Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Break, Running, and Things.

This blog has gotten a bit dusty, so I’m here to bring some life back to it!! Somehow the fall semester slipped away from me slowly… Cross country races came and went, and there were successes and failures alike. Somehow, though it seems it just begun, my senior year of this beautiful sport came to an end. 

My last race was D2 Regionals on Nov 22nd in Montana. The race was just okay. It definitely was not my best run of the season - that came about a month earlier at a random 6k in Portland. I tend to do better when I don’t put pressure on myself, and that means that championship races are typically not my best races. This is obviously something I am working to fix, but I am still grateful for the races that it does click. The Portland 6k was like that: I locked into a pace, ran as hard as I could, and pushed past the post of exhaustion. I was nauseous, dizzy, and THRILLED when I finished. I had reached a new pain threshold.

At Regionals I ran hard, but I didn’t quite reach that threshold again. I guess it is not possible to do so every time. But I did give what I had, and I finished my xc college career on a good note.   
The academic portion of the semester ended on a good note, as well. I loved the classes I took -  I was studying religion, philosophy, psychology and sociology and eating up every last bit of it. I’m going to miss being a student if I don’t go to grad school next year. I seriously love learning and love this season of life.

Christmas break has been nice. I have occupied my time with training, catching up with friends and family, and babysitting jobs. Typical of my “go hard or go home” mentality, I have been training harder than ever. And I haven’t led the cold stop me. It is initially daunting to head out the door for a morning run in 15-degree weather at six a.m., but it’s actually quite exhilarating. Then I do workouts in the afternoon and lift as well. I want to give everything I have to these last two seasons of running. Indoor track is right around the corner, and I have goals for outdoor track that are ALMOST unattainable… but I believe I can accomplish them.

I have also purposed to spend this Christmas break looking for internships/jobs/opportunities for after I graduate – so essentially “future-planning”. This is almost impossible during the semester because I am so invested in my classes, running, and my social life. So I hope to do some investigating/planning in the next couple of weeks. Emotionally, it is difficult. I still have such big goals for the next four months, and I don’t want to be so future focused that I miss out on the present. Still, it is exciting to think that I could be moving to Boston or London or L.A. (I’m craving a big city at the moment) within the next calendar year.

Within the next calendar year… that is 2015! It’s only two days away… Which means that it has been over four years since I went to Paris. How life has changed… how I have changed….

That’s all for now, but Christmas break has left me with [a little] time to sort my thoughts and write. I have been journaling quite frequently, but nothing has made it to this blog as of yet. I hope that will change. Here’s to 2015!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Numbers from this week:

2,000 + words written
1000 + miles traveled
200 pages read
60 miles run
54 hours of sleep
12 cups of coffee
8 xc practices
3 loads of laundry (dirty running clothes for days)
1 cross country race

After a whirlwind two-day trip to Spokane for a cross-country race and hours spent toiling over Aristotle, I’m officially exhausted.
It has been a great weekend for sure, 
but I'm still processing everything. 
Exactly what happened during that second mile that
made me lose my strong mindset? 
Why did I feel so much less confident than my race the week before? 
How am I supposed to be a leader on my team if I can’t push past the mental barriers that have been plaguing me for my entire college career? 
How did these last four years go so quickly…
and how is it that I’m already a senior

And what exactly does Aristotle think about the 
teleological explanations of human existence anyway?

My mind is full.
Which means I should probably just go to bed and rest before morning practice. 
But a quick note about this weekend. 

My grandmother, who is the absolute most incredible human I know, came to watch me race. She has come to this course to watch me for the last four seasons, and each year we have gotten a picture. I cannot express how grateful I am to have such an amazing support in my life. 

Two different jerseys and three years passed. 

On that note, it's time to get ready for another week. 

“On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”

- Le Petit Prince 

Bonne nuit!!! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"It is to be hoped that we all have some friend, perhaps more often feminine than masculine, and young than old, whose soul is of this sky-blue tint, whose affinities are rather with flowers and birds and all enchanting innocencies than with dark human passions, who can think no ill of man or God, and in whom religious gladness, being in possession from the outset, needs no deliverance from any antecedent burden." William James - The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature

This series of lectures regarding psychology of religion are not only blowing my mind, but the language is remarkably beautiful. If you are in the mood 
for some thought-provoking psychological literature, this is a great find. 

I love college so much. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

And Cross Country Begins!

I'm feeling all kinds of sentimental tonight. Today was my last, first cross country race ever. The first race of my senior year of college. And even though I have an entire year's worth of running ahead of me, I am increasingly aware that I need to cling tightly to every moment. 

