Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Better late than never...

I did weigh in on Monday, but did not blog.  Instead, I ran.  The 5 miler outside was totally worth it.  
I'm down just a pinch since last week, but I'll take it.  

It was a wonderful week last week that included a new chicken recipe, two different birthday cakes, trampoline jumping and lots of time in the car.  

Food wise, the week went well.  
Exercise wise, the week went well.  

While I'm still involved in logging my minutes to conquer the Iditarod Challenge at the gym, I'm also listening to what is good for my whole body.  I will conquer the challenge by April 21.  I've been upping my cardio game at the gym and my body is feeling it.  But, with some nicer weather over the past two weeks, I'm also not confining my cardio to the gym alone.  
If I can run outside, I will.  It's totally worth it.  

It seems like I cannot get myself over this current hump of breaking into 152 and below.  And I know, it's not all about the numbers, but there is this goal in my mind to get to 150.  
I will map out a menu for next week that will curb sugars and include whole grains and many veggies.  We'll see if that gets the work done.  If not, it's time to chat with a nutritionalist.  

In the meantime, friends are sharing stories of working towards a healthy to them weight and a more active lifestyle.  I love hearing your stories and hearing how I can be part of your journey and support.  

Be well.  

Monday, February 19, 2018


Another week, another weigh in.  

As the alarm went off this morning, I knew I was short on sleep.  Thankful for a full weekend, but not quite recovered from the lock-in Saturday night, I opted out of the gym this morning.  I went back and forth for a gym or not to gym?  I want to rack up minutes for the Iditarod Challenge, but I also know how sleep impacts not just my body but my heart and mind as well.  So after an extra hit on the snooze button I had a great 4 mile run outside.  

It was a little chilly, but with the sun coming up I was able to navigate the random icy spots on the road from this weekend's snow.  It's one of those days that you wonder if you should run outside.  I know the temps are going up as the week goes on, but I really felt as if a run was what I needed today.  It's one of those days because the route I run has random homes that do not always have their walkways cleared of snow or ice.  Sometimes I double up on back roads because I know it's clearer than the sidewalk.  But I extended my loop today and ended up at the short bridge that is closed to vehicular traffic.  As I approached I remembered that there would be snow there.  Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found this...

You can see my joy as I found a path not only shoveled, but salted as well. It was worth the stop for the photo and the moment of thanks I took.  Sometimes it's the small things.  

I had music on my run today, but I found myself lost in thought and prayer for most of the run.  Reflected on the state of the nation, the range of emotions felt in worship this weekend and the opportunity to lead a lock-in with a small group of amazing 8th & 9th grade girls.  Their ideas and dreams are and will change the world as well know it.  I'm thankful to be in a place to hear their voices and stories and be part of all that they go through, both bad and good.  

Clearly my emotions fueled my run as the second half of the run was much faster than the first.  I could feel the increase in speed and it felt great.  The cross training with spin classes twice a week is definitely helping my running days.  I was super happy to not run on a treadmill today, to breathe fresh air and get a honk and wave from a woman in the congregation, too!  

So, this morning I with the weight back up, albeit just over 1/2 a pound, I can easily become frustrated.   Last week I was a cardio queen at the gym...elliptical, spin, treadmill and a side of strength training.  Boom!  I guess my intake wasn't the best.  Who knows, maybe I've hit a plateau.  
The frustrating part comes in that I'm feeling great, running faster and looking more slender.  Funny how the numbers don't match up with the feelings, huh?  And which do we give more power or more weight?  (HA!)

I had a great chat with a friend at church today who said, "You look great!" Because she's been part of this journey with me I was able to be honest about my weight and my personal frustration today.  We talked through it and I was able to say, maybe it's time for me to ask for help.  Maybe I need the help of a trained nutritionalist.  Or maybe this is a good weight for my body.  If this is where I seem to be hovering, maybe this is my body telling me, stay here, friend, this is good.  
Who knows?  

I will shift my workouts this week and take a yoga class.  I will not focus so much on logging minutes for a challenge and more time exercising in a way that will bring me joy.  I'll continue to log my food.  

And then, this afternoon, out of the blue, another friend texts and says, will you be in the office?  I have snack!  

Well, after no dessert at lunch I totally caved. Hello, caramel.  

Truth be told, it is still not yet consumed.  I'll share it with Billy when he gets home.  That way we can enjoy a treat together.  

I may need to start thinking about different numbers, like sizes of pants, timing of runs and other gains in strength and self-confidence.  I'll keep you posted on those numbers, too.  

Thanks for reading and the continued words and prayers of encouragement.  

