Wednesday, August 27, 2014

health update

So, back in December I went to a digestive specialist, because prior to that my family doctor had noticed that some of my liver numbers were a little high.  

After the first visit, the specialist recommended that I take some weight off and adjust my diet to reduce my fat intake and increase my fiber.  You know, things that I should have already been doing, but hadn't been.  

They sent me for a boatload of blood work and an ultrasound. 

So I made some changes.  
I not only watched what I ate, but I also made changes to what I was eating.  
I cut out alcohol completely. 
I kicked it up at the gym.  The steady encouragement to try new classes and stick with them made a huge difference to my body shape.  
I started using the My Fitness Pal app.  
I shared my story. Online.  In person. In the church newsletter.

When I went for my second appointment in February, they looked at blood work and ultrasound results and had a baseline.  Yes the liver numbers were up a bit, but not worth scheduling a biopsy.  My thyroid numbers were up a bit, too.  (They sent me back to my family doc to follow up there.)  
I had dropped 10 pounds.  
I was happy to reintroduce alcohol in moderation in celebration of my 40th birthday.  

Life continued.  
As spring running returned (more regularly). 
I was gaining strength and speed and received a few medals at some 5Ks.  (Good times.) 
Training for the Hartford Half Marathon began.  

The procrastinator in me put off making my follow up appointment.  There was part of me that worried about what they would find with new blood work.  

Then August hit.  As my brother-in-law declared, August is the month to get stuff done.  
I made the appointment and took care of the necessary blood work.  

Monday morning I ran super early, with all sorts of lights and reflectors to make it to my 7:30am appointment.  

Good news, the liver numbers look good.  No biopsy needed.  The doctor said I could come back as needed.  No appointments set.  

He said, you first came in back in December.  Since then you've lost 20 pounds.  (wow)
I feel great.  At 40 I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life.  I'm so thankful for the support along the way.  

As I shared this good news with Lynn & Tim and the gym today, Lynn said, come over here and pick up a 20 pound weight.  

(This is not the actual weight from the gym, but you get the idea.)

It. Felt. Amazing!  

So I will continue to watch what I eat and maintain a healthy lifestyle. (She typed while snacking on a Twinkie.  I never said I was perfect....always a work in progress. With good days and not so good days.)  As healthy as I can be, anyway.  :) 

This is what I've been thinking about lately....that I can't say that I think everyone should lose weight.  But for me, it's been a very good thing.  I feel fit, strong and healthy.  I'm thankful that I don't need to have my liver biopsied.  I can say that I look in the mirror and think, oh wait....that's me: a woman who is strong and fit and feels good inside and out.  I feel ready to face challenges in life and work.  

I guess I just hope that all people feel this way.  You know, that they feel good inside and out and that their body is in the best shape it can be for him or her to be productive, energized, healthy and happy.  So whatever shape that is for's worth working toward it.  It's totally worth it.  
It's worth the sweat, the early nights to bed for the early morning workouts, it's worth missing out on some treats, it's worth sticking to your guns, it's worth learning how to do a burpee, it's worth trying a new class at the gym, it's worth sharing your story, it's worth explaining over and over again why you can't try every dessert at the potluck dinner, it's worth it.  

Until the next post...

Friday, August 22, 2014

8 miles (the inner monologue)

Okay.... I can do this.  8 miles, here we go.

It's a beautiful morning on the trail.  Thanks God, for the opportunity to be out here, even if it is a bit humid.

Oh, there's one of the cross country team runners....I bet I can catch up.  Oh, but watch your pace....but you're getting out high school runner, there's a 40 year old sneaking up!  Oh, dang....another cross country team person is already coming back....ugh.  (put in my place)

2 miles down....feeelin' good.  I think I can hold this pace....yeah, just embrace it.  6 miles to go.  You've got this.  You did 7 last week.

I wonder who else is doing some distance preparing to walk a marathon or some other such training.  Hey God, thanks for the ability to do this.  I mean really, the ability to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.  It's a gift, and I'm thankful for it.

You know what?  There are people I know having surgery today...shoot, I totally meant to text them this morning.  Dear God, please be with the people I know having surgery today.  Be with the doctors and caregivers and guide their hands as they work this day.  Be with their families as they await results.  Amen.

