Monday, August 29, 2016

Positive attitude.

I receive daily emails from a parishioner that help me start my day with a quote.  This was from Friday's email:

You must not allow yourself to dwell for a single moment on any kind of negative thought.  Emmet Fox

Now here's the thing...over the weekend I struggled through an 11 mile run.  I am three weeks into marathon training and the distance increases each Saturday for my long runs.  It was a really tough run.  Yes, the sun was shining, but it wasn't super hot.  The humidity was a factor, though.  
My husband (aka - coach, personal race photographer and sag wagon) was along for the less than epic run.  At one point I said, I can't do this.  He said, "you are doing this." I said, "You're right....I don't know why I'm letting the negative win."He said, "You've been telling yourself this was gonna be tough since yesterday...."
I said, "Yup." I was already worried about humidity and temperature.  I was comparing myself to where I was in training last year...and I was dreading the double digit distance.  Mentally, this run was very hard.  Physically, I felt it, too....my quads reminded me of the distance all day yesterday.  ;) 
Billy reminded me that I needed to pick a training plan and stick with it.  I have one...and I need to not compare myself now to where I was last year.  I took some time after the run (over the weekend) to think about last week's training.  
On Monday I enjoyed 4 miles with folks from my gym's running club....after I biked for 20 minutes.  This week....no biking before tonight's run.  Stick to the schedule.  
On Tuesday I enjoyed some time on the elliptical followed by the beginner yoga class.  Perfect end to the day.  
On Wednesday morning I rocked out on the track and nailed 10X400! I also jogged around the school with 3 pips collecting Pokemons as part of UpTempo that evening....
On Thursday, I had the option of 30 minutes of jogging or a rest day. A rest day it was.  
On Friday I did 35 minutes on the elliptical, just what was on the schedule.  
And Saturday was the 11 miler.  
Now, looking back at last week...I can make some changes for this week.  First of all, I will stick to the schedule.  Just a run tonight - nothing extra is needed.  
Tomorrow, I'll do some cross training and some light weights. Wednesday I am looking forward to more speed work....clearly this is where I am excelling right now.  The track workouts have felt great! That is a huge positive for me!  And with school back in session, we no longer have UpTempo...which is a bummer, but it also means I won't have any extra running or jogging on a speed day.
Thursday is a rest of jog day, I'll see how the quads feel the day after 12X400.
Friday, some easy cross training...maybe a bike ride with Billy.
And Saturday....well, bring on 13 miles!
I am working on getting to bed earlier as well as constant hydration.  

And....staying positive....when running and when I'm thinking about running.

No space for the negative.


Thanks, John, for this quote, it's shaping my day in a new way today.  

You must not allow yourself to dwell for a single moment on any kind of negative thought. Emmet Fox

Until the next post....

Monday, August 15, 2016

Running the race of faith...

August 14, 2016
13th Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 23:23-29
Psalm 82
Hebrews 11:29-12:2
Luke 12:49-56

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

“And let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

If you’ve had the chance to get to know me over the past few years, you know that I’m a runner.  I’ve dabbled in many a community 5K race, I’ve run several ½ marathons as well as a few marathons.  This summer I branched out and completed my first triathlon. 

As I’ve worked with different training plans, run with friends and helped coach a youth running club.  I guess you could say that I enjoy running. 

But here’s the thing, it isn’t all joy and celebrations.  And let me tell you, not every run is wonderful, some of them are downright painful and slightly ugly. 

On the day I was working on this sermon, I went for a run without headphones, so I could just run and pray and ponder this sermon.  I didn’t really want to know how fast I was going, but I did wear my Garmin just to track the run itself.  Only a week and a half had passed since the triathlon so I wasn’t in any specific training plan, but when my watch beeped one mile I looked at it and was disappointed.  I was moving slower than I thought I was.  I stopped.  And then all those negative voices popped into my head.  

You know, so and so is in training and busted out a fast long run this week.  Just a week and a half ago this run would have been after a swim and a bike ride….what the heck?  I thought of others and their skills and dedication and stamina….and I got lost in that for a second, until I remembered something.  These people have told me time and again that I am an inspiration….I encourage them!!  I wrestled with that thought for a moment and looked down at my wrist, to the bracelet that says, “you got this.”  I said it out loud 3 or 4 times, pressed start on my watch and kept running. 

