I had really been looking forward to this women's conference. I knew nothing about Croassroads Bible Church but I did know that Jennie Allen was speaking. Allen wrote the book Anything, which I read about a year ago. This was one of the most challenging books I've ever read and the subject of what I asked Eric to give me for Christmas, pray "anything" this year. That's a story for another blog but it's unfolding in amazing ways!
Friday night was all planned perfectly. In my mind, I had extra time so I was going to go for an early dinner and some study time at Whole Foods in Bellevue. Things didn't quite go as planned. As I walked into Whole Foods I suddenly felt my knee was very wet. My water bottle dumped inside my bag containing my journals, bible, and ipad...grr. I basically freaked out trying save my stuff and dry everything out. Hence, no photos! But, I did get a salad, and what Eric and I agree is our favorite Whole Foods soup, white bean and kale. My stuff survived...it's just stuff.
My vision for Friday night to arrive at the conference, nourished after and awesome meal, with time to reflect and think about where I'm at and where I'm heading. Instead it was more like a scraped knee skid after frantically racing around Factoria to find rice and a bag to dry out my ipad. I was definitely NOT in a peaceful state of mind and in a rush wrote my dream on a piece of paper as instructed. Oh yeah, my dream.. to write a book. And the theme of this conference, ALL IN.
Here are the notes I wrote as I sat there on Friday night.
1. God actually has a purpose for each of us...do I believe this? YES
2. We have a choice to live that purpose or not.
Allen also challenged us to think about what was keeping us from living out that purpose. For me, it's people's opinion. It's kind of important not to worry about that if you are going to find the gumption write!
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God". Hebrews 12:1-2
Wow, I now view this verse in such a new light! As an endurance athlete, "run with perserverance" has always stuck out to me. I can do that, right? Now I see there is a lot keeping me from running with perserverance, from following my dreams. As Allen depicts in Restless, we get injured and sidelined, dropping out of the race. I've gone along relatively physically injury free but truly have been letting things like, "what will they think", hinder my dreams. I had a lot to chew on as I drove back home Friday night. That spill in my bag, I soon realized would be pretty symbolic of my weekend, lots of crying and cleansing and I prepared to let go.
Saturday morning, after just a few short hours of sleep, I tried my plan again. This time it was getting in my run, breakfast, travel to Bellevue and somehow not smell too bad by the time I arrived back at the conference. This time it worked out much better! I had no idea what this run was preparing me for and how carefully God was guiding my footsteps.
But first, let's talk food! The drive south included my pre workout meal which is my favorite standby for travel and eating...the waffle peanut butter and banana sandwitch. No frills here! As my doctor reminds me, I HAVE to eat before I workout. I get low bloodsugar too easily. Plus now, most of my workouts simply demand it. I like to eat, so it's no huge argument!
I ran in Kirkland since I knew I could get on some familiar terrain with daylight. This run reminded me of a mantra I say a lot, especially during my long workouts, "Every run is a story". This one didn't even hit me until Sunday night as I looked back through these photos in awe of how perfectly they were placed, to prepare me for the messages I would receive on Saturday from Allen and again and church on Sunday.
This piece of glass art was taken at Yarrow Bay where I held one of my first and favorite cooking jobs at the Yarrow Bay Grill. It also reminded me of that fact that we are so unique like pieces of blown glass. Each with it's own color, style and form. Each created by God to shine on the world in a different way. I'm sure there are many beautiful pieces of blown glass in this world that are in storage, unapprecaited. Aren't they more beautiful when they are fearlessly displayed? I would have held back in displaying this piece in fear someone would ruin it. Someone chose to display it on the waterfront in Kirkland and it sure brightened up this rainy morning. By the end of this weekend, I would choose. Am I going to be a piece of glass in storage or am I going to fearlessly live out God's plan?
Next on the art "run" was an awesome statue of women at the well. It seemed to fit in perfectly this weekend as I would sit down again this day with hundreds of women talking about Jesus' plans for our lives. At church the next day, our guest speaker, Cary Petersen discussed the story of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman. He discussed how the woman at the well represents us in the wilderness and the water represents our deepest desires. That couldn't have wrapped up the message this weekend more perfectly!
I don't know why I chose to take this picture. I've seen this a thousand times, but today it stuck out. I also grabbed a GU gel here while snapping a photo. It felt wrong to have GU sticking up in the middle of this beautiful piece, so I'll just let you image a crumpled up vanilla GU wrapper on your own.
