Breaking News: “Top Nine” Doesn’t Capture Most Important Moments

I use Instagram fairly regularly, probably with more regularity now that I have opted out of Facebook. I know, I know, Instagram is owned by Facebook blah blah blah.

Everyone’s been posting their “Top Nine” recently – the most liked photos in their feeds. Once again, social media panders and quite frankly takes advantage of our desire to be liked and seen and celebrated.

I share my Top Nine, because why not? But I have to add that my top moments most were not shared on Instagram for the world to see.

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I can make quite a few assumptions about 2018 from these pictures. I traveled a lot, spent some time in the hospital, exercised a bunch, and am apparently still in love with my spouse. These are all true, but there’s so much more that happened in 2018 not pictured here, like that kid who was absent on picture day.

I will spare the weary reader nine things that happened in 2018. But I will share that one of the best memories is sitting with my sister on my parents’ porch late at night pondering the recent death of our grandmother and watching an amazing Midwestern thunderstorm. I will share that the reconciliation of a friendship was culminated in lovely time spent with her and her family. I will share that the financial and childless freedom to travel to new places has really helped me settle into my unforeseen reality. I will share that my husband and I are indeed more in love than ever. I will share that modern medicine is amazing and I am forever grateful to the surgeon who listened to me and finally was able to diagnose me with endometriosis.

All those moments and more made up a painful, wondrous, family-filled year. They say that one’s formative years usually happen before age 25, but I argue that all years can be formative, some more than others. I’m thankful I have the maturity and wherewithal to really appreciate the important work that time and openness can do for our souls.

Here’s to a blessed, wonderful, hard 2018. And let’s welcome 2019 with open arms.

 

A Very Beth Thanksgiving

As I reflect on the Thanksgivings I’ve had since getting married in 2008, I’ve realized that we’ve had exactly one tradition: no tradition. And I kind of like it.

Thanksgiving 2008: I honestly don’t remember what we did, but I know we (my husband and I) spent it with our families. This was pre-layoff, pre-Army, pre-moving. Little did we know how much life would change….

Thanksgiving 2009: Aaron was in training in Arizona, and I flew out to Phoenix to spend the weekend with him. We stayed at this resort Thanksgiving night and had the dinner the hotel offered. It was awesome. We spent the rest of the weekend at a cheaper place, haha. One night at that place was enough for our bank account!

Thanksgiving 2010: Aaron was in Korea, and it was the first set of holidays we spent apart. I spent the day with my family and his, and I remember Skyping with him in my in-laws’ living room.

Thanksgiving 2011: This was our first Thanksgiving just he and I, and it was our first here in Texas. We had signed up for the Turkey Trot, but we decided to skip it to make a huge meal with all the fixins, including my first turkey. We had leftovers for dayyyzzzz.

Thanksgiving 2012: Aaron had just returned from an exercise overseas, so we were so happy to be together. We did the Turkey Trot in the morning (now one of my absolutely favorite things to do every year), and then stayed downtown for the parade. Later we spent the day with dear friends Alvin and Lacey and Lacey’s family just a few miles from our house. It was nice.

Thanksgiving 2013: This is what I have dubbed A Very Beth Thanksgiving. Even before Aaron deployed in the spring, I knew who I’d spend Thanksgiving with, my “adopted” family here in Texas. It was 24 hours of crazy fun. Wednesday night I went to a friend’s house and had a delicious ham dinner with friends from our college/20-somethings small group. Then, early Thursday morning Leah Beth, her oldest son, and I went downtown to run the YMCA Turkey Trot.

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I had my sights set on running a new 5K PR this year, but after I took a little over a week off because I was sick last week, I wasn’t sure how I’d do. I was shooting for 26:30, but I’ll take this! My previous official 5K time was 27:33. I’ve taken nearly 6 minutes off my 5K time since my first 5K in 2010 where I had a time of 32:17. I really think though that if I’m consistent with speed and hill work I can improve even more. I also was hoping to see Farrah of Fairy Healthy Life and we ran into each other!

