Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Weekend

Two posts in one day?  Who am I?  I am someone who was supposed to have an all day meeting with a few youth, but one of them forgot; so now I have lots of free time!

This weekend was really weird and insane.  Friday night was what we call the All Nighter!  It's a very fun event where I (and other chaperones) take a bunch of kids around town to do different stuff all night long.  I did this once as a youth, but it was called a "Lock Out."  You get the idea, though.  We started at a local roller skating rink in town.  Roller skating is way more fun than I remember.  I also think that roller derby chicks are awesome!  I kind of want to be one, except that it's a little too high risk for me: lots of hitting and stuff.

From roller skating, we went to Celebration Station.  We had unlimited go carts and mini golf for about an hour and a half.  From there, we went to the lanes!  It was "Galactic Bowling," which means a few things: loud, dark, impossible to concentrate on the game.  It was also very fun.  They have a DJ and lots of people dance during bowling- including several of my kids, which I conveniently got on our new Flip video.  :)  (Side note: Jared also threw out his arm, literally.  He injured his right bicep because he ended up speed bowling for about the last 30 minutes by himself on a lane.  He was also rolling a curve ball, which is not his normal technique.)

From bowling, we went to play laser tag.  Also, one of the most entertaining activities that exists, I think.  It's so much fun.  Laser Tag of Baton Rouge has a great room to play in, with lots of obstacles and very few places where you can be 100% hidden from other players.  It was tons of fun, and I believe I was recruited into the Delta Squadron (made up of the oldest boys who were there), a high honor.  And from laser tag, we went to see the new Pirates movie- during which, almost everyone fell asleep, except a small group of 6th graders and the chaperones.  After the movie, we went to eat breakfast at IHOP.  This is where parents met us to pick up their very lethargic and sleepy children.

The All Nighter is a great and fun event.  We are almost constantly moving and almost constantly active!  It's actually how I earned most of my activity points (on Weight Watchers) for the week.  But there's one small problem: just about every single place had either some food or some sugary drink available!  So, needless to say, I didn't eat very well on Friday night/Saturday morning. 

Which brings me to Monday- Memorial Day: packing day.  We are moving to a new house in just over 2 weeks.  We were no where near ready to do that.  On Monday morning, Jared's wonderful parents came over, with boxes and packing materials, and helped us get our mess together.  Marie and I packed up almost the entire kitchen- a task I was dreading and avoiding.  Jared and John packed up a bunch of stuff in the living room, garage, and front closet.  By the end of the day, we were all very tired and very happy to stop working.

Dinner came around- supposed to be burgers, again, with a roasted potato salad.  And then Jared says, "Who wants pizza?"  And I, with virtually no will power, say "You're in charge!"  So, we had the most delicious pizza, Johnny's Pizza, but it was pizza nonetheless.  Pizza twice in 4 days- once during the All Nighter. 

All that to say, we got up and jogged 4 miles this morning... Back on track.  We weren't very energetic this weekend; but we are now much more well rested and a lot less stressed!

Unaccompanied Minors

If you've read my last couple of posts, then you know that Jared and I have been a little off schedule with our bowling outings lately.  We went bowling twice last week- first on Thursday afternoon, then on Friday night (with the youth for the All Nighter).  On Thursday afternoon, we showed up to a mostly empty alley.  Since school let out last week (for most about mid-week), I expected to see more people around, particularly children, and more specifically, unaccompanied minors.

Of course, the person who was working the desk wasn't familiar with us (because we were there on a Thursday, not a Friday), and stuck us between a group of unaccompanied minors (around 14 years old, I'm guessing) and a couple of moms with 4 small children.  Needless to say, both lanes were using their bumpers.  (What this means in bowling language is that they weren't good enough/consistent enough/didn't have good enough form to bowl without the bumpers.)  By the way, I would say that out of the 32 lanes that Circle Bowl has, maybe 5 were being used before we got there; but, again, the guy who was at the counter put us between the two obnoxious parties with a free lane on either side.

