Back to Normal-ish.

It’s amazing how one can start to appreciate the really little things. I have been ecstatic all week because I have been getting ready for work in my own apartment! I feel such freedom! If I want to change my clothes, I can. If I want to wear a perfume I haven’t worn in ages, I can. If I want to listen to music and drink coffee and straighten my hair all at the same time, I can. 

Since August, due to early morning cross country practices, I have been getting ready for work in a little cottage that belongs to my school. It’s tiny. It’s made for giant ants. Actually, it’s made forJapanese people. It was not made for tall Canadian girls. So my mornings have been cramped and rushed. The most stressful thing was trying to make sure I remembered to pack my underwear, my deodorant and all of the right clothes for the day. Happily, I can report that I only forgot my mascara once… (the day that shall be forever known as the day I resembled a fetus) Anyway that’s all behind me now. I’m back to getting ready in my own apartment, like normal people do.

So while I’m still oh-so-tired, I love having my early morning time back. 

And that is all I’ve got for now. 



Alone Time

Since August I have been running in the mornings 4-5 times a week. I should be in amazing shape however I’m running with 40-60 girls who while lovely in their own ways, take up more energy than the actual workouts. It’s been fantastic running with them and coaching them and getting to know them and seeing them improve but I’m starting to become anxious to get this season finished.

I miss my alone time. Running for me is about so much more than exercise. It’s about processing and breathing and getting my head in the right place before the day begins. It’s about being in tune with my body and what my body can do and should be able to do. It’s about getting myself grounded before the day begins.

When I’m not coaching, I actually do the 4:44am thing which is earlier than my coaching wake up call at 5:21 but I find I’m way more tired with this coaching thing. From before 7am I have the little voices asking me all sorts of things and it doesn’t stop until I’m tucked back into my hobbit hole of an apartment at the end of the day. I’m not complaining, I’m just noticing that it’s starting to drain on me. But the season is fairly short and we’re in the final stretch so I know it will all right itself.

I have learned so much from coaching and am forever grateful for the opportunity to do it. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about my students, myself and running. I am now in the process of setting my own personal goals and trying to figure out what’s next for me in terms of running and races and all of that fun stuff. I’ve been able to witness the excitement of meets and actually, right now I’m in Guam for a tournament. All good things but I’m also happy that the season is short.

I am so looking forward to November 5th when at 5 am it will just be me and my running shoes.

Christian Songs Are Kind of Scary

I remember a little over a year ago, sitting around somewhere and hearing a friend start to plunk out on the guitar that ever familiar chorus of Matt Redman’s Blessed Be Your Name: “You give and take away, You give and take away, My heart will choose to say, Blessed be Your name.” She was happily strumming along and singing it in a way that I could clearly see she wasn’t actually grasping the intensity of those lyrics. I remember thinking: “No no no! Singing about God taking away things should never be done in that key, that quickly, that upbeat-ly.” That’s a hard thing to praise God for. And sadly, during that time of my life, I was never able to sing that song. In fact it got deleted from my playlist.

It’s funny how a song can continue to haunt you.

Fast forward to now and that song is back on the playlist. God didn’t take away what I was afraid He would yet that song still catches me off guard. Am I really able to say Blessed Be Your Name even when/if He takes away something I desperately hope He will not?

This week I’ve been working on being able to sing that and mean it. I think I’m really nearly almost there. That song does come on some mornings and I somewhat flinch but I’m okay with it and I can pray along with it.

There are other songs that keep playing though and I wonder just how many lyrics I’ve sung over the years with a poor understanding of what they actually mean. It’s so easy to get caught up in the catchy beat or a phrase we find is worth writing down and mulling over but to really internalize these lyrics that we sing…to really mean them… that’s a pretty incredible thing.

