow or even for an hour from now – it is NOW. Grace is given in this present moment – not thrown as a sugar coating over the past or iridescent hope for the future. It is the humility of the breath of life still present in this moment – knowing that we continue on because our purpose still has validity and that understanding, while grasped for, doesn’t matter. But this moment does and He is with us and we can choose to be fully present in this moment no matter what.

No matter what – when kids scream and things break, and we bleed from that cut and lack of words fester and our expectations fall short again. Grace is present here in this moment. We choose the gratitude or we turn away from the full life.

I’m in the middle ground…in a very slow, confusing, and aching dull transition that I don’t understand. But I pick up grace and thanksgiving and I go forward anyway knowing that His ways are best even when we don’t understand.