Until the next post...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ash Wednesday Sermon

February 14, 2018
Ash Wednesday
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Please pray with me,
Lord God, you kept Abraham and Sarah in safety throughout the days of their pilgrimage, you led the children of Israel through the midst of the sea, and by a star you led the Wise Men to the infant Jesus. 
Protect and guide us now in this time as we journey through this season of lent, make our ways safe and our homecomings joyful, and bring us at last to our heavenly home where you dwell in glory with your son and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.  Amen. 

Today our Lenten journey begins.  A 40-day journey that takes us from today, Ash Wednesday and the remembrance of our sinful human nature…all the way to the promise of the resurrection and renewal of our baptism that we remember on Easter Sunday. 

This journey is often seen as a time to give things up.  The old Lenten traditions abstaining or fasting from excessive things in your life and then come Easter Sunday you could indulge!  I’ve had friends who have given up caffeine, chocolate, desserts, soda and shopping.  As I kid I wanted to give up Brussels sprouts one year….but not really for the right reasons.  My mom saw right through that idea.   

In more recent years, there has been a shift.  Rather than abstain from something, folks have opted (myself included) to take something on.   In the past I have practiced the discipline of taking a photo a day to see God at work in the world.  Some folks take up a different prayer or devotional practice.  Others take time each day to set aside food or money that will be donated at the end of Lent. 

The original idea of fasting, of taking something away probably comes to us from our Gospel passage from this day. 

The gospel lesson we hear today, and each Ash Wednesday is taken from Matthew’s recollection of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. And in tonight’s section, we hear about three areas, almsgiving, prayer and fasting.  These are often seen as the three focal Lenten disciplines.  Perhaps it is the last one, fasting, that leads so many of us to give up things that we have in excess, or abundance – or that we just don’t need to put into our bodies every day. 

But this lesson and this season call us into a journey to our baptism. And during this time, we take the time to focus more on almsgiving or works of love, prayer and fasting.
In this lesson, Jesus reminds us why we do such things…

Throughout our passage, we hear about the hypocrites or stage-actors, yes, actors, who fast, and give and pray so that others may know that they are doing it.  When they fast, they look hungry and unclean…as to draw attention to themselves. 
When they pray they do so on street corners, loudly, so that others may know that they are praying. 
And when they give alms, they do so to show others what they are giving and how much they are giving. 

The hypocrites that Jesus points out are ones, who do not seem to understand why they do such things.  It seems that these hypocrites, these actors, do these things to gain attention, of not just their neighbors and other community members, but also to gain the attention of God. 

As our foreheads bear the smudge of ashes, we do not go about town boasting of our humanity, of our sinfulness….we wear these ashes as a reminder to ourselves, so that as we look in the mirror, we say, “I am sorry for my sins, and I know I need to be forgiven”

These ashes speak more to us than they do to anyone else who sees them.  They remind us of who we are, that we are in bondage to sin, and cannot alone save ourselves. 

These ashes remind us of what we have done and what we have left undone, how we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. 
As we see ourselves in the mirror, the ashes cry out for us saying, “I am sorry for my sins, and I know I need to be forgiven.”

These ashes remind us of who we are truly called to be…ourselves.  The real, broken, sinful, mortal, hypocritical human beings that we are. 

Beings that will return to dust. 

A friend posted this comment this past week…”Acting perfect in church is like getting dressed up for an X-ray.” 
She continued, “Church is home.  It’s where I can breathe deep and be myself for God’s sake.”  (Glennon Doyle Melton)  

Church is home.  It’s where I can breathe deep and be myself for God’s sake. 

I pray that church is home for you, too, that this community of faith, this place of worship, is a place where you can truly be yourselves. 

I pray that being part of this community of faith, in this repentant season, provides an opportunity for you to grow deeper in your relationship with God and with one another. 

Tonight, and throughout this season, we have the opportunity to ponder forgiveness.  Today especially, we are reminded that we are mortals in need of forgiveness.  Each time we rub our foreheads or look in the mirror, we are reminded that we are sorry for our sins and that we need to be forgiven. 

That is what this Lenten journey is all about.  It is a reminder of who we are as sinful beings.  It’s a reminder that we alone cannot save ourselves.  It is a reminder that it is through God’s unending love for us that we have been saved, forgiven of our sins and brought into the kingdom of God here and now and into eternal life.   

The actions, therefore, that we give up during Lent, like sweets or caffeine, or that we take up, like a prayer time, or Bible Study…are a response to God’s forgiveness and grace in our lives.    

