>Our insecurities, magnified

>

I was thinking about this since I read a blog similar to it at Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, and since we had a rough morning at worship practice before church this morning.
Our insecurities don’t just disappear when we begin to get involved in ministry. In fact, our shortcomings can be magnified. That’s what the enemy wants.. for us to feel guilty, bitter, remorseful, and become so ineffective for the Kingdom. Who cares if we actually fall away from church… if we are lukewarm, we might as well have fallen away in my opinion.
My biggest strengths in ministry, and in life for that matter, are also my biggest weaknesses. I’ve been a musician for almost twenty years of my life. Piano lessons, guitar lessons, band, choir, worship bands.. you name it. I love being in a band, and having the freedom to go crazy on the keys. I love worship with all of my heart, and it’s brought me to my knees sometimes.
However, along with my passion, comes my critical side. Even on Sundays when I’m just out in the congregation worshipping, I listen to every little thing and quirk in the sound mix or whatever and it almost prevents me from taking hold of those awesome moments in God’s presence. Like I said, it’s what the enemy wants.
He wants me to become so critical and have such a condescending attitude that I will be rendered ineffective. Sure, I’ll play and sing with grace and feel something during worship.. but I’ll only be giving 5%.
So, I admit, I had a poor attitude this morning. Why can’t they play that right? Why can’t everyone be on time? Why why why.. blah blah blah. And guess what? I had my own humbling experience when I forgot what song we were playing after communion and Patrick had to tell me what it was. Embarrassing, yes. Without grace and precision, yes.
As I sat there at the keyboard staring at the keys in utter embarrassment (because you know, I never make mistakes.. ha!) I started to feel this bitter and self-deprecating attitude come over me. Then I realized that I’ve been through much more embarrassing things. I was not about to let the biggest joy of my life (besides being married, of course) be stolen from me in that moment!
Who cares what anyone else thinks? I made a mistake. I’m quite entitled, since I’m human. It’s inevitable. But it’s done, over with, and I have some worship to do.
In the past I would have let that one moment of confusion let me down for the rest of the morning. I still had another service to play through, and heck if I was going to waste it.
Part of maturity is recognizing and admitting to our shortcomings. Another part is realizing how detrimental living out our shortcomings can be to the Church. If I were to sit there and not engage in worship because of one little mistake that people won’t even remember in half an hour (we hope!), then I’m allowing myself to become rendered ineffective as a leader for that moment.
Of course, this little life lesson went right along with what Pastor Rick was preaching about… relating to people.
Hebrews 2:17-18: For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Jesus had to be made human in order to be relevant. How would it be if Jesus came in all His deserved glory, ruling over the earth with a spotless white silk robe and golden scepter? What if He were sitting on a throne, with thousands of servants obeying His every command? Because He’s God, He could have done that.
But He didn’t. He worked manual labor as a carpenter for almost twenty years before even beginning His ministry. He dealt with all temptations that we have, and was successful in overcoming them.
Sometimes we have to go through our manual labor for a long time before we’re ready to totally, 100%, embrace our calling. It’s hard at the time, but there is a great reward for our patience and diligence. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (I Pet. 5:6) 
Be prayerful and diligent in whatever ministry you are a part of… be faithful to the needs of that ministry and pray for its members as well. The Lord uses all things for good… maybe not good in our eyes. We deal with all our insecurities for a reason. I love what A.W. Tozer said,
All God’s acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time. And all His acts are as pure as they are wise, and as good as they are wise and pure. Not only could His acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined.”

>Uncertainty is not always a bad thing.

>We have our lives mapped out for us, even before we’re born. Our parents dream about what activities we’ll be in, who our friends might be, what schools we’ll go to. Then we grow up and start planning our own lives. Sometimes we resort to certain decisions because of a lack of no choice, but in the end things work out for good.

Although I may complain (me, never!) about the Army and all the uncertainties (and bullcrap) it’s brought, it’s just what we I needed to get off my overachieving, anticipating every moment high horse. We have five more years of this lifestyle, and more likely than not, he won’t reenlist. I am totally okay with that. Like, totally.

The best thing, though, is that I have no idea what will be happening when those five years are up. I mean, I have some ideas… have a child of our own, adopt a child, travel, buy a lovely house on the side of a mountain with a view of a lake and a hot tub on the deck and a library room with thousands of books and a baby grand adjacent to the dining room…. yeah. Or not. I have said before that we have felt a call to be missionaries, somewhere, sometime.

But right now, we don’t know where, and we don’t know when. We aren’t even sure if our mission field will be extended internationally. Honestly, it’s what I’m praying and hoping for, but who knows. I’ve learned in the past eight months or so that it’s not up to me.

And I embrace that. I love that in our covenant with God, we have total freedom to dream big dreams, and even in our uncertainty, He knows all things and is completely sovereign. Amazing, really, how it all fits together.

