Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pressing on

Two weeks ago I ran my fourth half marathon since April (well, since ever). Only for this one, I trained HARD. I started adding in speed work several times a week. My goal? A sub two half marathon (under 2 hours). It just seemed like a good goal. My first half marathon I ran at a 2:12 finishing time, my second was it just seemed like I should go for it. The day of the race came and I was ready! I was so sure I was going to meet my goal. I planned out what pace I needed each mile to be, I studied the elevation map to know where the hills were going to get me, I factored in time to re-fuel and I ran my little heart out (don't even get me started on my quads!). By the end of the race, I was both mentally and physically exhausted. I was so focused the entire race to be sure to follow my perfect plan to guarantee success. Unfortunately, success often times has little to do with how much we plan, or how perfectly we execute a plan - but instead throws LIFE at us. The unknown and unexpected hit, and all my mental energy and training just didn't cut it. I came in at 2:04. (2:02 according to my watch, but that is a different story.)

I was crushed.

I had worked so hard and for so long and still fell short. For the last two weeks, I've battled so many lies hiding deep within that have come to the surface all because of this failure....most of them somewhat to the tune of me not being good enough, or something like that. Comparison, envy, strife, sadness, defeat, and anger were raging within me. And as stupid as it sounds, I was upset with God for not letting reach my goal. I had prayed and prayed that I would succeed....I NEEDED to succeed (on many levels). Why didn't he just make this little thing work in my favor??

I came home so upset that in my haste - I signed up to give it one more try. There was another race set for two weeks out, and gosh darn it....I was GOING to reach this goal. I had trained too hard to only break my record by two lousy minutes. So I paid my fee, and I was determined! What I wasn't prepared for though over the next few days, was how incredibly tired I would be from my previous run (again, mentally and physically). Also, I had two friends/running coaches tell me that in their professional opinion (and as a friend opinion) - I would not have enough time to fully recover to be able to give it everything one more time in just two weeks, and that I needed to probably re-evaluate my goals.

Again, I was crushed. (And annoyed that I had just spent more money on another race that I probably STILL wasn't going to succeed in.)

Over the last two weeks, my body wanted nothing to do with running. I made it out for a total of 4 runs...and while not ideal, that was going to have to do. The night before the race, I wasn't even excited. All four of my other half marathons, I was bursting with excitement and nerves the night before. But this one? I was already feeling that ugly feeling of defeat (not to mention the pain involved in getting there). I just didn't want to do it.

So I went into my run on Saturday deciding to let go of my plan, to let go of my goal, to ignore my watch, and to just run. I would break all the rules and break out of the gate full speed ahead (rather than a slower pace to save up enough for the end), and was fully prepared to just sit on the sidelines crying around mile 10. (Defeatist much??)

Wanna know what I did do the entire race though? Did you catch it before? I let go of my plan, I let go of my goal. I just ran. I chose to be present regardless of the result. (In fact, my mantra for this other words, what I kept repeating myself to get me through the moments I wanted to quit, was just that - JUST BE PRESENT.) That wasn't all though. One other piece... I prayed. A lot.

I'm not one of those people that prays for a parking spot (not that there is anything wrong with people doing that - I'm just not that person). I don't usually find myself turning to Jesus and asking for a good deal at the store, or to sit by someone who doesn't smell bad on the plane. I live more with a general thinking that while I believe God is involved in every detail of my life - I don't often need to communicate with him about those details, I just need to trust him. So when it came to the race, me running a sub two half-marathon felt a little bit like praying for a parking spot. It just seemed silly. How fast or slow I am has nothing to do with eternity. It has nothing to do with who I am. It has nothing to do with Jesus. And yet I found myself pleading with him for 13.1 miles to sustain me, to strengthen me, to fill my asthmatic lungs, and sew my torn little muscles - to just let me break all odds and make my stupid little goal. I obviously wasn't capable of doing it, but could he please just give me this....for some unknown reason (read: pride), it meant a lot to me.

So on my 5th Half-Marathon ever (all since April of 2012) .... I crossed the finish line staring at a time clock that said 1:58:26. I thought about crumbling to pieces and weeping at the finish line. But my asthma kicked in, so I reached for my inhaler instead.

I was overjoyed, and un-impressed all at the same time. I had done it. Mission accomplished. This turned out to be one of my most dreaded races to the most enjoyable race to date. And just as I suspected, it wasn't super meaningful in the end. It doesn't mean much. It's just a time.

Later in the day as I was processing my race, I found myself thanking God for hearing me, for sustaining me, for letting me reach my goal.

Then he spoke. Clearly.

This race wasn't about a time. My race two weeks ago wasn't about failure. Both races he was using to remind me of my desperate need for him. No amount of planning or training will matter much without a reliance on him for the outcome. And not only a reliance on him for the outcome, but a heart that can rest in the outcome.

Remember all those lies I talked about earlier that have surfaced over the last couple of weeks about not being good enough (well, they surface a lot - but the last two weeks, it was almost unbearable)? THIS, these lies, is what he was after. He didn't care how fast I ran, but he does care about all the other areas of my life that I am feeling so defeated in. He heard my prayer that was meant for my fuzzy feelings - and turned them into a revelation that  I NEEDED to hear.

Aaron is often telling me to not be so tied to the outcome of things. (In other words, if things don't go according to plan or in a way I think they should...I throw in the towel and sit at mile 10 crying.)  I don't usually get what he's talking about. :) I had another friend last week, after listening to my woes, encourage me to just try to be present in whatever it is that I am doing (thus my mantra). Just be present?? I decided that was one of those "christianese" phrases that you never really know what they mean, but it sounded lovely. Lately though, I've found myself so tired and defeated that being present doesn't sound all that appealing.

