Saturday, September 25, 2010

Swimming Upstream

I am still running, although I have been a little bit of a slacker lately (I'm only running 2x a week instead of 3 and I usually only do 2.5 miles-but better than nothing, right?). Joel's work schedule has been a little crazy (he was working from 5:30 am- 7:30 pm) and made it a little difficult to get out. I am hoping now that he is done with that project that I can go more often. He was off the other morning so I decided to get out there. I was ready to go a little before 8 am. I usually don't go before 7:30 am because the trail that I use is often filled with soldiers doing PT (physical training, not therapy!) between 6:30 am and then. I don't like to meet them; it is just a little awkward.

So anyway, I get out there, Shuffle blaring, legs pumping. It was a beautiful morning and I had the whole trail to myself. I was making good time, and about a mile in, when I looked down the top of the little hill I was on, and I saw them: about 120 soldiers. Ummm, nope, I am not kidding. I thought I had waited long enough to avoid that, but they must have been doing extended PT. Now, perhaps that might not bother anyone else, but you have to get a full grasp of the scene. The trail I run on is slightly elevated above the ground- it isn't flush, and it is surrounded by natural grasses. It is only about 4 feet wide and the soldiers were running 3 across. And of course, they were coming straight at me. There was really no place to go!

I will not lie. I suffered a moment of panic. I felt like a little bit of a spectacle. In my purple running shorts (thankfully, mine are Bermuda length, so not too short) and tank top, bright green Shuffle attached to my shirt. I run at my own pace, which is not fast, but I am not leisurely jogging, either. And I am the only female. Heading straight towards 100+ men all wearing gray "Army" shirts and black shorts. Mostly all in really good shape. I seriously thought about turning around and heading the other way, but they had already seen me and I knew that they would overtake me in a few minutes anyway so I would still be caught up in the swarm.

So I bravely adjusted my ponytail (another thing, my hair is BARELY long enough for a ponytail now, supported by the addition of about three barrettes. It isn't pretty.) and tried to fan my beat red face. I mean, I am out exercising! It was bound to be a little flushed. And headed straight towards the wall of men. Some of them moved out of the way, and some of them allowed me the pleasure of running through the underbrush. In all it took me about 5 minutes, or an eternity, to get past all of them. They were running in groups of about 20, so I would havea few seconds to compose myself before facing the next group. It may not seem as weird to you as it was to me, maybe you just had to be there. They were truly all staring at me. A girl, in purple pants, with sunglasses, running the "wrong" way. They couldn't ignore me! I have never felt so conspicuous in MY. WHOLE. LIFE!

I have only been running since February. I am not proficient by any means, and I am definitely not at a point where I want to have spectators. I am self-conscious normally, when I am wearing street clothes and my hair doesn't look atrocious. And while I am certainly in the best shape of my life, I am by no means going to find work as a Nike model! Anyway, to wrap up my long tale, I managed to huff and puff my way past all these men, trying to keep a small part of my dignity intact. I had a distinct fish out of water experience, for certain!

I tried to ignore them and focus on the task at hand: getting past them without passing out finishing my run. I really needed to be thinking about what I was doingm and not worrying about what they were doing. As I kept running and told myself that it was no big deal (and I'm sure it wouldn't be to a lot of people) I thought about why I felt so odd. I wasn't doing anything wrong, the trail is open access. I wasn't reprimanded, or scolded. All of the soldiers were just following what they had been told to do, too. If there was any reason for them to be jealous of me it would probably be that I had the choice to run. I do it because I want to, not because I am forced to, and it is certainly not part of my job description! I could run at my own pace, and in my own way. They had to do it because it was what they had been told they should do, and it was what everyone else was doing.

The more I thought on it, the more it seemed like life is sometimes to me. I am a believer, saved and sanctified. I should have complete and total security in Christ. I can be confident that when I am doing His will that I am in the right place. Yet, just as when I was headed towards all those guys I often have a horrible feeling of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I allow what everyone else is doing to influence me-I am more concerned about "their" opinions than doing what I know is right. Sometimes I just want to turn around and run away, rather than face the crowd and appear "different". I need to not be afraid to do what I know is right. I am not perfect, but I don't have to be ashamed of being different.

