Race Day

Once upon a time (about a year ago), my husband Ricky ran a half-marathon and then had to be taken to the hospital due to heat exhaustion.

Once upon another time shortly thereafter (about a year ago), my husband Ricky decided to train for a marathon that would take place in May 2019.

I said, “Okay. Um. I don’t want you to go to the hospital again. If you run this marathon, I’m not coming to watch.”

I said, “I mean it.”

And I meant it.

However.

On the day of the marathon, I found myself in a car, bright and early- driving to the marathon with Ricky. I felt glad that I personally was not running a marathon that day because (cough, cough) my throat was a bit sore.

Ricky and I were both feeling some apprehension about the marathon, I believe. Ricky because he had never run 42.2 kilometers before, and me because I had never watched anyone run 42.2 kilometers before.

All in all, I had a great morning. Everything went smoothly for both Ricky and myself, and I was glad that I was there to be a part of the excitement and to support him. Since I am now an experienced marathon-attendee, I thought I’d give you all a glimpse into some things that you can expect should you ever find yourself at a marathon.

  1. If it is a chilly morning, you will probably see runners wrapping themselves in plastic. Plastic blanket things, garbage bags, things that look like they were pulled from the nearest dumpster- any plastic will do, apparently. They’re just keeping their muscles warm (I think).
  2. There will most likely be a long line for the washrooms before the race begins. I was standing on the other side of the street from the port-a-potties, but as the starting time drew nearer, the line grew longer so quickly that I kept having to find new places to stand so that the line didn’t accept me as one of its own.
  3. Everyone in the bathroom line might seem to be in constant motion- stretching, hopping, jogging on the spot. Probably, they are just once again trying to keep their muscles warmed up, but in reality, it really looks like they all desperately need to use the washroom.
  4. When it’s time to head to the starting line, the runners discard their plastic blankets and some other layers and there is spandex all around. So much spandex and yet, at the same time… so little.
  5. It is a marvelous thing to watch hundreds of runners cross the starting line. They thunder past, and there’s a lot of cheering, and bells are ringing, and then they’re gone. The street feels oddly lonely without them.
  6. If possible, follow your runner. Not on foot. Gracious, no. There are apps and websites that you can do this with. Check out their route ahead of time and plan with them where you’ll be waiting to wave at them or high five them. Take pictures and videos of them.
  7. I had packed a backpack with snacks, hot tea, and a book to carry with me. I was glad for it. There was some down time. It was also lovely to just sit in the spring sunshine and be surrounded by all the good endorphins that you could practically see in the air. I also think that taking a friend to support you in your watching of the marathon could be very nice. I have two of the best ready to take in the next marathon with me. Joy and Seth, I’m talking about you.
  8. Be prepared to see some things that make you feel like crying because they are beautiful and strong. Sometimes watchers will temporarily run alongside the person they’re supporting. Sometimes people get super excited when they see their runner coming down the path. Sometimes the runners have the most intense expressions of focus, weariness, and determination on their face. Sometimes you are just hit by the wonder of the whole thing… all of these amazing people, sweating and panting and straining together. All winter they prepared for this. And now they’re here… this is their big moment. What they worked so hard for. They’re doing it. How would it feel to… Maybe I should…. Haha. No. I actually have no interest in running a marathon, but it sure is an amazing thing to witness.
  9. Be prepared to feel so very proud of your runner. It’s such a big thing to accomplish. Ricky trained all through the winter, guys. Through the dark and the snow and the freezing cold- he ran.
  10. You will probably be super hungry by the time you get yourself and your runner home, so the first thing to do is make food. A chicken wrap packed with veggies does the job perfectly.
  11. After eating, you should take a nap. After all, you had an early morning, and you covered a lot of ground. And if the marathon runner wakes up from their nap before you do, and heads outside to play some ping-pong and basketball, it’s okay. Don’t feel guilty or weird about it. Just rest.
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The lonely street after everyone crossed the starting line.
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Okay, well, normally you are a very reasonable human being, so I guess we’ll excuse this one time that you thought running 42.2 kilometers was “so fun”. 
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Me- sunburned and utterly relieved that everyone survived the marathon.
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Post-race banana grin. He’s amazing. 

 

 

I’m looking forward to watching Ricky run another marathon in October. You can watch the video about May’s marathon here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLFI5BlOT9o&t=0s

Pieces of Advent

This post is a random collection of thoughts, questions, and songs, each piece separated by a mere horizontal line.


