I think I can, I think I can….

Or can I?

I  Did my Long run today.  10 miles of Joy.  I admit, I was not really excited about doing it.  I’m not one that needs a ton of “inspiration” or Motivation to exercise.

Some time ago I realized if I waited for motivation, well, it might never come.  So instead, I treat it like another job.  If a run is scheduled, I do it, unless some sort of extenuating circumstances occur (like stuff that would prevent me from going to work).  That said, I was a little concerned about the 10.  I had a really good 9, and there is always concern that if I have a slower long run so close to my Half that I will get unhappy.

I started out slower than last week, and I was not so thrilled about that.  It was a steady pace and I reminded myself that my goal time was what was important not how fast my first miles were.  I tried out the new fueling strategy suggested and BAM things improved.  GREATLY.  I ran this run faster than I have ever run any long run.  I think mostly due to the fueling.  Once I got used to the increased gel use, I found the running was actually a lot more fun, I felt less short of breath and much less tired, though I do still need to work on foot placement when tired.

So I finished off the run, again sort of confused about pace and found the pace to be about 20 seconds faster per mile than last week.  Score one for Fueling properly.

Calculating it out, it would appear if I could continue for 3 more miles at that pace I would have a crazy 10 minute PR.  Sooo, thinking about this I got a little flustered.

My “coach” H. heard my time goal, which was about a 5 minute PR last week and said, “You can go faster”.  He didn’t say how much faster, but

He was pretty clear.  Must Go Faster.

Now, after a great run, I started to wonder….Can I Go Faster?  Can I duplicate this, or is this one run going to live in my memory until it gets huge like a fish story.   Well…No one knows at this point.  And even if I have 3 more fabulous training runs, all sorts of things can and do happen on race days.  My biggest fear is ALWAYS that someone will have some sort of Cardiac Problem or syncopal episode in front of me and I will have to stop racing to help.

I’m a fairly good worrier.  So I turned this one over to God, because frankly, there is really nothing else to do with this type  of worry!    In Psalms there is a wonderful assurance….

 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
(Psalm 37:5)

The whole of Psalm 37 is really lovely.    I read through it and found myself feeling more reassured.  I love this verse because it doesn’t say to do nothing and “let God do it”  Instead it states,  if one has made the commitment, and prepares, God will be there, hopefully preventing race day disasters and mishaps.    God does not do the work for us, but God is with us while we are working and can certainly bless our efforts.

So Can I do it?  All sort of Pace predictors, and people say yes…  but I’ll have to wait until the actual days come for my results.  Until then, I think I’ll rest a little easier with Psalm 37.  My efforts, even at something as small as running a Half Marathon (sure isn’t like creating a cure for AIDS, or a beautiful work of art), can be blessed.   And of course…I’ll also be trusting in the people around me and taking yet another Ice bath!

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Uganda!

That is where my Operation Christmas Child boxes went!

I got the cheery email this weekend.

Merry Christmas from Samaritan’s Purse! Thank you for participating in Operation Christmas Child and for choosing to Follow Your Boxes.Your gift box(es) went to Uganda. For photos, stories, and other information about Operation Christmas Child in this country, click here.

Please remember to pray for the children who will be receiving your shoe box gifts. Thank you, and may God richly bless you.

I am really thrilled with this!!!!  Primarily because I packed my boxes based on my knowledge of Africa, and was concerned that the boxes with no mittens or warm hats would end up in Romania. In addition, some of the things I packed were had English writing on them, and English is one of the main languages in Uganda.

Uganda is also a country in need of some Holiday cheer.  There has been a lot of talk about how Uganda has emerged as a Peaceful country after decades of incredible unrest.  

On the Operation Christmas Child Facebook site, there was a note allowing members of the group to comment and list where their shoeboxes had gone.  Many people commented that they had to look up their African countries- places like Burkina Faso, Seychelles, or Chad seemed to be really unfamiliar to most of the donators.  For me, not so much.  I’ve seen first hand the life in these places and for the most part, it is so different than an average life in more developed countries.  I love the fact that the shoebox gift not only blesses a child personally, but it also seems to be giving back and providing education to many of the donators.  So many said they read about these places and tried to imagine what the child who received their box would be like.  It seems small, but looking beyond oneself, and thinking beyond just the gifts in the box, to the actual day to day lives of these children and families can only bring us all one step closer to more fully understanding each other, don’t you think?

Well.  That said. back to Uganda.