Oh....another cross country runner....this one I can definitely pass.  Easy.  Steady.  There you go.

Thanks God for coaches....who drive to trails, who work with youth, who inspire them to run their best.

Oh hey, Deeper Shade of Soul by Urban Dance Squad.  This is the perfect song for right now....not too fast....not to slow.  Keep that pace steady.

Coming up behind 3 walkers, "Coming up on your left."  I think the woman in the middle has the same shoes as me.  Ooooh!  Shoe twins!  Wait, is that what the back of my shoes look like?  Will I look weird trying to look at the back of my shoes?  Let me just take a peak, oh just kidding that's probably not the best thing to try while moving.  Keep running. that Darrell R.?  Looks just like him.  It wouldn't surprise me to see him out on the trail.
Oh, nope it's another cross country team runner...huh, I really did think it was Darrell for a moment there.  "Good morning," he says.  "Good morning," I reply....wondering if he's noticed the perplexed look on my face.

Smile and wave at a woman running who seems to have a similar gait to me.  She's lookin' good out there.

The watch beeps.  1/2 way!  Time to turn around.  You've totally got this.  4 miles, no problem...and you get to turn around just before a nice short hill.  (bonus)

Gurgle.  Are there stones and bubbling water in the stream?  Nope.  Oh, that must have been my tummy.  Hm....may need to think about adding to my granola before a longer run. And when we get to the 1/2 marathon race start, I'll need to go to the bathroom just before we start running.

Coming around behind that woman who I ran by a little bit earlier.  Yes our paces are a little different....but we could probably do distance together.  Do you ask someone like that a question while running?  Hey, want to be running buddies?  What pace do you usually run?  Looking for company?  (None of these seem to be just right.)  I'll put some more thought into this at a later date.  And nothing was said because I didn't want to seem creepy.

On the return trip, the watch just beeped.  3 miles to go.  Just under a 5K.  No worries.  Still feeling good.  Oh, it's the walkers.  And now I'm pretty sure that woman has the same shoes as me....yes they're Saucony in the same color pattern.  As I pass I say, "I like your shoes."  The man says, thanks.  I wanted to say, no I meant the shoes that match mine...but I've passed them at this point....and turning back to clarify the point I was trying to make seems pretty silly.

Gurgle...again? thankful that I have a banana AND chocolate milk in the truck.  I think I may be hungry...hey, it's Teri's birthday today.  Oh...and we're having BBQ for dinner.  I will be ready to enjoy some barnyard fries and brisket and ribs and pulled pork and ..... I am hungry.

Beep.  "2 miles," I say - out loud.  Only to be almost immediately passed by another cross country runner.  Yup, that's me...talking to myself....out loud on the trail.  Go me.

Coming down to the last few miles.  Pace is still good.  You can keep it at 8:30 to finish this run.  You know this pace.  You feel comfortable at this pace.  And bonus, Don't Stop Me Now by Queen just came on.  A little slow at the beginning....but here we go!  Just pretend you're in the Winchester, fighting Zombies with Shaun, Liz and Ed.  Oh...and I love that scene in The World's End when Andy starts fighting like the Hulk with bar stool hands.  I need to watch that movie again....

Beep.  One mile to go.  Here we go.  Passing two more cross country folks....I tell them they look good this morning.  One returns a similar comment.  It's good to run with other folks.  I wonder how Conrad Weiser will do against Tulpy in cross country this year.  I've gotten a slight glimpse of their team.  Can't wait to see CW runners in meets this season.  Oh, it would've been great to pass by some of those youth today.  That would have made my day!  Hope folks like Nick & Makayla and the other runners are doing well, wherever they are running today.

.40 to go.  Okay, stay steady.  Don't look at the watch until the next leaning tree.

.30 oops....looked before the tree.

Don't look at the watch.  Stay steady.  One foot in front of the other. Try to push....there is no extra oomph in me...I can hold this pace, but there is no extra sprint.  That's good, right?  That means I pushed hard the whole way.

.08  This is it.  Strong finish.

Beepity beep beep.  Deep breath in, deep breath out.  Look at the watch.  The eyes begin to water because I'm so pleased with my time.  Deep breath.

