on monday i went for a run.

i came home and looked up a few interesting definitions from merriam-webster online. it’s what nerdy book lovers do sometimes!

RUN >>>

…to go faster than a walk; specifically  :  to go steadily by springing steps so that both feet leave the ground for an instant in each step

to go without restraint :  move freely about at will

to flow rapidly or under pressure

to contend in a race

to function, operate

to flee, retreat, escape

to continue in force, operation, or production

by 5:00pm i was just done with the day.  my face said it all… “okay monday, you did it, you won, along with all your friends. now let me wave my white flag and hide in humiliation.”  winners: disobedient kids, impatience, my spicy temper, disorganization, procrastination, full laundry baskets, miscommunication, pride.  loser: me.  ryan took one look at me and said GO RUN.

i read an article recently about something called the 15 minute rule.  it says that if you can get yourself out the door for a 15 minute run, you’ve conquered one of the big hurdles of running- just getting out there.  i had just read this earlier so i decided i’d just walk for 15 minutes and then come home to try and ride out the rest of the disaster of a day.

as soon as my feet hit the gravelly asphalt i took off running.  walking somehow never occurred to me once i felt the breeze on my face and saw the sky starting to turn pretty.  i didn’t go fast, but sometimes i think you just need to move so you don’t cry.

now, only the ones that really love running know this–the rest of the world sees us and thinks we somehow love torturing ourselves with unnecessary pain but we have a secret.  we don’t JUST run because we need/want exercise.  the run isn’t the end game.

we run so we can be nice people.

we run because it makes us feel playful and it feels good to go fast (well, for some of us fast is just a dream, but still we try!).

we run so we are too tired to argue with our spouses about trivial matters and we run to burn off righteous anger about serious injustices.

we run because we need the quiet in our heads.

we run because we just can’t get enough of the sunset and the mountain breezes and the sweet smell of gardenia in the neighbor’s yard.

we run because we have hidden wounds that we never talk about, hidden fears that haunt us at night and problems that go years without answers.

we run because we are weary parents, and frustrated bosses, and left out friends, and sometimes we just don’t what to do but to just run.

all of this…was me tonight.  i had gone through the first and second cups of coffee already (you know the ones where you sit at the table and sip furiously, trying not to burn your mouth but trying to inhale deeply and figure out what you did wrong and why all of the kids are fighting about everything at once and nothing you say matters). i talked to friends, my husband, listened to music, nothing was working.  i prayed but i couldn’t concentrate. i needed a serious attitude adjustment…there were too many things left undone on my list for the day, and that unfinished feeling gnawed at me.  all of my kids seemed to need mommy time all at the same time and no matter what i do i just never seem to have enough hands or hugs or attentive ears.  there were too many things that needed fixing. and then ryan said the magic words: just go.

and you think about taking a nap instead, but somehow, you find a tiny bit of something in you that just says “ok girlfriend, get out there and just do it.” i wish that tiny bit of something were more magical and dramatic, but, well, sometimes that something is just all the caffeine you had, plus a reminder from your nike+ app that you are supposed to run 3 miles today…well, God works in mysterious ways, right?

so you get out there…and you just go. step by step you just get down the street, and then you just get around the block, and then somehow you are sailing free…

and somehow when you have taken just one more step that you thought you couldn’t take, when you’ve run a little farther than the day before and pushed through the fatigue and sore joints, when you realize you’ve reached your goal and then some and it wasn’t even close to as bad as you expected, then you start to feel something else– joy, or is it peace?

and then you start to thank God you have shoes. and feet. and legs. and lungs.

and then you start to thank God that you are running for fun and not running for your life.

and then you start to thank God that you actually need to exercise, because it means you’re rich and sheltered in a global context, and you are not carrying water jugs all day or working in a back-breaking sweatshop or even having to grow and harvest and grind your own grains and milk your own cows and plant your own dinner from start to finish, praying every moment for the right amount of rain and sun to provide dinner for your family this year.

and then you start to thank God for your healthy family and the fact that even though you lagged on the dinner prep tonight, your family will not starve nor pick through garbage to eat dinner.

and then suddenly everything becomes right again, not in the world but in this moment, and you realize it needs to start with taking responsibility for the things you did wrong.  apologizing for quick tempers and condescending attitudes and unsolicited critical comments doesn’t cure the world of evil, but it heals families and marriages and friendships and even brings peace to your actual neighborhood and church communities.

so…back to monday.   5.03 miles later, yes the .03 counts, after fleeing my shipwrecked monday, snarling and complaining, i floated into my house. legs fatigued and stiff, sweet husband at the table with dinner all prepared, kids happily slurping top ramen and crunching frozen peas.  the battle wasn’t with my kids or anyone else for that matter.  it was with my attitude, the question of “how will you respond?” always at the forefront of the fight.

“therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” -hebrews 12:1

little eyes are witnessing me at my very worst every day, and they still love me and call me mom, even as i run out the door in a rush to get a little piece of sanity.  with each run i can practice laying aside my excuses, sore knees, and weary muscles in order to press forward.  to go one more mile, one more lap, and a few steps more.  the physical act of pushing through a hard run gives me a greater capacity to push through in other areas of life.  practicing kindness, generosity, and forgiveness when my situation tempts me otherwise, helps me to love better and more genuinely, and there’s never a time when i am not in need of this lesson.

i love merriam-webster.  thank you dictionary people for recording all the crazy ways we use single words in english.  you know what? i had a hard monday, but i RAN.  i went faster than a walk.  i moved freely at will, without restraint. i ran under pressure.  i sometimes forget…i AM running a race.  i can function and operate again like i should.  i get to flee from my complaining attitude, retreat from my pride, and escape from my house before i do any more damage with my lack of love.  i came home, ready to continue my God given privilege as wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend.



here’s to words…

words, words, words.  words have always been my soul’s language.  i have always written, since i was a little girl and all my stories were about talking animals and secret passageways.  i wrote poetry that i hid and songs that i sang to empty practice rooms.  i wrote essays i hoped would capture the attention of my lit teachers and essays i hoped would answer questions i didn’t know were there.

then i got tired of imperfect writing.  journals that were too messy or had unfinished entries.  letters that just never said what i needed them to say.  papers that were covered in red marks from favorite teachers and crumpled up ideas littering my dorm room floor.  i used to write because i could, but as i grew up i kept it all inside because i could never find words that were good enough to make beauty out of the pain of life, and it didn’t seem worth trying and failing.

so i tried other things.  i have always loved music, and i could listen all day, but was never good enough at it to speak fluently what was inside my heart.   i have now grown to love photographs.  i love the frozen moments and how they make us feel.  i love what the blur of a runner or a tiny new bloom does to inspire us to want more out of life.  but then there are missed moments and dying batteries and times when the light just doesn’t look the same as it did on that day, and there is a sorrow to the capturing.  i also love paintings, and the symmetry and balance of good graphic design, and the drama of dance, but i admire them from a distance.  i keep trying new art forms, learning new things like wood burning and gardening and nothing seems to fit just right.

and then i realized that words are my first love.  they capture my heart, phrases crafted so perfectly together that the first read etches them deep into your eyes.  words can paint a scene without brushes.  words can cause harm without weapons.  words can heal without medicine and words can make beauty out of thin air.  i went back to reading, and ignored writing, and then something happened.  words became a salve that covered over old fears and my perfectionistic criticism.  God’s gift of words, of the richness of language and how He communicated who HE is through words, healed my ache to find meaning in something that would never be what i needed.

and then words became alive again to my heart.  His words became alive (to me), His WORD was alive (now that my eyes were paying attention!) and active the whole time, and the expanse of vocabulary words that we have to describe the riches of His glory suddenly became like grains of sand stuck to us after a day at the beach.  words, everywhere words, in my dreams, in my thoughts, in my moleskin notebooks and in red letters in an old Bible.  words like grace, redemption, mercy, inheritance, finished, adopted, Abba.  they wrap me up in boundless love and endless belonging.  mercy is even felt right now in the typing, that i can use letters on a keyboard to say what is only felt most honestly in the deepest part of my soul.

here’s to a new season of old words, new words, difficult words and glorious words.  words that cut with precision and words that open wide a field of possibilities, that inspire people to dream bigger and love better and forgive faster.  here are words i have carried around for years without anything to say.  here’s to saying it now.

here’s to words…