>Week in review

>This week has been a successful week for me.. I’ve been eating well most days and working out most days. Yesterday I went to the grocery store and went crazy in the produce section. Endive, avocado, tomato, strawberries, watermelon, onion, pineapple, carrots, snap peas, and leafy lettuce all found a place in my cart. I pureed some of the fruit and made ice cubes to put in my low-cal lemonade. I also got some 40-cal popsicles so I’m not tempted to run over to McDonald’s or DQ for ice cream. I have a horrible horrible sweet tooth, so hopefully those things will help.

As far as workouts go, here’s what my week looked like…

Sunday: 2 miles at the gym before church.
Monday: Rest day, but went with kids to Peoria Zoo. That was a workout in itself.
Tuesday: 4-mi tempo run before work. Yes, I did say before work. Felt great to be up with the sun.
Wednesday: BodyFlow class for an hour, and then ran 3 miles with Tim up and down Grandview.
Thursday: Rest day.. first real day of summer break!
Friday: BodyFlow for an hour
Saturday: Gabi and I are planning 7-8 miles tomorrow morning.

What a great week for working out! I got rid of those two pounds that were bugging me. My goal is not to lose more weight, but to tone up and be confident at the pool.

I also did a little yoga sporadically after my runs, just to stretch everything out. This included some oblique crunches. I HATE AB WORKOUTS. Do ya hear me?! HATE ‘EM. But I’ve been doing them, and by golly, I’ve noticed even the slightest change. Only a few more weeks before the hubby comes home!

I’ve found that since the marathon, I’ve been working out not because I feel obligated (well, maybe a little after eating all that ice cream…) but because I want to. Because I like the endorphins and confidence a good workout brings. I like feeling lean and strong, and I like feeling sore muscles the next day because it means that I did something.

Besides the 5K next weekend, I don’t have a big training goal right now… the closest race is in December in Las Cruces, a half marathon. I’m just going off of some principles in the Run Less, Run Faster book. The idea of doing three key runs and two cross-training sessions per week is amazing to me. I’m going to go off my current training paces with a goal of getting faster. Training paces in this book are based off of a recent 5K time (mine was 27:56).

5K pace: 8:57
Short tempo: 9:16
Mid tempo: 9:31
Long tempo: 9:46
Marathon pace: 10:22
Easy: 10:51

The great thing is that these are the paces I naturally settle into when running different kinds of runs. On our run tomorrow, I’d like to shoot for 10:00 pace.

So far, I’m embracing summer. Now, if only the weather could agree…

>I’m in love with someone else…

>…and we go way back.

I love summer. This one in particular, for obvious reasons (husband). I have never been so happy to see thunderstorms, rain and warmer temperatures. I assure you, I will not mind the heat in El Paso.

Here are some reasons I’m in love:

  • You can sleep in. However, I did wake up at 5:15 on my own this morning and actually felt rested. What is wrong with me?!
  • You can stay up till all hours reading. 
  • You can go swimming and not freeze when getting out of the pool.
  • I love the smell of sunscreen
  • I love how the sun lightens my hair.
  • I love how the sun tans my skin… and by tan I mean burn. Hopefully this summer will be different.
  • I hate shoes, so summer is perfect for wearing next to no shoes.
  • I love wearing flowy, summery prints and colors. I’m definitely investing in some more knit dresses.
  • I love thunderstorms, though I was taught a healthy, and sometimes irrational fear, of them.
  • I love waking up to rain and thunder.
  • I drink iced tea like it’s water.
  • I love having summers off. Yes, that’s one big reason I became a teacher. 
  • My paycheck is spread out over the entire twelve months. Nice.
  • The Fourth of July is a lot of fun… all of the W’s stake out our spot at the park at like 3PM and eat, play games and hang out until the fireworks start. It’s a fun tradition that I hope to continue with our kids, no matter where we are.
  • Vacations are fun.

>On the menu

>Today as I was driving to work for the last time until who knows when, I realized that in a few short weeks I will be cooking. And not just on Sundays for the week, but several times a week. Not only will I be cooking, but planning meals and shopping. This is very exciting because I will be able to cook for two people. It means that leftovers won’t go as far, but I will be able to share my budding culinary prowess with someone special.


I got the new issue of Women’s Health in the mail this week. I never used to be one to care for the recipes in magazines. That was boring stuff. Well, not anymore. I found this delicious-looking recipe for tropical guacamole.


Tropical Guac
Avocados are rich in healthy, belly-trimming monounsaturated fats. Because this dip is bulked up with fruit, it has fewer calories per scoop than traditional guacamole. 

1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp chopped red onion
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp chopped jalapeno
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped pineapple
1/4 cup chopped mango
1/4 cup chopped cantaloupe

Mash avocado and salt together with a fork. Gently stir in onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime juice. Fold in pineapple, mango, and cantaloupe. 



Yum. I love guacamole and I love fruit. This sounds like a plan. I will probably ditch the jalapeno, though. I like spicy things, but sparingly. Like, as a twice a year thing.


