>Basking in fellowship

>After second service, we had First Sunday Lunch. This day should get a gold star for awesomeness. Someone in the church cooks a bunch of amazing homemade food, and you get to enjoy a meal with friends. And it’s only a few dollars! Today’s proceeds went to the Czech Republic missions trip happening in July.

I had a great time visiting with friends who have become family… they’ve supported me (sometimes physically with their shoulders!), encouraged me and spoken the truth in love. My friends from the worship team have really made that ministry so worth the time and effort that go into it. Never have I felt such a camaraderie between members. Today we really seemed to gel as a band, and I had a fantastic time rocking out on the keys.

I will miss my church family. Aaron and I have been blessed to have some amazing pastors and church families over the past several years, and leaving is always bittersweet. Moving on is tough, and it’s hard to imagine that I have more room in my heart for even more amazing relationships. The body of Christ is a dynamic and ingenious creation.

Something else I love about our church that I haven’t had a chance to see anywhere else is how everyone helps with each others’ children. Everyone watches out for all the kids.. everyone chases after them.. all the kids seem to love each other. And let me tell you, people in our church make some cute kids! When we first came to Faith, we said to ourselves, “Yeah, we could definitely raise our kids here!”

I have two Sundays left. Next Sunday is my last playing/singing on the worship team. Father’s Day weekend whether or not Aaron is home I hope to go to Highland Games in Itasca with my brother- and sister-in-law, and the weekend after we plan on visiting friends and Stone Creek Church in Urbana. Then we will be back at Faith for our last Sunday, July 3.

>God is…

>…the Great Healer.. Jehovah Raphe. I’ve heard story after story of God doing amazing things when people go in for surgery.. like the doctors can’t find that there was cancer or an infection, or people who have been in crazy car accidents (my sister) and should have died but came out relatively unscathed (if she hadn’t turned the wheel in a gut reaction she would have hit a tree head on).

Over the next few days, I am praying for miracles for Carson LaDage, the son of Todd and Darla, friends of Aaron and me. I am also praying for healing for Liz Moffat, my grandmother’s cousin. You can click on the links to see more about them.

He can do anything! GOD IS ABLE. Please join with me in prayer and fasting.

>9.3! Hollllaaaa!

>Regina, Karen and I ran the 15K for the Hot Chocolate race today in downtown Chicago. I cannot get over how awesome of an experience the whole weekend was!

We arrived by train around 12:15 yesterday and picked up our packets at Union Station. We took a cab to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency on Wacker, just a few blocks from the starting line in Grant Park. We did some shopping, had Giordano’s for dinner and did a little more shopping. We went back to the hotel and hung out in the lobby with water and tea and talked. We got to sleep around 11 pm, with the alarm set for 6 am.

We woke up around 6 and the temperature was 26*. Yes, you read that right… twenty-six! You knew that we just had to be crazy… us and 30,000 other runners!

After the 5K people took off, we lined up by pace. I stood close to the 11 min/mile sign. The clock started but I didn’t get to the start line until about 12 minutes in because there was that much congestion.

The first three miles I held back. After passing the 5K marker, I took off and ran strong until the sixth mile when I had to pee so badly. But there was no way I was stopping to pee! I had worked too hard to ruin my time by doing that. Mile seven seemed really really long, and by mile eight I was so excited that it was almost done. As soon as the finish sign came into view, I sprinted. My heart rate jumped up to 205, only one of a handful of times it’s been that high. On a normal maintenance run, my HR is around 160-165. My average today according to my HR monitor was 177! I pushed myself hard.

The views didn’t hurt either: sunrise, Soldier Field, Shedd, the Field Museum (I think), the lake, and the skyline.

Crossing the finish line was, as always, euphoric. We all met up and got chocolate fondue from the tent. Then we went back to the hotel and took showers.

We had a late check-out and headed to Cheesecake Factory for a late and leisurely lunch. We waited for an hour, but it definitely didn’t seem like that long! Karen and I made a Starbucks run. It was the biggest Starbucks I’d seen, with a fireplace and a sitting area three times the size of the stores here.