So in my prayers to run fast - God heard me. But He didn't hand me this race because my time mattered to him, he did it because my heart mattered to him - and my heart desperately was needing to know that he still hears me and that he will sustain me in life, not just a race. He showed me through one little race that he has not forgotten me, that he will sustain me....and that he wants me to ask. The end result of my circumstances does not dictate who I am or my worth. No amount of striving, envy, work, sweat, tears, or planning will change what he has already ordained....and that to truly enjoy my journey through life, it would require me being fully present in whatever he has for me (both the failures and the successes). No fear, no clock, no agenda - just be present. He loves me enough to work out the outcome (he's already worked it out). He loves me enough to hear my cries. He loves me enough to not let me succeed at times. And he loves me enough to hand me the moon if he sees fit. And this past Saturday - he handed me the moon.

I know that running a sub-two half-marathon really isn't a big deal, but for me - it was huge. Not because of the time on a clock, or a shattered record or met goal - but because he used my weakness to remind me of his strength. He used my little hobby as a way to reach into the depths of my heart and equate it to my life as a whole right now. He met me where I was over 13.1 miles and reminded me that in LIFE's journey toward the finish line - he will ALWAYS sustain me....not because I've worked hard or planned well - but because since before time through death on a cross to now and for eternity - he loves me that much.

Oh how I long to receive the ultimate prize, to cross the best finish line ever, to see Jesus face to face in all his Glory, knowing that it is because of him that I am there. I needed to know right now that he is still with me, that in my daily life he is hearing my cry, filling my lungs, repairing the tears, and sustaining me every step of the way. So I'm thankful that for this last half, I chose to press into REALLY press into him.... not so that I could meet my goal - but so that God could meet me.

Phillipians 3:12-14 :
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Autumnal Equinox

Crisp fall air, leaves changing, beautiful mountain drive, Chai latte, pumpkin scones, Octoberfest Beer.....  these are a few of my favorite things! Yesterday - on the first day of fall (Autumnal Equinox if you will), I was blessed to experience all of the above.

The day started with a run through the crisp fall air (which I will take any day over the intense heat we have had this summer!). Then came the drive up the mountain with the family. We picnicked, we hiked, we picked leaves (and we got yelled at by a mad driver along the Peak to Peak Highway. Ba humbug!). Coming down from the mountain, I unloaded the fam and drove to my nearest 'Bucks for a nice hot Vanilla Chai and curled up in the corner with a great book. (I looked at the Pumpkin scones, and drooled. I mustered up enough self- restraint and settled for just the Chai.) I went back to the house and everyone loaded back in the truck. We made our way to the new BJ's on the 29th Street mall, because they happen to make the best Octoberfest brew I've ever had (of which usually sells out before October is even half get there FAST!). And we sat outside as that crisp fall air returned as the sun was quickly setting. It was fantastic. It settles this anxious soul in a way that few other things can.

Providence, the new resident photographer, captured a few shots of our blessed day.

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

I LOVE this pic that Provi captured. 

"Speak loudly and carry a small stick." What? That isn't right? 

Miss Mya has never had so much fun as running free throught he mountains.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Isaiah 30:15

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy one of Israel, has said,

"In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength."

But you were not willing ....

I feel a blog post (or three) coming on...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Politics, Religion and MLM's

(MLM's - Multi-level Marketing, Network Marketing, Pyramid scheme...whatever you call it)

What do Politics, religion, and MLM's have in common? (Well, while I'm at it, I'm going to add music, hashtags, memes, and potty training to the list.)

These are all things that people like to repeatedly complain about seeing as status updates on Facebook. We all have them - let's be honest. There are just some people who we eventually block from our feed after viewing the 400th post about (INSERT YOUR LEAST FAVORITE TOPIC HERE). I do it, you do it. We're all Facebook humans.

Is this a post about all of those things? Nope. Just about one of them.

I picked politics, religion and MLM's because that seems to be what gets people fired up the most. In all honesty, I've learned a lot through my FB friends about all three of these topics. I've annoyed my share of people, too. But recently, the MLM thing is one that I think is kinda funny for people to be annoyed about. (Really, I think it's funny to be annoyed about any of them - because if Facebook is nothing else - it certainly is a place for me to share "what's on MY mind".) But people seem to get so frustrated by others sharing their business on Facebook.

Here's the thing. There is a way to go about a home-based business, and a way to not. (Same with all other topics...) If you are sending out mass emails to your entire "friend list" regardless of if you actually talk to them or not - that maybe isn't a great way to go about a business. Posting status updates? Go for it! People can block you if they want. Basically, for anyone with a home based business - here's the deal.... Don't look at every person you meet in real life, or every "friend" you have on Facebook as your next sale. Look at them as a person. Maybe even a cool person. But please don't look at them as your means to growing your business. Don't con them into a phone call to listen to your up-line. Be honest and upfront about your intentions in any conversation that has to do with your business. If you're talking about potty training?? Well, con away.

