Posted in Daily Musings, My Interests

Scoopin The Poo

            What a delightful interruption we had Monday evening at our house!  A mysterious ring at the doorbell about 7:45 brought two daughters of a friend of mine announcing they had “poop for Miss Jenny.”   I was so excited as my family stared at me in a strange dumbfounded way.  On the curb of our driveway they left me four yard bags filled with chicken droppings for my garden!  Yea me!  No seriously…Yea me!  What you’re not feelin the love here either? 

            To their defense, I had asked for the poo a few weeks before.  We had such a terrible gardening year last year and this time of year always gets me eager to start again.  I had heard from another friend of mine that chicken poo is great fertilizer in the vegetable garden, so I thought I’d give it a try. (2nd man still hasn’t caved on the issue of building me a chicken coop and buying chickens…but I’m still working on him. Look at the one I found on pinterest.) 
picture via www.HeatherBullard.typepad.com

        To my eager surprise as well, yesterday turned out to be in the 60s outside!   I put my kids to work on their schoolwork, and gave the older two assignements to work on with their brother and I put on my scrubbies and headed out to the back forty (forty feet in my case).  

I haven’t had tremendous success with the whole composting thing yet.  Mostly, it’s my fault.  With all the dryness and the type of compost bin we have, I haven’t been vigilant in watering and turning.  Last year, though we did, surprisingly get a good wheelbarrow full of the black gold.  This was a surprise since we had to fight the city over it.  In late fall the year before I had moved the bin back behind my mother-in-law’s cottage to the ally side hoping to get more sunlight in the winter.  It wasn’t near my trash area, however the trash men took it anyway.  Even more perplexing, they took all of the compost inside!  I was amazed.  I’m pretty sure that if I had asked them to scoop my compost by hand they would have abruptly refused.  Yet there it was, the empty spot where I had put my compost bin.  I called the department of waste management.  They sent two guys out to tell me that I had placed it on an easement and it was fair game, but they did yell at the trash truck guys about it.  What?!  I didn’t want heads on a platter; I just wanted my compost bin back.  After a series of phone calls 2nd man took over and called saying that he’d like the city to at least pay half for the new bin. We’d admit our mistake if maybe they could admit theirs too.  We’ll the guy finally caved and said it was easier for them to just buy us a new one so a new one I got.

Anyway, my mom had warned me that the nitrogen in chicken poo can burn the plants already in the ground so I thought I’d empty the compost bin and restack it with layers of poo. 

So, out came the pitchfork, glasses and gloves and mask (yes, chicken poo can be toxic to lungs nasal passages and eyes.

I was giddy with domestic bliss!

 

Wasn’t this poo beautiful?  My friend was nice enough to give me some that had been partially composted already…bless her!

So now, I’m going to be diligent about turning it and making sure it’s moist and hot. I might add here that never…ever in my growing up years did I think I’d say something like that previous line about chicken poo.  Amazing what comes with age isn’t it?  But I digress…Bring on spring!
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Daily Musings, Life Lessons

While the Pastor’s Away…

            While our Pastor and his wife were away (no I didn’t get to play) I got the honor and privilege of teaching the ladies Sunday school class.  Originally, she asked me to cover the two weeks while they were out of town.  However, in some moment of madness I offered to her that I’d teach for the whole month if she’d like.  That way she gets a little bit of a sabbatical like he does.  Which led me, after this first week, to ask…. what was I thinking?  I was all, “ yeah, I can take the whole month, cuz I got this book that I’ve been wanting to share.”  (Said in a high confident kind of voice).  Now, I’m like “Whaaa?”

            You see, the plain fact of the matter is…I’m a thief.   I’m on the decorating committee, not because I’m creative, but it somehow rationalizes my time spent on www.pinterest.com looking at all of the creative things other people have come up with.  I teach, not because I’m a great discerner of biblical messages, but I get excited when I read what others have discerned and I want to share it with people.  This gets me into trouble, as my relating capabilities are hindered by my excitement sometimes.  That’s what happened this morning.

