Archives For Writing

Eraser

January 15, 2012

Last night, I finished Stephen King’s “11/22/63.” It’s the first book I finished on my new Kindle and I’m not sure I would have read it so quickly in another format. It’s hard to take an 849 page book to the gym or on a road trip, I’ve found. It’s quite a book, and according to King himself, he’s been thinking about writing it for decades. If you’re a reader, I’d recommend it (and no worries if you’re not a horror fan–it’s one of King’s pieces that doesn’t make you want to hide under the covers!

No spoilers here, but the premise of the book is: What if you could go back in time and change something that happened? What if you could stop a young mother and almost all of her children from being murdered on Halloween night in 1958? What if you could stop a young girl from being paralyzed in a hunting accident later that same year? What if you could be in Dallas on the days leading up to November 22, 1963 and stop Lee Harvey Oswald from shooting John. F. Kennedy?

If JFK were not murdered, would Bobby Kennedy have lived as well? What about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? What about Vietnam? …9/11?

There’s no saying for sure what would have happened if Lee Oswald had missed…or been killed before that day in Dallas. But it can be said that the events that took place that day did change history in many ways. Some were bad and some were good and there’s no going back with an eraser anyway.

We can all probably look back at history–world history and our own personal histories–and see places we would like to erase or change. Forks in the road where we could have chosen another path. People that we should have been more guarded against. Events that we wish we could stop in time. Places we never would have gone.

I think about my own life. Do I have any regrets? Maybe. If I could erase parts of my history that were painful and difficult, would I? Maybe. But maybe not. Of course I have a long list of mistakes I’ve made from things I’ve said that I wish I could take back to some really dumb decisions I made for my life. I suppose there are things I regret.

But as I now sit far removed from the situations that once caused so much grief and heartache…I realize that these are the situations that made me who I am.

I think about Joseph, beloved son of Jacob and grandson of Isaac in the Old Testament. I think of all of the hell he went through because his brothers were jealous of him and wanted to get rid of him. I think of the maturity and knowledge that caused him to eventually say to the same brothers: “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today (Genesis 50:20).”

One of the most hopeful things for me is that I completely believe that God can take the worst situation and cause good to come from it. It’s what I cling to when things are bad in my own life or when a friend or loved one is facing a hard situation. Hold on, something good will come in all of this or of all of this.

But still, I wonder what I would do  if I could go back and change the bad things and erase the mistakes.

If you could change the past, would you?

 

As Ready As I’m Gonna Be

November 23, 2011

Tomorrow’s the Turkey Trot!

Originally, this was my 5K–the race I’ve been training to run.

But then I got sick and training stopped for 6 weeks and not only did I not progress, but I actually lost a lot of ground.

I’m okay with that. I’ve resumed 5K training carefully in the last three weeks and plan to do my best tomorrow. I practiced yesterday (indoors, unfortunately, because it was raining buckets) and averaged just under 15 minutes per mile. That’s with walking and laps of slow running. My hope is that the actual race and course will help me push myself and go a little faster.

I get frustrated that I’m not faster and that I can’t just keep running the whole time…but I also realize that it’s just kind of fun to run when I can and that I don’t need to be so competitive or hard on myself…especially since I don’t actually have any competitors and it’s not like I’ve EVER been a runner or an athlete before. In high school, I could barely run a mile.

My sister is arriving at our house at midnight tonight (she has to work today and drive from Asheville, NC). She plans to run/walk with me tomorrow. I’ve given her permission to go all Jillian Michaels on me if I get too slow or wimpy.

So pray for me or think positively for me or whatever.  And Happy Thanksgiving!

5K Training…Again

November 9, 2011

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I started training again with Couch To 5K this week. I spent Monday on week one and today on week two. I’m going to attempt week three tomorrow afternoon. (The first several weeks of C25K have you do the same intervals every training day that week. When I originally started, I spent a whole week learning to do each set of intervals and moved on only after I had mastered it.)

I’m glad that I’m not starting entirely at square one! Both days I’ve run the intervals have gone well. Today I even added some sprints at the end before I started the cool-down.

The Turkey Trot 5K is 2 weeks away. I won’t be running the whole thing as originally hoped for, but I’m confident I’ll be able to run some of it.

Race For the Cure (My First 5K)

September 24, 2011

It was raining when I took our dog, Sam outside this morning. Raining hard. I could tell that this wasn’t going to just pass in time for the race. And I knew they weren’t cancelling the race. Once you survive breast cancer and stand beside breast cancer sufferers, racing in the rain is ridiculously easy, I’d imagine.

