Spring Break in San Francisco

I know. we’ve been home awhile, and no re-cap. So many of you gave money for us to go, and prayed for us while we were there and yet didn’t fuss at me a bit when the blog stayed silent. Thanks for understanding. Yes, we’ve been busy but also? It’s hard to sum up the experience in a few paragraphs.

I didn’t take pictures until the last day, when we took the kids sightseeing. We were so busy serving during the week, that my camera would’ve encumbered. I regret that I don’t have more photos of the “real” San Francisco, the one we saw. I’ll try to describe that one for you, later. For now? The beautiful, the lovely, the ideal in San Francisco-starting with the Golden Gate Bridge. We were able to run across and back, early one morning before the sun was all the way up. 3 plus miles in the strongest wind and rain I have ever been in…and it was the best run of my life.

The painted ladies, through the bus windows. I love SF architecture.downtown SF. I wish I had gotten a picture of Chinatown, too. It is amazing.Josiah took this one, on the way home. That charter bus was pretty comfortable, considering how much I HATE long drives! So many people to talk and laugh with, the time went by pretty fast.The top of famous Lombard Street. I had thought I had run Lombard St. in the ’09 marathon, but I must have had it confused with another hilly one because this was SO curvy and unique–I knew I’d never been here, before! It was a good, steep climb and a beautiful view from the top.The “after” photo from Ghiradelli square. Everyone who was able to finish their giant hot fudge sundae could pose. See, Josiah, to the left? Don’t worry-I was faithful to Lent and had a Dasani water.

Josiah and I, in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, staring into the sun and on day 6 without a shower.

What I don’t have photos of, but will not forget:

graffiti on every wall. garbage in the street. chinese grandmothers, pushing carts. desperate prayers. drunk men, passed out and vulnerable. high schoolers, worshipping with hands held high. broken windows. angry shouts of defiance. barred doors. kids, knocking brave on those doors. rats in garbage cans. checking the grass for syringes before they can play. children of every color, laughing and oblivious to their poverty. the smell of urine soaked clothing. the gratitude in his face. how she clutched her Bible. how miniscule our efforts felt, against all that darkness.

how sin has ravaged the area so long that satan doesn’t even bother to hide, there.

how God still shows up and fights for His kids.

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and we’re off!

a photo of Josiah and I, from 2004. He was almost 10 years old…

 5 years later…almost a full head taller than me!

(and I want to note, because I just know saw it and am annoyed how it wrecked an otherwise nice photo! but I really, REALLY hate this t-shirt, ugh-skulls. Yet, his Dad bought it for him (and said afterwards ” I didn’t notice THAT part.” LOL) and it’s Josiah’s favorite because it is from the video game “Call of Duty”, which he isn’t allowed to even play, so it’s like his consolation prize! Sssshhhh…don’t tell, but the dryer is going to “eat it” someday!)

getting on the bus to San Francisco, at 6 AM tomorrow…prayers are appreciated!

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change of plans

As some of you know, Josiah and I are not going to Mexico.

We are still going to give up our Spring Break to do Missions. We are still going to sleep on the ground and go without showers for too long. We are still going to serve, and pray, and love on broken people who are in desperate situations.

This is God’s trip, and He has been faithful to direct and guide. The decision not to go was made by our church elders and I both understand and respect it. There was a murder in the town we were headed to, and crossing the Mexican border is always chancy. Besides the violence, there were other “red flags” that seemed that perhaps God was leading our team away from “what we’ve always done” to do something different.

The safest place to be is in the center of His will, and the decison not to go wasn’t made out of FEAR but out of this genuine desire…the prayers I heard over and over were “Lord, we just want to be in Your will. Show us what You want. We’ll go wherever!” and God answered by making sure the “Yes, go here!” was nice and clear:

We are going to San Francisco. We’ll be working with City Impact 911, a rescue mission in the Tenderloin district. Here is their website:


There is an inner city school full of needy children to love on. Soup kitchen to serve meals at. Opportunities to hand out blankets and food and prayers to the homeless on the streets at night. and much more.

