Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, friends and family—and random blog readers! I wanted to thank you for all the Christmas card love (see photo, below right) and I hope that you enjoyed the card we sent you. If you didn’t get one, the postal service lost it, I am sure, so just take a look at our attempts and imagine the final product. Make sure you read my holiday risk assessment and, after reading, if you are still ready to hang around, I updated our “About Us” tab at the top, after only about 2 years. Please accept that as my Christmas gift to you.

Pretty crummy gift isn’t it?

We’ll it’s all I got my friends, so take it for what it is worth. At least it wasn’t the shake weight. :O)

Ok, how about pretending this is me and my family singing to you:

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Risk Assessment

I was on Facebook the other night, just looking. I noticed a status update from a high school friend who happens to be about 37 weeks pregnant. She was lamenting the conundrum that is of shaving legs while that pregnant. There were, of course, some laughs and some suggestions as replies to her status. One person kindly suggested Nair, a hair removal product. The pregnant lady retorted that she does not want to use something like that, which contains chemicals. There was also something similar to the following included: “…besides, if the baby is not here before Christmas, I am being induced that following Monday, so I do not have too much longer to wait.”

Now, that might not strike you in any way, but it does me. See, the girl did not want to take the risk of some sort of hair removal substance but she has no qualms at all about being induced, which has certainly put more lives at risk and in danger than Nair. I am not saying one is right and the other is wrong, I am just noting the risk involved and that she has made a choice, whether conscious or not, of what is a valid risk to her. Nair? No way! Drugs to induce and speed labor? Sure!

So, this got me thinking, for this sort of risk assessment and decision occurs all the time. I am willing, for example, to occasionally drink a coke product, complete with risky high fructose corn syrup, while I am in no way going to take the risk of driving my car without wearing a seat belt. Both have respective dangers, and I have chosen which I assume to be  worth the risk and which I have not.

Another example, just in case you need it: I know some people who are very opposed to formula. They do not like the artificial ingredients, and they do not think the convenience of that substance is worth the risk of consuming what is in the powder. Although I would warrant this a valid assessment on some levels, you will never see me make the choice to take my child out of his car seat, while traveling down the road, in order to breastfeed and avoid formula; it is not worth the risk of a wreck, endangering my child’s very life. I would stop for a nursing session, plan ahead with pumped milk, or give in to the powder. Some, however, see no risk involved in a mobile milk consumption. They weigh the safety of the breast above the safety of a car seat and the convenience of nursing on the road, without having to stop, over the convenience of the formula.

Let’s go for one more example, okay? How about one of faith? Let’s say that this thing called Christmas is really nothing more than the counter celebration to the winter solstice. There was no manger and certainly no baby. The star that shone so bright was just a fluke of the universe and we humans are just here by happenstance. Jesus was just a nice guy. When we die, we die…..or perhaps we are reincarnated into something less spectacular, like a cricket. Time just ends and there is nothing more to know. The story ends.

However, what if all that is wrong? What if there is more? What if there truly was a baby, the son of God, that was born of a miraculous conception? When we die, there is an afterlife of two destinations, one of joy and peace and another of pain and want. Let’s say we are created in the image of God, fashioned in His likeness, and the thing we call luck is really God’s divine intervention. What if the reason of the season really is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the Lord God Almighty, that wants a personal relationship with us, in order to save us from an eternity of damnation and a lifetime of loneliness?

Maybe the first scenario is right; there is no God and certainly no Jesus.  Maybe you’ve chosen to  deny the existence of a creator and settle for whatever may come in the after life.

Maybe that’s right…..maybe.

Or maybe not.

Is that a risk that you are really willing to take?

Miscellany on Monday

There are a bunch of random things I have felt like adding to the blog in order to update you on our life of late, so I figured a big miscellaneous post from the past month would do the trick.

We’ve been crafty, making a super fun caterpillar, a peek-a-boo house, some Christmas ornaments, and things of the like:

We’ve played in the snow (there was more than the picture shows……we just waited until 3PM to get out and play in it)

We’ve enjoyed the wedding of a sweet friend (this is a pose that we do at all the weddings for those that are from our group of college friends)

I’ve loved on the double portion that was given to my dear friends:

 

 

We’ve been to see the Veggie Tales:

 

 

We celebrated Thanksgiving:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a pipe burst in the house:

We’ve celebrated several birthdays, I ran a marathon, we’ve had two Christmas functions/parties, and so much more! But at least you now know some of what has been keeping us busy, just in case you cared. :o)

At Least We Tried

So, we attempted some Christmas card photos the other day. We got home from church and Thomas mentioned how great the kids looked. I was already cooking lunch but I knew we should take the opportunity before us and snag some great photos. Daniel cooperated but Wesley was just a ham and a wiggle worm. After a few shots of just them, Thomas and I took turns being in the photos too. It looks like we are not going to get many winners out of this photo session…….but at least we tried.( Honestly, even though not “perfect,” I Still like them anyway. Candid is always best, right?)



26.2

I know it has been way too long since I have blogged. I have so much to say but little time to say it. Now that I have a few free quiet moments, I will quickly tell you about my first marathon!

On-Again, Off-Again:I had *not* trained like I had hoped. Between stomach bugs that made all the males in my household vomit for a week, a sickness of my own, the Thanksgiving holiday, a special 4th birthday, and other such manners, running took a very back seat in the drive of life.

Last minute, I decided “Oh why not!” and I called my mom two days before the race and she agreed to watch the boys. Our friends, Eric and Amanda, in the town of the marathon agreed to house us, and Eric even agreed to pick up my packet so that I would not have the stress. Since they literally lived a few block from the start site, I could not have a better race day set up made.

On the 3 hour drive there, I debated with Thomas about running the half or the whole marathon. I knew I could do a half, for I have been there and done that. A whole, however, was certainly a different story and having never ran over 13.1 miles, doubling that seemed idiotic. I decided I would not do the whole.

As The SWAG Dictated:We stopped short of the race city and met friends, Jason and Anne, for carbo-loading. Even while eating dinner the night before, I was settled on the half. When we got to our friends in the race city, Eric handed me my race day packet. As I pulled out my shirt, I was disappointed, for the front was bland and boring. As I took a moment to gripe, Eric stated, “Well at least yours is a pretty color! The half-marathoners have an ugly gray.” “What? Our shirts are a different color?”I replied. “Yeah, and you have different race number colors too.” It was at that point I knew I was going to have to run the whole. I was not going home with memorabilia that said I ran a whole when I only ran a half. Game on.

Make New Friends But Keep The Old: That morning Eric was awake when I prepared to leave. He was such a sweet friend, helping me decide what gear to wear for the weather and putting saran wrap over my sticky race bib. I headed out to catch the trolley to the start line, and while waiting with other runners, a limo came and the driver said he would take runners for $2 each. I had no money. A fellow runner, albeit a stranger, paid for me, so I journeyed to the start line in style. New and old friends both paid off.

Father, Forgive Me For I Have Sinned:While waiting for the start, I chatted with runners. One guy next to me was worried that he would not be able to finish the whole marathon. He said he had only ran a few 20 mile long runs as his prep, and after that confession, he asked what my furthest run was. I looked right at him and lied. I know I shouldn’t have done it, for that is wrong, but I was not really wanting to hear how ridiculous I was being. You just do not go out and double your longest run ever. You build up. 13.1 to 26.2 automatically is not wise. So, I said 18 miles. It sound good enough. I knew the only way I would cross the finish line was if the Lord desired.

Mile By Mile: There were over 16,000 runners. Being that the run was for a a children’s hospital, there were signs thanking us for running. They actually called us heroes, and hearing “Way to go hero!” was certainly fun. At about mile 11, I had decided hearing strangers cheer was not enough. It seemed runners around me were seeing people they knew and loved, not to mention signs made specifically for them. I had told Thomas and my friends not to worry catching me on the course. It was just too hectic to try and figure that out, so they were going to meet me at the finish. I asked God for someone I knew. Silly, but I wanted it. About a half a mile later, I hear “Summer!” and I saw a girl that I went to college with cheering. More miles later, the split came, where marathon runners went left and half-marathon runners went right. There was a lady standing in the middle of the split staring you down as you approached, pointing you to the correct direction depending on the color of your bib. She pointed me to the left and full marathon runner territory was entered. Shortly after the split, I saw my good friend’s brother-in-law, and I had known his wife was running. I yelled, “Mark! How is Julie doing?” but before he could answer, I heard “Summer!” and I knew it was the voice of my friend’s mom. I immediately turned and ran her direction and hugged her. I was so excited to have seen them, among the thousands and thousands of people. Such a blessing.

Holy Hamstrings Batman! After I saw the 13.1 mile sign, I welcomed myself to uncharted territory. Around mile 17 my hamstrings began to hate me.  At about mile 20, I began to think this was the stupidest decision, ever. Not necessarily running it period but about running so haphazardly thanks to my poor training. At mile 23, however, I realized just how close I was, so I just kept going and going and going…..for another 3.2 miles.

Home Sweet Home: When I got to the finish line, I saw Thomas cheering in the bleachers. I crossed the finish and joined other runners trying to stretch out aches while wearing what I called “Alien Blankets” to help warm us (see alien blankets to the left). I eventually headed towards the “family reunion area” where Thomas greeted me with a hug, kiss, and yellow roses. He said he felt silly for having flowers because he did not see anyone else with flowers. I told him that made me love the flowers even more. Amanda and Eric also congratulated me. We took off and began to walk to Eric and Amanda’s home while the three of them purposely complained about having to walk a few blocks. They found it extremely funny to gripe to me about walking after I ran a marathon. Ahhh, good times.

 

This Side of Heaven: If you ever want time with God, take up running. Those that struggle will cry out His name. Those that enjoy running will love the conversation as the miles are logged. I fall into that second category. If you run a marathon, however, you fall a little into both categories at some point, and you certainly have a long time to chat with the Lord. During this race, I experienced a joy I will see in heaven, and I find it rare that anyone can participate in anything outside of worship to the Lord that can be such a phenomenal glimpse of that place while still on earth. While running though a densely populated area of spectators, I got a glimpse of glory. It may sound odd but everyone was cheering full force for you. The people did not care your pace, your previous running experience, if you were running the full or half, or if this was your first marathon or if this was your last. It was of no concern to the people if you had on nice shoes or no shoes. They just simply cheered because you were a runner. They gave high-fives, rang cow bells, shook signs, and smiled. Little children jumped up and down with glee. And as I was running past them all, I got teary eyed because God was showing me this side of heaven what it will be like one day when I am there. I will enter into His gates and everyone will be cheering for me. It will not matter how little or how much money I made on earth. My degrees and possessions will matter not in the level of their applause. The Saints that have gone before will simply cheer because I am a believer and I made it home. How awesome is that, my friends?

And it only took 26.2 miles for me to figure that one out :O)