As I slowly took one step after the other, I reminded myself that not every run is a perfect run and that the run I was in the middle of was just about getting out for a run.  I reminded myself that when we do not feel strong enough, brave enough or that we have enough faith there are others around to give us strength, bravery and to believe for us.  Those people make up the great cloud of witnesses that surround us each and every day. 

As I looked down at my wrist and said, “you got this.” I also saw the cross bracelet that I wear every day.  I knew that I could do the run because it wasn’t me…but it was the strength and presence of God with me to carry me through it. 

Now, don’t worry if you’re not into running or racing.  If your idea of a triathlon is pizza, movie, nap…there is still a connection to this text for you…because here’s the thing, it’s not about an actually road race. 

This race that the writer of Hebrews talks about is different from all others. 

The course is not set out with chalk arrows and volunteers telling you which way to go…the course is marked by Christ, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” 

This race is one that only Jesus has run to its end, though by doing so has made it possible for all others to follow. 

As Jesus ran this race, he didn’t hit “the wall” which many distance runners talk about hitting and feeling like they cannot move one more step.  The primary obstacle Jesus faced  was the shame of the cross, which is vanquished by the power of the resurrection. 

As we follow Christ crucified and risen, we are led through the obstacles of life which challenge us, stop us, scare us, but they are obstacles we can face because we know of the love and grace of God in our lives.  We know that at the end of this race, this course of life, awaits Christ, enthroned at the right hand of God. 

That my friends will be an incredible, picture perfect finish.  Arms up, ready to be embraced by our heavenly father, knowing that God has been with us every step of the way. 

Following Christ does not mean a life that is smooth sailing, full of smiles and sunshine every day.  Having and experiencing faith in our lives does not make our lives easier…it does, however, make a huge difference in the everydayness of our lives. 

We know the obstacles the Christ faced for us. 
We know that the obstacles we face…sickness, illness, grief, the loss of our jobs, broken families, even death…are ones that Christ faced for us on the cross…and we know that that great cloud of witnesses is cheering us on, letting us cry, holding us up, and believing for us when we have questions or doubt. 

Following Christ does not require you to run marathons…but is does challenge us to have the mindset of a marathon runner…rather than that of a sprinter.  This is a long course….but God has already promised a lifelong relationship with us and will be with us the entire way.   And by lifelong…God means eternally. 

When the last of the runners make it across the finish line, Hebrews suggests, the stands of the stadium will empty. The city of the living God, made up of “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” will form around the enthroned Christ and “innumerable angels in festal gathering” (12:22). Sin, suffering, death -- all the enemies of God -- will be no more. Remarkably, this on-going “perfect” worship of God is mediated a high priest who is Christ himself (6:20; 5:2). (Heen)

That, to me, sounds like one AMAZING post-race party! 

As I neared the last turn of the run portion of the triathlon there was a woman on the side cheering people on.  She shouted, “Leave it on the course!  Don’t take it home with you!” 
It was just the cheer I needed as I rounded the last turn, had the finish line in sight and saw my family waving and cheering!  My arms went up, this is my finishing stance.  I knew there was nothing I needed to take home with me…the training had gotten me there, the crowds spurred my on through water, road and path, and I could give it all right there and then…and in that moment, I realized that it had been the perfect race.  I trained just right, paced myself well through the swim and bike so I was able to do what I do best, run. 

And isn’t that the joy and feelings we seek out in our faith lives?  The fact that we know that we can rest in the arms of God, knowing that we can give and use all that we have been given…that we need to take nothing with us…because God has prepared the way, shown us the path through Christ and cheers us on with all the saints as we take each step. 

The joy in our lives of faith is living as created and called children of God, loving, caring for and supporting others…knowing that because of God’s love for all of God’s children that love, care and support is given to us when we are in need. 


Called by Christ, gathered in grace, let us go forth to joyfully serve those around us…and may the peace which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.  

Week one = done.

Last week was the beginning of marathon training.  It was a challenge to kick off on vacation. I wanted to stay up late and watch the meteor showers each night but that made early morning sunrises and runs tricky.  
The bonus? Cross training day wa splaying in the lake.  

Here are a few snapshots from last week:

Day one- 40 min jog.  


Speed day: a view of my last 400m sprint. 