 

Jesus is my future.

(No matter what does or does not happen here on earth in my lifetime.)

 

Jesus is my future.

 

My beginning and my end,

And with me for all the in between.

That makes everything

a lot

more

okay.

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Questions:

Was Jesus absent from heaven in those 9 months while his body grew inside of Mary? If so, did God miss Him? Were they still one as Jesus grew a human body? How did God feel as He watched His son slip into the world? Did he burst with joy? He must have.


 

This song.

“Noel”, by Lauren Daigle.

The invitation to “come and see what God has done” is so beautiful. And isn’t that exactly the invitation that we should offer to our fellow humans… to come and see what God has done for humanity? For us personally?


 

Jesus was born into the messiest of circumstances and the most unstable of times, but God made celebration and rejoicing a prominent part of the story of his birth.

 

God knew the pain that the years ahead held,

but he rejoiced in the beauty of the moment.

 

We don’t have to wait for perfection to rejoice.


 

I love hearing Handel’s Messiah, whether it’s a live performance or simply a Spotify playlist while I’m driving. This Christmas, I stumbled across a song by Jenny and Tyler (first time hearing of them!) that combines several bits and pieces from Handel’s (much) larger work.

I love it.

It’s completely different from the real thing, so you’ll have to be a bit open-minded if you are a loyal lover of Messiah. 

It is different.

It is simple.

It gives me chills, especially at the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God” line.

And you know what the best part of all is?

It’s perfect for singing along with, should you happen to be one of those people with a softer sort of voice. Ahem.


 

Advent.

This is the time of trusting Jesus to be here.

This is the time of trusting God to fulfill His promises.

This is the time of wild hope.


 

Come near to Him.

Come

and be warmed

and be found.

Come and see. 

 

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What has God been showing to you this advent time? 

What songs speak to you? 

What questions do you ponder about the events of that first Christmas? 

Monday

Yesterday was a Monday.

One of those dreary, weary, bleary days.

 

A day for being lost.

A day for being in my own world.

A day for not being able to smile.

A day for having no words.

A day for being sure that the circles I’ve been thinking in are going to get me nowhere.

A day where dreams felt far away from coming true and that hurt and made me feel like I am not even certain what my dreams truly are, or why I want what I want.

 

So you see, I wasn’t really in the mood to set up a Christmas tree yesterday.

But I had said that I would do that with my two Monday kiddos, so the three of us tromped downstairs and found the box containing the Christmas tree. With declarations of “Christmas!” and assorted bits and pieces from “Deck the Halls”, we scampered back up to the classroom.

Imagine my surprise when we opened the box and I realized that some assembly was required. I have never dealt with a full-size Christmas tree before, and did not realize that they came in so many different pieces.

(It makes a lot of sense now that I think about it.)

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At the moment, this just added to my feeling of being overwhelmed by life. However, there was no turning back at this point, since those children were so very excited about it (and already taking all of the branches out of the box).

I grudgingly began assembling the tree.

When I was partially through connecting the second layer of branches, I clued in that not all of the branches were the same length.

(This also makes a lot of sense, when you consider the general shape of a pine tree.)

I made a few necessary adjustments and then carried on.

Things were feeling generally chaotic- Christmas music playing, one child fascinated with the tree branches and the other wanting to take my blood pressure. Plus, people kept trying to decorate the tree before I was finished setting it up.

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I wasn’t really feelin’ the Christmas spirit.

In the midst of all this chaos, I heard a little voice say something that seemed too good to be true. I stopped what I was doing, and the owner of the little voice stopped what he was doing, and we looked at eachother and I said, “What did you say?”

I had to be sure, you see.

He said it again, all cute and sweet and smiley. “I love you, auntie!” My heart just about melted. I felt completely unworthy of his love. I told him that I loved him too.

And later, I lifted him up high because he wanted to be the one to put the star on the tree. He was so very happy to do it, and I was so very happy to be able to help him do it.

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Once his feet were on solid ground again, he tried to help his classmate get as excited about the star as he was. “Star! Star!” he kept saying, while hopping around and pointing up to his star.

But alas, she was still busy playing with the blood pressure cuff, and just would not join in. It didn’t dampen his enthusiasm one single bit.

After experiencing all this, I felt just a little bit better about life.

Yes,  life is complicated.

But it’s also pretty simple.