I PR'd! 26:49 official time!!
I PR’d! 26:49 official time!!

After the race, Leah Beth, Nolan and I were freeeezing from being sweaty. We headed back to their house, destinkified (yes, it’s a word) and finished up dinner. We did not cook our own turkey; instead, we ordered a smoked turkey breast from Rudy’s Texas BBQ. We had a slightly unconventional menu, including fruit salad, cranberry walnut salad, Texas potatoes, corn casserole, Hawaiian rolls (um, duh), apple pie, and Mississippi Mud. I have to say, this is the first holiday where I have not overindulged!

So, we had Leah Beth and her family; me, Elizabeth; and my “Mexican twin,” also Elizabeth, for dinner. We call each other “twin” because even though we have different cultures and first languages, it is freaky how many things we have in common. Seriously freaky. I just love having wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ! We truly are a family away from family.

Elizabeth, Leah Beth, Elizabeth (me)
me, Carson, Elizabeth
me, Carson, Elizabeth

Do not be deceived; our day wasn’t over after dinner. We watched Elf, which I am ashamed to admit that I had never seen. Elizabeth left and Leah Beth and I left to work a shift as “friends and family” at Old Navy. We worked together at a table giving cards to people who had received wristbands as they walked in for a chance to win a million. Most people were really nice and even offered to share a portion of their winnings with us, and we also of course had a couple interesting characters. After our shift was over, we shopped at Old Navy (50% off!) and then went to Target expecting it to be pretty busy. However, since the sales had started so early, at 1 AM it wasn’t busy at all. It was probably the calmest Target experience I’d had here.

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Working at Old Navy

We got home roughly at about 2 AM and we crashed. Hard. I’d been up for almost 24 hours because silly me, I had caffeine late Wednesday night and couldn’t stay asleep. The Very Beth Thanksgiving was undoubtedly a Thanksgiving to remember!

As you can imagine, it’s difficult to be half a world away from your spouse anyway, let alone during the holidays. But I’m thankful for a family who’s adopted me as their own (I’m Aunt Biff in that house ;)). Not every military wife with a deployed spouse has that. Several times this week when I thought about how many people I know here who love me and would help me out at any time, I became teary-eyed and felt overwhelmed with gratefulness.

Now the countdown is on for the end of the semester. Monday begins the last week of classes, and then we have finals and then I’m DONE until the third week in January. My favorite aunt comes to visit soon, and then we spend the weekend together here before flying back to Illinois together. Both of my sisters have come to visit me this year at different times, but my family hasn’t been together in one place since last Christmas. A year is a long time to go between visits!

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Ready to roll

A 15-week training plan sounded like a long time, but here we are, two weeks away from putting that mountain under our feet, literally. Today we had the last really long run (14 miles) before we do one more “normal” week, run 8 next Sunday, and then we have one week of taper.

Just in the past few weeks, I’ve really been ramping up my training, following our printout of all the runs to the T… and guess what? It’s starting to show. My running was consistent during the summer, but it was hot and I hadn’t trained for a race in a long time. I was happy with just getting the miles in. Now, I’m hitting paces that make me proud and really feeling good on the runs.

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It was a chilly 53* when we started. I’ve become such a pansy to cool/cold weather since moving here. But what can I say, it just makes me fit in with El Pasoans more. 😉 I wore a long-sleeve shirt which was a good idea; I encountered my running high a few times during the run and it always gives me goosebumps.

I felt strong going up the inclines; there were three big hills. Going back over Scenic after I’d already come over the other side AND run to the edge of the canyon (Alabama is straight and uphill) I still felt strong. When I hit mile 7, I knew I had this run in the bag. I didn’t have negative splits like last week, but I was smiling from ear to ear when I reached the top of Scenic on the way back over and hadn’t stopped to walk. I felt like a rock star.

