Liar liar pants on fire

So my past two triathlon seasons I didn’t actually TRAIN for my races. Oh I put in a session here and there, showed up for a group test race or two but ultimately, there was no consistency or plan. Everything else in life took priority. Why? Because I firmly held the belief that I was not, and could not, be a “real” athlete…triathlete or otherwise. It’s really convenient to laugh off a race with “Of course it was slow…I didn’t even train!” when you’re convinced that even if you HAD trained, it wouldn’t be any better. And yet, I kept signing up for 5ks & triathlons…all while saying I wasn’t an athlete. I would have called out anyone else as a liar. YES, you ARE an triathlete (or athlete). You completed a swim/bike/run (or whatever distance run or bike or whatever). I don’t care what distance you completed or what place you ranked. You completed it. But me? Nope. I didn’t complete it well….I didn’t even TRAIN. So I’m not. I can’t be an athlete…have you MET me?

This year something clicked. Maybe it was turning 40 and not caring if I look “nice” or “ladylike” after a hard run, or while trying to pull myself out of a pool after 1200 yards. Maybe I was finally tired of rationalizing or the recognition that I feared my definition of failure. Maybe it was all of the above. But I started training regularly. I downloaded a plan and (mostly) stuck to it. I’ve been to every group session possible, even sacrificing events with friends to be in the pool with someone that can say “Hey, try breathing every two strokes instead of four and see how that helps.” (spoiler alert – a LOT) or giving up time at home so I can do a group ride/run and hear “You look really good off the bike this year.” Whatever it is, the fact is that a notable portion of my life is occupied by triathlon related activities. Every day this week I have biked, ran, swam or slept 11 hours straight. (Yes – the sleeping is triathlon related. It’s called recovery. Duh.) And you know what? I feel stronger and faster overall. I gained confidence on the bike, then promptly had my first “incident” but bounced right back up with no injuries to show for it except a gnarly bruise on my hip. I have felt like I was swimming through concrete only to have two amazingly strong sessions the following week. I have left a run feeling powerful only to finish one the next day whimpering and shaky but recovered quickly

I might still have slow races but it won’t be for lack of training. That being said, I have yet to sign up for what I want to be my “A” race. I keep telling myself it’s because I’m considering the cost but I have to wonder if that’s another lie I’m telling myself. Cause it scares me a bit. A lot. Most of my friends aren’t actually doing it. The bike course is not flat. There are TWO transition areas to set up. It’s intimidating. But ultimately those are excuses, right? And if I’m going to embrace the triathlete piece of my identity, that means dispensing with those excuses.

 

You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit

I have never had reason to describe myself as a “morning person”. I have re-arranged my schedule at various times of my life (including this one) to be up early but it’s never been my natural rhythm. So when my wide awake brain popped my eyes open at 4:30am (30 mins before my alarm), I jokingly thought to myself “Well…this is an act of God.” However, when I sat down with my Bible app for an extra half hour and “randomly” stumbled upon a verse that I’ve read a million times but suddenly jumped out at me with different implications that spoke directly to something that has been nagging in the back of my mind for a while now, that thought suddenly didn’t seem so much like a joke.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalms 37:4 NLT

I had been wrestling a bit with this concept that God should be enough, that my joy and contentment should come from my relationship with Him, that if I never board another airplane or my body never cooperates again, I can be okay – even happy – in those circumstances. Except I wasn’t. I’m not.  I want lots of travel and supernatural healing, just to name a couple of things. And doesn’t the Bible say right there in Psalms that I can have what I want? I’m not sure how to “delight in the Lord”. Some days I “get it” better than others and it’s something I pray for daily but some days, delight is not the word I would use.

But I realized that morning that the verse isn’t saying I can get whatever I want. It’s saying if my focus is on my relationship with Jesus, He will give me the actual desires. Not what I think I want – He will actually give me the desires that line up with Him.

Now I’ve HEARD that general concept before. I’ve heard it preached from the stage and in various podcasts and in this devotion and that study and blah blah blah. But for some reason, it made sense this time. And there was a bit of a relief in realizing that it’s okay to “give up” a dream or desire. I don’t have to keep striving for something just because I “always have” or it’s “my thing”. God might, quite literally, be removing a dream or desire from my life and replacing it with something else. And that’s okay. It’s good.

That being said – I still wouldn’t mind a plane ticket and supernatural healing.

May the Fourth be with you

There’s no reason for that title. Except it’s May 4th and I raided my husband’s side of the closet to wear a shirt with the Millennium Falcon on it.

