Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ready or Not Here I Go!

With it being last day of this year, I've been thinking of what I've done this year and what I want to do this next year. I have the normal resolutions, to be a better person, eat healthier, yada, yada, yada. But I also have a big one.

If any of you know me or have followed any of my posts, I've become a runner. I've only started using that word recently to describe myself and with out the clarification that I can't run a mile. Since I started running two and half years ago or more, I've completed four half marathons at the event site (you show up, run, use water stations and porta-pottys and get your medal at the end) and a few virtual runs (you sign up, they send you a medal and you have two weeks to a month to complete the total miles).

This year I think I'm getting older or wiser. I want to run for more than just me. In the beginning and it's still true today I entered races based on bling and what motivated me to run was the shrinking number on the scale when I was seriously training. But I need more. I have more now because I don't run for myself anymore, I run for a buddy who can't run. She's 7 and lives in PA and her name is Olivia. She pushes me to keep moving when I want to quit. She's fearless- she will cheer in front crowds or jump in the pool for swimming. When we run we earn meals for the hungry with the Charity Miles app on my phone but I still wanted something bigger than myself or Olivia and I for my 40th birthday. I don't have a family of my own to leave a legacy with yet but I don't want to wait for that. I know I will someday have my own family whether that is through marriage and natural births or through adoption or fostering. I have many in my family who have been adopted or friends who have adopted.

A friend approached me about running in the PF Chang's Rock N Roll Half Marathon in January to raise money for Sixty Feet. It's an organization that builds orphanages in Uganda for kids that don't have a home and it keeps them safe and hopefully they find their forever home. I have friends that have spent time serving there and it's great. And I loved the idea of running to help others. So I agreed. In the process of training for that and running my most recent half I have been thinking of running a full. I know it's totally crazy and I'm not a fast runner so there will be a lot of training to do it both mentally and physically.

Actually, during my last half, I was kicking butt at a 14 min pace (mine is usually 16 minutes per mile) and around mile 9 this is the conversation I had with myself.

"You are kicking butt, this isn't so bad, maybe we should try for a full marathon for a challenge.

You know you are right, I always have said I wouldn't consider it until I could do a half in under 3 hours but this is easy, a marathon wouldn't be that much harder."
At mile 12 it was

"You can forget about a full, you may not finish this, I think you were dehydrated or low sugar balance to even consider something so insane. You can't do it, you would never finish." 

And I ended the race, a little defeated and getting my gear bag, I chatted with a lady sitting on the grass. We shared our stories and she encouraged me to reconsider running a full. She said if she could do it, I could to and that's my line for anyone wanting to do a half. I've been praying about it on my runs. I pray for people or run memory verses or do math- anything to keep my mind occupied during the miles.

Because of encouragement from friends who I consider to be running mentors, I'm taking the leap and planning on running a FULL marathon in October. A friend suggested The Chosen Marathon. They raise money for families who are trying to adopt.  It's in New Braunfels, TX (San Antonio).

I'm scared I won't finish but if a friend can decide to run a half marathon because she wants to help make my 40th birthday special, then I can be encouraged by that and run.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving and Memories Part 2

The first post was about my grandma Vina. This post is about my grandma Jacobs. I was close to my grandma. She was an amazing woman and I have so many memories of her when I was a kid. I don't think I have one major event in my life that she wasn't part of. She came to my school plays, church plays, 4-H and FFA events, high school graduation, college graduations. She even drove with me to my first job interview.

She was an amazing and inspirational person. We had many conversations about her life growing up and throughout all the stages of her life. She was a preacher's kid. Her dad was a Methodist preacher. Her best friend growing up was Helen and she looked just like her sister, Eunice.

Her sister Eunice and Grandma.

 She met my grandpa Glen when she was working in the shipyard during WWII. He wasn't a Christian and she wasn't going to date him till he believed. She raised seven kids and a few grandkids on a very small income. She outlived all of her husbands and always shared her love for the Lord. Later in life her best friend was Barbara and she loved to sing and mentor kids. She was always helping out or being involved in Church.  Dad and I often joked that when she moved to Arizona that the First Baptist Church might fall apart because she was so involved.

Grandma with her friend Barbara.
When I needed serious prayer for myself or a friend I would call her because she was a prayer warrior  She told the story that when she was a kid she didn't realize how poor they were because they lived on a farm and grew a lot of their own food. She also shared the story that  her and Helen visited some of the sailors from the docks (this was before the war) and they gave a couple guys an avocado. When they later asked about the avocado the sailors said they didn't really like it. When the girls asked how they ate it, the guys replied that they didn't know what it was so they boiled it!!! 

One of my best memories is that she would dress up as a clown for Halloween… She had the brightest red wig. Every Halloween Mom and Dad would take me into town and one of the first stops would be her house. It was the only time I ever went to the front door of her house. Usually I would ring the bell, she would come, I ‘d say trick or treat and then she’d give me candy and then open the door further for me to come in and my parents who would be down on the side walk would come up and we would stay for a few minutes before going to more houses. This one year, I rang the bell, said trick or treat and then waited for her to open the door, instead she closed it. So I had to ring the door bell again and tell her it was me. We got a good laugh out of that.

She also taught kindergarten at the First Baptist Church. I think it started in her home then as it grew she was able to move it to the church. I was fortunate to be part of her last class before she retired. Many of my classmates that I graduated high school with were in her class and so were some of their older siblings. As we grew up if any of her students from kindergarten or Awana’s made the paper (in a good way) she would cut it out and send it to us even when we were in college.

First Baptist Church AM Kindergarten Class 1979-1980
When we were in kindergarten she would reward students when they could county to 100. All the kids who accomplished that each week would be taken on Friday down to Sprouts Ritz to pick out a coloring book. It took me two weeks of trying to get my coloring book. When I knew I was going to earn it I had my parents take me there on Sunday so I could take my time picking out my book. I wanted it to be special and when I picked it on that Friday I cherished that coloring book for a couple years.  She also taught us our ABC’s and when the whole class could say them, we took a field trip to Tastee Treat to have ice cream.