Slow jog back to the truck with a prayer of thanks for a great run.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I realize it's been a while since I've posted about my weight.  

I received a few comments this week from folks noticing that I'm still losing weight.  

I'm happy to say, "thanks for noticing." And I quickly follow that with, "and I'm not trying to lose any more."  

I am, however, training for the Hartford 1/2 Marathon this fall.  I guess that the shift from running one day a week to 3 days a week makes a difference.  I injured my Achilles' tendon two years ago, so my training allows me to not run back-to-back days.  But I guess the shift in cardio and the gradual increase in mileage is making a difference.  

Truth be told, I feel great.  Adding yoga into training this time is making a huge difference, not to mention the time I spend with the foam roller.  (Good times.)

I've actually been eating more lately to make sure I'm getting the nutrition I need during training. If you're a friend or part of my faith community, you may notice that my meals are still on the smaller side and I may not have 3 cookies for dessert. I do, however, have several substantial snacks throughout the day as well. 

And if I'm being totally honest, there are Twinkies and poptarts in my pantry at the moment.  I try to keep those treats to a minimum, but sometimes I'm just in the mood for a snack that will never go bad. ;) 

So thanks for the continues support and know that this is still a journey for me.  I'm still tracking my food and exercise to keep an eye on it.  

Until the next post.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ice bucket challenge

I was nominated by two friends to take part in the ice bucket challenge.  

At first I didn't know what it was all about.  

I spent some time googling the challenge...and learning a little bit about ALS.  
I've seen clips of all sorts of people famous and otherwise completing this challenge.  

I even debated completing the challenge myself.  Look, I even found a bucket at church that I could use.  

Then I realized that it made more sense to make a donation rather than record myself being doused in ice water.  I read a great post about people potentially spending more money on water and ice than the money some were giving to charities.  I did debate turning this post into into a video blog....because part of me wonders if more people would see it that way if I posted it on Facebook.  
But here it is, a written post.  

So after I decided that a donation would be the way to go, I floundered.   
I see post upon post of friends raising money for different organizations that are near and dear to their hearts and mine.  I regularly pray for friends and church folks who face life threatening illnesses and the challenges associated with living with those illnesses.  I could help kids go to camp, I could feed people in my community, I could help people responding to natural disasters, I could support the ministries within my own congregation, I could sponsor all sorts of people through all sorts of walks and runs.  Argh....too many choices.  
The need that surrounds us can be overwhelming.  

Yet more important than that, the abundance that surrounds us is amazing.  We, in essence, live with enough and live in the abundance that God has blessed us with.  We are able to give...we are able to share...we are able to care for one another and work towards cures for all sorts of illnesses.  But seeing so many of them around us may cause us to become numb to the need in our world or cause us to believe that alone we cannot make a difference.  

So if this "ice bucket challenge" makes us aware of the abundance that surrounds us and helps us to focus in on one place we can give....good deal.  I hope that is the greater outcome.  

If you've doused yourself with water....keep rockin' it.
Thanks for bringing awareness to ALS.  Thanks for causing me to think and pray and figure out how to respond.  

After a truly holy experience at a memorial service this past week, I'm donating to a nearby congregation that has a gathering of people connected to 12-step recovery and all who seek wholeness in their lives.   

See the abundance that surrounds challenged by the needs of our local and international neighbors...and give.  

Until the next post...

Monday, August 11, 2014

This weekend's sermon, but maybe not exactly what you heard.

Here you will find the initial manuscript for the sermon I preached this weekend.  But here's the was preached three different ways this weekend.  Depending on which service you attended, you may have heard something just a little different than what is written here. 

The other piece to this is that on Saturday evening I presided at a memorial service for a 37 year old who overdosed on heroin.  There will probably be reflections on that in a later post, but the text from Matthew is the one I used at that service as well.  So I had the opportunity to share the message of God's love and grace in 4 very different settings all stemming from Jesus walking on water and grabbing Peter.  The text is still alive and well with me this morning. 

Here's hoping that as you read - or as you heard it this weekend - that a message of love, grace and hope grabs you. 

August 10, 2014

9th Sunday after Pentecost

1 Kings 19:9-18

Psalm 85

Romans 10:5-15

Matthew 14:22-33

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. 

