March 31, 2012

Track Season and Red Shoulders

Summer has come just a little early this year. 
The tender pink skin on my shoulders is my definite proof of this fact. 
Or maybe, instead of summer, I should simply say this...
outdoor track season has started. 
This year I have the privilege of cheering on my team. 
Cheering them on from silver stands on the sidelines, but still, in my own way, a part of the team. 
I get discouraged, I get overwhelmed, I'm still hoping for a good run without any pain whatsoever, but I will take whatever I can get. 
Between practices in the sun and long hours at different track meets this week, I have a feeling that 2012 will be the summer when I turn as brown as a berry. 
That phrase has never made much sense to me, because while I don't claim to be an expert on berries, I know for a fact that I have never encountered a brown one. 
Red, of course. Blue, obviously. 
But brown? No. Definitely not. 
Whoever came up with the phrase "brown as a berry" must have been from a country far from here in a land of different colored fruits. 
I'll ask my mom about that one, maybe it's a South Africa thing. 
I'd ask my dad, but he never uses that catch phrase, so maybe berries were in short supply when he was growing up in Jerusalem? 
I digress...
Today was one of those days when the sun was high and the air was muggy with the wave of oncoming summer. 
Driving up through the backgrounds from Shawnee to Ponca was relaxing and hazy. 
Talking and being with my friends at the meet was exciting and interesting. 
I'm blessed by friendships.
Every. Single. Day. 
Different people, different stories, different lives woven into this moment in time. 
I remember periods when friends were in really short supply for me. 
Hard days, lonely days, days when God showed me time and time again that His grace is indeed, always sufficient. 
As this school year is reaching its final countdown, I keep thinking about the ways that my relationships have changed over the past year. 
Today I dove all over the state of Oklahoma, talking to people who I didn't even know existed a year ago. 
Friends who have stolen my heart. 
Today I got more sun on my shoulders than I got in a month of parade vending in the Florida sun. Not too shabby. 
So today, my thoughts are easy going and basic...
I like lemonade. 
I like blue skies. 
I like the smell of freshly mowed grass. 
But mostly, I like simple living right now. 
There are stressful things going on all around me. 
Job hunting. 
Trying to figure out my plan for the summer. 
The final crunch with classes. 
Running frustrations and running victories. 
Life all crammed together. 
But in this moment, this March 31st, 11:47 moment. 
It's really only coming down to the sound of my parents laughing in the other room, my puppy on the ground next to me, and the sting of a nose that encountered a little too much sun today. 
Life, pure, simple, and intentional. 

