Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Busy Bodies

I've had lots of plans to write here, but life has been really busy, mostly because Dan has been really busy. It's a wonderful blessing that he has a secure, well-paying job, but it'd be nice if they didn't rely on him so much! He's the go-to guy on things he doesn't even work on, and is often called on to fix things other people just can't figure out (despite it being their job to figure it out). So most days this past week were spent going in early and coming home late. Which meant I had lots and lots of time with the kids. All this led to pure exhaustion on both our parts.

So I didn't get to run or work out much.

That's what I was trying to say.

On Sunday, we went to the pool down the street for a family swim time, and apparently our whole day had the same idea! On the way in, I slipped and fell (it was a rainy day). Since I was holding Eben, I pretty much let my one knee take the fall, and now it is a-hurtin'. I find it funny that injuries tend to hurt more a day or two later than the initial incident; I guess because it has time to swell and all that.

I wanted to take a chance to thank all of you who have been praying for me, particularly in regards to my spirit of despondency. Despite the physical exhaustion of this past week, I've been feeling much more joyful and content in spirit. I know this is a direct result of prayers on my behalf because there is no other reason, and many to the contrary, why I should now be less melancholy.

So thank you! And here's hoping I'll be able to keep up a bit better now that Dan has solved the world's problems... Ok, at least at work. (for people half-way around the world)

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Yesterday I learned that I lost 2 lbs this past week. Hooray! While I'm not in this whole running thing to lose weight alone, it sure is nice that I am losing some! Like, I'm really really excited. A lot.

That's about it. I just had to share. haha

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A little help

Yesterday I got an email reminding me that the Shamrock Shuffle is a mere 53 (52 at this point) days away. It was good to know, but also daunting because I have felt very unmotivated lately... Beyond running on Friday and Saturday, I've done nothing since to help move forward. This lack of motivation is seriously bumming me out. I think a bit of music would help... Music has that amazing ability to inspire us, calm us and speak to and for us when we seem otherwise unable to find words.

I realized that while I don't need an mp3 player (especially since I know Dan and I have killed 2 since being married), I'd really like one. But then I thought about what I'd like to put on it. What are some songs you love to listen to while cleaning, working out, running or driving? I listen to a pretty eclectic mix of stuff, but trying to figure out what would really keep me going was a bit hard as most of it is pretty mellow. I know my bluegrass stuff would have enough pep to keep me a-runnin', but I thought I'd turn to my friends for suggestions of their favorites.

(Also, though somewhat of a sidenote, I'm trying to find some albums that feature hymns. But not over-produced or overdone. Just simple, so that I can sing along as I go through the day. I find so many are either big productions or lousy quality. Anyone have some great ones they love?)

And in return, readers, I will share this delicious recipe. We tried it over the weekend and I can assure you that I was looking forward to leftovers once the meal ended! A great vegetarian option, too, for those who are so inclined.

Cavatappi with Spinach, Garbanzo Beans, and Feta

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)


  • 8  cups  coarsely chopped spinach
  • 8  cups  hot cooked cavatappi (about 12 ounces uncooked spiral-shaped pasta)
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4  cup  olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 2  (19-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or other white beans, drained
  • 4  garlic cloves, crushed
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon wedges (optional)


Combine first 10 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.

Nutritional Information

Calories:288 (27% from fat)
Fat:8.6g (sat 2.3g,mono 4.2g,poly 1.3g)
Cooking Light, JUNE 1998


Sunday, January 17, 2010


Sometimes you just need to take a break from the everyday and have a little time off. For Dan, that day was Friday. Work has been extremely stressful for him lately - which is a blessing, of course, in its own way - but still. If you have a job, it can stress you out and you need time off. And that's that.

But, I will tell you that I did not take a day off from running. Despite my weariness and really not wanting to go, I went to the indoor track. But I didn't get as far as I would normally. It was rough, and a bit discouraging. Yesterday, thanks to glorious weather granted by the Lord, Dan and I both went running. He ran to the park, while I drove the kids over, then he played at the playground with them while I ran through the park. Let me tell you something:

Outdoor running on the hills is not easy. I thought I was going to pass out a time or two, no exaggeration. I was relieved to see a police officer parked in one of the lots because I thought, "Well, if I really start to feel bad, I'm heading there for help". Not sure if it's good to have an escape route or not while running, but it made me feel better. On the way home, and for the rest of the evening, the whole right side of my chest felt tight and a bit constricted. Come to think of it, if I'm going to keep running, I ought to get myself an inhaler again. I think I gave my last one away to my younger brother when he was down back in September. Hmm. Yes, it does help to breathe properly.

