Monday, April 29

Them crazy legs!

Today, if my legs could stage their own protest, they would.

They would both hold up big signs that proclaim their distaste for stairs, bending, or even standing still in one place for too long. They would seek a ban on any further movement until they could be stretched. I took them on a walk today. Afterward, they were pulsing out a rhythm that sounded a little like swearing.

But on Saturday, they were loving every minute of it.

Don't you love traditions? One of my favorites is Madison's Crazylegs Classic - a five-mile run with 20,000 equally crazy Badger fans through the streets of campus. This was my sixth year. This race boasts a monster of a hill and colossal crowds and is usually held on the absolute worst weather day in all of April.

One year I convinced my neighbor to start running it. The night before was a perfect 60-70 degree evening that included a couple of margaritas on the back patio. The forecast was iffy for the next morning, but we weren't prepared for just how iffy. Needless to say, I dragged a friend who already didn't enjoy running out on a 40-degree, blustery morning - a complete turnaround from the night before. As we stood in the corral waiting for our wave to start, the heavens opened and buckets of water fell. I believe Scott sacrificed an iPod that year.

In the future, I stopped talking about the possible weather conditions when I recruited friends to join me. (Of course, they had seen the photos. I wasn't fooling anyone.)

So our reward came this year. A balmy 60 degrees at the start, with the sun out in full force until the run began. I must have said, "I can't believe this" a thousand times. This was the first year I ventured out in a t-shirt instead of bundling up in a coat. It was also my best time in 6 years - I thought I did worse, but apparently I can't read a clock. Also, the run felt too easy. I was sure I was taking it slow. My legs say otherwise today.

Happy Crazylegs Day! The neighborhoodies - before and after (minus Angie, who escaped the photos)

This race makes my year. Even in the worst conditions - thunderstorms, rain buckets, 30 mph winds - I love this run because it brings out the best of Madison. I've never experienced camaraderie like this in any other run. (Maybe it's the free beer at the end?) It's the pride and spirit of the community that really makes this an awesome time. It's the fact that thousands of people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and experiences, are giving this event a go. And they're all so darned fun to be around.

This year, as a side effect of the awesome weather, we stuck around post-race long enough to watch the last of the runners trek in. It was so fun to hear the entire stadium roar and watch these tired runners pump their fists in excitement. A great reminder -- we. can. do. anything.

If you're in Madison next spring, join us! I'm sure the weather will be ... um, great ... !

Wednesday, April 24

Random thoughts, v.1

I'm having a week. The kind where your brain shuts down and runs on auto-pilot. Nothing bad happening, just adjusting to new schedules and trying to resolve all things undone.

That's why I am writing random thoughts ... you know, since I can't formulate many cohesive ones. I titled this post "volume 1" since this is likely to happen again. Probably more times than I care to admit. You've been warned.

When I was in middle-school, we used to go on these weekend youth retreats with church. Usually a family in the town where we were headed would house our group of crazed pre-teens for the night or two. These trips usually included copious amounts of licorice, Pixie Stix, Mountain Dew, and 2 am nights. Needless to say, we'd be slap-happy pretty much the entire trip.

That's kinda how I feel today.

So, random thoughts:

-- Schedules are much too busy. People have crazy demands on them. Has it always been this way? Am I remembering simpler times from my childhood mind because, as a child, life rarely feels overly demanding? I vow we all eliminate the word "busy" from our vocab. Let's call it something more fun. Like epic. As in, "I am having an epic day, running from soccer to gym to store to book club." There, doesn't that sound less ... busy? And more fun?

-- I don't like making more than one phone call for technical assistance. I think 6 in a day is a bit excessive, hmm? And automatic bill pay should never cause confusion. Come on, this is people's money we are dealing with here!

-- Waiting is hard. Dang hard, and apparently I am not good at it because God has decided I need some more practice.

-- Soccer has begun! All hail the coming season. We have been bumped by rain and muddy fields. My son has been restlessly tossing balls around the house, waiting to have permission to run free. We have made it.

-- Sometimes I am super bummed to do parenting alone during Scott's coaching seasons. That means I run solo to our kid's activities. It's lonely - but the upside is I have met a lot of great people at these events as I stretch my wings. Still, my favorite times are when Dad can join us.

-- The tween years are tough. Still innocent, yet quickly growing out of it. Sigh. Slow down, world. Lets put it in park for awhile, ok?

-- Which takes me back to waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting for responses, ideas, direction, change. Think God is trying to tell me something?

-- I am getting really fast at typing on an iPad. Is this a relevant random thought? Probably not. But here we are.