I would love to know more about the next part of my run. Many chalk messages wrote someone's love story along the waterfront. Ironically, I snapped a photo of this one. "You're Beautiful", was also the title of my favorite song of worship this weekend. Imagine hundreds of women singing these words as they were removing what was holding them back from dreaming.
I seriously hope someone got asked to tolo or engaged because there were some beautiful messages out there!
Back to the food! When I finished my run I was scrambling a bit for time. So I did the quick "runner's back seat shower". Runner's, you get this. If you haven't had the experience, it involves some wet ones and a clean outfit, all in the not so private, but at least I have tinted windows, back seat of the car.
And, I'll be honest, this is what the front seat of my car looks like on most days. Today, breakfast is highlighted!
I just love the next part of this morning's story. The plan which I thought was mine, I again realized was not my own. I was a little nervous going into this weekend as I knew no one. I have also lately been thinking I really need to connect more at church.
As I sat in my car munching muesli, another car pulls up. It's my friend Ashely, from my church, who is also with about eight other ladies. Well, aparently God listened and on this day I was not only going to do some great work but get to know several women from Church. God is good and so was the muesli!
My original plan was to photo all of Saturday's food. But I got so caught up in crying a lot about my dreams (in a good way) and connecting with these ladies (emotional superfood), that I completely forgot!
We ended up the day and I felt so confirmed in the plans that God has been nudging me toward for some time. I got in line to have Jennie Allen sign my book and just say a huge thank you. That didn't quite go as planned either. I said "Thank you" and then proceeded to cry my eyes out as I briefly explained my journey. I'm sure I'm not the first and won't be the last to have tears explode from their face when talking to Jennie, but really I didn't want to do that! After leaving the sancutary, I found my friends from church who so kindly invited me to sit for a few mintues and talk about the weekend. As I was finding my way to my seat, I heard yelling, "your coffee, your coffee", which meant my coffee had spillled ALL OVER!!! Can we go back to what is keeping me sidelined from running the race marked out for me, choosing to act on the plans God has for my life - what people think of me. And now after finishing these amazing days, full of energy to act on my dreams, I was really worried about just that thing, what people thought of me.
I am grateful to have an amazing husband who knows I often wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety and worry that if put into the right energy could move mountains! He kindly woke up at 3am and listened to me talk about how stupid I felt. I fell asleep, he did not...sorry honey! God did give me a gift that next morning as I rode my bike. He does this and I think it's why he keeps me training. When I'm swimming, biking and running, I'm not physically still, but I do listen. He gave me a vision for the "KEEP GOING heart Jesus" project and I'm so excited!!! The worry is shed and I'm ready for this race. I'm ALL IN!!
Now it's Sunday and I just have to talk about this awesome meal shared with my sisters from college. These ladies, as well as several others who are now spread all over doing amazing things with their lives, were my classmates at Bastyr. We have been laughing, sharing and crying together for many years. At Bastyr, we even studied once in awhile. They are emotional superfood! I really don't remember eating and it didn't matter what it was.
Friends, our food nourishes us with antioxidants, energy, calories, vitamins and many more physical substances our bodies need each day. The choices we make have a huge influence on how we feel and our health. But there is so much more to the story. I know people and I've been one of them, who eat what you might define as a pretty close to "perfect" diet, yet they aren't happy. All of the superfood in the world can't compare to the superfood of our souls.
Exhaustion is the only word I can come up with after our family lost our dog just a few days ago. We aren't the kind of family that takes our dogs everywhere we go, nor do we carry them around at the mall in their own purses (no offense if you do!). They live outside, they are are usually dirty and sometime cause havock in the neighborhood. We love them non the less. I wasn't expecting I would cry my eyes out so hard when I knew it was Beau's time, nor did I realize our whole family was going to go through grief. For me, giving Beau a tribute "dog week" on Blue Fire Life and doing some writing is my way of processing it all. So, thanks for reading! And thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, shared their own pet loss stories. How lucky we are to share life with such awesome creatures.
It can easily be said that Beau lived a long and full life. I didn't meet him until he was about eight years old, the day after Eric and my first date. Many of you know our family story. For those of you who don't, we were pretty much a family from the start, Beau included. He joined us on many walks while I was pregnant, especically those few days of pregnancy, hoping it would induce labor just a bit sooner. When we brought Payton home from the hospital and set her carseat in the living room, Beau immediately spotted her. He joined us humans who couldn't keep our eyes off her. But Beau's life started before that. Eric and his family got Beau when Eric was a Senior in high school. As Eric commented to me the other night, "That dog has been there every day for the past eighteen years of my life." He tells me, Beau was an exceptional hunting and time trial dog. People would comment at time trials that he was too pretty to be out there. He did have an affinity for crossing his front legs when he laid down, very cute. I tried to make Beau into my running companion but it just wansn't to be. Besides a good meal, scratch on the back and giant bone that Rick (Eric's dad) bought him every year for Christmas, one of Beau's greatest joys in life was to lay down in puddles and ditches. It didn't work out well with running when he suddenly spotted a prime ditch and proceeded to lay down for a cool off. In his late years, Marley decided that Beau was her dog and that seemed to suit him just fine. She was just the right height and her voice the right pitch that I think he could actually still hear her. Over the past couple years, Marley would often go visit Beau on the back deck and play, "dog show".