That’s what this season is all about. 
It’s not about giving something up for the sake of giving something up….
Or giving something up so you can brag about it! 
Or starting a new prayer practice so you can brag about it…

Whether you take something on or give something up, it is for the reason of reconnecting with God.  It’s either removing obstacles that keep you distant from God, or it is adding practices or activities that give you more time for God. 

God is always with us and will be until the end of the age. 

This season, as we anticipate Easter….as we wait and watch, may we continue to see God in our lives and in our world.  May we continue to remember that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness.  May we feel God’s presence among us and be open to new ways of connecting with God and others in truth-filled honest ways. 

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. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

152.4: Birthday & olympics & fastnachts, oh my!

Even with a week of celebrations and travel, a few pounds were dropped this week.  

I'm not sure that I saw that coming and truth be told, I would have been okay maintaining this past week, but I'm thankful for this change in numbers.  I definitely think that a few things helped this past week.  

1. I've maintained a steady increase in my cardio work at the gym.  I'm up to about an hour 5 days a week.  I've been mixing that up between the elliptical, treadmill and stationary bike/spin class.  I've also mixed up the paces and types of workouts like hills or speed intervals.  

2. I logged my food an exercise 4 times last week.  Yes, there has been a time when I was militant about logging every minute of exercise and every ounce of food, but I have been less than regular in my posting.  My goal for this month is to log at least 4 days a week, so with that in place, last week I did.  

3. Exercise first, take on the rest of the day later.  Knowing that my work schedule is different every day, taking time to workout first thing is the best thing for me.  While I'm still aiming to get into an evening yoga class this month, I can't bank on my evening schedule allowing for that.  First thing in the morning is my time to get my exercise in and therefore clear my head and heart for the day. 

And now, breakfast and the work off these from yesterday. 

I only had several holes :)

Have a great day, everyone.  

Monday, February 5, 2018

Our hands and our call to serve - Sunday's sermon

February 4, 2018
5th Sunday after Epiphany

Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39

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

As we read through our gospel lesson this past week at text study, we had fun reading through it. The beginning of the passage sounded something like this…

As soon as Jesus and the disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, yup, she was another one who had come down with the flu, and they told him about her at once.  Jesus came and after putting on rubber gloves, protective smock and mask, he then took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. (after everyone washed their hands, of course.)

In this season where the flu is getting worse and worse, it’s hard to comprehend Jesus walking into the homes and spaces of people who are sick without any way to protect himself from the germs. 

Now granted, Jesus has that divinity piece that we do not, but it still piques our interest.  It sheds lights on Jesus’ mission, what he could call upon the disciples to do, and what we, in turn, are called to do as we respond to his call in our day to day lives. 

This passage contains lots of hands in action….or hands on ministry, as I talked about in the children’s sermon. 

Jesus reaches out his hand to heal Simon’s mother-in-law.  She reaches out her hand to Jesus to get his help and then uses her hands to feed Jesus and the disciples and to welcome her neighbors who are bringing the sick to her door for Jesus to heal them by laying his hands on them. 

Jesus folds his hands in prayer, and finally, points to the next village where he is going.

Jesus’ mission is seen clearly in this short passage from Mark.  He is seen coming out of the synagogue.  Coming out of the house of worship where there has been a time to gather and to celebrate one’s faith. 

Immediately, following worship, Jesus gets to work.  He heals Simon’s mother-in-law. And immediately, after being raised she begins to serve them. 

Now don’t get tripped up at this spot by thinking, oh, the mother-in-law is healed, she will now serve those around her.  It’s more than that, it’s deeper than that. 

The word – served is the verb is diakoneo, the same verb Jesus uses to describe the essence of his own ministry later in the gospel of Mark when he says, “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” (Mark 10:45)

 It is "to serve" rather than "to be served" that characterizes the Christ of God. It is also "to serve" that characterizes his disciples.

Simon’s mother-in-law is far from being an example of an un-liberated woman for whom serving men is her whole life. Rather, she is the first character in Mark’s gospel who exemplifies true discipleship.  (Sarah Henrich)

Think about that, the first character in Mark’s gospel who exemplifies true discipleship is this woman. 

And here’s where it really hits home, the situation starts with her being sick with a fever, with the touch of Jesus, she is healed, she is raised, and her response to this glorious gift is living out the life of a disciple, sharing and showing a life of service, a life that will serve others. 

And isn’t that the case for us as well, I’ve talked before about being ‘wounded healers.’  That each of us is broken in some way, shape or form, and we are all in need of Jesus healing touch.  We are all sinners in need of forgiveness and grace.  We have all fallen short of the glory of God, yet in that brokenness, in that sinfulness, Jesus reaches out to us to heal us, forgive us and raise us up into a life of discipleship. 

