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!

..making it count..(life)..

“The American dream isn’t really a dream at all”. -L. Cassel.

After at 5+ hour drive to San Fransisco this week, plus a 5+ hour drive back the next day, a friend and I got into some interesting discussions on life, dreams, hopes, and the future.  I think both of us got out of the car in the end with more determination to change the world and make a difference than we actually probably wanted, but you know, dreams and hopes are a good, good thing.

I believe, more and more, that the American dream is becoming such a ridiculous idea, even more so for our generation.  The upcoming child-bearing generation.  Or I guess I should say current.  What am I talking about, I’m behind the wagon on that one, but I definitely don’t mind.

I feel such an urgency to do something.  This life was meant to be lived, and we have been given such an opportunity to do something, and not sit back.  Maybe it was the concert, I don’t know, but I was so inspired (once again) by Switchfoot, and their lyrics.

“And I wonder why would I wait till I die to come alive?
I’m ready now, I’m not waiting for the afterlife”

“We were meant to live for so much more…”

“Every breath is a second chance”

Sure, my life isn’t what I thought it would be, but why would I want to trade it in for another?  Another song that’s really got me thinking is their title track of the new album “Vice Verses”, Jon says (I feel like I can call him just “Jon” since we met and all… :))

Wonder what it means to live forever? 
Wonder what it means to die?
I know that there’s a meaning to it all
A little resurrection every time I fall
You got your babies, I got my hearses
Every blessing comes with a set of curses
I got my vices, I got my vice verses
I got my vice verses

Every blessing comes with a set of curses.


I’m not sure where I’m going with all this, but life is sacred.  We have a chance every breath we take to change and do something, to not just sit back and survive.  Another line from “Thrive” is simple, “I wanna thrive, not just survive”.  Yes.  That’s what I want.  Not a white picket fence with the word “safety” written all over it, that creates a false sense of safety since it’s usually accompanied with thousands of dollars of debt, I want reality.  (I’m NOT saying that buying a home is a bad thing!!)  I want Christ.  I want to take the blessings I have and run with them, not worry about what the world deems as a curse.

A little resurrection every time I fall.

Life.  We all have a different role and task, what is yours?


With the past week as America and the world mourned the death of Steve Jobs, it seems death is on everyone’s minds these days, including my own.  Ironically, as I had attended chapel this week at Cascade, the speaker spoke about death also, not even in connection with Steve Jobs at all.

Yet, when I would hear people talking about Jobs, I couldn’t help but feel some kind of, nagging on my heart.  Yes, Jobs was a brilliant man, no one would deny that, and yes, he seems like he was a good man too, but, that’s just it.  He was just a man.  He did change the world, technology-wise, but remember, all this technology will burn one day.  This stuff is just that, stuff.  And in the end does it matter that I do in fact have a Mac Book Pro, or iphone, or ipod or iwhatever…. no.  It doesn’t matter.  Yes, technology makes our lives so much easier, and so much different compared the past, even just 5 years ago, but if I spend all my time engrossed in the technology that I forget to have a conversation (God forbid!) with an actual real person, what does it matter?

If you have some time, I found a great article that really brought to light some of that nagging feeling I couldn’t shake earlier this week, read it here.

Death, for those of us who are believers in God, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have hope.  We know where we are headed, so it kind of makes everything else secondary, when you really think about it.  I’ve spent some good time thinking about that lately.  How am I spending my money?  How am I spending my time?  How selfish am I being with these things that are “mine”?

It’s all sobering, if we really take the time to think about it.  We could change the world with an ingenious idea, but if we never change a single heart, what does that matter?

breathing can commence now!

I know you have been holding your breath for a new blog from me, so, you can breathe now, here’s a new blog!!!

It’s funny, because I’ve been a Grey’s Anatomy viewer now for about 4 or 5 years, and it is one of my favorite shows for a number of reasons, though I do not endorse the worldview or some of the things the show promotes.  However, I love how “real” life is on the show.  It’s messy, unpredictable, and just, life.

In more ways than just my name, I feel like Meredith Grey and I quite similar.  This quote really hit me a few months ago… And that’s about it for this blog.

“There’s a reason I said I’d be happy alone. It wasn’t ’cause I thought I’d be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It’s easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don’t have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It’s like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.”



YOU hold it in your hands
YOU carefully watch every move
every breath
YOU whisper: words of life
into every heart and soul

breathing in and breathing out
saying YOUR name unaware
grace upon grace
mercy upon mercy you say:
you are MINE and I am yours

we spout words of discontent
sentences of our “all knowing humanness”
YOU smile, YOU see, YOU hear
but we cannot see things the way YOU do
we cannot understand the workings of YOUR hand

we can never see all the ways
YOU cover us with your unending grace
the ways we divide and kill
the ways YOU cover us still
blind to YOUR covering grace, we are

YOUR light breaks through the darkness
as i stand facing the light of day
facing the light with the past behind
how could i ever not see YOU
how could i ever forget YOU?