I bypassed the last water stop at mile 11-ish because I had my Camelbak and I was rocking a good pace (around 10:00), so I just kept on runnin’. Around mile 12 my legs started burning, but it was just a sign that I was almost done and I was gonna make it!

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I mean, look how consistent those last four miles were! That’s what I want when I race in two weeks.

I confess that when I completed this run, I almost started crying. I’m like Kristen Bell that way: “If I’m not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I’m crying. I’m crying if I’m too sad, and I’m crying if I’m too happy.” I just couldn’t believe that I’d come to El Paso HATING running, I mean… HATING it. It was too much elevation, too much like an oven… and now I feel like I’m back to where I was mentally before the Illinois Marathon in 2011.

The other fantastic thing about today was that I felt comfortably vulnerable during church today. When I get there, my body and mind are spent – I’m tired, sore, and still HUNGRY (but caffeinated with a venti extra hot extra vanilla nonfat caramel macchiato), but the transition from runner’s high and to the presence of God is pretty great. I love worship and I really gave Him my all today. I was in a place of complete surrender.

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Moral of the story: I’m not gonna be upset. All that’s left to do for today is take a nap, foam roll the heck out of my legs, and feel satisfied because while y’all were sleeping, I was running. Go get you some.

Still long distance

I don’t know what’s happened in my brain in the past couple weeks, but I want long distance running to be a way of life. I want to want to run most days of the week, and get antsy on the rest days. I want to challenge myself. I want to run an ultra.

I have to be crazy, but then that just becomes par for the course, right?? Anyone willing to run anything over 26.2 miles, either on the road or on a trail, has to be a little off-kilter. It’s the mental and physical challenge that draws me in, and the sense of adventure. The training for an ultra is simple: run. Lots and lots of miles.

KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. Tell me to, and I can run lots and lots of miles. I have a harder time following a specific training plan for a specific number of weeks with a specific amount of miles at a specific pace. Anything that requires a treadmill is gonna have to wait, because going to the gym is really not in my repertoire right now. I enjoy the gym, I have to make my workouts work for me, instead of being a slave to them. I have a dog who needs to be run or walked every day, so it’s a win-win for us.

I’ve been dwelling too much on my past experience as a first-time marathoner. That was two years ago. Two. It’s about time that I grieved that wonderful experience of training with an amazing running partner. There are few things that I’ve done or experienced that have topped crossing that finish line, let alone under my goal time. But I can make it happen again, with a new partner (my dog and/or my husband) and new goals.

It pains me that it’s taken me this long to figure out what’s been blocking that part of my brain that wants to run. I made all kinds of excuses. It’s hot here. It’s windy. It’s hard to find a [safe] open road to run on. We’re at 4,000 ft elevation. I have to get up super early to beat the sun. I have to take Missy running before the kids start walking to school so she doesn’t freak out. Excuses…

I’ve tried other fitness programs. And in the end, this is not about me being a certain weight or BMI or whatever other mumbo-jumbo is out there. This is about me preserving my body, saving my sanity, and making my training do the work for me, not the other way around. Running works for me. It’s cheap, it’s portable, it’s easy… just one foot in front of the other. The rest is gravy.

Biscuits and gravy. On a sunny Saturday morning after completing 12 miles I honestly wasn’t sure I’d do or not, and by 9 AM to boot. That’s the first long run on a Saturday morning I’ve done, besides races, since we moved to Texas. So, running and I? We’re still together.. and long distance works for us. It makes the heart grow fonder.

Busy.

We are in the fifth week of the semester already. This week has been crazy! It’s not that things I do are particularly challenging; it’s that every couple hours I’m starting something different. I practically live in Liberal Arts building. But I love this program. This week I taught a class in preparation to teach it as an instructor in the fall (in Texas you have to have 18 hours to teach college level). It was great. I love that I know what I’m good at, and I love that what I’m good at is also something I enjoy. I just hope I’m not shooting myself in the foot when I graduate and going back out into a sucky teaching field. Also, who knows where we’ll be stationed in a year and a half.