            The book I chose to outline through this month was, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them free by Nancy Leigh Demoss.  Frankly, I’m sure the ladies class questions my groupiness with Ms. Demoss. I use her books practically every time I get a chance to fill in for this class.  I don’t apologize; I really think she has a knack for discerning the word of God in practical ways for ladies.  Anyway, I’ve had this book for almost 10 years, but it’s a hard one to go over in just one class, so I honestly thought it was a good time to use it since I have four classes to stretch it into.  Looks like I’m still gonna be in trouble

            The first week I walked in all ready to go. I was workin my high heal boots and denim jacket; I even painted my nails to feel really put together.  (That’s right; start out with the vanity a really godly way to start the day huh?) Actually, the reason I pay attention to this goes back to when I was student teaching high school and it took until third period for any of my students to let me know my shirt was unbuttoned!  Since then, I try to make sure I don’t have anything too distracting going on.  My motto is look nice, don’t be self-conscious and don’t distract.  That’s about the best that lesson got.

            I don’t sing anymore in front of this class after a time of severe embarrassment in relation to singing.  I once was teaching a lesson on the Holy Spirit.  I had spent the entire week excited and revived and was soooo looking forward to sharing what I’d learned.  I thought it would be the perfect time to sing “There’s a sweet sweet spirit in this place…” I warned the ladies that I wasn’t a good singer so that they’d join in all the more.  Unfortunately just the opposite happened.  It was more like a solo rendition on my part which quite frankly quenched the Holy Spirit before I even got into the lesson.  So, now when I fill in it’s right to the lesson we go.

            Well, I tried to cram too much into one lesson.  I had already cut a lot out, due to time constraints, but realized I’d have to do more in the future.  The ladies class meets in the sanctuary so I knew I’d have to cut it short so people could file in for main service. When I finally got near the end and to my two favorite points, I was in rush mode.  At one point I looked back to see what seemed like a sea of faces smashed up against the glass that flanks the back of the sanctuary doors.  It kind of made me giggle to see all of the noses pressed up against the glass.  I guess they were hinting that I was going too long.  I wrapped it up and dismissed with an awkward, “well…you’re dismissed” no prayer or anything.  The usher at the back door let me know the protocol for looking at the back window and knowing that he would give me a 5-minute warning. I was glad he filled me in.

            The next two weeks were ok, but being out of practice with teaching, I left out a lot of things that I had wished I was able to say better.  Today I am putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s lesson, the last lesson of the month.  I have already typed out my outline, but I’m sure praying that I’m able to put on the personal touches and illustrations that might make it meaningful or at the very least, understandable to the ladies.  The fact is, I’m a little bit glad it’s over.  Oh, I actually enjoy the teaching aspect, it’s the learning that goes along with it I don’t like.  Here I am trying to teach about Satan and his deceptive lies and I’ve had nothing but a month in full out battle with him over lies he’s been whispering to me.  Ughhh!  Of course the end of teaching a series doesn’t exactly mean he’ll let up, but I’m so exhausted from it all right now. 

            To top it off my personal devotions have been in Ezekiel lately.  I mean, have you ever really read that book and thought about Ezekiel the man?  The things the Lord had him do were outrageous (in my meager opinion)! Cook bread over a fire made from poo!  Lay on his side every day for like 300+ days!  The Lord even let him know that He was going to take his wife’s life as an example to the Israelites and Ezekiel was no allowed to openly mourn her!  Doesn’t exactly sell ya on the desire to be a prophet does it?  Of course I’m not trying to say I’m anywhere near to being a prophet or anything, but I do take sharing even a ladies Sunday school lesson important, because I’m trying to represent the Lord and His message.  I haven’t experienced near the outlandish requirements of Ezekiel and I’m exhausted.  Let’s just say my respect for these prophets of old went up a hundred fold as well as my respect for our pastor and my own husband.  2nd man loves these times.  Oh, he doesn’t like to see me struggle, but he does appreciate the fresh perspective it gives me for the men of God and what they go through.  And hey, the ladies that teach ladies too!  Welcome back Miss Brenda!