And my first long run in a while - 7 miles on a hot and humid morning.  This was my cool down. 


Back home again means some healthier eating and a return to a regular sleep schedule.  These are all good things for marathon training.  

A week away with family with laughter, late nights, great food, sunrise filled mornings and space to just be me...well, that is just what my body and soul needed in general. 



Saturday, July 30, 2016

What's next?

Last week's great triathlon experience meant many stories about the day, many accolades and lots of hugs and smiles.  Often following the words of congrats came the question, "So, what's next?"

I've thought about that question often since I came down from the high of the triathlon.  I'd love to do another triathlon this summer/fall.  I looked into races over the next few months and between race schedules and my schedule it looks like one triathlon for 2016. 

The other piece to that is that my next scheduled race is the Rehoboth Marathon in December.  In just over a week, training begins for that.  I will use swimming as my cross training as long as the pool is open.  Swimming has been a great strength building exercise for me.  It is nice to be off my legs for cross training and it has taken me out of my comfort zone. 

Speaking of being outside of my comfort zone, I swam a mile today.  I heard about the Blue Marsh Mile on Wednesday and learned that I could show up this morning, register and swim.....so I did.  I defaulted to my comfort zone of the breaststroke, but I completed the distance.  I know that for next year's triathlons, I need to work on my open water swimming.  I need to just get out there and practice.  I have the ability...and the strength, it's just overcoming the uncertainty of freestyle in open water. 


I'll get there...one swim at a time. 

With the marathon on the horizon, I'll spend more time running with a focus on endurance, speed and stamina.  I plan on integrating strength training and a focus on diet as well.  I'm excited to return to Rehoboth with a knowledge of the course and race day details. 

Will there be more triathlons in my future?  Heck yeah there will be...but there is plenty of time to think about and prep for those.  In the meantime, I'll run. 


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Tri it....you'll LOVE it!

I competed in my first triathlon today.
Let me tell you the New Jersey State Triathlon is a great one!  I had an amazing experience.

The last 6+ weeks I have been training for this day.  This past week was a tough one.  Mentally I couldn't stop thinking about race day.  I was worried about getting checked in, figuring out the transition space, the swim, completing the race...you know....all the first time jitters.

I was thankful to pick up my race packet yesterday, see the lay of the land and attend the pre-race meeting.

I also enjoyed a tasty dinner with mom, dad and Billy.  Meeting up with an old friend was just icing on the cake. 

Today started off early...but I was ready.


We made it to the start ahead of traffic, I got my things situated in the transition area, and got to eat some breakfast.  I headed to the water for the pre-race warm up swim just to get a feel for the water.  It was warm, but worth getting in just to remind myself that I know how to swim.  After that I was ready to go!

When my wave was called into the water, I got hugs and cheers from mom and dad.  It made my day!  I was so excited that I rushed in with the crowd...and forgot the tip of staying to the back of the pack.  When we started, I was pretty much in the middle....and I tried freestyle, but kept getting bumped.  So I went with my comfort zone of breaststroke.  I knew I had the stamina for the swim, but being able to sight better with the breaststroke and have good look at who was around me was a good thing.  It was then that I remembered my original game plan: get through the swim, enjoy the ride and embrace the run.  I had decent speed with the breaststroke and knew that I would get to the end of the swim not winded.


As I ran out of the water my family saw a smile on my face.  I think I was smiling because the swim was over...but I was also smiling because I was having a good time.  I was doing my first triathlon!

It took a bit to get the bike shorts over the wet bathing suit, but as I did my family cheered from the other side of the transition fence.  Everything was laid out just right for me and sitting down to get that gear on was worth it.

The bike ride went smoothly.  I was worried about passing and being too close to riders in front of me, but it all went well.  I sipped on gatorade and when I knew I was just about done with the ride, I took my gel pack with some water so I wouldn't have to deal with it on the run.

At the end of the ride I had a quick transition to the run....with more cheering from my family.
The run course took me right by Billy and my dad for some great photo ops and fun video.