I can set an example. Those soldiers were obeying orders-they have to exercise every morning, rain or shine. But in life, there are tons of people coming at me every day who are going the wrong way. They are mindlessly following the rest of the pack. They need to see that there is a better way. That through the freedom Christ gives, they can make their own choices, and move in the right direction. I must take advantage of that freedom myself, and not be afraid. I can put my shoulders back, hold my head up high and run straight towards my goal. Everyone I pass should be inspired by my determination, inspired by the freedom that I have from fear, from insecurity, from the desire to please the invisible "everyone". Thankfully, unlike my run that morning, I am not alone. There is Someone running this race with me, and He has already taken the crown. I am praying that the Lord will let me work through my insecurities. I should be thankful that I serve Someone who doesn't require a uniform and lets me go at my own pace! I am only responsible for my own actions, I should not be concerned about pleasing the world. I think the next time I run I will try to remember to be strong in who I am because of Whose I am, and I can be confident in knowing that it is okay that I seem to be swimming (or running) upstream!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Status Update

So, it kind of seems like no one has really been blogging but me lately, but that's okay.This is usually a busy time of year, and it hasn't been any different for us. What have we been up to?

-We started homeschooling about a month ago. I thought it would just be Josie (according to the school system she should have to wait to go to kindergarten until next year, but the beauty of homeschooling is that we are not on their timetable!) but Carson has really wanted to do "school" too. He sits at the table with us every single day and does his "work". Sometimes that is coloring, or "writing", or sticking stickers, or playing with playdough but he always listens while we do science and Bible. He may be ready for kindergarten next year! It is going really well. We spend about an 1 and 1/2 hours-2 hours working each day. I feel like that is plenty of time, if she were in part day kindergarten she would only go for about 3 hours. And trust me, we don't waste time with busy work!

-Schooling has given me a little bit more of a routine. I have started getting up earlier than the kids and that is working really well. I started trying to do that about 3-4 months ago and it is really getting a lot better. I get up, have my quiet time, eat breakfast, work out and waste time on the internet. It is nice to be able to set up my day before little feet hit the floor. As soon as either of my children are out of bed they are looking for food. It is great to not have to supervise breakfast while trying to do all that other stuff. Then we clean and then school is from about 10 am until lunch time. Jocelyn is a better student in the morning, otherwise I probably would have tried to do it during Carson's nap. However, like I said before, he is actually loving it. So all is well that ends well!

-I have been trying my hand at some new recipes. I made my own chocolate syrup. That was a lot of fun! I will definitely be doing that again. I had used up all my Hershey's and was craving some ice cream when I ran across this recipe. I actually found another one that I am going to try and see if I like it any better. I also made my own strawberry jam! That sort of seems like something everyone tries at one time or another, so I figured I may as well. At first I thought it wouldn't set, but after refrigerating it, it is great. The kids are loving it on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Makes me feel very domestic! I also made this pecan caramel cheesecake. Joel wanted me to try the chocolate version,so I did, but personally I think I would have preferred regular cheesecake on the top. I also made quiche for the first time and it was delicious! We added everything but the kitchen sink: spinach, tomatoes, bacon, onions, cheese and mushrooms. I have been trying different banana recipes, too. My favorite so far is one called "Monkey Squares". But there is one little problem. The first time I made it I mistakenly added too much butter. I added extra flour to try to help and it turned out...delicious! I made it again yesterday and couldn't remember how much flour I added. It wasn't as good. Duplicating a mistake is hard work! I will have to figure it out and then I will post that recipe and the quiche one.

- In other non-food related news, I have been working at setting up the moms' Bible study again at our church. I am in charge of the actual study, so I have been researching books for that. I am really excited. This will be my first attempt at teaching "big" people! I have spent many years working with children and even teenagers, but this will be my first opportunity to teach my peers. It makes me feel nervous, but I really felt like this is where the Lord wanted me. Stay tuned to find out what study we picked-hopefully we will be starting in the next couple of weeks.

-I am prepping for the JBF sale that is next week. This will be the fifth time that I have participated and I get a little more savvy each time. I actually have over 100 items already tagged and I should be totally finished before the end of this week. That is definitely an improvement over the first time when I was still marking things the day of. I thought I would have fewer things this time but I gathered up some more stuff today and I think I will be at my usual 150 items. I am most looking forward to getting my check! It seems easier to get rid of my kids' things the older they get. Although I am still a little teary eyed over parting with some of their costumes...

So, that is a little of what has been going on around here. As the year winds down I am sure our schedule will only continue to get fuller. How about you? Lots of stuff going on?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Soothing the Savage Beast

We have been doing some major over-hauling around here. No worries, I am not planning on moving or anything else drastic-I think I just finally realized that we have lived here for three years and I really don't love this house. So I have been trying to make it something that I am at least happy with most of the time. I have realized that I can't stand clutter and I have really developed my philosophy of keeping only things I truly love AND use. I realized that I was keeping a lot of things because I was worried that I would need it and not be able to replace it. Ummm, if I haven't used it or needed it in the past year, chances are good I won't even remember I ever had it!