It is wild to think that, when I started this blog, my collegiate running career was nothing more than a dream in the distance. I was living in the 6e in Paris and running through the French countryside every morning in the hopes of becoming fast enough to get a scholarship on my return to the United States. As I write this, I realize how silly it must seem to many people that I was thinking about cross country while I was living in a city that most people only ever dream about, but I suppose it shows 
just how passionate I am about this sport. 

I love my team. 
I love bonding over ice baths and long runs and very challenging workouts. 

I love racing. Though I admittedly do much better in workouts than in races, 
I am working on getting the mentality down and becoming more competitive. 

I love that I have the opportunity every day to work 
on bettering myself and growing personally. 
I have learned so much about identity and my weaknesses and strengths.
 And I love that I get to be a leader and encourager on my team. 

Basically, I feel so incredibly blessed. 
I am so grateful for this season of my life. 

So my first race today. The first of many. I am pleased with it, but I still have much improvement to do and big goals to work toward. I am stronger than ever this year due to a summer of heavy lifting, quality seventy mile weeks, 
lots of healthy calories and a lot of stretching and plymo. 

Far from being the end, this is just the beginning. I'm ready.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Exploring Religions - Christian Science

An abridged version of this essay will go out in my father's newsletter for Gatebreaker Ministries in the fall. Though this is hardly exhaustive, however, it is much more detailed and expressive and personal than the article I wrote for Gatebreakers. 

Located right in the heart of downtown Boise on the corner of 10th and Bannock is a trendy little coffee shop known as “The District”. With its vintage furniture, fair trade coffee, and novelty menu items such as cardamom and lavender lattés, The District has all of the characteristics of the hipster-brand coffee establishments that have been springing up all over the Northwest.

The District has become quite popular, and it is especially frequented by members of the twenty-something Christian community. And, as cliché as it is, one of this demographics’ favorite pastimes is to discuss philosophy, religion, or politics while sipping on cappuccinos.  We believe we can solve the world’s problems by simply turning over ideas and conversing about solutions. The conversation always turns back to Jesus, of course, and we grow with excitement as we ponder the relentless love exhibited by the cross and wonder at the power of the resurrection.  The passion inside of us bubbles up to overflowing, and we realize that we don’t need to solve the world’s problems. They have already been solved. We simply need to deliver the world that message.

One Wednesday evening, having just finished such an exchange, I left the District and began walking to my car. I felt equally inspired and dutiful, and my thoughts were still occupied with the prior conversation. As I walked, however, my attention was drawn to a sign on a building I had never before noticed. It read “Christian Science Reading Room”. My curiosity was sparked. Venturing nearer, I recognized a Bible in the window display. It was surrounded with several informational pamphlets and another book entitled “Science and Health” by Mary Baker Eddy.

Curiosity had had led me to that spot, but a more powerful force now held me there. Though God has given me a deep passion for studying different religions that has led me to educate myself about various belief groups, I realized that I knew next-to-nothing about Christian Science. I felt an undeniable tugging on my heart from the Holy Spirit, and I knew I needed to go inside. Whatever this religion was, I needed to learn about it.

So I went inside. As it’s name implied, the “reading room” was a designated building for both reading and contemplation. The texts of choice? The Bible - the very same Christian Bible that I have read and studied throughout my life - and Science and Health, a guidebook and interpretation of the Bible written by Mary Baker Eddy. A kind man at the front desk greeted me hospitably and was more than willing to answer any of my questions regarding Christian Science. He seemed pleased (and perhaps even slightly surprised) that such a young girl had wandered into this seemingly quiet religious venue.

Of course I had many questions, and these questions opened the door to a genuine conversation regarding our respective faiths. My purpose was not to convert this kind hearted man, but instead I endeavored to understand him and what he believed. He grew up in the Church of Christ, Scientist, and had dedicated his life to its claims. He gently corrected my assumption that Christian Science was related to Scientology – a religion that has recently become popular due to some of its celebrity members. The two religions, in fact, have almost no similar properties, but they are commonly associated.

Like a child on her first day of school, I did my best to soak up every bit of knowledge that my instructor was trying to teach me. He explained that Christian Science is centered on the belief that man is not physical, but spiritual. According to Science and Health: “Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual”(S&H 468). Growing up in a charismatic tradition, I am in no way taken back by the idea that man is spiritual. And the idea that man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:7) is entirely Biblical and foundational to Christianity.

I was surprised, however, by what I was told next. Based on the understanding that man is spiritual, Christian Scientists claims that matter - such as bone, blood, and flesh - does not exist. In accordance with this, Christian Scientists believe that sin and sickness do not truly exist.  The consequences of sin and sickness, therefore, are only real as long as humans believe that they are. Therefore medicine is not encouraged.

My new friend continued to explain that Christian Science recognizes the importance of Jesus as a “way-shower”. Jesus was, in fact, “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:16), Science and Health, however, teaches that Jesus was not himself God, but the son of God. "Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God, healing the sick and sinning and destroying the power of death" (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 473:10-17).

