Thursday, April 4, 2013


It's been awhile. I feel as though I have been in hibernation and am now just beginning to wake to spring. Winter, for me, is a difficult time. It's not just a season of cold temperatures, it's a time of depression and avoidance. I experience these times of "winter" not only in the cold weather months, but there are other times in my life, when I am in a spiritual or emotional winter. I have been in one of those since the marathon. So many people come off of a marathon, or a similar achievement, and are soaring - believing they can accomplish anything. I finished the marathon and all I heard in my head was ridicule and judgement. I know it's crazy. I  know I should view finishing the marathon as a major accomplishment - but I don't. I had several goals attached to the marathon that weren't met - and so internally, I have been fighting with the demons of "not good enough." You know, those constant thoughts that you haven't done enough, what you've accomplished isn't good enough, etc.

Since the marathon, I have been off my eating plan, off my exercise plan, just plain off. And, I have gained the weight that comes with such behavior. It's now April 4th.

I have hopes for the Summer. Hopes that involve swim suits and beaches and sunshine. These hopes do not have room for a poor self esteem and self deprecation. These hopes involve positive thinking, laughter, and joy. That's what hope is all about, right?

So, there is no room for winter anymore. No matter what the temperature is outside, internally, I am declaring it summer. I know that stating this and living this are two totally different things. I have allowed the negative thinking to take up residence and it has felt very much at home in my mind for the many months. To change my perception and cling to hope and not despair requires taking each step at a time and keeping my focus on Christ. Because Christ is Hope.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Choose Life

My dear cousin, Josh, has died. I've always said that I want to go "fast" when I die. And yet, being on the other side of a "fast" death, is agony. So many unanswered questions, so many unsaid "goodbyes" make such a passing difficult. There's a part of me that wants to shake a fist at God and say, "why him???" And yet, I'm reminded that each breath, each day is a gift. It's not promised. We tend to live as if it is expected. We have come to feel as if it is deserved. And yet scripture clearly says that life is a "fleeting vapor." (James 4:14)

The best thing I can think of to do is not live with the attitude that I deserve a day. I need to live as I believe - that life is precious. I think of what matters most and then think of how much time I give to what matters most. I watched a youtube interview that really made me pause and think about how I live my life. Evidently it's been out for several years, but I had never seen it before. As a Christian, after personally experiencing the aftermath of lives taken "too soon", my question to myself is, "What am I waiting for?" There are so many people in my life that do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So many people I so dearly love haven't accepted Christ's gift of salvation. And I sit back and let precious days go by as if I've been guaranteed another. Fear of what my friends will think or if I'll even have friends anymore tends to stop me in my tracks. I justify this by saying the St. Francis of Assisi quote, "preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words" and take on a holier than thou attitude like I believe that my life sufficiently points people to Christ. I wish that were the case, but I find that unlike Joe Pesci's character in "My Cousin Vinny" I blend in more than not. At work, a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had lived in Haiti and when I was asked why, I explained that my parents were missionaries. The people I work with seemed surprised by this information and that has caused me to pause.  I didn't ask them why they were surprised. I guess I was too convicted  to find out if they just envision most missionaries having a 12 inch thick Bible thumping in their hands while wearing the largest cross necklace money can buy or if my lifestyle, my words, and my attitudes have not led anyone to deduce that I am a Christ follower.

Much to ponder as I prepare to gather with my family to say goodbye to an amazing man. I will miss you Josh Oltman (1975-2012).

Friday, December 21, 2012


"God is good." I need to be reminded of that right now as I am unable to make sense of my cousin's continued suffering. He entered hospice yesterday and there's a part of me that keeps asking why. And the answer I get is "I am good." I honestly don't doubt it. I don't doubt that God has a plan. My belief has not wavered. But, I'm not happy about his choice of plan, I can tell you that. I don't doubt that God is good, but it hasn't stopped me from yelling at him a few times since hearing the diagnosis. I believe that I can truly believe that God's plan is good and still be angry about it. I don't know if that makes sense, but that dichotomy is where I am right now. It's almost like a child who deep down knows that they are loved dearly by their parent but is angry that their parent has not said or done what the child wants. I do feel a bit like stomping my feet and throwing a bit of a tantrum, I will admit that's crossed my mind. Instead I cry and beg and plead and cry some more and then whisper, "God is good. God has a plan" and rest in His arms of comfort.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Taking Stock

My cousin is sick.....really sick. And this has affected me in some ways that I never would have expected. I'm not one that is really huge on tradition. I'm not a keeper of stuff, so when my siblings and I discuss who gets what after mom and dad are gone (I know, slightly on the morbid side, but in our defense, our parents started the whole conversation) I'm not the one that wants the furniture, the pictures, etc. I haven't ever had an attachment to stuff...until now. This year, I made our family recipe for Danish Kringle. I've never made it before. I've never felt the pull to continue that tradition...until now. Now I'm baking it and giving it away as gifts - just like my mother does and her mother did. Now I want to become a crazy scrapbooker and take pictures of every moment - creating a pictorial history of the moments we have together. I am beginning to realize that stuff isn't just "stuff" when it belongs (ed) to someone you love. It represents them. It brings memories to the forefront. It matters. Life is precious. Life is fragile. I am realizing that more and more each day. I want to hold my family close. I want them to know how much I love them and and treasure them. And I want our family traditions to continue as strong as ever so that we can pass them down from generation to generation. I've taken stock and I want to live my life in such a way that what truly matters is always at the forefront of each and every day. This may not be entirely realistic, but I really want to try.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thankful for Superman

I have difficulties looking at the big picture and problem solving my way out of a situation. I tend to get caught up in the moment, and seem to focus only on the problem and not be able to step back, take a deep breath, and use logic to figure out a solution. As the saying goes: "I can't find the forest because I'm lost in the trees."  Case in point:  The Oven.