Having just left the beach with the water and waves….this text is a good one. 

It’s also a fun one to sing.  As soon as I read through this text in preparation for preaching this weekend, I kept getting Jesus is walking on a lake, lake, lake….stuck in my head. 

It’s a passage you may have heard before.  But here’s hoping we can hear it in a new light this day. 

Because here’s the way I bet we’ve heard it in the past….and it’s not wrong, but it may leave us wanting something…You see, oftentimes we have focused on Peter, he seems to take the lead in this story. 

In the midst of the boat that is being battered by waves…they see Jesus on the water…they think it’s a ghost, but he assures them of who he is.  It is I, he says. 

Peter says, okay, if it’s you call me out onto the water….so Jesus does. 

And Peter walks….well, until he looks around and feels the storm…and then he’s unsure and begins to sink.  He calls to Jesus and Jesus reaches out and catches him. 

Jesus comments about the ‘little faith’…or doubt that Peter had, but he still caught him….and then they got into the boat. 

It seems that the first response…or lesson to be learned from this passage is to keep our eyes on Jesus….to not doubt.  Because in those early moments, Peter seems to do just that and in those moments, he steps out onto the sea. 

Yet as soon as he looks away, he loses it. 

Too easy for us to connect with this right? 

Sure, we are to focus on Christ, keep our eyes on Christ, stay focused and all will be well. 

Like in the ending of Star Wars when they are trying to take out the Death Star, they have a task to accomplish, even though ships surround them firing at them….you hear the leader:  Stay on target. 

Stay on target. 

But come on…. We just can’t always stay on target. 

And we don’t want to or need to focus on our imperfections here. 

We all have ‘em.  And we want to have the best faith we can and feel rock solid in our faith, like we could just hop out of the boat and walk right to Jesus. 

But we’re not there. 

Some days we may feel like we are…heck even some weeks or months.

But then something hits. 

The loss of a loved one.

A work transition.

New neighbors.

Challenging co-workers.

Troubles at recess. 

A change in how your family looks. 

Teammates who are your friend one day and don’t talk to you the next. 

The list could go on and on….something…somewhere in your life changes and you lose focus. 

And when that happens – BAM – Jesus catches you. 

Just like that. 

Just like Jesus caught Peter.  He didn’t need to be told to look to Jesus or believe….in that hold, in the moment it just happened. 

Think of the sense of peace and comfort that must have surrounded Peter in that moment. 

You probably have an experience that may be similar to that. 

Like when you were learning to swim and just needed an extra hand as you struggled.  And BAM – that hand was there and you felt safe. 

Just like that, each and every time we face a struggle, trial, tribulation, uncertainty…. BAM! -

Jesus catches us. 

And when he does, we don’t have to be told to look to Jesus anymore….as Jesus holds us it’s impossible not to believe that he’s got us.  It makes it possible to believe even if we are in the sea of disbelief. 

Because that’s it, right?  How can you not believe that Jesus is with you throughout everything…when he’s holding you in the midst of the worst possible points? 

“Yes, Peter should have kept his eyes on Jesus...and so should we. But when we don't, when we falter, or even fail, Jesus will be there to grab us, to catch us, to support us and set us up straight again, ready to give it another go.”

So I want you to think for a moment…about a place where you have felt vulnerable…lost….alone…you won’t need to share it….but just think about a time or place when you needed God’s presence in your midst.  The Greek basanizo - the word in our text for battered) literally means torture, torment or harassment; figuratively it means severe distress.

Because that’s the place where Jesus grabs us.

That’s the place where you are loved, held, embraced.

That’s the place, when you feel most vulnerable Jesus is with you. 

No question.

That’s the place when you feel most alone, that Jesus is with you.

No question. 

You need not have the perfect faith.  Jesus is there no matter what. 

Dr. Timothy Wengert, a former faculty member of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia may not have said this word for word, but I attribute the idea to him.  As he was talking about the community of faith, he may have shared a story about how he lost his first wife to cancer.  It was someone in his faith community who said to him, that’s okay if you don’t believe….we’ll believe for you. 

In the midst of horrible grief, his belief in God was held by those around him as he moved through grief. 