Posted in Daily Musings, Life Lessons, Marriage

Progress

     Isn’t nice to see progress? I was recently talking with a friend who is getting married. She was feeling the pressure of wedding plans and jitters of getting married. One of the things she said that struck me as interesting and poignant was that she wants to be a great wife. No not a learning wife, but a great wife…right out of the starting blocks…no lessons learned…just great. My first reaction was laughter (inside of course) with the memories of all the mess-ups I’ve had in the past fourteen years of marriage. But then, I thought to myself, “what was I thinking when I first got married?” Probably pretty close to the same thing. I understand her thinking really. She doesn’t want to be the cause of problems that they may/will have to work through.
Don’t we all feel that way about various aspects of our life? I know I have visions of what I want to be, you know, Proverbs 31ish and all. I’d like to be a great bargain grocery shopper, a great gardener who cans her veggies and has a yard that is magazine worthy, a baker who bakes homemade bread, a super teacher to my children, an energetic and upbeat wife for my husband, a frugal furniture refinisher, decorator who has a Pottery Barn look to her house.
Instead, reality keeps slapping me. We all know about my grotesque tree mess in the front yard that I wrote about in a recent post called Timber!!!
Then, there’s the bread machine I bought on Ebay. I’ve been making bread for over a week now trying to come up with a healthy and yummy recipe so I can stop buying so much bread. Oh, yes the whole garden thing was a wash this past year due to the horrible drought and 100 degree temps we had all summer. And lately my house seems to be a pit every time I turn around. I started dishes at 8am yesterday and finished at 4:30 if that tells you anything. Yes, then there’s the fact that daughter #2 had a meltdown last night because she didn’t get all of her schoolwork finished yesterday due to goofing off while I had to be out running errands. And finally, (but I’m sure not the last) there’s the little problem of our son, who keeps getting scared and coming into our room…every night for the past 4 months!
Well, obviously I didn’t share all of these precious tidbits with my soon to be married friend. However, I have been mulling them over and have come to the conclusion that I need to focus on the progress. I may not be wife, mother, friend, and teacher of the year anytime soon, but I have accomplished some little things along the way: like the bread I made today was pretty yummy. Doesn’t yet qualify for super healthy yet, but…its progress. I sat down last night and created an excel schedule for my children, so they can be sure to get their necessities done, even while I’m away. (I’ve always struggled with this one myself, because I’m a spontaneous kind of person –schedules stress me out.)
The dishes did get done…yesterday. There’s more in there now, but hey –progress right? Not too bad until I get a new dishwasher.

I grabbed some branches out of our huge pile out front yesterday…gonna make wedding branches with glitter paint and crystals.

Then there’s this. What a beautiful sight.

Little man slept all night in his room.
Ah progress

I tried to give my friend words of encouragement about her impending nuptials and new life. I don’t know if I convinced her, but I at least convinced myself that progress is the way to go…not accomplishment. After all, I’ll end with a bad cliché, but “A woman’s work is never done.” Even the Proverbs 31 woman.

Posted in Daily Musings

Pinterest Interest

Are these not the cutest things ever?!
Ok, it’s confession time.  I have an addiction…Oh yea it’s www.pinterest.com .  I just can’t stop looking at it.  I log on and think, “Oh just five minutes while the kids get ready for bed.”  Sixty minutes later my children are begging, “Mom, are you coming to kiss us?  We need to have bedtime devotions.  Dad, can you get her off of there?”   Then, I wonder, what cool thing I’ll miss if I walk away. Maybe the ship I’ve been waiting for is just another scroll down.  I’m pretty sure I’m gonna need an intervention.
 But the cupcakes were just too cute to pass up
and look at this cool hurricane lamp I made from the lady that stole an idea from Williams Sonoma and remade it from dollar store items. 
 I made two for $12.00 total! 
Admittedly, not everything I pin is feasable.  I’m still trying to convince 2nd man to build me the chicken house I saw and make the garden path I pinned.  The problem is the rest of my friends are just as addicted as I am.  We had a yearly planning meeting for our church decorating committee.  Instead of bringing magazine cutouts or legal pads to write on, we all brought laptops and pulled up our pinterest boards. 
It’s a virtual playground for me.  I’m a chief thief for crafty things like this.  I, unfortunately am not creative in and of myself, but I can steal ideas like no other.  Somebody stop me!  No wait; just give me five more minutes…
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife

Pastor’s 25th Anniversary

            Last weekend our church celebrated the 25th anniversary of our pastor’s service at our church.  Wow! That’s right I said 25 years, a feat almost unheard of these days.  I’m so thankful for him and for his wife.  They have provided such a blessed atmosphere in which to serve. 