I signed up for this trip because I loved Mexico when John and I went on our anniversary trip there, last yea. The crushing poverty I saw weighed heavy on me, for I knew we were seeing only the tip of that iceberg in the touristy, cleaned-up areas we vacationed at.

plus I have always loved Missions.

plus and also, I heard they needed more adult females on the team.

and oh yeah-my main motivation–my oldest child was going!

I commited to be a team leader to all the students before being a Mom to Josiah, (and I think that is good for him, too.) and the more I get to know them, the more I have come to love these high school kids–they who are willing to give up a week of vacation to get dirty for God, who want to see Him move and be a part of His story. So the trip is all about THEM, and the seeds of servanthood planted deep in their hearts…but…

it also feels like a personal gift from God, to me.

Remember this? The last time I was in San Francisco was in October of 2009, and it was to line up here:

and run the Nike Womens Half-Marathon with Team in Training:

and it was wonderful. and hard.

We met in the hotel lobby on Saturday morning, and headed out as a team for an easy run, just 1 or 2 miles. The race was the next day, so this was just a little jog around downtown SF to keep our leg muscles aware of what was soon to come. Everyone was all giggly and excited and so was I-until we headed out the door and started down the sidewalks. We ran past silent office buildings and store windows full of Prada and Gucci. It was 5 in the morning and there weren’t any pedestrians or traffic and the only noise was from garbage trucks and pigeons and it was so different from the bustling activity of the afternoon before that I was amazed. It wasn’t long until I noticed something else. Wrapped in cardboard, under alcoves and on almost every bench, was a person.

I was stunned.

because everyone kept laughing and running…was I the only one who saw them? and I kept running too. I didn’t want to get lost and I didn’t know what to do, anyway. I felt ignorant and impotent. what could I do, wake someone up and offer him my pink, $135 shoes? When we had to run around human feces on the sidewalk, there was a murmur of complaint. I got back to our hotel room and greeted poor, sleepimg John with a torrent of tears.

This was ridiculous! Why was I here? The day before, I was happily a part of the thousands of women celebrating our up-coming achievement by shopping at the Nike Store, and buying souveniers. The guilt and conviction I felt was palpable. All this time and money and energy to do what: run up and down the streets?! Did that really matter, when people–created in the very image of God people–were sleeping in the streets and ignored–even run right past by us, the healthy and wealthy, as if they were merely a part of the faceless building they slept up against?

you can ask John and he will tell you how I was I wreck. How he held my arm all day and put up his palm and said over and over again his firm “No, thank you.” as we walked around the Wharf. John joked that I was all gush inside and an easy mark and he’s right…I think my countenance must have communicated to every needy person there: “Come and get it!” If it hadn’t been for John’s protection I would have been out of food, clothes and money in about 12 minutes. 

The dark cloud hanging over me was starting to ruin everything. John and God and I talked about it, and I came to see that it was okay that I was there. It was a miracle of a different sort, my running that 13.1 miles. God reminded of all the things He had taught me through the running-about Himself, about perseverance, about faith. and I had raised a lot of money to fight cancer. I was doing something really hard, and relying on God to finish the job. This was a good thing, too and I could set the other things aside for now, and focus on this moment. and so I did.

And I ran the race.

and the next day, before we left for the airport, another hairy, dirty man came up and asked us, again, for money. His sleeping bag had been stolen and he was hungry. John started to put up his hand but I shot him one of my looks that says “oh please? let me have this one?” and because he knows my heart (and it helped that we were about to leave so I couldn’t give everything away!) John relented, because more than anything–he loves me.

Then I got to invite my new friend to a restaurant across the street, and asked him his name and delighted in his happiness. I told him God loved him and John bought him a big meal, and then my (wonderful) husband voluntarily gave him all the change, and grinned at me and shrugged his shoulders. And as we walked out of the restaurant, I was so happy I was bouncing and John looked down at me and grinned  “Feel better?!” he asked.

