Category Archives: The Bridge Church

Stray Saturday

Train — like an athlete. Eat — like a nutritionist. Sleep — like a baby. WIN — like a champion.

I like the above quote, however, those of us that have raised babies realize that this is not realistic for an adult. Babies snooze a lot and snooze deeply, but they sleep according to their own whims and at their own discretion. I may feel like crying from 2 AM-4:30 AM as an adult like a baby would, but it doesn’t work out too well for my schedule.

  • (I have totally felt like crying all night long lately as my allergies have been out of control and keeping me awake. I have even gleefully plotted the methods I could use to remove my eyeballs from their sockets.  I am taking Claritin daily, but it is struggling to keep up with the reality that my neighborhood looks like a winter wonderland, and no, it’s not from snow but from extreme pollen.)

I have a lot of stray and random thoughts today, so while I desire to change your life,  motivate you, and elevate you holistically, I’ve been taught a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Therefore, I decided to just let the stray mental bullets fly.  Mind, Body, and Spirit are all at work today. Hopefully you’ll catch something!

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From the rosebush on the side of my house. I’m pretty proud of the fact we didn’t kill them all, just most of them 🙂 What I looked like after a hot 8 mile run the other day vs. What I imagined I looked and smelled like. We won’t have a visual for what I actually smelled like.
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What I looked like after my 8 mile run this morning, and proof that I completed it despite the mental gymnastics. My pace was not great  because I did not get up and run at 5 AM before the sun came out with guns blazing.Don’t be jealous of how gorgeous I am here.

I completed day 565 of my #Runstreak today.

  • (You can join a temporary #runstreak by aligning with Runner’s World and their Summer Streak. Check out #rwrunstreak. One of their holiday challenges is how I got started on my streak and I had so much fun streaking that I have just never stopped!)

My question is how did 8 miles feel like 3 miles just a couple of weeks ago but feel like an ultra marathon today? Thankfully I’ve been in the running game long enough to know that the weather, sleep patterns, stress levels, eating habits, and numerous other factors all go together to decide if a run is going to be easy mentally and physically, or if it is going to be a struggle in one of those areas. The good news is that no matter how bad a run is mentally or physically, the endorphins produced do not discriminate and flow footloose and fancy free through your mind, body, and spirit and make you very happy that you did what you did and that you are accomplishing your goals one step/one run at a time.

We have been having a heat wave (I’m actually loving it. I’ve been so ready for this long winter to end), so this week between the heat wave, the high winds, the humidity, and all of the thunderstorms, topped off by my tight hamstrings, I have really been working hard at running smart. I am thrilled to report that my sever hamstring issues were obviously from the weed pulling (my theory was correct), and are not some super long term running injury. I have run three 5K distances, a 6 mile run, and two 8 mile runs this week that will be capped off by my weekly short “rest day” run of only 2 pre-dawn miles early on Sunday morning, which could be a soaker because there is a 90% chance of storms, but I don’t have treadmill at home and it builds character and the mental prowess you need to complete marathon training and actually finishing races. (If you would like to purchase me a treadmill,I will be your new best friend.)

20130601-135323.jpgProof that the meteorological reports in Cleveland are inaccurate a majority of the time. Left shows the forecast (0% chance of precipitation) and right shows the reality out my windshield (monsoon).

20130530-215335.jpgI’m not sure how healthy this snack is exactly in terms of pure/clean eating, but it has been a go to favorite of mine lately when I want “junk” food. It’s not junky at all in reality, and it is sweet. There is quite a bit of fiber in each serving, as well as protein and it is decently low calorie. If you want a sweet crunch, check these out. They are a little on the pricey side, but too horrific. They cost about the same as a pack of Oreos, and if you eat the whole bag  it will  cost you much less calorically than a binge eating episode of cookies.

20130527-143501.jpgI’ve been spending a good majority of my life in Costco lately. I am seriously considering a move into the store. Our church is in a huge Summer Serve Initiative and I have been feeding just about everyone and their brother on the west side of Cleveland. I figure that a majority of Jesus’ ministry was spent around a table in fellowship with others, building common ground, and even showed us that the greatest thing we can do to honor is death on the cross is have communion, which involves the breaking of bread, I can model this and show my community appreciation with all of the goodness Costco has to offer. This is where we fed all of the teachers breakfast at the school we are holding our services at for no reason other than to show them kindness and let them know we are praying for them. I am loving our summer serve and can’t wait for all of the awesome things that will come of it.