            Pastor, what can I say?  He’s one of the most even keeled people I’ve ever met.  His feathers never seem to ruffle, which, quite frankly can be frustrating when playing a game with him, but is encouraging when trouble comes knocking    His humor is contagious and his balance has been a great example to the 2nd man and I.  We came from a church initially where the pastor once jumped the 2nd man on a decision he made.  Totally, making 2nd man not only feel bad, but also exaggerating the situation making it appear hopeless and ruined.  When we came to this church, what a breath of fresh air to find such a godly, logical, wise and kind man serving as pastor.  I regret that I don’t express my respect to him often enough.  I am in awe at how much work he can handle and even worry about him with his load sometimes. 

       Pastors wife – oh I love that woman.  When 2nd man and I first came here we were newlyweds struggling through that first year of marriage and the battle of expectations.

I remember the first time I went to her for advice with a frustration I had.  She took me out on her front porch and listened quietly and then matter-of-factly stated that I was wrong in my thinking.  She wasn’t unkind in the least, but rather a true friend by letting me know exactly what my godly role as a wife was and what I should be expecting or rather not expecting from my husband.  Some might think it harsh or not want to hear this information, but I so cherish a friend who can be honest with me.  Honestly, I’m sure she saved us years of heartache and turmoil by setting me straight.  She does not actually like to counsel people and I think feels unsure about her ability, but she definitely came through on that day.  She and I are opposites in many ways, I’m melancholy, she’s choleric, I’m constantly battling worry, and she just doesn’t care about nonsense.  She’s bolder and even braver than I in many ways and I love her for it.

        They both have taken to our children as surrogate grandparents type figures even though they’re not old enough to be their grandparents.  They take my kids when we have youth activities in which they cannot go.  They’ve even gone on vacation with us.  When the church sent us to Disney world for our 10th anniversary, they went along and we couldn’t have had a more enjoyable time. Did I mention that preacher is the best travel companion – the man eats fun stuff all the time.  While at Epcot we split up for a while and when we met back up he had an entire box of pastries from France that we noshed on all day.   We’ve even spent holidays and special events with them. 

 We are totally able to relax and be ourselves in their presence and I don’t take that for granted since I know many church staff relations are not like this.  We eat lunch at their house every Sunday.  Each family brings something to the table, but let’s face it, they are dishing out the most.  For a year or so we didn’t do these lunches because of the job she had, made it too stressful.  I missed those Sundays and am so glad to have them back.  It’s nice to just go relax after church and unwind.  Their hospitality is unmatched in my book.  They even have started having staff retreats over the past few years.  We all go to Branson or somewhere and relax and have fun together.  They use this time to have a yearly planning meeting as well, but the relationship building is even more profound. 

Truly, I mean every word I’ve said here and that’s a good feeling.  I’m hoping they are able to relax this month, as part of the gift for pastor was a one-month sabbatical.  They took a week or two of vacation to Florida and we have some special speakers filling the pulpit for the entire month.  I’m taking over her Ladies Sunday School class for the month and 2nd man is preaching a few times and taking on the extra responsibility of having our pastor gone.  Already the enemy has tried to derail us a bit with stressful situations, but we’re adamant that he won’t succeed.  Still, I hope the month goes fast for us and we have a quick return of our pastor. 

I truly love them, they are great friends and mentors and I thank God for their influence and love.
Posted in Uncategorized

Prayer

Need lots of prayers today.  Haven’t posted in while and will explain soon.  But for now, we need lots of prayer power for today.  It’s so exciting to know God is working something out through or for you.  I’m humbled by the attention even if it is stretching my faith.  He’s already in my tomorrow!!