Anyway, in all this crazy de-cluttering and sorting (please don't get the image that my house is a giant disaster-it isn't, I just realized we can live with a lot less than we have been) I ran across my CD collection. In my laundry room. Isn't that where you keep yours? Well, I realized I hadn't listened to any of them (there was only about 20) in about three years. My first inclination was to donate them, but then I realized that I had put them there because when we moved into this house, I did not have a CD player. I have one now, and have for a while, but since I had not been able to use them for so long it had kind of been "out of sight, out of mind." So, the CD collection was one of the few things that I gave a second chance. I moved them from the laundry room to the kitchen (because that is where the CD player is. Makes sense now, right?) and have been thoroughly enjoying reliving my teenage years.

I am so thankful that I have a Godly heritage, especially concerning music. I remember when I was in early elementary school that my dad made a decision to only listen to Christian music. We always listened to either the radio or Christian tapes in the car. I loved singing along to Sandi Patty, Larnelle Harris and Steve Green. My parents only allowed us to purchase/own Christian music. As I moved into middle school, I loved Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, 4Him and especially Steven Curtis Chapman. Then in high school I really started to develop my own musical taste. I liked Jars of Clay before they were really popular. I also loved DC Talk (only from Jesus Freak on!) but I really liked some of the lesser-knowns. I had CDs of groups most people have probably never heard of: The Normals, Seven Day Jesus, The Waiting, and PFR (who by then had already disbanded but I loved their final album). This is also when I was introduced to some of the bands that I still love today-Switchfoot (my brother introduced me to them), and the Newsboys (I can thank my sister for that!). I own 9 Newsboys CDs and can affirm that they are my favorite band. Ever. When everyone else was listening to the Spice Girls and Brittney Spears, I listened to the Small Town Poets. I will fiercely defend Christian music-but that isn't the point of this blog.

I really think that my parents' commitment to guarding our hearts, via our ears, was a huge part of forming my character. I am intensely attracted to anything musical- if I hear a song, even on a commercial, it sticks with me. I have always been drawn to experiencing God through music. But it has never been limited to hymns or worship music. I almost always cry when I hear Thousand Foot Krutch's "This Is A Call". I can really meet with God over some Relient K, too.

Anyway, most of the albums that I have been revisiting are from my high school years, specifically my junior year. That was a pretty important time in my spiritual walk. In "Experiencing God" it talks about memorial stones, and I think that whole time is one for me. God revealed a lot about Himself, His forgiveness, and His plan for me. The music that I listened to during that time really tied into that. So when I began listening to it all over again, it brought it all back for me. Remembering how the Lord led me through a tough time in my life (even if a lot of it was of my own making) and how tender He was in ministering to me. How He gave me new friends, and showed me how to walk with Him more closely. All of those feelings came flooding back when I put in those old CDs. This song from The Waiting was one of my favorites then and listening to it again recently was definitely a spiritual experience:

So Much of Me

At the foot of the ocean I'm hearing winds whisper and waves shout
The storm of the morning is clearing, the tide is running out
I'm feeling obviously small
A little of this sand is all I am
A bit of dust blown from Your hand

You made the wind, You made the sea
Why do you make so much of me?
You made the stars and every creature that breathes
Why do You make so much of me?

In the heart of the evening I'm counting the stars set in the sky
Getting lost at a hundred or fifty or so
I'm thinking I can only hide in some hole I carve in the earth
What am I worth?
I'm just a speck, a candle in Your universe


And here I stand
A bit of dust from Your big hand
What am I worth?
A candle in Your universe

(from the Waiting "Unfazed")

What a wonderful thought- so like Psalm 139- I am nothing, or I should be, but He sees my value, He gives me my value. Revisiting this particular memorial stone, for me, through music, reminds me of what He has been to me, and what He WILL be. Not what He can be, but a definite. He cannot change, so what He wrought for me in the past, He will surely do again. I have changed in the last 11 years (some of it thankfully!) but He is still the same. Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." This music definitely soothes my savage beast. When I am questioning and afraid, I am reminded that He hasn't failed me yet, and He never will.

That is the beauty of having some sort of spiritual marker. Just as the Israelites set up stones by the Jordan, we should have places that we revisit to remind of what God has done for us. Music has a powerful attachment for me- play a song for me that I love and I will be taken back to the place where I was when I first made the connection. I am glad that I did not part with these CDs. I have a few more I still haven't had a chance to listen to. I can't wait to see where they take me. I challenge you to set up some of your own memorial stones, whether they are music, a specific book, a verse or a photo. Keep the things that remind you of how God has guided you on His path, and bring them out when you feel there is a chance He might let you down. Then you will know He most certainly can't!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Won't Forget...

