“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Sunday, October 28, 2012

As Simple As A Bar Of Chocolate...

I was reminded today that I am sensitive.
It was a day when I couldn't stop the tears.
Just feelings overwhelming. 
So, I went into hiding so that I could hide the red puffy eyes.

Again, struggling with the fact that I am sensitive.
Perhaps over-sensitive.
Too sensitive.
Unwarranted sensitive.
And I feel guilty about it.
Almost a little shamed over it.

And I ask my heavenly Father,
could he have made me a little less sensitive?
Just a little less sensitive? 
And He says, no.
And He made me as I am for a reason.
He wants me sensitive for a reason.

And although my super-sized sensitivity causes the water works.
It also causes me to be sensitive to others.
To feel things.
For my benefit.
For their benefit.
Because that is how God made me.

And reminded me of this post I wrote a few years ago.

Originally posted on Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not a surprise to most of you... I am a thinker. Analytical. It's quite frustrating actually. Can't just let things go, can I?

And yet... I am a relater, too. And have this horrible habit of wanting everyone to like me.

Mush these two things together... and I am told that I can be intimidating. Or as another friend told me... "Intense, but I don't mean that in a bad way."

Intense? Me? What did she mean? I wondered all evening. Of course, not taking it personally. (Who me?) Another friend who had been part of our conversation called me the next morning and told me perhaps it was more defined by "thorough" or "in-depth"...

And then I had an epiphany. I happened to look down at a bar of chocolate that I had purchased for Anthony to enjoy after his recent marathon... and I saw the words "INTENSE DARK"... and I thought... that's it!

I don't like dark chocolate!
Whew, what a relief!

Here's the thing... dark chocolate can be intense in flavor, but I don't prefer it. I am much more so drawn to milk chocolate. It doesn't make dark chocolate bad... or any less... in my opinion. Because some people... my husband included... like dark chocolate.

Anyway, it just really set in my mind that I need to give other people a break... especially when they can't handle my level of intensity. I guess I had thought something was wrong with me... and I shouldn't be so intense... that it was bad. But something as simple as a bar of chocolate made feel a little better about myself.

God made me intense. For a reason. I guess... take it or leave it.

But next time you buy me chocolate just remember it is one time that I don't like intense... and I wouldn't mind if it had nuts in it, too!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Remembering A Wow-A-Thon from 2010

Today, I am celebrating the 2012 Wow-A-Thon... what a blessing to see how faithful God is to complete the task that he set before me in 2010.  And how God looks for those who are obedient to the call He has placed before them. 

A Wow-A-Thon from 2010
first posted on 11/07/10

...holding fast the word of life, 
so that in the day of Christ 
I will have reason to glory 
because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 
Philippians 2:16 NASB


Earlier this year, I felt a prompting from the Lord.  Well, actually, a couple promptings... first was to be the president of the parent-teacher association at Christopher's school (our current president was ending her term) and second was to change one of the school fund-raisers from a gift wrap sale (something tried and true) to a jog-a-thon (a complete unknown).  The promptings were strong... and I knew if I were to ignore them I would not be following the leading of the Spirit that I felt inside.  Actually I would be squelching the Spirit.  Not following = disobedience.  Following = obedience.  And I have known the consequences of both, so I decided to follow the leading.

Although I was perfectly aware that I had the capabilities to do both jobs, I also have the ability of running myself into the ground when I take on a task that is new and especially time sensitive and involves the potential to cause others to become disgruntled with me.  I saw these two promptings having the potential of thrusting me into a full blown break down... and that is a no-no for me considering my thorn of chronic depression.

So, although I love my Lord with all my heart, I begged Him to release me of these promptings.  Reminding Him of how fragile I really am.  How I might ruin my reputation.  And definitely, how I might crumble to pieces.  I reminded Him that this was not a fit for the different ministries He has been developing in my life... and that perhaps there was someone else who would be more than willing to do the job.  Er, make that jobs.  But He reminded me that He has called me to obedience... and that if He has called me to a God-sized task the onus would be upon Him to see that it would get done.

And so, I obeyed.

And every time that I began to feel overwhelmed or burdened or alone, I would remind myself that I was to be obedient... and it was His responsibility to make the thing come together... the God-sized task.  That I didn't have to force it.  I didn't have to own it.  I didn't have to make it happen.  He would.  And He did.  There were times when I had to drop everything for the jog-a-thon because my family comes first.  I had to keep my priorities straight.  And with each step I saw Him bringing each piece into place.  Better than I could have imagined.  With creativity and funding and volunteers.  It was amazing.

