Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Look again and think

One of the many great things our church does is a church-wide devotional each year. This year is the classic gem My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. While we were growing up, this is the book my dad kept at the breakfast table, going through it year after year, but this is the first year I’ve delved into it’s wise goodness. I thought today’s devotional was particularly good, full of applicable wisdom for our lives and marriage – our little worries and our plans we take so seriously. Hopefully it will touch you too.

January 27
Look again and think

“Take no thought for your life.” Matthew 6:25

A warning which needs to be reiterated is that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things entering in, will choke all that God puts in. We are never free from the recurring tides of this encroachment. If it does not come on the line of clothes and food, it will come on the line of money or lack of money; of friends or lack of friends; or on the line of difficult circumstances. It is one steady encroachment all the time, and unless we allow the Spirit of God to raise up the standard against it, these things will come in like a flood.

“Take no thought of your life” “Be careful about one thing only,” says our Lord, “Your relationship to Me.” Common sense shouts loud andy says, “That is absurd, I must consider how I am going to live, I must consider what I am going to eat and drink.” Jesus says you must not. Beware of allowing the thought that this statement is made by One Who does not understand our particular circumstances. Jesus Christ knows our circumstances better than we do, and He says we must not think about these things so as to make them the once concern of our life. Whenever there is competition, be sure that you put your relationship to God first.

“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” How much evil has begun to threaten you today? What kind of mean little imps have been looking in and saying – Now what are you going to do next month – this summer? “Be anxious for nothing,” Jesus says. Look again and think. Keep your mind on the “much more” of your heavenly Father.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Operation: Kitchen Chalkboard

As we enter 2010, and I don't have to worry about budgeting 4 hours every weekend for a long run, projects begin swirling in my mind. One of my next ideas is a kitchen chalkboard. I love Melanie's below - their breakfast nook, and house actually (so cheerily decorated for Christmas) has a similar look/layout to ours. We have a window where her gigantic chalkboard, is, but I like the idea...for reminders, for ideas, for doodling. Maybe when we have kiddos someday it can even be a place where they can doodle and learn. So I am going to try this. I hope Melanie doesn't mind me copying...I showed her blog to Cindy, and I think she just might beat me to it, but I'll get there. :) You should get a kitchen chalkboard too...all the cool kids are doing it.

Here are some other lovely kitchens below.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MARATHON!!!


I ran a marathon this weekend. Those are definitely six words I never thought I would say until about the last six months. It was truly an amazing experience on so many levels, and my experience was full of many blessings, such as the gorgeous, mild weather. (I have a co-worker who has horror stories of running it with icicles in her hair- yikes!)


The day started in the dark and the cold. Before the gun, there was an invocation, and as the prayer was said over the loudspeaker, I got tears in my eyes- I couldn’t believe this day was finally here! I prayed so fervently with the minister, ready for the day. We got started, and I got to see Cason and Bill (my father in law) as I crossed the starting line. (Look for my neon green bandanna below!)
As we ran north of downtown over the Elysian via duct, you could see the breath of 19,000+ runners as the sun came up. It was so hard to stay slow at the beginning, both from the adrenaline and the cold, but I really tried to be self-controlled. I needed my pace to be 11-minute miles. Much to my chagrin, my mile one pace was 8:25, and I told myself I had to slow down, even though it felt like everyone was passing me! I would pay later if I ran too quickly. People began to shed their jackets, gloves and hats and they littered the road. I slowed down eventually and had a pace of about 10:45 for the first few miles through the Heights/Montrose area. I have so much Houston pride during this race! Last year, I was just beside myself thinking of how lucky we were to live in such a great city. Thousands of people come out in support with signs, cowbells, high school drumlines, dancing cultural groups and 6-year-old boys handing out orange slices and pretzels in their front yards.