Eric and I have talked about Beau's old age for awhile now, wondering which Winter would be his last. He couldn't "hold it" anymore so he didn't get to come inside when the weather got bad. Eric build the dog's a house and rigged up a heat lamp so they could stay warm. This also served to be a great place for Teagen to stand on and completely freak out when thunder and lightening struck and we weren't home to bring her inside. Although he couldn't hear, except for Marley, and he barked at the side of the house, he was bright eyed and completely sweet every day of his life.
What struck me that I didn't expect from this experience was watching how my family, especially the girls experienced grief. I am beyond grateful and know that God carefully orchestrated this timing so we could have the whole weekend together. We had gifts of time at the end, brushing and loving on him before it was time to go to the vet. Through crockadile tears, the girls got to say goodbye and feed him way too many treats. I hope that I am loved on that much, someone brushes my hair and I'm fed some really good food in my last moments on this earth too! I listened to Marley ask every question that was right on her heart, "Why can't we have more time?" "Why does this hurt so much?" "I miss Beau Beau". Marley's tears flowed for a couple of days. The rest of the family, maybe we've just learned to stuff our emotions a bit more over time. I appreciated how raw and honest her feelings were and how lucky I was to watch her experience the stages of grief.
This all lead me to pause and give grief a few moments this week. Even in our rushed, texting, instagram society there are some processes in life, such as grieving that can't be crammed into an instant message or Facebook post. We have to wait for time to heal, tears to fall, and our hearts and brains to accept what has happened. If we ignore it and don't let ourselves grieve, it will eventually catch up with us and we will have to somehow go through it. So we've been going through it.
Teagen was grieving in her own K9 way too. She was confused and kept looking for Beau. Our dogs have always been outside so it really surprised me when Eric said Teagen could come back inside as long as I gave her a bath. It's eased all of our hearts a bit to have Teagen around. It's eased our noses a bit more now that I've actually given her that bath. We all seem to have found the acceptance stage too. We still cried our way through the first story in The Rainbow Bridge and expect we will cry our way through the whole book. We've talked about grief with the girls and how it's a process. We can't believe it's true, we get sad and mad and then our hearts start to accept what has happened. They believe in heaven . Now it's just having to wait to see our friend again.
Beau, until we see you at this side of the rainbow bridge, thanks for thousands of special greetings, laughs and memories. As I'm here complaining about you ditch diving during our runs, you have probably already told God, "She loves you and is trying her hardest but she really needs to learn to lay down and enjoy a good ditch or two." I'll work on that!
Yesterday's weather was SO amazing here in Western Washington. Eric and I were laughing that 50 felt like 70. I hope you got outside to move and enjoy the sun in some way!
Teagen and I headed out in our, yes matching outfits for a nice little run. She is a pretty awesome running partner, aside from the fact that she doesn't really like loud cars going by, hills or speedwork. Trails are her absolute favorite, so we tried to get on a few. An awesome surprise about 15 mintues into our run was Eric joining us.
Post workout, I was ready for some lunch! I cooked a few sweet potatoes the day before. I love cooking extra so I can make quick meals throughout the week. I also like to balance some cooked food with raw food as there are different nutrients available when foods are cooked vs raw.
Post Run Veggie Bowl:
I mix the dressing with greens, mushrooms and avocado then put over diced sweet potatoes.
Roasted and warmed sweet potato
dressing: (portions are up to you)
Oil based mayo (or regular if you prefer)
salt and pepper
Yesterday was a challenging swim set... a test of sorts. I was physically ready but mentally when I know there is some sort of measurement I cringe a bit, nervous as if it's race day. Then I remember this isn't the time to freak out! As I was swimming along I realized this is less than half the distance I will swim in four months, and a fraction of the swim at Ultraman.
And then more importantly, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to difficult fights I have fought and what I know fellow many first responders, still on the job or not are fighting every day. I felt compelled today to ask a few things as this is what I will be asking in support of my Iron and Ultraman journeys.
1. If you are a current/former first responder and/or veteran and you know or think you might be experiencing PTSD, first of all KEEP GOING! It will get better. Put PLEASE get help. It will help and it will be hard at first, but you will make it and you can find happiness.
2. Please pray for or first responders/veterans/military current and former and their families as they fight battles you can't see every day. Pray that they get the help and support they need and they ignore the stigmas.
3. Every time you hear lights and sirens don't just wonder what chaos is going on in your community. Please say a prayer for the first responders and their families. Pray for their safety and that whatever happens on that call they not only handle with excellence but emotionally handle as well.
With last week's weather forecast of rain, rain....rain and you know how it goes in Western Washington, I really needed to get east of the mountains for some sun chasing. Eric took the day off and we headed to Wenatchee, also celebrating ten years together!
It's just amazing how much life happens in ten years! Two beautiful children, moving, travel, new careers. We are so blessed to have shared this awesome ride together!!
As we approached Leavenworth, we could see it, that color of sky we all crave. The brilliant blue through the peaks as you come into town promised a day of vitamin D and warmth! My favorite part of the drive is from about five miles west of Leavenworth into Wenatchee. It's dotted with apple orchards, fruits stands and amazing views.
Once in Wenatchee the first order of business was running. We hit the river trail and enjoyed the views of snowy hills emerging from the Wenatchee valley, separated by the Wenatchee river reflecting back rays of sunshine. With all of that, running felt great and I actually overheated a bit because it was even warmer than I expected.
We cleaned up and it was time to hit our favorite restaurant in Wenatchee, Lemolo. One problem with traveling and eating a plant based, gluten free, mostly vegan diet (PBGFMV for short) is that it's hard to find trusty places to eat. I hadn't actually eaten at Lemolo since our family has made so many eating changes. I did recall their food being very fresh and delicious, and I was certain we would find something that would work. With this menu to choose from how could we go wrong??
I've learned to asked about gluten free options because restaurants don't always list them on their menus. Their staff was very helpful and told me about the gluten free crust they can make into pizzas or flatbread. This was good news! There were many options for us, between the huge salads, soups, pizzas and flatbreads. We went with the Mediterranean flatbread. This beautiful salad bowl turned upside down on gluten free flatbread topped with hummus totally hit the spot and extinguished my pizza cravings.
Eric liked it too!
How can you be anything buy happy when sitting in a rainbow of chairs?
Lemolo also makes their own line of sauces. Eric taste tested them all and it was thumbs up all around!
I love their mantra, "Live Well Be Happy". Their cold case contains a beautiful selection of fresh salads, desserts, beer and ciders with gluten free options.
We sat at the window-bar and I spent some time trying to figure out what Lemolo meant. My guess was Italian for double diamond ski run. I was in the ball park. It's the name of a double diamond run at Mission Ridge, the ski resort just outside of Wenatchee.
We finished off our visit at Lemolo with a latte to go, again delicious, and a walk around town. I just couldn't get enough of the amazing weather!
....but this restaurant review isn't over. We had so much fun and after two days back in the rain decided to take the girls back. It's only two and a half hours from our house! We had to include them in the celebration. What would the last ten years of my life be with these three to the right?
The kids weren't too sure about where we were going but once they saw the rainbow of chairs, they were pretty excited for lunch too! The girls shared a Hawaiian GF and dairy free pizza. Eric tried the Uncle John's Veggie with pepperoni and I stuck with what I knew I already loved, the Mediterranean flatbread. I should have taken a picture of the empty pizza dishes because all we left were a few crumbs. Even Marley who isn't the biggest eater "destroyed" her half of the pizza.
The other part I really loved about going back was that we had a different staff who were equally as helpful and friendly as the first. Sometimes I feel like I annoy resturants with my "Harry met Sally" food ordering, but not at Lemolo. In fact, I listened to the woman taking our order the second day asking people if they could have dairy or gluten. Wow! I've never heard that. Way to go Lemolo!
We ended the day with a little stroll/run on the river trail. The sun and good food brought out so much energy in all of us. Ok, the girls ran, we walked! The next time travels take you to Wenatchee make sure to stop in at Lemolo for lunch, dinner or just a snack. Then get out and enjoy that sun!
One thing Ironman training has taught me is, life isn't a straight path. Sometimes the races we choose don't work out. Sometimes we get there and the waves are just too high. We have to learn to readjust and turn in the new direction God is heading us in, even when it means we don't get to cross a few finish lines. As important as these finish lines on earth appear, it's the one in Heaven I'm worried about. Ok, I have to admit, I do view the pearly gates as a finish chute! Maybe even God is saying, "YOU-ARE-IN- HEAVEAN". Who knows, what will be said. I just know I'm going there and really that's all I know! Until I get there, I'm going to KEEP GOING while I'm here.
