Friday, September 16, 2016

Moose Mountain Marathon

I waited at the back of the crowd, listening to last minute directions from race director John Storkamp as he reminded us of the other runners on the trail and taking last minute roll call for runners who were registered but had not checked in. This was to make sure they know exactly who was and who was not on the race course for safety purposes. The former is because two and a half hours before us marathoners started, the 50 mile runners had started and the previous morning, Friday morning at 8:00 am, the 100 milers had begun their trek north to Lutsen, MN on the Superior Hiking Trail. We would encounter these hardy people as we ran past with our fresh legs and they would need space, some having already been up twenty-four plus hours. I scanned the crowd looking for other runners I might know and only finding the one guy I already knew. I looked at the garb my fellow trail runners were wearing and almost all of us had hydration packs on. This made me feel better as I had doubted my choice to wear my vest with all its pockets and bottles and bladder and tube and whatnot for the distance. I was about to run the Moose Mountain Marathon. 

Amber and I
Before the start, I was prematurely separated from my friend, Amber, so while a shout of “Go!” sent the two hundred fifty of us down a gravel road, I held to the back because I was not going to hit the trail without hugging and thanking her for coming with me. I found her roadside, came in for the hug and left with tears migrating down my cheeks. I needed both the hug and the tears. I had been as nervous as all in the weeks leading up to this race and as I crunched softly on the wet road, the tears released the final nerves. There was certainly no turning back and no more questioning what I was doing or if I could do it at all. I was firmly focused now. I noticed the gravel road and chuckled to myself because my training had been for the majority on gravel roads and not so much on gnarly trail like this race would have. 

I'm in this picture way in the back. You just can't see me. Fine. I'm not in this picture.
The gravel road was meant to help stretch out the lot of us before we hit the trail but because I was so far back, I got held up in the runners who wanted to pick their way through the mud. I tried to super hard to be patient with this. A fellow runner told me she didn’t have morning coffee but now had consumed an espresso gel so she was good to go. I recounted how I had not had my normal cup of coffee before a race earlier in the year and how that was a disaster for me. We agreed that missing your regular morning coffee is never a good idea. There was joking and bantering amongst us as we walk/ran through the first section. I was so happy to be on the trail, to be running, to be here, I thought to myself that I would like to give the race director a hug when I saw him. About five minutes later we cross over a section of road and standing alongside is John. I was surprised to see him and didn’t go with my impulse to pop out of the congo line snaking down the trail and hug him but soon after I wished I had. However, I’m a 42 year old woman who’s happily married and has a small pile of offspring and I’m from the Midwest and a conservative background and a firstborn. In short, there’s not much in me that would compel me to carry out that impulse. 

The race director was standing right along the edge with those men. I could have gone back!
My plan was to make my way conservatively over the first twenty miles of the course and arrive at the last aid station in as best shape as possible before the final push up the last two mountains and into the finish. I had run this last section a couple of years ago in the spring for a total of 25k (15-ish miles) and knew it needed my attention. What I didn't know was what the first twenty miles of the race would have in store. What I started to find was that the trail was rocky and rooted and there was mud as it had rained all the night before and into the morning until about an hour before the start. But it wasn’t that bad of mud. Maybe other runners will say it was bad but unless you have run through pouring rain with a literal stream coursing down the middle of the trail up to your shins (ankles for taller people), fought with snow and ice in the shady spots of a spring trail race on a mountain, or slid down a trail with mud slick like a hog lot (Midwest farm girl here), this was no real mud. I had started the race with a long-sleeve layer but had to take it off quickly. In another muddy hold-up, I asked the woman behind me to bungee it down onto my pack as I zipped something from the runner in front of me into her pack. While I tried to be patient and knew going slower in the beginning was actually my plan, I became aware that small groups of people ahead of me were holding back many of us and there was no one in front of them. I had to start passing people.  