 I declared that it felt as good as crossing the finish line!

Nike and San Francisco put together an amazing race for women. There were SF firemen in tuxes at the finish line with a Tiffanys necklace. There were pedicures, clothing, chocolates, pampering and gifts galore both before and after the race. There was lots of praise and kudos the day after the race, and enthusiastic female runners stating “I’ll be back every year!” and I was silent.

I looked out the window and thought:

“Lord, if I ever come back here, let it be for something bigger than running.”

and we leave this Sunday.

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Fasting for Lent.

I have never practiced Lent, that spiritual discipline of giving something up for 40 days before Easter. Since I am neither Catholic or Orthodox, it isn’t something I have been taught or even really exposed to. However, lately Pastor Neil has been teaching on spiritual disciplines and talking about Lent as a custom. He challenged us to consider what we might sacrifice during this time, in order to draw closer to God. I love the idea, and have been praying about what to fast. It “officially” starts on Wednesday-tomorrow-so you can still jump on the old bandwagon, (I will even scoot over for ya!)

I would love to do a 40 day full fast some day, but now is not the time. I am training for the Half-marathon and need that fuel! However, there are lots of things to fast, or give up, besides food. The idea is to voluntarily offer something that we enjoy daily, something that takes time (or money) that you could offer instead to God. Some worthy ideas are TV, Facebook or the computer, your Ipad, coffee, one meal a day, the reading of any books but the Bible, or maybe a favorite hobby or game. The thought is that, each time you reached for that item/food/pleasure you would recall “Oh yeah, I gave that up for Lent!” and spend the equivalent time instead, praying or reading the Word, and offering God just a bit more of yourself.  It’s not about legalism and rule keeping, instead it is all about LORDSHIP, and a way of saying with our actions

“Father, You have precedence in my life.”

The next 40 days are a busy, busy time and the time constraints influenced my decision a bit, but I decided I just don’t want to skip this wonderful opportunity. I still wanted to give up something I enjoy daily–besides coffee. I know that would be the ideal choice, as it is truly sacrificial and something I rely on daily! Yet, similar to FOOD, that first hot cup of caffeine is part of my marathon training, and without it I might not have the strength to put on my Asics in the morning. (grin)

So. First, I have committed to reading the Lectio Divina. There is more info here, if you’d like to follow along with the Scripture each day:


 and I have decided to give up all sugar for Lent:


The idea is that, for the next 46 days:

may Jesus be the sweetest thing in my life.

My birthday is at the end of the month, so I admit with some embarrassment that yes-I was hesitating to commit (because–cue gasp–No birthday cheesecake with strawberries?! What?! ) but I learned that the early church did not practice Lent on Sundays, because that was a day of celebration! So…my Tuesday birthday will simply be celebrated the Sunday before! Perfect!

Like anything we do for Christ, the benefit will be more on my side than His, of course. Sugar isn’t healthy, and only impedes my training yet I still enjoy a bit of it, everyday. That God would be my ultimate reward, my evening comfort, my total satisfaction? That is my goal. He needs nothing, and desires only relationship. Anything I give Him is miniscule, compared to the Cross. I look forward to growing closer to Him over the next 40 days!

and I am really, really dedicated, folks…in order to make sure I stick to this goal, I was VERY careful to remove all temptation from the house:

diligent to finish off the last half pint of Ben and Jerrys in the freezer,

and dedicated enough to eat the last 3 Dove chocolates in my nightstand,

plus a small cupcake.

give, give, give-that’s my motto!


