Thursday, December 5, 2013

What We're Doing (and how we got here)

Thanksgiving weekend was so wonderful for our family! It was crazy driving all over the county multiple times, but totally worth it. Plus, the kids were so worn out every day that we actually got to sleep-in a couple of mornings until 7:30!!! We are blessed to have my parents and grandparents and Ben's parents all living close-by, not to mention all of the extended family as well. Family is so important to us, and we want our kids to see the treasure that it is. 

I have expressed in another blog post that my heart has been overflowing with thankfulness to God over the last couple of months. If you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw my status on Thanksgiving day, so this will be redundant, but I think it is worth saying again: I am most thankful that God's plans are far better than any plans we can come up with. 
What I did not share on Facebook is the main reason for my feeling this way. If you care to know, read on.

About one year ago, Ben and I began to feel a longing for more fellowship with like-minded couples/families for the purpose of discipleship, i.e., growing in our faith in God through intentional friendships where Christ is the focus, and accountability is found. For several reasons, connections just weren't happening for us. Ben has always worked out of the town that we live in, and has developed close relationships with several of his co-workers who live in Knoxville (work town). As a result, we have become friends with their families, and they are the very type of people that we were longing to have friendships with. But it is hard to do couple/family fellowship-discipleship because we live in separate towns. The situation was more like Ben had his friends there, and I had my friends here. I am not at all discrediting the friends that we had right in front of us.  They are all still our friends and people that we consider gifts from God.

But.... we decided to try to sell our house so we could move to Knoxville and start getting planted there. At the same time that we put our house on the market, a new friendship started to grow for me, and out of that, a new friendship for our whole family. It was my sweet running partner, Chris and her precious family. Also at the same time, God reignited a friendship with a couple that we had been close with before we all had our kids. A few months later, my sister and her family (who are our closest friends) announced that they were moving back home after living away at seminary for 5 years. 

God was working. 

We were still saying that moving was for us, but my heart was changing. My eyes were opening. I caught myself thinking, "I don't want to leave so-and-so. I don't want to change churches. I don't want to be further from our families."

"Trust in The Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

All of the time, I had this vision in the back of my mind of Ben and me in a leadership position together, but had no path for it. I was asked to join a start-up team for a new ladies' Bible study in our church. I agreed, and was soon asked if I would be willing to fill the role of substitute teacher. I resisted (in my flesh) because I had never "taught" anything before other than exercise classes, and I certainly couldn't use Zumba moves to teach the Gospel; so I had to go out of my comfort zone, but finally agreed after much prayer. (If you are wondering why Ben and I do not attend Sunday morning Bible study together, it is because he has been serving in the third grade Sunday school as a teacher for the last two years.)

In the meantime, Ben began expressing his doubts about moving to Knoxville. Needless to say, we were getting discouraged about the selling of our house because it hadn't happened yet, but at the same time, we were relieved that we hadn't sold quickly and then regretted moving away. Oh, how God looks out for us!

Most recently, for about the last two months, Ben has been going to a men's accountability group that is part of the "young marrieds" class at our church. They invited Ben because they knew he was not part of an adult class, and that he is quite awesome when it comes to small group discussion of God's Word! (OK, so maybe they didn't know that yet, but I already did, and they must know now!) It has been a great opportunity for Ben to share his struggles and his experience/knowledge gained with slightly younger guys.

We knew that the current class teachers were stepping down to fill another role in the church, but we didn't know it would affect us since we weren't in the class. But... about a month ago, Ben and I were asked to consider taking over the class. We were surprised and honored, humbled but standoffish. We first thought, "We can't leave the classes that we're in. It will put the leaders in a hard place trying to fill our positions." I can't speak for Ben but I also had thoughts like, "I don't have time to prepare a lesson every week, and I don't have enough knowledge." But after much prayer and hearing sound advice from our "Equipping Pastor," and receiving confirmation in other ways, we realized that this is what God has been preparing us for all along. We realized that we had our own vision: moving, get planted somewhere new, maybe becoming small group leaders in our 40s or 50s (when we would be more wise and mature). But that is not where God has lead us. His path has been different from what we expected, but so much richer.
Proverbs 16:9 "The heart of man plans his way, but The Lord establishes his steps." 

The path:
Wanting deeper friendships--->
OK, let's move--->
Our house not selling--->
Friendships blossoming--->
Each of us learning to lead separately--->
Our hearts beginning to change regarding moving--->
Accountability group--->
Being asked to lead the young marrieds, and getting our hearts filled with the kind of fellowship we have been longing for!

Oh, how He cares for us!

So... We are very excited. And nervous! We want the class to be a place where the couples can learn how to be honest with each other while showing God's grace and consideration of their spouse. And hopefully, as Ben and I are learning, they can learn how the Gospel applies daily in the marriage relationship.
I can say with confidence that all of this story is a result of "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness..." (Exodus 34:6)

By the way, we could use all the prayers we can get. Satan has already started throwing darts at us since we made our decision, but I'll have to save that for another post! ;)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meal Plan Monday (11/18)

I have again planned four meals for this week, none for any particular night. Here they are:

Rachael Ray's New England crabby melts with alexia sweet potato fries

Veggie calzones 

Rachael Ray's spicy chicken, sausage and bean pot with French bread (made with turkey sausage)

Slow cooker ratatouille (from my freezer)-- recipe coming soon

For breakfast:

Oatmeal with raisins and walnuts

Blueberry banana wraps

Cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter

Everything bagel thin with laughing cow cheese and egg

Banana oatmeal waffles

Out for breakfast

Bacon and eggs

Here's what I had for lunch today:
Quick and easy southwest stuffed sweet potato:

1 sweet potato washed, dried and pierced a few times
1 can black beans rinsed and drained, 1/4 cup needed for recipe (refrigerate the rest)
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
Shredded cheese, if desired

Microwave the sweet potato for about 3 minutes on each side (1500 watt microwave).
Drain and rinse the beans while the potato cooks.
Once the potato is done, cut it in half lengthwise, but not all the way through. 
Grab your kitchen shears, and chop the pepper right into the sweet potato. 
Sprinkle on about 1/4 cup of cheese.
Put the beans on top, and mix it all into the flesh of the sweet potato. 
Yummy! (as my kids would say)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Meal Plan Monday (11/11)

We've got a busy week with doctor visits, our usual Bible study, and my monthly moms meeting at church on Friday. We're also going to try to fit in Gatlinburg's annual chili cook-off for the first time with our kids on Wednesday evening. I have Christmas choir practice Saturday morning and a Sunday School get-together in the evening. Busy, busy, busy! Plus, I'm singing a solo in both morning services this coming Sunday.