The run in a word was HOT!  I had hoped to really enjoy the run, seeing as that is my strong suit, but I just ran and thought of as many cool things as I could.  I walked through water stops to continue hydrating and to keep as cool as possible and then just kept running.  I didn't want to push to hard and get overheated...my goal was to finish.  I was hydrated enough that I could keep going.  As we hit the last stretch, I was excited that I was completing my first triathlon!  Just before the last turn a woman shouted, use it all, don't take it home with you!  And I thought...heck yeah...and I kicked in for the last bit!  I came around that corner pumped and ready to finish...I caught sight of my family and my smile took over my face, my arms went up and I was so excited!


My two goals going into today were to finish and to finish in less than 2 hours.  I'm happy to say I finished feeling AMAZING and I did it in under 1 & 1/2 hours!  Woo hoo! 

A HUGE thank you to mom & dad for driving down, for the pre and post race meals and for being amazing spectators!   
A special thanks to Billy, the best husband and personal race photographer there is!  Love you, babe!


Monday, July 11, 2016

Who is my neighbor?

July 10, 1016
8th Sunday after Pentecost
Deuteronomy 30:9-14
Psalm 25:1-10
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37

Here is the sermon from this weekend.  Before worship, I asked people for the following fill ins, in the style of Mad Libs.  As you read the sermon, I included the responses from worship on Saturday night.  
Name of a person, name of a town, name of a town, a group of people, a nice person/person of good standing, a nice person/person of good standing, a mean person/person with a sketchy background, a mode of transportation, a safe place, a unit of money.  
At the end of the sermon, you can see what people said at 8 and 9:30 on Sunday.  

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 
I have to tell you, I love our gospel lesson for today…it is one that you may have heard before, but it is one that continually speaks to us.  Especially as we hear news stories week after week of different groups or races of people who are being hurt or killed because of who they are. 
This passage calls us to think about who we are…who the people are who are around us…and most importantly, who Jesus calls us to be in this global and local community. 
Let’s listen to the gospel lesson again…

            Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “June was going down from Robesonia to Clearwater, and fell into the hands of the mob/mafia, who stripped her, beat her, and went away, leaving her half dead.  Now by chance Pastor Jen was going down that road; and when she saw her, she passed by on the other side.  So likewise Vicar Bonnie, when he came to the place and saw her, passed by on the other side.  But The Grinch while traveling came near her; and when he saw her, he was moved with pity.  He went to her and bandaged her wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put her on his own motorcycle, brought her to the church, and took care of her.  The next day he took out two quarters, gave them to the person in charge, and said, ‘Take care of her; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’  Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the woman who fell into the hands of the mob?”  He said, “The one who showed her mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

And that’s what we call Bible Mad Libs.  Fun, huh? 
I think that hearing scripture in a different way, helps us to hear the stories and the message of Jesus in a new light.  While we may have a hard time understanding the cultural differences between Samaritans, Levites and priest, when we think about we trust or don’t trust, it brings the gospel to light in a new way. 
Maybe as you hear this story…and hear about the different characters you may ask yourself, “Where do I fit into the story?”
I have often asked that question when listening to this passage. 

Who am I?  Who are you? 

Do you connect with the priest and the Levite?  The ones that passed right by?  Oh, that’s a guilty place to be, isn’t it?  Because, like them, we know better…we know that we are called to serve our neighbors and love them, but we don’t always get it just right.  We may neglect to care for someone physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  Sometimes we may neglect or miss the opportunity to proclaim the good news of Christ…just because we are too busy.  Or, because we think that perhaps that person isn’t someone who needs to hear the saving grace of God.  We cross on the other side of the street and keep going.

Well, get ready, but if you’re going to associate with those two guys, well then you might as well associate with the robbers.  The robbers you say?  No, not me…but what’s the difference – rejecting the injured man on the side of the road or putting him there in the first place?  Both are pretty bad. 

Okay, so maybe you connect with the innkeeper.  You are one who is willing to take care of someone in need.  Many of us have done that sort of thing at one time or another, haven’t we?  And without even getting paid for it, as the innkeeper did.  At least the innkeeper comes of better than the priest and the Levite and the robbers.  He is on the positive side of the equation, willing to help when the opportunity presents itself. 

Maybe you can identify with the victim.  You’ve been hurt or ignored by others or you’ve been passed by…Theologically we might even be able to make a case for that.  The condition the man found himself in by the side of the road is sort of like the condition we find ourselves in when we realize who we really are.  We are sinful beings, when left to our own devices, we will mess up, we will feel guilty and unworthy.  Sometimes that guilt and unworthiness is worst when it comes from ourselves. 