Lent is underway, and one thing I was thinking of giving up was social media; however, I don’t think that’s necessary! I’m not on nearly as much as I was, and it’s been a welcome change. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be “all in”… and I am, out of both desire and necessity.

Spring break commences in only three short weeks, and my sister Emily is coming to visit! I’m so excited to give her a little tour of the Southwest. A few places we will visit are Mesilla, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and of course different places in El Paso. Hopefully the weather will be good and not too windy. You know what they say around here, Febrero loco y marzo otro poco. Let’s hope the wind is poco.

I’ve been sick this week too, but I motivated mentally to run more, so I hope it will translate to the physical realm! My next post should be introducing to my new nephew, who is delaying his arrival into the world (my sister Leah was due three days ago!). Little stinker. 😉

Streaking!

…or, as others would call it, the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak. I did another run streak in the summer which spanned 38 days from Memorial Day to 4th of July. I was successful in running 36 out of the 38 days, 83 miles in total (average of 2.3 miles per day). This one is 41 days long, beginning on Thanksgiving and going through New Year’s Day.

This means that we have to run on all the holidays, in Illinois and in Fort Worth when we’re there for the World Missions Summit. When I was home in June I ran every day, so there’s no reason why I can’t do the same thing over Christmas.

I have to say, running and I haven’t really been the best of friends recently, but I get up in the mornings to take Missy for a pre-dawn walk so what’s the big deal in putting on my running shoes instead?

On Thursday we’re doing the El Paso YMCA Turkey Trot downtown, with the parade to follow afterward. I think I should sign up for another 5K shortly after the run streak is over; I PR’d the last day of the summer running streak with a 5K time of 27:08. Can I do it again? We’ll see… Who knows, maybe this will motivate me enough to sign up for the El Paso Half Marathon…

Getting rid of my potty mouth

If you’re thinking that I don’t have the best language sometimes, well, you’re probably right. I think I let a few words slide out of my mouth last night coming home on I-10. Seriously. I almost had at least three panic attacks.

Anyway, what I want to get rid of even more than my dirty language, is my dirty eating. I had a revelation at the gym yesterday when I was kicking the crap out of the treadmill. (4-mile AWESOME progression run!) Last week, I ate very “clean”, meaning cutting out processed foods, refined carbs (white flour, boxed cereal, etc) and refined sugars (popsicles, soda, etc). I ate like this about 80% of the time.

I worked out 4 days this week…

Monday: 2 mile walk in the canyon in the AM, 2 mile run around the neighborhood in the PM

Tuesday: 4 mile interval run at the gym… 400’s and 800’s, 2.6 mile walk to and from Jess’s house

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: 30 min elliptical workout, 30 minute supine (seated) bike workout

Friday: 4 mile progression run in 41:20, starting at a walk and speeding up to 8:00 pace at the very end. FOR SURE I felt the running high! LOVE IT.

TOTAL MILES (running/walking): 15!!!

…and I felt GREAT!

And I realized, beyond just having a good attitude towards running and working out, I’ve been conscious of what I’ve been eating. I love fruits and veggies, so it’s easy for me to include them in my diet. I’ve also been drinking more water. So many times I just forget about it, which means I will feel lousy by the end of the day. It’s dry here, like 7-10% relative humidity on a regular basis. I could drink water literally all day long and probably not get enough.

Like I said, I tried to eat clean 80% of the time. The other 20%? Well, on my list I had some pineapple/coconut popsicles, white chocolate mocha creamer (flavored creamer is a non-negotiable…), a blended strawberry lemonade at Starbucks (BUT it’s a better choice than a latte/frappuccino with all the fat/calories!), Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce (duh!), and pizza last night at the bowling alley.