March 23, 2012

Pounding Pavement and Injuries

I don't feel fear easily. 
I'm not saying this to puff myself up and look tough, it's just a fact...
I don't like to live my life in fear. 
But sometimes there's a certain moment when fear sparks out of nowhere and I feel my stomach clench and my vision get blurry. 
And here's me being brutally, honestly, raw...
I felt this fear today. 
Twisted around my heart with an iron grip. 
After doing everything but running for three weeks, I finally got the go-ahead from a doctor that I could start jogging again before building my way back up to running. 
I practically skipped home from his office. 
Sure, there's still stuff wrong with my hips, but I don't need to stop running. 
I'm running as soon as I get home. 
Three weeks of build up, three weeks of watching practices from the sidelines, three weeks of enduring gorgeous weather, beautiful scenery, and just sitting there wishing that I could run...those three weeks were over. 
The familiar routine began: Nike socks slipped on, then Asics tennis shoes, laced up and double knotted. 
Hair braided back. 
Watch strapped onto my wrist.
One last sip of water and a stick of gum.
I've done this a thousand times. 
But standing in my driveway today, looking down my road, I was hesitant to take off. 
I knew that it wouldn't be a great run.
I knew that I needed to limit my distance to just a few miles at first. 
Even though I've been working out longer and harder than I have all semester to stay in shape for these few weeks, I still haven't run.
No amount of biking, lifting, or Nike workouts straight from the Insanity program can take the place of rubber pounding on asphalt. 
Running is its own sport. 
And not feeling the satisfaction of distance covered by my own two feet for weeks scared me. 
I wanted to run more than anything else, but when it came time for that moment of take off, I was nervous.
Nervous to fail. 
Nervous to not be good enough.
Nervous to be weak. 
I took off. 
Watch started. 
The goal: ten minutes out and ten minutes back.
I wanted to run 5 miles, but I've been down this road before. 
I get ahead of myself and I don't heal. 
So I set a limit, an easy limit to warm my body back up into this sport.
The streets were familiar. 
The roads well covered by my feet. 
The distance covered was what I expected to cover. 
My pace was good. 
My hips were weak. 
And I felt just like I thought I would...
a mix of the adrenaline, freedom, and then there was sharper pain than I remembered feeling before.
My body had gotten used to the pain after months of running through it, and now I've grown unaccustomed to it all over again. 
So in some ways, I'm back at square one. 
Getting strong again. 
Learning to beat the pain again. 
It's a mix of emotions to finally be able to run again, but with a new realization that I have to limit my body now. I have to learn when to push and when to pull back. 
The fear wore off the minute my feet started their familiar rhythm on my streets, that nervousness passed quickly. 
Running never fails to teach me new lessons. Even when I'm not running for long periods of time, I'm learning. 
Learning to start the race when I'm scared. 
Learning to listen to my body and when I need to stop.
Learning that sometimes I'm covering more distance by covering fewer miles. 

 "They who have conquered doubt and fear have conquered failure."

- James Allen 

March 22, 2012

Chasing Satisfaction

[I started writing this the week before midterms, the day that I was told that I needed to take 3-4 weeks off of running if I ever expected my hip to heal. For some reason, I never clicked the publish button, so here it is...a little delayed but the words still ring true.] 

Eyes sticking together with sleep.
Face scrubbed clean of the dirt of the day.
Legs crossed Indian style on my chair.
My mind? Exhausted.
My heart? Chasing satisfaction.
My lips? Saying prayers that don't mean as much as they used to mean.

Sometimes I get stuck in a rut of the same problems, the same prayers, the same petitions, because I am so used to saying those words to God. But the things that are really on my heart, the new things, the raw things, the words that choke me up? Those go unsaid. I'm not used to saying them out loud.
I am tired tonight. There are tests coming up that I don't want to take, there's advice about running that I don't want to hear, and there are too many weeks between today and the first day of summer. It's just one of those nights.
I don't want to chase satisfaction. I don't want to be on a constant quest for contentment. There is so much more to serving God than a chase for things that will never satisfy. I am content by the ocean, I am satisfied traveling, but those things will still fade. My contentment is up for grabs to the highest bidder and I am not okay with that process. I want my heart and my satisfaction to only ever be answered in the moments when I take up my cross and follow Jesus. Until then, this world will never be enough... and the chase for satisfaction? It will always remain just that, a chase. 

Jesus continued to say to all of them, “Any of you who want to be my follower must stop thinking about yourself and what you want. You must be willing to carry the cross that is given to you every day for following me. (Luke 9:23)

March 6, 2012

Red Letters - Give Me Jesus

I am tired. 
I'm worn thin.
Ready for a break. 
Ready for a change in scenery.
All I want is to take a long nap and wake up on the first day of summer.

But instead? 
I'm skipping the daily devotional.
I'm forgoing working on my memory verses. 
I'm not really even getting a lot of words out in my halted prayers.
Instead, I'm going straight for the red. 
The red letters. 
I'm skipping every word written in black and holding onto the red words.
The ones that came straight from Jesus' mouth. 
Because they are what is sustaining me. 
The breath of Christ. 
His truth.
His character.
The reason that my heart beats with a purpose. 
That's all I want tonight.
Forget glamour.
Forget a message. 
Forget everything that makes a good blog post. 
Forget all of that.
I just want Jesus.