20130601-135337.jpgMy husband getting ready to do an adopt a business summer serve project. With a pastor this hot, I don’t know why the entire population of Cleveland isn’t already a member of the Bridge Church.

20130527-143525.jpg20130527-143512.jpg20130527-143506.jpgLiving the mom life, raising intellectual super heroes poised for world domination. Here we are at an early morning school assembly to cheer Reese on and watch him get an award for Academic All Star.

20130530-215342.jpg20130601-135420.jpgIf moving to Costco doesn’t work out for me, I have pitching a tent at ball fields as a great alternative living arrangement. I have been spending numerous hours running all around creation at various baseball practices and games. Of course the boys would be on two different teams and in two separate age groups. That’s what being a boy in summer is all about though.

20130530-215350.jpgThings have been moving at warp speed lately, so thankfully, my work and church life piggy back with my mom life (Not that you can ever separate yourself into categories. You have to be all things at all times, but you get the point). I’m doing summer serves while earning mom points. The Bridge Church tee-ball team.

Where are you spending most of your time lately?

Any hot weather running tips to share? I will be sharing some of my tips this week as well as what I like to pack in my fuel belt. Liquids are a must for me in these temperatures as I sweat like a 765 pound couch potato. I guess I just have an efficient internal cooling system.

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Necessary Tension

As a warning to those of you that follow me mainly for my life changing running stories and saliva inducing food pictures, this blog is going to be more along the lines of SEEDING and LEADING. Running, Eating, and Repeating will definitely take front and center stage again next.

20130512-153650.jpgAs you may or may not know, I am planting a church with my husband and basically I run the whole show. I do, however, allow him to show up on Sundays looking snazzy and allow him to take credit for all of my hard behind the scenes work……..:) In any worthy endeavor in life there is going to be an element of tension. Whether you are training for a marathon, fighting off a craving for a 3rd consecutive gallon of ice cream, or trying to keep your kids from running in front of on coming traffic. This blog speaks to the tension of the great commission (going into the world, preaching the gospel, teaching people, and baptizing people in Jesus name). I hope you enjoy it and if you are not a Christian or not in leadership at your church or another charitable non-profit, you will still get some great information from this. Entrepreneurs, business people, leaders in the marketplace, and even the neighborhood Mom PTA president all have to deal with tension.

Most of life is navigating tension. Not all tension is bad. Tension is good. Tension is what helps a rubber band stretch and as a result of that stretch, it hold things together. The tension reveals its purpose. Tension is what causes your muscles to function and grow within a healthy body. The thing about tension is that without it, nothing grows or is held together, but with too much, things snap. As a church whose mission is to reach those far from God and those that have never known God, we must learn to navigate the tension of seeing people come to Christ and experience new life, while letting God do his work in His time. We want people to come as they are, no perfect people allowed, but we trust that God won’t leave them in the same condition that they came. The tension in this is that as human beings, we feel a need to change people and situations too quickly. It is hard for us to relinquish the control of life change to God. We know that if people will just lay aside every weight and sin and surrender to God that they can run the race with greater ease and efficiency, but they don’t know that yet. Habits, hurts, and hang ups plague people and only the Spirit of God can lead to transformation and break through. We cannot speed up that process. Because of this, we will see many people stumble and fall along the way if we are truly reaching un-churched and de-churched people. In fact, even the most seasoned among us will trip from time to time.

Navigating church life with a vision beyond ourselves, a vision into our community, and a vision focused on those outside of our “religious” community will require moments that we have to sink into and embrace tension. It is like raising a child. You, as a parent, provide a loving and nurturing home and show your kids how to function, but you can’t ultimately decide what path they will choose. As a parent, you can’t force your child into the next developmental stage prematurely or you can cause harm. For example, I fully intended that at some point Reese will have a job and pay his own bills, however, it would not be wisdom of me to expect this right now. He is still growing, developing, and maturing. He still says things about me that aren’t true like “you never let me have any fun all you want me to do is work on homework”. My responsibility to nurture and guide him is not removed by the fact that he is choosing to create tension and spread falsehoods throughout the house rather than just surrender to what is best for him developmentally in that moment.