The first 8 miles was really crowded, before the half-marathon turnaround on Montrose and Richmond. I caught my first cheering squad sighting- there were Sarah Craig and Chris and Becky Kiser in front of Jack in the Box with a huge bunch of helium balloons, a sign for me, big smiles and the loudest cheers, snapping my picture and cheering me on. (photo credit below, Sarah Craig, unfortunately, there are no pictures of Sarah!)
About a half mile later, there were Cason and Bill again, ready with more gu, shot blocks, chap stick…anything I could need. The best were the smiles, signs, hugs and high fives. At the half-marathon turnaround, this year I kept going straight…all the while thinking…”we are in new territory here!” I passed by a church on Main where the priests were literally flinging “holy water” from orange buckets over all the runners (haha.) As I went through the Rice U/Med Center/West U miles, the runners started to thin out considerably, and it was so nice. American flags lined the streets, people ran by with names and causes on the backs of their shirts; this experience meant so much to so many people. I loved the “Stop being tired and start being awesome.” sign. Saw Cason and Bill again at Buffalo Speedway and University (I was getting texts on my iphone so I knew where to look for them.) I headed north, then west toward the Galleria. Mile 14 brought the wicked hill on Westpark…no thank you…I am spoiled to running on Houston’s flat streets! I saw my mom, sister Liz and mother in law Trish for the first time (with Cason and Bill) at mile 16.5 where we turned left on San Felipe from Post Oak. I got so emotional (again!) when I saw their big smiles, cheers and signs. I gave quick hugs, kept going toward Tanglewood, and they scurried off to their next spot. Mom was worried that I was crying from pain or exhaustion, but it was neither of those!

Running through shaded Tanglewood was very nice as it was becoming late morning and was quite sunny. I still felt great at this point, Pandora was giving me good songs to run to! I turned right on Woodway at mile 18…from here on out I was basically running due east, straight back to downtown. At mile 19 I got the surprise of the race, and I almost missed it: in front of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, there was a large crowd, like many others we had seen. I waved at some folks and made eye contact, and one face stood out: President George H.W. Bush!! I shook his hand, and simply said “Thank you, sir!” and kept running. I couldn’t believe it. That gave me another shot of adrenaline and energy, and I called Cason, panting as I talked, as I entered Memorial Park. He could NOT understand what I was saying, and it took awhile, but he finally understood. (He was ecstatic, considering that he would follow 41 around 24/7 if it would provide a sustainable living- this guy sent Bill to Iraq and brought him back home in the early 90s, so he is a hero to the family.) Below is a picture from chron.com since I wasn't lucky enough to get one!
I saw a girl from Baylor running, and she said, “Allison if you can just make it through Memorial Park, you’ll be good. Those miles 20-21 are tough.” Well I made it through the park, and it wasn’t too bad. I got a text from Becky Kiser “we are just past mile marker 22 on your right!” at about 21.5 I started looking for those balloons they had – I spotted them, and I could see them for a long time before I got to see my friends, what great motivation! I got emotional again (broken record by this point) and thanked them for being there. Sarah took these pictures at mile 22:

Cason and Bill were not far ahead. Cason ran with me for a bit until we saw Trish, Mom and Liz again at Memorial and Shepherd.

I was feeling great, almost to mile 23! I got on Shepherd to Allen Parkway, and then it got really, really HARD. Hard because, hello! I was tired, but also hard because I was almost there but felt so far, and people around me started to walk…like we were all finished or something, plus the “reverse hills” (aka underpasses) on Allen Parkway were really tough. I kept praying “God please carry me! Please help me finish!”

I made it to downtown (but not to the finish line yet!) and crossed under a sign that said 1.5 miles to go! A mistake I made in the half marathon last year was feeling like I was done because I entered downtown…no sir, you have to run through downtown to get to the finish line. Right when I needed them again, I saw the Kisers and Sarah at mile 25 right by the library downtown. I was not expecting them there at all, but there were my friends and the balloons! They called Cason and said “tell us where to go!” That husband of mine was very smart in suggesting they go to mile 25 instead of joining our other friends and family at the finish line. They encouraged me on as I wove through the skyscrapers. I finally turned the corner onto Rusk and I could see it! The finish line!! As I got closer, I saw more and more friends! The Housers, Marlatts and Rabes were together with signs, alluding to our favorite youtube videos (“Scarlatt takes a Tumble” and “I Will Throw You On The Ground!”) I cried when I saw them too. Then there was Cason, Bill and Trish…and I crossed the finish line, and Mom, Liz and Dad were there!! Dad had made a special effort to get back from Dallas in time to see me at the finish line. He started driving when I started running!! I was tearing up and so thrilled that I was finished. I went through the convention center and got my finisher’s shirt, my medal and my mug, saw my Baylor buddy Andrew Ginakis who had finished just a few minutes before me. 4:54:57 was my time, and “under 5 hours” was my goal. I made my way to the other side of the hall where my friends and family were waiting. The Folloders and Saxes joined us at that point with a bouquet of flowers. I was just so overwhelmed to have everyone there!