It rained the entire morning. There were two or three short periods of slow drizzle, but the rest of the time it rained and rained and rained.

But it was a great morning and a fun race.

There were hundreds of people in downtown Evansville this morning…maybe thousands? I’m super bad at guessing numbers when it comes to people. There was a choir singing and loud music and lots of sponsors and volunteers.

I made two rookie mistakes in my first 5K. I lined up in the wrong place. I misjudged how many people would be walking in this race and placed myself about 1/3 of the way back from the starting line. I didn’t want to get too close to the front and make the fast runners dodge me and my slower pace. This meant that I was the one dodging and trying to get to where I could run at a comfortable pace. That was actually a tiny bit fun–dodging and weaving around walkers, but it was also kind of tricky and it meant it took me about 1/2 a mile before I could go a consistent pace.

At the second water stop, I was thirsty. So I started to move to the right side of the road to grab a cup of water. I was so focused on trying to keep running and grab the water that I accidentally cut the runner behind me off. “Woah!” she yelled as she stopped short (and so did I because she scared me). But neither of us were running very fast and we didn’t collide, so it was okay.

I’m not sure what my time actually was. I forgot to stop the Runkeeper App on my phone (in a ziplock bag in my rain jacket pocket) when I crossed the finish line. I accepted some high fives, re-tied my shoes, caught my breath and found Jason before I remembered to stop it. According to the app, I ran 3.23 miles in about 50 minutes. (You can click that link to see the map of my run, my stats, elevation and speed and all kinds of other fun stuff.) I’d say it was probably more like 47 or 48 minutes, but it doesn’t really matter. For me, that’s a decent time. I did more walking than I planned to do, but it was tough to run with all the people around me and there were so many reasons to slow down and enjoy the experience (the firefighters playing bagpipes on a corner around mile 1, for example).  I ultimately want to do better, but it was my first 5K and I was happy just to run across the finish line.

Jason was a wonderful race-day supporter, by the way. He drove me to the race, held an umbrella over me until they were ready to start, traded jackets with me right before the race started because his was warmer and drier, carried the cameras and took the pictures and cheered me on at the finish line.

It takes a lot of volunteers, a lot of imagination and a lot of energy to have an event like this. The Greater Evansville Chapter of Susan G. Komen For the Cure and all the sponsors did a fantastic job! I’m looking forward to the next 5K.

Stats

August 31, 2011

I know that this basically represents a lot of rambling, pictures and random thought…

But I just wanted to say thank for reading and commenting and caring about my corner of the world.

Training Update

August 23, 2011

I’m still running, in case you were wondering.

I’m still slow.

I’m still struggling.

I’m still training for a 5K.

I didn’t make much progress during this hot, difficult summer. I’m not a treadmill runner, so my options are outdoors or on the indoor track, which is not air conditioned. The heat was a challenge for most of the summer. I continued to run/walk a few times a week, but I didn’t improve much–and actually struggled more. My running friends assure me that I’ll love it when the weather breaks and it’s not miserable to run outside.

Besides the heat, a couple of things are making training difficult. My right ankle never doesn’t hurt. I still get shin splints. And I’ve discovered/confirmed that I have some sort of anxiety issue that makes me really self-conscious when other people are on the track or near me and I lose my breath more quickly (yes, I know that’s silly).

I run 3-4 times a week either in our neighborhood (which is full of hills), at the YMCA (on the indoor track) or on the Turkey Trot 5K course that starts at our church. I haven’t quite reached the point where I can just keep running. I’ve done the 20 minute run in the Couch to 5K training several times, but I struggle to do the 20 minutes. I often run a timed mile just to challenge myself and track my (lack of) speed. I’ve been sprinting a lap and walking a lap, trying to improve my speed and my stride. I’m still using the C25K program, but I’m lingering in week 6.

Still, I’m encouraged because I know that six months ago, I couldn’t have done any of the things I just wrote in the previous paragraph. I want to be a runner and I believe that one day, I’ll be legit. And I will run the Turkey Trot if it kills me.

It might…

Lipstick and Loungerie

August 22, 2011

I’ve never met you, but this morning I judged you.

I was going about my morning routine, sipping coffee, checking  headlines and status updates and watching the second hour of one of the network morning news programs–you know, the hour that doesn’t require as much intelligence and attention as the first, world news-filled hour. I looked up from my laptop and I saw a picture of your daughter. Your seven year-old daughter dressed in underwear and pearls, showing off her lipstick with a pout and posed provocatively on a bed. More and more pictures flooded the screen–more and more little girls dressed in “loungerie” (the catchy name for what is basically children’s lacy or fancy underwear), more provocative poses, more make-up and jewelry.

