Friday, August 31, 2012

Where Jesus Eats

My friend Amanda is an amazing person. I mean an AMAZING person. I feel so privileged that not only did our paths cross while I lived in Tennessee, but that we became good friends. She, like many other Tennesseans, is exceptionally spiritual and extraordinarily kind.

Back in the beginning of 2012 (yes this post has been sitting in my inbox for that long) Amanda won a contest put on by a local radio station.

"What would she do with 500 chicken
 sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A?" 

Her winning answer will tell you much more about the kind of person Amanda is than I ever could.

"Distribute them to the homeless in Knoxville."

It was no surprise that her answer won from all the entries. Chick-fil-A is well known as a Christian establishment and I am sure whoever chose the winner of the contest, chose correctly in Amanda. The homeless population is extremely high in K-town.

Here is a photo from back in February, of Amanda's three kids handing out sandwiches. 

Amanda explained to me that she had romanticized the whole thing thinking she could pray with each individual and tell them that people cared about them.

Instead her mini-van was mobbed until every last scrap was gone (including her kids lunchbox leftovers) in only a minute and that they were then asked to leave by The Salvation Army who informed them that they were breaking some kind of law.

Amanda and I exchanged an e-mail the other day. I wanted to make sure she was still o.k. with me writing about her experience after all the backlash Chick-Fil-A had received lately. Here is her response,

"Thanks for reminding me of promises, I'd made 6 months ago. It's so easy to let our personal busy take over and not do good on the follow-through. I don't mind a bit if you blog about it and I'm not worried about any backlash. God's got this and He will get all the glory. What we did with Chick-Fil-A was not a publicity or political statement it was a chance to love on people in a very real, practical way." I just LOVE that Amanda. I love how much she cares for others. I love how much she gives her life to others. I love that she is always actively looking for ways to help others and that she goes around constantly making promises to God, even if it will be hard to keep them. I love it that her "fail" is mightier than anyone else's "success."

Real quick I wanted to share a funny story that Amanda told me:

This weekend I was privileged to spend 3 days with our Middle School Ministry at our church.  We had this incredible speaker, Acton Bowen.  Acton is a past youth minister, speaker, and Christian correspondant for Fox News.  He was talking about meeting with one of his friends who was a member of the Black Ops team in the US Armed forces and telling of his many missions.  Acton said that they met at Chick-Fil-a which is "where Jesus eats".

You all can hate on a place because of their stance on gay marriage, that is your prerogative, but please realize that this restaurant is a lot like Amanda. They are always doing a whole lot of good. Oh, and their food is also like Amanda too:
A - MAZ - ING!

Here are a few other good recent news stories about Chick-Fil-A.

Here is a recent car-line in Waynesboro, VA taken by my cousin Jarrett. Chick-fil-A had committed a good portion of their profits to the family of Ethan Blevins, who had recently passed from leukemia complication.

How about the time they opened their doors with free meals to police officers after the Colorado movie theater shootings?

As for me? I love my gay friends. I truly do.
But I want to eat where Jesus eats
and I hope they can be o.k. with it.

For some chick-fil-a funny,
check out this old post.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to run.

I've had several friends ask me to clue them in on the "how" of my transformation from coach potato to runner. This post is for them and anyone else who can use it.

How to run.

1. Put on a good bra. (This may be important for some of the men out there too)
2. Put on appropriate attire.
(I prefer to be as covered as possible while still being comfortable and appreciate that in other runners, but if you are the kind of person who needs to flaunt it for some type of external motivation, more power to you, but you probably need therapy. How about you therapy folks just do what I did, start running in November in Utah. Then we can all be happy.)
3. Wear good socks.
4. Lace up your shoes.
5. Go outside.
6. Walk for a little while. (Like a couple blocks or a couple of weeks or a couple of months)
7. Realize your body can do more than walk.
8. Start walking faster.
9. Get sick of the burn in your butt and thighs from speed walking, and pick up the pace just a bit more.
10. Appreciate the fact that you are now jogging.
11. Jog until you get tired, which in the beginning may be a block or a half-block or a half of a half-block.
12. Slow to a walk, and take some time to rest your heart. Then make yourself jog some more.Do this until your allotted exercise time is up. Make sure it is at least for a half an hour, but an hour makes it more fun. Quit for the day. Walk back home. (If you are smart you would have turned back toward home halfway into your allotted time)
13. Memorize the spots where you started to jog and the spots that you just had to stop.
14. Two days later, walk to the same spot in #11, and when you get there, see if you can jog a little farther this time. (Yes, when you are a runner, you get a day in between runs to rest!)
15. Repeat #8-14, for as long as it takes.
16. Sign up for a 5k.
17. One day decide that you aren't going to stop jogging until you hit the 3.2 mile mark.
18. Congratulate yourself because you are now more than a jogger. You are a real runner.
19. Repeat #16-18, as you will want need a faster time and there's no better motivator than a race.
20. Somewhere along the way, you will find that 3.2 is just not long enough, and you will keep running past the 3.2 mark, you will change your running routes to work in hills, you will have used up 3 pairs of shoes, you will run at different times of the day, you will be working your running into your schedule like it's your 5th child, you will love every second of solace, you will enjoy every time you feel winded and just have to spit or get a drink, you will love the hills, you will love the down-hills, you will watch your shadow day after day, you will be cranky if you haven't had a run in over 2 days, you will run with friends (maybe only at races), you will stay after the races just to hang out with other runners even though you never win a prize, you will find yourself to be one of those obnoxious ladies at the baby shower who is suddenly surrounded by other runners comparing speed work techniques and running times and injury management, you will exceed your race goal and wonder if you are ready for the half yet, you will wonder why in the world you didn't start sooner, and most of all you will be hooked for life.