You know how sometimes you just feel off? Something isn't right, though you can't put your finger on it, and it usually exerts itself throughout your whole body - spirit, mind, and physical well-being all seem to suffer. I've felt that way lately. My head has been feeling light and disconnected, sore back and neck muscles, and my mind seems unable to focus on anything at all. So if anyone talks to me, I apologize if I seem like some kind of space cadet. I'm not sure what's going on right now. (and you can probably tell it in this horrible writing. I'm barely able to bring myself to even post this, but I have to... because, well, that's the point)

But I'll tell you this, it's frustrating me to no end. For one thing, I need every mental faculty I have to keep tabs on my two rambunctious munchkins. Not to mention it makes I shudder at the thought of running or working out because of it. But the real kicker is how it is bringing down my spirit, and that is not something I take lightly.

You see, many moons ago, when I was but a wee babe in the Pleistocene Era... Ok, well, not that long ago, but long enough that I feel able to talk about it publicly in this way... I went through some very dark times. Very little mattered to me, though very few knew or could tell. And now, as an older, wiser (ha), more mature (ha again!) adult (oh gracious me, I'm an adult), I can recognize signs that I am slipping into a melancholy. Those melancholy times are scant skipping stones to the deeper depression that I know I can be dragged into with a despondent and discontent spirit. This is one reason why I take discouragement very much to heart. And then why I also take true joy and encouragement to heart as well.

Some of you may never know the true joy my heart feels when you share even a simple word with me, whether through email, phone call, facebook or in person. There are so many people who have often held me strong when I found myself floundering to remember my Creator and Sustainer - people who have taken my chin and lifted up my face to look into His. What few people know is that even if I have not talked to them in far too long, they are still in my heart and when I see them again I know that I will still feel that incredible affection I felt before. My friends are my friends for life, and more often than not, family in the truest and deepest sense of the word.

So I ask you, friends, for one thing. Pray for me. Pray that I might be relieved of this despondent spirit. Pray that am able to find comfort in the Savior. Pray that my heart and mind are protected from the darkness which seeks to draw me down and attack me when I feel physically unable to fight.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On Track

Last night I ran at The Pavilion when Dan got home from work. Something must be happening because all day I was actually looking forward to going there. Of course there are two reasons that would usually explain this, but they were pretty good yesterday. (Though I'm starting to think I may feel a top tooth pushing through on EF. This would mean he's getting teeth nearly 10 months earlier than his sister did)

Anyway, I ran more than I walked for the full mile. I think, in total, I ran about 8 laps or so, of the 11.5 (we'll just say 12) necessary for the mile. My biggest problem was that it was getting more and more crowded. The Pavilion is a pretty hopping place most of the time anyway, there are always people coming and going out of the parking lot at any rate. I think I would have done a few more laps, but I got tired of weaving in and out of the mix of people - old couples (who are just the sweetest to see), middle-aged men who are really fast, and people that can't seem to stay in their lane (drifting onto the dividing lines).

Plus, I had cooked dinner in my running clothes before I left (those Egg Rolls), and I could smell them every so often. It started to make me veer off the track as I approached the exit - knowing they were a scant 500 feet from where I was laboring away.

All that to say I think things are going well. For me. And that's one reason to be glad.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rollin' Rollin'

My mother-in-law got me a Cooking Light subscription for Christmas. I was really excited. I like their recipes a ton, primarily because I find them delicious. The first time I had even looked through some was at my sister-in-law's last Christmas. Since then, I've been hooked. They are just plain yummy and I'd recommend them to you all.

*note: I am not paid by Cooking Light. They don't even know I exist beyond the fact that now they mail me a magazine. But I'll still push 'em on ya. I'm good for free advertising like that.

So this is one of the new favorites in our house. I had it saved in my electronic recipe box for a while, but never got the chance to try it. I LOVE Chinese food. It's probably the second most missed food on my "Foods I Miss From NJ" (right after gyros, or just about anything from a diner). I have often eaten  leftover egg rolls for breakfast; they are more tasty that way, I promise.

So anyway, I found this recipe and thought I had to give it a try - a baked alternative to the grease laden fried version. I was skeptical, but I had to know, would it be good? Well, I assure you, friend, yes! Yes they are good.