So, we began bowling.  Our bowling was pretty good for the most part.  Neither of us had a strike in the first game, which can get really frustrating.  We ended up bowling 5 games altogether.  I will post our scores as soon as I figure out how to do so.

When we first arrived at our lane, the group of 4 male and 2 female unaccompanied minors were snickering at us.  Jared and I both have bowling bags that hold our shoes and our two bowling balls. (Back story: at some point when we decided to start bowling every week, Jared wanted to get us some shoes.  It's cheaper to buy shoes once at around $35 than it is to bowl weekly and rent shoes for $4 each time.  So we went to the pro-shop to buy shoes; but they had a sale going on: shoes, ball, and bag for $109.  We took advantage of the sale.  Since then, we have each acquired an additional bowling ball and a new bag that holds two balls, instead of one.)

So, one of these obnoxious teens says, in a rather "Butthead" (from "Beavis and Butthead") sort of way, "Huh, huh.  Nice balls.  We really like your balls.  Huh, huh."  Noticing the very juvenile attempt at innuendo, I immediately respond with a large grin, "Yeah?  We like our balls, too!"  This was the first of many annoyances.  There was no lane courtesy at all in our games: the minors were very rowdy and had no idea about "waiting your turn" when you're about to roll (lane courtesy deems that whoever has begun their frame first has the "right of way" to finish the frame first, prior to another bowler on an adjacent lane rolling); the moms with young kids were constantly encouraging their toddlers to roll the balls down the correct lanes and often raising their voices in our backswing.  It was a distraction-laden hour of bowling.

All in all, we had a good time.  Jared and I are highly competitive and we usually end up arguing or fighting during a trip to the lanes.  And Thursday was no different.  We got very snippy with each other toward the end of the 4th game, but by the time we left, all was well.  It's a tough spot to be in when you and your parter both enjoy an activity but are also incredibly competitive in that same activity.  Feelings get hurt; words become sharp and pointed; and we often take this stuff personally.  And it certainly doesn't help when unaccompanied minors are present!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Preview of What's to Come

The past few days have been strangely busy; needless to say, I have been fairly active in the real world, but not on the blog.  Here's a preview of what's to come...

Thursday's bowling scores, along with a brief social commentary on unaccompanied minors at the lanes.

Friday's All Nighter- a lock-out with the youth I work with, including roller skating, laser tag, Celebration Station, a movie, and, of course, bowling!

Since Saturday... We've been off the rocker with food and on the couch with no activity!

So, stay tuned for the actual posts that are forthcoming!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


"Ru'ah" is the Hebrew word for "breath."  You really have to pronounce the "h" at the end as though you have some phlegm in your throat, though.  It's a guttural in Hebrew.  So when you say, "Ru'ah," it should sound lovely until the end when you sound like you're clearing your throat and hacking up a lung.  In Genesis 1:2, we read that when God was creating creation, a "wind from God swept over the face of the waters" (NRSV).  The word there for "wind" is "ru'ah."  So, the word can be translated as wind or breath or, in fact, spirit.  No matter how you translate it, though, you know that God was doing something over the face of the waters.

Anyway, I want to write about breathing today.  Breathing is technically an involuntary action that our bodies take without our consent and without us thinking about it.  We just breathe naturally.  Or, we are supposed to just breathe naturally.

I sometimes have a difficult time breathing.  I go through these weird phases in life when I have a difficult time getting a good, deep breath in.  At one point in college, I went to the ER to get a breathing treatment for what the ER staff called "stress induced asthma."  It was weird and I didn't want to do it again.  Regardless, I still have trouble breathing sometimes.  I am in one of these weird phases right now.  The last time I had one was back in November of 2010: we had a lot of staff shifting at work; one of our clergy was in the hospital; and I was barely seeing my husband because of our busy schedules.  It was stress induced.