Well, that leaves the Samaritan, doesn’t it?  While we’d all wish that’s who we could be, let’s put Jesus in that role.    

Jesus comes to us, no matter what our condition.  Whether we are happy in life and love and work or not…Jesus meets us on the road. 

We may be suffering, hurt, sick, or beaten, Jesus comes to meet us on the road. 

Try as we might, we cannot always be the Samaritan.  From time to time we will be, but other times we will be the victim, or the ones who put him there and ignored him, sometimes we will be the one who carries him or cares for him…but Jesus is the one who will save him. 

I heard someone say, we’re not here to save the world, Jesus did a pretty good job of that 2000 years ago.  We’re here to tell people about that saving grace.  We are here to tell people about God’s amazing saving grace that extends to all people.  A saving grace that does not discriminate.  A saving grace that extends to the people and places that we think are least likely…like to me…and to you….and we rejoice in that. 

In that joy, we reach out to those who are hurt, struggling, discriminated against and hurt. We foster a space, created by God’s grace for all of God’s children to know of God’s love in their lives. 

We pray for those who do not have that space and who do not feel God’s grace.  We pray for those we have put on the side of the road and those whom we have walked by.  We pray for the strength to be a voice to the voiceless and a haven love and grace for those who do not feel welcome. 

I pray, that as we reflect and respond to the news and to violence and hate in our broken world, that we respond with compassion, mercy and God’s grace….knowing that it is extended to us and that because of that grace, we are able to love and serve others. 

And now may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 


8:00 Sunday
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “Josh M. was going down from Philly to Hershey, and fell into the hands of the a clan, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance Jane Z.  was going down that road; and when she saw him, she passed by on the other side.  So likewise Pastor Jen, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But The Devil while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him in his own car, brought him home, and took care of him.  The next day he took out two quarters, gave them to the person in charge, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’  Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of a clan?”  He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

9:30 Sunday
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “Eric H. was going down from Robesonia to Ephrata, and fell into the hands of the members of Trinity Lutheran Church, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance Denny B. was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  So likewise Louise B., when she came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But The Grinch while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own Big Wheels, brought him to the Motel Deska, and took care of him.  The next day he took out two million dollars, gave them to the person in charge, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’  Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the congregation of Trinity?”  He said, “The one who showed her mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”


Friday, May 13, 2016

New fuel for a solid workout.

With a triathlon in July and a marathon in December this will be a fun summer for training.  I've noticed over the past few months it's been hard to get into a regular routine.  Both diet and exercise have been on my mind but have not been a priority.  

Last month I started working with a personal trainer at the gym with a focus on strength training.  The more I read about running both short and long distances, the more I am aware of the importance of strength training.  

While that has been a chunk of my workouts, I've also gotten back into regular bike rides.  

My goal is to start Tri training in June, but apparently the upcoming races have been on my mind.  

Last night I had two nightmares.  
In the first one I was running the Pittsburgh Marathon. (I ran it many years ago on a beautiful sunny day and finished in Heinz Stadium).  Last night's version was quite different.  It was cold and rainy...I had been running for what felt like forever.  It was now dark...and I got lost.  I had to ask for directions and when guided back to the course I had to hop over a fence to get to the last dash to the finish line.  (At one point I thought, geesh, why is this so tough? How was my taper?  Oh wait...I didn't even train!?!?) 
When I was back in the course, I was trying to weave around people who were casually walking the race in street clothes.  There was no finish line, but you had to run through a turnstile.  It.  Was. Weird. 
Sadly, just through the turnstiles were nearly empty pie plates so I didn't get any post race eats.  
And to make things worse, the cat woke me up before I got my medal. Womp. Womp. 

Nightmare number two: thankfully it was much shorter, but I was planning a bike ride and walked up to my bike to see the tubes so deflated that the tires were dropping of the rims.  Ugh. 

I was planning on a strength day at the gym today when the forecast looked like a completely rainy day.  When I got up and just saw overcast I revamped the workout. I tried a brick - bike/run.  I attempted the distance that I'll do in the Tri and I completed it.  A tough workout but I did it.  

Here's to more challenges, hopefully without fuel from my dreams. 

I will say this, friends helped me pull through today more than they know.  

This went with me each pedal and step today.  


Until the next post...