A few weeks ago I had just over an hour run assinged. I am capable of running on the treadmill ( "dreadmill" as my friend Pam affectionately calles it) for hours upon hours. I don't really get too bored, just plug in some music, stare at the wall and go. But this day I was a bit fidgity. I ran for a bit listening to my music and then remembered I hadn't finished a sermon podcast. I flipped back to one in the "No Vacancy" series by Pastor Drew. In the last few mintues of his sermon Pastor Drew pointed out that we just have to take, "little steps of faith". As we do that we build trust with Jesus' plan for our lives. And then he gave us homework. Find Your own quiet place and say two things, "Lord show me your love", and "what are you renewing in my life this year?". Ok, I was in a pretty quiet place, if I only turned off my ipod.
I put down my ipod and began to talk to Jesus. By then I forgot what Pastor Drew asked us to talk to Him about. I just remembered "quiet and listen". "Ok, I'm listening"...nothing, nothing. No bolt of lightening, no loud voice, just my somewhat steady footfall on the treadmill. Staring at the garage door, "Ok God, I'm here, I'm listening...." And then I started to think about what He has always said to me. "KEEP GOING"
I need to pause here. If you don't believe in God and you are still reading...Thank you!! I'm not writing all of this to preach just to tell my story. Why? Because that's what I think I'm supposed to do and it feels right. You maybe saying, "how do you hear that?" or doubting if I could really hear anything or wondering what it's like, "how do you know?" Well, I don't always know. The best way I can describe it is a small voice that comes from within but I know isn't me.
I still heard, KEEP GOING. Then I felt a small nudge to write it on my motivation mirror. "KEEP GOING" I've learned to listen to those small nudges, and amazing things have happened in my life. I got off the treadmill and wrote "KEEP GOING" on the mirror along with my other stickers and bible verse. And I drew a little heart symbol "God". I wanted to remember where that came from, not that I would really forget. I got back on the treadmill to resume my run and noticed I hadn't actually turned off or paused my ipod when I set it down and the podcast went on to another sermon by Pastor Jim from January 27th 2013, almost a year earlier and one of my favorite series, "Gone Fishing". I thought I had listened to all of these sermons but aparently I missed this one or didn't remember it. I guess I was listening to God longer than I thought because it was almost at the end of this particular sermon. Pastor Jim told this beautiful story of being in Africa and being asked to give a sermon at a village. He didn't quite feel prepared but gave the sermon because everyone was already on their way. When he was done, they asked for more. He listened and God revealed more to him. Pastor Jim then gave a few verses that I found very powerful.
"Be strong and couragous and do not be afraid" Joshua 1:9
"But the Lord God turned a curse into a blessing" Deuteronomy 23:5
"My flesh and my heart may fail but God is my strength and my portion forever" Psalm 73:26
WOW, these were huge! Can I see how God has turned a curse into a blessing in my life? In just one way, he has helped me go from mourning and defeated over the death of three children to inspired and ready to help fellow first responders and others find wellness and healing in their lives. I'm still not sure how that is going to happen. But I go back to those small steps of faith. "Be strong and couragous and do not be afraid". Joshua 1:9 I have been so afraid and I still am. I'm afraid to open myself up today, afraid to be vulnerable to people. But I know being strong will help someone else. I am afraid to take on Ultraman but I know in doing so, I can work on raising awareness of the problem of PTSD in first responders and hopefully get more help for the many who need it! Small steps. "My flesh and my heart may fail but God is my strength and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26 I have no doubt that along this Ultraman journey my flesh and my heart may fail. I have and likely will experience injury and setbacks. My emotions have almost failed over the past couple of years. I've been to the edge and in some sad places but God literally scooped me up and set me back on my feet. And I don't think he would have done that so I could just do nothing. I know that we all have to KEEP GOING.
After I was done with my run, I noted it on my workout log to my coach. "Good run today, legs felt good, energy was great, no pains" I guess that wasn't a very true assessment of that workout. I did also realize I was given a mantra of sorts and it feels so perfect to use in this Ultraman journey. That quiet voice from within has been saying it all along, "KEEP GOING".
I post this not because I think I'm awesome but I know I will be more awesome for my kids after I go. I talk to many moms who don't take the time out for themselves and I just want to say..."IT's OK!!". You not only feel great but you are an awesome example to your children