We chatted for awhile and then went back to the house. Mom and Dad picked up sandwiches for all the family and I got to take a shower, hallelujah! The Kisers and Craigs stopped by to visit some more, but by about 4:30, all of our guests had left. It was just Cason and myself, so I curled up for a nap with the kitties.

It was a great day- I was so blessed. Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement. I’ve been asked if I want to do another one: if I am hooked. I don’t think I’m hooked, I’m satisfied with the accomplishment of my goal. It wasn’t a miserable experience at all, but the training took so much time. I think I am excited to do more half marathons and 10Ks, etc. with the satisfaction of knowing I did a marathon. While I probably won’t do another one, I highly recommend it, even for those of you who did anything possible to not take a PE in high school, like me. :) I also recommend doing a half marathon first, then running a marathon the next year.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

This is getting serious

Happy 2010 everyone! We are only halfway through the first month of the year, and I feel like a lot has happened.

We welcomed the new year with some friends at a low-key new year’s eve event. The party consisted of several couples who had asked us our plans for the anti-climactic holiday…to which we replied, “we don’t have any plans either…just come over!” It got organized all of 2 days before. Cason decided to greet our friends in a tux to play a joke on them…most didn’t fall for it, since our friends know the attire at our house is quite casual.



As I went back to work after two lovely weeks off, I got a nasty cold and beginnings of an ear infection! The first week of January was spent frantically fighting that off before our ski trip. I learned that bad things really do come in threes when I broke my permanent retainer and lost a diamond in my wedding band in the 48 hours that I was really sick! (Thankfully, both have now been repaired.)

We then ventured to Colorado with some of our dear friends, the Rabes and Marlatts. Skiing was an absolute blast, and traveling with these fellow frugal couples meant that we didn’t have to dig too deep into our vacation budget. Jill found some great round-trip tickets on Southwest for $100/person, and the condo was another great deal on vrbo.com. It’s great to get away with friends, not pack any make-up and enjoy a mountain view and skiing is one of my most favorite things to do. Gotta love vacations and all the stories, jokes and adventures that get deposited into the memory bank – this trip was special for Cason and I because we both love to ski, but we had never been together.

Now to the subject line of this entry: I say “this is getting serious” because I am running my first (and probably only) marathon in THREE DAYS!! During the past couple of months, especially, it has gotten intense. Words like “Gu,” “Shot Blocks” and “Recovery Drink” have now entered my vocabulary. I have literally run hundreds of miles in preparation for this event. Many friends and family have committed to cheer me on, and I will need it. This is truly an act of God that I am planning to run this thing…especially since I was the girl that was a basketball manager in high school just to get my P.E. credits!

Here goes nothin'...

Monday, January 4, 2010

December, numerically and pictorally speaking



While December is FULL of memories, I have been busy making those with little time for blogging. So, wonderful stories aside, here is our December in numbers and pictures:
• 7 Christmas parties
• 2 snowfalls
• 5 Christmases
• 3 movies
• 7 gifts made
• 53 miles of running
• 3 Celebration performances
• 14 families adopted (I coordinate FSGH’s adopt-a-family program each year)
• 2 books finished
• 9 days of vacation
• 100+ cookies baked
• 100+ Christmas cards mailed
Christmas is always so much fun, but I always love the clean slate and refreshment of a new year as well as the simplicity of January. Here are just a few snapshots of our December: