the hardest part

This week, and the following two weeks are the most difficult parts of my marathon training, physically and mentally.  I can’t explain it, and if you’ve run or trained for a marathon, you know.  Physically I’m strong, actually I’m probably in much better shape than last year’s race, and faster, but basically I’m constantly eating, or trying to.  Hasn’t been working out too well for me lately.  Food has been making me sick lately.  Mentally, that is where the real work and challenge begins to happen.

Last Saturday, I went out to run 16 miles, and I literally, out loud was like, “Why am I doing this??”.  There is nothing sane about it.  Let me be the first to tell you.

Next Saturday will be my longest run, and the both physically and mentally extremely challenging.  Twenty miles.  I’m trying to convince a few friends to meet me and ride bikes with me at least part of the way!  (Please guys, seriously think about it!  Emily’s response, always: “I don’t even like driving that far!”).  It’s demanding, and I always want to give up, but yet, after finishing, it is one of the best feelings I’ve ever known.

I know I’m in for a real interesting time, thinking about the actual race.  My training barely reflects what the actual marathon will be like.  Not only is it international, but I will be battling jet lag, culture shock, not to mention the race begins at 3 a.m. (forget my “dress rehearsal” of doing everything exactly like the race- YEAH RIGHT!), and the conditions of the race will be extremely humid, and the air will be thick with pollution.  Sorry, but there’s not really anyway I can really simulate that, nor would I want to even try.

Anyway, I’m not writing a blog to complain, though I could, but rather outlining the challenges, and knowing that as life too, you can prepare all you want, but until you are handed the cards, there’s no knowing what will happen.

Alright readers, happy trails to you.  Let me know if anyone wants to run/bike with me Saturday!

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13.1

It may be strange, but I ran my first half-marathon today.  The only reason it seems strange to say is because I ran my first marathon almost a year ago, so, yeah.  Marathon before half.  Whatever.

Ran one of my fastest paced race: 1:53.  That’s a 8:40 mile!  WHOA!  Placed 13 of 68 in my gender/age range category.  Can’t complain!

Anyway, cheers to that.  I even made it to church sort of on time, and sort of smelling okay.

Now: back to marathon training.  After I stop being so sore like I am right now!!

touch points

words seem to fail me all the time these days.  i should just stop talking, because i never can say the right thing.  i don’t even know what i really want to say either.  even right now.

the moment a heart breaks, one can never really know how they will survive.  i’m not trying to be dramatic, just honest.  i think that’s why we fear love.  intimacy.  we never know when the heart will break and we never can know if it will fully be put back together again.

it’s easier to just not feel than to let yourself feel sometimes.

i was driving home tonight after running with a friend.  rolled my windows down, opened my sun roof, letting in the crisper-than-usual september first air.  it was peaceful.  sometimes we have to search for those moments of peace.

the moon was also really amazing tonight.  just a sliver in the distance.

i don’t really know what i’m trying to say, but for some reason it didn’t need any capital letters.

Worship and running. It’s all training.

This was an article I wrote for our church email newsletter last fall, but I was reading over it as I’ve begun training now for the Bangkok Marathon, and reminded of the discipline in our lives it takes not only for physical things, but also in our expression of worship… (October 15, 2010)

FBC weekly

Staff Corner
Meridith Johnson, Director of
Worship Ministry
One step at a time.
     Many of you may have heard or knew that I ran the Portland Marathon this past Sunday, and the only way that I was able to accomplish this life-goal of mine, was to run one step at a time.  The last few miles of the 26.2 mile race I verbally repeated to myself over and over, “it’s almost over, I’m almost done”.  And then, before long, I did finish.  I ran the race.  I accomplished a goal.
     Now you may ask, “I thought this report was about worship?”, and yes, it is, let me get to that.  You see, I’ve never been an athletic person, I was a cheerleader in High School, and could hardly run a mile until I was probably 21.  But with perseverance, practice, and discipline, I trained for shorter races, and soon the distances I once thought were hard and unbelievably long, became easy and didn’t seem as long as they seemed to be.
     Worship is something we will never really understand, or comprehend, but through Scripture, we see that as God’s people, it is an act we are commanded to do.  Something happens when as a church, we gather and corporately praise God and verbally sing, say, and pray what we know to be true of our God.  Just like the marathon I ran, I had no idea what the experience would be like until I began training, and working at doing something I wasn’t comfortable with.  Worship I would say is the same in many respects.  When we ascribe that our God is worthy (where we get the word “worship”), sometimes it is uncomfortable and sometimes we don’t feel like worshipping, but the end result and goal is always accomplished when we are willing.  God is always lifted high, and his name is glorified.
     During my months of training, some mornings I would wake up only to see it was way too early for anyone to do anything on a Saturday, then eventually I would stumble out of bed to run.  Sunday mornings, or all mornings our worship may feel the same way to us, like a chore.  But when we worship, Psalm 22:3 says that God inhabits the praises of his people.  Other translations for this Hebrew word yashab are “to dwell”, “to remain”, “to sit” or “to abide”.  This verb implies God’s action on his part to dwell and be among us when we worship him.  There is something uncomfortable about the idea that God dwells with us when we worship, the living God, among us, his people.  The experience is indescribable, but worth the effort of our time and attention.
     Now, many of you have never run a marathon, and maybe never will, but you can choose to work at your personal worship and as a body our expression of praise corporately as a church.  This weekend, may you worship God in every word, activity, and breath, and on Sunday, every Sunday, may our sacrifice of praise be authentic, and change our hearts and lives.

no rest for the weary

With all my heart and soul, I always long for summer.  I look forward to the long, sunny days and often am nostalgic about the heat, and staying up late with friends talking about hopes and dreams.  Unfortunately I think the last time I stayed up late with friends basking in the warm evening air was probably college.  Yea, I’m pretty sure.  Anyway, but I do always look forward to the warmer days and nights… except I always forget: I CAN’T SLEEP WHEN IT’S HOT!

I think my room is about 15 degrees hotter than the rest of the house, because it faces west, where the sun sets.  LAME.  Yes, I’ve tried fans, I sleep with only a sheet… everything.  Nothing helps.  I really, honestly sleep best in the cold, it’s weird.

Anyway, along with the summer come temperatures much too hot and uncomfortable for running, so, I try to get in the habit of waking up early and running.  So, combine not being able to fall asleep in heat, and being anxious about waking up at 6 a.m. and that means hardly no sleep.

But there’s nothing like waking up early and going running, even with little sleep.  Sloppy form, heavy breathing… but a still, quiet morning before a busy day is so worth it.  Our house sits in a newer neighborhood, but is just next door to the “country”, so I can run the country roads, say a friendly “hello” to the horses and cows as I run by.  Today as I went on a quick 3-mile jaunt I was reminded of Nagaland, India.  Daniel and I would wake up and go for runs early in the morning, and all the locals seemed to stare at us, like we were so strange for going running.  Or it could have been that it was obvious we were foreigners because of what we looked like, but also because we looked like fools, running up and down the long, main road that seemed to stretch for eternity.  The air was thick and warm, much too warm for 6 a.m., but we went running anyway.  The women with their water jars balanced on their heads, and the men pulling their old wooden, heavy carts down the road, with an occasional car zipping past us.  Those were good days.  Those were simple days as I processed through 4 long years of college, and looked forward to dreaming new dreams ahead of me.

Today reminded me of being overseas.  Hearing roosters crow as I ran my usual loop reminded me of everywhere but here.  India, Thailand, Nicaragua, Mexico… everywhere.  But.  Here. Anywhere but here.

It’s funny how we often perceive life to be.  Seemingly insignificant moments can quickly catch us off guard and become significant moments.

Though I feel restless, I’m thankful and grateful.  Thankful for the past memories, and grateful for grace as I look toward the future.

Along these roads, we used to run, with the rice fields all around, and the beauty of India:


Miss our chats and runs Daniel!!

holy moments

Each day, I find myself surrounded by holy moments.  Not because I work at a church.  Actually I think that’s the opposite reason I experience these moments.  It’s in working out things.  Talking to people.  Expressing pain.  Expressing beauty.  Expressing love, care and concern in whatever way I can.

I love passing along verses to people.  Especially lately verses that have been so convicting in my own heart and life, I just know I have to share them with others because they’ve impacted me so greatly.  I don’t do it to tell them they need to change, I just throw it out there, because I know it’s changed me.

I experience God in many ways, one of them is in running.  Another is in creation and the beauty of all that is around me.  And another, just as of lately, has been in people.  Now I don’t consider myself a total “people person”, but lately there have been many precious conversations that have caused me to just gently be reminded that God is here.  With me.  Holding my hand.  Wiping my tears. Giving me dreams again.  He’s here.  He uses other people to sometimes show me things I’ve never thought of before.

Holy moments.

Lately I’ve been taking prayer walks.  During the day, especially since it’s been so nice lately.  Walking around the apartments near the church and just praying fervently.  That our church would learn and see how to have compassion and love for these people… these broken people who are so different from us.  Who live with their boyfriends or girlfriends, who have many children.  Who have many tattoos.  Who smell bad.  Who cuss us out.  Who want nothing to do with church.  GOD… how can we love these people????  Our church has been put in this location for a reason.  Why are we not broken over wanting to see these people in church and praying for their salvation?

When I read the gospels, I see this picture of Jesus and I wonder… what would he do, now?  What would he think of our high walls, gates, and beautiful clothing?  What would he think that we are shutting the world out of our “holy” place?

Met with a friend yesterday who goes with a group of people to narcotics anonymous weekly.  She said that meeting is more spiritual to her than any other church service she’s been to.  Because it’s real.

Holy moments.

They are all around us.

In a smile, a warm touch, a friend, an enemy, in working through our bitterness.

Embracing the holy moments.

forward.

pacing.  walking.  turning.  breathing.
sleep.  wake.  eat.  breathe.
repeat.
and repeat again.
and just keep going.
keep on running.

almost there.  almost past it.  almost back to the beginning.
then i’m one step behind where i thought i was.
just keep going.  you’re almost there.  one more step.
will i ever be there?  will it ever be over?

will the sting ever really go away?  without it just being masked?
can a small piece of scotch tape really fix what stitches, or surgery should fix?
can the pain ever be taken away by a temporary fix?
momentary distraction?

a rush of cool water.  to make the blood wash away.
a disinfectant.  hurts.  yet can heal.
a binding bandage.  thick enough to cover it.
stop touching it.  stop picking at it.
let it heal.
but sometimes, i just can’t.

washed in the water.  cleansed by the blood.
already.
a long time ago.
washed and cleansed.
FORGIVEN.
HEALED.

but sometimes i relive the pain.  to know the experience was real.
to remember i’m real.
to recount what might have been my fault.
to second guess.

stop picking at it.
LET IT HEAL.

and just keep running.
toward the goal.
the heavenly prize.

forward.  move forward.