The jog-a-thon committee had set our goal as $11,000... not knowing what to expect and considering that the year before we had raised $11,000 in product sales which net $5,500 for the school.  I agreed to the goal... but secretly, I had a smaller goal to at least match the $5,500 from the previous year,  and a dream goal of $7,500.  I thought $11,000 was too high of a goal... and that $7,500 would do just fine for the year.  There were some who thought that a jog-a-thon would not motivate the older middle school students... there were some who thought we had not done enough advertising... there were some who thought we should have just sold gift wrap, again.

The first day money came in we had about $3,000.  I figured that would be the biggest day of receipts.  Then the total went to $3,800.  Then $5,500... so you know I could breathe a sigh of relief.  But then came the total of $7,500 with two days to go.  And I thought, "Lord, you outdid yourself!  Thank you!"  And then I had to leave with two days left to go for a trip to Maryland.  I had to relinquish all control.  I had to leave my "baby" that I had nurtured.  I just had to.  Go.

And so, I waited to hear the totals... from 3,000 miles away.  Would any more money come in?  And I got the e-mail that on the last collection day about $3,000 more dollars had been received.  And I sent back a note indicating that I was crying my eyes out.  Within moments, I got a second e-mail that said I better just get a larger tissue because the secretary decided to pop into the classrooms to see if any additional donations had been turned in... and there had been... and we were at $11,100.  On the last day to collect.  We had met our goal... and have since went on to over $12,000 in donations received (which is 100% net profit).

I had struggled with the Lord about a jog-a-thon being so temporal and not spiritual.  That I was focusing on money.  But then He gently asked me what I had been praying for the last three years every Friday morning in our lower school conference room with other praying moms... and I said school-wide (including parents, church, school board, teachers, students...) unity.  And He said He was answering that prayer.  Not just with the jog-a-thon, but He would use that... and so with over 85% of our kindergarten through 8th grade families participating in raising funds... and how the students are asking when can we do it, again... and with a nay-sayer or two with their jaws on the ground... Well, I guess I see what He was talking about.

And it is all very humbling as I have received congratulations on a job well-done... and I just want to say...
It wasn't me... 
I didn't want to do it.  
It's all Him.  
I was just being obedient.

But now I get to enjoy the blessing of the fruit which He produced.  And marvel at the fact that He took a jog-a-thon and made it a wow-a-thon...

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
Psalm 37:3-5 NLT

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'll be honest... I could've used a little more cowbell.

 The Finishers
Portland Marathon and Half-Marathon 2012

I did it!  I finished the Portland Half-Marathon on Sunday.   It was a beautifully warm day.  Memorable.  Ahhhh.... the sense of accomplishment!  I finished in 3 hours and 15 minutes.  That's about 15 minute miles (or 4 miles per hour).   I actually finished in a shorter amount of time than my Marathon running husband who finished in 3 hours and 16 minutes.  Okay... okay... he did the full 26.2 miles and I did the half which is 13.1 miles, but he said it was okay if I said that.  And I have to say that he was just about more excited that I participated in the half-marathon than the fact that he had another PR shaving off 5 minutes of his time.  Yup, he was super proud of me.

 Portland Half-Marathon 2012

But... I'll be honest... I could've used a little more cowbell.

I didn't realize how lonely it would be.  I mean, I was surrounded by runners and walkers.  But very much alone.  TobyMac blaring in my ears.  But there were times I was just plain alone.

I had this image in my mind that the whole course would be filled with spectators cheering me on.  Whenever we would cheer Anthony on at his races there were always a ton of spectators.  I just hadn't realized that spectators all hang out in the same places.  And either it is feast or pretty much famine.

And so it gives you time to think, right?  About being in the race.  About finishing the race.  About how sometimes you just have to go through things alone.  That there are times when there will be people cheering you on.  Shouting... or holding a sign... or ringing a cowbell.  And there will be times that people will handing you a cup of water (or Ultima... or gummy bears).  And there will be times when people are even walking alongside you.  But there are times and a lot of times that you will just have to go through it alone.

By yourself.
You and God.
On the course.
Heading for the finish that you can't see and seems miles away.

Fortunately, I had trained.  I knew that it was going to take time to get to my goal.  That it might feel monotonous, but that I would finish.  That there truly was a finish.  That I would finish the race and be told, "Well done."  That people were waiting for me.  At the finish line.

I wonder what it would be like not to train.  Not to know that there truly is a finish.  Not to know where all the water stops would be... or that there even would be water stops.  Not to know if anyone would be at the finish.  Not to know if anyone would care that you finished or had even been in the race.