While I was making breakfast Chris Tomlin’s song Lay Me Down started to play and “It will be my joy to say, Your will, Your way” started to hit me. It sounds so nice and joyful but what happens when His will and His way makes us ever so uncomfortable? What happens when His will and His way plunges us into sadness and grief? What happens when His will and His way seems so opposite to what we think we need to be happy? It’s tough…

So I can quickly press next and get something a little more upbeat or I can turn to the Bible and there.. promises.

He will not leave us, nor forsake us.

He will not give us more than we can handle.

He will provide comfort.

He will be enough.

He will help us be brave and courageous.

He will hold us in His wings and keep us close to Him.

He will make us aware of His steadfast love.

He will continue to be faithful to us.

And He will help us get to the point where we can sing to Him, no matter what happens in our lives: Blessed Be Your Name.

In the Early Morning Hours

4:44 Your eyes open slowly and the room is dark. You can see the green lit numbers on your alarm clock… it’s early. Your brain tries to orient you… suddenly you are flooded with emotions as you realize where you are, what day this is, what you have to do, what you are frightened about doing, who hasn’t been too nice lately, where your long sleeved black shirt is, whether you should get up and go running or be lazy now and workout later, whether you actual will work out later knowing that your favourite show is on tonight, how a bathing suit based vacation is coming up, how if you don’t run you’ll blow up and no man will ever love you… and you’ll be forced to live a lonely life forever with cats, except that you don’t like cats but maybe you should learn, maybe cats will make you a more loving person and you’ll attract the right kind of man but then maybe you won’t and you’ll just have a lot of cats and then eventually will die alone, unless your sister has kids in which case they probably will take care of you but will they want to..? It goes on and on… growing more hysterical and making less sense…

Then you give your head a shake and swing your legs over the edge of the bed and hit the shower, flicking on the coffee pot on the way.. trying to find your way back to normal… or at least functional… or maybe that’s just me.

The point is.. I’m not generally a fear based person (I have lots of other fun issues instead) except when I first wake up. When someone asked me recently what my deepest fear was.. I replied: limb loss. As a general rule, I am not controlled or dominated by fear and can generally quite easily talk myself through scary experiences… unless it’s during the early morning hours.

When I wake up I tend to feel rather vulnerable. I don’t know if it’s because I wake up stupid-early or am generally lacking sleep but something about those early morning moments.. I am afraid. My mind starts racing with everything that worries me.. everything that concerns me.. everything that troubles me. I fret about little things and big things and it’s really rather overwhelming. I’ve been like this for a while.. I think it started right before I moved to Indonesia (over 8 years ago)… which was probably the scariest thing I’ve done.

I have learned to talk myself down, to deal with this strange early morning mania but it doesn’t always go away. When I was very obviously not living for God, those feelings were dark and scary and kind of sharp and would only dissipate by an adamant refusal to even acknowledge them. But the thing is, they didn’t go away. I pressed them down but they followed me all day.

Now.. those scary early morning thoughts still surface but I know what to do with them. I know how to recognize them for what they are. I know that I should get myself out of bed and put on my Christian music. I know that soon I will be spending time with God and can lay those fears at His feet. I believe and know that I can cast all my cares upon Him for He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).  I know that He has the plan and He can sort out all the little details. (although it may be up to me to find my black shirt).

Psalm 16 (which has some real gems and is definitely a good one to commit to memory) was part of my reading this morning and while I love how it talks about God being our portion and cup and how the lines fall for me in pleasant places.. today I was struck by  vs 7 & 8.

“I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (ESV).

The fact that he can give us counsel, having our hearts instruct us through the night, and that because of him.. I shall not, will not be shaken speaks to me. Anxious early morning thoughts need not rattle me or upset me. Fears of limb loss or dying alone or overwhelming amounts of paperwork that I hate filling out but must, need not plague my heart. I can wake up in the morning and remember that the Lord goes before me… He gives me counsel and He holds me steady.

Tomorrow morning when I open my eyes and my brain starts flooding with the usual unsettling thoughts, I know what verse to throw at it and I know that I need not be thrown off but I can relax in the knowledge that He is with me.. at my right hand, holding me steady… even in the pre-5am hours.