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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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!!

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.

i know

It’s been a while.  I can’t believe I’ll admit this on cyberspace, but previously, at my place of employment, wordpress was unblocked, so some of my posts (and ideas for posts) came while I was at work.  That’s all changed now.  It’s blocked.

At work is usually the time I have to sit and think about serious theological issues, or life.

Now, I’m at home, contemplating life.  Decisions.  Why things are the way they are.

Some of you, blogging was a great way for me to stay in touch with you all, but seems many of us have fallen off the blog train.  Come on people!!

Well, it’s February 21st.  I’m looking so forward to Spring, you have no idea.  I can’t wait for the days to be longer, to run every single day (and actually WANT to run), dream, laugh, run through fields of grass…. okay maybe not that, since those of you who know me well know I get the WORST allergies in the spring that seem to last forever.

We head back to Nicaragua in seriously just a few short weeks… 3 weeks I think?  I’m getting more excited about it, much more than our first trip.  Nicaragua isn’t the first place I’d choose to go on a missions trip, but I’m learning to see God’s heart in it all, and to embrace the fact that something that’s been really close to my heart is again apart of my life… travel, people, culture.  I’m blessed.

Well, this blog was really just to tell you all I’m still alive, if anyone still reads.

Blessings.

life in photos

I just now found some photos on my phone that I thought might be worth sharing…. Quality isn’t amazing, but gives a look into some of the things I’ve been up to.

Dulcimer strings arrive in the mail (ebay… paid like $4)

Order of service… this is what I do…

Perhaps someday these fortunes will come true…

Eggplant parm.  Eggplant from Mom’s garden, made complete with spaghetti noodles.  Come over, I’ll make you some.

One of the joys of getting up early and running… sunrises.

life seems to keep going

It’s crazy.  It’s August.  Summer is slipping by, but for some reason I’m okay with it, I’m looking forward to the cooler Fall days, and all that comes with that beautiful season.  Weather, and seasons seem to be able to transport you into places you long forgot, that happened to me today.  I was walking from one place to another at work, and noticed that the sky had begun to cloud up, which has happened a few times this summer, but never really started to rain.  Today was different, I could feel that it was going to rain, which actually is pretty unusual for us here, we don’t have Thunderstorms or ran much in the summer.  Strangely, I was taken immediately back to Thailand, naturally of course.  I just wanted to stand outside.  Soak it in.  Everyone always asks me, Do you think you’ll ever go back?, in fact I was just asked that again last night.  My answer is the same… I don’t know, maybe someday.

I miss it.  I miss all of you, my friends who maybe or maybe not still read my blog.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago we all arrived, met, and began our year-long adventure together, but it has been 2 years since that year began.  Crazy.  Some of you are still there, going on year number 3, 4….or longer.

The thing is this: life just continues moving on.  Never stopping so we can catch a breath.  It’s like a never ending marathon run… (since everything these days seems to relate back to running).

It’s still raining here.  I’m hoping the clouds will clear soon so I can go on my 4-miler today.  It might not.  I might be running in the rain.  Fun.

I was pointed to a few verses by several people day… just wanted to pass them along.  Psalm 3:3-4 “But you, O LORD are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.  I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.” Psalm 34:10b “but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing”.

Last, but the best.. listen to this song.  Amazing.  I’ve been listening to it everyday, all day for the past few days.  For those who are thirsty, drink.

And I am desperate for Your touch
a glimpse of heaven through the glory of Your son
In a moment You can turn a life around
forever to be found in You

And I’m reaching out to find
there’s nothing greater then the love that holds my life
Your grace and mercy save me by Your blood
and swept away my shame away O Lord


Your love is like a fire, that burns for all to see
My only desire to worship at your feet
So let this fire consume my life
Let Your love take me deeper
draw me closer to where You are
’cause all I want is more of You
When you call I will follow
At the cross I surrender all
Jesus I belong to You

And I am surrendered to Your love
forever humbled by the message of the cross
I stand in abandoned in Your presence and embrace
I never be the same O God

Grace and peace to you.