Pray (photo-a-day) #rethinkchurch #marathon #run

Sunrise runs can be quite the prayerful start to your day

When do you pray? Maybe it’s because I wasn’t raised in a church I never developed a set prayer time. For many years I would end my day with prayer, lying in bed and thanking God for the day. I still do this on occasion. Since I began running, much of my prayer practice has been a “while running” prayer time. I didn’t start running with this spiritual practice. I actually started running in an attempt to lose weight, but along the way things changed. This was quite the sup-rise and I am grateful.

Given (photo-a-day)

Ash Wednesday. This is my thumb after standing out in front of my church with ashes for most of the day. A few days before I happened upon a discussion in a FB clergy group that was focused upon how horrible it is to offer “ashes to go.” This discussion led me to think about my own “why” I was willing to stand out in front of the church offering ashes to friends, neighbors, and strangers. Was this an exercise that because of its quick nature was devoid of any spiritual benefit? Was I contributing to something unhelpful?

We did not have as many people stop by this year as in year’s past. This I mostly attribute to the rainy and cold weather…I was certainly cold out there! But there was also a benefit in that I was able to have some great conversations.

One gentleman saw be out there, stopped his car, crossed the street, and received ashes. He told me that he used to be active in a church hadn’t been back in 15 years. We chatted until someone else came for receive their ashes. About 45 minutes later he came back, bringing a photo to share with me. He went inside the church, “to see what it looks like.” We chatted some more, until a homeless man who I’d been worried about came by…

I am thankful that the affirmation that this was a good thing to do was “given” to me by these two men.

Tempted (photo a day)

Today’s word is “tempted.” There are so many temptations but how do you photograph the temptation to give up? Or to yell at someone? Or to fail to forgive? One temptation that is always present and captured on photos is food. Some things I just need to keep out of my house…or never start eating. What tempts you? #rethinkchurch

Hammer Half Marathon – Race Recap


The Hammer Half Marathon in Ventura CA is a small race that raises funds for Habitat for Humanity. I had Sunday morning free and was happy to be able to participate. The course is a familiar out and back (or up and down) on the Ventura River Bike Trail.

For us Californians, it was a chilly and wet morning for a race (and I think it kept some people away). I ran my warmup, did some drills and strides and, wearing layers, was nice and warm…so I took off my jacket and long sleeve shirt and ran in a racing tank and shorts. It was funny to observe the looks of all those around me…they seemed to think I was crazy. It was about 46° at the start of the race. While waiting to start it was chilly and my hands were cold for the first mile but after that I was fine. HaHa…I was remembering how cold I was in Boston last April and today’s weather was nothing compared to that.

The First Half of the Race is a gradual climb up. I’ve never been a very good uphill runner so I wasn’t sure how I’d do. I wanted to run a pace that would be on par with a Boston Qualifying pace. As usual, I started way too fast, but was able to settle down pretty quickly. I felt good all the way up…except for almost slipping on some mud! As a few people passed me, I was tempted to speed up, especially as I was feeling pretty good. But I stuck with my goal of trying to run strong and steady.

Happily, when I hit the halfway point I looked at my average pace and it was 9:16. That was great! I need a 9:20 pace to run a marathon in just under 4:05 (my qualifying time and PR). That 6.5 miles was my best uphill effort ever! The Final Surge data says I did 9:19 instead of the 9:16 that I saw while running, but either way I met my goal for the climb.

The Second Half Downhill was a test of fitness. Immediately upon turning I picked up the pace and ran with a much harder effort than I did in the first half. I was trying to catch those runners who’d passed me on the way up…unfortunately I closed the gap but didn’t catch them. I usually dislike this portion of the course, because while it is downhill, it is very gradual and on tired legs it can actually feel like I’m going uphill. Last October I crashed and burned in this segment of the Ventura Marathon. So part of my run today was to prove to myself that I can indeed run well on this part of the course. I am very happy with my effort.

We’re standing in the rain for this celebratory photo

Overall…I placed 3rd in my age group (50-59). I would have gotten second if I could have chased down one of those people I was trying to catch! This was my 3rd fastest half marathon, but the other two were either flat (with a gradual descent towards the ocean – and I basically had the same time as this race…just 6 seconds slower) and the other race had an elevation drop of 3,000+ ft (a Revel downhill race). This was a far harder race as half of it was uphill so I am very happy. My daughter and son also placed in their age groups making it a very nice family outing.

Next up will be the LA Marathon…six weeks from today.

Kindness to self – Rediscovering the Lost Body-Connection within Christian Spirituality Number4

How do you treat yourself? What kind of self talk to you engage in?
What about when you are anxious? Or stressed? Or when you’ve made a mistake?

Negative self-talk is not without consequences. We actually have the power to cause self-harm through the words we say (or think).When talking about this with other, I sometimes suggest that we think about our self-talk with a lens of “would I say that to another person?” Sometimes, most times, the answer is a resounding “NO!” But still, the temptation to do this can be great, especially if you heard such negative talk directed to you as a child.

For me personally, it comes to body image. Through the years I’ve reflected on my past and am now in the process of writing my story. Part of the story includes a very negative body image. The root of this is in being told from the time I was in 6th grade that I am fat. I was even put on diets by older siblings. I remember once being so hungry that I stole an apple and quickly ate it while standing behind the house. Can you imagine thinking that an apple is “bad” to eat? But when I look at photos taken when I was a child, I was not fat! (Unfortunately I can’t find any of those photos this week)

After a lifetime of struggle with healthy eating, I have been fat…and I have been thin. Until recently I never maintained a weight, instead always moving up or down (mostly up). I have now been at the same healthy weight (±5 pounds) for the past 2 years. That is a record for me.

And yet, I will still, on occasion, look down at my stomach with derision and say, “I’m so fat!” Maybe this is why the following paragraph hit me:

“If you cannot be kind, caring and supportive inside yourself, then how can you possibly presume that this capacity will magically appear in your dealings with others and the world around you? How our body carries the feelings we have about ourselves is the primary factor influencing all our relationships.” (page 41)

Those are tough words. Thankfully they are tempered by grace. The grace that God gives to each of us as a genuinely free gift. Grace that helps us to know we are valuable and worthy of love – no matter what our bodies look like. Christian spirituality, Christian prayer are rooted in this grace and in the command of Jesus to love. To truly love others we must first learn to love ourselves.

For me, becoming an endurance athlete has taught me to love this wonderful body…just as it is. Loving it means taking care of it with rest and nourishing food and exercise and prayer. It’s all related.

How have you learned to be kind to yourself?