-- God bless the mechanically inclined in this world. You win, I surrender. Just fix my car, please!

-- I can't do 4th grade math. So embarrassing.

-- Oh, how our school mother-son bowling night rocks. All boy noise, no drama. Lots of tackling, wrestling, hopping, dancing, trash-talking, and eating. Tons and tons of eating. I really, truly love it.

-- I am ready to stop packing school lunches. But not ready for school to be out yet. Any other moms with me on this?

-- Summer planning is like putting together the pieces of a crazy-expensive jigsaw puzzle. How do you keep your kids busy ... I mean epic ... with activities, but make room for spontaneity?

-- I just took a break from writing and cracked open, chewed, and swallowed about 15 pistachios in under 20 seconds. I swear. A little focus problem maybe? I am also very hungry lately, thanks to upping my runs in anticipation of my upcoming half-marathon. I think I have already lost a toenail in training. Probably not a good sign?

-- Did I see correctly? An upcoming temp with a 7 in it, even one with an 8. In the beginning of the temp, not the end. Oh yes. Bring on the dancing. For those counting, it was last like this in October. Maybe September. My birthday is next week, so this is a pretty sweet present.

-- Is there any better intro to a Madison summer than opening weekend of Farmer's Market? A canceled soccer game gave mom and Peyton a morning together on the Square this past weekend. Awesome.

Well, that's all I have. Probably enough, right? Make it an epic week, friends!

Friday, April 19

Just be together

I've struggled to find a suitable blog topic this week. I feel like in the face of an ugly crime, disasters, and the struggles faced by folks I know personally that anything I write will seem trivial.

I know ... we sometimes read blogs to escape from harsher realities. But we sometimes read blogs to share in the pain, or joy, of recent events. I love that blogs build community and tie us together.

Community is pretty darn wonderful, by the way. If the month of April has reminded me of anything thus far, it's been this truth. Only in community can we thrive. How anyone goes about their life on earth alone is beyond me.

We need "we." This is straight-up truth.

So, as some of you know, I love to run. Running a race is one of those insanely wonderful community-building moments. To line up shoulder-to-shoulder in a corral waiting at the start for an event that you trained months and months to do, along with the person next to you and the person next to him and the person next to her ... This is community. People who respect and encourage each other for the work they put in for this one day.

To know that there are those who want to place a black mark in a terrible way on such an event is painful. They must not know community. How so very sad.

Community is what brings dinner to a friend's house after they suffered a loss and just don't feel like cooking. Community is what makes you ask, what can I do to help? when a friend is stressed over a difficult situation. We all saw the meaning of community unfold on the news in a week's worth of awful. It was the bright light in the tough moments.

It's when someone wonders how you are when they haven't heard from you. It's when you experience something epic together and it binds you as part of "the family."

Community is what happens when God walks among us, prompting us to do something real and lasting with our day. Wake up, dear. Someone you care about needs a kind word. Better jump in here and be My hands and feet, ok?

Dang. I really, truly love community.

Listen... there's a lot going on in our world right now. There always is if you look at life from a global perspective. Sometimes it is just more personal.

So don't go at it alone. Seriously, come over and let's do this together. I help you, you help me. We'll build into each other. Difficult days will come, but that's OK. Alright ... it's not "OK," but burdens can be shared.

Just Be Together.

Have a good weekend ... and peace, baby.

A little "ommmmm" for you today, from our backyard community.

Monday, April 15

Crazy? Maybe not

I once wrote a little essay for the "This I Believe" series, which an organization was promoting based on the popular NPR effort. I don't really know why I did it. I just felt compelled to tell a story, so I cobbled something together on the fly and quick sent it off before I had too much time to think about it. Because talking about personal beliefs wasn't my thing then and it felt all awkward and strange.

Later, my alma mater wanted to run with it and I agreed, which is not like me, and I ended up recording myself reading my essay in the same radio station studio where my freshman year roommate blasted alternative rock tunes during her 2 am shift. So weird to close that circle.

Because I recorded my essay more than a year after I wrote it, I had this incredible urge to re-write it and say WAIT. This isn't all I believe. This was a tiny glimpse into my world, where I was a year ago. And that's why I don't always put my opinions out there, in writing, since I am always reworking them, tweaking them based on life experiences, exposure to new stories, and perspective from current relationships.

I say all that to preface that I do have some unchanging beliefs: I do sincerely and for-all-time believe that God moves in strange and crazy ways. And if we only expect the expected, we might be limiting ourselves to half of the experience He has planned for us. We should think bigger.

If I were to rewrite my essay, I would totally say that.