“Where are the mothers?” I wondered out loud.

I don’t know your story. I don’t know what led to your daughter being posed like this. I don’t know where you were or why you made this decision.

I felt kind of repulsed by the pictures. Your daughter is beautiful, but she’s a seven year-old posing like an adult. The words “child pornography” hung, unspoken by the commentator or by me, in the air–but I heard it anyway. I also felt sorry for the fact that there are mothers and fathers and guardians who will purchase lingerie for children.

I remember a story I saw, probably on the same network, about parents buying skimpy bikinis for their elementary aged children. The commentator pointed out: They wouldn’t be selling them if parents weren’t buying them! It’s true. There’s a market for sexy clothes for children and that seems sad and wrong to me. I hear parents of girls lament from time to time that it’s hard to find modest clothing to buy pre-teens and teens anymore, all of it cuts high or rides low or bares skin that the parents would rather keep covered. I give thanks to God for our son, whom we can still dress in the classic boy styles that have endured for years. Obviously the parents who bend my ear on this issue must be in the minority because someone’s keeping the more grown-up styles on the racks in the clothing stores.

I wonder, friend, if it’s not that you’re living somewhat vicariously through your daughter? I wonder if you wish you could be wearing the short skirts and bikinis you purchase for her or if you get a thrill from the fun, flirty styles that hang in her closet? I wonder if you’re the parent who will someday take pictures of her teenage daughter and friends in those clothes and their bikinis and post them online all in good fun–but surely you consider that there might be people in your list of friends (or on a friend of a friend’s list) who will look at the pictures and may enjoy them for the wrong reasons?

I worry, too, that through your daughter, you’re teaching other daughters to see their bodies as objects. Girls as young as six and seven tell me that they are fat or that they need to lose weight or that they want to be sexy. Pre-teens wear make-up and toss their hair like models. Teenage girls wear skimpy bikinis and pose for innumerable pictures and post them all to their Facebook profiles and wait for comments. Adult women dress as “slutty” nurses or “slutty” vampires or “slutty” schoolgirls for Halloween.

Girls are learning to use their bodies for visual or sexual pleasures. Boys are learning to use girls’ bodies in the same way, by the way. We live in a society where child pornography is wrong and subject to punishment…but the lines all around child pornography are blurred just enough to make it all right for us to encourage and allow our children be sexy.

I just worry about our kids. Childhood gets shorter and shorter. Innocence is lost sooner than it should be. Eating disorders, promiscuity, the multi-billion dollar pornography industry, sexual abuse in its many forms–all are a part of considering bodies as something to use for pleasure.

Our bodies–all of our bodies–are created by God in a wonderful way (Psalm 139:14). Each curve and line, each ability, each features was planned and molded specifically by the Creator. All of the things we love and all of the things we hate and all of the things we celebrate or misuse–all belong to God.

I want to remind you and tell your daughter and all of our daughters that they are valuable to God, not because they wear make-up or heels or promiscuous clothes. I want all of us to remember that our bodies are more than what is seen and that our bodies house talents and gifts and abilities that make us valuable and whole. These ads don’t remind us of this. These ads sexualize innocence and childhood.

So, I’m sorry I judged you without knowing your personal story.  But I’m scared of what we’re becoming and I see you as a catalyst in that process.


Note: even as I was looking for a picture for this post, I googled “girls,” and a myriad of images of girls in bikinis and various types of skimpy clothing flooded my results page. And that’s with my “safesearch” filter turned on. Also, there are lots of pictures available of the “Loungerie” shoot, but I couldn’t bring myself to post even the more modest photos.

 

A Month Of Pictures

June 30, 2011

I really love the picture a day thing people have been doing lately. Some people do it on Posterous, some people do it on their blog or their facebook page. A lot of people are doing a picture a day for a year.

I tend to have a shorter attention span about such things.

And I also have a slow July coming up.

So, for the month of July, I’m going to post a picture a day. 31 pictures–hoping to capture the most meaningful moment of each day one way or another. I’ll caption each picture so there’s some kind of explanation.

While I’m posting pictures, I’m hoping to also catch up on my writing so that I can get back to regular posting in August.

 

Hey, blogger friends! Feel free to join my July of pictures project and post a picture a day in your own spaces!

 

Stories

May 29, 2011

Sometimes, between our two church services, I have some free time. This does not always happen, because I’m often teaching Sunday School or visiting Sunday School classes or holding babies in the nursery or dealing with whatever situation has arisen between the moment I arrive and when the first service ended. But sometimes, I have about 30 minutes free on a Sunday morning.

Today, I had free time. As I poured a cup of coffee and checked some text messages on my phone, I noticed Mr. Hedges, an octogenarian of our church family, sitting at the historic round table in our fellowship hall. I walked back to my office, dropped my phone on my desk and headed back for the round table. I settled into a chair across the table from him.

I entertained him with a story about how we had our early service in the courtyard and how the sunlight moved from one end of the courtyard to the other between 8:30 and 9:30 and about which church members ended up in direct sunlight by the prayer time and how the wind would gust and it blew my bulletin and music away while I was leading the opening songs. He told me stories about what was happening around his house. We looked at a bulletin together and he noted that we were using some Long Catechism questions in worship.

“Did you memorize the catechism when you were a child?” He wondered.

“No, sir,” I replied. “I grew up Presbyterian, but honestly, I didn’t even know there was a catechism until I was in college.”

“I memorized it when I was a boy. I don’t suppose children do that any more.”

“No, they don’t here anyway.” And then we talked for a moment or two about what children do in Sunday School these days–it’s a bit different than what either he or I remember from our respective childhoods.

We talked about departed church members, about homebound church members, about names I can’t remember or he can’t remember. We traded stories about this person or that person.

I’ve been trying to do this more and more. The people at Presbyterian Church in Henderson have become my extended family. I stay plenty busy, but on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, I try to spend time with my family.

I marvel at the stories each of us have filled our lives with–stories that are ours alone to share and tell. I think about my friend Mr. Hedges, and the stories he could tell about the life he’s lived. I want to listen to them and hear them. It makes me sad when I think about the stories that don’t get told and the stories I haven’t asked to hear.

This makes me think about the time I’m taking to hear stories. Probably not enough.

This also makes me think about the time I’m taking to tell stories. Possibly too much? I do like my stories. I do like to share my stories. I might do better to listen more and share less.

I guess this blog is a form of storytelling for me. I enjoy looking back on past entries and remembering events and things that happened. I think I’ll remember the events of my life better because I’ve taken the time to write them and read them.

Whose stories are you listening to? How are you telling yours?

#UnCo11

May 12, 2011

On Sunday I’m driving to Maryland. With five people I’ve never actually met face to face.  Actually, I’m technically driving with two of them and travelling with the other three (we’re taking two vehicles).

On Monday morning, we’ll wake up and drive to Stony Point, NY for the UnConference.

I signed up for the UnConference at the end of last year. I’d been hearing some buzz about it so I checked it out. It looked fascinating. But I wasn’t sure it was okay for me to go (I tend to create guilt and grief for myself when it’s not necessary and worrying about signing up for a conference I was clearly invited to is just part of that), so I emailed one of the organizers. She told me to sign up already. So I did.

Basically, it’s a conference that’s not planned ahead of time. Here’s a link to the wikipedia article.

The past several conferences I’ve attended have been big conferences. You go, there are speakers and bands and a full schedule of workshops. It’s attended by thousands of people. It’s a lot of fun, and I learn a lot, sitting along the wall with my notebook open, but it’s big and it’s easy to be lost in the crowd.

This UnConference will be attended by about 60 people. We are bringing the program. There aren’t hired speakers or bands (although some fantastic speakers and musicians will attend).  There is space for workshops, but the organizers did not plan the workshops. We, the ones attending, are bringing the program.

This morning, I’m packing my bag of supplies. I’m bringing sidewalk chalk, books by Shel Silverstein and Walter Brueggemann, a packet of black and white pictures I have for a prayer station, construction paper, chenille stems, glue, notebooks, my magnetic mosaic set, a bag of dirt from my yard (requested by one of my UnCo co-attenders), some Happy Birthday stickers for friends (and me) celebrating birthdays while we’re together, and some random odds and ends (a slinky, a bubble wand, a jump rope…).

I’m excited. I love things like this–getting together and brainstorming and figuring things out together. I love the bond that comes with meeting people and traveling across the country in the same day. I love it that my introverted, wallflower self will be stretched to participate and offer input and bring something to the table. I love the conversations that are already happening (follow or check out #unco11 on twitter). I’m excited to have conversations about vocation, calling, scripture, health, intergenerational ministry and whatever else comes up. I’m excited to spend time with the #RunRevRun group that’s planning to pray and run together. I’m excited to have time to pray and think and wander. This UnConference came at the perfect time–just right before things get crazy busy for summer, so I can leave with little stress about what I’m missing.

Your prayers for my friends and I as we travel are appreciated, as are your prayers for my family while I’m gone and the conference and the rest of the group attending in general.