Dan even went so far as to say that he likes them even better than the real thing. WHAT!? I told him to close that lying mouth, and to stop speaking falsehood. But there's a testimonial for you.

Oh, I should probably mention that I find it hard to ever follow a recipe exactly, so I'll put some notes in italics along the way...


Egg rolls:
2/3 cup coarsely chopped celery   - I omit the celery
2/3 cup coarsely chopped carrot  - and just shred up a bunch of carrots. Like 1 1/2 cups.
2 cups shredded cabbage  - and increase this too. In fact, I've read notes that some use cole slaw mix
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
2/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger  - I use ground because it's what I have
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound ground turkey breast
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
14 egg roll wrappers
1 large egg white
Cooking spray

Sauce:    We don't even use the sauce, so I can't attest to its tastiness
3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine celery and carrot in food processor, and pulse 10 times or until finely chopped.
Since I use shredded carrot, I skip that step up there

Combine celery mixture and cabbage in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; vent. Microwave at high 5 minutes; drain.

Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add turkey; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cabbage mixture, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, and pepper. Cover and chill 15 minutes.

Place 1 egg roll wrapper at a time onto work surface with 1 corner pointing toward you (wrapper should look like a diamond). Trim 1 inch off right and left corners of wrapper. I don't trim. It seems totally unnecessary to me

Spoon 3 tablespoons turkey filling into center of wrapper. Fold lower corner of egg roll wrapper over filling.

Fold in trimmed corners. Moisten top corner of wrapper with egg white I use water here instead; roll up jelly-roll fashion. Repeat procedure with remaining wrappers, turkey filling, and egg white.

Lightly coat egg rolls with cooking spray, and place, seam side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 18 minutes or until golden brown.

To prepare sauce, combine 3/4 cup soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon ginger; serve with egg rolls. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Yield:  14 servings (serving size: 1 roll and about 1 tablespoon sauce)

CALORIES 79 (29% from fat); FAT 2.5g (sat 0.4g,mono 0.9g,poly 1.1g); IRON 0.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 11mg; CALCIUM 18mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8g; SODIUM 532mg; PROTEIN 5.7g; FIBER 0.7g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2001

Whole & Well

This entry has been writing and rewriting itself for some time. The biggest obstacle I've been facing in getting it to settle down into submission is that it's composed of thoughts I've been thinking through, and growing with, for quite some time. One of the problems I find when writing is that there are so many things I want to say, to explain, that I find myself backtracking and wandering about as if in a glade. It's an open space, surrounded by woodland - each trail circles back into the glade, but not before I chase the thought through trees, over streams, and around some big rocks. It's hard enough for me to get them in order within my own head, but to try and convey that to others - ah the mysteries of intelligent and excellent writing. I have some friends who are very, very talented writers; I envy them often.

Here's the basic idea I've got going: life is not simple, nor is creation simple, yet people are constantly trying to make everything simple. The main problem is that our usual practice is to break things down again and again until we assume that because we have all the pieces (or so we think), we now have the answer. One very important idea gets pushed to the wayside - there is much more to, well, everything quite frankly, than the pieces that make it up.

Before I was an Anthropology major, I had entered college a dedicated Biology major, on the fast track even. I skipped over intro classes thanks to my high AP test scores in the subject, and jumped right into sophomore level classes. Until I hit Chemistry. This will forever be my downfall. Subjects which require logic, equations and numbers in general are not within my realm of comprehension. I will gladly boast that I have not taken one math course since junior year of high school (Pre-Calc), and I'm still a contributing member of society. So there Middle School Math Teacher! Ahem.

It was the same semester I realized Chemistry was my nemesis that I was also taking an elective course - Anth101, introduction to cultural anthropology. This, my friends, is what I like to call The Great Awakening. (Forget those 18th Century Protestants, they didn't know what they were talking about) Here was a subject that ignited passion in my heart and also made a tremendous amount of sense in my pea brain. It took some time before I made the big connection - the reason I love(d) studying Anthropology was that it was so incredibly holistic. 

When I announced my grand plan to switch majors, and ever after, people often gave me a quizzical look, followed by the dreaded question: "What can you do with that?" I can proudly declare, "Anything I want!" You see, Anthropology covers the realms of every other science and humanity and art and whatever else you can think of that might be included within the human experience.

God did not create the earth in such a way that each element, plant, animal or mineral works on its own without interaction from any other living, or non-living, entity. In fact, it seems very clear to me, not only from my senses, but also from reading The Word, that He has made everything to work and live in relationship to the rest of creation. And I'm not talking some hippy-dippy, pantheistic nature worship here, just to be clear.

With the Fall, it was not just Man that has had to pay the consequences. Indeed, the whole earth groans with the tragedy of being no longer in right relationship with God and itself. Man has turned against man, man against nature, nature against itself; and always we are searching for ways to make it right. To somehow piece back together what was broken. Which, of course, is impossible without the intervention of God.

So what does this have to do with anything I've written about previously? I warned you, didn't I? I'm a trail follower. It's probably why I do such much better at talking than writing.

Humanity has gotten severely out of touch with food, particularly in The West. Our pride has deluded us into thinking we can understand the way everything works, and can then break it down, figuring out exactly what nutrients are best and what "bad" foods we ought to avoid. How can we even begin to rely on science to deliver us from problems that scientists don't understand? It should be glaringly obvious to us all that every attempt humans make at putting things aright often end in bigger disaster than the problem we started out with in the first place. 

Now, I assure you that I'm not some kind of crunchy, tree-hugging, organic, locally-grown fanatic here to shove some dogma down your throat with that $20 granola. BUT as I began to think about the food I place in my mouth, it began to occur to me that most of it was pretty much garbage. Processed junk food. And I'm not talking about potato chips here. I mean nearly all of it. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc (the "Western Diseases", known as such because they usually follow the introduction of the "Western Diet") - all of it has risen over the very time that many of our foods are claiming to make us more nutritious. But how can human created foods really be more nutritious than the ones God has given to us? Humans tinker about as if we know everything about everything, and we trust scientists to declare what foods we ought to be eating.

God has created a wonderful and complex human being in each of us. And I find that one of the reasons I have so failed previously is because even if I eat what some box tells me is "nutritious," well, I'm still eating the same stuff that is in every other box on the shelf. Too much of all the processed foods and not enough of the whole foods that are available out there. God knew what he was doing when he created broccoli, carrots, eggs, apples, cows, chickens and the rest of it. Why should I take what a human has created in substitution for what He offers me?

I know this may sound like crazy ranting and raving of a liberal crunch, but I assure you, it's not some new fangled idea I've picked up recently. Nor is it my own unique idea. In fact, look back throughout human history. We may not have many of the communicable diseases we once did, but we have an inordinate problem with dietary related diseases. The one I suffer from happens to be weight related. And do you know how many of those dietary related diseases can be reversed in a person simply by changing diet? It's incredible!

So, as I go on this journey of running and exercising, I'm also watching what I put in my mouth. It's always brought me joy to cook, and so as I strive to make better decisions, I will start making more things from scratch (if I find something good, I'll be sure to share it here). Most everything tastes better that way in any case (with the exception of Mac & Cheese. Oh how I love store brand, bright orange mac & cheese). And hopefully, I pray earnestly, that this will be the year I finally have a garden (it has been in my heart and on the back burner for far, far too long). My Burpee catalog came the other day and I nearly squealed with delight. And the sites I look to for other plant/gardening related stuff are really starting to advertise in earnest. Ohhh I'm excited for sowing and harvesting!

I realize this post may seem a bit out there, and very much discombobulated, but I did the best I could without actually writing a book on my thoughts. Anyone ever watch Alton Brown? You know that lady he has on sometimes - the Nutritional Anthropologist? That's my new dream job. I would love to study the relationship humans and their food have shared throughout history. But working with food for a living might not be a good idea, eh? ;)

There is a whole host of information out there about what you should or should not be eating, and it seems to change every time you turn around. There have been a few books I love to read that touch on these subjects, including Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and several books by Michael Pollan. Just in case you're interested

Friday, January 8, 2010


If there is one thing I can say about my daughter, two-year old A.M., it's that she has an incredible amount of passion. Some may deem it the obsessions of a two year old mind, and they'd be right, but it seems to work itself out in every facet of her life. There is little that she does not approach with gusto and nearly complete abandon; and once she gets an idea in her head, it's there for the long haul. I assure you that this is a blessing and a curse for me, her mother.