Ugghhh. Pizza. It did NOT agree with me. I should have eaten dinner before I went, but I met Jess for some gym and Starbucks time (there’s a Starbucks across the street from the gym on post) and didn’t have time to eat. I did eat a pear on my way. I realized I need to have more mobile healthy options like fruits, carrot and celery sticks, and healthy trail mix.

Really, the clean eating is not a foreign concept to me. It’s basically how I lost the first 35 lbs a couple years ago. However, I want to slim down and tone up, and I think even with running and doing POP Pilates I need to change my diet.

I hate saying I’m going on a “diet”. I like to call it an “eating plan”, and I love that there’s still 10-20% of time when I can eat not clean. That’s for the nights when I just don’t feel like cooking, so I eat the can of Spaghettio’s that’s been hanging out in my cabinet, or for when I’m craving Dairy Queen.

I’ve been doing some reading on different blogs and websites, and I’ve consistently found that our physiques are determined 80% by our diet, 10% by genetics, and 10% by exercise. So, the excuse that “some women in my family are just curvy, so I’ll always be comfortable in a double-digit size” is completely invalid. Who says I can’t still be curvy even if I’m 10-15 lbs lighter?

I mean, what woman doesn’t want to look smokin’ hot in a bikini?? I like the confidence that comes with being able to wear whatever I like and not feeling self-conscious, or going to a get-together and feeling like I actually have control over my eating rather than feeling guilted into eating whatever is there.

I’m thinking cleaning up my mouth (language and food) is a win/win.

April 25

This is my first post as a 26-year-old! Somehow the birthdays lost their ring after 21…. However, my 26th birthday brought me this lovely piece from Aaron…

And a totally awesome hair day… This won’t happen again until maybe Christmas or something.

I’ve logged 11 miles this week so far! I took Missy to McKelligon Canyon on Monday morning and we walked about 2 miles. She did better than walking around our neighborhood because there were less distractions. The car ride, however, was not so great. After dinner I went out and ran 2 miles in the neighborhood. So many people were out walking their dogs and playing outside. After 7, the sun’s behind the mountain and therefore not burning my flesh off. The temp goes down and it’s perfect “summer evening” weather. In April.

Yesterday I met Jess at the gym and did 4 miles of intervals, all uphill. Man, I kicked that treadmill in the butt. Later yesterday instead of driving to her house for dinner (it’s only 1.3 miles), I walked.

Today I rested. I’ve been watching my carb and sugar intake. I am trying to eat less refined sugars and carbs and more protein. It’s kind of my own version of “eating clean”. On my way home from “work” I stopped at the gas station to get gas and totally resisted the urge to get DQ. Go me. Even after just a week of watching my refined sugars and carbs, I want it less.

This whole waiting-to-have-kids thing is making me be waaay more accountable to getting and staying fit. One of the big reasons I lost weight in the first place was to get healthy before we had kids. Well, now that we’re waiting longer than we expected, I need to keep up a healthy lifestyle for longer. I want to run and workout when I’m pregnant, have a healthy delivery, and bounce back as soon as possible after giving birth. Anyway, I try not to think about it too much as it’s in the future, but it’s definitely a motivator for staying healthy.

This is kind of random, but… I’M GOING TO HONDURAS!!! I went to the meeting at church the other night. We’re going at the end of August to help with an orphanage and school we support as a church. I’ve had the itch to travel internationally for.. well.. since my last trip (Honduras in 2008), so I’m really excited. (I never got the chance to visit Aaron in Korea….silly Army… and $1700 plane tickets.)

Anyway. Life is good. I can’t imagine going back to such a stressful job… ever. Unless it were absolutely necessary. Missy and I only have a week left to party like there’s no tomorrow before Husband Man comes home… we might even do some yoga or POP Pilates.

Bataan Training: Week 5 :: Sighhh, and other stories.