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Three Small Things

There are many things that I think about blogging about. Honestly, there’s probably at least one time a day when I’m like,  “You know, I should really blog about this.”

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HOWEVER, thinking about blogging and actually blogging turn out to be two very different things. For more thoughts on thinking versus doing, follow this link: Dorcas Smucker. 

Yesterday, I read this blog post and one of the thoughts from it is still circling my head.

“Today I heard that if I don’t speak until I have something to say that will astonish the whole room (cf. Pride and Prejudice), I’ll never find it easy to say anything at all. I am not sure what I feel about that.”

-Shari Zook, “The Astonishing Things I Heard”

I am very hesitant to share in any way if I feel as though I am unprepared or under-qualified to share it. This goes for face-to-face discussion and blogging. I’m starting to wonder if that leaves too many things unsaid. Or perhaps it’s better this way? I don’t know. I do know that it takes me approximately ten times longer than some other people to develop a thought/opinion and figure out how to communicate it to someone else. Or I go the other way, where thoughts and questions bombard me, but my brain comes up with answers and responses almost immediately, and then I can’t figure out if the questions are legitimate or if they were dumb. And by then, the conversation has moved on to something different. This is horribly frustrating, and leads to much silence.

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I used to blog about everything. Read this old post if you doubt that. But somehow along the line, I began to feel as though I wanted my blog to be less random, and a bit more… polished.

And then… I fell in love with that polish. Choosing carefully what I wanted to say. Choosing much positive, and really only sharing the negative there was a twinge of beauty in there somewhere. When really- although I honestly do love this life that I have- there are days when I feel quite annoyed at everything that moves. There are days when I feel like I just work and sleep and that’s all I did in that day, and I am not even proud of what my working was like that day. There are days when I feel far off, and I want to be brought near but I’m not sure how to let myself. There are days when the thoughts are very small and scared, indeed.

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There are also one million wonderful little things that I want to share, but it is easy to convince oneself that those small things only matter to you. But now I’m wondering if maybe… maybe those small things might be worth sharing.

My friend Meghan is studying at Faith Builders right now, and one way that we keep each other updated is by sending each other “Three Things” emails. We simply list three things that we want the other person to know. The things can be big or small.  And sometimes it feels like the small things are just as connecting as the big things.

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Here are three small things for you.

  1. I am reading Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt to my students. It is probably a little bit above their level, but they are fascinated by idea of living forever. We do much discussion as we go, and they have fabulous questions and ideas. For example, yesterday, one of them was questioning whether Mae (a good and gentle character) was actually good, because she did a very bad thing- but she did it for the best reason. There are many beautiful wise pieces, but here is one that struck me as being particularly true.

“The way I see it,” Miles went on, “it’s no good hiding yourself away, like Pa and lots of other people. And it’s no good just thinking of your own pleasure, either. People got to do something useful if they’re going to take up space in the world.”
― Natalie BabbittTuck Everlasting

2. I had fun with my sister Renee on Wednesday night. We went to a bookstore and took some pictures of her, and basically just skedaddled our way around Waterloo.

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3. I was talking to one of the “school moms” after school one day, and we were talking about what you can do when you simply feel like you are not enough for all the children who need you- whether you are a mom or a teacher. She had two wise things to say that I keep playing through my mind when I start to feel panicky or overwhelmed. She said that it is important to just stay calm, and that it’s important to prioritize. Moms are smart.

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Do you have three small things from your week? Feel free to share here. We’d all love to hear them! Or you could randomly send your three things to a friend, and that’s fun, because sometimes they send three things back, and BAM- you’re just a little bit more connected than you were before.

An Enlightening Exploration of Play-Writing

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Writing a play is something like a snowball.
Rolling and rolling and rolling.
Picking up snow as it goes
(along with some mud, leaves, and sticks that you try to pick out but some are just stuck in there).
Growing and growing
Until it sits plunk
and won’t go anymore.
You wonder,
what the hank,*
am I going to do with this
gigantic
bumpy
muddy snowball
that I huffed and puffed to create
that didn’t even end up where I thought it was going to end up.
I kind of hope someone comes along and
KICKS it,
you think.
(But you kind of like it.)
Someone walks past and stops to look
at your ball of snow.

They reach out and touch it.

They start to roll their own ball of snow.
You think,
This is why I did it.

 

*Please excuse my strong language. I am apologetic and feel somewhat guilty (but not enough to take it out of the poem.)