Hills!

My daughter joined a track club last month. She has been enjoying the workouts. So far I like her coach. She’s positive and encouraging. She encourages the parents to do the workouts too and so we did our first hill workout in about two years tonight. Hill repeats. Up the hill, down the hill, repeat. I think we were supposed to do it six times but we only managed five, which I felt good about. I was injured for a long time and I’ve actually been afraid to run hills because I was worried about my knee but the knee feels great and I feel great knowing I was able to push myself. We met some other parents tonight who also live in our town and so that was fun too!

I have always loved how encouraging and supportive the running community is. I wanted that atmosphere for our daughter. Running is more about personal goals, being the best you can be in practice and races. I LOVE Running! Tonight I remembered how much I really loved this sport and why:-)

To top it all off, it was a beautiful spring night. Green and flowers as far as the eye could see. Just more of, WOW, Everything is a gift from God moments. It was a great way to end a Monday.

Today for Running, Hills and Beautiful spring evenings…I Give Thanks!

KOR

Here’s a picture of the sunset at the park where we ran tonight!

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Everything

Today at mass our pastor Father John gave his homily, if  I’m honest I don’t really remember most of the homily, probably because I thought it would be about the transfiguration, which was the Gospel today, but that wasn’t his focus.  I thought we’d get a homily about how we can all change.  Instead, as part of his homily, I heard, “Everything is a Gift from God.  Everything.”  That phrase caught my attention because just the other day I was listening to Alistar Begg, he’s a pastor whose sermons we listen to, almost daily.  He’s not Catholic, in fact, I’m pretty sure he thinks Catholicism is bunk but you know it’s fine by me, we all have our flaws, Ha!

Seriously, Alistar was giving a sermon this week where he was talking about just being grateful for waking up in the morning and looking out the window and seeing a blue sky.  It was the same message I heard today from Father John.

When bad things happen its hard to see things as gifts.  We had a sad accident happen this weekend.  As we were returning home from work Friday we drove into our garage like we always do but we didn’t see our neighbors cat.  Sadly, after all was said and done, it didn’t turn out well.  Laina and I cried ourselves to sleep.  I encouraged her to paint a picture of  him the next day so she could have a memory and we printed out a nice picture we had taken of him a few months earlier.  We wrote a card asking for forgiveness from our neighbor and took it over the next day.  The wife is very sweet and very forgiving.  I don’t know that I would be that forgiving but it wasn’t her cat.  It was the childhood cat of her husband, who we actually haven’t seen since Friday night so I’m not real sure he’s quite ready to forgive us and I can’t say I blame him.

I was so upset at one point I told my husband he had ruined our entire weekend.  Totally unfair and untrue.  I prayed that morning that our neighbors would forgive us and then I called my mom, who else would I call?  I cried and told her what happened and as moms often do she helped put it all in perspective for me and I felt better after I talked to her.  Funny how at 47 years old I still want to have my mom make it all ok.

Anyway, such a sad start to our weekend but when I heard Father John this morning it forced me to look at the weekend as a whole and realize that lots of good things happened too.  The weather was amazing, beautiful blue sky for miles, warm, not too hot.  I went to a bridal shower for my cousin.  Very happy for him.  I guess I went to the bridal shower of his fiance but I’ve considered her my cousin for a long time already, such as it is.  We had a fun St. Patrick’s Day breakfast with our family and friends.  We ate corned beef and cabbage or tri-tip and potatoes, if you preferred, with Irish Soda Bread and other yummy side dishes here and there.  We ended our weekend by taking a drive down Sky Harbor Road.  If you live in our valley then you know that one of the very best things is our foothills in the spring.  Absolutely incredible any spring but with so much rain this year it is a total feast for the eyes!  Sky Harbor Road winds around one of our local lakes and leads up to a hiking trail.  It was just spectacular, so beautiful, I didn’t want to leave.  The amazing thing is it is only like 25 minutes from our house, if that, I love where we live in CA.  We can be at any of a number of amazing places in less than an hour and if we want to see the ocean, its’ just a little over a two hour drive.  If we want to be in a big city we are less than 3 or 4 hours away, depending on if we go south or north.  We almost never want to be in a big city.  I don’t think I will ever get my daughter to go back to San Francisco, she was not impressed when we went in January.