I passed people two or three at a time. It just worked out that way. We’d come up to a muddy spot and work through it and if I had a faster go than them, I got by. I would often wonder if this would come back to haunt me later on thinking I would pass them now, they would blow by me later. I even gave them permission to. But it never happened. I finally came upon a group of people who had a good pace going and determined I couldn’t get by them and keep ahead of them so I stayed with them at the back. The two back runners were together and I think they might have been a bit annoyed with me being back there. I know I was probably a bit too close at some points and it is a bit annoying with someone one on your heels like that. I am still learning how to handle trail racing. We stretched out and I let them go. I couldn’t keep at their pace. The descent into the first aid station at Temperance River was a bit of work. It felt like down, down, down and not a frolicking down but an unrelenting down. It was a good reminder to go at my own pace. Soon I heard the whoops and hollers of aid station volunteers and hoped the downhill would stop. Often you can hear the aid stations before you can see them and on some courses you run ever so close to them only to still have to loop around for a while before actually getting to it. I popped out onto a road crowded with volunteers, crews and spectators and jostled my way to the food tables. I scanned quickly, grabbing a piece of bacon, a few orange slices, and a cup of Coke and got back on the trail. I gobbled the food and carefully sipped the Coke as I walked, realizing a bit too late that I would have to stash the cup somewhere on me until I could find a garbage. I crumpled it up and stuffed it into my back pocket as that is normally my garbage pocket anyway (you all have a garbage pocket, right?). 

I was covered in the residue of my aid station raid but I had flown through it and got back onto the trail in short time, passing a lot of people who took more time than I. I did not see Amber there as that A.S. was only open for crew of 100 mile runners. I had told her where she could park and then make her way to the trail further down in hopes of seeing me. I texted her and told her what I wanted from my race bag if we did meet up. I made my way up and over slabs of giant rock that doubled as trail, playing peekaboo with the Temperance River and guessing as to the spot where Joe and I jumped off into it a few years back. Everything was so pretty. Soon I bounded over the bridge which sucked all my rebound and spotted Amber. I had her put Body Glide on my back and shoulders where the slider that keeps the water bladder shut was digging into. I grabbed a few baby wipes and cleared myself of my snack, dumped my garbage and took off. 

From what I heard from other runners, a good amount of climbing was ahead of me and that some sections were faster because they were more runnable yet I was tremendously surprised at just how runnable this trail was. From the elevation chart, there is not one section that doesn’t look like a hurt-fest. For this marathon there is 5,500 feet up climbing and equal amount descending. But I found there was plenty of sections that flowed so nicely that the only way to handle it was to stretch the legs a bit and I definitely enjoyed it. I kept myself moving carefully through the muddy sections. While I stayed patient with the climbs knowing that I never could tell if I was at the top or not, I found myself continually passing people. I could grind out the climbs faster and then I could recover better at the top to keep going and not have them catch back up to me. It was amazing. The only time this didn’t work out was a section of the trail made of giant boulders. Sure, I’m not that big of a person but I was scrambling, using my hands and then crouching my legs on up. I was entirely glad that section did not last long. At the top was a photographer. Exhilarated but exhausted from the climb yet still moving, I followed the trail and missed an arrow pointing me to the right and headed left. Thankfully, oh so thankfully, a guy called out to me and directed me back onto the right trail and I tucked in behind him. 

This is the trail. These are the small boulders.

The Superior Hiking Trail works its way through parts of the Superior National Forest and we almost alway had tree cover. Some parts wind near a lake or across a creek. Some parts dip down into boggy sections which have wood planks laid across to keep the trail intact. Some parts tuck themselves up against the sides of mountains you don’t ascend but feel their cool shadow breathe down on you. The few occasions that the trails opens on top, you must remember to look around to see Lake Superior shining from the southeast. A white sailboat skimmed across and knew the sailors and I were both enjoying our day. 

Amber and I had discussed that she would meet me at the two aid stations she could be at- Sawbill and Oberg, named for locations on the trail. At one point, I just called them Sawberg. I ate fig newtons, drank water and Tailwind, and used GU energy gels as my fuel. When I came into the aid stations, I almost always grabbed oranges and a cup of Coke (which helps me burp and burping is my thing. If I’m burping I feel like my stomach is in check.) and then I would scoop up various other things. I dropped into Sawbill, making my way to the food and reaching for a pancake while scanning for Amber. I downed the Coke faster this time and left my empty cup with a volunteer or crew person or some other awesome person. Amber wasn’t there or I couldn’t find her and I left, again passing people. I texted her to let her know I had come through.