I thought Reese would never potty train. It was getting down right ridiculous at one point. I was frustrated. We were in a power struggle, and, there was at least one occasion that he looked right at me and pooped on the floor of our living room instead of heeding my call to the toilet. If he had Facebook he probably would’ve posted something like “I showed my mom who was boss. I don’t have to listen to this.” He has no recollection of this now because he is growing into maturity. He is slowly learning that what mom and dad say is for his own good. The power struggles haven’t even really begun, but I’m geared up for the rebellious years because I’m praying for my children and I also know that conflict and tension are not always bad. They are what make us grow and move onto new developmental stages.

As leaders and children of God, our job is obedience. Our job is a faithful heart. Our job is action. Our job is to move forward with what God has called us to do, and not get distracted along the way when the rubber band gets pulled tightly.

In a 21st century setting, we will be dealing with a lot of insecurities and attention seeking behaviors from some people using social media to become the center of the world. We will see this from the “churched” “de-churched” and apathetic toward church.

My advice to such people is straight from the word of God:
1 Timothy 4:12, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

     We can’t control decisions made and words spoken by other people, but we can control ourselves. This scripture was advice from Paul to Timothy. Remember Timothy was a preacher of the gospel and was still getting attacked from people in and outside of the church. Paul’s reaction to Timothy was not to go publicly defend yourself, but to allow his life, fruits, and actions speak for themselves. If Timothy had Facebook, he wouldn’t have gone to Facebook to garner commentary and “likes” for his plight or to prove something about his character. He would’ve continued to use his Facebook to edify, build up, encourage, or just to keep in touch with people like it was intended.

The bottom line is that tall trees catch the most wind. When you are flowing with the wind of the Spirit and you are moving in a God given direction, there will be windbags and people with hot air to take the wind out of your sails. There will be storms that come and go, but I know that the identity of the Bridge Church and my personal identity come from Christ, not what other people say or do. I’m not IN-secure because I don’t look IN-side myself or to others for affirmation. I am in Christ, so therefore I am SECURE.

There will be people who say and do things along the way that shock us or hurt our feelings. This is actually GOOD news. A growing church, a growing body of believers, and people united in UNITY are a target for the enemy. If you aren’t being criticized it is because nothing is happening.

Stagnant ponds don’t attract surfers. There are no waves to ride on. Only oceans that bring in the tide and are moving with the WIND create waves.

Let’s be honest… sometimes, the church is the LEAST safest place for a human being, but this is NOT going to be said of the Bridge Church. We will rise with respect and honor and integrity for all people.

Speaking of Jesus, the book of Isaiah says, “He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised.” It looks like false accusations and pain are sometimes part and parcel of pursuing Jesus.

Some people will USE the church at some point for whatever they can get from it and are not truly desiring life change from God. Whether it be money, attention, affection, or a whole host of other things they are seeking we shouldn’t be surprised. We can only pray that while their motives and intentions are not pure, that God can move on them and change their hearts. Only God can. We can’t. All we can do is create a space that allows people to grow. A space that allows people to throw tantrums during spiritual potty training (some people drop their CRAP everywhere they go because it is all they have ever known). We will teach them to go to leadership and talk things out. We will teach people who have been around God for a long time to have grace in dealing with people that are just learning to breathe. We will hold our tongues and not let our IN-securities as leaders make us jump to defend things that don’t need defended. We will hold our peace and let the Lord fight our battles.

Proverbs tells us that too many words stir up strife and the tongue of the wicked is the tongue wagging the loudest and brashest. The Pastor will deal with wolves that are trying to prowl on baby sheep and devour them, but know that sometimes baby sheep are learning to walk and learning to breathe and they will trip and fall on themselves over and over again. Sometimes there is no wolf and it is self sabotaging that is going on. Sometimes people just don’t want to take responsibility for their own behavior. They may break legs in the process. They may get cut. However, ultimately as a hospital and nursery, the church has to be a place of grace and healing and mercy.

Let God steer the ship and provide the correct amount of tension for our sails. Tension is necessary and forces us to grow and advance forward. Tension makes us stronger and wiser. We trust that tension in our lives means that God is working.