I’m off track.  My point was behind all these wonderful things was an ache in my heart for the pain we caused our neighbor and it hasn’t gone away.  I’m old enough to know it will lessen over time but I’m also old enough to know it will never go away.  I hope they forgive us.  They are nice people and it would be nice to get to know them better.  It was a reminder that we should know them better, that whole Love Your Neighbors thing.   It was a reminder that things aren’t permanent and in the matter of less than a second, everything can be changed.

Everything is a gift from God.  Beautiful things are gifts from God and sad and painful things are gifts from God too.  They both are designed to remind us that we are His.  Forgiveness is His greatest gift.  We can’t earn that, we can only accept that we have it.  It’s called Grace.  We can’t force others to forgive us when we’ve wronged them.  We can only ask for it, the important part there is we need to ask.  The second most important part is to forgive ourselves. We are useless when we wallow in self-pity.  We can not “Glorify God by Our Life” when we wallow in self.

We are His creation and He calls out to us, sometimes the call is painful and heart crushing but sometimes, like this afternoon the call is beautiful and heart filling.

I’ve seen deep sadness and brokenness in my own life turned to joy immeasurable, you’d think I’d learned this lesson by now.  Obviously not.  God’s mercies are never ending and His faithfulness is always true.  Our names are carved into the palm of His hands, carved. I am overwhelmed by this truth.

What a crazy weekend.  Lows and highs.

For everything God sends to me good and bad…I Give Thanks!

KOR

Here’s a picture of our foothills.  They are amazing.

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Lent

So it’s been Lent for about a week now. Yes, I guess today makes it one official week. Growing up Catholic we always celebrated Lent. I think its kinda cool how other evangelical churches are starting to practice the self-discipline of Lenten sacrifice. My husband said Lent was a foreign concept to him growing up Protestant. When we were first dating he gave up meat with me and I think his family just thought it was the dumbest thing ever, at least that is the vibe I remember getting. When our daughter was 3 or 4 she gave up potato chips and we were out somewhere with his mother and I reminded her she had given up chips. His mom gave me an eye roll. I understand Lent can be a foreign concept to some people and that’s all right. Just because someone else doesn’t understand something I do isn’t really a good reason to stop doing it. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to believe educating people about why we love God is probably better than rolling our eyes back at them or writing them off. Actually, if you are a Christian, God made it pretty clear you are supposed to share Him with others through loving them, though that can be incredibly difficult at times.

During Lent, if you are Roman Catholic, which I am, we practice, 40 days of , Almsgiving, Sacrifice and Prayer. It’s a discipline designed to have us pause and consider the incredible gift God gave to us in His son Jesus, who loved us so much, He paid the ultimate price for our sins, instead of us. Some people think you can earn your way into heaven by being really good or trying to be. Some people think they don’t need God’s grace, either because they don’t believe in God or because they think just being a good person is “good enough”. The bible is pretty clear both those views are wrong. I’m not a relativist. I don’t believe that some things are true for me but not for others. I believe that Truth exists and you find that truth in the person of Jesus Christ. I believe all people can find truth in Jesus. Back to Lent.

We always practice giving something up but its not so we can get into heaven and it’s not because we are afraid of being punished if we don’t. It is to practice the discipline of self-control. Self-Control is a fruit of the spirit and you can make your self-control stronger by practicing it. Really, lets be honest, who couldn’t use a little more self-control? I know I can! Lent is a great time to practice this gift of the Holy Spirit. So, yes, we usually give up a food item or something we actually enjoy because it helps remind us that these next 40 days are different, they are special. God set them aside for us to remember Him in a special way.