I also have a steak in the freezer I can thaw and make kabobs with yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, onion, pepper. I’m sure you’re wondering where this girl is gonna grill. That would be the George Foreman grill/griddle combo my parents gave us from their camping stuff.


I’m going to make tuna salad. What’s tuna salad without Miracle Whip and sweet relish? Gotta buy some crackers or pita chips to go with that. Maybe I’ll make my own…


For breakfast, I’m going to get some bagels to make them with peanut butter, bananas, and strawberries. Sounds delicious.


Needless to say, my husband will be spoiled most evenings with these sorts of foods… I’m sure he’s thankful that I’ve taught myself how to cook over the past two years.


I’ll need lots of healthy, filling options because sometimes I like to workout twice a day. Today I went to BodyFlow, and this afternoon I’ll be going on a run with Tim. Tomorrow morning, I’m planning on getting my butt out of bed at 5:00 to go to BodyPump, and Saturday is my long run with Gabi. We’re shooting for seven miles, eight if we feel good.


Bring on the summer! I’d better enjoy the rain while I can… there’s no water in the desert. 😉

>Runner’s Survey via Run with Jess

>What is your favorite type of cross training? 
Yoga, BodyFlow and BodyPump. I love how strong and lean my body feels after these classes.


What is your favorite song to run to? 
“Move Along” by All-American Rejects, “You Deserve” by Hillsong, “Stronger” by Kanye West

What brand of shoes do you wear? 
Brooks Adrenaline. I got fitted for a shoe that would help with overpronation. A little pricey ($110) but totally worth a great fit.



Do you wear a hat when you run?

I tried wearing one in the winter, and it didn’t keep my ears warm. The rest of my head was burning up. I wear a headband (BondiBands are great!) or just pull my bangs back with bobby pins.

What temperature is your favorite for running? 
50 degrees… I can wear shorts and a t-shirt and not feel too hot.

Do you have any big races coming up? 
I run the Washington Cherry Festival 5K on June 4th. I have a half marathon and marathon tentatively scheduled in El Paso. I haven’t registered for those races yet.

What is your favorite distance? 
For a long run, 10 miles. For a race, probably a half marathon. I’ve never raced in a half marathon though.

Are you a morning, noon or evening runner? 
Never at noon. I don’t get why you’d go out in the hot sun in the middle of the day unless you had no other choice. I like both afternoon/evening runs and morning runs.

Do you run solo or with a buddy? 
I prefer to do most of my runs alone, but for the long weekend runs, I love to run with Gabi!!
  
What’s your favorite post run snack? 
A smoothie with fruit, milk, ice and protein powder.


What’s your FAVORITE race?  My favorites so far have been the races in downtown Chicago (Hot Chocolate 15K and Shamrock Shuffle 8K). While the marathon was amazing for the spectators and the achievement of such a distance, running in a huge city with 30,000+ runners brings a sense of importance and community.


Do you wear a Garmin? If not, how do you track your runs? Yes.. hubby got me the Garmin Forerunner 405 for my birthday and I’m in LOVE with all that it can do.

What is your least favorite race?

Honestly, probably races like Race for the Cure, which are more focused on the charity than the race itself. I personally don’t know anyone in my family who has died from breast cancer, so the cause isn’t near and dear to me. I do think, however, that it’s a great race for a rookie. There are water stations along the way and a fun finish.

>On a new journey

>The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind. Graduations and parties that follow, first grade shenanigans at the zoo, and cleaning on steroids. I’ve been home for only a couple of nights in the past few weeks at a decent time. For me, that’s before 6PM. I love my evenings at home, cooking dinner for one and sewing or reading.

As you can see, I’ve also been blogging quite a bit (Check out the “Why I’m Alive” tabs above). It feels so redemptive to get my testimony out there; God has done great things! I am slowly but surely learning how to live a life of gladness and thankfulness. I’m learning that God wants us to have an “inexpressible and glorious joy“. Our God is a God who redeems and restores! Sharing my testimony has been so freeing; I wish I could describe the feeling with more eloquence.

Even as my husband and I continue on this journey together, I know God has great things in store for us. We are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

These last few weeks will be busy. I can’t believe next week is June already! We have been waiting for June 2011 for two years now. I will be running a 5K, going to see Hillsong with my bestie, and spending more time with friends and family.

As Aaron’s return approaches, I find myself calm and collected. No, really. I’m serious. If you ask me if I get nervous or have butterflies before I see him, I would reply with an emphatic “Yes!” as I wait with anticipation at the airport. But this time is different and new. For the past two years, we’ve known that we would only be together for a short period before going back to our geographical bachelor and bachelorette statuses. Now, we are moving in the same direction, at the same time, together.

I find myself not worried. I still have a list of things that need to be done, but overall I am not anxious. As things like small group, worship band, piano lessons, and long Saturday morning runs with Gabi are coming to a close, I wait with excited anticipation for what lies ahead.