To this I solemnly swear.

Just do it.
Running is cheap and takes little coordination.
All that is required is mind over matter.
I wouldn't call it easy, but if it was easy then it wouldn't be so awesome.
It does get easier the more you do it.
I'm not going to lie, it also gets harder, but that is the miracle of it, the harder it becomes, the better equipped you are to handle it, which means you are STRONGER!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Watching My Shadow

When the sun is just right and I happen to be running in the right direction, I get some really good self reflection time. You see, when I run, I am often looking at the ground. I do this because I am still getting in optimum shape and I have a running form that is too tired and downtrodden. I also do this because I am watching for safety hazards like raodkill, left-behind tires, or just the occasional pothole or change in ground level. (The trauma of staring a deer smack in the face while quickly jumping over her is one that will not be ever forgotten. That day that my typical "downward watch" was off and my "watch out for cars that are trying to run you over" position was on left my pulse racing.) I also look down because every time I see a coin I feel lucky, and once while running I found a mangled wedding band that I turned in for money to buy new running shoes. I don't always look down as there is so much to take in in all directions but looking at the ground is a necessary part of running.

O.k. I've got the looking down part covered. Didn't want to leave you with any questions.Well, when I am looking down and the sun and my direction are optimal I get the best runners' treat of all: my shadow. For the past 10 months, I've been watching my shadow. I watch it run. It has shrunk by 40 pounds, which in shadow world isn't much, but to me is ginormous. I watch my knees lifting and dropping and my arms swing front and back.  I watch the hairs of my head fly in the wind and the sleeves of my shirt flap.I watch the shapes in all their glory. Often I grieve over the backside, but more often I revel in all my glory. I shake my head in disbelief and then quickly remind my shadow with a nod that I am a runner. Backside and all.

It does something to you, to tell yourself that you are a runner.When you watch your shadow month after month and mile after mile, it changes you. It changes your very nature. When I wasn't a runner I was much less likely to look for rigorous outdoor activities, now, I seek them out. "C'mon guys, let's go on a hike!, how 'bout a bikeride?, we could walk down to the library just for fun, it's just a mile." As a runner, I can be more honest with myself. I can be in a place of serenity knowing that I have improved, no matter how much farther I have to go. Most of all, as a runner, I feel strong. I feel worthy. I feel reflective. I feel loved by the person who matters most: me. I feel like I can handle any obstacle, no matter how senseless, even if it's an unexpected dead deer. "What? A dead deer! Oh, no problem, I'll just hop right over", all in a second's thought process. It's like I'm a female Bourne and it feels omnipotent.

I am sure there are other ways to feel this good, but running is my way. Running and writing. Watching my monitor with my fingers flying over the keyboard underneath is a similar sensation. I think I like my running shadow the most, it speaks to me, and tells me I am a living miracle for the sole purpose that I have a body and I use it to move. And when I am moving, I love myself. When I am moving, I strengthen my body, and utilize my mind at its fullest to conquer all life's challenges, even if as simple as how am I going to afford my next pair of shoes. Once in a blue moon it all comes together, my physical, mental, and spiritual world collide and God puts a banged up wedding band in my path and my shadow says, "Awesome!"

Coming soon - how I started running - just for Dorry.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Love

Happy 15th anniversary to my love.
He got a ukulele
and no action at all
because I just had a miscarriage
and it was the best anniversary yet
because he needs nothing from me.
Nothing at all to love me.
It's his unconditional gift
and I am the luckiest girl in the world.

My love is bottomless.
It goes on forever.
Like through a black hole and back.
Or up to Jupiter
and all around it
and through it 
to the next solar system
and then back
and then back again.

It would take the strongest hurricane ever
to spread the true power of my love for you.
Of course the hurricane would
have to travel the whole earth.
It would take a mouse's 
smallest tiniest squeak
to fitfully stand as the opposite my 
loudest declaration
of love.

The prettiest fullest
most colorful flower fields
are not as beautiful to me
as your smile
or your eyes
or your hands
or your laugh
and especially your tears.
The happy and the sad.

The grandest canyon
which we witnessed together
as we stood in awe
is not even as miraculous
as how I feel for you.
Even the great Pacific
that gently caresses
the shore
while the sun falls
in majesty
is not as glorious
as what we share.

And I sit
to try and
put words to
how I feel about you
and nothing comes
that can do it justice
I know that
no matter how much
I love you today
and no matter how huge
that love feels
like my heart is going to explode
my love will be even greater.

Every day with you adds
a universe to travel,
another canyon to explore,
a garden planted,
and an ocean shore.
How can I express that?
How can I tell our future?
The slowest person
may be the last to laugh.
And that person may be me
every time
but I know I will be o.k
because you will always be at my side
and you
will always laugh first
because you are miraculous
and you will always be smarter than me
but that is one of the may infinitesimal
reasons I love you.

And I will always love you
and that love will always be growing.
It will never ever stop.
Just like our lives together.
Totally mind-blowing.
Completely flustering
because I am not smart enough to understand it
but I know one thing
the only thing that is important.
My love for you
needs time to never end
because it needs
that much time to grow
to reach it's fullest potential.