What does that life of discipleship look like to you? 
Knowing that you are healed, forgiven and raised up, how will a life of service take shape for you? 

Last week 22 youth and 8 adults had a fun, inspiring, exhausting weekend at the Harrisburg YouthQuake.  In the midst of singing, dancing, laughing, praying, playing games, packaging food and of course eating, too, we were able to see how our lives can and are transformed by the love and forgiveness of God. 

We were told repeatedly, that as we go through awesome things and tough, challenging situations that God says to us, I got you!  We were reminded that each and every one of us is going through something….and whatever that thing is, God has us. 

Each night as we gathered for family time, the time when church groups end the day together, we shared highs and lows, talked about the day and prayed together. 
While so many amazing God moments infiltrated the weekend, as we gathered on Saturday night, so many highs were about having the opportunity to participate in the food packaging trek.  All hands were on deck to put together meals for the hungry, in the community of Harrisburg and around the world.  At the same time, many lows were the realization that there are hungry people in our community and world who we are called to serve. 

And so, through the opportunity to serve others, the light of Christ was seen in our midst, and lives were shaped to follow Christ in a life of service for others. 

As we wrapped up that evening time together, we prayed around the circle out loud.
All 30 of us…prayed out loud…sharing our thanks, our worries and our wow moments with God.  It. Was. Holy. 

As the voices were heard around the circle, you could have heard a pin drop as one person prayed, “Thank you God for feet that dance, voices that sing and hearts that love.” 

Yeah, just rest in that for a moment…
Thank you God for feet that dance, voices that sing and hearts that love.

As you go about your way this coming week, think about the amazing grace of God that continues to forgive you, heal you and call you to service. 

What does that call to service look like for you? 

Is it speaking aloud in a time of prayer?
Is it volunteering at the food pantry or helping with  a shelter meal? 
Is it in sharing out of the abundance in your life so that hundreds of Easter baskets are filled for the youth in our community? 

What does that call to service look like for you? 

What work will your hands do in service to others? 

Let us pray,*
God you created our hands beautiful and capable but…
Too often we use them to grab what we want
We ball them up into fists to hit.
We use them to hug only ourselves.
We hide them behind our backs pretending there is nothing we could do to help when we know there is.

So, we turn our hands up to you asking for forgiveness.  Forgive all the bad we have done with our hands.  Wash our hands and make them clean.  Lead us to use our hands well.

Teach us to open our hands to share with others.
Give us the power to shake hands with our neighbors.
Show us how to join hands with our neighbors to build your kingdom of love.

We pray in Jesus’ name and remembering his loving hands. And all God’s people say, amen.  

*Thank you to Carolyn Brown, who shared this prayer on her website Worshiping with Children.  Thank you, Carolyn, for sharing your thoughts, ideas and inspiration.  Hands were seen, prayed for and blessed for service.  


And we're up!  

Oh, the ups and downs just continue.  
You'd think I'd be used to this by now.  And truth be told, there was a bit of Super Bowl eating yesterday.  Last week Billy jokingly said, we should just eat foods that end in O's for the big game.  You know, nachos, doritos, cheetos..... So we did.  

After some cheetos, we enjoyed some stuffed nacho Totinos, some sweet chili doritos and wrapped it up with choco tacos.  Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs as we didn't even make the nachos we had talked about.  

Anyway, yesterday was not the best eating day.  I'm up early enough to go to the gym, but the roads are a bit icy this morning, which means an afternoon workout.  

Now that we're in the month of February, my word, wholehearted, takes a different turn.  Yes, I'll still be thinking about and living out creating authenticity, but I will also be working on cultivating self-compassion.  

Just like in January, my running calendar has a spot for monthly goals.  This month includes one race, one day of strength training per week, yoga, a massage, and logging my food/exercise four times a week.  I've noticed that when I have goals in front of me, in a place where I will see them every day, I am more prone to work toward them and remember that they are a focus.  In the midst of these goals, I know that the bigger picture in meeting these goals means that I'm taking good care of my body.  I'll be doing things that will care for my body, soul and mind, which in turn enables me to love and care for others.  

I'm also journaling - albeit short entries - each day with daily affirmations.  It may sound very Stuart Smalley, but it's a nice thing to end the day with a reflection on things that have gone well.  Too often I'm toughest on myself.  This month I'm looking at ways to be kind to myself and in turn toward others. It's a fun focus for the month of my birthday, too, it helps me celebrate my authentic self in mini ways each day.  

So, here's to another week.  One that includes workouts, a birthday, some local travels and an Olympic Opening Ceremonies party...good times.  

Until the next post...