We made a conscious choice not to push Santa in this house. He isn't banned outright, but the kids don't receive presents from him, and we don't bring him up. But there are many influences on a small child, including church, TV and stores. Even walks around the neighborhood. So these past few weeks have been full of "Santa!" and eventually, "Santa gone. Oh no. Santa...?" as neighbors slowly remove their decorations from the front doors and walks of their homes. I remind her that he lives far away and can only visit people once a year. This has seemed to suffice.

There are other obsession, however, that I am more glad to feed. Like birds. A.M. is fascinated by and delighted with birds in all shapes and sizes. Birds fly, birds hop, birds tweet (though not on Twitter, as far as I know) and, perhaps most importantly, birds EAT. A few weeks ago, prompted by a visit to a friend's home where she helped refill the feeders and by the disappearing "berries" (really bradford pears) on our trees, A.M. and I took a trip to Lowes and picked up some bird feeders for our home. The excursion alone was filled with more than enough excitement as she was overcome by dozens of styles of bird feeders, and the accompanying seeds. I'm sure more than a few customers could hear the squealed delights of "BIRDS! BIRD FEEDERS! BIRDS EAT!" echoing through the high ceilings of the warehouse. You can bet those feeders went up the minute we got home.

Despite a slow start, I can assure you those feeders have been visited by a great many birds, and each visit has been reported by our budding ornithologist. A.M. is barely awake before she speeds over to her window, which has a prime view of the feeders (naturally), and declares that there are in fact breakfasters enjoying suet & seeds, or thistles. Earlier this week there were at least a half dozen small finches munching away on the thistle seeds, making the feeder seem more like a springtime beehive than a winter eatery. That was a great day.

Those $15 (or whatever small amount) we spent on the supplies has brought unending joy to not only A.M., but our whole family. There is much delight in a parent's heart when your child discovers new and wonderful things in creation, and I can assure you that E.F., our 6 month old, is delighted in his big sister's ecstasy as well. (Well, if his constant smiling and reaching for her are any indication, maybe you just need to trust me on this one)

And there are many more things that bring her glee in this world - snow, for one (makes her northern born parents proud!), and eating fruits of all kinds, trees, running, walking (though not as much as running), riding in the car, friends and Mamaws and Papas. Of course those passions do turn into bad habits as well - the realization that a mobile little brother means perhaps more sharing is in her future. A.M. is not always a willing participant in this sharing thing, and her passion to be master of all exhibits itself in some ugly encounters that often end in tears and time outs.

So why do I share these seemingly mundane stories? Well, because we all have passion, and yet these can turn against us in the worst way. One of my passions in life is food. I adore food - buying it, preparing it, eating it, sharing it with others. One of my other passions is to be lazy at a great many things. Oh, don't get me wrong, I can busy myself right up into a first class whirlwind, but I can find myself complacent and languid just as easily. And so here is my problem: The two passions I find myself drawn to are not conducive to a life of wholeness.

I have a great confession I need to make: I lack all self-control when it comes to food. I will, and have, eat myself into a state of over-stuffed, bloated and nearly sickening proportions in a quest to just have another taste. Ask my mother what happens each time she cooks a pot of mashed potatoes. The poor woman should have invested in pad-locked cookery for such occasions. Or, even more, ask my husband how I respond to an unending supply of french fries (such as the constant refill you can get at places like Red Robin, one of my favorite restaurants). I would rather feel sick than not eat a few more fries. There is something severely wrong with that. It doesn't extend to all foods, but I find myself acting this way with most meals. I have often joked with my husband that I lack the chemical switch in my brain that functions as the "You're Full. Stop Eating" alarm. There is, of course, such a disorder, I saw it on Discovery or something like that, but I doubt I've really got the disease. It seems to me it comes down to simple lack of will to what is best and right - selfishness in hyperbolic mode; selfishness which brings me no gain, but really my own destruction. And ultimately, isn't that what all selfishness does?

The Bible has a great many things to say against gluttony, selfishness and laziness - all factors in my struggle to become healthy. And I know that any attempt I make in which I say, "I can do this! I can beat this stuff," will undoubtedly end in failure. Because I can not do this. I can not beat it on my own. If 27 years of living has not already taught me that, then The Word certainly does. I know people so readily claim verses such as Philippians 4:13, 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Ephesians 3:16 (to name a very few), as great beacons of hope in times of trial and tribulation. And for good reason. There is no doubt that the Lord is faithful and it is only in the gift of his Spirit and strength we are able to do any thing whatsoever. Drawing a breath is impossible were it not for the mercy of the Lord to grant that breath to the recipient.