I Peter 4 Speaks to this tension far more perfectly than anything I could come up with.
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
18 And,“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Let’s make the Church the safest place for the most broken of souls.
Let’s be the most accepting to the most unacceptable.
Let’s extend radical grace in ways that are foreign to all but Christ.
Let’s BE the Church.

The tension of the springs on a trampoline keep it together for maximum FUN! What other things in life are more fun with a little tension? (Hint: FULL BODY MASSAGE)

SuperMom

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Today is a very special day. I look at it as a day to say “Happy female empowerment”. While not all women are mothers, and while mother’s day does not conjure up warm fuzzies for everyone, we can celebrate that care giving spirit that God put into women today. I am thankful that for me today is a “Happy Mother’s Day” type of day. I was raised by a virtuous, faithful loving woman and I am privileged to be raising children of my own. I have a Godly, praying Mother in Law, and I’m praying circles around the future wives of my sons. We will not be the statistic.

As the mother of boys only, I am praying that this statement will not apply to my future “A daughter is a daughter all of her life, but a son is only a son until he takes a wife”. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

20130512-153639.jpgAfter I got up at 5:30 and did my short Sunday morning run (The pace of each mile was expedited by the fact a pack of deer were chasing me), I came home to these 2 amazing snuggly little guys bouncing off walls, filled with excitement to hug and kiss me while singing “Happy Mother’s Day to you” to the tune of the birthday song. I’m thinking that these moments are part of the riches of my inheritance in Christ.

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Just a few of the ladies, all of whom mean the world to me, willing to pose with their carnations today.

The Bridge Church was wonderful today. I was so blessed by the “Life Change” story shared by a friend of mine today at the opening of church of the power of God working in her life through the Bridge Church. This is what my life is all about. Chains be broken…..Lives be Healed….Hearts be opened….as Christ is revealed. The sermon was a glimpse into the life and mind of Mary, the mother of Christ. First, it wasn’t odd to her at all to be confronted with angelic visitation and the voice of God. Secondly, we choose which voices we want to have guide our lives and Mary chose to go with the voice of the angel and the voice/promise of God over the pressures and voices on the outside and over her own comfort. Even though my husband preached today with a male perspective instead of me with a female perspective, he’s a super mother lover and said I was his visiting angel, so it was amazing.

20130512-160213.jpgRocking the sermon

20130512-153620.jpgI knew you would be super disappointed and not able to live one more day if you didn’t see a picture of my food. I had the most amazing strawberry, pecan, feta cheese, and other random various fruits and onions salad as my appetizer. I wish I could have someone deliver me this awesomeness on a daily basis. I’m glad I was able to be with my mom and my boys at lunch today. There is nothing sweeter than generations attending church together and then eating lots of good celebratory food with each other.

(Repentance followed by gluttony followed by repentance. Gotta love the cycle)

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A passel of both purchased and homemade cards from my men. Be still my heart!

20130512-153553.jpgPeeking through all of my mother’s day flowers at the boys who call me “Mom”. (Eventually every kid in the neighborhood was in my yard. I hope their moms got some rest while I corralled all of their kids 🙂 )

20130512-153559.jpgA glimpse at a page in the book Reese wrote to and about me for Mother’s Day. I love his artistic rendition of my appearance and his views on my fashion choices.

20130512-153605.jpgThe card Reese picked for me. It plays a hilarious song. His perception of me totally cracks me up. I guess I’m pretty obvious! No more hiding my stealth type “A” get on top of everything skills.

20130512-153611.jpg20130512-153615.jpgCoffee with my favorite NBA stars, and a game of “Who loves mom?”.

20130512-153644.jpgThe grand finale of the SuperMom post is a picture of me exactly 8 years ago, 7 days before Reese entered the world and became the first to call me mother. He was born on May 8, 2005, which was Mother’s Day that year.

  • Do you ever wonder how in the world your belly, or your wife or mother’s belly, ever got that ginormous and then eventually returned to normal? The miracle of life is astounding!
  • What was the best thing that you have eaten so far today?
  • What is your idea of a fabulous mother’s day?

Who is my neighbor?

The difference between who you are now and who you want to be is the work you put in.