And now, I am gearing up at work for summer youth ministry: a few trips, and several crazy days.  At home, we are packing, trying to transition the dogs away from using the doggie door, and trying to keep up with "normal" life (i.e., clean house, clean clothes, cooking, taking care of ourselves, our animals, etc.).  Needless to say, life is a little stressful right now; and I am forgetting to breathe.

Breath is a funny thing.  We are told that taking air into and letting air out of our lungs is an involuntary response, but I beg to differ.  We can hold our breath til we pass out- perhaps some of us have tried this as kids.  We can take shorter, faster breaths and make ourselves hyperventilate.  We can take long, slow, deep breaths and lower our heart rates without really thinking twice about it.  We can even swallow our breath and give ourselves a tummy ache and gas.  But it's not a normal thing to forget to breathe.

When God moves over the face of the water in Genesis, I get the understanding that God is really just living over the water.  The fact that "ru'ah" can be understood as breath, wind, or spirit leads me to believe that God is merely living.  In order for humans to live, we have to breathe- even plants breathe; and I am no biologist, but I am pretty sure that the majority of the animal kingdom has to "breathe" in some form or fashion to be considered alive. 

And our understanding of spirit has to do with what gives us life, not just existence.  I don't want to get into the mind/body dualism argument at this point, but our spirits make us who we are.  We are not merely a shell that is purely physical.  We have emotions and personalities and spiritual lives. 

All this to say, God is living in that breath and wind and spirit.  When we breathe, we are alive.  So, how can I keep forgetting to breathe?  Why do we have times in our lives when we forget how to breathe properly?  Why do we continuously push ourselves to the limits of breath and think that this is acceptable behavior or an appropriate way to live?

I am forgetting to breathe.  I am forgetting to breathe God in.  I am forgetting to breathe God into my life.

Prayer does help this forgetfulness, but it doesn't cure it.  Sitting down in the morning with my journal and prayer book is nice, but it's not the whole solution.  Trusting that God is with me throughout the whole journey is what helps me remember how to breathe.  Knowing that God is by my side, and acknowledging this, is what guides my breath.

In essence, it's too much for me to breathe on my own.  I need God to help me breathe.  This brings a whole new perspective and twist to my understanding of being dependent upon God.

Monday, May 23, 2011

No Go

We did not bowl this weekend.  Friday was a strangely busy day, as was Saturday.  And so our plan was to bowl on Sunday afternoon... And then we fell asleep.  So now, our plan is to bowl on Thursday evening, before we meet up with some of our wonderful BR friends for dinner and The Hangover, Part II!  Let's hope the plan sticks this time...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Is it Possible to "Have it All"?

I have been debating this concept for a very long time.  I have been wondering what life, my life in particular, would look like if everything was "perfect."  (And in my mind, "perfect" looks something like this: a clean house, well behaved pets, stress free work environment, stress free home environment, enough time to work out, cook, and bowl with the hubs, plus free time for reading, watching my favorite shows, and playing- with Jared, with the dogs, or just by myself.)

I have come to the conclusion that if all this were to really happen, then it would either be an alternate universe where there were 10 days in a week and about 30 hours in a day OR I would have to give up sleep and thrive without it.

So, instead, I deal with a somewhat clean house for a couple days a week (because as soon as the dogs come back from daycare- on Fridays only- they track all kinds of dirt back into the house).  And the dogs are mostly crazy most of the time, unless we are at work, then they are sleeping.  It takes time to train dogs. It takes endurance to train dogs.  It takes LOTS of treats to train dogs.  Not to mention, dogs need to go for walks and run around and play- this also takes time.

I also fantasize a lot about what it would be like to have little-to-no stress in my life, both at work and at home.  This is a wonderful fantasy!  However, the reality is much different.  I carry most of the tension in my life in my shoulders and neck.  When things get very stressful, I develop tension headaches!  Thankfully, my husband and I have worked into our budget a membership to Massage Envy.  This covers the cost of 1 massage a month... but I go for 2!  I use some of "my" money, my allowance, to get a second monthly massage.  This also helps a little.  I think, if I could "have it all," I would have a massage every week.  The stress of my work really comes from feeling like I am not doing a good enough job; but I am really not sure that a youth minister has ever existed that felt like they were doing a good enough job.  That's one of the problems with measuring ministry at all- it feels like there's always more we could be doing, more people we could be reaching.

