Thursday, August 29, 2013

And then you have to do it again

Two days ago I did my first run in training for a half marathon.  Not being a runner, it very easily could have been my last.  It wasn't bad by any stretch, but I wasn't automatically fit and ready to run 10 more either.  Not that that was surprising.  

So today, I had to get out again.  It was late in the day, after work, after dinner, after Ruth's bedtime and Rick invited me to sit and watch a show, something that I would normally do as we decompress after the day.  But I declined and said I needed to run again, otherwise I knew it might a week or two or three before I got out again.  If you lose the momentum, it's hard to gain it back.  So I suited up and got ready. Rick had downloaded a training app for me so he got me hooked up and I was off on my run.  5 minutes of warm up walking. 1 minute run. 1.5 minutes walking, over and over until 20 minutes of run/walk was accomplished and then a 5 minute cool down.  It even syncs with itunes so you have music and it prompts you of when to run and when to walk. 

Half way through I stopped at the church to look for something and ended up talking with a homeless man for a few minutes.  I was sore when I started again and could feel the muscles that have been working to push my body along.  But I ran some more and finished day 2.   And all told it wasn't bad.  I even ran longer than I needed to simply because I could.  

I still have a long way to go in my training, but I've started and I'm ready to keep going.  

I was looking for a picture to include with this post since pics make everything more interesting and came across this one which is probably closest to how I feel at this stage in training.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

All in my head

I'm a really good runner.  In my head anyway.  I've known for a couple of months now that I wanted to do the LLS 1/2 marathon in January and that the official training starts in September. Not being a regular runner (who am I kidding a runner of any sort), I thought I should pre-train before the training.  (Sort of like pre-cleaning before someone else comes to clean your house).  I've been thinking that for 2 months now, really almost 3.  I should run.  But in my head, I'm in great shape. In my head getting out and running 3-5 miles is a cinch and getting up to 13 will be no problem at all.  That's in my head.  

Today, I pushed myself out the door to put my money where my mouth is and I got out to run.  I walked a bit with Rick and Ruth and then they headed back to the house and then I went to run and basically I did fartleks (run, walk, run) and fared ok for my 1.5 run walk.  I ran it (and walked it) and I did it.  But in reality, I am not what I am in my head.  I am not a good runner. I'm really not a runner at all. It takes persistence and focus and a ton of emotional and mental effort to get out and do it.  But today I did it.  Running a mile really isn't much. And for my age and health I should be able to do a lot more. But I don't do it and so I can't just pick up and do more.  

But I had to start somewhere. So I started with a mile and hopefully the next will be better and further and more running and less walking.  

It's a good discipline for me. It's something I can do, but I have to put my mind to it. I have to be intentional and dedicated and willing to sacrifice what's comfortable or normal to make it happen.  And that's what a discipline is.  And I have to (or get to) remind myself that that's how it started with the spiritual disciplines as well.  When I first started praying daily with intentionality, it cost me.  It took a lot of intentionalilty and focus. It did not come easily. I could not just pick up and pray and focus. My mind wandered to my to do list and my stressors, or I simply fell asleep.  I had to work at it for it to become comfortable and easy.  And I think this will be true for running too.  I will have to work at it. But if I can be dedicated enough to do it, it will come with practice.  

And frankly, even if I don't learn to love running, if I can stick with this it will be good for my body and will be good for LLS and helping to further the research.  And it'll be a good discipline to work on something that is asked of me and doing it even when I don't love it. 

Here's to the journey. Day 1 accomplished. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

A New Journey

A few months ago I was home for Mule Days and the baptism of a friend's children.  At the baptism party (also a birthday party for her dad), I was talking with Darci's sister who had gone to the hospital earlier in the day with cellulitis.  I've known the family since I was in preschool and have watched Kathleen grow up.  I've also known she had struggled with health issues while in college but didn't know what exactly was going on.  When she got back from the hospital we were talking and she shared that she had had cellulitis about a dozen times in the last year or two. She also shared that it's a biproduct of the leukemia and her treatments.  She shared that she is on an oral chemo therapy treatment that she takes daily. She shared that she will likely be on this medicine (or some other variation) for the rest of her life.  Kathleen also shared that this new medicine is much better than the old medicine and that there have been great advancements in the last few years with regard to the daily chemo meds.  She shared that when she was diagnosed the statistics were that with the medicine they had there was an 80% likelihood of death within 5 years of diagnosis, even with the medicine.  The advancements have been so great that now, with the new meds, there is an 80% likelihood of life 5 years after the diagnosis.  That turn around is huge.  And it spoke to me in a powerful way that the research DOES make a real and tangible difference.  Not just "some day" but NOW.  

Sharing with Kathleen inspired me.  I wanted to do something to help further the research and continue to help them improve the odds and quality of life for those living with leukemia.  So I am beginning a journey with Team in Training (TNT) with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society to train for a half marathon in January.  And in doing that, I have to say, I am NOT a runner.  I really do not enjoy it. But I think it's worth it.  And there are some bonuses.

1) It helps Kathleen and others like her who are hoping for great strides in the medical world to help them have a better life.

2) It helps me get healthy.