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Multitude Monday 3/7/11

I am thanking my God this week for:

the stunning revelation that Jesus knows the exact cost of the precious oil poured out for Him, out of my alabastar jar…and may nothing be held back. (Matt 26)

my Garmin running watch.

sweet baby Jonas in the nursery and how all the ladies let me hog him each week.

the High School Mission retreat this weekend. What a great group of kids to mentor, and what an amazing group of adult leaders to share that blessing with.

sons growing strong. Buying Josiah OH MY–size TWELVE tennis shoes, yesterday.

the coconut/pina colada smell in my little car from the cute deodorizer. It’s in the shape of a flip-flop shoe, hangs from my rearview mirror, and makes every drive feel like a mini tropical vacation. Such continual happiness from $2.29!


having time to stop at Starbucks before church.

the soundtrack to life right now: The CD “The Generous Mr. Lovewell” by Mercy Me

the way Caleb looks 2 years old again, when he sleeps.

a bloody toenail and the crazy pride I felt…I ran long and hard enough to cause that?!

balsamic vinegar.

John. always, always. John.

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nothing has changed.

it was 1988 but we look just like this, still today.

right? hello? anyone?…tap-tap-tap…is this thing on?

Posted in knight in shining armor | 3 Comments

running thoughts

I have run 123.6 miles since December!

The Half-Marathon is May 1st, and I am a little more than half ready. (grin)

My longest run has been just over eight miles and I felt pretty good–

 (note to John-please don’t tell them how I broke down sobbing in the kitchen about the race being another 5 miles above that, okay?)

This training is so much better, so much easier than it was for my first Half Marathon in 2009. My thyroid levels were so low then, and I realize now just how unhealthy I was and am stunned that I was able to complete it at all-God gets all the glory for THAT. i begged Him to help me keep that commitment, and He did. but it was hard enough that I walked away from running (limped away, is more accurate) for over a year, as my mind/body healed up. It is so exciting to me to be BACK! I feel like when you find something precious to you, that until that moment you din’t even realize it was lost. Do you know what I mean?

This time, I am 10 plus lbs lighter than when I ran in San Francisco (and still working on lightening the pack further) and thanks to Boot Camp at the Sportsplex my muscles/core are stronger than previously ( I am adding strength training to my running to help further) so…

No shin splints! hooray! and no plantar fascitis! and my knees feel great, I don’t need to ice them after every 5 miler. Best part is that I actually have energy to run-now that my thyroid is medicated daily, there is no falling over in exhaustion by 2 pm. Running would have to be given up, if it stole all the energy/strength my husband and kids deserve first.

I am reading a very inspiring book “Run Like a Mother” and it is all kinds of stories/advice from other Moms who incorporate this hobby with full lives, raising kids. Reading it, I feel a little guilt that I have it so easy–no toddlers to push in a stroller, no convoluted babysitting plans in order to squeeze in a workout. I have strapping young men who are pretty responsible and I can say  “Back in an hour boys, do your schoolwork.” and know that if the house catches fire, Grandpa Lee is 2 minutes away. Although I am coming to the sport late in life (and thus, will never know how fast or strong I would’ve been in my twenties so, bonus! will have nothing to compare myself to and cry over) I am at a season in life where it isn’t too difficult to get a run in.

( only have to overcome my own procrastination of pain.)

I love that it is warmer outside, now! Seeing robins and even a bluebird, a little less wind/rain, fields are greening up even more-it is wonderful. The climate of our area is perfect for this hobby. The last 2 runs I was even too hot, which was a wonderful change…it means that now, all my long sleeve tech shirts and long black tights are being packed up until next Winter. As long as it is above 45 or so, capris and t-shirt are good. Still wear a vest though, love having at least one pocket for kleenex and an energy shot.

I noticed my mantra today! I just realized how I breathe it overandover as I am going up an incline or fighting pain and it is:

“all things. ALL things. ALL THINGS!”

and that is short for “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” the Bible verse that got me through the first round of training. It just got condensed to a breath-prayer that I chant to myself as my quads are screaming “we can’t!”and my burning lungs are saying “we need to stop!” and my mind answers back the truth:even THIS. All means ALL!!

The promise was for strength. not from within me, but from a Source much bigger and stronger than my feeble willpower-and His promise was for ALL THINGS.

even for:

middle-aged housewives who want to run up little neighborhood hills!

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