The last component of my "having it all" fantasy is more time.  Time is our most precious commodity.  It is perhaps the scarcest commodity, also.  Time escapes us when we need it most.  How we spend our time demonstrates what we feel is a priority in our lives.  So, for example, I would rather and most prefer spending time with my family and friends 24/7.  But my reality right now is that I have to move in less than a month, so packing has taken a priority over some other things that I normally like to do- other ways to spend my time.

On top of that, there are times when I have to choose between two things that I would like to do, because I don't have time to do them both.  Jared and I didn't get to go bowling yesterday afternoon- we had too much to accomplish, plus we needed some laying around time.  So, we considered the possibility of going at night. (What this means: bowling on a Friday night means tons of people, loud music, and many, many inexperienced bowlers who do not understand the concept of "lane courtesy.")  I proposed that we go see a funny movie, since we haven't gone to see a movie in ages.  This is what we ended up doing.  Our plan, now, is to go bowling on Sunday afternoon- normally not an option, but we have no youth group this week because of our big All Nighter next Friday.

But time is all about priorities.  Overall, I think the answer to my original question- can we really have it all?- is "No."  And not because we can't ever have it all, but because we probably can't have it all all the time.  I go through phases in my spiritual journey where I makes lists to prioritize how I want to spend my time.  This past Lent, I tried to prioritize to make my life more enjoyable.  I included things like bowling and playing (a very important part of my relationship with my husband- tickle fights, tackling, etc.).

The truth is that when we want to have certain things or people in our lives, we will make them a priority.  We will make sure that we get to see so-and-so regularly, if we really want to.  We will make sure that we get to go to such-and-such a place, if we really want to.  It doesn't have to be a constant and consistent plan, but it does have to be a priority.  In the church, we have the concept that comes from the gospels, "Where your treasure is, your heart will be also," (Luke 12:34; Matthew 6:21).  Well, what do you treasure most?  I treasure my time.  How I spend my time demonstrates what I value most.

I guess this means that while I enjoy a clean house, it's not my top priority.  While I would love to have perfectly trained dogs, it's good enough to have really sweet pups who are so happy to see me when I get home that they jump on me occasionally.  And it's a wonderful thing to get to spend time with my husband no matter if we're bowling or snuggling on the couch.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Importance of Rest

For anyone who knows me, you know that I don't sit still very well.  I am my mother's daughter, and this means that I won't rest until I've finished doing all that needs to be done for me to feel like it's okay to sit down and rest.

About a year ago, I started a class at University United Methodist Church, where my husband is an associate pastor.  The wonderful woman leading the class, Lisa, had brought several small pieces of pottery for the class to select from.  Each piece had a design on one side and a word on the other.  I had a hard time picking between the rectangular piece that had a blue flower on it and the round piece that had a very tiny labyrinth pictured on it.  So, I picked the flower first; the word on the other side was "rest."  After class had started, I mentioned that I had a hard time choosing; Lisa asked which other one I wanted.  I told her the labyrinth.  She told me I could have that one, too.  I picked it up and looked on the other side.  The word was "rest."

I realized that God was trying to tell me something!  I know that resting is a very difficult thing for me.  Even a couple of months ago, I sustained a foot injury because of overtraining.  It healed, or so I thought.  I began training, again, for the 10K that we were to run just before Easter Day; all was well until I played a fierce game of kickball with the youth at my church.  I reinjured the foot only weeks before the race.  I was devastated and disappointed.  I knew that I wouldn't be able to run the 10K. 