3) It's becoming a spiritual discipline.  Yes, I know, it's physical. But for me. the "spiritual" things like prayer, Bible study, meditation and worship come easily.  I don't have to work to make them a part of my life.  By regular exercise (beyond walking) without external accountability (like paying $200 for a class and needing to get my money out of it) causes me to be much more disciplined and it gives me time to think and process and pray.  

All of that means you'll be seeing a lot more posts about exercise and balance and new habits and struggles around here. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

More than a sound bite

A few weeks ago I was talking with my dad and he mentioned a story that I had read on Facebook.  Oddly, my first inclination was not to listen more attentively to hear the rest of the story, my first thought was “Oh yeah, yeah, I read about that.”  I didn’t say anything, but kept on listening and found that I didn’t actually know the story. All I knew was the sound bite. I knew the simple sentence summary of what had happened, but I didn’t actually know the story.  And it hit me, I’ve become complacent, comfortable even, with only knowing the sound bite.  The busyness of life has made it so I don’t have long car rides where I call to catch up with friends.  My evenings are mostly dedicated to family time (unless of course I’m at a church meeting) and so I don’t hear the long narratives of my most beloved friends very often. I only see the sound bites, or the occasional picture, and the truth of the matter is I’m missing out. 

So I’ve slowed down my Facebook usage.  I don’t scroll as often and I don’t post as often.  I feel like others have fallen into the same trap, assuming they know me because they read my one sentence summary of my vacation or my week or my struggle.  But they don’t know the real story, they don’t know the fullness of what is happening or how I’m feeling, and that leaves me feeling like they don’t know me.  If you’re a friend (or even family for that matter) I don’t say any of this to be accusatory or condescending.  I say it because I think you are more than a sound bite.  And I want to know more than the simple sentence summary. 

Most days I don’t regret not having a commute.  I love being able to be home in 5 minutes or back to the church in a flash if I have to. But there are other days when I wish I had an hour each way to sit and talk with a friend and catch up on life and family and ministry.  I miss those long talks.  I miss the time of being together despite the distance that separates us.  And I miss knowing more than a sound bite. 

If I were to wax theological, I would say that our relationship with God often falls into similar patterns.  Often the sound bites (the short prayers before a meal, the quick online sermon or the one hour in worship) feel sufficient.  We know a little bit and so it feels like we know something real, we know enough. And yet, if we stop to think about it, we don’t know the whole story, all we know is the sound bite.  Knowing “God loves you” or “God wants more from you” feels sufficient to get us through the week. But if we let that be our pattern, if we let that be sufficient for long enough, we find that we are missing something greater.  In essence the sound bites fool us into losing touch.  They fool us into believing that our relationship can survive at a bare minimum.  And the truth is that that’s a lie. Our relationships cannot withstand the hardships of life or even celebrate the truth breadth of joy if all we have is the simple sentence summary.  We need more. We need more from each other and we need more from God.  

I'm not trying to knock Facebook.  I appreciate the ways it has connected me with people and lives that I probably wouldn't have sought after if left to life pre-social media.  I love seeing the pictures in particular.  I like seeing friends and their kids and feeling connected in a way that's more sustained than once a year for a visit or a holiday.  But I also think it has it's dangers. It can lead us to feel more connected than we are and then when we seek out depth of relationship in a time of need, we find ourselves coming up short and even feeling let down by a lack of response on Facebook.  Not that friends shouldn't respond, but maybe we need to take time to invest in some deeper sharing more often.    

Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer fun

I often post about work here or theology or other things that deal with my professional life.  And because of Facebook, I've often not shared pictures and such from family time.  As I edge away from Facebook, I find myself wanting to share some family pics from the summer.  Here are a few favorites.

 this was our first beach trip and it made it feel like it was really summer.  It's crazy that we live an hour from the beach and rarely head that direction.
 It's crazy blurry, but I love her face.
She made sure "Baby" got to get her feet in the water too. 
 Rick volunteered with Heifer International at the Orange County Fair
Summer camp campfire time.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

7 year itch

Anyone have some calamine, or cortisone cream?  I'm itchy. I'm restless.  I'm uneasy. 
I think it might be the 7 year itch.  You know, the year that you start taking stock and wondering what you are doing, if there isn't something better, if you even made the right choice in the first place.  I think that must be it. Something has to be it.  

No, not for my marriage.  We've only logged 3 years married.  

It's for my job.  This year marks 7 years of full time pulpit ministry.  And I am in that place of wondering and wandering.  I'm in a place of wondering what my call is really about, if this is all there is, if I'm getting it right, or if I got it all wrong already.  I'm in a place of wondering if there isn't a *better* career out there.  I'm wondering what I've accomplished.  I'm wondering what difference I've made.  

It doesn't feel like a pitty party. I'm not down about it.  It feels more reflective.  It feels contemplative.  It feels curious and purposeful.  

And yet, I'm not honing in on the right answers.  Not the ones that feel satisfactory anyway. Though I suppose that's probably partly because summer has been so busy that there's hardly been time to think, let alone sit down and be seriously reflective.  

I'm not really considering leaving ministry. I know better than that.  Do not make any major decisions when you're in the midst of major change or transition.  At least that's my motto. I need to decide when I'm clear headed, not headed for the hills.  So, we are going to muster through some changes and trials. And I'm trying to get reacquainted with my calling and my purpose.