Friends In Unlikely Places

Nine years ago, my home was flooded, I wasn't living in my house, I had a husband whose job required him to travel, two small children, we were being sued (I haven't told that captivating story on the blog), and I was keeping a baby 2-3 days a week. In short, I was a wreck.

I ran myself over to what would have been the closest gym if we lived in our house and signed up. I decided that I deserved just a little bit of me time and that was going to be it. I had no idea the significance that decision would play in the next 9 years of my life.

Soon I was attending classes there and met Laura, who had also recently joined that gym. Laura is a local preacher's wife who likes to not fit the preacher's wife mold. My earliest memory of her at the gym -- NO idea what we were discussing, but Laura laughed and said, "Honey, we've been married almost 15 years. If I shave my legs, that's foreplay." Yeah, I was going to like Laura.

I think Amy was there all along. Amy is a little more like me. Seemingly quiet... until she has an opinion. I know when the gym moved to "the new place" (where it's been for 7 years now) that Amy was there and that's when Amy and Laura and I all started going to some of the same classes regularly.

Before too long I got a job -- stinkin' income! -- and had to quit that regular class and sorely missed my friends. I would catch them on every other Friday, but it wasn't the same (of course). In time, I quit that job (theoretically to write, but we all know it was so I could work out with my friends! :-)

The class that we went to most often together was a weights class -- Body Pump if you know it. I'll be honest. We would talk all the way through it. Oh, we were working out (want to feel my biceps?) but we were catching up on life and diverting our attention from the pain in the mean time.

For the record -- we were frequently in trouble in class for our talking. We got talked to by the teacher -- and would stop talking for a while. Then the people on the other side of the class would start talking, inspiring us to continue our conversations. Until we got ugly looks from the front row. Or chewed out by the angry exerciser. And the cycle would start again. Truly, we had long conversations (at Starbucks -- not in class) about this.

Through class or at Starbucks we discussed it all, big and little. We talked our way through children's illnesses and surgeries, sports victories, defeats, and struggles, we've wrestled, prayed, and cried through two husband's unemployments, struggled over parenting decisions and children's heartbreaks, frequently coming to tears right there at the weight rack.

Muscles and bodies grew stronger, and so did the friendship. I honestly had NO IDEA how much those girls -- my "gym buddies" as they became known around my house -- meant to me. Until I needed someone to be strong. Or consistent. Or both. And they were.

(My two closest gym buddies, Amy, far left, and Laura, in yellow then me, and Rebekah our body pump instructor, far right, my last day at Body Pump the day I moved)


A Waiting Place Filled With Teen Crazies

I keep trying (not very hard) to get back over here... and I just keep doing other things.

My goal for the last couple of weeks has been to consistently get back into the word and eat better. Evidently I can only accomplish 2 things at a time, because I am unable to blog on top of it. I am getting some writing done and wrote about "Choosing Joy" when life wasn't aligning for me to do such.

I am behind and owe that ministry an article. My next article will be where my family is -- this waiting for the inevitable: beginning of school and band camp, settling in at church, etc. We are unpacked... but when people from the former town ask "are you settled??" with very hopeful eyes, what do I say? Well, no, we aren't settled. It's summer and we have stared at ourselves, a movie screen, and a big fat TV screen until we are all sick of each other. We workout and have push up challenges. We have precious dinner conversations. But settled in this town? We may as well be on Mars.

Of course, it's awesome that we live where Troy works 'cause, you know, we did it the other way and that totally stunk, too. We are just still in this "waiting place" -- just a different waiting place than before -- now waiting for a scary first day, hard time, obstacle to get over.Band camp starts soon for the high schooler, followed by orientation for the middle schooler. I, personally, am SO! READY! for these things to happen. Tensions are running a little high here at the house. We are all a little ready to see what it will be like and get it over with.

Not one prayer would be wasted on my family. You and I KNOW "it will be fine" when it all comes out in the wash -- it's these few weeks/ months of WAITING for it to "come out in the wash" that have tension/ anxiety mounting and teen crazies going crazier.

You know you're jealous of the teen crazies. Those are some good times, y'all...

Until next time, just trying to get settled... in front of a screen. SO! Tell me -- what are YOU up to this summer? Doing something fun?


Choosing to Be Chosen

The youth minister for our church in Abilene chooses a theme every summer. The theme is the focus of the mission trips, then the camp later in the summer. One of the reasons I won't refer to him as "my kids' former youth minister" is that a) he will always minister to all of us b) the themes always speak to me -- year 'round if I will let them. He is my minister, too -- and a friend that I always enjoy challenging spiritually and allow him to challenge me spiritually.

The theme this summer is "Chosen (and Choosing) to Be" (and I think I'm taking liberties with parentheses, etc., but it's my blog so it's my theme today).

This is based on one of my favorite verses: 1 Peter 2:9:"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

There are many parts of that to pull out and dissect that I love and that bless me, but the main point that Ricky told us on the mission trip again and again is that a) we are a chosen people, chosen by God to take Him into the world (be "his wonderful light"), be His ambassadors and b) we must, in turn, CHOOSE to put on that royal title and mantle.

We can choose to accept Christ as our Savior. Once we have done that, we can get up on a daily basis and choose our actions. We can choose to read His word. Choose to take up His cross on a daily basis. We get to CHOOSE. We have already been chosen... but what will we choose?