And yet. And yet.

I find it hard to just snatch verses from the Bible as if they are some kind of lucky rabbit's foot for my gain. Perhaps it the old adage beaten into me since Teen Doctrine in 8th grade with Pastor Howard - "Context is King." It seems strange to me to just grab a snippet and say, "Ah-ha! Here, here at last, the answer I have long sought for!" I know, I know, it's my contrary nature, too. I don't want things to be easy. But as I look at His Word as a whole, I know and I see and I taste that it is good, and that it does in fact reveal to me that there is no way to be redeemed but by his precious mercy and grace. Through grace alone have I been saved, not of myself, so that I may not boast; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me.

So I have decided that running is not merely a physical battle of wills - me versus my own body's weaknesses. Nor is it a purely mental battle - me versus the inner voices of nightmares working against me. But it is also a spiritual battle in which I have to give over the selfishness, laziness and passions which are of the flesh. It is, in fact, all three of these things working in concert.

I'm what you might call a "whole-ist." I see things as vast webs of interconnectedness that can't be extracted or untangled by simply pulling one. But that's all for another post. Perhaps later today, or tomorrow. Trust me, it's a whole entry unto itself (One that has been writing itself in my head for a few days now). Instead, I leave you with this, if it doesn't declare the sovereignty of God, well... (Fun Fact: This is the Psalm I had been mediating on the morning of the day Dan proposed to me)

Psalm 104 (NASB)

    1Bless the LORD, O my soul!
         O LORD my God, You are very great;
         You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
    2Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak,
         Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.
    3He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters;
         He makes the clouds His chariot;
         He walks upon the wings of the wind;
    4He makes the winds His messengers,
         Flaming fire His ministers.
    5He established the earth upon its foundations,
         So that it will not totter forever and ever.
    6You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
         The waters were standing above the mountains.
    7At Your rebuke they fled,
         At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away.
    8The mountains rose; the valleys sank down
         To the place which You established for them.
    9You set a boundary that they may not pass over,
         So that they will not return to cover the earth.
    10He sends forth springs in the valleys;
         They flow between the mountains;
    11They give drink to every beast of the field;
         The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
    12Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
         They lift up their voices among the branches.
    13He waters the mountains from His upper chambers;
         The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.
    14He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
         And vegetation for the labor of man,
         So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
    15And wine which makes man's heart glad,
         So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
         And food which sustains man's heart.
    16The trees of the LORD drink their fill,
         The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
    17Where the birds build their nests,
         And the stork, whose home is the fir trees.
    18The high mountains are for the wild goats;
         The cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim.
    19He made the moon for the seasons;
         The sun knows the place of its setting.
    20You appoint darkness and it becomes night,
         In which all the beasts of the forest prowl about.
    21The young lions roar after their prey
         And seek their food from God.
    22When the sun rises they withdraw
         And lie down in their dens.
    23Man goes forth to his work
         And to his labor until evening.
    24O LORD, how many are Your works!
         In wisdom You have made them all;
         The earth is full of Your possessions.
    25There is the sea, great and broad,
         In which are swarms without number,
         Animals both small and great.
    26There the ships move along,
         And Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it.
    27They all wait for You
         To give them their food in due season.
    28You give to them, they gather it up;
         You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
    29You hide Your face, they are dismayed;
         You take away their spirit, they expire
         And return to their dust.
    30You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
         And You renew the face of the ground.
    31Let the glory of the LORD endure forever;
         Let the LORD be glad in His works;
    32He looks at the earth, and it trembles;
         He touches the mountains, and they smoke.
    33I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
         I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
    34Let my meditation be pleasing to Him;
         As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.
    35Let sinners be consumed from the earth
         And let the wicked be no more
         Bless the LORD, O my soul
         Praise the LORD!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Sometimes a bit of nostalgia is good. It can remind us of all those wonderful moments we've shared with friends, particular blessings we've been given from the Lord and push us on to continue hoping for better things. But memories can also haunt us if we allow them. It's as if they tap us on the shoulder, taunting us and saying, "Look how you were, you will be here again." Nightmares don't speak to you with words like "may" or "possible." They speak in definite terms - will, must, have to, are. That's why they are so paralyzing for so many. For all? I don't know. I suppose there are some people who have never succumbed to the fear and mastery of bad memories and nightmares, but I haven't heard.