I was thinking about my “Book of 2017” the other day. 124 pages have been written and more of those have been “high points” than not. We spent a week in Seattle with friends and family. We relaxed and visited. We did some touristy things. We went to a concert and then hung out in a tiny little pizza parlor with delicious local sodas and laughed…a lot. We got a break from the OMG BRUTAL winter. My doctor put me on a once a day insulin shot and it did WONDERS for managing my blood sugar. I’m even racing again this year and have started training. I went ball room dancing with a friend while Jon was out with his friends. We spent a Saturday exploring parts of Idaho I had never seen…and saw a herd of elk. We’ve had an abundance of comfortable, enjoyable evenings at home. We’ve watched movies, been to concerts, survived a week of multiple not-small injuries to family members, spent quite a bit of time with friends. I’ve started reading some fascinating text books. Oh…and I accepted a job with Mission Aviation Fellowship that starts on the 15th. Yep. MAF. Where my husband works (and TheKid for now) (But we only overlap for 5 days.) (And that’s good considering he’s also moved home).

We’re about a third of the way through the second quarter of this year. (How convoluted can I make that?) In many ways it’s slipped past quickly, almost without notice.  But my goal is to be more intentional with both my relationships and my time the rest of this quarter. Hopefully my hubby and I will be carpooling pretty often (ie, I will be chauffeured…my life is rough) and we joined the same gym. I’m kinda excited to see how the extra time together and the new commonalities affect our relationship and how we can use that. I’m very excited for the environment I’ll be operating within now although it does mean being firmly inside a Christian “bubble”. I’ll have to be very aware of becoming insulated against the world.  But it’s 80 degrees and sunny outside so I’m naturally more optimistic….and I’m kinda excited for the next 56 days…and beyond.

Two pages down, 363 to go.

365-page-book

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook the other day. I don’t know if Brad Paisley actually said it or not but I rather like the sentiment. It seems everything I’ve read lately has discussed finding (or re-discovering) your true identity: those passions and activities that light you up and make you uniquely you, the traits that have been with you since childhood but perhaps have been buried in the responsibilities and ‘should’s of adulthood. I wasn’t feeling particularly unsure of my identity. However, I did realize that reading and writing have always been integral to my life but I have let them slip to the back burner in the past few years. It’s easy to let happen when doing the whole wife/mother gig and picking up random hobbies. The idea of reintegrating them reinforces that whole restoration theme.

I’m not saying I’m writing all 365 days this year (Ha!). I’m not even setting a goal to write on a set schedule or read X number of books. In fact, if we’re staring at blank 365 pages, mine is off to a slow start. Yesterday we went out to breakfast and upon returning home, I promptly crawled onto the couch and stayed there watching a Fast & Furious marathon until bedtime (with a break to watch football while Tokyo Drift was on because that movie does not count). No shame. Day two has been moderately more productive with dinner cooking in the crock pot, a clean kitchen, a brief yoga session and lots of reading. Most might not consider that a story worth reading but it has been perfect for my last day of vacation. Obviously I don’t know what the next 363 days will bring but I have an idea what I would like them to look like.

 

Time Marches On – 2017

Another year is almost in the books and the natural inclination is to look ahead to the new one. I don’t make New Year resolutions. I don’t particularly like setting myself up to fail. But as I’ve considered what I would like my life to look like in the coming months, one word keeps coming to mind: Restoration.

It’s the same word that resonated at the end of 2015 when I was preparing for my previous trip to the Philippines. But it made sense at the time. I was tired and felt burned out and ill equipped for the trip. I spent the few months before departure focusing on rest and restoration.

This time I don’t feel burned out or bone weary tired but I feel this need to pull back and focus on the details of life that matter most. It’s a desire to focus on restoring habits that strengthen my health on all levels: physically, spiritually and mentally. It’s a craving to spend more time in quiet moments and activities like reading and writing and prayer. (Perhaps not coincidentally one of my Christmas gifts was a coloring book and colored pencils. Perfect.) It’s wanting to spend time in the kitchen cooking meals that nourish my family and friends and relying a little less on chicken from the deli or Papa Murphy’s pizza. It’s wanting to sit across from friends, coffee (or tea) in hand for more time than I spend in a gym.  The closest relationships in my life deserve purposeful cultivating instead of just “letting them happen”.  But for when I AM there, it’s a focus on yoga and swimming rather than heavy weights and running shoes.

I don’t know that this is my “Word of the Year” or that it is the theme for the next 365 days. But it’s what I’m starting with and what I’m using as a guide for life and calendar decisions right now.

Looking Back on 2016

I think I’ve said this before but I love fresh starts. I love new notebooks, with crisp empty pages and a new pen. I love Monday mornings. I love the beginning of school years and the new year. It’s odd I’m not a morning person but that’s one fresh start I wish society would agree to begin a little later.

2016 has been a hard year. From terrorist attacks and the groups sponsoring them, refugee crisis, Aleppo, mass shootings, earthquakes and typhoons and hurricanes, Zika and deaths and a contentious election season and tension between police and citizens…and clowns. Of all things. Clowns. There’s a universal cry of “Good riddance 2016″…as if switching the pages of a calendar has any power.