Last week (while the air was out in my house) I had an annoying day. Of course, when you start with an 85* house, it stands little chance of being otherwise. But I had to go into a retail establishment where I knew I would need patience and kindness. Not only did I want to reflect Christ in my actions -- I wanted them to help me out and I knew that going in as annoyed as I was at life would not help my cause. So, yes, I had a little bit of ulterior motive. But I knew I could choose.

Sleep-deprived and hot, I had little patience and kindness on my own, so I purposely pulled out my shirt from the mission trip to wear: I wanted to remind myself that I was chosen -- and I wanted to choose to act like royalty.

It's a daily decision, this royalty business. I get immensely frustrated with people who "show their tail" when it will reflect poorly on a group that I am affiliated with -- but how often does my impatience, selfishness, and judgmental heart reflect poorly on the God I worship?

This thought continues to roll around in my head... that I have been chosen, so I can choose to be. Today... then again tomorrow.


COMPLETE side note/ public service announcement for you if you are reading this on the day I write it:
Get your free Slurpee at 7-11 today!! And... choose to act like royalty when you do! :-) Enjoy!


Air Conditioner Out in Texas in July? SCORE!

"Umm... why is the air blowing hot air?"

No one wants to hear this at 6 p.m on a July afternoon in Texas, when we definitely like our air of the cool variety.

Oh, yes. Like about 80% of everyone else that we know, our air conditioner simply couldn't keep up with the horrific heat this week.

We commiserated with the dog, trapped in her fur coat. We tried, valiantly, to put a happy face on it. But when it came down to it... we were all miserable.

We spent one night in the heat. Woke up to house at 82*, outside at 75*. Urg.

The kids were already heading out to meet a group at amusement parks for a couple of days. Troy and I scheduled our repair guy -- for two days out -- and used hotwire to book a (NICE) hotel for the night.

Until I could get in the hotel I did a few things at the house, with temps climbing to around 87* in the house. Partly from partial heat stroke, partly from sleep deprivation due to sleeping in a hot house, and partly from just trying to be okay, I realized it's not completely terrible if your air goes out in the summer in Texas.

Therefore, in no certain order, the good parts about going without air conditioning in July in Texas:

-- The SAVINGS!! Not running your unit for almost 3 days!

-- The earnings potential! You could open a Bikram Yoga studio in your living room!

-- Your pores look AMAZING after being in your own little homemade sauna all day long.

-- No need to eat (who's hungry?) while sitting in the sauna, so the pounds fall off.

-- It is a true emergency to go spend a night at a hotel. Thank you, Dave Ramsey emergency fund!

Obviously all of the savings (and earnings!) could have been completely wiped out by the verdict of "your system needs to be replaced..." But, thank you, Lord! The verdict was (I kid you not) the capacitor. I want it to be the flux capacitor so that Michael J. Fox will show up in a DeLorean and take me away to a simpler time.

Best thing, hands down? When it starts working again!

So very very happy to be going to bed in a cool house!


Dear Running Dude

(now that I am on my Facebook fast, the blog will get my drive-by thoughts again. Won't that be fun?)

Dear Runner Dude,

You totally kept me going today. I had a 5 mile run today (that I am still walk/running). Want to know something HILARIOUS -- so I am at about mile 3.9, running with my iPhone for my music and Nike+ training thing, and I checked my training plan on SmartCoach to see the pace I should be going my 5 miles. Because I am a turtle and today I totally blew that turtle business out of the water... for the first 3.5 miles. Then the turtles passed me and laughed and gathered their friends around to point and laugh.

It was at this point (the 3.9 mile mark, checking my SmartCoach) that I noticed that I wasn't even supposed to be going 5 miles today. My training plan said 4 miles. Isn't that SO! FUNNY! Um... yeah, it wasn't to me at the time, either. But I was out for 5 and I had already planned to do 5 AND I had already told my Nike+ thing that I was doing 5 and I couldn't have that little piece of electronics mocking me, now could I?

So I kept going -- did I mention I was at the corner where I could have turned to come home? Or I could have kept going straight up a hill... Up the hill I went. Into the sun. I did decide not to add an extra loop and I was running less and walking more and, in short, dying. I convinced myself to run in little 30 second shuffles.

I finally was getting toward the end. Mainly the part where I was heading down the hill toward home. I didn't care what Nike+ said, I was just going home. Since I was heading down a hill I talked myself into going for broke and running for a whole 60 seconds.

As soon as I started running I saw Mr. Runner Dude coming around the corner towards me -- which meant... up the hill. More overweight than I am, pouring buckets of sweat like I was, but running the whole time. He's probably some awesome distance runner, just in what they call the "Clydesdale" division (and I am SO not entering a race that has a Clydesdale division for me -- I have a very brave friend that I shall not call out that faithfully reads my blog that entered a race and was in the Clydesdale division for her age group... and she's smaller than me!! I would. have. DIED!!)

When I passed him, I yelled, "Good job! We're doing it!" and truly hope he didn't think I considered myself some super-awesome runner being condescending to him. Oh, no. I hope he goes home and pops open the Gatorade and scouts out random blogs and happens across mine and finds out that he kept me running today -- because he chugged it UP the hill when I barely could run down at that point in my run.

So... thanks, Mr. Runner Dude. You never know when the little thing you're doing encourages someone else to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

P.S. I got in front of my house -- Nike+ read 4.90 miles. Doh! Went to the end of the street and back. Boom! Done...
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