We practice prayer together as a family, sometimes we will say a daily rosary, although we have’t started that yet but we do enjoy attending the Stations of the Cross, which I highly recommend, even if you aren’t Catholic, they are a beautiful prayer, a beautiful way to remember God’s gift and sacrifice. Almsgiving. We try to pay more attention than we might usually to those around us who could use our services somehow, maybe its a visit or a meal, time is really a valuable gift to give to others, so we try to be more open to opportunities during this time and opportunities never fail to show up, whether its visiting an elderly friend or taking a meal to a friend who just had surgery or whatever presents itself.

We also read more. We picked a book to read by Mathew Kelly, The Biggest Lie in Christianity. So far we like it and it has a daily video we watch that goes along with the book.

I really look forward to Lent every year. It’s an opportunity to slow down and really consider how I’m living my life, if my priority is always God or if I just try to squeeze Him in here and there to the bits of my life that I have left for Him. If I’m honest, its more the later.

So that’s Lent in our household. If you don’t practice the discipline of Lent, I encourage you to learn more about it and try it. It’s not about giving up chocolate, its’ about what the giving up represents. It’s not some “hokey religious practice” devoid of any place in a modern world.

Practicing Lent doesn’t make you a “religious” or a “spiritual” person. In fact, I really don’t like it when someone calls me religious or spiritual. It’s become a derogatory description lately. Like I’m somehow less of a person because I NEED a God no one can see or touch.  Maybe believing in a God that no one can see or touch, makes me more than one dimensional? If this life is all you are living for, maybe you are the one with the lack of vision and not me? Just a thought…

Practicing lent makes you a person who believes God can do a work in you when you focus on Him and the grace and mercy He has shown us in the gift that IS, not was, but IS His son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. I encourage you to get to know Him, 47 years and I’m still learning about Him everyday, his mercies and grace amaze me everyday.

Today, for Lent…I Give Thanks!

Praised Be Jesus Christ…Now and Forever!

KOR

Valentine’s Day

I love Valentine’s Day:-)!! Before I found My Love, I loved Valentine’s Day!! I have always given or sent Valentine’s to friends and family. I love to do that. Over the years I have changed to giving out Valentine’s to mostly family, our God-Children, my parents, brother, sister, daughter and of course My Sweetheart. I also like to do something fun or different in my classroom on Valentine’s and it almost always involves chocolate! Today we did a lesson I named That’s S’ More! Like Amore! But S’More! Ha! I played the song by Dean Martin and sang it was funny, the number of eye rolls was hilarious! Anyway, I think Valentine’s is for everyone and I wish more people embraced the idea of using the day to just remind everyone in our sphere that we love them and value them.

My own love does Valentine’s well. He is amazing. He is a hopeless romantic and I am the happy recipient of all the sweet sweet wonderful things he has done over the years. It’s like a fairytale I live in on Valentine’s Day. I am not kidding. Today he sent me the song Storybook Love. He bought me flowers two days ago. He took me to lunch today and I know he has a fun and special evening planned for me and our daughter, who he also totally spoils. I could ask for anything from him on this day and he’d probably do it or get it if it was within reason. Not to mention all the sweet poems, love letters, stories he’s written for me over the years.

I am so incredibly blessed that God put Jason in my life. He makes me feel loved like no other person on Earth. I imagine the love I feel from my husband is close to the love God has for me. That totally amazes me because I can’t imagine being loved by anyone more than I am loved by Jason and yet I am.

I am definitely not bragging or trying to but one day if my daughter reads this blog I want her to know how incredibly awesome her Dad was/is and how grateful I felt and feel everyday for the gift that he is to us. God has been so good to me and I as I sit here,  typing this while waiting for my daughter to finish her piano lesson, I am overwhelmed by that Love.

Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day should be about? Knowing we are loved and whether that is the love we feel from a lover or a friend, parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent, it’s all really just a reflection of the one perfect love waiting to hold us all, if we open our hearts.

I encourage you to share Love today with the people around you, through you they might have just enough of a glimpse, a taste of God’s perfect love to want to to take the time to know Him.