When I inquired after the trinity, I was informed that Christian Science doesn’t affirm the trinity. The threefold nature of God is recognized by this church as “Life, Truth, and Love” (Science and Health, 331:26-332:3). They do not believe that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, however. I was informed by one of my Christian Science friends that the Holy Spirit of the Bible does not refer to a person but instead to “divine science”.

If you are confused at this point, don’t worry. I was too. I felt as if I had entered a sort of metaphysical, humanistic world. Which is pretty much exactly the kind of world that Science and Health really teaches.

What confused me the most, however, was not the doctrine of this sect that was completely foreign to me. What confused me the most was the fact that all of its claims were based on the Bible – and that they kind of made sense. Moreover, this man I had been speaking to was so completely convinced that he had the truth. With all of the compassion he could muster, he held it out for me to take.

As all deep thinkers must constantly do, I wrestled with these thoughts and attempted to sort out truth from falsehood. There was truth present in what he was telling me…. But there was falsehood, too. And if what he was saying wasn’t false…. then I was the one who was wrong.

However, after grappling with these ideas for a time, attending a Christian Science church service for more information, and studying the Bible and Biblical resources, I was able to more readily discern the major flaws in the Christian Science doctrine.

Though I accept the idea that man is spiritual as Biblical and believe that we are made in the image of God, (Genesis 1:26), this idea has been taken to the extreme in Christian Science. Anything taken to the extreme can be hazardous.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no place in the Bible that Jesus heals anyone by telling him or her to deny the reality of sickness (Gatebreakers, 161). If Jesus truly was the “way shower” and sickness really is a false reality, wouldn’t Jesus have explicitly said this to his followers?

Lastly, not only do I believe that the Bible supports the Trinity, but I also cannot adhere to any doctrine that denies the divinity of Jesus Christ. This fact is supported in John 1:1 and John 1:14 to name just two of several scriptural backings.

Perhaps most importantly, I was struck by something that my friend said - very casually - during our conversation. “Jesus showed us how to use God to be the best versions of ourselves”. “Use God”? His word choice in this case was unintentional and subtle but incredibly telling. How can we…. mere human beings… claim to use God? Or even have the audacity to try to do so? ANY religion that puts me on the same level as God is one that I cannot possibly accept or adhere to.

Still, I am disturbed by how faithfully people cling to these doctrines… and to other religious doctrines for that matter. I have been actively studying Mormonism for quite some time now. I have had conversations with the kindest and most devoted Muslims. A Jehovah’s Witness missionary came to my door the other day with a warm smile and a message that he would take to the ends of the earth. All of them thinking they have the truth.

And I think I have the truth. I know I do, actually. Because Jesus is the truth. Jesus is the answer. The simple gospel. The way to the Father. Kingdom reality. He is the only thing that makes sense after all of my questioning and philosophizing.

I will not go so far as to claim I have the whole truth. I think that is an ignorant claim for any Christian to make. There are so many ways to interpret the Bible and even Christians disagree on fundamental things like hell and salvation. And I can’t answer all of the many questions that arise in my mind about universalism and such… accept that I believe that God judges the heart. So I pray earnestly that the people I speak to will seek and find the love of Jesus.

In his book Metaphysics, Aristotle wrote: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” This is exactly what I aim to do as I embark on this new journey of studying other religions. I have to reflect on ideas that are messy and difficult, and as I seek after truth my faith will be challenged…. And hopefully strengthened.

My purpose in writing this is not only to inform readers about Christian Science. It also is to encourage people to be bold and loving in the face of religions that contradict their own. We are called to be a light in the darkness, and conversation is a key component to spreading the love of God. Of course we must approach these conversations with heavenly wisdom (James 3:17), but we should also approach them with love and genuine interest. We are called to be missionaries in our communities, and sometimes this can be as simple as showing interest in what others are interested in. Instead of fearing ideas that are different, we need to equip ourselves with knowledge of the Bible and engage in conversations and relationships with people of other faiths.

Sometimes we need to step out of our coffee shop conversations and step into the real and messy world. It is there that we will be challenged and stretched. It is there that God will work through us and in us. It is there that we will see our faith in action. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Since I Last Stopped By...

The last time I posted, it was Christmas break. 
Now it is almost the end of February. 

There is no possible way that I could ever attempt to summarize the beautiful, stretching, and sometimes  difficult experiences I have had in the last month and a half, and I am not going to try. 
I will simply say that life has been rich and challenging and wonderful. 

Indoor Track Season officially came to a close this weekend with the GNAC championships. The season was fast and somewhat anti-clamactic, but I have developed a love for indoor track and am sad to see the season end. There is something just plain wonderful about being able to run inside when there is snow on the ground. With outdoor season now in session, I have many freezing workouts ahead of me and likely a race or two in blizzard conditions. 