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife

Spiritual Boot Camp 2011

            We recently experienced one of the most exciting activities of the year for our youth ministry, Spiritual Boot camp 2011!!!  It was both exhilarating and exhausting.  420 teenagers and leaders/pastors from around Kansas and Oklahoma descended upon our little town and rallied their hearts out before receiving a great Bible message from a special man of God. 
            But first, here’s a little history on Spiritual Boot camp.  When 2nd Man and I first came to this church back in 1998 we were told that our group usually went to Wichita to stay in a hotel between Christmas and New Years and have a bit of a winter retreat.  When 2nd Man heard that he would be expected to continue this he came up with an idea to expand the vision for this retreat.  He decided to open it up to other youth groups as well and gave it a theme of Spiritual Boot camp.  Our first year was a blast and people really got into it.  There were approximately 120 people who attended that first year. 
The second year was even bigger and better.  However, it began to get complicated.  I remember one night 2ndMan and I literally spent the entire night at the church until 5 am the next day working on the details (we weren’t very good delegaters back then).  Our bus with supplies broke down on the highway on the day of the retreat and we had to really get creative with the whole retreat.  Then there was the incident of one of the outside activities.  It was a local hockey game.  I’ve been to hockey games before, but this was crazy.  There were bloody fights breaking out every couple minutes and the music and foul language was rampant even from the loud speakers!  2nd Man watched in horror as groups (including our own) had to take their kids back to the hotel early that night.  Not the greatest moment in youth ministry right there.
2nd Man preparing for arrival of troops
            After that year the hotel we used shut down and we made the decision to move the retreat to Tulsa.  We have other churches that we affiliate with down there and that became a helpful jumping off point to getting a lay of the land and what outside activities we could do there as well as a host of better hotels (no offense Wichita).  From there on the retreat began to grow larger every year.  But there was still the issue of having to drive 1-½ hours to our hosting sight and all of the organization and money that included.  Every year our church had to foot a pretty hefty bill that wasn’t covered by the registration of the teenagers. So finally, in 2005 we handed the whole retreat over to a church that was already located in Tulsa and could better handle the logistics.  It had grown into such a popular event that we didn’t want to stop it altogether.  After some staffing changes at that church, the event finally was cancelled for a couple of years. Now, it’s back on, but with a whole different theme and venue. 
            So, I say all that to say that two years ago 2nd Man got the great idea to bring back Spiritual Boot camp, but house it in our new building and change it into a one day rally event.  Last year, our first year back, we had about 380 and grew to 420+ this year.  It is one of my favorite events to watch 2ndMan in action.  It’s one of those times when you’re doing the Lords work for a multitude including your own teens. 
            This year’s sub theme was Beachhead, which quite frankly was totally a foreign concept to me, until he explained to me what a beachhead is.  Apparently, in WWII it was more widely known.  These were forts on the beach (duh) that were set to attack enemy forces coming from the ocean or sea.  Specifically, we think of it during D-Day when our army attacked Normandy.  They conquered the beachhead and used it as a starting point of operations to move further inland.  This is what God would have us to do with Satan and his deceived troops.  Not just conquer the beachhead, but use it as a jumping off point to move further on the offensive to expand the victories for the Lord. 
            I wish I could really show you how exciting the whole thing was.  2nd Man has a standard of excellence like no other.  Sometimes that can be challenging to work under, but he is a gracious perfectionist.  I ended up in charge of rallying the decorating troops.  It was our mission to turn the front of the sanctuary into a beachhead fort; also, to turn the foyer into an HQ of sorts for arriving youth groups.  It took days and a team of helpers to do it, but it was so cool looking when all was said and done. 
The Beach Head
            One of the many challenges was filling the military sandbags.  Obviously sand would have been both heavy and expensive.  So we tried a few different options and settled on using hay.  I asked a man in our church if he had any I could use and he suggested I go down into a ravine on our church property where he dumped some while swathing our land.  (Swathing is a new word I’ve recently learned.  It’s when you see the farmers taking the grasses and rolling them into those huge round bales of hay you see out in the fields).  Anyway he had a bale that went wrong so he just dumped it in the ravine.  This was a challenge for me.  Out here in OK we have these things I’m scared of called snakes and spiders.  I prayed up, loaded my kids and dogs up and drove the ole trailblazer off road to the ravine. Thankfully, we didn’t encounter any of the aforementioned creatures.  We stuffed and stuffed and stuffed, but I still had to send some teens out to finish the job on decorating day.  The plan worked perfectly until Jose, our song leader, came to me on the day of the rally with swollen red eyes from grass allergies! Um…oops.
Foyer HQ
            Decorating day was one full of stress and…well…more stress.  None of my projects  were working according to the plan A.  EVERYTHING had to go to at least plan B and then some even further down the alphabet.  It was a long 12 hour day, but overall very successful.  I know the pictures really don’t do the room justice, but it really did look neat.  The large Wolverines and Cobras signs on the walls are actually about 8’X16’.  Though they aren’t great works of art, they did the job of covering banners that our church has hanging up there.  May I just say painting on that large of a surface is not an easy task especially when you’re 5’2”. 
            We invited some college guys from Heartland Baptist Bible College to be our rally yell leaders.  The churches were separated into two groups and did fun challenging games.  Whatever side won, 2nd man would pull from their tickets and give out prizes like an I pod touch, a digital camera, gift cards and one youth department won a Play Station 3 for their group!  2nd Man’s motto is go big or go home.  After the rally we had special singing, great preaching and then out to the south lawn for inflatable games.  I wish I had taken pictures of the inflatables, one was over two stories high!  The inflatables are always a bit of a gamble because of weather.  And we did end up having a very heavy rainfall and storm that day…at 4:45pm.  What’s the significance of that you ask?  It was exactly 15 minutes after the whole even was over.  God’s so good!
the masses
more masses