At Sawbill I was only halfway done. I didn’t dwell on that for one second. I managed my calories and body. My left knee was starting to twinge and instead of a teary surrender, I started power hiking to keep moving. I ran until it started hurting and then hiked and back to running. The mantra that stuck in my head was a quote from John Wooden I had just heard- “Be quick but don’t hurry.” Power hike, power hike. Move, move, move. I could do all those things.

Never once did I plug in my headphones. I was fully present for every step of the trail. I heard the day, the river, the occasional bird, the wind. It was quiet but not lonely. My thoughts turned to my summer of training. I thanked our racing friends who let me run the hare scramble trails early in the morning before the bikes got on them. I thanked the Logan race for being so hilly it left my calves screaming to stop. I thanked the Dayton racers for not making fun of me as I ran back to back first on the gravel and the next day on the trail (and also for the biscuits and gravy that I don’t normally eat but swallowed pretty much whole after 12 miles). I thanked the other races I did in preparation for this one, Dizzy Goat and Summer Pyscho Wyco. Each one etched a new toughness into my mental and physical preparation. I was thankful for the hours alongside gym members this summer as we did single leg squats, burpees, wall balls and other stuff until we were numb with fatigue. I thought of the conversation between a member, Bob, my sister and I and how he finally put words to who I am in the gym or on the trail- determined, focused, unrelenting. These words came to mind, giving me freedom to dig into myself for more. I didn’t solve my daily problems. I worked and enjoyed the mystery of this trail. 

The marathon was broken into easy to remember sections marked by aid stations. Rounding down, it was 7 miles from start to Temperance, 5 miles from Temperance to Sawbill, 5 miles from Sawbill to Oberg, 7 miles from Oberg to the finish. Getting closer to Oberg, I texted Amber again to tell her I needed BioFreeze. My left knee was still functional but a little numbness might help, even if just mental. I turned the corner and everyone at the aid station cheered for me as I came in. A surreal feeling. Amber stepped to meet me with the spray. I asked her to empty my entire pack of extra stuff to keep me light. An aid station worker asked about refilling my bottles and I told him I didn't need them refilled as I pulled wide the waistband of my shorts and sprayed my, um, hips. Potstickers were available but I turned those down, taking Coke, oranges, a boiled potato dipped in salt and a handful of potato chips instead. Amber headed out with me on the trail and gave me a pep talk of my progress. I had only been looking at my watch to keep a general idea on my pace, which at any given moment can be good or bad, depending on the trail, and what mile I was approximately on. I didn’t look at the time. I had told Amber that I wanted to finish in under seven hours and if at all possible to finish as close to six and a half hours. The seven hours was because Ultrasignup had projected me to finish around that time. I’m super bad at uploading all my training and then analyzing the data so I figured this was fairly close to reality even though it made me mad. I secretly picked six and a half hours because why not? Amber said I was doing really well and to keep it up. She apologized for missing me at Sawbill. She went to get breakfast at a little cafe in Lutsen that I had suggested she go to. Unfortunately, the cafe was inundated with the number of people who came for the race and was running behind. She made friends with half a dozen people while waiting for food and even ended up bringing another runner’s crew their breakfast as they had to leave to meet up with him. This is the way trail runners work and it is truly humbling to me the amount of servant-like work everyone does on behalf of the runners.

Amber turned back as I continued on. This was the section of trail I had already run and knew in general what to expect though it had been a couple of years. It was still so pretty. As in all trail races, we were reminded to carry out what you carry in. The trail was amazingly void of trash except for what was that? A Twizzler. Someone must have dropped one accidentally because no one purposefully drops a Twizzler. Well, I, being the careful and conscientious trail runner that I am, picked it up. And then I ate it. Listen, it hadn’t been bit into already. It had landed on a lovely green tuft of moss, like a gift of sugary, chewy red rope. It wasn't like I rescued it from being trampled into a muddy muck although I did so with a fig newton that I had dropped earlier; it had a bit of grass stuck to it but I couldn’t taste it. My other options were to let some forest creature, probably a moose that I have still yet to see, get hopped up on this vine of delight and would then haunt aid stations in search of their next high fructose corn syrup hit or to stash it into my pack and then toss it out at the end which would be a true waste of resources. It was delicious. 