One of the reasons I've come to embrace this belief more sincerely than ever before is my friend Katie. Her lovely little family of 5 will soon become a family of 6 when they adopt their special-needs daughter from China. They don't know much about their daughter yet - what she looks like, what her needs are, how old she is. They do know her name: Hannah. And they also already know many parts of the miracle that is bringing her home. It has been a ginormous leap of faith to get to this stage in the race, and their story is a very fine example of God-being-God: showering big ol' wow-moments amid the unexpected twists.

Katie and Nathan ... and Katie painting an orphanage (of course!)

Katie is writing about this experience HERE and HERE. She's doing this because her master vision is a community of families loving on orphans and changing the world. I love big dreams. If you want some inspiration, follow along, too. Because - and here's another of my solid beliefs - we all have a tug on our heart to do something, whether it's adoption, starting an organization, opening a business, moving across the country. This "tug" might be calling us to do some pretty crazy stuff. If you're like me, you sometimes ignore the tug - not because you want it to go away, but because you don't know where to begin.

There's no begin, I've learned. There's just jump in. Let's all leap together, k?

Incidentally, that essay I wrote was on simplicity, and how basic needs can be enough. And I still believe that it's a huge part of my journey, of where I am going. Even if I am still working through the details.

One of these posts, we will have to explore that a little more ...

Friday, April 12

Declaring war on the rain

Dear Cold-and-Rainy Week:

You thought you had me. You poured buckets of ice rain for three solid days, throwing in wind for good measure. You knew that would be torture for me after enjoying two evenings in the sunny backyard.

Your presence accented some sad news and threatened plans. You were relentless and undaunting. A bit of a show-off, actually. You flooded my yard and left ice on my car. You laughed in my face when I wondered how I would train for my upcoming race.

But I issued the battle cry. And I ran anyway.

And we played outside anyway, on soggy grass that was turning greener by the minute.

We handled the tough stuff with a greater reliance on God.

We did our homework at IHOP, just because.

In soup-and-stew weather I abandoned reason and ate lots of tropical food, enjoyed good wine and better friends, and even drank my water with a paper umbrella hanging out of the cup.

We didn't put the bikes back down in the basement after being set free only two days earlier. We just squeezed them into the corner of the garage, where they are waiting patiently for the clouds to part.

So, really Cold-and-Rainy Week, it was a nice try. But you didn't steal our joy. Not in this house.

Next week, try not to hog the spotlight and send some sun our way, will ya?


Monday, April 8

Time to be together

We are finally getting back to a normal schedule after vacation.

Which, in other words, means I am a slave to time again.

When you step away from your everyday life, time becomes less of a dictator, don't you think? Maybe you have to get to a show or a tour at a certain time. Maybe you are meeting friends for dinner. But all in all, the days melt away without that hurry-scurry feeling.

That's why we take vacations.

But I've wondered if it's possible to re-create that effect at home - in the place where the clock demands I keep moving onto the next task/event or I will get too far bahind. I've tried to reinvent this formula in my own life, but it takes a special balance. And constant thought. Do you sign up your child for that additional activity that he or she loves if it means you'll be bound by that ever-ticking second-hand to rush dinner on the table before said-activity starts? Can't they just show up at school whenever they are ready in the morning? Do I really need to schedule that appointment 3 months in advance ... why can't I just show up? When someone stops by my house, do I have to substitute quality time for small chit-chat because I know I need to be somewhere in 15?

I recently read the Mitch Albom book, The Time Keeper, which is a fictional account of God punishing the man who invented the measurement of time. There's a quote in the book from God that goes something like, "What is time to me?" As in - why are you trying to measure something you don't understand? I totally get it. Holding that clock in our hands consumes our lives and makes us think we have control over something that we really don't.

So, I am trying to look at time differently. Quality instead of quantity. Knowing that being late because something wonderful and spontaneous and God-timed held us up is a good thing. The disciplined world won't understand that. But that needs to be between us and God. When He delivers an experience, you have to run with it. I have this sense that I've missed out on a lot of His joys because I was too busy planning my own.


I haven't been blogging as much recently because I've been busy celebrating. I was lucky to have some great fun in the short week since I've been home, spending loads of time with dear friends and even throwing in a Sunday date night with my hubby for good measure. So very special, that entire time for which I can't measure the value. I allowed the week to be shaken up and enjoyed every second.

When it comes to time, this is the good stuff. If I was reminded of anything else this week, it was the value of taking care of each other. We need more of this, people! Go ahead - jam your mailbox full of letters to friends. (Bring back to postal service! Letters are my favorite.) Check in with each other. Make a call, send a text, give one of those hugs where you hold on a little longer because you are just so grateful.

That's time worth spending.