That's life sometimes, isn't it?
No end in sight.
Going through this trial.
Wondering if anyone cares.
Wanting someone to finish the race for you,
but realizing that you have to walk your own race.

I loved it, really.  The pirates, the drummers, the cheer squads, the signs... especially the FINISH sign.  But most of all?  The people.  Those people.  Those special people who were looking for me and cheered me on.  And they knew I needed cheering.  And cheering.  Yes, they pushed me across that finish line in their minds.  And it felt great.  Being on the other side of the fence.  Being the one cheered to the finish.

But it was lonely.  And the next half-marathon (yes, I already signed up for the next one at the expo two nights before the race), I want to walk with friends.  And chat a little... and encourage one another along the way... and finish together... and be distracted.

Because let's face it...
I'll be honest...
I could've used a little more cowbell.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

a $5 Bucket of Voodoo Doughnuts

Christopher and a $5 Bucket of Voodoo Doughnuts

It was Sunday and my training schedule said I needed to walk 10 miles.  I decided that I wanted to walk 10 miles of the Portland Half-Marathon.  I would just cut out 3.1 of the miles in the up and back.  My friend, Barb, offered to walk 5 of the miles with me.  Anthony needed to put in a run for his training and so we brought Christopher along on his bike, too.

After the first 5 miles, Barb and Christopher headed to the Portland Saturday (and Sunday) Market while I headed off for the rest of my walk.  With about 2 miles left, I got a text from Barb:


And so I ended up with an amazingly delicious vegan chocolate doughnut with chocolate puffs all over it.  (Voodoo Doughnuts is a novelty here in Portland.  Especially their Maple Bacon Bar.)   But then they showed me this bucket full of about 30 doughnuts.  Which they had purchased for $5!  They were day old.  The doughnut that Christopher had originally wanted would cost $4.75 fresh!  But they had a day old one in this bucket, so Barb spent the extra 25 cents and they ended up with 30 doughnuts.  Barb figured she could re-use the bucket and decided we could hand out the rest of the doughnuts to people hanging out on the waterfront.

The waterfront.  The same waterfront where I walked last week.  Where someone had died.  Just last week.  Some unknown, nameless person.  Someone I didn't know and would never know...

But this week would be different.  Christopher would run ahead of us with this bucket of doughnuts offering them to anyone who would partake.  Which would be mostly the homeless along the waterfront.  They were more than happy to enjoy a doughnut.  Sometimes picking the one on top.  Sometimes being a little picky.  Sometimes asking for two.  And sometimes they would run ahead and tell others that we had free doughnuts.  You would have thought we were Santa Claus.

Yes, this week would be different.  Instead of lingering wonderings of the unknown person in a body bag... there would be a known person.  A person who wanted me to know his name.  He wanted all of us to know his name.  And he wanted to hug each and every one of us.  He wanted to hug me.  Then he hugged Christopher and Barb and then Anthony.  And his name?  Ivan.

Let me tell you... YES, I WAS NERVOUS!  and suspicious!  As he slowly came in for a hug thoughts rushed through my mind
Where is my wallet?
Where will his hands be when he is hugging me?
What is his motive for hugging me?
Does he have a needle in his hand and will poke me with it?
Will he leave a lingering layer of illegal drug scent on me?
Motive?  Motive?  He gently and lightly hugged me.  Very appropriately distanced.  Then he smiled with his partially toothless grin.  How old was he?  30?  No, probably early 20s.  The drugs and time on the street had probably aged him 10 years, for sure.

We left Ivan there.  Smiling.  Enjoying a doughnut.  Having been hugged four times... once by each of us.  And Christopher ran off.  Continuing to offer doughnuts to everyone he met.  Wanting to come down and do this again every Sunday.  You know that marvelously wonderful feeling you get when you are giving but really receiving more than you are giving?  Yeah, that was him.  And us, too.

And on this Sunday, I will walk 13.1 miles.  Starting at SW Taylor Street and SW 4th Avenue.  I most likely will not see much except pavement and lots of screaming spectators along the route.

I will not be a spectator.
I will be a participant.
I will be in the game.  On the walk.
And I have been changed.
By an unknown soul.
By a $5 bucket of doughnuts.
And by a hug from Ivan.

And I thought I was doing all of this training to earn a silly medal.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, 
but only one gets the prize? 
Run in such a way as to get the prize.  

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. 

They do it to get a crown that will not last; 
but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.   

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; 
I do not fight like a man beating the air.   

No, I beat my body and make it my slave 
so that after I have preached to others, 
I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 
1 Corinthians 9:24-27