29 October 2007

A Happy Fall Day

We had some much needed family time yesterday afternoon at the park and did a fun photo shoot. The trees were beautiful and the sun was warm.

26 October 2007


After completing a marathon in 1999, I thought I knew everything about perseverance. I was inspired by a newspaper article after the prior year's race and committed with a friend to train and run the race the following year. Serious training began at the beginning of the summer and continued until mid-October. Throughout those five months of being consumed with running, I learned what it meant to persevere. Along with running in those five months, I quit a job, moved back to Bloomington, lived with my parents for a couple of months, and finally found a new apartment and new job.

I ran in the scorching heat, on cool mornings, under draining sunshine, through the unknowns of lakeside darkness, extreme humidity, and soaking rain. Along the way I lost everything in my stomach several times, experienced dehydration chills, and slept my way through many Saturday afternoons after running long distances in the morning. My life was focused on training for the race and I camped on the verses in Hebrews that talk about the race of life we are all running and how we are challenged to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith.

When the morning of October 24, 1999 came, I was prepared and full of nervous anticipation. My long runs were over, I had tapered, eaten a carb filled dinner the night before, and had my pockets full of energy gels. It was time for the "victory lap." The race was amazing. Although my second marathon was full of friends and companions to encourage me, the 1999 run was a solitary experience that proved I could do it! After 5 hours, 4 minutes, and 26 seconds (I still easily remember that number 5:04:26!), I crossed the finish line and received the medal around my neck. I had done it - fixing my eyes on the prize.

I reflect on that time as an extreme physical experience of learning perseverance. I have run until I seriously did not think my legs could move anymore so I know what it means to persevere physically and now I am learning what it means to persevere spiritually and emotionally. It means holding fast to what I know to be true and refusing to give in to doubt and bitterness.

This summer, I began to memorize the first chapter of James. I picked the book of James because it is practical and God's Word is so important to know in full and in context. In the first chapter, James writes, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." These verses sound uplifting, easy, and inspiring when life is smooth. Just like my images of training for and running a marathon were full of weight loss, admiration, perfect weather, and no comprehension of real pain when I first read that newspaper article. It is a different story though when I was in the middle of the race and every ounce of me wanted to just stop.

James continues to say that perseverance must complete its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything! Do I feel more complete since running a marathon? In a way I do. I know I can endure physical difficulties and still go to work the next day. Will I feel more complete after enduring emotional and spiritual trials?

I think I will find out. In the meantime I will persevere.

15 October 2007


We all have temptations that we deal with.

Sometimes another piece of cake, the desire to share a piece of private information disguised as a prayer request, or even a tube of toothpaste are just too tantalizing to resist.

Sometimes we even go into the closet to hide our weaknesses from others and then we think if we do happen to give in "just this once," no one has to know and no one will be affected.

Maybe we don't get caught the first time or even the second, but there comes a day when mom opens the closet door and lets out the secret!!

I've been studying Jesus' temptation this week. He was tempted with recognition, power, FOOD (after fasting for 40 days), and did not waver. Instead He used God's Word to refute the temptation and claim real promises (not twisted ones). Do I know God's promises well enough to remember them in the times I need them most?

05 October 2007

Its not about performance

This is a deviation from my usual perplexities of Asher but I was reminded of something incredible this morning that I wanted to write about. The "Our Journey" question of the day (well the day I'm currently on anyway) is:
"How have I been performance-based in my acceptance of God's love?"

I was reminded of a vivid memory from my freshman year in college. In my Accounting I class, of all places, my professor told us something that blew me away.

I had grown up hearing the Gospel message every week at church and living in a Christian home, but I never knew, until my freshman year at Wheaton, that "There is nothing I can do to make God love me more and nothing I can do to make Him love me less."

Wow! Growing up in a performance-based family, and church to some extent, this seemed like heresy! I didn't really think I heard her right when she said that. Surely, if I just spent more time in prayer or sang at the nursing homes a few more times, God would love me more. That's the goal of life, right? OR if I never read one more word in my Bible and saw every sleazy movie ever made, He would withdraw some of His love from me, right?

It is simply beyond comprehension that God loves me right now, and even there in Blanchard Hall, with an amazing fullness of love that will never grow or decrease because His love is already complete.

"Before the world was made, God looked into the future and chose to set His love upon (me). He says to every one of His children, 'I have called you by name, you are mine.'" Isaiah 43:1

04 October 2007

Night Night

It's 9 am. Asher has just finished his cereal, banana, and Cheerios for breakfast and looks up at me and says "Night Night." No, he's not talking about a sleeping gorilla in Good Night Gorilla. No, he's not talking about what he's going to do in about four hours at naptime. He is saying that he wants to go to bed NOW! Is this normal?

In case that appears to be an isolated incident, I got home from work at 4:15 on Tuesday. As Bekah, our babysitter was leaving, Asher said, "Night Night." Thinking that he would surely not want to be in bed long, I took him upstairs, put him in his crib, and turned on his music while I changed clothes.

When Asher was first born, we put him to sleep with music playing every night. This stopped after about 4 months and although the cd player has still been in his room, he hasn't listened to it on a regular basis until bedtime a week ago when he started crying and pointing until I turned the music on again.

After getting changed, I went to get Asher out of bed and find him as happy as the gorilla who is in bed with Mr. & Mrs. Zookeeper. With his blanket in one hand, pacifier in his mouth, and Roo and Roo Roo where he has just tossed them onto the floor, he waves his arms and says "NO NO" when I try to get him out. He continues to bounce around in his bed, rolling over and then jumping up. After 30 minutes, I finally convinced Asher to get up to go eat dinner. Throughout dinner, he continues to say "Night Night."

What is going on? Is Asher turning into a lazybones? Maybe I'll choose to believe that since he has been going to music classes for a month now, his musical genius is coming alive and he needs time to concentrate on learning music.

01 October 2007

Pumpkins! Pumpkins!

Last Thursday, we stopped by the Curtis Orchard in Champaign to pick out our pumpkins for the year and to stock up on some delicious apple treats. Asher wasn't too sure about walking around in the prickly pumpkin vines, but he helped us pick out his very own pumpkin which he likes to point out whenever we're outside.

I guess we've started a tradition. We went to the same Orchard last year and took a picture at the same cheesy picture cut outs. Although Asher is somewhat small for his age, its nice to see he did grow this past year! (I wonder at what age he will have a smile on his face and be looking at the camera?)

Here are my cool boys on the "Cool Bus!"