Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Community, Family, and the FBI

Eric has been talking in church about community and the importance of investing in three different layers of relationships: the close, intimate relationships such as family and very close friends; the typical friendships or acquaintances; and the chance meetings. I am so bad at being intentional about building and maintaining relationships. I let important events slide by without giving them the honor due.

Last weekend, I went out to lunch with my grandparents. I am so lucky to have them near. They have gone to lengths to help raise me and to support me and Rob when he was sick. I am so grateful for their influence in my life. Yet, I don’t really communicate or spend the time I want to spend with them. It takes intention, doesn’t it? It takes not letting a thought pass by without a phone call. I really value my family. My parents and grandparents. My wonderful aunts and uncles and the cousins spread halfway across the country that I’ve known since I was born. Those are special relationships.

I was just in the coffee shop reading and preparing for a paper I am about to write. A man came in with his daughter, who was in her early teens. They shared some cold coffee drinks and sat and talked about life. They had Bibles and were talking about the importance of knowing scripture and letting it resonate and sink into their minds and hearts. Then they sat and played board games together. It was beautiful. It wasn’t quick. It was intentional. His mentorship in her life will make a difference. It impressed me so much and it stuck with me. This girl will remember these precious times her dad set aside for the two of them.

We are tricked into believing that the people we love will always be around. But truly, we know deep down they won’t. The present time is the time we’ve been given. I want to be more intentional about honoring my love for my family by spending time with them and communicating with them more.

When I was at lunch with my grandparents, they told me stories about when Granddad was in graduate school. They lived in St. Louis. I loved to hear about their living situations the first year there. The first apartment was about 10x12 with a restroom that also had a clothes washer. There was a door from this room that went straight outside. They shared this with a family who lived on the other side of a cardboard divider. Grams decorated with paper curtains. A man moved in a few months later that liked to cook with garlic all the time, so they moved to a new apartment. I didn’t hear too much about this second apartment. The third one, though, was on Cabanne street in St. Louis. It was a big mansion divided into a number of apartments. It was a far cry from the tiny space they occupied earlier in the year. It had a Murphy bed that folded out of the wall and a separate dressing room and nice kitchen. Their apartment had previously been the library of the mansion. It had big, beautiful windows that looked out to the front lawn. The story went on to talk about them learning that the rest of the occupants of the house were supporters of communism. The KKK would light crosses on their front lawn and the FBI moved in to their apartment after they left so they could overhear communist radio broadcasts coming from the apartment next door.

This was the highlight of my week.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Imaginary Conversations Part I

I constantly have imaginary conversations. Like this morning, I pulled up to fill up my car with gas. Across the lane was a man filling up his white Hummer.

Me: Excuse me.
Guy: Uhhh... yeah.
Me: Two questions. One, is that your Hummer? And, if it is, what made you decide to buy it?
Guy: Uh... well... YEAH. IT IS MY HUMMER. And... I WANT IT, so get out of here before I shove your nosy little self into the exit only side of this gas pump.
Me: You're a freak.

When I see someone who drives a Hummer, I automatically assume that he (because 90% of the time, it's going to be a 'he') is a chach. I honestly do not understand the thought process that goes into buying a Hummer. Everything about that vehicle screams "UNNECESSARY!!!!"

I get it. If you work hard and you have a lot of money, it's your choice what you do with it. But truly, I view Hummer drivers as some of the most selfish, thoughtless, pea-brained individuals of our era.

That's all I've got to say about that.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Finish Line In View

I almost cried. I could feel the excitement. Coming into the stadium, with everyone yelling... the finish line in view... it all welled up in me. But it didn't quite overflow. That's a good thing.

I ran the Bolder Boulder yesterday. My first race - 10 kilometers at about 5,400 feet above sea level. I knew it would be a challenge and I was determined to make it in the range that I'd set for myself. I had spent the last few weeks getting ready by pushing my distance higher. Truly, I've never known myself as a 'runner'. Just like I'd never known myself as a skiier. But this has been the year to push that boundary a little bit and to see where I get.

I had 6.2 miles to run. I ran the first mile in 9 minutes. A minute faster than I was used to running on the treadmill. Whoops. Pace setting. Shortly after that first mile, my stomach cramped up and I felt like I was going to throw up. Maybe it was that stupid first mile, but for the next two miles, I felt pretty awful. I took some energy gel, and chugged some gatorade and shortly, I felt better. In fact, I felt so much better. My pace was set. My music had picked up tempo and I was able to match it with my own steps. The people around me were so much fun, too. There were three painted green - one of which I crashed into, leaving my arm the shade of the Jolly Green Giant. In one of the neighborhoods I passed by, a lady yelled out, "You got it! Don't give up. Just set your pace and keep at it." That echoed in my thoughts for the rest of the race.

At one point, I had slowed to a walk. Someone ran by shouting, "Go, Adam!!" I realized he was yelling that for me. I had posted a sign on my back that said, "I am running in honor of CPT Adam Brink, who is running the BB 7,000 miles away". Immediately, I remembered Adam was running along with me that very second half-way across the world. A huge smile came over me and I picked up my pace again. It was so wonderful to know that he was there, too.

I maintained a run all the way up that final hill and into the stadium. It was awesome. At no point did I ever think I wasn't going to make it. I ended up missing my goal time by 30 seconds, but I was still super excited. It was my first race. I had a rough start, but ended up setting a solid pace. I only wish I could remember it with more detail. I get so focused on the task at hand. I have different things I fill my thoughts with so that I can finish strong, but I lose out on my surroundings and on the details of the race. But I raced up the final hill and as I came into the stadium, I came around to the finish line at full speed. Exhilarating.

It was an awesome experience. Really, just knowing that I can do something that before in my life I thought was out of my reach. So, on to the next goal... a triathlon in September and a half-marathon in October. Then I think I'll take it easy and stick to skiing and regular distances like 5Ks. But who really knows?