Again this week, I am not planning dinners on specific nights. I went to the store and got everything that I need for four meals. Here they are:

Baked fish and sautéed veggies (red potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, and onions)

Slow cooker cheesy chicken and broccoli over brown rice----> recipe coming soon

Warm steak and potato salad (from Melissa D'Arabian)

Rachael Ray's New England Crabby Melts with sweet potato fries

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chicken and Wild Rice Slow-Cooker Soup

42 oz. chicken broth
2 cups water
1 lb. cooked, chicken breasts and/or thighs, cubed or shredded
2 cups water
1 package long grain and wild rice with seasonings
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup (approximate) chopped onion (optional)
1 tsp. dried parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into the slow cooker and mix well. Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 8-10 hours. Serve with hot bread of your choice. Oh, so good!

Meal Plan Monday (11/4)

This is always a very busy time of year for our family for several reasons. October & November fly by, and contrary to most families' schedules, December slows down a bit for us. Since we are kinda crazy right now, I am realizing that I am not always making my meals on the originally-planned night. So, this week, I am planning four meals, but not on any certain night. Here are the four dinners that I bought for at the grocery store this morning:

1. Chicken and wild rice slow-cooker soup (in the slow-cooker right now)

3. Spinach quiche

4. Chili

This is our breakfast plan:

Waffles topped with yogurt and berries

Everything bagel thins topped with Laughing Cow cheese and egg

Wednesday: (This is always a quick-breakfast day because we leave the house early for Bible Study. Sometimes the kids have to eat in the car.)
Banana Bread

Waffles and/or Pumpkin Granola on vanilla Greek yogurt

Banana Bread (if there's any left!) ;)

Everything bagel thins with Laughing Cow cheese and egg and turkey bacon

Pumpkin Granola on vanilla Greek yogurt

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Meal Plan Monday (on Thursday)

I have been wanting to post my meal plan for this week since Monday, but just never quite had the chance. Here's what we've had so far, and what we will have for the remainder of the week:


Cinnamon Raisin Flax Bread with peanut butter


Don't remember
Chicken- kale gumbo from my friend, Sara

Wednesday: (Rush's birthday)

Waffles (per Rush's request) with peanut butter
Out for pizza (Rush's choice) :)


Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Cereal (You must try it!)
Leftover gumbo/ fall festival food at church


Oatmeal with blackberries and walnuts
Salmon with sautéed asparagus, potatoes, mushrooms, and onions


Blueberry banana wraps (recipe coming)
Rachael Ray's buffalo chicken chili mac (as we cheer on the  vols!)


Yogurt & granola

By the way... did you check out my clam chowder recipe yet?

A Thankful Heart

I LOVE Thanksgiving! It's so wonderful to reflect on all that God has granted us. I am most thankful for His forgiveness. I have recently been reminded of the amazing gift of God's adoption of me as His daughter. My heart is just bubbling over with joy over this concept of which I was already aware, but I have a new appreciation for!

Speaking of adopting, please visit my dear friend, Brittany's blog to see their adoption story. Soon, she and her husband will become parents, and I know that they will be amazing, fun, and Godly parents to the child that is chosen by God for them.

Speaking of being Godly parents, I love any excuse to do a daily Bible activity with my kids. (I love it even more when someone else comes up with the idea and lays it our for me.) This time, though, I created my own. It's a 28-day devotional-type activity that can be done by one person or a huge family. You simply read the verse together, discuss what it means to each person in an age-appropriate manner, and then write what you are most thankful for that day. You may want to relate whatever you are thankful for to the verse for that day, but of course, that is not necessarily the way the Holy Spirit works.

  (All verses are NLT unless otherwise noted.)

We will also be doing a thankful tree, which we did last year. It is just another great reminder of the bounty of God's blessings in our lives!

I am looking forward to reading these verses and making our tree with my kids through the next month. Let me know in the comments if you would like a copy for your family.

Happy Thanksgiving season!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mmm mmm Clam Chowder

This has been a staple in our home every fall and winter since we were married. My mother-in-law made this for Ben a lot before he left home, and she gave me the recipe. I love pulling out the hand-written recipe card. It makes it even more special.
In case you want to copy & paste the recipe, here you go:
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
28 oz. chicken broth
approx. 4 cups diced potatoes ( or 1 package refrigerated diced potatoes and onions)
2 cups milk
1 cup half and half
4 slices bacon crisp-cooked and crumbled (optional)
2 small cans each tiny shrimp, clams, crab meat, all drained and rinsed
1 cup carrots, chopped (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
Start by sautéing the chopped celery in 2 Tbsp of melted butter in a large soup pot. 

Cook the celery for about 5 minutes, then sprinkle on the 2 Tbsp flour and stir. 

Once combined, continue stirring and pour in the 28 oz. of chicken broth (I prefer low-sodium). Turn up the heat, and bring to a boil. 

Toss in the diced potatoes and carrots and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until veggies are soft to your liking (I soften ours quite a bit for my kiddos).

Slightly mash the potatoes with a wooden spoon (or the amazing Pampered Chef Mix n Chop) to thicken the chowder. (Sorry, no picture of this step!)

Stir in the milk, half & half, bacon (if using), and the rinsed and drained cans of seafood. 

Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches or warm crusty bread, and enjoy! You'll have enough leftovers for another cold fall night!
Note: This is a great recipe to double and freeze for later. ;)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

We are home from the marathon, and back to real life. Here's the plan for the week.
I am not posting any "plans" for lunch because I hardly ever seem to actually eat what I plan for that meal.
We've been out of town, so the cupboards are empty... going to Cracker Barrel! :)
Breakfast: Oatmeal with blackberries and walnuts
Dinner: Balsamic Roast Beef Sandwiches with steamed broccoli
Breakfast: Cinnamon raisin bread with peanut butter
Diner: Chicken crescents with roasted cauliflower and steamed spinach/kale mix
Breakfast: Pumpkin chocolate chip waffles
Dinner: Turkey Tomatillo Burritos (double batch for freezing)
Breakfast: Spinach artichoke omelets
Dinner: Clam chowder (possible take-out)
Breakfast: Pumpkin waffles & bacon
Dinner: open (clam chowder if not Friday)
Breakfast: Yogurt & granola
Dinner: leftovers

Monday, October 14, 2013

Meal Plan Monday aka Marathon Meal Plan

So, really, nothing is drastically different about our family's meal plan for the week, except that on Thursday and Friday, I will be intentionally increasing our carbs. I always try to have a good balance of protein, carbs and fat with lots of veggies and a good amount of fruit. 