So if that was all the wrong way, what then is the right way? See, here's the deal - people who are involved in Network Marketing aren't there just because they really believe they can be the worlds next Bazzillionaire. No, they are involved in their company because they truly believe that the product or financial freedom that their company offers has changed their life. (Okay, so there is a SMALL SMALL SMALL percentage of MLM'ers who are doing it to try and take over the world - avoid them, I agree.) So if "network marketing" is to truly serve it's purpose, it means that that person who believes in their product WANTS and NEEDS to network. They want their little world to know that there is an amazing product on the market that you happen to only be able to buy from them. And there is nothing wrong with this. We all share our favorite books, restaurants, websites, best places to get a deal, religion, politics, and potty training tips ALL.THE.TIME. Sharing about a product one happens to be selling is really no different if done with grace. Oh yeah...that's what this paragraph was supposed to be about - the right way....

Be a friend first. If you actually have a mutual connection point to talk about your life changing product, even if it is with someone you haven't actually talked to in years - by all means...share away. If you feel like casting the net wide via status update, by all means...share away (within reason). But again, do so as a real person.... as a friend. Be honest. Keep your friends your friends (this goes to both the person in the MLM and the friend who has to hear about the MLM). Home based businesses are NOT personal if all parties involved can view it as that. It's a different way of business that is becoming one of the fastest growing businesses, actually.

I have to tell you, some of my favorite products in my home have come through people who have shared about their business. From skin care, to cleaning products, to beer, to candles, to nutritional stuff.... I have found in-comparable products because someone was brave enough to speak up about their "pyramid scheme". And hey, if that's what they want to do for a living? Who am I to judge??

(Obviously, for those who know me well, you know that I myself have been involved, or am currently involved with MLM's. I happen to be a believer of the MLM industry for many reasons. But this blog truly has come out of watching many use FB poorly to promote their business, and also out of many who are too easily writing off what could benefit their life all because they are tired of Politics, Religion and MLM's. If you have a friend in an MLM - they are there for a reason. You can tell them no. It won't hurt their feelings. But if you tell them they are stupid for pursuing something they believe in, that might.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Accomplishing accomplishments

This past Sunday, I ran my third half marathon of the season. I'm hooked! Even though I'm slow, and usually have no other goal in mind than to just finish - there is something truly thrilling to me to cross the finish line after 13.1 miles. I've been pondering this ever since Sunday - this sense of accomplishment. See, in my line of work - there isn't much feeling of accomplishment. I suppose there could be - but it would require me stepping outside the chaos of daily life to see accomplishment amidst the mundane. Most of the time, I feel like my job requires 18 years of service before I will see much accomplishment. I know it isn't true...but that's where I live most of the time. (More on that to come in a bit.)

Back to the race. This race was a little different for me. The race itself (The Heart and Sole Half Marathon) excited me, as a portion of the profits went to benefit the Orphan of Aids Trust Fund - a cause near and dear to my heart. The course was the best one of the three races I've ran, and I can't wait for this race again next year. But what was different is that the first two races I ran were for me and my own challenge - this race I had the honor of running alongside and encourage four beautiful young women who had never run this distance before. A few of them have taken to calling me "coach", which I think is silly, because truly - it was just such a joy for me to train with them and encourage them that if I can do this, surely they can do this! All the way to the finish line I watched as two girls sped off so far ahead of me I could no longer see them, and stayed just inches behind as the other two girls crossed the finish line STRONG. I can't tell you how proud I was to see the accomplishment of these friends. Then it was my turn. While the pace was different than my norm, and I didn't leave it all out there - I stepped over the finish line grinning from ear to ear at the joy of finishing my little 13.1 miles once again. (I know - that's not little, but when I'm surrounded by major marathoners and crazy runners - I feel like I can't get too excited about JUST 13.) Truly though, the joy of being alongside these other NOW runners was one of the biggest joys I've experienced in a long time.

I can't exactly explain why the sense of accomplishment brought me such a high, and this is what is bothering me. What is it about the accomplishment that leaves us feeling such a high? Is it pride? Maybe. But not always, not this time. I wondered if this is what people who have real jobs feel like. Like Aaron? Does he feel this joy after marrying one of the couples he has counseled? Or after pulling off a weekend service? Or all my engineer friends who have projects that linger forever? Do they feel this way when it's all over? There is just something so fulfilling about working hard, putting in the time, sweat, and energy to finally cross that finish line (metaphorically speaking). But I'm left pondering how God fits into these personal accomplishments in the end. Obviously, He gave me the physical ability to run and train. But when it's all over, how does He fit into what I now feel? Because I want to truly say - to God be the Glory......

I shall ponder more.... but silently. Until then - enjoy these pictures. But don't leave just yet, there's more at the end.

My Mom and Dad were able to watch me cross the finish line this time!

Dad makes a good stretching pole.

Talk about accomplishment!!! My favorite running buddy and hero, Kassie, set her personal record at a time of 1:51. I want to run like her when I grow up!

Annika, Tiana, Danielle, me, and Mel SO happy to be DONE!

I was so proud of Mel. She jumped in late in the game with training, and was amazing all the way to the end. She showed me what perseverance and commitment looks like.

Go Mel!!

Danielle isn't even on the ground, that's how speedy she is when she can see the finish line!

Annika and Tiana giving it their all at the end. So proud of these two super stars!

Apparently when people call you "coach", it means they have the right to surprisingly dump water all over you at the end. 

What just happened?

I will pay you back. :)

Thanking God for an amazing race! 