 She built our spiritual foundation but for me and several others she also helped build our educational foundation. She gave me my first big kid Bible and I still have it.  When my cousins Travis and Jason and I were little we would take her towels and make capes so we could fly and fight the bad guys. She helped us put them on each time because she would safety pin them around our necks. I think she got tired of washing all her towels because she had capes and hats made for us. I found mine while searching for the Bible she gave me when I was writing my thoughts down for her memorial service.  We left our super hero days behind but not the lessons. She also helped me earn my FFA Jacket so I could participate and learn the skills that laid the foundation for my career today. She let me do chores and mow her lawn to earn money for my jacket. I think she was just as proud of my jacket as I was. 

She also was there as a surrogate mom for the mom weekends my sorority or college had and for my college graduations. She also sat with me during each of Dad’s surgeries so I wouldn't be alone. She filled in after mom was gone. She told me I drove too fast (which I do) and to stand up straight and several other things that parents and grandparents tell the kids so that they will grow up with manners and respect for others.

But like any grandparent/grandkid relationship there were somethings I just didn't share with my grandma. I had a boy roommate in college and she wasn't comfortable with it. She even had me look up Bible verses about it. I went ahead and roomed with him but we just chose not to talk about it. I also didn't tell her I had a tattoo but even with those disagreements on things I knew she still loved me. She loved all her kids and grandkids despite our disagreements.

Grandma with most of her kids and grandkids a few years ago.
As I have grown up, I realized that I was able to accomplish everything I have because she was there through it all cheering me on as she did with all her grandkids. We knew that if we messed up she would be disappointed in our actions but never in us. She loved all her grandkids and great grandkids the same it didn't matter if you came into her family through birth or marriage. She didn't have lots of material things but she was overflowing in what mattered… family and friends.  In my mind she is the Proverbs 31 woman.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

I know I will see her again one day because she was a believer and so my heart doesn't ache as much if I didn't have that hope but I still miss her. And now that she's gone I love spending time with my aunts and uncles when a few of them gather together so I can hear stories they tell when they are sharing their memories. 

Grandma, Grandpa Win, me and Dad

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanksgiving and Memories

Many of my Facebook friends are doing the 30 days of thankfulness by posting each day one thing they were thankful for. It was nice and it made me think of things I am thankful for in my life. I'm not participating partly because that's a big commitment. But it did get me thinking about two people who I am thankful for in my life and how they shaped me. Those two people are my grandmothers. I was named after both my grandmothers. My name was suppose to be Elizabeth Marie, after my maternal grandmother- Dorothy Elizabeth but I was born on my other grandmother's birthday- Vina. So I became Elizabeth Vina Marie. This year Grandma Vina would have been 102 on Veteran's Day.
Vina Foster the last time she rode a horse.
Grandma Vina was an amazing, funny and strong-willed woman. She died when I was in seventh grade and I have some memories about her but I came to my conclusion about who she is by reading letters and things she wrote when my dad was a kid/young adult.

She is always on the list when people ask "If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?" I always have her on my list. I would have loved to have a conversation with her as an adult. She was the type of person that within 10 minutes of talking to her she would know your life story and who you were related too. She also wouldn't back down if she was in a  disagreement and thought she was right. I think she was tough as nails and would fight like hell to protect her family or what she felt was important. But she was also funny or at least humorous so that others laughed.

I was one of those lucky kids that has both grandmas nearby but because of that I think didn't spend as much time with her and I now regret not doing so. I have learned things about her that I never knew before. I learned that she met her husband, my grandfather at a dance and that they loved to dance at the grange hall. Most of their dates were dancing and they wouldn't get he before dawn; this makes me smile because it want the part of grandma that I knew.

Roy and Vina Foster on their wedding day
She married in 1937 at the age of 23, had four kids and buried her husband in 1953 and a daughter in 1975. She loved her kids and worried about them. She had her family and they helped her.

My aunt shared a story with me that when she was 5 or 6 years old she had a chicken and a hawk had grabbed it. She started yelling and Grandma ran out of the house with the shotgun and shot the hawk. When I told dad about that he said she put the hawk under the wash tub outside so when their dad got home he could see that she shot it.

There is also the letter I read that she wrote to the Oregon Water master explaining that she had water rights and it didn't matter if the men at the neighboring ranches wanted it she wasn't giving them up. There's also the story of after grandpa died those neighbors told her to sell and move to town and put her kids in the foster care system because she couldn't run the ranch by herself. She told them to go to hell (my words not hers) and funny thing her kids and grandkids still open land there and all those ranchers have been gone for long time.
Cutting firewood Nov 1962

I posted on our families group page that I was writing this blog and asked if anyone else had stories of her. My cousin had one. Angie wrote:

"I have a story...A funny memory...I remember staying at grandma and grandpa's, being inside then hearing the dogs bark, followed by the honk of a horn. It was not a light tap, it was a lay on the horn followed by a several honks until grandpa would go outside, then there would be your grandma in her big ole car saying, "Robert, come get these damn dogs!". "I hate these damn dogs!". So grandpa would have to bring the dogs into the utility room until she left. Then grandpa would say in a mocking voice after she would leave come on you damn dogs back outside side. Then we would all sit around giggling that Vina said damn."

My aunt had another one as well,

"bless her heart. she did not "learn" to drive 'til daddy got really sick. she would take Frances up on Maury (mountains) & drive around "learning". Frances wouldn't ride in the front seat  I don't think she ever got it right. She would floorboard the gas then let off till it was SLOW. Then floor it again. Linda has a story about Momma trying to turn around in her driveway.----when I learned to drive she sent me to get bummer lambs. at the Moores in Powell Butte they gave me a cute lil cocker spaniel puppy. she had a fit.--she made us put it outside when we left for school. then we noticed--the door cracking open & she was putting the puppy out--just before we got back to the house."

I read some of her stories about her courtship with grandpa and when they got married. She had a double wedding. Her and Grandpa, Uncle Robert (Angie's grandpa) and Aunt Hazel all got married on the same day. Several years later, as Aunt Hazel would tell the story a traveling salesman came calling and apparently my dad didn't much care for him as a child so he told him that he was born on the day his mom and dad got married. Grandma had to do some fast talking to explain that yes he was born on the day they got married but several years later.

I also learned a life lesson from her and my dad. Grandpa died in 1953 and that winter is was bitter cold. A had Effie Calbreth (sp?) stopped by for a visit and Grandma had told her it she would love to visit but she had to figure out how to keep the house warm. I think dad said she was cutting up old fencing to burn later. Effie went on down the road and when she got to the Post Store she chewed out the state road crew and neighbors that was sitting there because they were in there drinking and "that poor woman up the road is burning her furniture to keep her kids warm." That weekend those guys and some of the neighbors went out and cut a lot of wood and delivered it to Grandma. Dad said she was so grateful and valued that wood to the extent that when she died in 1987, Dad thought she might still have some of that wood in the shed because she tried to burn other wood before that. I learned that story when I was complaining one time to him about selling wood to an elderly lady in town for less than half of the going rate. He told me that sometimes it's not about the money but it's about taking care of people. And that's why to this day, Dad's wood cutting rate is dependent on how much money you make!

As I learn more about her I realize that without knowing her through my teenage years and into adulthood I as well as my cousins have inherited a few of her traits. I'm proud of the person my grandma was and will always have her on the list of five people you would like to have dinner with. She will definitely be someone I can't wait to see and visit with in Heaven.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Follow the Leader

About six weeks ago I was walking through my neighborhood in the morning with a friend and we came across a group of  large machinery (Earth-moving type) construction workers who were standing in a circle and it appeared as though they were getting ready to play a pick up football game because they were were drawing figures in the dirt but they were in their hard hats, safety vests, jeans and work boots. I made a comment to my friend that they kind of looked funny as we were coming upon them. The leader of the group saw us and pointed out they probably looked funny and we all laughed.  As we continued walking I realized they weren't gearing up for a quick football game but they as a group lead by their leader were stretching and warming up their muscles for the days work. It probably only took them about 10-15 minutes as a group. I've noticed over the weeks as they have continued getting this piece of land ready for houses that they do this every morning.

Stock photo
Just like we take time getting vehicles or houses ready for events or trips we need to get our bodies ready each morning for the days tasks.This little glimpse of how this company and it's foreman operate has had me thinking these last few weeks. The workers are probably healthier and have less worker compensation claims (I don't know this for a fact) because they have taken 10 minutes each morning to stretch and loosen up the muscles before they climb into or on their equipment. For my experience with our safety program, the biggest number of claims each year in workers is back injuries. We spend a lot of money on back injuries. I've worked with safety programs and employers for almost 14 years in promoting safety and I have seen that the companies that have good ratings and each year save money on their premium because of a good safety record are those that the owners or leaders make safety a priority. Those that don't it shows up in black and white when we get their quarterly safety numbers. It's apparent that the company working near my house takes their workers safety and health as well as the company's bottom line seriously.

Safety and health is an attitude. People and companies who think of the long term benefits usually make it a priority but you have to have the buy in from the leaders and the employees. You can't just say you do it you have to come along, just like the supervisor and do it with them.

I have been a runner for a few years but only recently have I really started focusing on the stretching before and after because after not being diligent in making it a habit I have found I'm spending more time in with my sports medicine chiropractor working on getting my muscles to loosen so I don't have pain in other parts of my legs or feet. I've found over the years that everything- tendons and muscles are all connected.

By taking the short time before you start working or experiencing to warm up you save yourself in the long run. You save yourselves from time off, pain and even money by taking preventative measures.

Editor's Note: I'm posting this blog as it's not a normal topic for me because both Arizona Farm Bureau and AFBF may end up using it for their blogs or papers. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Truths

My last post was about what I was struggling with but since youth camp it's been interesting because the theme seemed to be about finding our worth and identity in God and not what we or society tells us. Don't get me wrong I love my runner's high (and even broke through a wall and was able to run 4 miles without stopping) but there are lies the voice in your head tells you.

While at camp I was also doing my Beth Moore's James Bible Study. Let me tell you each of her studies kicks my butt and challenges me but this one I think Beth Moore discovered my dad's size 15 shoe because I've learned more in the last five weeks that I didn't realize  I needed to learn. It came at the right time (God's timing is perfect) because we started the study shortly after my trip to Oregon and camp complimented the topic. But here's the other challenge that I encountered at camp.

I was having a discussion about my study on James with our youth pastor and another counselor and I talked about the levels of commitment you can have with the study. I had chosen to do level four which was watch the video, do the weekly study, write out the book of James and do the extra reading included. The next and final step was to memorize the book. Let me run that by you again- memorize the whole book, not just a few verses or a chapter but all four chapters. Josh (our youth pastor) asked why I wasn't memorizing it. I gave him every excuse- I don't have time, I have a bad memory (I had hard enough time remembering all the girls names that came with us- there were 11 girls), I'm head is already full of random agricultural facts. And each time I said something  he gave it back to me and pointed out that we normally use less than 20 percent of our brains. SO with no excuses I agreed. And even though we are out three weeks from camp, I am up to James 1:17. It may take me awhile (at 3-5 verses a week) but I will eventually finish.

I share that with you because I have been repeating all the verses over and over several times a day, even going to sleep running them through my head and waking up with them. I think I may have even scared some new neighbors because I ran last week without my IPOD for music so to keep my mind off running I repeated the first 15 verses several times out loud along my run. I got a few strange looks but something I noticed is that I'm happier and more content with who I am because those verses are great and I've been soaking them in. I am looking forward to soaking in the rest of the book and seeing what God has planned for the rest of my life and discovering more truths about who I really am.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Country Songs and Prayer Requests

I wrote this blog about two weeks ago before a drive to Oregon and spending a week at youth camp. I have a follow up to this because of a long conversation with God on the trip to Oregon thanks to some great music.

There's a lot of songs on my IPOD that cover a lot of genres. I have from Elvis and Aretha Franklin to Dolly Parton and Conway Twitty to more current country such as Aaron Watson, Stoney LaRue and  George Strait; to Maroon 5, Bruno Mars and Eminem. I know that some of those songs and artists aren't great to listen to but  when you are coming home from one corner of the state late at night after sitting through a meeting where we talk about critical issues like water, border security  - and not just the philosophy of it but the reality of living and running a ranch on the border, livestock diseases and regulations to name a few. As summer rolls on sometimes the days get really long and the nights really short. There's been times when I have had a 7 pm meeting in St. Johns (NE corner of the state) and I have to be in Yuma the next day at noon (SW corner of the state).  But I feel like a hypocrite for listening to some of the more explicit songs because although they keep me awake they aren't what I would say is good for the soul. They create some awkward moments if your dad is in the truck with you on some Saving Abel or Buckcherry songs I sometimes joke that when a Kid Rock song comes on between an old gospel song of Alan Jackson and Sidewalk Profits that he needed a little Jesus.

I spend a lot of my windshield time thinking about stuff- life, lessons being learned, what's happening in the lives of my friends, farmers, ranchers and loved ones. And a lot of times the songs I listen to are a reflection of my mood and what I'm thinking about on those drives. I love songs that give me hope in my faith or in life in general. There are some great songs out there by some really great artists that I learn lessons through or that God uses to teach me and sometimes it's not even the words but the actual music.

I've been struggling a little in my walk with God for a few months. It doesn't seem like a big struggle when compared to others. I just haven't been faithful or consistent in my prayer life... I have been praying for people who are dealing with health or life crisis but as for me I haven't been talking to God about me. I feel as though  I don't feel like praying or having a conversation with God about my life and my wants and needs- part of me feels like it doesn't matter (I know that it does in my head but my heart doesn't feel like that right now). But I feel like I do when I am listening to songs. I know it sounds a little crazy but I feel like it's a prayer about not praying when I hear Kip Moore sing "Faith When I Fall." Then there's the whole albums of Alan Jackson's gospel songs and Aaron Watson's album Barbed Wire Halo and pretty much most of his songs. I've been listening to "I've Always Loved You" and "Sonshine" a lot in the last few days.  I feel like my soul is taking to God when I am driving and listening to those songs.

Admitting that I'm not praying is ironic considering that I've been reading my Bible more the last month because I'm doing a Beth Moore study on James. Can you be reading your Bible more but be praying less? I do corporate prayer with church and the youth. And if there's a burden a friend is carrying I pray for them while driving, running or when they cross my thoughts or I see their name in my phone but I just can't bring myself to pray for myself. And in part it's because of James 1:6-7 "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord." 

I may have stopped praying because I'm tired of praying for desires of my heart and I have given up. I haven't given up my faith and I do believe in prayer and what can happen with prayer. I read this verse a couple weeks ago and since then I've been trying to decided if asking for my one desire in life and not receiving it is because I've just not had enough faith. I have gone through portions of my life when I ask consistently in prayer and then other times when I haven't but never given up hope. Now I wonder if it even matters. When I pray for dumb things (in the grand scheme of things)  I feel like the child that is constantly saying "mom, mom, mom,mom" patting the leg or pulling the sleeve of God when he has more important things to actually take care of - like the children who are starving not only from food but from love and security, the person who is being abused or the family who is homeless. The totally human-self-absorbed-planner person within me would like God to just show me the map of my life so I can at least know some of the big things. I already know where I will end up but what about some of the journey in between. There is more joy, awe and wonder in things you see that you never thought you would see or do because they are unexpected and so I still have faith that everything will work out for His glory and good.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Time Flies

This week my cousin and her kids are visiting and I'm reminded of how fast time flies. I have briefly seen them a few times since they moved across the country several years ago but you don't realize how fast time really does slip away until you are faced with the reality that your nephew who was a little boy when they left now is a 15 year old young man who now is taller than you and his little sister is now 7 and asks you to play with her. I kept thinking that he just needs to stay the same and not be thinking about college (which he already is). It's just crazy. I remember thinking in college at a family reunion that I had started to be an adult because instead of playing I was listening to the them sharing stories of growing up and I could actually relate to what they were talking about. I think this past weekend I had that with both my cousins and my nephew. At least there are memories that we can talk about when we are older. With my nephew  even though I don't want him to grow up, I'm looking forward to it because not only will we see what an great man he will turn out to be but I can now start having good, real-life conversations with him. 

Maybe I'm thinking this because this weekend for three different friends, their lives are changing- as in big life moments. They either got engaged or are having a baby. Those are the big life moments we seem to reach as we get older but then I realize that the great joy of having those life moments is the long (or short) journeys we take from one mountain top to another. Life is a journey down the path of life but sometimes there's a climb involved or a risk to be taken- adopting, getting married, having children, moving, changing jobs,  making the decision to walk away from the farm or ranch or at least change the way it's been going, or what ever the big thing is that we are experiencing now.Sometimes the big moments are always happy, sometimes they really suck.  All I know is sometimes it takes risk to ask the question, step out on faith,  entrust what is most important to us to another person, or just keep moving forward because what seems to be a hard or difficult time will come to an end. 

While I have the calmness of not having any huge moments in my life at this time, I think I should be contemplating what I have been learning the past few years because eventually I'll have a big moment and I don't want it to overshadow the small things I've experienced or learned. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The 40 Year Trip

I'm a ranch kid. All my references for learning stuff has been from the viewpoint of agriculture. I also grew up in church. So the Bible stories or the lessons that I really understood where those that talked about planting or harvesting because that's what I knew and understood. But recently I've acquired a new viewpoint for things and it's running. (I know, back to a topic that I seem to write about a lot lately). 

I had an aha moment in church last week. I was at home and visiting my dad's church Grace Baptist in Prineville, Oregon. They have a new pastor and I was a little nervous about going to church on the 19th. Not because church makes me nervous; I grew up there and most of the people there I have known my entire life but to be honest, it was going to be a test as to whether I was going to continue to visit Dad's church in the future.  I was going to see what he was like because with his last pastor I didn't get anything from his sermons and to be honest I really would just read the Bible on my own while sitting there and not pay attention to what he was saying. 

So the sermon was great. I totally got and went with it and even got excited. I wanted to jump up and shout Amen! (not something I would ever do) and so badly wanted that to be a Bible Study where a conversation and other people's thoughts were shared because I got so much from that talk and to be completely honest, that's never happened in that church, for me, in my entire life. 

He sermon was on persevering and keep moving forward because change makes us uncomfortable and that with change and being uncomfortable we grow. He used the example of the Israelites and how they wandered in the desert for 40 years on a trip that really should have been a several day trip instead of a several decade trip. 

He pointed out that when we come to Christ as new Christians we have no ideas or notions as to what our faith will be like. We just do each step... baptism, joining the church, being involved. That it's easy to accept Christ and it's easy to be baptized and it's easy to to go to church but then the next few steps require a bit more commitment- tithing, teaching a class, share your faith with someone.

But just like the Israelites we need to keep moving forward, even when we want to turn around and go home to what we know is comfortable. They had to walk by faith. Imagine if they would have turned around and went back to Egypt in year 39. What they would have missed out on. And they have the privilege of seeing real miracles (hello- manna, cloud, burning flame, parting of the Red Sea)!  

Growth requires sacrifice. In your growth you will hit a wall. In your growth, sacrifice and inconveniences  God has a plan.  He has placed the steps in our lives to move forward and when we hit wall we need to rely less on ourselves and trust God. He has a plan. Keep moving forward. Check out Psalm 37:23.

So here was my aha moment. One of my favorite verses is 2 Timothy 4:7 it talks about finishing the race and keeping the faith.  And I think the Apostle Paul might have been a runner because he has a lot of verses that talk about it. Halfway through the sermon I realized my journey with running and training for races is just like my faith (go with me here). You start off with old shoes the first time you run because most likely you haven't learned that there are several types of shoes for different things. Then you take the next step and get new shoes and maybe a new tech shirt then you realize you need to get running shorts and it progresses to eventually you have a running app on your phone or a nice expensive gps watch. What I am saying is that just like growing and moving forward in your faith with small steps (new shoes, new shirt) eventually lead to bigger commitments (running apps, magazine subscriptions, gps watches).

Your 8x10 Crop Selection
Rock n Roll Half Marathon
Savanah, GA 2012
And just like your faith, in running sometimes you grow weary (training miles), your legs grow weak and sometimes you just want to quit or take the short cut home but if you persevere and stick it out the things that you learn about yourself and what you are capable of are incredible. Some may be able to understand the emotions you get when you cross the finish line at a 5k, a half marathon or even a full one. You've spent hours and miles training yourself for the race and you have challenges along the way in training but you also have them during the race. You get blisters and you might injure yourself and you might hit a wall but if you keep moving forward one foot step at a time, you will eventually accomplish great things and yes through running you learn things that even God wants to teach you. 

Faith is just like running. You need to keep moving forward and you need to keep your eye on the promised land because it might seem like a 14 day trip but it might take you 40 years to accomplish your goal and travel the path that God wants you to travel.

And yes, I will be looking forward to going home and going to church in the future. When you see and interact with people who have a passion for what they are doing and love it it's contagious and I can tell by just the last two visits that the new pastor will be good for Grace Baptist Church (but that's just my opinion).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I’m going to get on my soap box here and talk about genetically modified organisms otherwise known as GMOs. I here and see this conversation play out almost daily on Facebook, twitter and in the media.  I have heard the arguments that we don't know the science or that tests have shown that mice get cancerous tumors or that it is creating Frankenstein foods. I also have heard the argument that Europe is against it so we should be too. 

So here it goes....  We have had GMO crops for decades and have been consuming them as well. the crops have gone through extensive testing.  Monsanto isn't the only or the first company to use or create GMO products. There are several companies but you only hear about how horrible Monsanto is. The argument of mice having cancer or stomachs exploding is a big scare tactic because mice don't have the exact enzymes that we have. if these crops were as bad as some say we would have exploding stomachs and extra limbs growing on the side of their bodies. i use the example of a person eats a carrot and lots of carrots but we don't see people in the process of evolving into a carrot. they are consuming genes and your body is breaking down genes and chromosomes of plant but they are not becoming part of our genes and chromosomes. In addition people have been throwing around the legislation that was passed and how it protects Monsanto.  First, EU and other European Countries do allow GMO foods- corn and soybeans to be used as animal feed that is fed to animals who are then introduced into the human food supply. Secondly, the piece of legislation was to protect the farmer not Monsanto. It doesn't have anything to do with “getting sick and taking someone to court”. What it really is about is it allows the farmer to keep growing his crop while the litigation is being decided. For example, if a person or group sued Monsanto or any other seed company after a crop had been planted that farmer is allowed to keep growing it and even harvest it while the court case is being decided. The farmer isn't being paid by Monsanto so if there weren't allowed to continue to grow their crop they would be out an entire harvest which in an industry that works on a very narrow margin of profit (and sometimes there isn't a profit) this would be devastating not only to a family farm (98% of all corporate farms are family owned) but to communities and industries as a whole.

If you want to choose to not eat GMO’s, that's alright but to force a industry to eliminated GMO’s is in my mind a selfish act. GMO’s has done a lot of great work in this world. Read “The Man Who Fed The World”. It’s about Norman Borlaug. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for creating GMO wheat that would grown in arid/desert climates and was drought resistant. This wheat was then grown and harvested in Africa where people where starving. Also, GMO’s have allowed farmers to used less chemicals on their plants to protect them from harmful insects. I get that GMO’s are scary but the fact is that we need GMO’s and other cutting edge technology to keep feeding and clothing this country and the world. The average American farmer now must feed 155 people. In 1960, the American farmer fed just 26 people. By 2050, the world’s population will double and we (the farmers) will need to produce more food than all the years prior combined.

I am not an employee of big corporate farmers or ranchers. I don’t get money from big seed companies. My family ranches- I eat meat, my family’s ranch doesn't feed cattle corn or soybeans; they are grass fed and we do spray for weeds since we got rid of the sheep (they eat weeds cows won’t). We don’t overgraze and we choose not to eat organic but we will eat foods that are all natural and even some of the beef we raise is marketed as all natural. You may totally disagree with me and that’s ok. That’s your choice and why we live in a country with abundant food supplies (thanks to farmers and ranchers) that allows us to have many choices but I in good conscience couldn't let this information go without giving a different opinion. If you are going to be on the anti-GMO or anti-Monsanto bandwagons then at least research both sides.

Below are some neutral (from actual scientists or farmers and ranchers) websites to find out more information about production agriculture and your food supply. The packet attached is a list of facts in regards to the Genetic Roulette movie that attacks GMO’s today. I would encourage you to read it. Also we have actual facts for Food Inc (which is full of miss information as well).

  • Resources from various sources on GM/BT safety and potential benefits (NOTE: Not an inclusive list.)

  •  Review (Pro-Con) of the issue (what are the activists saying and what are the counter positions)
·         Consider these recent myth busting reports by NPR and The Atlantic and Reason Magazine.
·         Mark Lynas – one of the leading anti-GM activists –spoke at a conference in Europe earlier this year and announced a dramatic change of opinion on GMOs. You can view his speech or read a transcript online at: http://www.marklynas.org/2013/01/lecture-to-oxford-farming-conference-3-january-2013/. This speech has generated a broader discussion around the science.

  • GM-BT Position Statements from government (USDA, FDA, EFSA), NGOs, Trade Groups and Other Influencers/Stakeholders (Gates Foundation) (NOTE: Not an inclusive list.)
·         Mark Tercek, CEO of the Nature Conservancy, recently wrote a very thoughtful Huffington Post piece on critical thinking about GMOs at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-tercek/mark-lynas-gmo_b_2424493.html.
·         Sam Dryden, Director of the Agricultural Development team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also posted a very thoughtful piece on critical thinking about GMOs at: http://www.impatientoptimists.org/Posts/2013/03/A-Farmers-Toolbox.  
·         Anne Glover, the European Union's Chief Science Advisor, discussed the science last year. You can find her comments online at: http://www.euractiv.com/innovation-enterprise/commission-science-supremo-endor-news-514072.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Miss You

Disclaimer: I don't always write about running but I wrote this last night in my head and needed to get it out before I forgot the rest of what I haven't already forgotten.

I have been sick three times in the last 7 weeks (twice since the Diva race) or so to the point that I haven't worked out- running. My asthma has been horrible to the point that I sound like a pack a day smoker and my cough is just irritating. I've walked and that's fine but I just don't feel the want-to to go out on my normal wogging path (half walk half jogging). The path is a loop through the neighborhood and if I add in a few side streets and even cul-de-sacs I can squeeze 4.5-5 miles out of a 3.8 mile loop. I never thought I would ever utter the words- I miss running. It's not about the running- I'm really, really bad at it but it's more about the dripping-with-so-much-sweat that you actually stink to the point you can't even stand being next to yourself and challenging yourself to beat your time or in my case run farther segments. When my friends Dana and Christi ran one time in my neighborhood with me they each had a small glimpse into how I think when I run. Which in case I haven't mentioned, Dana was a great running buddy because she walked faster than me but we ran about the same speed. She rolled her ankle almost back to the house and being the worst friend in the world, was trying to stop my running app while I was asking her if she was OK because I didn't want to mess up my per minute mile average. Thankfully she forgave me.

I run to things- for example, Here's how my brain works during a run on a Friday.I leave my house after starting my Charity Miles app (earning meals for Feeding America because someone besides me should also get something out of my workout and if I can't have choose not to eat a cheeseburger someone should) I start my Run Keeper app to track my mileage and time. I walk to the corner house and then tell myself run to the other end of the street. If the landscapers are at one of the houses in the middle, I think ok hold your breathe when you go by so you don't breathe in the fumes from the exhaust and start wheezing. (I know I shouldn't hold my breath but I don't like exhaust fumes they are bad for my asthma). If the house cleaner is at the house at the end of the street I have to run past her van and circle the sidewalk to the next house marker.   I walk till I can breathe and then run to another house marker then walk a little more but then I make myself run to the gate and walk out the gate and turn to go up the side of the community towards the end of Recker. At this point if I'm doing only 3 miles, I stick to Recker and just the main loop, if I'm adding mileage I go down one side street walking when I need to breathe and then running to things- cars, a shadow, the stop sign on the opposite side of the road, the house that use to have the for sale sign, ect until I get  to the hill that runs across the back of Red Mountain Ranch Area. It's not a large steep hill but it's deceiving because you think you are at the top and then you realize it gradually keeps going so. I learned a few weeks ago that by running on the opposite side of the street the scenery is different and that I could go farther up the hill than before, that it was a mindset that I couldn't go farther than the second cactus past the light post that was just past the garbage can.

Don't judge the writing, I'll never have a job at ESPN!