Uganda was the birth place of what is considered the most effective guerilla Army, the Lord’s Resistance Army.   In my opinion, the LRA uses God’s name in vain.   God would never ever permit or condone the type of behaviors that this group is known for.  At least not the God of the New Testament.  Jesus, the son of God taught us to Love they Neighbour and Turn the other cheek, not to bludgeon them to death and cut off the body parts of 8 year old girls.  I will be quite honest, in looking up info on the LRA, I realize that they did and probably still do operate in South Sudan, where I worked for a year with Medecins Sans Frontieres.  Learning this, safe in my home, I still got shivers down my spine.  Uganda actually seems to have done well in the recent year and LRA activity seems to be more centered in the surrounding countries.

These days….the Tourism Uganda Website sweeps all the difficulties under the rug and has produced quite an appealing website for would be travelers.

But yeah, I do not think I will be booking my trip any time soon.  Not to Uganda, or actually the DRC or even South Sudan, where I actually lived with permission of some sort of Southern Sudanese Government.

Still things do seem to be improving for the country and these gifts can only help.

This video is from a visit to Uganda where Shoeboxes were distributed….the music is actually in Swahili which is the second official language in Uganda, after English.

Forgot to make a shoebox?  There’s always time.  Samaritans Purse accepts Shoebox donations ALL YEAR LONG!  You can simply mail your box to North Carolina.  Here’s a Link to the address.  

In addition, you can Make a shoebox on line, though the price is a little steep, if you ask me!!!

And Happy Christmas to all who are celebrating.  Take a Moment during this season to focus out and spread the Joy that is Christmas.

Hungry in America

The Thanksgiving Holiday is just about 9 days away.

I’m so grateful for so many things this year.  I’ve got a good job.  I’m fairly healthy.  I’ve got good friends.

And  I am definitely not hungry.

As the US economy is so unstable at this moment, there are more and more people going hungry throughout America.

This bothers me.  I mean, it is one thing to work with hungry kids in Africa….

And a whole other thing to think about kids in the US, being almost as hungry.  One of my friends teaches at a local elementary school, she tells me that there are several kids in her class that do not concentrate well, and after some investigation, she has discovered it is because they are simply hungry most of the time. It is distressing to know that kids are going without proper nutrition in my community,  as the kids are really our future teachers,Doctors,lawyers,government officials.  I would like them every day in their seats primed up to learn.

Feeding America  is an organization that works to help bridge the hunger gap.  There are great statistics on the site that help explain what is going on with hunger in America.  I was particularly struck with one statistic.   10% of the households depending on food aid are considered homeless.  ONLY 10%.    So when we donate to the food bank, most of the food is not going to homeless people.  Many people I know are hesitant to donate to the food bank stating that it only goes to the homeless who are somehow degenerate.  And no doubt, many homeless people are addicted to alcohol and or drugs.

But when you consider out of 100% of the people served by  food banks, only 10% are homeless….it seems that it’s a silly reason not to donate some food.

In November, it tends to be pretty easy.  So far, I have encountered food bins at Both Publix and Winn Dixie, at work, and at my gym, and in the front office of my apartment building.  I imagine it’s the same anywhere across the U.S.  in November.

But what to donate?  I was inspired by a goal on 43things, a goal setting website (check it out, very very motivating!).  This goal was “Give the Homeless food they would actually like to eat”.   So many time you look at the donations in bins and see cans and cans of beans and corn only.  So what’s the best stuff to donate?

Firstly…I would say if all you want to donate is corn and beans, go ahead and give them.  People do need beans and corn.

But if you are sort of not sure what to give, I suggest a few things.

High protein items: peanut butter,canned tuna, canned chicken.

Kid friendly items: mac and cheese mix, spaghettios, cereals, snack packs for lunches

Sugar free items.

Baby food

And if you are feeling festive: fun items like coffee.

This year I started to shop the sales early  and here is what I accumulated for the food banks.

  I decided a long time ago to always  try to donate at least one brick of coffee.  I find it very hard to start my day without coffee.  I imagine though if I was trying to feed my family it would be one of the first things to go.

It’s a bit hard to see what’s all there but I pretty much hit all the buy one get one free sales so people will be getting all sorts of items from me this year.

Coffee, BBQ sauce, peaches,spaghettios, spaghetti and sauce, pie filling, mashed potato mix, Pasta Sides, baby foods, kid friendly soup, etc etc.

Though I do not usually buy bunches of canned veggies, I am still pretty cheap.  I think for food banks those microwaveable cups of mac and cheese, soup, and spaghettios are greats as several children in the hunger group will come home to empty houses as their parents will be still at work.  I can’t however, stand the price.  So I compromise and try to make sure what I buy has lids like this.

At least it is pretty easy to remove the lid.

I hope  those of you who are able will consider dropping off at least one extra can of something for the local food bank.  After the holidays, the hunger need will pretty much be forgotten by most of us, but the food banks will still be operating.