masses from the back
2nd Man jr. ready for duty
            Now, we’ve been in recovery mode for the last couple of weeks until we gear up for next year.  But I’ll think about that…next year. 
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Daily Musings, Life Lessons

Edmond Ladies Retreat 2011

My beautiful pastor’s wife Brenda

Went to a ladies’ retreat this past weekend with our church in Oklahoma City.  Quite honestly, it was the last thing I wanted to do this weekend.  I usually have a pretty good time on these retreats, but life is busy right now, and I just didn’t want to go.  It’s been so busy, that my time with God has suffered greatly.  It’s been either rushed or pushed off altogether, which then results in the rest of the areas of my life suffering like my patience, my efficiency, my compassion and my ability to just be nice.  Knowing all of this, I wasn’t looking forward to having to be nice to a bunch of ladies who either think I have answers to their questions or they have fun picking on me.  I also didn’t want to hear from speakers who would tell me what I already know is wrong with me and make me feel even worse.  How’s that for a good attitude?  Sounds like I need a little cheese to go with that whine. 
            I went anyway.  After all, our own pastor’s wife was one of the keynote speakers and I needed to support her. (Actually, I really love to hear her speak so that part wasn’t hard.)  Of course I got just what I needed.  God’s so good about that.  He even used all the speakers to tie in and make his point.  And it wasn’t even really the theme of the event that he was speaking to me about. 
            I might as well be transparent here, it’s not like this blog is one of those “how to” kind of blogs.  It’s more like a “why can’t I…?”  kind of blog.  One of my biggest head battles is that of worth, but not necessarily in the usual way.  I’m not like suicidal, nobody loves me or anything.  It’s more like I wear so many hats (as do all women).  But I don’t have a specialty hat.  I want so desperately to be used of God with my life…I mean desperately.  I don’t need it in a famous kind of way.  Just a way that I can hang my own private hat on knowing I’m doing exactly what God wants me to do in a manner in which is should be done.  But, when I examine the hats I wear, I struggle to find even one that I’m good at for Him.  I get food on the table for my family, but I’m not a very good cook.  I clean my house everyday, but I struggle constantly with keeping it clean and organized.  I home school my kids, but (chuckle chuckle) I’m far from starting a “how to blog” on that one.  I’m a youth pastor’s wife…really struggle with being any good there.  Don’t sing, don’t play piano..blah blah blah, I could go on.  Quite frankly if I ever did write a book I think I’d call it The Art of Self Deprication.
            So, with all of that said you can now understand the mind frame I was in as I went to the retreat.  First up was our own Pastor’s wife.  She really did a great job.  Sharing her passion for wanting to really know God.  Something I also desperately want.  In my life it looks like this.  I push through a crowd of life junk to try to catch a glimpse of him.  Sometimes I even push forward and catch a tug of the hem of is robe.  I have a time of awe and thanks. Then, when I’m just expecting him to turn to me and tell me what he wants of me…he walks on.  Anyway, she shared some alarming trials in her life that have brought her closer to God.  Then, at the end of speaking she sang a song in honor of her mother (also a pastor’s wife and a speaker at this event) for the godly example she provided.  It was precious.  My pastor’s wife can do this amazing thing of crying and singing at the same time that just pierces your heart.  I wondered as she sang if either of my daughters could or would ever be able to sing such a song to me.  Oh we “do right” in our house.  But would my grumpy failing side be more of what they remember or the times of living victoriously?   What kind of memories am I building?  I mean, here I was at a retreat on my oldest daughter’s birthday!  (I did celebrate with her earlier in the week, but still…)
My pastor’s wife’s sister – a.k.a. Theresa
            The next morning, our pastor’s wife’s sister spoke (follow that?)  She too was married to a pastor who just suddenly and unexpectedly passed away last year.  She has a testimony of handling the whole thing just beautifully, leaning into God and his comfort through scriptures the whole time.  I had heard her give this testimony a few months ago, but I was so enthralled with her encouragement to find encouragement through the scriptures.  That’s what I wanted.  Scripture to tell me I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  To give me the affirmation that I’m not just somehow touching everything and making it rot for the cause of Christ.
 Wouldn’t ya know that he gave me that in the very last speaker of the day’s message.   The theme of the whole event was “The making of an instrument” which is ironic, because I’m not a musician at all.  Of all the speakers tying this theme in, this one really did.  Showing how we as Christians can be just like an instrument made by and worthy of being used by God.  It was only in one little point of her whole message though that I found the hope I was looking for.  She shared how we are all unique instruments.  That even in an orchestra you can have multiple violins, but each violin is different..there are no two alike.  I know very elementary stuff huh?  But it was the scripture she used that really caught my attention:
The ladies God used last weekend