Now, as if this post wasn't long enough - I do have one other accomplishment to share. It didn't hit me until all 5 kids were out of the house at school yesterday, but I was able to have it quiet enough for 5 minutes (actually, it only took one minute of quiet for me to realize something was different) to reflect on this small accomplishment. I know being a Mom is a big calling, and a big job. But as I said before - it's hard to always feel that in the day in day out. So on the first day of school, it hit me - over the last 12 years, I have birthed 3, adopted 2, potty trained 4, had 22 combined months of sleepless nights, taught, trained, raised, loved, fed and watered these 5 people out the door to school to learn of greater things. Tell me there is accomplishment in that! To this accomplishment - there isn't a doubt in my mind..... TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

 I need a sabbatical.

These pictures bring me even more joy.....

Eden the 4th grader

Sam my man, 3rd grade!

Kira the 1st grader

My Baby Man - Mr. Malachi....Kindergarten. Sniffle.

I told you I need a sabbatical. Would you look at that tired face?? (Me, not Malachi.)

Say it isn't so. Providence - 7th grade. Yes she is almost as tall as me. ..and even more lovely!

Here's to accomplishing accomplishments. Cheers!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mix all ingredients and WAIT on the Lord.

I heard a sermon on prayer the other day. I have to admit to being a little afraid and a little excited all at the same time upon hearing the sermon topic. Afraid because I seldom hear someone preach well on the topic of prayer, and excited because {true confession} .... I wrestle with prayer. A lot. Not wrestle in the sense that I don't pray. No, in fact, the opposite - "pray without ceasing" is one of the few verses on prayer in the Bible that truly resonate with me. It's all the other verses on prayer that I wrestle with. You know... like the ones about whatever I ask in prayer, I will receive (Mat. 21:22). Or the one about asking, seeking and knocking so it will be opened; and my heavenly Father longing to give good gifts (Luke 11:9-12 & Mathew 7:7-11). Then my favorite one about the Lord giving me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). The list goes on. If you've been around the church for a day, you know what I'm talking about. Honestly, it's easy to see how people can buy into the whole "Prosperity Theology" thing. I mean really, doesn't the Bible promise that if I pray in faith, I'll get what I want? Now where'd I put my Genie?

Back to the sermon I heard. The speaker really did do a good job of talking about God's sovereignty and how we don't always just get what we want. He did well with not making these verses into some big promise of an all powerful Genie who is there to grant our every wish. But he also did well in leaving me hanging (as most other preachers do) with this feeling that I don't have enough faith, and if I could just conjure up the right words, or an ounce more (a mustard seed if you will) of faith - then my prayers would be answered. It's a fine line, I know. And maybe I'm the only one who felt uneasy in the room. It was when the words, "Recipe for successful prayer" were uttered with 3 points to follow that my heart sank. I continued to hold on to hope that maybe this "recipe" is in fact what I've been missing. Because in all honesty - I don't feel like most of the big prayers I have prayed over the years have had a YES attached. So what was the recipe? 1) I belong to God because of Jesus. Agreed and Amen! 2) I have to pray in faith (even as small as a mustard seed). Agreed and Amen! Then the third point is where he lost me. I have to pray for the right things, not selfish things. Huh? The right things? Selfish, I get. I mean really...does anyone ask God to pay off their mortgage? I guess I can see the slippery slope of many prayers (asking for a raise) that could end in - "Oh, and while we're at it, could you just let me win the lottery". But that isn't usually the norm of what most Christians (myself included) that I know truly wrestle with. But the RIGHT things?

The right things: God's will to be done, Salvation of those around us, greater love, greater faith, to not murder. (Kidding, most days...) Of course those are all right things. And that's why my heart sunk. I don't need to be convinced to pray (as I stated already). But if I follow a personal God who wants to hear my heart and answer my prayers, then I will admit - my prayers reach beyond such generalized sentiments. And outside of such generalized statements it gets a little tricky to know what the "right thing" is. And when my heart and prayers go out to a God who I believe hears about things more specific than salvation, his will, love and faith - and come back with a's hard.

I went up to the Speaker after the message and shared some of these thoughts with him. I voiced that one of my biggest hang-ups with his recipe was this need to pray the right things. Because see, the Bible also tells us that we don't know how to pray as we ought, so thankfully, the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for our words (Romans 8:26). Agreed and Amen!

So then the problem here is that I believe that God is sovereign. I believe that he will do his will regardless of what I pray. Some may say - why pray then? But I believe that we are to pray. For many reasons...most of which have nothing to do with our actual current prayer being answered. I pray to enlarge my faith, to grow closer to the Lord, to allow him to work in my heart to guide my prayers toward things of his heart and will...the list goes on. But then I'm still left with this sinking feeling that the actual prayer itself - you know, the BIG ticket item that really matters most to ME - is sorta left hanging. A lot. And it isn't usually a selfish prayer.

There's the husband who is sick and in need of healing. God says no to healing on earth, and brings the husband and father home in what appears to be too soon of a time.

There's the mom who longs for children, but her womb keeps saying no. God says no, too.

There's the un-believing spouse (or wavering) who has a family desperately in need of said spouse to come to Jesus and lead the family well. God says wait, I know you are suffering, but wait.

There's the child on the other side of the world waiting for a family, who has to wait longer because of man and meaningless forms. God says not yet, I know he is suffering, but not yet.

There's the family torn apart by years of lies, hurt, and unforgiveness. If only a softness and a wave of grace could come over each member of the family - perhaps reconciliation could be. God says wait.

There's the child who has wandered from the family and from the faith. She just needs to come home. God says no. Not today. They will suffer for a while, but not today.