Personally, 2016 has been neither singularly difficult nor easy-breezy. I began it in a slum in the metro area of Manila, Philippines, surrounded by my team playing games, eating balut (other team members, not me), singing worship songs and cringing as the locals set off fireworks that made the area sound like a war zone instead of a celebration. And while that was a hard trip and I missed my family & friends often, as the clock struck midnight there on January 1, 2016, I was exactly where I wanted to be. I came home sick, got better and felt fantastic. I had a LOT of fun learning to play softball and training for a triathlon that I did not intend to do but gave in to peer pressure. Then we found out we had to move and began a frantic house search, while my husband was out of the country. And in the midst of that, I was diagnosed with diabetes started meds and went from feeling great to…not. My parents came to visit, my father had a massive heart attack but was treated quickly by a top notch group and is fine. Our middle son graduated high school. We moved into a house that is more room than we need but allows us to host guests like I’ve always dreamed (and it was an easy EASY move). Our youngest son started 7th grade in a new school…public for the first time. The oldest started a great job with the same organization where Hubby works, moved out and bought a truck (& a cat).  The middle son start college and a job that he loves. I started a new degree path and dropped my classes because I wasn’t physically able to juggle work, family and school. Hubby traveled out of the country again. We watched a LOT of Olympics. Hubby’s Grandma turned 100.  We both turned 40. Close friends moved away. We went to Salt Lake Comic Con (and had a blast). I fully intended to journey back to the Philippines in December but due to my health, that was not the wisest choice. Many tears were shed over that decision even knowing it was the best one. We had a low key, relaxing Thanksgiving (thanks to my sister-in-law hosting), and a wonderful Christmas. It was a whirlwind of a year and I am sure I’m forgetting something. But I’m ready to shut the book on 2016 and move on. Not because I think the stroke of midnight on December 31/Jan 1 holds any magical power in and of itself but because, well, I love fresh starts. Including new years.

 

Let it Go! Let it Go!

Last year “on this day” (such a fun feature!) I posted on Facebook: NineTEEN days from now I’ll be on a plane to the Philippines! We’re in the teens people!

After that last trip, I finally admitted that my heart and passion is really with the people and ministries in Navotas. I still LOVE my sisters in the Wipe Every Tear safe houses and the ones that haven’t made that choice. My thoughts, feelings and opinion of the Wipe Every Tear organization has not changed. But I’ve always been drawn to hungry/homeless ministries. Drop that in the middle of Manila (figuratively speaking) and I’m smitten.

Tomorrow, at 5:00am, a team from World Family Missions start their first flight to Manila. The leader, a wonderful woman by the name of Sarah, mentioned the possibility of this trip to me back in March. And I was certain – CERTAIN – I would be on that plane. No doubt in my mind. I was SO sure of this that I basically informed my husband instead of asking his input and I didn’t even really pray about it…unless you count telling God all about my plans.

Obviously there was a different future in store for me and I will NOT be on that plane tomorrow. I’ve cried…buckets. I’ve been mad. But in the end, God always puts together the perfect team. As much as the “Mama Rhoni” side on me wanted to be on the plane to help a pregnant leader with her toddler, God had other people – the perfect people – in mind for support. As much as I wanted to snuggle a particular little girl and her sisters in Navotas, there are other people that God wants there. I will be praying for this group, but they are not “my” team. (But I’ll probably still cry when I see updates and pictures or even when I just think about them. So apologies to everyone who crosses my soggy path over the next week or so.)

I am reading a book by Shauna Niequist titled “Present over Perfect”. Early in the book it asked the question I’ve often seen in various forms- if you had a bottomless bank account and empty calendar, what would you do. The answer is supposed to highlight your passion. My answer rang through my mind almost before I finished reading the line. Travel. Duh. But a few pages later, she asks “What are you unwilling to let go of?” That answer rang clearly and just as immediately…Nothing! But as I tried to read on, my eyes kept drifting back to that question. It continued to nag at me until I stopped to mull over it for awhile. Quietly the real answer rose to the surface….travel. And my health.

I’m not sure if I can fully explain this recognition but I’ll try. I still cling with an iron grip to the idea of being my version of healthy. In the depths of my being, I have this notion that if I just check all the boxes and follow all the rules, I can control how my body will respond. That theory has been debunked more than once and yet, still I clutch that belief. Letting go does not equal a disregard for all healthy practices. It simply means doing what I’m supposed to do, what I can do without an expectation of results.

The travel piece is easier. As soon as I realized I really was NOT going to be able to go on this trip, I immediately started thinking about and saving for the NEXT possibility. I never asked God if that is an option. I just assumed I would return. I’ve always had the intense desire to travel. That’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember. But once upon a time, I was in a place where I balanced that desire with the desire to be obedient to where God called me. And as I told Sarah the other day “I think that the desire to go back <to the Philippines> is starting to supplant the desire to be obedient.” My first step was donating money I planned to save for my own trip. That’s not a humble brag on generosity. My heart was not fully happy with the decision and I most certainly did not feel generous. I needed a physical action to go along with the emotional response. I could not mentally “let go” without mirroring that physically.

This whole “letting go” thing is not a one and done act. I don’t know exactly what that process will look like but I have a sneaking suspicion it involves re-learning how to truly “be still”. That, however, is another post in itself. Because “still” is not the most accurate descriptor for me. And neither is laconic.