In a similar way, one week as we gathered for worship in the campus chapel, our seminary musician had lost his grandmother.  As he wept as he played the hymns that day, it was the voice of community song that held him that day.  When he didn’t have the voice to sing, we sang for him. 

Each of these moments, different, yet similar, echo the situation of Peter this day. 

In the midst of stormy waters, and unsteady footing….Christ is all he needs. 

In the midst of our own storms, when we feel battered and tossed about.

Christ is all we need. 

Will we have the perfect faith? No.

Will we get everything just right? No. 

Will we doubt?  Most likely more often than we’d like to admit. 

But in the midst of all of that…Christ is with us. 

Christ is in our midst, as we greet one another with a word, a hand shake or a hug of peace. 

Christ is in our midst as we lift others up when they cannot hold themselves up. 

As Christ is ever present in this gathering…may we be strengthened and uplifted, fed and nourished, may we be Christ to one another in our midst, healing, loving, caring and supporting. 


And may the experience we have here….the fellowship, the word of God, the passing of Christ’s peace, this meal of bread and wine….may all of it continue to carry us back out of this place…into the world…to tell friends and family, neighbors, loved ones and strangers about how we are changed.  How we are able to live in a busy, crazy world, because we know Christ is with us….in the midst of the stormiest days…to the days when we feel clarity and peace….and every single day in between. 

May others come to know the presence of Christ….the feeling of being grabbed and held, just in the nick of time….just because they are loved by God. 

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. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

we say goodbye...we say hello

So this morning, with heavy and thankful hearts we said goodbye to the vicar who had been with us this past year.  We wished him and his family the best in the future. 

It is so hard to say goodbye. 
Just when you feel that you've made deeper connections. 
When you realize that these are people with whom you've shared celebrations and struggles....then you realize that he must leave.  He'll return to seminary for a final year of classroom instruction and begin the process of preparing for assignment and first call. 

Here's a comment from this morning that stuck with me. 

"We can't have any more vicars.  I just can't get to know a new one and then have to say goodbye again." 

And so is true, not just in the life of the church as pastors come and go and congregations embrace, love and send.  But so it is with life as well, right? 

Even in the life of a congregation we have said goodbye as families move.  We say goodbye when we gather to mourn the loss of a loved one.  We say goodbye as our youth graduate, head off to college and pursue life outside of Berks county.  And we say hello....we welcome families into our midst in worship, at Vacation Bible School, through fellowship nights, the circus and a parade. 

We welcome the young and old into the Body of Christ through the waters of baptism.  We extend an open invitation to all to come to the Lord's Table for bread and wine. 

More than we'd like to admit, we are saying goodbye and hello. 

I mean think about it.  Is your family or community or work place the same now as it was, say 5 years ago?  How about 10?  There's a good chance that you have had to say goodbye to people.  Some have moved and some have been called to their eternal home...but you've said goodbye.  And as well, you've said hello....maybe your family has grown with children, grandchildren or in-laws.  In any case, you've had the opportunity to say hello and welcome in people. 

Just because this is always happening, doesn't make it any easier.  You see, when you open your heart, your life and your home to will be changed.  Your life will be different.  And when it's time to say goodbye, it's hard.  The Indigo Girls say it well in their song All That We Let In

"Well, I don't know where it all begins
And I don't know where it all will end
We're better off for all that we let in."

So get ready for some new hellos...maybe today, maybe tomorrow or sometime in the future, because they will come. 

And get ready for some goodbyes, because, they too will happen. 

The only constant in life is change. 

Maybe folks in Hawaii have it right.  Aloha = hello or goodbye.  That may be a hello or it may be a goodbye.  Who knows? 

One thing I do know, though, is that I'm thankful to be part of a community of faith.  It's a place where I am forgiven, loved and supported.  It's a place that allows me to experience hellos and goodbyes with joy and nervousness and tears and sorrow.  It's a place that reminds me that Christ is in the middle of all if it with us, no matter what. And sometimes that's the only place comfort can be found in the midst of life's hellos and goodbyes. 

So for those who are saying goodbye this day....Christ is with you.
And for those who are saying hello this day...Christ is with you. 

You are not alone.
You are loved.