This week definitely wasn’t glamorous, running or otherwise. Thankful I got in my three runs [3 mile recovery, 5 mile pace @ 11:00, 2 mile interval training]. We opted to do our long run tomorrow morning. Yes, that’s nine miles before the sun even comes up.

It’s been an emotionally stressful week.  Work has been no less than stressful. People, I have tried as I might to have a positive attitude. I’ve dove into Bible verses and listened to worship music… needless to say, my discontent has lit a fire under my little runner’s rear and I plan on doing something about it soon. (Graduate school?? Maybe??)

Since going to the doctor and getting some medication for my migraines, I have found relief. Yesterday at work I felt it coming on so I took a pill and did not have a headache for the rest of the day. We ended up checking out Costco, except not really checking it out because we don’t have a membership. So we walked around one of the four huge malls here and got cheap meals at IHOP for dinner.

I felt so distracted at dinner… I feel distracted in general. I have a really hard time just sitting and relaxing. The Husband can sit and watch episode after episode of Smallville (our fave show) with no problem. I’m either Facebooking, or knitting, or Skyping. I get home later than he does Monday through Thursday, so we usually eat dinner, or even just an egg sandwich, and end up doing our own thing. That means we’re both on our computers… last night, it was for hours.

I found Little Women on TV and was wrapping gifts. After that was done, we were both sitting on our laptops, do absolutely *nothing* until 11:00 pm. Silly, just silly. With the stress of work, the stress of not having quality time together just about did me in. Welcome to life, Elizabeth.

This morning we had every intention of going to church. However, I think we were emotionally spent and I hadn’t felt very well. I haven’t had any palpitations, but I’ve felt some pressure in my chest. Don’t know if it’s heartburn, a figment of my imagination, or something new my heart is doing. Who knows. It’s not accompanied by any other symptoms so I’m not concerned at this point. Believe me, I could work myself into a panic attack.

My dear runner-Army-wife friend Natalie posted this on her blog.. it’s the Running Resolutions from the latest issue of Runner’s World.

1) Race Farther. Considering I ran a marathon last year, I think my goal will be to exceed the number of total miles in 2012. To date, I’ve run 617.42 miles in 2011. I had a tentative goal to run 700-900 miles this year. 2012? Hmmm… h0w about 1000?

2) Try Yoga. I love yoga. There are so many videos on iTunes and YouTube I can still try. If my schedule allows, I’d like to attend more classes at Soto on post.

3) Lose 10 Pounds For Good. Hmm. Well, I’m at 158-160 right now. For my height (5’10”), that’s a healthy weight. I’ve maintained this weight for two years now after my weight loss journey in 2009. The highest I’ve been since November of 2009 is 165. The lowest, 152. I would like to tone up more and build more muscle. As long as I can fit into my dress pants and skinny jeans, I’m good. At 152-155 I was able to fit in more size 8’s that I have, but I almost felt too skinny.

4) Be More Consistent.  Getting up early with The Husband has helped… a TON. I plan on having a pretty consistent race schedule this year, especially since races on post are pretty cheap.

5) Try A Triathlon. Uhhhh. I dunno about this one. There’s a sprint tri on post later in 2012. I need to learn how to swim correctly first.

6) Win A Medal. This would be pretty sweet, but unless the age group is 25-29 instead of 20-29 and I’m having a super-fast day with not many competitors, I don’t know if this will happen. I’m not a fast or slow runner. It’s always a good goal, though.

7) Try Real Trail Running. Ahhhh. I am so doing this when we go home to Illinois for a visit. Forest Park Nature Center has been calling my name and pining for me in the midst of my absence. We need to find some trails around here that we can actually run on. One of our goals is to hike to the top of North Franklin Mountain. That, we can’t run. It’s too rocky.

8) Stop Giving Up. I have gotten over The Great Running Slump of 2011, thank the Lord. If I can run in the desert at 4,000 ft, I can run anywhere! I don’t want to give up on training, on races, on healthy living.