To personalize it - I recently applied for a job. A job opportunity that in all honesty sorta fell in my lap. It was one of those moments where you pause and wonder what God is up to, and proceed cautiously. Only I threw caution to the wind at some point (go figure), and my prayers were growing stronger and stronger for this job to come through. It SEEMED to be the answer to a lot of unknowns in our life right now. It seemed almost too ideal. I really thought I had it. I prayed as if I had it. You could say I prayed in faith. Until today. I got the email that no applicant wants to see. I did not get the job. I'll admit - it was one of those moments that I felt a bit like a horse with a carrot strung in front of my face - and God was the one holding the carrot. I was left confused, sad, and hearing these words ringing in my ears of a "recipe for successful prayer" wondered where I went wrong. Did I not have enough faith? Was I praying selfishly? Why was that opportunity even there for me to desire if God already knew the answer was no. The answer was no.

I can speculate all day long as to why any of the above mentioned prayers are, "No" or "Wait". But the truth is - I am not God, and I have no clue as to why. But what I do know is that he still worked through my prayers, and the prayers of many. I know that he is moving in all of it, that he hears all of it ...and mostly...thank God...his Spirit is interceding in all of it because I apparently don't know how to pray as I ought. So for now, I will continue to pray as I have been. Faithfully, persistently, and knowing full well that the answer could be no. But there is a reason my heart is stirred to pray as it does. And the reasons are ever changing as God orchestrates my life. That's a pretty cool thing, I think. Hard, but cool.

So for those of you who are like me and wrestle with this prayer thing, to those who feel like you know you ARE to pray (and want to even), but wonder if anyone is listening or are scared to hear no or have heard no - I tell you this: He hears! He is moving. He is shaping your heart and the hearts around you through your prayers. He is enlarging your faith and drawing you to his will and heart through your prayers. I agree, it is tiring. But he IS working all things together for good, and your prayers are a part of that good. To you and me, I offer this:

Psalm 27:14

Wait on the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Monday, June 11, 2012

My new favorite dinner

I can't take credit for the base of this recipe because of course, I found it HERE on Pinterest.

But OH.MY.GOODNESS. This is for sure my new menu planning staple. That's assuming I plan menus, which I don't. But the part of my garden that the dumb dog didn't destroy has all the fresh ingredients needed...well, other than the chicken. What are we talking about here? Sorry.

**Since I've already directed you to the original author, I am going to re post the recipe as I found it, but then add my changes. That's the entire reason I'm blogging about it. My changes were scrumptious....and nowhere near as healthy as the original recipe intended, thus - scrumptious.**

I present you with: Grilled Bruschetta Chicken. (Yes grilled...AKA: Minimal clean up!)

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken
Source: adapted from Kraft Foods

4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves 
1/2 cup KRAFT Sun-Dried Tomato dressing, divided
2 tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil leaves

Place a large sheet of heavy-duty foil over half of grill grate; heat grill to medium heat. Meanwhile, place chicken in resealable plastic bag. Add 1/4 cup dressing and seal bag. Turn bag over several times to evenly coat chicken with dressing. Refrigerate 10 minutes (I marinate it all day if I remember in time). Remove chicken from bag; discard bag and dressing.

Grill chicken on uncovered side of grill for about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 dressing, tomatoes, cheese and basil.

Turn the chicken over and place cooked-side up, on foil on the grill. Top with tomato mixture. Close lid. Grill 8 minutes or until chicken is done.

*Sometimes we add a splash of balsamic vinegar to give it a bit more zip.

Alright, so the thing with this recipe is that it only has about 200 calories. Fantastic. Except see, I'm a "runner" I carbo load every day. Oh wait, I did that before I was a runner. Anyway.... I turned it into, "Grilled Bruschetta Chicken SANDWICH". Magical, I know.

Here are my changes:
1) Add 2 cloves of garlic and 1/2 onion to your mixture that you top the chicken with...because really, you can't call it bruschetta without garlic and onion.

2) Definitely add the balsamic vinaigrette that the original recipe hints at (to both the marinade and the tomatoe mixture). You won't be sorry. Zip is always good.

3) Get yourself some yummy ciabatta bread. (Or if you are a COSTCO Member, there is a package of Torta rolls in the bakery section that would be an even better option. Yummy is the only word for this bread. We use it in place of all other sandwich buns when possible. Melt some butter, throw in some garlic. Baste the bread with garlic/butter mixture and broil until browned. 

Okay, so now you are closer to 350 calories .... okay fine, 450, but it is so worth it! What is brushchetta without the bread!?!?!

Seriously people, make this tomorrow. You will thank me. This sandwich is restaurant worthy. 

(And for those of you who are panicking because the original post doesn't tell you what to serve WITH this dinner - just toss a side salad and cook up some corn and call it a night. Okay, so also maybe some Blueberry Lemonade with a splash or two of Vodka. NOW you can call it a SUMMER night.)

Next, go for a run to burn those extra 250 calories. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This is 3 minutes of your life you will never get back

Last night I was awakened by our dog, Mya, at sometime around middle-of-the-night-o'clock. She was perusing our room, finding things to chew on. I was annoyed, so I shooed her to her kennel and locked the door. I fell back asleep. Next thing I know, Mya is making all sorts of ruckus in her kennel (which I should mention is a tad too small for her growing legs). I decided to open the door, figuring she needed to stretch. As I'm trying to return to my dreams, I notice that she is pacing our room. It dawns on me that she probably needs to go to the bathroom. Sigh. I laid there contemplating if she really needed to go out, or if she was confused by the opening of her kennel - as that usually signals morning time.

Yeah. She needed to go out.