The planks are usually on the ground, not elevated.

I crossed over a little bridge where a guy sitting in the stream with his phone startled me and then made a turn at a marked corner but where two hikers were also standing. Soon, I realized I hadn’t seen an orange course marker and started to worry I had turned wrongly. When this sensation hit, the trail stretched out forever in front of me. Should I go back? How far do I keep going before I decide I better go back and double check? I looked down at the trail and searched for footprints in the rain- softened ground from other runners. There were faint traces so I decided to keep going. Oh so mercifully, a trail marker appeared. I could have hugged it, I was so happy to see it. Now the long, long grind up Moose Mountain. I reminded myself that it would end. I passed a couple runners on the way up and fell into step with an another runner. I tried to keep up my end of the banter but eventually he took off and it was me alone. The decent down the north side of Moose is tough and for all the climbing, descending is harder on me. I didn’t have the pep in my step to loosely flow down and my knee twinged at every jarring step down. I felt as if I would go down forever and my spirit with it even though I pressed on. At packet pickup the night before, someone encouraged me to remember that this is all a gift. Overhead the clouds shrouded the sun and the valley between Moose and Mystery mountains closed in with the canopy of trees. I remembered the gift and gave thanks to the Lord for being here. I kid you not, the clouds lifted both physically and mentally.

I was finally at the bottom and then ascending the final mountain, Mystery mountain which was switchback after switchback. I spotted a fresh runner coming down the trail towards me, finally realizing it was Amber who came out to experience the trail for herself and to meet me. We swapped stories about our day. She got to hear me grunt as I willed myself to not let up. I can get a little vocal in my self-talk. It’s mostly things like “C’Mon!!” or “I love mud!” or “Pick up your feet!”. She then said she was going to tell me something that she would want to know if she were me. I stopped her short. I had no idea what she was about to say but I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted to hear keep it up, you're doing great, you are on task to finish as you wanted but I didn’t want any more than that. I told her that I had to get to the lookout, then the campsite, then the bridge and finally the finish and I didn’t want anyone to pass me. There was a slightly rough section of trail to work though still in the last couple of miles and it could all fall apart. I felt the added pressure would not work to my advantage. She adjusted really well to me. As we crossed the Poplar River bridge, I mentioned she would have to figure out how to not finish with me because I didn’t want to be accused and disqualified for having a pacer so when we hit the parking lot she took off with her fresh on her way to Boston qualifying legs and I switched to turning my legs over and over, not quite so fresh. I switched my mind to turning my legs over as fast as I could. Turn over, turn over. 

I rounded the corner of the Caribou Lodge and finished in 6:31!! 

I couldn’t believe it! Amber met me there with a hug and I shouted with excitement over my finish time! So amazing! I’ve done one other trail marathon and finished with a faster time but it wasn’t nearly as difficult as this one. This was my best race by far. At the finish line was the race director and it was time. Time for me to thank him. I tried to be calm but got a little emotional in my gratitude and he gave me a hug. (“What’s with the hugging?” I can’t help it. I don’t know. It moves me, man.)  

It was time for some food and a shower (no chaffing), assessing other potential injuries (swollen left foot and some scrapes from crossing over downed trees- I was never good at hurdles) some more food, meeting all of Amber’s new friends, more food, chatting with my friend Joe who was up riding in the area that weekend, packing up our stuff, grabbing some local beer, filling up and heading down the road to home.

I signed up to do this race because it was scary to me. Although I’ve completed two 50k’s (31 miles) and one other trail marathon, I never take for granted the distance. The terrain of this trail is pretty gnarly- rocks and roots take turns occupying the trail so footing is never a given. Maybe most challenging to me was the amount of elevation change this race had. 5,500 feet up and also down would be the most I would attempt to do and I really thought this would be the race I might not finish or come close to not finishing because of the difficulty of it. It is an incredibly awesome experience to go in with such trepidation and have it turn out to be my best race ever!

Now for some detail stuff that you may or may not care about. I am not a sponsored athlete. These are all my favorite products that I use over and over.
Shoes- Nike Terra Kiger 3
Socks- Injinji toe socks
Shorts and Tank- Roga shorts, Lux Winona tank both by Oiselle
Hydration vest- Jenny Vesta by Ultimate Direction, the original version
Nutrition- Tailwind in bottles, water in pack bladder, fig newton type cookies, energy gels, mentioned aid station food
Night before supper- homemade chicken burrito bowls, the Lord’s chips and guac, apples
Breakfast- yogurt with granola, banana, COFFEE
Post-race food- meat/veggie chili provided by race, Picky Bar, Amber’s carrots (she makes a mean raw baby carrot), mac and cheese I brought, Epic beef bar, Bent Paddle Brewery Black Ale 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Spring Soccer, 2016

Ben and Luke continue to play soccer. Ben plays primarily mid and Luke plays defense or back. I'm not too sure about the correct title of that position. In any case, I took my big camera with me to a couple of soccer games this Spring and happened to capture similar positions from the brothers. Maybe you can see the resemblance as well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Prom, 2016

We're going to play catch-up for a while.

Prom 2016. It was a good one. It started with a text to me from Audrey saying that she may or may not be going to prom with Ryan. Okay. Well, since the decision seemed to be made by other friends during an honor band lunch, I suggested that she and Ryan might want to work things out themselves. A few days later Ryan formally asked her to prom with coffee and lattes and such. A dress was donned. A group was gathered. And prom was underway.

This year only a few girls came to the house to get ready. It was a blast as the girls put the final touches on each other. 

 The back of Audrey's hair. 

A rush to Ryan's house for flowers and pictures. It was a rainy day and outdoor pictures were postponed. Here are the girls all dressed up.

Uploading the pictures just now and this is the first I've really seen of the girls' corsages. They are really pretty. We have always gone with flowers from the Chicken Shed here in town. 

Audrey's poppy is darling but delicate. 

Audrey and her date, Ryan. 

Look here. Look at your mom. Everyone, look at me. Group pictures are a little chaotic. The behind the scenes picture is 8 sets of parents and siblings crowded into a small space. 

The night has hardly started and someone is already losing it.

I love these candid pictures I found. Ryan and Matt. (Let's briefly discuss how amazing some high school boys can turn out. Yup.)

And Sara and Audrey. Friends from birth. (Let's discuss our big feelings about lifelong friends. Again, yup.)

Pretty fitting that the group ends up at Burgie's coffee before supper.

Sneaking in this one since last year Bill got the good picture with her. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Bigger Last Time

Audrey is a senior and since graduation is essentially a month away we've begun the firsts of the lasts. Actually all year has been a series of little lasts. Last first day of school, last marching band, last pep band, last musical, last play, last something or other. but this afternoon a red-faced, watery-eyed daughter made her way upstairs because tonight was the last time her church small group would meet together for the school year and she would not be a part of it as a student after this. This was a bigger last time.

After some spectacular teenage feelings (they can be big at times) and a good sit on the back of her car listening to moody music, I beckoned her to come out to the garden and just be with me. Her dad was doing some extra special work for me and I was digging in a fair amount of compost and peat moss and really, there's nothing better to soothe one's feelings than a good dusting of garden soil and the ear splitting sound of a drill into metal. After that, she summoned the mental and emotional strength to play a little catch with her brothers (and then I had all the big feelings).

It's a bit hard to wrangle one's thoughts and feelings in the kind of days we are now walking. After getting on her reminding her about her laundry (Dear Lord, the laundry. Amen.) I pulled her aside for a few thoughts. 

I told her that this is what she had been working towards for the last seven years in youth group and small group and that God has been faithful in all these years. I borrowed from this morning's message of excitement, fear and gratitude and showed her that the same holds true for her. She is so excited for college and the next part of her life (journey, path, all the hip words). She is fearful. You don't show up for college knowing how to do college. I told her to be honest with the other girls in small group about this. Don't we all believe that somehow, if we could just get to this X marks the spot place, life would be smooth going and then we get there and there is still fear and still faith to step out on? Yup. So ask the girls to pray for her to be bold and courageous. And then there is gratitude. I didn't have to explain this aspect to her.

Then I shared from my recent readings in Matthew 8 and gave her three more words. Faith, obey and unbelief. These were my simplified thoughts of the stories in that chapter. Again, returning to faith- believe. The man with leprosy. The centurion with the sick servant. They had a lot to lose (fear) but their faith in Jesus saved them. Obey- Almost all of us usually want some perfectly scripted scenario played out before us in a vision, dream or text with cute emoji's but Jesus tells us to obey. Read the Word. Do what it says. There are so many questions teenage girls ask and want to know and want to know the will of God and pursue God and on and on (I love them bunches.) but, goodness, the answer is usually to obey. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says." James 1:22. Finally, the opposite of faith and obedience is also true- unbelief. The last scene we are left with in Matthew 8 shows the townspeople driving Jesus away because their fear lead to them unbelief instead of faith. That can be true of us, as well.

Those things said, I gave her another encouraging, understanding hug and let her get her thoughts settled before leaving for small group. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Maple Cookies and Candied Bacon, Oh My!

Oh my! may have been your first words after seeing theses pictures. I totally get it. I do. 

Vanilla Chip Maple Cookies from Taste of Home. The first time I made these, I thought they were my favorite candy, maple nut goodies, but in cookie form. The link will take you to the recipe I use but here are a couple of tweaks that I think would elevate this cookie even more. Toast the pecans before adding them to the dough and on top. A toasted pecan is just a gift and would add a bite of crunch. The second tweak would be to add a bit of coffee to the frosting, a la Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. 

The next one with the bacon? Well, friends, this is something worth trying. This is what I call Candied Bacon. I used this recipe. What is happening on the right side of the photo is this- I dipped the candied bacon into melted chocolate. Yes, yes I did. A bunch of us did and none of us are sad about it. (Jessica and I hosted a shower for Danny's bride, Morgan, and served chocolate fondue.) My only advice about the candied bacon is to watch it very carefully towards the end of its baking time otherwise there is a high possibility your neighbors will witness you flying out the front door with a smoking baking sheet in an attempt to keep the smoke alarms silenced.   

(Also, let's do a little tiny handclap because I figured out how to post pictures again!)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Boys, They've Been Racing

The racing season has started. If you're new here and wonder what racing season I'm talking about, its the IERA hare scramble series. We ride dirt bikes in this family and we like it.

Below I have posted both Ben's and Luke's latest races from Prophetstown, IL which was held in March. March. I can't even remember March anymore.

First off is Luke's race. He's going to be racing more this year. He's fitting the 65 bike better and has gained quite a bit of confidence in just a short amount of time. His race is much shorter than Ben's but more importantly, Ben helped him record a voice over for the entire video, which is about thirty minutes long. If you've watched any of Luke's other races, you know he is vocal during his rides. He talks, he sings, he makes motorcycle noise while on the motorcycle so thirty minutes of commentary is no problem for him. He would be thrilled if you would leave comments or likes on his video. Yours truly makes a vocal appearance as does the vacuum. It's just the sort of high quality you expect from top film makers who still live with their parents and have chores to do.  

Ben's race video, while not long in words is just longer, around an hour. Ben likes to sum his up as quickly as possible. Most notably for his race this time is that he got the hole shot* and rode the entire race up front with no traffic to pass. All is good until his rear brake fails and he discovers that his kick start is missing and that's it. The end. He didn't even finish. I'm telling you now just in case you don't want to spend an hour of your life watching trees whiz past you from a helmet's view. I should know. I've spent many an hour doing just such. The boys, particularly Ben, can spend hours watching the same race they just raced

To prompt you a bit more, Ben has extra stuff added to his video. They show the speed he's going and also the route. To do so requires him to ask for special permission to wear my Garmin watch which is now dirtier in two races than in the last two years and sync it to an app or something or other. I don't know. I discovered what it was that Ryan Dungey was using and told the boys. That's when the whole watch thing started. A bonus is that I might get a new running watch out of this. 

Bill is also racing but doesn't wear the GoPro. Instead you can use your imagination that he sits on a bigger bike and the view is higher up but the view is the same. 

As the race season continues, Ben will be uploading more of the races onto this YouTube channel. You'll get to see more of the race course than I do. 

*hole shot- to be the first rider past a designated hole, pole or other such thing 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Power of... Something

I cannot, for the life of me at the moment, figure out how to load pictures on this here blog o'mine from certain spots on my computer. I think it has to do with the fact that I'm playing hop scotch with where the pictures are located in which programs and how I've uploaded or downloaded them to begin with. It's a hot mess over here. It also has to do with the fact that several years ago I requested a Mac instead of upgrading my PC and I've never quite figured out the fastest way to go about the whole photo thing. To top it all off and from what I can gather, Blogger and Apple aren't simpatico and most bloggers switch to WordPress, which isn't free. Since I'm making zero pennies from this endeavor, Bill is less than eager to shell out more of his hard earned money. That is, unless we here, this gathered, albeit small, community raise our collective voice- 
"Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men. It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!"
I believe in the power of a good broadway song.

This song or musical has nothing to do with my photo uploading skills but somehow I can embed a YouTube video. 

I present to you Do You Hear the People Sing? from Les Miserables

Let us hear your voice. What say you about, well, anything really? What musicals or songs pop into your head at random? I can't even begin to name all that come to mine.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Working on Work

Hey, there! Audrey happened to mention the other day that my last post was in 2015. Yes, I know. I know!! Can someone stop this crazy train so I can blog? No? Fine. Again, I make no promises or guarantees. I'm here now and being in the present, the here, the now is a big theme these days so let's just roll with it. (P.S. I really hate giving that little speech over and over again. This might be my last apology.)

Well, stuff has been happening over here. It turned into a whole new year a couple months ago, however before I catch you up with stories and pictures, I wanted to share my word of the year. My word for last year was engage. It always amazes me that a word pops into my head and heart and I can be reminded to look for it and seek it out throughout the entire year. I never had a face to face confrontation with a crazed waiting in line customer but I don't count that as a failure. I looked for it, prayed for it and God showed me engagement in friendships and relationships. 

This year the word that comes to mind is work. It could be that since Audrey is graduating and there will be a party here, I know that I will have to put some hustle into some projects. It could be that for me to get to the next level of running will require me to dig in and put some major work down. It could be that some outstanding projects from last year required me to buckle down and finish them up since many people were relying on me and to not finish them would be disastrous. But I think, more deeply, the reason for the word work is that I constantly find both in people and in myself the strong draw of the easy, quick fix, minimal work solution. It is what I want in pretty much every situation. 

Don't you? I mean, there are lists of life hacks and quick fixes and lists of 2-5 ingredient recipes and 24.37 days of the best moves for the awesomest abs and for dropping twenty pounds and six phone apps for being the best Christian ever. I've seen, read, torn out of magazines and downloaded them. Don't get me wrong. There's (mostly) nothing wrong with them but what it boils down to in the end, when all the shiny newness has worn off is work. You still have to do. 

That's just a macro-look at things but there are so many smaller choices I make that are really just lazy. I'm asking the Lord to show me where I need to choose work over avoidance. Since I like to swallow things whole, I tend to take on the whole universe and try to champion it and in return feel overwhelmed and then run even further away. I don't really have a plan for that other than to recognize that that is my tendency and then to start chipping away at the pieces right in front of me.  

I am in constant progress but I am not dissatisfied with who I am and want a whole new me. From time to time, I am swayed from that truth and then am easily suckered into looking for the new trick to get me right again. My confidence, hope and salvation are found only in Christ and His saving work. This is the "anchor for my soul". From there, I work.   

"Sheesh", you say, "So deep." Well, I have had a couple months already to think about it and look for it. This might be the first and last time you hear about my word of the year but just know, I'm working on work.