I researched all of the things that could possibly be wrong with my foot: stress fracture, plantar faciitis, tendonitis.  I almost got an x-ray... until I realized that the ONLY thing that would actually heal my foot was rest.  All roads, all websites, all doctors pointed to rest.  The best thing for my foot at the time was to stay off of it.  Before all of this happened, I had become addicted to running.  I wasn't terribly fast and I wasn't about to be a competitor for the top 500 of the Crescent City Classic 10K; but I had fallen in love with running. (Sidebar: In 2nd grade, I was on a soccer team for one season.  I quit because after every practice, I would come home crying because the coach made us run around the field.  I used to hate running.)

The repetitive motion had become a kind of physical meditation for me.  Again, I don't sit still very well, so running and praying simultaneously was something that was very soothing and peaceful for me.  When I realized (and finally accepted the fact) that I would have to stop running for a while, in order to let myself heal, I was very sad.

But I gave in to the rest.  I still walked the dogs and tried to exercise in other ways.  Jared and I still went bowling every Friday that we could, and I was attending a regular yoga class here at the church.  But I felt a loss.  I knew that I was missing out on the time I took five days a week to run; I was missing the heart rate increase- the cardio training; I was missing the time with my husband.  And I was missing that meditation time that I had when I was running.

I felt like a bit of a moron through all of this, though.  All the advice, websites, and doctors had also said that injuries like a stress fracture or tendonitis (which is what I think I have) are due to overtraining- doing too much too fast too often... In other words, not resting enough.

Yesterday, during our Wednesday morning 4 miles, I began to feel a shin splint coming on in my right shin, the same area where the tendonitis came on the last time.  It was about a mile and a half in to the run; and I knew that if I continued at the pace I was going, I would completely reinjure my foot and have to take weeks off.  Instead, I walked for about 6 minutes.  When I picked my pace up after the walking, I jogged more slowly than I had been before.  I could still feel my foot aching a bit, but not as bad as before.

The slower pace allowed me to finish my 4 miles at a jog, which is what my goal was.  It allowed me to realize, also, that if I give myself the rest I need along the way, I won't devastate myself by injuring myself.  And today, my foot feels good.  Today is a rest day in our running schedule; and tomorrow we won't run until the afternoon.  This means that I will have a full 48 hours of rest before running again.

I am not sure that I will ever really love resting the way that I love accomplishing things.  But I do know that if I don't rest, I am only doing myself damage.  Those two small pieces of pottery I mentioned earlier now sit in my office, on top of my credenza, where my Book of Common Prayer and journal also sit.  I am reminded that not only is rest good, but that God wants me to rest; God rested on the 7th day, for a whole day.  I should follow God's example and take some time for rest.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bowling my butt off!

I have recently developed an addiction to blogs.  Many of my friends are bloggers, and it's a great way to keep up with what's really going on in their lives, not just what their Facebook status says.  So, here I am!  Writing my first blog!

After taking opinions from others as to what I should write about, as well as considering my own interests and what I want to write about, I have entitled my blog, "Bowling my butt off!"  The reasons are threefold: 1. Several folks asked that I consider writing about bowling, an activity that my husband and I greatly enjoy doing and try to do weekly.  2.  Others asked if I would be interested in writing about fitness and health, something I also try to maintain in my life.  3.  I wanted to keep some aspect of my faith, my work, and my relationship with God in the blog world.  So, here we have it: My health and fitness are strongly tied to my relationship with God, and bowling is a really fun way for me to continue living an active lifestyle!

My hope is that this will help me and others to better understand how our lifestyles affect our spiritual lives, how taking care of our bodies (our temples) will improve our relationships with God and with others. 

Finally, I also have a fairly inappropriate relationship with food.  Ever since I was a kid, and my parents divorced, I have used food for many things other than nutrition and basic sustenance, ergo I have an inappropriate relationship with food.  For me, health and fitness are inseparable from my relationship with food, as is my relationship with God.  Often in my life, I "depend" on food, when I should be depending on my faith or my God.  So, I will also be including posts on food, recipes, slip-ups, and successes.

I hope you enjoy this new adventure that I am taking!