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I am super proud of my husband. You have to admit that he is a rock star. When we first started dating, he told me that his dream was to be a rock star. Although I’m pretty sure this was tongue in cheek, when you decide to plant a church you have to be willing to wear many, many hats and Jonathan has been totally owning the drummer hat. We are, however, accepting applications for the Bridge Church drummer position in case you were wondering. Jonathan would give up that seat in 3.2 seconds if somebody able AND talented wanted it.

On Sunday, after playing with mad skill, Jonathan continued our Parables Sermon Series at the Bridge Church with the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke Chapter 10 is where you can read the parable).  This parable speaks to me every single time. I think we have all been guilty of being so busy, even busy with good things, that we neglect the greatest calling that we have, and that is to serve, bless, and minister to those around us. Too many people are more interested in getting people to COME to them that they fail to GO and tell or GO and show or GO and share.

An individual who is more interested in building barriers rather than bridges has missed the heart of the GOSPEL!

Barriers can be big or small. Sometimes barriers aren’t even spiritual, but they are cultural. We don’t want to step outside of our comfort zone or interrupt our schedules. We are inherently selfish. I know this to be true because you have to TEACH your children to share. They aren’t born wanting their sibling to have a turn on the swings, they have to be taught that. We must learn to teach ourselves to share of our time, talent, and treasure and look at people with the same compassion that Jesus looked at us. Jesus came to save the entire world and his mission on earth was only 33 years long and his ministry was only 3 years long and yet he was never too busy to be interrupted. He didn’t hang out with “church” people or religious elites all the time, he focused on the least of these. My challenge this week is to ask myself who I can serve and to focus less on my to do list and my ministry and my mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health and see who I can pour into. Not that I don’t already do this, but we could all be significantly better at being intentional in every interaction we have on a daily basis. You may think you know somebody, but it could be what you don’t know that could cause you to miss a God given opportunity. You don’t know their hurts, fears, failures, private lives, or prayers. Lend a hand!

When I went on my run this morning, because the morning was nice, there were lots of people in their yards trying to get a few things done before work, or people walking to their cars to leave and I tuned myself into my surroundings. Do you know that I heard 5 different languages spoken just around my subdivision on that one run? Literally portions of the entire globe are residing in my neighborhood. By reaching out to one neighbor, you could affect not only individuals, but families, networks, regions, and nations. There is no time to not live your life on mission. You can’t keep your distance and make a difference!

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We practice Meatless Mondays as part of our routine. This was last nights dinner. Besides the hours spent gathering a super fancy plate and place mat, this “Taco Salad” meal is super delicious and quick. A HUGE bed of Spinach with Tasty Bite Madras Lentils on Top (Purchased at Costco. They also sell this brand at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Trader Joe’s and other places but it is way more expensive there than Costco). You top the lentils off with organic salsa (Costco brand Kirkland of course), and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream. This is filling, amazing and less than 400 calories.

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Could my life be filled with anymore cuteness or greatness? I think this picture is evidence that it could not be.

Have you ever heard of part-time vegetarianism or Meatless Monday’s? Do you practice it?

What can you do today to serve your community, starting with your neighborhood?

Have you  noticed most pastors wish they were rock stars? Their favorite move is to sing loudly into the microphone at the end of service, even if that’s not their gift. I have observed this 87% of contemporary churches.

Body Building

If you don’t take care of your body, your body won’t take care of you.- @rwchallenge

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A peek at my lunch today. Who says Oatmeal has to be for breakfast? Oats, Cinnamon, Bananas, and Strawberries. Yum!

I saw the above quote on my twitter feed and it was a great way for me to start my week. As you know if you follow my blog, my birthday was last week and I gave myself an excuse to basically not monitor my eating for an entire week. I’m a firm believer in moderation and I am against dieting. I dieted on and off my whole life and even dabbled in disordered eating at one point and I know God did not create our bodies to need nourishment and put us in a Garden of Eden initially so that we couldn’t enjoy His bounty. That is where reality comes in though. We are to enjoy His bounty. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t envisioning a steady diet of Pop Tarts and Burger King when he created our digestive system. So, because I am against dieting and a believer in moderation in all things, occasionally I deviate from the pledge I made to myself to eat clean, eat natural, and run away from processed/man made food. I’m not a health nut, but I am a wellness evangelist and my body operates with infinitely more energy and zest when it has been worked out and fed properly. My clean eating and life long health pledge is back full swing and my stomach and skin couldn’t be happier. I normally only “cheat” a day at a time, or a maximum of a weekend. This is the first time I’ve basically reverted back to horrific eating patterns for a whole week stretch and I forgot how greasy it makes you look and feel!

As a side bar, Sunday’s are my day “off” running. I always run 2 miles at 5 AM so that I’m warmed up and awake for church and to keep my run streak alive. In order to stay injury free on the run streak, you have to have a day or two a week with very low miles. I call this a day “off” because I do not care about pace at all and I never go farther than the 2 miles. I can’t imagine my Sunday without this short run. It enables me to be refreshed and have quiet minutes to get my mind on the worship set for the Sunday and align my Spirit with the mind of God. I got my 2 miles in yesterday and did  4 miles this morning followed by a 1 mile walk. I was so ready for this week running wise. I am very excited for the Capital City Half Marathon this Saturday and my tired legs are getting rested up so I can try to OWN the day Saturday.

20130429-075140.jpgI started eating clean again on Saturday. Here is an example of “Fast Food” you can allow yourself that is way tastier, less expensive, more filling, and will fuel you far better than the engineered ingredients you will find slapped on a bun and in a bag at a Fast Food establishment. I was very busy on Saturday so I didn’t have time to plan a feast, but with some forethought and a decently stocked pantry you can put together good meals quickly. I always keep some sort of whole grain pasta on hand. Notice that there is a lot of protein and fiber in it. Don’t run away from pasta. It is your friend, but you definitely want 100% whole wheat pasta or 100% whole grain and not white pasta. I sautéed a large pan of fresh spinach with garlic, bought a $4.99 whole roasted rotisserie chicken from Costco when I was loading up my cart for a week of fresh, clean eating (Giant Eagle also sells these. Eat them without the skin), and served them all together with some tomato sauce. The pasta was probably $1.30 for the box and the spinach was a couple of dollars. So, basically for less than $10 a family of 4 ate a healthy, vitamin packed meal. This same family of 4 could not have eaten at Taco Bell, McDonald’s or any other such joint for the same price. Healthy eating does not equal pricey eating if you plan well.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure I will tell you two things:

  • My kids will not touch spinach, so that made getting them vegetables at dinner challenging, and
  • I will never buy animal crackers again. I have found that I “buy” them for my “kids” and then am tempted to eat the whole allotment by myself. Truth be told, my kids could take or leave them so I will buy them things they like that I’m not tempted by instead of things they are iffy about that if I’m honest I buy for myself.
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20130429-075035.jpg A peek at the Costco Bounty. Pears, Strawberries, Bananas, Spinach, Plums, Celery, and Toilet Paper are all geared for a Clean week of eating 🙂 You may have a house full of runners if your banana corner looks like that.

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At a birthday party yesterday I realized how Reese is the ladies man of his second grade class (Help me Lord) and that boys think Barbie’s are totally gross. Gentry thought the birthday girl wasted her entire party because she didn’t get any sports gifts.

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My theory that Gentry was in a growth spurt was confirmed this morning by the pants that fit him just a week or two ago. Babies turn into men when you’re not even looking. Make it stop!

What is your favorite healthy  meal?

What is one snack that you need to stop buying because you are too tempted to dive into it?

I am addicted to Costco! What is your “go to” store to load up?

Your Dog and My Run

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I want to say that I’m pretty excited and proud of myself. I was given the highest compliment that anyone can bestow upon a Proverbs 31 lady of God. I was told that I display none of the typical mid western bloat/swell and that I look like I’m from the west coast. I only had to run 530 days in a row to warrant such a compliment, so it’s a pretty big deal.

I frequently encounter wildlife on my outdoor runs. Between the deer population, wild turkeys, and Canada Geese, I have my fill of beauty to behold and pests to ignore. Bugs, snakes, worms, and birds all fill my day. To be honest, this was shocking to me at first because I live in a metro area not the country. Jonathan has even been attacked by a pack of turkeys one block from my highly populated neighborhood.