I don't usually participate in sappy cliched things but I think 9/11 is a little different. I remember getting up for school, I had college classes early. It was strange because my mom was on the phone. She turned on the television and the first thing I saw was a repeated image of a plane hitting two tall buildings. At first I thought it was a joke. Then, as we continued watching, the commentators just kept saying we had been attacked. On our own soil, innocent people had been mercilessly murdered. I felt like I was in a fog.

In my own selfish teenage way, one of my first thoughts centered on myself. Joel and I had begun dating only a month prior and he had planned a trip from Illinois to come see me in Colorado. He was supposed to be leaving the next day. Classes at the college were, of course, not cancelled. They did not cancel for anything.

I arrived at my first class. It was American history. We had barely opened our textbooks when the fire alarm went off. We were much more frightened then I would have been normally. I grabbed my purse because I didn't know what to think. All the students huddled outside, unsure of what had happened. We found out later it was just a routine drill. Poor timing. While we waited to outside I kept hearing murmurings. Cheyenne Mountain was sure to be attacked people said, or the Academy, where I lived. There were both symbols of America's power and patriotism. It was scary. The mall closed, and they called me to tell me I did not need to come into work.

We tried to get back into our class after the drill was called, but our professor had left. Honestly, I think he was pretty shaken up. The rest of the day was spent running up to the television the school had put on the second floor. Every time the news seemed worse-the crash in Pennsylvania, the attack on the Pentagon. Was the White House safe? Still, I continued to worry about Joel. When I went home that night my car was searched going onto the Academy. That had never happened before. They continued to search every vehicle for quite a while afterwards. They even changed the high school schedule for Air Academy High. They went to school in the afternoon for several weeks to help keep the morning traffic down a little. I called Joel and he made plans to leave that evening. He drove straight through the night. We were worried that gas prices would rise in response to the crisis. Funny, that happened, but not for several years.

When he arrived the next day, I was never so happy to hug him. Truly, it made me glad to have my loved ones nearby. I wanted to stay in my house with my family and just keep them all safe. Soon my dad would leave, his duty to keep military men and women healthy as they protected our freedom. He left almost exactly a month after. I think it may have hit me even harder then how real the occurences had been.

9/11 changed our lives. People fly flags now, Joel knew when he joined the Army in 2004 that he would certainly deploy, and he has twice fought against the injustices committed that day. I was so proud to be an American then, and that fierce pride has only grown. I love our nation, I support our flag, I would die for our freedom. I may post the same thing every year but I don't care. I will never forget....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

We went to Helen Hunt Falls on Saturday with friends for another "Nic-Lic"-two in one week!
The kids had a fabulous time playing by (and in) the creek. They both carried big sticks, but there wasn't much speaking softly!

This was our beautiful picnic spot-sun, shade, nice and flat with big rocks to sit on. With the gorgeous scenery it was absolutely perfect! The weather was wonderful-I would probably be able to be persuaded to picnic every single day if it would be just like this.

The kids weren't the only ones who enjoyed playing in the water. Joel may have spent some time in there, too. We had to cross the creek to get to our picnic spot, and let me tell you, that water was COLD! Completely clear, clean, mountain run-off. Just walking through it and I couldn't hard feel my toes!

Both Carson and Josie had a blast. The water was only about 4 inches and the bed wasn't too rocky. I tried to convince them to wear their Crocs but they were having none of it. However, it was a little too cold for sitting in, but definitely great for splashing and running around.

The little pool they were playing in ended in this tiny waterfall. Isn't it precious?

We ended the day by going to the Colorado Springs "Balloon Glo". If you have never been (this was our first time) I highly recommend it! I got zero decent photos of my family-my camera doesn't do so well after dark with just the flash. However, the whole point of the Glo is to inflate all the hot air balloons and then when the crowd counts down and says, "Glow!" all the pilots flare simultaneously and all the balloons light up. It was really neat. This was a fun pig shaped balloon. We also saw an enormous Energizer bunny, but my camera died, so no photos of that. It was a bad camera night!

This was the first balloon to light up. You can see it isn't quite dark yet. There was a million people there, but we still were really close to several balloons. This one was nearest.

The balloons once they were all inflated. We could see about 15 from where we were standing. Those things are huge! Carson loved the "balloons and fire!" . Typical boy.

We relaxed on Sunday and then Monday it was off for family photos. My friend Lindsay offered to take our pictures and I couldn't pass that up. We went to Fox Run Park. I had been there before, but I had never been to the lake side. It is an absolutely terrific place to take photos! Two lakes, and a cute little creek. All the photos here are mine, that is why they aren't the greatest. I will post some of her's when I get them from her.

The little creek. After Saturday Carson just kept begging to get in the water. It was really hard to get him to look at the camera. Photos near a creek might have been a bad idea, since his memories of the falls were still so fresh. We did let him wade a little at the end.

Finally! He stripped his shoes off as fast as he could! We tried to make it quick, there was a bunch of people. The weather was windy but I think she got some good shots. Carson and Joel are not very photo friendly so I didn't want to drag it out. After all the forced smiling I thought they deserved a little play time.

Cute, though, isn't he? He snagged this hat from his friend Kegan and I thought he looked pretty swell. I think he thought so, too.

A fun pic of the kids near the end. I played around with this in a photo editing program and changed it to black and white and made it look like an oil painting. It looks really cool, but since the photos on here are so small it didn't translate well. I can email you one, but since it also looked cute un-retouched, here it is.
So that was our Labor Day weekend. It was pretty great. I could do it again this weekend, but I would leave the boys at home for the photo part!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I have never been much of an outdoor girl. I don't care for dirt (which seems abundant out there for some reason), I can't stand bugs and/or animals and I am allergic to grass, dust, pollen, mold and pretty much anything else one finds outside. I do love to run outside, but that could just be because I can't run inside! No, really, I love the mountains and the view, and I don't have to sit on the grass or dirt. I don't do camping-really, is there ever a good reason to have to pack up everything that has a perfectly good place in my house and leave behind electricity and running water and sleep on the hard ground? I don't think so. I cannot be persuaded, so do not leave comments stating that trailer camping is any different. Maybe you don't sleep on the ground, but I still can't figure out the packing everything up. Also, vacation = not cooking. When you camp, you have to cook your own food! That definitely makes me feel gypped. Yeah, not a big camper.

When I was a teenager, it was even worse. One day, in the car, my mom mentioned having a picnic. I slumped down in my seat and grumbled, " I hate picnics. Why do we have to have a picnic?" In my own defense, as with camping, picnics meant not really getting to eat out. I loved eating at a resturant (even fast food made me happy, actually it still does!) and going on a picnic meant packing up all your own (boring) food and dragging it somewhere to eat in the dirt and grass. Yuck! Well, anyway, I was just about to start my plea for why we should skip the picnic, when I hear a little voice from the backseat say incredulously, "Lara hate nic-lics?". As if to ponder how someone could hate cute babies or chocolate. It was my sister Kelly, who can find joy in most things, and even at the age of 2, couldn't comprehend how her older sister not only didn't like eating outside (most likely at a park, a huge source of happiness for a toddler) but detested it! Oh, yeah, I felt about two inches tall. I felt like I had stolen some of her innocence. Anyway, in our family, after that time, anytime a picnic is mentioned, someone has to say, "Lara HATES nic-lics". And then laugh hysterically.

Since then, I have gotten over some of my distaste for eating out of doors. I still don't want to picnic when it is windy, or cool, or might be thinking about raining. I also need shade and a nice clean table. But hey, it is still an improvement, right? But I can't honestly say I hate them anymore. As a matter of fact, we had a rather nice picnic last night. Joel had CQ (a 24 hour shift) and we like to have dinner with him when he is working. So I packed up my picnic basket (Joel bought me a really nice one complete with actual plates and silverware, cloth napkins and cups, for my first Mother's Day.) and my Longaberger. We had dinner in the park and I took a casserole and fresh chocolate chip cookie bars and we dined at a relatively clean table under a tree. It was actually nice. Picnics are always improved in my mind when one takes something besides sandwiches and you can use real plates.

So am I reformed from my anti-picnic attitude? Sort of. I think part of it is living in Colorado. Everyone here adamantly loves the outdoors. And it is hard to resist. Still a resounding, "NO" on the camping front, but I think I can live with eating outside once in a while. I also really like a picnic inside. Part of it is because I don't want my children to have my same snobby attitude, I want them to enjoy simple things. And part is, it reminds me of my family. My dad loves to go places and my mom loves a picnic. We did a lot of picnics growing up. I always thought it was just to save money but I see now all the pleasures something like that can have. It can give you a new appreciation for things (like how easy it is to just dig through the fridge!). But also, I think I do them because, in some small way, I want to redeem myself from that tiny voice saying, "Lara hate nic-lics?" This one's for you, Kelly.
P.S. Hope you weren't looking for a spiritual connection here, or you will be disappointed. Sometimes a girl just needs to ramble...


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