But I'm mostly just sad to see another season slip away. I am becoming increasingly aware of my eligibility winding down, and though I am still a junior, I feel like I am running out of time to achieve my goals. 
More on that later. 

I competed in the 5k and 3k this weekend, and they were both decent races. Nothing phenomenal, by any means. And I didn't PR. But I did engage. And I was mentally positive. And with my track record (no pun intended) of incredibly negative self-talk during races, I am pleased with my mental progress. 

And I'm incredibly proud of my team. We pulled out two third-place spots in our conference, which is the best my school has done in a long time. 
We have some incredible athletes on our team, 
and I am grateful to be able to claim them as teammates. 

So, the 500 plus miles I have logged since December... well, they seem kind of pointless with indoor season gone and no hope for nationals in the near future. But I have to keep working hard and dreaming big. The small things will pay off eventually. I have to believe that. I won't run out of time. I just have to be happy with the small victories and keep inching my way forward. 

School has been overwhelming lately, but I am loving every minute of it. I literally cannot explain how much I love to learn. I am fascinated by every class I am taking right now... Geeking out on Biblical linguistics in New Testament Interpretation, soaking in different cultural practices in Intercultural Communication, discovering new elements of communication in Nonverbal, and learning the essence of the First Amendment in Media Law. I'm a perfectionist and have spent way more time on these classes than I should. But I am so grateful to be able to be a student right now. This is a good season. 

I have so many things to say, and this post has been quite a mess. But the most important thing that I want to convey is how incredibly blessed I feel. Though things are messy and difficult and stressful at times... though I sometimes feel like a failure or am disappointed in my performances... 
these feelings are overwhelmed with the love of God abounding in my life 
and the joy I experience in the community I have. 

I have never, in my entire life, known so many inspirational and kind people. I feel like I am constantly surrounded by world-changers. And I am seriously having so much fun. Despite not having much "free time" I am enjoying the things I do so much and wouldn't change a thing. 

I think that is all for now. Things should slow down the next two weeks, and I will hopefully have time to write some really insightful, philosophical stuff about how time is abstract and actually doesn't exist :) 
Or maybe just my thoughts on the Winter Olympics and social media. 

Mais pour maintenant, au revoir!!! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Running Rambles

This morning I headed out the door for 
13 solitary miles along a snowy, country road. 

It was freezing and serene and lonely in a beautiful, romantic sort of way. My hips were slightly sore by the end, and I looked forward to sitting by the fire and eating everything I could get my hands on, but the thing is - I could have kept going. When you run for that long, it feels strange to stop. 

Anyway, I feel accomplished and thrilled that I checked off yet another day of my Christmas break running/training schedule. I have been so incredibly motivated the past month. I haven't missed a day of training, and I have neatly written down each day's mileage and accomplishments on a piece of paper that I have tucked neatly into the training binder our coaches made for us. 

And the thing is, I am really enjoying it. Though I definitely have days where the last thing I want to do is run a tempo in the freezing rain, I have a big goal in mind - and I'm wiling to sacrifice for it. 

This is intrinsic motivation at its finest. I don't have a coach watching me or people to impress. I am alone with my thoughts. My feet drag along the pavement for the first few miles, stubbornly screaming at me to slow down or turn around and go home. But then, they quiet. I can hear my breath, I can feel the icy breeze and my numbing hands, and I get into a rhythm. 

I haven't felt this way about running since I started my college career. Since the year I spent in Paris. Since I used to run by myself through the small French villages and smile at people as I passed them (They all looked appalled that I was running and not biking. Outside of Paris, running is not all that popular). 

During those nine months, I ran for me. And I ran because I had a big dream ahead. I wanted to be a collegiate athlete. I wanted it so badly. It is so important to have goals. And so I sacrificed. 

And I made it, and my motivation changed. I began to run to make my coach proud. I ran to impress my friends. I ran to beat my teammates. And slowly, the joy of running and competition seeped out of my heart. It became a job laden with pressure. It became a routine and I dreaded it. 
I was fearful of losing because I put my identity into my performance as an athlete. 

But lately everything has been different. I have been running for me again. And I have been running with a grateful heart, each day thankful that I am not injured (like I was last year at this time) and that I have the opportunity to be a collegiate runner. And I haven't been placing my identity in running or worried or stressed about missing a day - I have fully given it to God. So, I don't feel burnt out or heavy. I feel light on my feet.

I honestly was not too excited to face those icy, lonely miles alone this morning. But they were so worth it.

And I am so excited to see what is in store for me this track season. 

One week left of Christmas break, and then it is back to practice, school, and track meets!