Here it is:

Cinnamon raisin bagel
Turkey & avocado on whole wheat bread
Meatloaf with spinach risotto 

Old fashioned oats with blackberries and walnuts
Salad (whatever veggies i have on-hand) with tuna on top
Crab cakes with spinach salad and cheese ravioli

Yogurt and granola


Turkey & avocado on whole wheat bread

Pumpkin Waffles
Chicken tacos with black beans and brown rice

Pumpkin waffles or oatmeal
Out (plan extra carbs)
Out (lots of carbs)

Marathon Training Log #11

8 miles. 6:00 a.m.  Last Saturday run before the marathon. We had a busy day planned, so I ran early with Chris, and Ben ran after lunch alone. It worked out well for Ben because he got to sleep in since the kids slept until after 7:00! {Cue Napoleon Dynamite voice} Lucky! ~sigh~ 

I had my usual cinnamon raisin bagel with a little peanut butter for breakfast, plus coffee and water. I started drinking Spark on the way to our meeting spot, which is about 10 minutes from my house. 

I wore my belt, but took no extra nutrition in the pouch for during the run since it was only 8 miles. This run went pretty well. Our pace was right on target with our goal for the marathon. 

I love the route that we ran because it is exactly where Chris and I went on our first-ever run together last October 19th. It is crazy to think that one year after that first run, we will have completed three half marathons and a full!

This week I am truly looking forward to taking it "easy."  Here's my plan for the week:
Monday: off
Tuesday: 3-4 easy
Wednesday: 2-3 easy
Thursday: 2-3 easy
Friday: walk

Side note: This will be my third week of posting my "Meal Plan Monday," so be sure and check that out as well, especially if you're curious to see what someone running a marathon might be eating. ;)

Let me just say, in my opinion, running is never easy, but the hardest part is those first few steps. I never thought that I would run a marathon. 

When I started the training, I prayed for God to use the process as a way to bring glory to Himself. I'm not sure how he's going to do that, but I hope that I am sensitive enough to know when I see (or feel) it. 

I am definitely a mixed bag of emotions right now. Part of me keeps doubting that I can even do this. Another part of me is saying, "There's no way you can't do this! Trust your training." And a third dimension is telling me to just get it over with, no matter what it looks like. I could definitely use some prayer. And I know that Ben and Chris would love to know that they're being prayed over too. 

We are heading down to Chattanooga on Saturday morning. We hope to scope out the course and get familiar with our surroundings to help calm our nerves. 

I will certainly write a post after the race is over to record how it all goes. I am especially nervous to see how my stomach does after the race. If you've been reading my training logs, thanks for sticking around!
The finisher medal. I stole this pic from the race Facebook page. :)

D you have any advice or words of encouragement? Please leave it in the comments section below.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Breakfast: at Beth's
Lunch: leftover shredded chicken whole wheat wraps with spinach (and whatever else)
Supper: leftover quiche and/or chicken and dumplings

Breakfast: oatmeal with blackberries and walnuts
Lunch: black bean and spinach quesadillas 
Supper: baked salmon with whole wheat gnocchi and garlic chips with spinach

Breakfast: morning glory muffins
Lunch: out?
Supper: BBQ slow cooker chicken with stuffed sweet potato skins

Breakfast: spinach artichoke omelettes
Lunch: leftovers
Supper: turkey tenderloin with goat cheese and walnut linguine

Breakfast: morning glory muffins
Lunch: peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat
Supper: open

Breakfast: waffles with yogurt and berries
Supper: out

Breakfast: chocolate hazelnut oatmeal
Lunch: lunch get-together at church
Supper: slow-cooker meal from freezer

Marathon Training Log #10

Taper week! Wahoo!

I have been doing this Marathon training thing pretty blindly, I guess. I have only just realized this because I recently started reading a lot of running blogs and book reviews, and I know nothing! I don't even really have a goal finish-time for the race. I just want to finish! 

This past weekend, our plan was 12 miles. After running 20 the previous weekend, I thought that 12 would feel easy... I was wrong. We started later than what was optimal, and it was hot! 

For breakfast, I had whole wheat toast with a thin layer of peanut butter and coffee. I did not drink a Spark before the run because I had extra coffee and thought that it might make me a little crazy! (Second mistake.)

I took one non-caffeine Power Gel in my belt (third mistake), one water and one sport drink, plus powder to mix in when I refilled. 

I felt fine the first half of the run--- not great, but fine. We stopped at the usual park to refill at 5.75 miles. I ate/drank (what are you actually doing to those things?!) the gel with at least 8 oz. of water. The rest of the run, my legs felt heavy and tired. While I was running I tried to think of what I had done differently to make me feel that way, and here are the three things I came up with: 

1. I ate pizza for dinner the night before (first mistake). 
2. I did not drink my Spark. 
3. I had run 20 miles for the previous long run, not to mention 100 miles over the last month. That is definitely a record for me! 

Ben finished well ahead of me and Chris, so he came walking toward us on our last half mile. They both had to practically drag me to the finish. How was 20 so awesome and 12 so awful?!

Had a huge sport drink and a pack of peanut butter crackers soon after we finished. My stomach was A-OK after the run! Yay!

2 weeks until the race! 8 miles this Saturday!

Lottie and I got our first Toms. Just a random tidbit for you. :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Meal Plan Monday!

I am going to *try* to post our meal plan for the week each Monday. I don't always follow our plan strictly, because I give myself one or two "swing" days or what I call L/S (leftovers or simple-meal) days. But, here it is: my first Meal-Plan Monday post:

Breakfast: cinnamon raisin flax bread (toasted) with peanut butter
Lunch: roasted turkey and Swiss on rye/ kids: turkey rolls and colby jack cheese sticks with dried apricots and yogurt along with yogurt pretzels for a treat
Supper: Mom's Spinach Lasagna with French style green beans and rosemary bread

Breakfast: old-fashioned oats with blackberries and walnuts
Lunch: leftover roasted veggies and turkey kielbasa/ kids: pb&j with carrots
Dinner: leftover beef enchiladas from Saturday night with black beans and brown rice (L/S)

Breakfast: Pumpkin Muffins & yogurt
Lunch: leftover lasagna
Supper: homemade quiche

Breakfast: banana & blackberry wraps (recipe coming soon!)
Lunch: turkey and Swiss on rye/ kids: Perdue Simply Natural lightly breaded chicken chunks with carrots and apple slices
Supper: L/S

Breakfast: Pumpkin Muffins & yogurt
Lunch: black bean and spinach quesadillas
Supper: Chicken and Dumplings or take-out (Ben's choice)

Breakfast: (before a 12-mile run) kids' choice
Lunch: open
Supper: open/ chicken and dumplings if haven't made them yet

Breakfast: whole wheat pancakes with berries plus eggs
Lunch: out somewhere after church (might run a 5K that afternoon)
Supper: L/S early, to get to church on time

Here's the menu I created that I post on our fridge:

Many of my simple meals are:
  • made from things that I have perviously doubled and frozen half
  • semi-homemade pizza
  • frozen pre-packaged veggies such as Alexia Saute Reds (our favorite!)
  • occassional frozen pizza
What are some of your favorite simple meals?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Marathon Training Log #9

Race day is three weeks from today!!!