Two days before Thanksgiving, the bake element on our oven burned out. I found a replacement element, read the directions online, and thought that I could do this on my own. As my husband had hurt his back the week prior, I thought that if I fixed it, that would be one thing he wouldn't have to do and possibly hurt his back further. It seemed easy. I pulled out the old element, and noticed right away that the connecters of the new element were shaped differently than the old. Because the manufacturer said that this was an appropriate replacement, I continued, thinking that it would not be a huge deal. However, I couldn't fit the connecters into the back of the oven. And, when I pulled it back out after getting it stuck, the oven wires were disconnected and were no longer in the oven cavity. They were lost in the abyss also known as the back of the oven. A rational person would have stepped back and evaluated what they could do to retrieve said wires. I couldn't didn't do that.  I freaked out. Thinking that I had just destroyed the oven and thinking that I had just created a bigger problem than I had tried to fix, I fell apart. I cried, I yelled at the oven, I shook the oven (because of course, these actions always help a situation). When I finally was worn out from my emotional tirade, and our dog Lucy had stopped licking my tears away,I defeatedly told my husband what I had done. He very simply unscrewed the back of the oven and the wires were right there. He showed me there is no abyss in the back of the oven. Logic does win out. And the whole time he was showing me, I was thinking to myself, "why didn't I think of that?"

It reminded me of a story my mother tells about when I was young. I was running and pulling my toy dog (I think it was a dog) around the kitchen table. The toy got wrapped around the leg of the kitchen table. As the story goes, I threw a massive temper tantrum right there in the kitchen and kept yanking and yanking on that string. And as the story goes, my older brother, the problem solver of us all, swooped in and saved me by gently explaining how to unwind the toy from around the kitchen leg.

Hmmm.... Forty years later and I still need someone to swoop in and save the day.

The Quitter

They say you learn a lot about yourself when you are training for a marathon. I think that's true, but I've learned or actually, re-learned a lot about myself during training, during the race, and after the race was over. It's been a month and a half since I ran the Chicago Marathon. People said it would be "life changing" and "amazing" and I'd "never be the same." All I can look at is what I've experienced, and what I see frankly, I don't really like.

All I wanted to do before the marathon was quit. Don't get me wrong, I had bursts of inspiration, but training was hard and what I learned about myself is that I don't like hard. I'm sure that working hard for something and see it come to fruition is incredibly satisfying. I know it is, I've experienced it before. However, that isn't the road I tend to lean toward. That isn't my first choice in routes to take. I choose the easy route any time it comes available.

All I wanted to do during the marathon was quit. The only reason I didn't was because I feared it would take longer to reconnect with my family afterward than just continuing along the route marked before me. Once again, although it seemed like I was accomplishing something really difficult, it was the easiest route for me.

All I have done since the marathon is quit. Some holier than thou runner posted something on facebook saying that if people quit running after they run a marathon they aren't really runners.

I told myself that the first thing I'd do was go out and get a 26.2 bumper sticker. I have yet to get it. Why? Because I don't feel as if I accomplished anything. I guess that's what it comes down to. I ran for all sorts of reasons, but one thing that I expected was to be changed. I expected to come out of the training and the race a champion. Instead, I came out defeated. I didn't accomplish my goal to lose weight during training. I didn't have a changed pallet that made me only crave vegetables. My struggles remain the same, my goals remain aloof, and I feel completely defeated.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Waylaid Again!

Poison Oak is a pesky enemy. I was initially exposed to the nasty thing sometime between August 25 and August 28th, I believe. I only had a few minor bumps for the first week but I now have huge welts of bumps ( there are individual bumps that are part of huge welt like bumps) down my neck, the back of both legs, my shoulder, behind my ear, and under my arm. This morning I noticed more individual bumps popping up down my leg, arm, and torso. I decided that going to the doctor would be my best course of action and every Facebook authority was telling me I needed steroids. So, I went. And I walked out with a new cream, an order to avoid heat, take cool baths, use oatmeal soap, take benedryl twice a day, and to not ingest cashews, walnuts, mangoes, or gingko biloba for four weeks. What I didn't walk out with were steroids. Evidently, if I get it on my face, especially near the eyes, THEN I'm in business. However, although I think steroids would be beneficial, the thought of having this on my face is not a welcome idea. I'd really like to avoid that. The problem that is now in front of me is that when all of this blew up all over my body I had just completed the long run for the week in my continued marathon training. The bumps/welts/rash are stimulated by heat. Well, if you're at all familiar with running, you realize that your body temp rises quite considerably while participating in the sport. However, if I want to get rid of this mess fast, I need to avoid it. The marathon is in three weeks. THREE WEEKS!!!!!  And I've decided that I need to not train for a week and see if I can get rid of this stuff. I may end up walking the whole cotton pickin' marathon if I don't get this stuff under control. But, God willing, I will be at the starting line of that marathon on October 7th.