Cheesecake Factory was fabulous. I’d never been there. I got the Thai Chicken Pasta… so yummy with the peanut sauce. I also got a piece of the Tiramisu cheesecake. I’m sure I ate all the calories I burned (1375!) with that one piece… I’m afraid to look at the nutrition facts, lol.

We walked around a little more and then it was time to head to Union Station. We chatted with some nice people in the train station and then we were on our way home, fighting sleep the whole ride. At least I was.

My grandparents, being as awesome as they are, picked me up at the station and I drove home from their house. My grandpa filled up my gas tank for me. 🙂

Now I’m blogging about the best race I’ve done so far, and about an awesome weekend! I still have one more day off before working five in a row. (I worked seven in a row before Friday.)

Considering the circumstances of working almost full-time, obligations outside of work, and a weird sleep schedule, I did my best. I did my best this morning too. If I’d been running the half marathon in three weeks, I wouldn’t have been able to race today, just do a long run. But since I’m just doing the 5K (the half was full!) I figured I’d just go for it.

I have to say that I’m becoming the athlete, or the less-encompassing term of “runner”, I never thought I’d be. My official race time was 1:36:43, beating my goal pace of 10:30 by seven seconds!!

Gabriela and I are running the Illinois Marathon.. our first training run will be next weekend, as long as my schedule pans out. Crazy!

Other than running, I need to do strength training. Back to the gym I go for yoga, weight machines and group fitness classes!

Have a great rest of the weekend, and thanks for celebrating with me. I am blessed and give glory to God for success in my life.

>Created for relationship

>Though I work early-ish tomorrow and have a busy weekend ahead, I can’t help but get some thoughts down about relationship.

We were created in God’s image. We were created for two types of relationships: one with the Lord and one with people. To live a fulfilled life with a purpose, one has to have both.

I think it’s a beautiful concept. I think the fact that we’re created in God’s image is just beautiful in itself. I grew up hearing those words from Genesis. Remember the felt Bible characters in Sunday school? Coloring pages? It was all there. It wasn’t until I went to Beth Moore in St. Louis in June with Darla that I really understood what it meant to be made in His image.

Since Aaron left for Basic a long time ago (17 months now) I threw myself into Bible study, hanging out with people and felt like I’ve poured out myself. I know there is something to spending time with the Lord alone with no one else around. That’s so important. It’s just funny because I’ve never considered myself a “social” person. And lately, within the last few months, I’ve been spending time with lots of people. Family, and friends. And out of my friends, a lot of ladies from church of all ages.

Some are five years younger, some are fifteen years older. I have gleaned so much wisdom and truth from my friends, and I feel like I have innumerable sisters, aunts and moms. (I love my mom, of course. I just love to have that type nurturing though from other ladies I know.)

One of the most beautiful things I’ve seen is the willingness to encourage and edify. It’s really brought Scripture to life for me.

Ephesians 4:29: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 
Hebrews 10:24-25: 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

In no particular order, thanks to Amelia, Darla, Tammy, Kristen, Gabriela, Leigh Ann and Lee Ann, Kim, Karen, Trish, my two Megans, Lois, my two Sherris, Carey, Malory, Heather, Hannah, Cathy, Kathy, Suzie, Lanelle, Dana, Hayley, Tina, Marta, Trixie, Mila, Michelle, Jessica… I could literally list dozens of women who have spoken into my life and been such an encouragement to me.

You all will never know the extent of the seeds you’ve planted. You’ve prayed with me and listened to me. You’ve inspired me to strive for that Proverbs 31 woman that you all exemplify. You’ve shared difficult times, happy times, advice about parenting, advice about marriage. Thank you for asking how I’m doing. Thank you for sharing about what the Lord has done in your life. Thank you for the countless hugs and cups of coffee. Thank you for the sisters, moms, daughters, and wives you are.

To turn a corner, tonight at small group we prayed for someone in our group who recently had a very hard time. It brought tears to my eyes as she shared her struggle and I was almost immediately on my feet to lay hands and pray for her.

Isn’t it beautiful how we spur one another to good works? How we pray for one another, even if we don’t know each other well? How we make ourselves vulnerable so that we can let God work and weave together a friendship that could very well last a lifetime?

My faith in friendship with women has been renewed. My expectations are not of the people I’m in relationship with, but in the Lord to provide the fruits of the spirit for that relationship.

Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.