We did our final L O N G run yesterday morning--- 20 miles! The weather was amazing! It was about 55 degrees when we started. I was a little cold before we started, which made me very happy. Training in the summer in East Tennessee has been brutal! So, to the fall season I say, "Welcome and stay a while!"

Chris and I were unable to run this one together, so Ben planned to go with me. We were able to arrange for kiddos to sleep over with my parents on Friday night (thanks, Mom and Dad!), so we got to have a date night and chose pasta from Johnny Carinos to fuel our run. 

For breakfast (around 6:00) we each had a slice of my homemade cinnamon-raisin flax bread with a thin layer of peanut butter and coffee. 

In my belt, I took my usual one water and one sport drink, each 10 oz. I planned to use a Power Gel (the brand that will be provided at the race) at 6 miles, 12 miles, and between 16 & 18 miles. We were running a double out-and-back route, so we were able to plant some drinks and fuel (Marathon Bars, VO2 Bars) at our car. 

We both drank a Spark 20 minutes before we started the run. I stopped to take a bathroom break and re-fill my water at the usual park (5.9 miles) and took a non-caffeine Power Gel with about 8 oz. of water. I also topped-off my sport drink with some water. I decided to turn on some music for a little while, which is unusual for me. But I knew I had a long way to go to be alone. I did not have headphones, so I just carried my phone in my hand. It was a nice little change to pass the time. My two favorites from yesterday were Mandisa's What If We Were Real and Travis Cottrell's Oh My Soul March On. I  stopped for another bathroom break at mile 12, which was back near our van. I refilled my water and sport drink and started eating a VO2 Bar as I started running again. Before I knew it, I had reached 16 miles, which was my turnaround point. I had to go a little further than that because Ben had planted a water for me. Ben ran by me on the other side, heading to the finish. He had planned a 23 mile run, and his pace is over 1.5 minutes per mile faster than mine. Since the planted water was a little past my turnaround, I decided to pause my GPS and walk after I picked up the water so I could pour the water into my belt bottle and eat another Gel (with caffeine). I had drunk all of my water between mile 12 and 16 and drank almost half of the sport drink. I knew that there were no more water stops along the way so I tried to be conservative, but reasonable. Around mile 17, I started getting "giddy" because I couldn't believe how good I felt. My pace had stayed the same (within 3 seconds) the entire run, and it was 40 seconds faster per mile than my goal race pace! I passed a friend at mile 19. It was nice to get some encouragement. When my phone said 20 miles and told me my pace, I let out a joyful "ha!" and threw my arms in the air. It felt great to finish so well. The best part was Ben waiting for me at the finish. 

Once I sat down, which was after a while of walking and stretching, I made a soy milk chocolate protein shake (I had packed a cooler in the van) and drank it on the way home. We took a quick shower, and I made us some roasted chicken and Swiss cheese on rye toast and black bean and cheddar cheese dip with yellow corn tortilla chips, all just in time for the Vols to kick-off at 12:30. We each ate a banana, stretched some more, and then I went to bed. I never went to sleep, but I rested. I think I was too excited from the success of the run. I was praying while I was lying in my bed, thanking God for giving us the physical health and ability to accomplish our goal.  That is something I pray I never take for granted- the blessing of a healthy, fully-functioning body (see Bible passage below). (I hope to write an entire post on this subject this week, so stay tuned.) God has entrusted me with this one body; and so far, he has blessed me with great health, including two healthy pregnancies despite a blood disorder! And I was also thanking God for our supportive family that has been willing to help with our kids while we train. We are so blessed!

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? For you are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I am finally able to say I believe I can run a Marathon. Until Saturday, I was not confident enough to believe it. This weekend, we have 12 miles assigned for the long run. I will still be journaling our runs as we taper.

I found a great blog this week that I just can't get enough of: Jen is a Christian, mom, pastor's wife and runner. Her take on life is so sweet! Check her out!

In case you were wondering what "belt" I wear when running, here it is: the Nathan Speed 2 Waistpack. I could not train without it.


Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Flax Bread

1 cup raisins
1 cup + 2 TBsp milk
2 1/2 TBsp unsalted butter, softened
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (and extra for flouring surface)
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1 2/ tsp cinnamon, divided
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
non stick cooking spray

Place the raisins in a small saucepan and cover with water, bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain well.

Combine 2 3/4 cups flour, brown sugar, flax, 3/4 tsp of the cinnamon , salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix well.

In a small saucepan heat the milk over low heat (do not bring to a boil). When warm remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until melted. (You can also do this gradually in the microwave.)

Add the warm milk/butter and the lightly beaten eggs to the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add the raisins and stir until combined.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. The dough will be sticky so keep adding a bit of flour to the dough 1T at a time until no longer sticky.

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray and flip to coat the other side. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour (should double in size). After 1 hour press two fingers down into dough, if imprints remain it is ready. Punch dough and then cover for 5 more minutes.

Roll dough out into a 14 x 7 inch rectangle on a floured surface. Evenly sprinkle the remaining cinnamon over the surface of the dough. Roll up the rectangle tightly, starting with the short edge pressing firmly while rolling to eliminate air pockets. Pinch the seams and ends to seal.

Place the roll, seam side down, in a 9x5 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes (should double in size).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until loaf is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Marathon Training Log #8

I will never run more than 3 miles at 2:00 in the afternoon. Ever. Again.

So, I had the genius idea to wait until naptime on Sunday to do my 14-mile run. Chris had already gone on Saturday, so Ben I went together. As always, 50 yards into the run, he went off and left me. I do not use music when I run; so this was going to be a long and lonely 14 miles. It was a beautiful (and mild) 70* day, but there is no shade on this route, except about a 1-mile stretch. And I planned poorly for this one... no hat, no sunglasses, no headband. I did, however, remember sunscreen. Yay for no skin cancer!