Today for Valentine’s Day…I Give Thanks!

KOR

Here are the  flowers My Love bough. I told you, he does Valentine’s well!

SNOW!

I live in a valley. The most beautiful valley in the state, if you ask me. Unfortunately, you can’t always tell that I live in a valley. My valley is about an hour away from the front gate of Yosemite National Park as well as an hour away from the front gate of Sequoia National Park, well, maybe I should say my town not my valley. In any event, the mountains are flush with snow right now and the air is clean and so the views when I drive over to my school are breathtakingly beautiful! I mean I could stare at the wonder of the mountains and the snow for hours. The foothills are green and the mountains are snow capped, its the valley of my youth. I was so very thankful to God today for my views, almost 360, amazing!

My valley feeds the world. It is a beautiful place to live, even in the summer when it’s hot. I love it in every season but my favorite is probably right now just before spring and fall, whenever that happens because sometimes it doesn’t happen until December. We live hours away from a spectacular coast line and like I wrote an hour away from beautiful foothills, lakes and world class National Parks.

I love running here. It’s spectacularly beautiful most days. I love my drives to work. I love driving past the open green fields and the orchards. Much of the land has been owned by family farmers, sometimes for generations. It’s getting harder for them though, which concerns me. My town is a relatively conservative leaning town in a crazy liberal state. I enjoy my town. I know people at my church and in my community. I feel like I belong. I care about the people here, the kids here. Some days I am so happy as I drive through my valley I think my heart will burst, like today.

Today….for the spectacularly beautiful mountains that are surrounding my valley, they remind me of God’s ever lasting and ever surrounding love…I Give Thanks!

KOR

 

 

Sewing…

Today my girl and I have a sewing lesson, so I’m thankful for that. She has a bit of a cold and so I’m thankful I haven’t caught it as I am running a half-marathon on Sunday. We are supposed to make blankets. She picked an animal fabric and if you know her then you know she totally loves animals. I picked a bright fabric with Swans on it. It just looked happy to me. The forecast for Sunday’s half has rain in it. Luckily we have run in the rain once and also a heavy drizzle so as long as its light I think we’ll be ok.

Christmas was really nice. New Years was fun. I made it to midnight and wasn’t tired at all. I love ringing in the New Year with my family.

There has been lots of sunshine, hopefully the rain doesn’t bring back the fog. I don’t care for fog.

Sunday is Epiphany and our run is called the Dia De Reyes run. We run the course all the time. It’s basically our training course for our half in Monterey, so it will be familiar and believe it or not Fresno is really pretty and green right now. The foothills have greened up and the Eaton Trail is a nice trail to run on in the early morning. We are having people over in the afternoon to celebrate our run. We will have tacos and Rosca de Reyes or Three Kings Cake. There is a baby Jesus baked into the caked and the person who gets the Baby Jesus is supposed to host a meal on February 2nd for family. February 2nd marks the end of the Christmas season for Catholics.

So today for sewing lessons, health, running, sunshine and good times with family and friends…I Give Thanks!

KOR

Only Jesus…

I love this song by a group called Casting Crowns. I’ve watched them at least twice in concert. Steven Curtis Chapman, an all time favorite, helped get them started.

This song reminds me of the first catechism question I ever learned. Why are we here? To love God with our whole heart, mind and soul.

I forget this often, very often. I was just teaching my Camp Fire girls that when we go out and do things for people, it’s to bring Jesus to them. We are His hands and feet.

Today is Christmas Eve and so today I’m going to focus on being Jesus to others, instead of being upset that my husbands mother went to Disney World(long story, lots of history, too much to explain now) for the holidays or worrying about which traditions will stay or change this year.

In the end its all about Jesus. He gave his life so I could live, who does that? You just don’t see it as much as it’s needed. We have opportunities everyday to give our life for others, to make choices that help others and I don’t make the right choice nearly as much as I should. Merry Christmas Eve!

Today, for Jesus, I Give Thanks!

Here’s the song…