Next thing I hear is a loud fffffttttttppppppttthhhhhhh.

Oh no, she didn't.

I jump from bed, hoping it was just gas, dart to the door only to UNKNOWINGLY step in what was not just gas. I take one step out of my bedroom door onto the wood floor and my now mushy foot goes in the opposite direction as I intended it to. I stub my toe (which is still throbbing!) on the coat rack and hit HARD on the knee I've been so carefully nursing back to health since running. "WHAT THE...." may or may not have escaped my mouth. STILL not knowing what was on the bottom of my foot, I proceed to stumble to the back door where I finally set Mya free, thereby leaving a messy brown trail from my room to the back door.

By this time, Aaron is finally awake, and standing over a pile of smelly who knows what. I tell him that I think she may have pooped on the floor. He informs me that she indeed did, and that I also have now trailed it across the floor.


An hour and a half later, we were all cleaned up. Mya came to my side with her puppy dog eyes and tail between her legs, shaking - as if to say, "I'm sorry".

I'm convinced that the only thing worse than cleaning up a mess from a child in the middle of the night is in fact cleaning up a mess from a dog in the middle of the night.

Lucky for her, she's cute.

As I retold this story to a friend today, she began laughing. I realized the humor (somewhat) in it all, and began to laugh at it myself. I'm thankful that a story like this didn't take long for me to laugh at. (And Aaron, sweet Aaron, is REALLY laughing at it. Ask him sometime in person to give you his version of the details. He has arm motions and everything.)

Good night.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Case closed.

Just a little update to let you know that the dog who bit Provi has been found. Driving home tonight, Provi thought she saw the dog in someone's yard. Honestly, I wasn't sure how to handle it. Do I call the Police and let them deal with it? Or do I confront her as neighbors, and allow Provi to get a closer look at the dog to be sure. We decided on the second option. It wasn't the best way to meet a neighbor you've never met - but it needed to be done.

As it turns out, it was a dog sitter walking the dog, and the sitter not only failed to act appropriately at the moment of the dog bite - but also in the aftermath. She never even told the owners about it. So tonight when we approached the owner, she was shocked and mortified. Provi's story matched up with everything - even down to knowing the first letter of the dogs name and the hair color of the woman walking the dog (and of course, recognizing the dog). The owner was extremely apologetic, and moved to tears immediately. She wasn't sure how to respond, and I can't say I blame her. I felt so sad for her. With her.

As I left, it dawned on me that this woman is now faced with the reality that I only feared with Gunther....her dog biting someone. I'm sad just thinking about what she is feeling right now. I guess a plus to us getting rid of G-dog under the circumstances we did, is that it made me a little more sensitive to what this woman could be feeling now. Seeing the heartbreak in her eyes, all of a sudden every ounce of anger I've had about this situation just melted. I had prayed as I walked to her house to be gracious in my words and spirit...that the Mama Bear in me would herself stay leashed. In an instant, God softened my heart, and showed me that He was taking care of all of this. I had mostly just wanted to know that the dog was current on shots and healthy. I know now that it is. So there is no need for such resentment or anger. Yes, I'm frustrated that the dog sitter didn't handle this properly. But as for the dog and it's owner, I'm just sad for them. These things happen, and it is unfortunate. I of course also want to know this dog won't hurt anyone else - but I'm leaving that in the hands of Animal Control and the dog owner. We were asked if we wanted to "issue a summons" (have the owner ticketed for owning a "vicious animal"). We said no. The dog will be placed under quarantine for 2 weeks as protocol, and that's all I really know. But I trust what should be, will be.

Providence is slowly healing, and we're keeping a close eye on the wound itself. As far as we are concerned, the "case" is closed.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mean Girls, Dog Bites, Gunther and Mya

What I really wanted to title this post is: Bi***'s that Bite. But then, that wouldn't be very appropriate now, would it?

Today my third grade daughter was called fat. Not only is she so NOT fat, but in third grade this is starting??? REALLY? Third Grade? Two girls in her class have been increasingly mean to her. What makes it even harder is that these two girls have been her best friends the entire school year. It's heartbreaking having to watch my child who is way too young to deal with such things struggle through the pain and drama that is young girls. We've been singing this song a lot lately trying to laugh it off....but it isn't getting any better.

Heartbreaking for this mama. Heartbreaking for my sweet little one.

Today after school, Provi was bit by a dog. She was walking home from the bus stop, and a woman walking two dogs was coming toward her. Both dogs were on leash, and the owner was moving her dogs into the street away from Providence. One of the dogs, however, lunged forward and got to Provi. She has the scars to prove it. We took an emergency trip to the Dr., as she was saying it was hard to move her hand (tendon damage??) and the bleeding didn't stop for over an hour. Thankfully, the damage is minimal and fixable. The pain in her hand was just normal shooting pains. The bite will heal in a week or so. (They don't like to stitch dog bites, as it raises the risk of infection.) But it will leave a scar, and a new found fear in my oldest. I hurt for her. I wish it had been me and not her.

One of the hardest parts for me about the dog bite is that all the owner did was say, "Sorry", and walk away. Provi says the owner knew she had been bit. (Uh, how could you not?? The blood stained arm made it pretty apparent.) I have a bit of anger to deal with in my own heart as I want so desperately to make right this wrong for my child (and our medical bills). I'm shocked and angry that someone would be so irresponsible with their dog and my child. I'm seriously thinking about posting a sign on the mailbox warning all the neighbors of this irresponsible dog owner and her vicious dog. Would that be wrong? Aaron reminds me that we genuinely want this woman to come forward, so marking her with a scarlet letter may not be the best way to make that happen.

A random side note that I haven't blogged about yet, as it still makes me sad....

We surrendered Gunther a month in a half ago. He was showing too many quirky behaviors that we could no longer justify, but mainly - he was showing signs of aggression. It was heartbreaking to our kids, and especially to me - Gunther was my pup. (See...I'm crying again , darn it.) But we explained to the kids that as responsible dog owners, we could not keep a dog that showed such signs of being aggressive to dogs and humans alike. We told them that if he ever bit someone, it would be really bad...for us and Gunther (and obviously, the person that got bit). We told them that we value human life, friendship with our neighbors, and the safety of everyone who comes in contact with us more than we value a dog. It wasn't easy. Many tears were shed (and sometimes still are). When no one else was around, Gunther was an amazing dog for our family, but it ended there. So tonight, I found it ironic that here we had made the hard choice to give up our dog so none of our kids or anyone else's children would get hurt - and along comes someone who obviously has different beliefs than we do and my child still suffers as a result. People of Boulder (and Seattle, I hear) - stop idolizing your dogs! It can't end well. Rant over.

Provi and the lap dog, Gunther. (This was when we loved him!)

We did get a new dog the day after Gunther's return, thinking it may ease the blow some. She has. She's a entirely different temperament of a dog. She's also a puppy. She chews on everything, and as a result, has lessened our junk, I mean toy load by a lot. She digs up my yard. But she is sweet. She loves all people and all dogs. She welcomes visitors to our home. Mya has finally worked her way into our affections, and I know it was right to make the hard decision we did. (Although, I couldn't stop thinking how Gunther would have gone ape crazy on the dog that hurt my Provi. Mya would probably have tried to give it kisses. Oh well.)

What's not to love, really?
Tonight at bedtime, my husband whom I love had the family devotions set on Genesis 50:20-21 ~ "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear, I will provide for you and your little ones."

On a day that this Mama bear felt her inability to shield her cubs from the hurts of this world, this was a timely message for me. On a day that my cubs faced fear, anxiety, sadness and strife - this was a timely message for them. I know God is there when the mean girls are fierce. He is there when the dogs are biting. He is there when I have to surrender an idol of my own (AKA: Gunther). He is there, and he means it all for good.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Great Read on Gluttony

I appreciated today's post from The Resurgence sight. It's called, "How the Gospel Overcomes Gluttony".

For a girl who battles moderation, contentment and false comforts on a regular basis, this article reinforced many truths that God has revealed to me over the years - just written all in one place. Whether you find your pleasure in the over-indulgence of food, TV, athleticism, alcohol, sex, work, or anything else .... this is a fantastic read.

"The root of every sin is a disaffection for God".

Right on.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A link that works, please

One of my growing frustrations on the beloved Pinterest, is when people re-pin things without actually following the link. (And yes, I will confess to doing this myself...a habit I plan to stop because of this frustration.) When I actually go to the link to find the recipe, the craft idea, or whatever it may be - I've been coming up against nasty websites, dead links, or recipes in Spanish. None of these are entirely helpful to me. So many things look great in a 1x1 square with some fantastic rave review underneath - but really people, don't believe everything you pin.

Rant over.

The entire point of this post is because there was a recipe I had pinned recently that I bought what I assumed would be the needed ingredients earlier today. I came home and went to pull up the actual recipe to make it. Only, the URL could not be found, I was told my my trusty computer. Sigh. So I figured, how hard can this be? The little description on the pin said Cottage cheese/tomato/cucumber/pepper and had a little picture. So I decided to throw together what I imagined the recipe would have told me to, had I ever gotten to it.

And I'm here to tell you how yummy it was! (Actually, is...I'm eating right now. ) So in case I led you astray by pinning the dead recipe, I'm trying to make right my wrong here.

My mother is going to be so proud of me. I hate tomatoes. Of course, I blame it on her - 1, because you blame everything on your kids will do it to me one day too. (KIDDING, MOM!) And 2, because she once made me eat a grilled tomato with brown sugar (or something) on top. It was a soggy nasty mess of an idea if you ask me. I don't mind the taste of tomatoes, but I've never been able to handle the texture. And yet I can eat cottage cheese??? I know.... I'm strange.

So, here it is .... the Cottage cheese/tomato/cucumber/pepper thingy.

1) Cut the center out of a large tomato. Make 3 slits on sides of tomato. (I have no idea what the slits are for, but it was in the picture, so I did it.)
2) Scoop out inside of tomato and dice finely. I say dice finely, because then you won't notice the texture as much. I suppose you could have large chunks if you are strange and prefer that.
3) Chop 1/2 of a cucumber.
4) Cut up 2-4 green onions. (When you have one of the little bunches of green onions, is the entire bunch considered the onion? Or is each little sprig thingy it's own onion? I have no idea. I'm talking here about 2-4 of the little sprigs..not 2-4 bunches. And yes, all my friends who think I'm this amazing cook can now laugh away at my lack of onion knowledge.)
5) Combine tomato, cucumber,  and green onion in a bowl. (I added 1/4 tsp of chopped/minced garlic because I love garlic. You could leave it out, I would imagine.)
6) Add 1/2 cup of cottage cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7)Mix together and scoop back into shell of tomato.

So this is really good! The cottage cheese completely conceals the gross tomatoes. I wasn't able to fit the entire amount back into the shell, so maybe next time I may cut back on the cottage cheese? Or I might just go over and eat the rest of it out of the bowl. I haven't decided yet.

And if you are interested in the nutrition facts, using 2% cottage ya go:

Calories: 153, Fat: 2.85 g, Cholesterol: 10 mg, Total Carbs: 12.4 g, Fiber: 1.15 g, Protein: 16.84 g

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I FINISHED! With a total time of  2:12:42. My goal, as you remember, was to just finish! I did also have it my head that I wanted to average 10:15 miles. I finished at 10:08 instead! Yippee! The best part is, I had a blast! I loved the atmosphere, I loved running with 3000 of my closest friends...okay, so maybe only about 10 of them were friends, but whatever. I loved the joy of finishing. I honestly just had an all around great time! Sure it was challenging, but it was so, so good. Some great songs would come on my itunes, and sometimes I decided to have fun with it and get into the groove with my whole body. My arms were moving, my feet were dancing, and at one point I began to sing along hoping the crowd would join in. But nooooo...everyone was so serious. Boring. So instead, I just made a fool of myself. At least I'm used to it! In the pictures to follow, Aaron was making fun of one of them saying - "oh, way to smile for the camera". And in all honesty, I don't know that the smile ever left my face! Well...until about mile 11. Then I'm pretty sure it was replaced by grunts and huffs and puffs and words that are not suitable for this blog.

Miles 11-13 were for sure hard for me. I had never run past 11 miles in all of my training - so my body was screaming out in confusion. And go figure, mile 12-12.5 was a very.large.hill. I knew from looking at the course map that there was a hill there - but when I saw what was before me, I wanted to cry a bit. My trusty friend and coach (Corrine) assured me that I could do it, that it was no worse than a hill that we would frequent in our training. I thought about smacking her upside the head telling her that said hill was not after 12 miles. But I didn't. I pressed on. And it helps that a song with a pretty powerful beat came on my iTunes as I started the hill. So i tipped my hat down leaving only enough room to glance at possible feet in front of me, and I ran to the beat until I was at the top. I didn't want to know when I'd get there, only when I was there. That worked for me.... Because next thing I know - I hear Corrine saying, "LOOK! It's the finish line!" With about 100 meters to go, I saw the clock saying 2:15:and some amount of seconds. (The time difference between that and my finish time is because I was not in the first starting wave of the race. The times were adjusted and printed later.) I was determined to finish strong and before that clock said 2:16. So I went into a full on ugly sprint. (No really, U.G.L.Y. I am not a cute runner, and an even uglier sprinter.) What happened at that moment just made me smile again. The crowd began cheering! Maybe they weren't cheering for me - but it felt like they were! The only flaw in this, is that my body was not happy with my sprinting and was begging me to stop. However, my pride said - but they're all cheering for me...I must finish!

And then it was over. 11 weeks of sweat, sore muscles, and a lot of time .....and it was over. And it was so worth it! I can't wait to run my next race! (Which by the the Chicago Half Marathon in September. More to come on that, as it involves YOU!) Other than "just finish", I saw a pin on Pinterest (go figure) recently that I had in my head as my "mantra". See, I'm really good at hearing the voice in my head that says I can't do things... so this was a fantastic quote for me. I should really think about using it in several areas of my life, to be honest. But today, it was all about the run!

Before I post pics, I wanna give a shout out to my friends and coaches, Corinne Baur and Christy Hires. These two women have encouraged me and inspired me (as many of you have as well). I can't tell you how huge FINISHING this has been for me. I am not known for endurance or long suffering. No, I am best at running (make that a brisk walk, actually) and hiding. I'm best at starting things and not always finishing them. But these two women, as well as the rest of my running group, made this endeavour fun and do-able. And honestly, I credit the amazing training program laid out by Corinne in her recently published book - Running By The Book - for the much needed solid foundation to stretch myself in this way. If you do run, want to get into running, or know someone who does - this is the book for you! And in fact, to celebrate my little victory - I'm giving away a copy of her book! Leave a comment, get your name in the drawing once. Link to this post on Facebook, get two entries! LIKE Running by the Book on Facebook (click on that link) and get your name entered three times.can't do this. Because if I can - trust me, you can...and you need this book to get there!) I will draw a name one week from today, Sunday April 22, 2012.

Okay, sorry to blab for so long. Here's the pics. I look almost as cute as the woman in the picture above...but nowhere close, actually.

 Nothing like a cold April day in Colorado. Thankfully,  the skies cleared for most of the race. Near the end, a brutal cold wind was at our face, which was annoying...but I'm thankful it wasn't snowing or raining!

Corinne was "pacing" me throughout the run. I joked with her telling her that I felt like a dog, constantly looking back to make sure my master was still right behind me. (I'm #303!)

I'm just a tad excited at the start. But why wouldn't I be???

Wow, that is one tall person in front of us. Random, I know.

Sprinting to the end. (Hey, I warned you it wasn't cute.)

I snuck around a few at the end and squeezed in just before 2:16! 

DONE! These 2 stayed by my side the entire time. Corinne on the left, friend and running mate Danielle in the middle. This was Danielle's first half as well. I was so proud of her! She ran today even though she was sick! And she never once  complained.

Always good to be able to laugh after! At least we weren't crying!

Christy and her husband Tracy. He was brave enough to be the one man in our running group today!  

Waiting for post-race food. It turned COLD! The girl in the white jacket next to me is a long time friend, Kassie. I'm so proud of her. She finished today with a time of 1:59. She is my hero! I basically want to run like her when I grow up.