I did not know what to expect tummy-wise during the run since I always run in the morning, and I always eat pretty much the same thing in my efforts to stop my problem after long runs. I had a whole wheat waffle with peanut butter and banana with coffee for breakfast, and a turkey salad for lunch at about 1:00 (lunch is always way late on Sundays!).

We started the run between 2:30 and 2:45. I took my two 10 oz bottles in my belt, one with water and one with Spark. I also took my usual Marathon Bar.

The first 2 miles were painful... literally... let me explain:

after the 18 miler, (last weekend), I started having crazy low-spine pain. I thought that it was because I sat on our driveway for a while that same day, but realized quickly that it was more than that. I have a friend who is a chiropractor, so I went to see him on Monday, and he gave me lots of advice and made lots of adjustments to my lower back, knees and feet. The thing he stressed the most to me was icing after the long runs. I had quite a bit of relief over the next few days.

So I was not happy when I started feeling the same pain in the beginning of this run, but it soon faded, and I felt fine the rest of the run. I tried to be conscious of trying to keep my hips tucked under and not sticking my tail out. I know that poor posture has contributed to the problem.

I stopped at 5.75 miles at the usual park to refill my drinks. I ate most of the Marathon Bar when I started back up. I was so happy when I finally reached 7 miles... the first 7 seemed to take forever!

I got back to the park just before reaching 9 miles, and I stopped again to top-off my waters since there is no other fountain from there on. I felt like I  needed to take a short walking break, so I started my GPS back up, but I was walking. I didn't watch the time, I just walked until I felt like it was enough... I'd guess it was about 2 minutes.

Before I knew it, I hit 12 miles! I came to a busy intersection and had to wait a while to cross safely, so I finished the last 1/4 of the Marathon Bar. The last 2 miles were not fun. All I could think about was how 16 and 18 miles seemed easier and less painful than this one! Oh well... I finished. But like I said, I will never run that far that late in the day again.

My stomach did not feel so great the rest of the day, but it wasn't debilitating like it has been sometimes. So far, so good!

Ben finished right about 15 minutes after me... he had run 18 miles. He said it was brutal for him yesterday, too.

This weekend is our biggie: 20 miles!!! Don't know how or when we are going to do it, but I have to do it in order to feel confident enough to register for the race... did I just admit that?

Nope, I haven't registered yet... oh, and, I didn't ice.

New shorts I ordered from Lucy Activewear, my favorite running apparel store.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Breakfast Burritos (Freezer)

Freezer Breakfast Burritos


1 lb. breakfast sausage* of choice (Our family favorite is turkey sausage.)

1 bag Southwest-style hash brown potatoes (Found in the dairy aisle) (I have used regular hash browns too.)

6-8 large eggs

approximately 3/4 cup of milk (for scrambled eggs)

approximately 20 fajita-size whole-wheat soft tortillas (We like Chi Chi's brand.) The final amount of burritos depends on how much filling you put in each one and the size of the tortillas.

salt & pepper

approximately 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or shredded cheese of choice)

salsa (to be used after reheating)

optional ingredients: diced onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, or any variety of pepper; add in with sausage & potatoes

*Could also use crumbled bacon or go meatless.


In a large pan, begin browning the sausage and hash browns in a bit of cooking oil, breaking it all up as it browns.

While the browning is happening, whisk together the eggs, milk, and salt & pepper to your taste.

Just before the sausage-potato mixture gets to the brownness desired, reduce the heat to just below medium, and pour in the egg mixture. Continue cooking until the eggs are completely cooked.

Remove the skillet from the heat, and allow the burrito filling to cool for about 15 minutes.


While the filling is cooling, get out your tortillas and begin sprinkling the cheese in each one.

Begin filling your burritos. Test the first one to make sure the amount of filling you put in will allow you to roll it up. Roll each one as you fill it, and place it seam-side down in your freezer dish (You could also wrap these individually in cling wrap, and then place them in a freezer bag.)

Once the burritos are frozen, they are super-easy to make for breakfast (or lunch or dinner!). In my microwave, I defrost for about 2 minutes, then cook on high for 1-2 minutes. If the burrito is really fat, I sometimes have to cut it in half after defrosting. Once it is reheated, pour on the salsa (inside or out), and enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Marathon Training Log #7

Marathon day is less than 5 weeks away! Craziness!!!

Our training plan assigned 18 miles for our long run this week. Chris and I could not meet on Saturday, so we had to get up extra early (4:20 a.m.!) on Friday in order to start our run by 5:00 so our husbands could get to work.

For breakfast, I had my usual cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter plus coffee. I started drinking a Spark on my way to meet Chris (about 4:50). In my belt, I took my usual one water and one sport drink (both 10 oz.), plus two Marathon Bars and an extra Spark packet.

We carried four waters and planted them along the run because we were doing an out-and-back route. We stopped around mile 4 for a bathroom break and to refill our waters. We shared a Marathon Bar around mile 6. We stopped again around mile 7 for another bathroom break and to top-off our waters. We also shared an AdvoCare VO2 Bar at some point (don't remember when that was... maybe mile 10). I gulped down about half of a Gu packet around mile 12 (yuck!), and that was about when the sun finally came up! We shared a Spark packet for a little extra caffeine around mile 13. I ate a couple of bites of the second Marathon Bar around mile 15.

By mile 16, we were SO ready to finish! This was a distance record for both of us. Overall, the run went really well. Our hips and knees were so tired at the end, but we both recovered quickly, which hopefully means we are doing something right! No tummy problems this run! Yay!

We get to taper down to 14 miles this weekend and the weather is supposed to be awesome.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Marathon Training Log #6

We got to taper down to 12 miles for this run! 

Around 7:15, I ate one raspberry mini muffin and a mini cinnamon-raisin bagel with peanut butter along with coffee and water. I drank a Spark around 7:45, and gave the last 2 oz to Ben right before we started. 

 I took a sport drink and a water in my two 10 oz bottles in my belt, plus a Marathon Bar (caramel flavor). 

Our schedules did not allow for Chris and me to start at the same time, so Ben and I started together, but he quickly ran ahead. Ben missed the 16 mile run last weekend, so he wanted to do 14 miles. It was a beautiful morning, quite cool compared to usual. Despite the milder temp, it was still very sunny, and it is the route with no shade (glad I wore my hat). I felt great from the beginning except for a strange tightness in my left calf. But it soon disappeared, and at mile 2.5 I saw a hot pink-clad girl coming toward me--- it was Chris. I was hoping that I would get to run at least a portion with her; so I turned and ran back toward the start (her finish). I reached 5 miles as she finished, so I turned back around and ran the same scenery that I had just run, plus an additional mile to make it to 12. There was tons of traffic (thank you, tourism), which was distracting--- lots of toots and honks and whistles--- but I think it somehow kept my pace up. I ate the marathon bar at mile 6... was still feeling great at mile 10 when I looked behind me to see Ben catching up to me! That stinker--- he is so fast! We finished together, and Ben's parents even did a drive-by around mile 11 with our kids, which was a fun surprise. This was a great run overall. I did not know what my pace was as I was running because I could not hear the tracking on my phone due to the heavy traffic. To our surprise, I had run this training run at my racing pace, which is quite faster than my training pace. Ben was really pleased with his pace as well. 

I drank a sport drink as soon as we finished and ate about a quarter of a banana. My stomach felt good for about 2 hours, but I did have some cramps on and off for the rest of the day. I am starting to see that the harder I push myself, the more prone I am to these tummy problems. I will still call this training run a success! We are scheduled for 18 miles this weekend, and Chris will be out of town on Saturday; so we are planning to get babysitters and run it on Friday morning. I will update again soon!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Too Much Thinking...


Some thoughts sparked while reading daily devotions from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest...

"Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, “. . . the cares of this world, . . . choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). And before we even realize what has happened, we are caught up in our cares. All that God has done for us is merely the threshold— He wants us to come to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim who Jesus is."

Too much thought to my circumstances, whether good or bad, certainly distracts me from my relationship with the LORD. As a stay-at-home-mom, I am easily caught-up in thinking about how to improve my circumstances, or how I can make each day go more smoothly. I plan meals, I take my kids to do "fun" things (which is really motivated by my need to get out of the house, but it usually turns into a stressful event!); I day-dream about vacations and other ways of escaping my current circumstances sometimes, too. These kinds of thoughts (and more) "choke" the Holy Spirit out of my heart's radar, and rob me of the joy I can have all the time if I can simply be content and fruitful, no matter the circumstances I am in. It reminds me of what Paul said in Philippians 1:10-11:

"For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation-the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ- for this will bring much glory and praise to God." (NLT)

So, after this reading, and after a great sermon from my pastor on Sunday night ( I wanted to post a link here, but the sermon is not on our church website yet.), I am beginning to see what God is teaching me: I am convicted that I must start the process of eliminating thinking about my circumstances, good or bad. These thoughts cause distraction and discontentment, two great enemies of mine (and I think all of ours).  

If I, with God's help, can train my mind (Romans 12:2) to stop being caught up in the "if's", I can be filled with the fruit of my salvation, displaying a righteous character; bringing glory and praise to Him; living a "full and overflowing life!" Oh, Lord, forgive me for being so selfish at times!

To be continued...

Too Much Thinking About Myself continued...

"We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life. We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness. Today we have far too many desires and interests, and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them. Many of them may be right, noble, and good, and may later be fulfilled, but in the meantime God must cause their importance to us to decrease. The only thing that truly matters is whether a person will accept the God who will make him holy. At all costs, a person must have the right relationship with God."

I must continually remind myself of my true purpose in order to function in true, constant fellowship with God and in right fellowship with my family. "Well, what is your true purpose?," you might ask. Two passages come to mind, and they are two that Ben and I have committed to memory together: 

(In regard to my purpose toward others) 1 Peter 4:7 "The end of all things is near, therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers over a multitude of sins." 
(In regard to my purpose in Christ) Ecclesiastes 12:13 "Now all has been heard. Here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind."

But, how can I do this in our culture? With all the pressure to perform well, appear to have it all together (this is multi-faceted), own this, wear that, sign my kids up for this, volunteer for this and that and this!?

"Our Lord’s teaching was always anti-self-realization. His purpose is not the development of a person— His purpose is to make a person exactly like Himself, and the Son of God is characterized by self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us— and we cannot measure that at all."

I must remember that My life is not being measured by God in the same way that the world measures. "What he pours through us..." For me, this is about how much I pray for others; how tender and patient I am with my kids; how I extend grace and respect with lots of affection (no matter how tired I am) to my husband. Read 1 Peter 4:7-10. As I said in part I of this post, I must stop thinking about my circumstances. Anti-self realization. Christ pouring through and out of me. Things we cannot measure. 

Oh, LORD, I want to be clear-minded, self-controlled, prayerful (especially for others), deeply loving of others, fearfully reverent of Your commands, and most of all, non-complaining, unaware of my circumstances. May I look for You in every detail of my days, whether I am in my quiet time or policing two squealing toddlers. Jesus, give me supernatural strength to live 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, to "be joyful always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Marathon Training Log #5

Friday morning, Chris and I met at 6:00 to run 16 miles. Another distance PR for both of us. 

5:00- mini cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter, coffee, and water. Ate a few bites of leftover spinach quiche, too. 

Started drinking a "Spark" as I headed out the door at 5:25. Finished it before the run started. 

In my running belt, I took my two 10 oz. bottles: one with water and one with Gatorade; a Snickers Marathon Bar, 6 peanut butter crackers, an extra Spark mix, and a gel. We planted two waters to pick back up after the turnaround around mile 13, where I ran out of water during the 15 mile run on Monday. 

We have decided that we want to run the Marathon with the 10:30 pacer. So our goal for this run was to stay between a 10:00-10:30 minute per mile pace. 

Chris and I both felt great starting out. It was a very humid morning, so we forced ourselves to drink more than usual. We shared an Advocare VO2 Bar around mile 5. We stopped at the usual park at 5.75 miles to refill our waters. I think we shared a little bit of the Marathon Bar when we started back up (can't remember exactly). We ran by the park again at about 11 miles. We stopped again to refill our waters (mixed Spark into one) and take a bathroom break. I ate 3 peanut butter crackers. We drank lots because it was getting hot quickly, and the planted waters were much-needed. I think we ate the gels somewhere around the planted waters. We walked while we poured the waters into our belt bottles. We finished well with an average pace of 10:04!

I drank a sport drink on the drive home and finished the Marathon Bar and peanut butter crackers. 

We just couldn't believe how good we felt during the run! I was pretty discouraged after the painful 15 mile run on Monday with Ben. This run definitely boosted my confidence. 

And no stomach problems whatsoever. I usually at least feel some effect on my stomach after a long run like this, but I felt NO symptoms at all!!! Yippee!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Simple Red Beans and Rice

A staple in our household, my kids and husband absolutely love this meal: crockpot red beans and rice with homemade mac 'n cheese and steamed broccoli.

Mills Family Crockpot Red Beans & Rice

  • 2 cans organic dark red kidney beans  OR 1 lb. bag dried red beans; follow directions for over-night soak or quick-soak
  • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning with pepper (found in the Hispanic section of any grocery store
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Preferred sausage (we like smoked turkey sausage) (optional)

For canned beans: Drain the cans mostly and then put all ingredients in the crockpot on high for 3 hours, stirring about halfway through. 
For dried beans: leave the rice out to begin, and let everything else cook on low for about 4 hours. Then add the rice and 2 1/2 cups MORE water, cooking approximately 3 more hours. You do not want the rice to over-cook; so watch it closely as the time gets near.

You will have enough leftovers for an entire meal!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Marathon Training Log #4

I mentioned that we were going on our annual family beach trip, and would be there when our training regimen assigned 15 miles. We did run 15 miles while we were on vacation, but not all at once. We did a 7-miler on Thursday and two 4-milers (Friday & Saturday), all while pushing the double stroller.
As you can tell, Rush was thrilled about being strapped-in!

Ben pushed both kids the entire 7 miles, and I pushed L for both 4 milers while R rode his bicycle. The paved paths all over Hilton Head Island are so nice! We decided to save the full 15-mile run for Monday when we could get a babysitter (Ben took Monday & Tuesday off too!).

This run was miserable! We started later than we had hoped to- 10:00 am. Even though it has been milder than usual, it was still hot, especially with hardly any shade along the route. 

~8:00 am: peanut butter toast & pineapple (and of course coffee!) along with water

Took my two 10 oz bottles in my running belt, one with water and one with Gatorade. Also packed two gels: one Body Glove brand & one Vega brand (both gifts from Brittany), and a Marathon Bar for Ben & me to share. 

Started off feeling well. Got to a park just before mile 6 to refill waters and take a restroom break. We shared the bar as we started back up, and got to see a new part of town with our increase in distance. It was a nice shaded river walk: very welcomed on a hot sunny day! Around mile 8, I felt like I needed a bathroom break again, and luckily, we were passing the park again. I decided I needed the Body Glove gel; I think it was green tea and honey flavor; not a typical "gel" texture, but pleasant taste compared to most other gels I have tried. We had already been slowing WAY down since mile 8, and after my stop it was a snail's pace to the finish... But I finished!

I think that I should have eaten a little something closer to starting. It may have helped with the "crash" that I experienced around the 8th mile.

Drank a 20 oz sport drink soon after stopping, and felt great the rest of the day. No tummy troubles post-run again! Hallelujah!

Going camping this Saturday morning, and my running partner is going out-of-town too. We are trying to figure out a way to run on Friday morning. It's supposed to be a 16 miler!!!

Less than 9 weeks to Marathon Day!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Marathon Training Log #3

10 miles. Seems short after 14...

We decided to meet at 7:30 Saturday morning. I slept-in until 7:00!!!! Didn't really give myself enough time to eat and use the bathroom...

About 7:10: ate a 4 oz cup of yogurt topped with Kashi honey sunshine cereal. Drank about 8 oz of coffee along with it. Sipped on water too.

Took my two 10 oz. waters in my belt and a Snickers Marathon Bar (found them at Wal-Mart in boxes).

Ben ran ahead of Chris and me since he wanted to go a little farther than us. Chris and I were both feeling yucky this run. It was just one of those off-days. But, by mile 5, we had gotten into a groove and it seemed like our aches and cobwebs had loosened up. I ate 3/4 of my marathon bar at the halfway point and had a few sips of Chris's electrolyte drink. Had to stop for a bathroom break around mile 8, and I was worried that my stomach was going into "dumping." All was fine after the stop, though, and I finished strong. It was a great run this week.

Ben and I both drank a 32 oz Gatorade when we finished. My stomach was very unsettled the rest of the day. Not sure if it was related to the run, though, because our baby girl had tummy trouble yesterday too. 

We got to eat a delicious and satisfying dinner at a wedding reception. Ben and I were both very hungry, so, of course, we over-ate. I can't say that I regret it, though. Plus, we had some great company.
My friend, Brittany, and me at the reception

15 miles scheduled for this weekend, and we are taking a family vacation.  We may have to reschedule the run for the following Monday. We'll see!

9 weeks to race day!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Marathon Training Log #2

14 miles. The longest I have ever run. Our training schedule assigned 13.1, but we decided to go ahead and run farther in order to boost our confidence. We planned to start at 6:00 a.m. Ben was joining us too, so in order for our kids to not be left home alone (they're 3 & 1), we stayed at his parents' house. It turned out to be great location because we were less than 10 minutes from our meeting spot.

In my running belt I took the two 10 oz bottles, one with water and one with a Spark powder mixed in. I packed two gels (one for me and one for Ben), and a Marathon Bar. 

At 5:30 I ate 4 oz of yogurt with granola. I ate a banana on the way to our meeting spot, so it was about 5:55. I did not have any coffee(!!!), so I felt sluggish as we started. But Chris brought me the Spark, and I drank it early in the run. It has 120mg of caffeine; about equal to one 8 oz cup of coffee, plus lots of B vitamins. It perked me up quickly.

Between miles 7 & 8, we shared the Marathon Bar (I think it's made by Snickers?); it was chocolate covered peanut butter protein... I thought it was good. We refilled our waters at a park around the same time. I was feeling pretty tired around mile 10, so I tried the Hammer Gel (Huckleberry flavor, I think) that I had gotten in a swag bag at my most recent race. Ben never ate the gel that I had packed for him.

Once we finished, I "trotted" and walked for several minutes before stopping to stretch. I am so happy to report that again, I experienced no stomach problems post-run!  We averaged a 9:48 pace, and it was a beautiful morning for a run!

Running beyond our previous distance record was just the first step in our marathon training, but it is a definite confidence booster just knowing we can do it! Only 10 weeks to Marathon day!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Early Bird

At the new year, I shared that I planned to start getting up before my kids every day so that I could spend time consistently studying the Bible. I reported later on that it had been going well; I have been getting up around 6:00 a.m., about 30 minutes before my kids start stirring.  Yes, they get up early, but it's because I put them to bed early.

Almost this entire time, though, I have to confess that the time "5:30" has been on my mind & heart. After a convicting lesson on worship & prayer in my Sunday morning Bible study, I finally acted on my conviction, which I believe is from the Holy Spirit. 

I am professing this here in an effort to keep myself accountable. This is not going to be easy for me, but I did it all of last week, and I loved it! Having an additional half hour to pray and read and meditate is a perfect way to start my day. Not to mention, I have been squeezing in some workouts too. If that's not a recipe for a good morning, I don't know what is! 

Speaking of meditating, Ben felt convicted that we needed to implement some kind of "system" to our weekly scripture memory. We have been doing this for over a year together, and Ben has been doing it even longer; we've never had a system for choosing passages/verses... until now. His conviction is that we need to be focusing on memorizing verses useful for evangelism, that is, sharing with a non-believer the Good News contained within the 100% truth of the Bible. ALL of the Bible is The Gospel, but Ben has done lots of research and has come up with a list of key verses for leading someone to a relationship with Christ. So far, the verses we have memorized are as follows:

Romans 1:20-23
Ezekiel 18:4
James 2:10
Matthew 5:48
Romans 3:20
Romans 3:23
Romans 3:10

Now, go on a treasure hunt and look them up for yourself! I challenge you to memorize these verses and pray for an opportunity to share them with someone who does not know about Jesus. 

Marathon Training Journal

After running 3 half marathons since December 9, 2012, I have decided to tackle training for a full marathon. It is 10 weeks before race week (7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga), and my most recent half was 6 weeks ago.  My running partner, Chris (female), had been "toying-with" a full marathon training plan already. I asked her to send me the plan and we calculated where we needed to pick up in order to be ready on October 20. Here is the plan:

We started our training at the end of week 7. We had already done both a 3 and 4-mile run during the week, but I had not run any real distance since June 22. Really--- starting with 12 miles?! And to add insult to injury, neither of us could run on Saturday, so we had to do the 12-miler on Sunday. So, for us faithful church-goers, that meant getting up extra early in order to get back home and ready for church. It's just too hot here in East Tennessee in August to run in the afternoon. 

Chris (left) & me volunteering at a 10K

So, our plan was to get started running at 5:30 a.m. (I had already been getting up at 5:30 all week in personal effort to spend more time in prayer and Bible study), meet at our usual spot, and run a familiar route. 

The thing that I want to really keep track of in this training is what I eat right-before and during a run. In all three of the halves that I have run, my body, i.e. my intestines, goes into "dumping" mode almost as soon as my feet slow to a walk. There is very little research &/or factual information out there for this problem, and I am guessing that each individual case is very different. This only happens to me after races, and rarely after a training run. I suspect that it has something to do with adrenaline??? So, I need any help I can get--- if you have any advice, please share in the comments section.
Here is my food log for my first marathon training run:
5 a.m. Coffee (black) and water
1/2 Cinnamon-raisin bagel with peanut butter
5:20 Advocare (from Chris) Spark energy drink mix 
During run:
~15 oz water & 10 oz. Gatorade
1/2 Clif bar (coconut chocolate chip)

In my running belt I had one water and one Gatorade (10 oz. each) along with a Clif bar and Clif gel (I hate gels, but they seem to work well).

I felt fantastic the whole run, despite not getting to "go" before I left my house. We didn't have any strategy for this particular run; we just wanted to finish. We stopped and walked while we shared my Clif bar around mile 8. We stopped soon after so I could (finally!) go to the bathroom. Glad there was one close-by! I never used the Clif gel shot because my energy was still good after the Spark and Clif bar (coconut chocolate chip=amazing!). I drank my whole water and a half (Chris refilled while I was in la latrina) and my gatorade. When we finished, we walked for about 5 minutes (which is new for us; we usually walk only about 30 seconds because we have babies waiting for us at home and husbands that need to leave for work), then stretched and headed home. As soon as I got back in my mini-van (yes, you read correctly!), I started drinking a Gatorade that I had planted purposely for my post-run drink. The post-run sport drink is something I do per the advice of a well-read/fitness-knowledgeable (and beautiful and amazing!!!) friend regarding my stupid "dumping." View her blog here. 

I had a few nibbles of the other half of my bagel and a couple bites of banana with lots of water when I got home. I ate several raw almonds on the way to church, and 2 mini candy bars after Sunday school/before service. No tummy problems after this long run! Wahoo! 

It's 14 miles this weekend and guess who's joining us? BEN- my husband! I am so excited that when I said that I MIGHT be interested in training for a marathon, he said he would train with me as much as possible.  Ben is a great runner and has run one marathon already. I am thrilled that we are working toward this goal together. I plan to journal all the long training runs, so I'll be updating weekly.

I'll leave you with a passage of scripture that Ben and I committed to memory a month or so ago. It reminds me that relying on my strength to do anything, no matter how big or small the task, gets me nowhere. I have asked God to use this training process and marathon to bring glory and honor to Him, not me.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31

Friday, August 2, 2013

The American Dream--- busted up!

I have about one page left in the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker. It has been a great book for me at this phase of life. It's all about the excess in our lives: clothes, food, possessions, media, waste, spending & stress. These are the areas that Jen addresses; she chronicles how she tackled these areas in light of the Gospel.

Jen is very aware of what is going on around her; she lives in Austin where she is a pastor's wife, and they are literally reaching out to the hurting, homeless, working-poor & refugees. I loved reading the stories about their family, including their three kids, interacting with these such people (beings created in God's image, may I remind you!).  Her children are so used to the situation that they are not afraid or timid; they interact with the people like they're neighbors!

I wish that I could have that for myself and my family! Isaiah comes to mind. You know where God tells us "...encourage the oppressed..." Ya, I'm pretty sure that what I do when I see a desparate-looking person is stare when they aren't looking and then awkwardly avoid all chances for eye-contact. OK, OK... I am getting better... A few weeks ago I did talk to a young girl holding a sign by the road, and Rush (my three year old) got to ask me questions about it. (Yay, God moments with kids!) But why? Why is this our normal response to sensing hopelessness in another? Sure, if they look nice and smell nice and are crying outside the grocery store, we'll probably ask them if they are alright. But if their appearance is undesirable, we shuffle around them, bolt for our car, and assume its their own fault. Why?! I do not want to do this anymore!!!

There, I said it. 

Lord, open my eyes to the needs of others. Give me opportunities to help the hurting and forgotten; to tell these lonely creatures of Your Love. 

One of my favorite excerpts from 7:
"It appears a good way to bring relief to the oppressed is to bring real relief to the oppressed. It's almost like Jesus meant what he said. When you're desparate, usually the best news you can receive is food, water, shelter... I guess that's why "Love people" is the second command next to "Love God." And since God's reputation is hopelessly linked to His followers' behavior, I suspect He wouldn't be stuck with His current rap if we spent our time loving others and stocking their cabinets."