1 Corinthians 15:10a  But by the Grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain;   Wow, it his problem not mine!  Don’t get me wrong here.  All I mean by that is that it was He who sought me out and graciously chose to save my soul. He has a purpose and He knows who and what I am.  So it is He that worketh in Me.  No matter how dismal my abilities look in my own sight.  I can do all things through Christ…  I realize this is no new revelation or anything, but it sure jumped out at me just when I needed it.  
Posted in Daily Musings, Healthy Living, Life Lessons

Finishing the Race

Surprise!  I’m still alive!  Yes, I haven’t written in a very long while. What, you want excuses?  Hmmmm.  I don’t think I have any good ones, just melancholy head cloudiness going on.  It seemed to set in right after finishing the big 5K race.  Yep, 2nd man and I with the extra gracious help of the Lord ran and finished our first 5K race.  Upon finishing I felt, exhilaration, a great sense of accomplishment, humbleness, all on top of pain and gasping.  Here’s how the whole thing went down.
            I’ll begin with the fact that for over a month now I’ve been suffering from insomnia something terrible.  I don’t know why, I don’t have any unusual stress (outside of training) going on and I’m not depressed so I don’t know…hormones or something maybe.  Anyway, mistake #1 was that 2nd man and I got a run in on Friday before the race. Found out on race day that that wasn’t such a good idea.  Mistake #2 was that I went to bed early Friday night in the same room as 2nd man.  Of course I do this every night, but 2nd man harbors a deep dark secret…well not really, but he does occasionally sleepwalk.  Of course he did that night, of all nights, which awoke my insomniac self with adrenaline rushing through my system.  Arghhhh!  So off to the living room I went to try and bore myself to sleep via late night infomercials.  That’s not a good idea either.  I almost bought a steam mop, a bra, and an “everything” tool for 2nd man.  Thankfully the pocketbook is empty.
            Saturday came and I found out why it’s probably a good idea to run those races that take place in the morning.  I was so jacked up on adrenaline from nerves that my teeth were chattering.  I hadn’t had that happen since I gave birth to my last child.  2nd man likes to call it my Katherine Hepburn look when she shakingly says’, “you’re my knight in shining armor.”  (Not sure what movie that’s from just heard it somewhere.).   Anyway, I was just a bundle of nerves.  I wasn’t sure what a race would be like.  Would everyone be a pro at this?  Would there only be like 12 people even in the race or would I be able to blend in with the masses?  Then of course my worst case scenario thoughts kept plaguing me like coming in so far last that the police would be like, “lady are you coming soon?  We need to open the road back up.”  I wasn’t in it to win of course, but I didn’t want to be totally last either.  My mother-in-law (who is normally a fantastic and wonderfully godly woman) cheered me up by pointing out that these thoughts were prideful…sigh.  Now I was full of nerves and guilt! 
            Thankfully, I had booked a few things into the schedule that day like lunch with friends who were in from out of town and a baby shower too.  I had to inform my kids that they’d have to get themselves prepped for Sunday on their own.  I normally walk them through picking out their clothing and getting their stuff all together like offering, Bibles and Sunday school homework on Saturday.  However, I was useless in any area of practicality for the day.  I even went to the local grocery store to take my blood pressure because of a fantastic headache I was harboring.  Sure enough it was pretty high.  So with all of these conditions and the fact that I’m used to running in the crisp morning air, I learned that the next race will be a morning one.