I'm not usually a fearful person, but I can assure you there are many things in my past that I would rather not have to deal with again. Ever. But memory can be unkind when spurred on by those seeking our destruction and discouragement. And often I'm the one spurring them on to bigger reality than they deserve. How often are we all the enemies seen in the shadows?

It takes 11.5 laps to complete 1 mile at the indoor track of our community center. Since I'm no longer focused on trying to stay warm (like when I was torturing myself, uh, I mean... running outdoors), my mind begins to wander. It has become a time when I can plan dinner, sing songs in my head, contemplate those great questions of life (like how to get that half lap in since the track hangs over the gym). And prayer. I admit those prayers are usually something along the lines of: "Father, please strengthen these legs and let me just get past the older gentleman without collapsing into his arms" or "Help me to not fall over the rails into that pile of middle school boys playing basketball down there. It could hurt us all. A lot".

But I've come to realize it also gives me a greater opportunity - time to pray for those that I otherwise find myself forgetting in the busy day to day, and time to ponder what I may have been studying this week. One of my favorite books has become The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. Its pages are filled with wonderful prayers that often cut quickly to the heart, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.

Here is one I've been thinking on quite a lot recently:


May I,
   never fail to come to the knowledge of the truth,
   never rest in a system of doctrine, however scriptural,
      that does not bring or further salvation,
      or teach me to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,
      or hel me to live soberly, righteously, godly;
   never rely on my own convictions and resolutions,
      but be strong in thee and in they might;
   never cease to find thy grace sufficient
       in all my duties, trials, and conflicts;
   never forget to repair to thee
      in all my spiritual distresses and outward troubles,
      in all the dissatisfactions experienced in creature comforts;
   never fail to retreat to him who is full of grace and truth,
      the friend that loveth at all tiems,
      who is touched with feelings of my infirmities,
      and can do exceeding abundantly for me;
   never confine my religion to extraordinary occasions,
      but acknowledge thee in all my ways;
   never limit my devotions to particular seasons
      but be in they fear all the day long;
   never be godly only on the sabbath or in thy house,
      but on every day abroad and at home;
   never make piety a dress but a habit,
      not only a habit but a nature,
      not only a nature but a life.
Do good to me by all thy dispensations,
                        by all means of grace,
                        by worship, prayers, praises,
And at last let me enter that world where is no temple,
      but only they glory and the Lamb's.

I never thought I'd run for anything except food, or the bathroom, or my life. I never thought I'd start a blog. I never want to revisit painful memories. But in light of the prayer, are there not better Nevers that should replace the others? So let me run, and blog about it, and every so often revisit those memories if only to return to the Lord's grace.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

And so it begins...

I have always been a bit slow on the fad front. I don't usually jump on bandwagons too quickly; to be honest, I usually shun the bandwagons as they go rumbling past. When Xanga rolled around I thought, "That's silly, who cares what all these people are posting," and the same happened with Facebook. It was only as I was graduating college that I began to see the merits of social networking - dear friends were scattering to the far corners of Lancaster, PA. Ok, ok, some of us did leave PA behind, including myself. As I ended up in the delightful Bluegrass region of this fair commonwealth I now call home (thanks to my husband's job), the blogs and posts my friends faithfully (and not-so-faithfully) kept up helped me feel a bit less homesick. And yet I never started my own. Blame it on time, or lack thereof, and even desire. I mean, I didn't necessarily want the world reading my thoughts, and I couldn't blame them if they didn't want to be reading my thoughts. Often my thoughts are quite scatter-brained and humorous, mixed in with a bit of the delightful. And then there are the downright depressing ones.

But here I am, blogging. And I will admit to you, if you have somehow stumbled here and are STILL reading, that this venture is entirely selfish - as are most similar endeavors by my esteemed peers. I have come here today and started this blog as a way to hold myself accountable to the anonymous internet!

Many times I begin projects with the greatest aspirations of success. Most of the time I end with half a project sitting around collecting dust - literally and virtually. So here I am, committing myself yet again to a project I feel is somewhat doomed to near-completion. But I am hoping that perhaps forcing myself to make public those things I would rather keep in my closet will be an impetus to sick with it all.

This will be the place I keep updated with workout habits, eating habits, spiritual disciplines, and all manner of otherwise neglected tendencies.

So if you feel the urge to keep on reading, read on, friend. If not, can't say I blame you too much.