And here's what my brain and I talk about on the way up. (All of about 45-60 seconds). OK make it to the second cacti past the light pole that is past the garbage can. "OK Run. Keep running, maybe I should switch to the side walk then I'm closer to the garbage can, I need to focus on praying for my prayer list, OK you are almost to the garbage can, I want to stop, I can't do this, just make it to the light pole. OK you'll make to the light post you can stop there, No suck it up and go the rock past the cacti because you don't think you can do it." And I stop at the rock or the cactus after the rock. This whole thought process goes on after I've walked about 30 seconds and am ready to hit the rest of the hill "Ok, start at the bench this side of the metal box and go to the second-rock-past-the-light-post-that-is-around-the-corner-just-before-the-God-Bless-America-sign-that-is-hanging-on-the-fence.  I'm always running towards something and I can't run past my house if I am short mileage because that just messes with my head. In between my self talk,sometimes I channel my cousin's husband who is USMC and imagine him yelling at me to "suck it up buttercup" (I don't know if he has ever said those words in real life and if he wasn't family might be scary). Running lets me work out problems or allow myself to be creative and let my mind wander but more often than not I have used that time to pray for people in my life that are hurting or celebrating. I pray for my friends for their first year of marriage and pray for them during their pregnancy and the first year of the kid's life. But I also pray about my county Farm Bureaus. There's a lot of pressure on our leaders of our counties and there's only so much I can help them with. I can do the Farm Bureau stuff easy but sometimes their stresses come in the form of water shortage and drought, equipment failures, crop failures, livestock diseases, or just the very high cost of growing our food and fiber that we take for granted or sometimes it's family stuff- health issues, adoption. I also pray for my family for the same things- health, business, that we just all get along and finally I pray for my youth group. It's nice having a small group because we get to know them but also I can picture each of them for different running segments and pray for them. They have a lot of challenges that I don't think I was aware of when I was their age- peer pressure (not any where close to what we had back in the day), college, future, parents, siblings.

I miss the feel of the pavement under my feet and I miss the running to the second rock past the bush that is just past the second light post. I miss the high you get from seeing improvement. I know I will be back, I just don't know when but when I do we have a lot of catching up to do. And I want to see if my perspective has changed.

Footnote: if you are a runner and you haven't heard about Charity Miles you might want to check them out they have over 20 charities to choose from and if you walk, run or bike they earn things. And it's free to use. They get their money from sponsorships.  You just have to post to your Facebook or Twitter account how many miles you have gone (they have it pre-typed out for you) when you finish.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Race Insight

As most of you know I have been trying to become a runner. I actually had a half marathon the last Sunday of April and it was fun but it wasn't my best.At the expo I met Ali Vincent from Biggest Loser. It was so nice to actually see in real life a person you watched struggle on TV and then celebrate when she achieved her goal. She's much shorter and smaller in real life and I was impressed that she could wear high heals the day before the race. She finished about not long before I did.
Shiloh and I met Ali Vincent!

My race wasn't my fastest but I did learn something from it. I forgot my food for along the race and only ate a banana at the beginning so it overall didn't  go as as well as it could but I also chose to walk more than I normally would so I could stay for awhile with my cousin and friend who due to injury was not running the race. She and I did run parts of the last half of the race and we finished in 3 hours and 26 minutes. But I had some insight into the running community. The original plan was for E, C, S (E's friend) to all do this race (at our own paces) and have a girls weekend. E and S are part of a running group called "Mom's Run this Town". This group is all over the country but their chapter is out of Savannah and so two more ladies joined E & S and then we all stayed at a hotel with three other ladies and had dinner with an additional two. All I can say is it was amazing to see the common bond that brought all of us together. There were some really fast runners and then there were the turtles working their way through peanut butter (me) but there was acceptance.

I don't like to run with groups because I am so slow and I need to walk and I just feel as though I'm holding people back but I had started running a few months prior with my friend Dana and it worked out well. She is a fast walker and would push me during the walking breaks and we tend to run at the same pace and we could chat about life. I saw that the Diva's Race weekend  with these ladies. And it was reassuring to me. Like any race you meet people along the way and you either usually find out where they are from and why they are running/walking and how many half's they have done. I usually find encouragement from these fellow travelers along the route. This race was no exception because E and I met a woman who was walking (and struggling) in the first 2-3 miles who along with 40 other women were participating in honor of their friend who had died from cancer and who had loved to do halfs  The husband of the woman they were honoring was the race coach for all these women and would stay with our girl for a mile then run back to encourage other runners and walkers. He didn't have a bike to go back and forth- just his feet. It was cool that that many women would come and take on that goal to honor their friend.

When we left her we came up on two of the MRTT ladies from E's group. They were just grooving along and having fun. I had met them the night before at dinner and they made me feel so welcome. My other cousin C fit in with the group because she's a mom to 7 kids but I don't have kids and not even a pet so I was the odd ball but they accepted me just the same. I even met a girl who grew up in Oregon and went to school at OSU!

At the start before the race. 

When I say I am a slow runner I really do mean it. I left E with the two MRTT ladies and started off and a few miles down the road E caught up to me and we were able to finish together. I was really inspired by her because for now she's not going to be able to run and may never run a half again because of an injury but she came and did this race and didn't complain. And she could complain and be on the pity party tour (If I was her, I might). She's injured and may never run again, her husband is deployed and it will be months before she sees him). But she has found joy even in her injury.   All of these ladies came to run the race but they have accomplished so much running (marathons and halfs) that I was impressed but just like my friend Stacey they don't brag about it's just who they are. And they are some really, really great runners who kick butt. They all have a quiet spirit about them when it comes to their accomplishments in running shoes or in life.

 I wasn't sure how I was going to write this blog but the lesson that I kept thinking about over the miles I drove this last week was that yes we train and work hard for the races and sometimes we are in it for the tech shirt or the medal but in the end it's about the people you meet along the way and fact that you are really running against yourself. It's you against the voice in your head that tells you can't do this or that someone like you shouldn't be out there. It's also you that is going to determine if you listen to that voice or if you tell it to shut the hell up and keep moving forward toward a goal. As E said today on Facebook  we have enough obstacles running or working toward our goals that we create ourselves that it's nice to have the people around you be supportive and allow you to go out and reach your goal and if you fail you have a place to land that is supportive. I realized that's what the running group is for. Yes it allows you to train with other runners and maybe push yourself but it also gives you a group of women who are encouraging you and sharing in your goals. That unlike society they don't want to tear you down, they want to lift you up and for two days I got to be apart of that.
Finished and we earned our medals!!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Feel Like a Fraud

I have a confession to make, I feel like a big fat fraud. That seems harsh and I've been working lately on accepting complements but for the past few years I don't like to get complements about me (characteristics, some talents, personality, etc.) except if they have to do with with a big event with work that I have worked by butt off to make it successful. I feel uncomfortable when someone complements me or says that I inspire them. Afterwards I feel guilty for dismissing them. The guilt I think comes from taking the blessing from someone who gave the complement if that makes any sense at all. Its hard to accept a compliment because I see all the places or areas where I feel as though I am failing or lacking instead of looking at what good I have done or how far I have come.