Even an avid pet lover could fill with disdain if they frequently worked out outside. I promise you every pet owner thinks that their pet is the cutest and most friendly little thing in the world. Today I encountered not one, not two, but three unleashed dogs. All three owners were grinning from ear to ear as they strolled down the sidewalk with their pet untethered at their side. One of the dogs nipped at my ankle for an entire quarter-mile while their owner stood, unmoving, in the driveway simultaneously grinning and yelling at me about how their dog is just having fun and means no harm. I had to literally stop, turn around, and run that dog back to its owner (.25 miles back and then .25 back to where I was to start with) just to be told that my running was the cause of the situation. I will tell you that as someone who is definitely not an animal lover and, is in fact apathetic about pets, somebody on their daily exercise routine is not at fault for making your animal run. They are animals. That is what they do. They may be cute. They may be trained, but deep down inside they are wildlife and should not be allowed to roam untethered and free while you stand totally still laughing about it. If this was still 1990 you may have been the unwilling star of “Animal Attacks” on Fox.

This has been a public service announcement. No animals or humans were harmed during the recreation of this event for your consumption. My God promises me that the lion will lay next to the lamb, because if not, I don’t want to take a victory lap on that side of glory.

Today was day 530 of my Run Streak and an absolutely gorgeous, sunny 7 mile run ended with a 1 mile walk. I read in Hal Higdon’s book that adding a walk to the end of every medium to long run will help you avoid injury. I read that book when I could hardly even move because I was suffering from Achilles Tendonitis. My expert opinion is that this works. It just gives your muscles and body a chance to cool down and process all the blood and oxygen through the system and gives you a minute to return to normalcy. You only need to walk .25 miles at the end of a medium to long run to see the benefits. I swear by it. In fact, when the weather is decent, I will gladly run 14 miles just to be able to stroll 1 mile at the end of it. I love to walk and it is usually during this .25-1.5 mile walk that I have my deepest and most amazing thoughts of every day.

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I found this drawing and couldn’t help but display it prominently. It means as much to me as Reese receiving a graduate degree from Harvard would mean. The amazing intellect and good taste that Reese displays with his word choice is uncanny.That’s a boy that knows what is important. He has his priorities straight.

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Reese and Gentry chilling on a Saturday afternoon. I definitely think Gentry has a career in fashion design. Look at the amazing outfit he chose and his color blocking skills.

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This is a nice lady that I saw while out today. It may be difficult to see, but she is wearing a full blown surgical mask. Unless there is a new style trend that I’m not aware of, I’m thinking that if you have this large of a germ phobia, a kids play area is not the place to hang out. Play places are the giant bacterial petri dish of God’s science lab

Reese taking a break during extreme dodge ball at Karate this morning.

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In closing, Saturday nights always give me a rush of excitement and adrenaline. Not only can I never sleep because I know the hope and potential of every service, but I can’t wait to get to The Bridge Church and hear this hottie preach tomorrow! Not only is he an amazing pastor, but he is easy on the eyes.

Is there a night of the week that you can’t sleep? Why?

What is on the docket for your dinner tonight?

I am back to clean eating today, sorry to disappoint all of my fans who thought for a moment they could be eating french fries, giant sandwiches, cake, restaurant food, and all of the other random things I’ve blogged about and be able to maintain a fit, healthy body. Remember, I’m a daily work in progress. I will never gain the 55 pounds back that I lost and that takes focus, dedication, commitment, and throwing away all clothes that give you room to breathe. Knowing I will have no skirts to put on for church tomorrow if I have one more bad eating day motivates me to put a stop to the birthday week celebration train! One day a week where you indulge, and one weekend or week here and there will not kill you, it is the daily and overall habits and choices that will.

Citizen of the Year

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WARNING: Daily Bible Reading, Renewing of the Mind, Fresh Air, and Exercise Induced Endorphins will lead to Joy, a continuous state of happiness, and overall contentment regardless of the circumstances!

So I weighed today (and truthfully everyday)….I’m happy to report I am only up 2 lbs from all of the festivities and at least 1 of those 2 lbs can be attributed to the much higher than average sodium I’ve been consuming. I normally really do eat clean and at home. I’m not making that up, and because of that, eating out and eating salty/processed food really reeks havoc on me.

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This morning I woke up pretty pumped so I decided to throw an immediate party with several of my best friends. I invited Claritin, Chobani, Mrs. Banana, an entire pot of coffee, sunshine, my Garmin Watch, a hug from all 3 of my men, and a sunny outdoor 8 mile run/1.5 mile walk into my life and started the party early. The extreme pleasure evident from the above photograph has less to do with my pot of coffee, and infinitely more to do with the fact that I was able to run outside today. My 8 mile run today felt easier and was done at a faster pace than my miserable 4 mile run yesterday. While I only averaged 9:28/mile, I am in taper mode, which means taking it easy and no speed work, so I deemed the run a great success. My favorite part was the walk at the end of the 8 miles though. It gave me ample time to breathe pollen deep into my lungs and enjoy the side effects of a freshly mowed lawn on my eyes and nose.

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Below: Peace, Love, and Donuts (Sounds like very good philosophical advice)

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My clean eating is going super well. Between last night’s community event (more on that below) and my post run work lunch dates, I am managing to keep my calorie consumption well below the 9,000 calorie a day mark. I count this a great success on a birthday week.  The best Gyro you will ever eat is at a little hole in the wall in Lakewood, Ohio called the Greek Village. Their Chicken Gyro and Fries will definitely change your life. I definitely need to make a stop there this week in order to celebrate God’s goodness and another year of life. (At what point does the week long birthday celebration turn into gluttonous excess? I really don’t know the answer to this. I am trying hard to find out though and I will report my progress back to you.)

We made a pit stop on the way back at a place we’ve wanted to try at  Kamm’s Corner  called “Peace, Love, and Donuts”. This was a very unique spot with INSANE donuts. Gentry had a dirty worm. Jonathan had a M&M donut, and I couldn’t decide, so I just chose a basic powdered donut. These donuts were amazing. They are made right there on location and are consistently rated best donuts by Cleveland magazine. Everyone that lives in the Cleveland Metro Area should also spend their birthday week exploring local places. It doesn’t take long, and you are completely justified because it is your birthday. Also, be sure to sign up for all the free birthday coupons at all of these places. All of my celebrating has cost me very little $. Don’t let me fool you. I explore and have fun on like $1 a day.

In the middle of all of this goodness and partying and play, I have been doing lots of seeding and leading today. For example, we don’t just visit these places to eat and explore, but we plants seeds of the gospel and invite people to church with us. Today the lady at the Greek Village told me that I was a ray of sunshine and how she was energized by our encounter and how I uplifted her soul. We have invited them to church, in fact, my husband even preached about the amazingness of their Gyro’s, so we are believing that at some point the Seeding, Eating, and Repeating will result in harvest.

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So last night was super fun. We took the boys to karate, watched them name names and take prisoners, and my mom picked them up there from us so that we could network, lead, seed, eat, and repeat. We went to the Citizen of the Year Banquet with 400 or so of our closest friends. The food was predictable banquet style high sodium, high fat, medium taste, maximum bang for your buck, and maximum caloric content. I also ate a bacon wrapped water chestnut ( or 12). This was a first for me. I like water chestnuts and anything involving bacon is always a hit, so I figured it couldn’t really fail as an appetizer item.

In all honesty, it is an honor to live and serve in our community and God did some amazing things at the Citizen of the year Banquet last night. We went to represent the Bridge Church and continue to network with the officials and friends that we have made and be the “Johnny Appleseed’s” of the gospel that we are called to be. You wouldn’t even believe the doors that were opened and the conversations that we had. Great things are in store and God keeps laying bricks onto our foundation: Line upon line….precept upon precept…here a little, there a little. Serving God and living for him is the best. One person said “Every day is a holiday and every meal is a banquet.”We sat next to and dined with the Director of Law and the Director of Finance for the city, as well as with a former citizen of the year. I’m pretty sure that was divine strategy. I also saw my friend, Reese’s best school friend’s mom, who serves on City Council and is up for re-election (friends in high places), the president of the women’s charitable league that I have been serving in, and hung out with the mayor again.

In addition, we dined with Andrew Bernard (Ed Helms) from the Office. We are bonafide celebrities now. His company was very enjoyable and he removed his face tattoo and black tooth to be in our presence.

How involved are you with your community?

Do you see value in investing in people even when you have no guaranteed return?

How much weight do you usually gain the week of your birthday?

I am voting for myself as Citizen of the Year next year. I deserve it because I keep trash out of my front yard and the lawn stays in a moderately pleasing state.