9) Figure Out My Watch. I have the Garmin Forerunner 405 with GPS. I’ve figured out the virtual training partner, but I know there are so many more capabilities. I use the GPS on a regular basis.

10) Give Back to the Sport. I should volunteer. I am always so grateful for the amazing people that take time out of their schedules to hand out water (and probably get splashed!), work the gear check, whatever..

11) Find More Partners. I want to find some running buddies. It’s hard with my schedule. There’s a running group but they have no runs in the Northeast, the part of town where we live. I have my husband, who is a good running partner, and honestly I LOVE running alone. It’s how I got my start.

12) Beat My PR. I totally plan on beating my PR’s. My 5K time is what I like to see go down every time I race… currently my PR is 27:56. I know with some training I can do better than that. My mile time is 8:15, I think. Not quite sure. I run my first half in January so that will be a brand new PR. I won’t beat my marathon PR at Bataan because it’s simply too different of a course. My goal is 5:30-6:00, but that’s the “optimistic” goal. I really just want to finish.

A life fulfilled.

This morning was great! We ran our first race together, in the same zip code, in the same country! It was the Ft. Bliss Holiday 8K Run on post.

We don’t have official times yet, but Aaron ran around a 40:40 (8:05 mile! SO PROUD) and I ran around a 48:30. My goal for this first race in Texas was 51:00… pretty conservative considering my last 8K was a 46:18. I guess I just didn’t want to be disappointed.

The gun went off. It had the feel of a small hometown race, with about 200 participants. It was cool outside with a crisp breeze. However, when the sun comes out in Texas, it warms things UP! I could have run in shorts and a t-shirt and been fine.

I always try to save energy at the beginning. I looked at my watch and was starting out at a 9:00 mile… WAY too fast. So I ran between a 10:00 and 10:20ish mile throughout until the last mile, and I kicked it into gear. I ended up passing several people I was contending with the whole time; always feels good to do that towards the end of a race! It was a silly fear, but I was worried I’d be towards the end. My slowest split (I have the Garmin set to .5 mi) was at 10:16 pace… sweet!

Aaron met me at the finish line… that was great to see him! So many times I’ve had to call him and give him a report. We recouped for a second, then grabbed Starbucks and headed back to the gym for the awards. I was disappointed that the age groups were so large… there was no way I was gonna get an award when the group is 20-29. Maybe someday….

I feel elated, like I usually do after a great run, an appreciation and an attitude of I. Love. Life.

Despite not having a ton of extra money…

Despite unexpected bills…

Despite not going all-out for Christmas…

Despite not being with family for the holidays…

My life is fulfilled. If you’ve been reading my blog for two seconds you probably know that I’m Christian. Thank you for continuing to read even when you don’t agree with my views or how I got there. I never want to sound preachy; my goal is just to tell the good things God has done and let you take it from there.

I just want to tell you that these past couple months of trusting God for our needs have been some of the most rewarding. We’re seeing things happen, opportunities for relationships arise, and of course, all of our needs met. We are committed to giving sacrificially to missions. I was listening to KLOVE radio the other day (not generally a huge fan of “Christian” radio…) but I heard a song by Matthew West with a line that goes like this:

“I throw a twenty in the plate but never give till it hurts.”

Wow. When I heard that, I didn’t feel conviction but confirmation. We are giving sacrificially, even when it looks like we can’t afford it. Even a lot of Christians will say it’s foolish to do this… what about the bills? Food? Gas? Saving? What about retirement? Saving for kids’ weddings and college tuition?

And I counter that by saying… Have we ever gone without? Have we ever run out of gas? Food? Nope. As far as savings and retirement, we’ll get there.

So… trusting, living to the end of ourselves (physically, financially and spiritually), looking ahead to the future with unbridled anticipation… these are the things that make my life fulfilled.