I actually confessed this to my friend last week. She was borrowing my truck and so we were riding together and she said that I inspired her and I told her how much of a fake I felt. In my mind she has so many other people who are much more qualified to inspire her in life. It was an interesting conversation because I told her I wish I was more crafty and able to cook like she does. And she related to me that she didn't think her crafts were that amazing. It started me thinking that maybe in general we are too critical of our own abilities and talents. Maybe we don't see the inspiring parts of our lives because we are so busy focusing on getting the muck and crap in our lives that we don't see the flowers that our crap has created.

A few months ago I had a conversation with a high school classmate who was struggling going back to school and I shared that I had struggled through college and that especially after my mom died that I just didn't really care anymore about classes but I stuck it out and in graduate school I tried kickboxing (before it was a fad) in a real boxing gym to relieve stress. I didn't want to compete, I just wanted to hit something so I could cope with the stress of graduate school. I shared that it had helped a lot. What was so strange that in his opinion, I was one of the smart kids that had my life together. And maybe from the outside it seemed that way but privately I doubted (and even now) my knowledge level. I even would be frustrated that I would study for hours and pull a B and friends would barely study and get an A.

Over the last few years I have felt like I have had to struggle and go the extra mile to accomplish most things that others seem to accomplish fairly easy. It's even gotten to the point in the last few months that when a friend fails or struggles I find some comfort in their struggle. I know that makes me sound like a horrible friend and person and there is guilt there. I am just trying to be honest with you and more importantly with myself. Don't get me wrong, I have a great life and feel very blessed because I have not had to deal with things like cancer, divorce, death of a spouse/child or loss of a job. I live a very fortunate and blessed life.

But back to my conversation with my friend, hearing that she has self doubts and insecurities actually made me think that maybe we all doubt our abilities when we compare ourselves to others. That by taking away or discounting someones opinion that we have inspired them or we have encouraged them in their life we are taking the blessing away from them of being inspired.

Maybe instead of always putting the Sunday Best or the Window Dressing out there for everyone to see we should start being more authentic with each other and really encouraging others in their lives and with their struggles. It means being real with each other.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Bucket List

Remember the movie the Bucket List where two guys- Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are told they have a terminal illness and so they decide to create a bucket list and cross things off- exciting life experiences that they always wanted to do before they died. I think everyone should have a bucket list whether they have a terminal illness or not. There's something final about a bucket list if you are dying, although we all are dying some just see the end more clearly focused than the rest of us.

I started my bucket list a few years ago, really it was about six years before I actually wrote one out but the difference between their list and mine is I keep adding things to mine as I get braver or discover something new or have accomplished something on the list and want to push myself a little farther. My unofficial bucket list started with doing a vacation to Italy with three of my girlfriends.I caught the travel bug and because I'm such a history nerd made a mental list of all the cool places I wanted to see. I also decided that there were things like traveling, owning a house, etc. that I had always said I would do when I got married. But why wait till your married- experience life as you live instead of waiting for someone to come along to live. Does that make sense?

You can read about how my Bucket List was started and some of the results that came from it here.

If you read my blog at all you know that I stared running because of the bucket list. Two years ago I never would have imagined that I would have done a half marathon and when I decided to do sign up for one and I finished it was a-once-in-a lifetime-never-to-be-repeated event. But it wasn't because it became a form of  exercise and something that I could see improvement in (running time, distance, per minute mile, ect) and I became addicted to the medals and the cool shirts. I even earned a second medal for doing two half marathons in the same year by the same group. 

But I thought I would share my bucket list with you. I turn 40 next year and I've been thinking that I want to do something fun and cool and exciting for my 40th. I usually end up working or just having dinner with family and a couple friends for my birthday but I think I might want to try and do a full marathon. It's really scary and big and crazy and I can't even run a mile but I have over 18 months to train and maybe be able to cross it off my list. Is that too big? Too crazy?

My Bucket List
 Drive a Nascar and or do a ride-along with a Nascar driver
 Learn to speak Spanish 
Hike the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim
Learn to Swim
Take some law classes
Do a Ragnar Race
Live on the East Coast at some point in my life
Go on a mission geared around agriculture
Zip Line
Attend an Olympic Game (most likely a Summer Game)
Read the Bible in a year 
Take a road trip from Maine to Florida
Run 5 miles without stopping
Complete a Marathon
Attend a professional Hockey and Football game
Attend a Nascar race at Talledega, Brickyard and Daytona
Attend a show on Broadway
Completing a triathlon

Visit the following places:
Tombstone, AZ
Kartner Caverns
4 Corners area
Houston, TX
Richmond, VA
A Navajo Village (cliff dwellings)
Yellowstone National Park
Mt. Rushmore
Amarillo, TX
Visit all 50 states
New York City (Time Square, Central Park, Ellis Island, Statute of Liberty)
France (Normandy, Eiffel Tower)
World War II Battle sites US fought in throughout Europe

It may never be complete but I have been able to cross things off my list such as traveling to Europe (March 2006 and April 2007), Attending a black tie event (Dec 2004), sky diving (Aug 2000), completing a half marathon (Jan and Nov of 2012). 

Your bucket list doesn't have to be written down but I think it allows us to live life and experience things that that make us grow as person whether that is through physical or emotion events or even just traveling your state, country or world and seeing what God has created and experiencing life. Because I think that life events not only are just experiences for you to look back on at the end of your life but they are also meant to be shared with others. You can share them as you explain a feeling or as an example for a life lesson. And let's be honest it makes for some great party conversations as well as ice breakers when you meet someone new. It makes you well rounded.