YOU are everywhere and in my every breath
YOU are peace when all around is madness
YOU are joy (and my joy) when i have lost happy
YOU are grace covering every word and every move

YOU are.


I must pause.  My heart is overflowing because in the midst of struggle, I have to stop and I’m drawn to my knees because of this one thing:  GOD IS FAITHFUL!!!

Things change.  People lie.  People leave.  Unfaithfulness is all around me.  I am surrounded in brokenness.  I walk along a very broken path that is rained upon by tears and blood.  BUT HE IS FAITHFUL.  UNCHANGING.

“When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: ‘Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.’  This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remainSince we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe, for our God is a devouring fire.'” Hebrews 12:26-29

Scars and struggles on the way 
But with joy our hearts can say:
Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Definition: Faithful: Loyal, constant, and steadfast.
This doesn’t even begin to describe the God we serve.
He never leaves us.  Think about this.  No matter what has happened, or what will happen, he’s not going anywhere.  He is faithful.  It’s so comforting thinking through the events of my life, just in the past 3 years, let alone my whole life, seeing that he has been there.
I’ve faced some dark days.  I’m not about to sit here and tell you everything’s great.  It’s not.  In fact I’ve walked a road the past few months I never EVER wanted to walk.  But I’ve decided that following him is so much better than walking away from him or disregarding what he tells me to do an where he leads me.
I have to apologize too, to my friends.  I’ve been consumed.  And many of you, most of you in fact, I have not let you in about this.  I’ve just been working through it all and been…. self consumed.  Please, forgive me.
Not only is God faithful and with us, but we all have each other. Surrounded by grace to spread the good news to this broken earth.
He is good.  Never once.  Never once have we ever walked alone.

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.

(almost) dead on arrival

almost dead on arrival
i pulled myself up out of the ashes
opening the door with near ease and a good push
stepping through the threshold and slamming the past behind, along with the door

head pounding, heart sinking
i found myself alone once again
covered in blood, sweat, and dirt
but i didn’t mind the silence, or the filth

time to clean up, i thought to myself
only there was so much still to do
as i began washing the dishes and sweeping the floors of my heart
i realized i was missing something, i just didn’t know what

i sill had my hands
strong enough to play instruments
i still had my voice
clear and ringing with no change

wasn’t that.

i glanced in the mirror to look at my face
the face i supposed i’d always had
yes, still looked the same to me
only a few small wrinkles forming, and white hairs growing on my head of hair

i searched my room, the heart of me
what was missing?
my journals nicely stacked, Bible on the end table
everything nicely lined up and in perfect order

i paged through bills
all stacked on my bookshelf
along with many books i probably will never read
then through the piles, i found what was missing

only what was missing, really shouldn’t be there at all
the memories of someone who never really was
who never really belonged in my heart and home at all
he needed to go

but for some reason i still held onto that framed photo of two smiling faces
maybe because at first i thought i would have reason to put it out again
but mostly because when it ended i couldn’t even look at him anymore
so i slammed it down, and buried it with my bills and Christmas cards

i stumbled home nearly dead on arrival
because for some reason this small piece was creating a huge weight in my heart
what am i missing?
i’m not even sure anymore.

i’m missing peace of mind and comfort in fears
i’m missing the dreams i once carried in my pocket
that are now hard to find
i’m missing the life i desperately want to live
but can’t because for some reason you’re still everywhere i go

can you just leave me alone?
let me be the person i was before you came along and stole my heart?
you don’t belong
you never did.

Rain on a summer day

just like rain and cold on a summer day in June
it’s how i feel these days
sometimes so out of place
wondering where i belong

the past is far, far behind
much farther than ever before
giving new breath to my lungs
and a new dream to dream

but between catching fireflies I’ve never seen
and jumping as high as I can to catch shooting stars
somehow it needs to all make sense
somehow it all needs to come together pointing which way to go

up?  down?  right?  left?
not even sure which direction I’m walking anymore
but it seems and appears as though you keep walking this way too
through the cloudy and foggy and into the clarity

it seems as though you’ve never left my side
i never really seemed to notice
until now
until the other day

but the darkness sometimes creeps and screams
trying to convince me i’m going the wrong way
but i’m not supposed to turn around
going backwards isn’t going forward

so just like rain on a warm summer day
you seem so strange and out of place to me
yet somehow it fits
somehow, for now it belongs