            However, we did make it to the race.  We had our pastor and his wife come to sit with our kids and watch.  Thankfully, there were a lot of people there and they were all very friendly.  I had read several places that runners have a friendly camaraderie about them, but I just wasn’t sure about our town.  Thankfully it was true.  The vibe in the parking lot was so much fun to be around.  There were all levels of people there.  We were specifically impressed with three lanky young men who were practicing in the field next to us, running like gazelles to warm up. I run very hard, heavy and frenetic.  These guys looked like feathers floating across the horizon…amazing.  There were those in their gear that looked like the ads for athletic footwear, there were chunky ones like me and then there was a pregnant woman.  I figured I could at least beat her.  She looked like an avid runner who was maybe 8 months pregnant or so. 
            When we lined up in the roadway, the organizers announced that people running for best time should move to the front, 2nd man and I sheepishly and slowly started backing up.  Then, in true Oklahoma fashion they started the race, not with a pistol, but a shotgun.  After all of our hearts started beating again, the race began.  I put my I pod on and focused in.  I was pretty amped and feeling good until about three minutes in, the pregnant lady passed us never to be seen again until after we crossed the finish line…way behind her.  Oh well.
            2nd man was great through the whole thing encouraging me along the way.  A few minutes in, people sort of separated into packs of like fitness levels.  2nd man would shout out to me over his headphones, “your looking great babe! We’ve got this!” to which a lady running near us shouted back, “thanks!” 
Although we’ve run together dozens of times in the mornings, for some reason all of the excitement must have worn me out.  That was the toughest run yet.  Even 2nd man said it was tough.  I wasn’t sure I’d finish until I actually did.  I mean, even like 20 yards away, I was actually unsure I would make it.  You know how people have pictures of crossing the finish lines with big smiles and hands held high?  Not mine, nope, I looked like I had just been tortured.  And Nope, I’m not posting that picture online for anything.  I couldn’t even hold the water bottle someone handed out to me.  I threw my I pod and sunglasses on the grass and took a good 5 minutes to catch my breath.  Then I felt like crying.  I don’t know why, I was happy, but also I was so thankful that God helped me finish…and not last, I might add.  We were somewhere in the last half, but not last.  We finished in just over 37 minutes, which was really good for me, having not ever been a runner until 10 weeks before this race.  I’m sure 2nd man could have blown that time out of the water, but he was my coach and encourager and stayed with me the whole way. 
            The whole thing was a very spiritual moment for me.  I don’t mean that in a hokey kind of way.  But finishing this race wasn’t going to be any world changing event, but God cared enough about me that even in my simple small requests, he took the time to listen and acknowledge me.  I appreciate and am humbled by that thought.  I’ve felt throughout the whole training process that it was just full of spiritual symbolism with our Christian race.  The times when your body is shouting at you just quit, it doesn’t matter, but you have to push through anyway.  Then there’s the whole idea of finishing whether it affects anyone else’s life or not.  Even down to the lady at the end of the race who was in our little “pack” that said, “you two encouraged me the whole way.” And we didn’t even realize it.  I can only hope I would live my Christian walk the same way…no…even better and stronger.
            In the days since the race, the perfectionist melancholy in me has been down in the valley.  The high I got from that race didn’t last very long and I still struggle when 2nd man and I go out for a run.  I haven’t lost weight through this whole process and wonder if I’ll ever really feel like a runner.  The mountaintop didn’t last long, but it was enough encouragement to help me push through this valley and keep going.  Part of that is truly why I haven’t been able to even sit and write about it.  God is good all the time, on the mountain and in the valley he’s there with me just like 2nd man encouraging me and saying, “Keep going, we’ve got this!”  Even though he could move on without slow learning me.  So, a grunting onward I go.