Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Equally Yoked

I faced something this past week that I didn't think I'd ever encounter: dating someone with different religious beliefs than mine.

I met this girl a month ago while playing in one of my Spades groups.  She was a new guest that a mutual friend had invited.  We kind of hit it off over this banter about me bleeding because I went to Spades after having given blood earlier in the day and was having trouble clotting.  Over the next few weeks, we had a few long phone conversations, several text messages, I helped her do her taxes, she helped me prune my roses, and I ultimately invited her to be my partner for Spades two weeks later, after I went to be her support system for her donating blood (since she was nervous, having only done it once prior).

Then she found out last week that she was getting a work promotion/transfer to Denver in early April.  That prompted us to each share that we were developing feelings for each other, and were mutually sad about the prospect of her departure.  I had found out while pruning roses, that while she used to go to my Fresno church (I didn't know this then), she was now attending a church of Religious Science.  I shared with her in the same phone call about her transfer, that differing faiths was a dealbreaker for me, and that we needed to discuss that further (since she hadn't thought there was a difference between my church and hers) if we were going to pursue a relationship.  She respected that, was open to further talks, and had actually started coming back to my church the Sunday prior.  With her upcoming move, we decided to embrace the chance to--if nothing else--become better friends and enjoy the time we had before her move.

I let that sit for awhile.  We actually spent most of the weekend together: she hosted Spades at her house Friday night, we walked around a thrift store and had lunch on Saturday before I had to work, she came over for dinner and a movie Saturday night, we went to 1st service together at church before she had to work, and then we went over for an early dinner to a couple's house in my church that I was close friends with.

I got some counsel from another couple after my Bible Study with them Sunday night about what to do about this.  I realized I was letting things go too far before having the serious talk that we needed to have.

So on Monday night I started by reading through the verses in my church doctrinal statement, and was finding a lot of encouragement and conviction.  She called when I was a third of the way through.  We talked, and I asked her if she had looked more into the doctrines of the two churches.  Ultimately, she agreed more--but not absolutely--with mine.  She wanted to read her Bible more and own it for herself, but she wasn't at a place of affirming things like the inerrancy of Scripture until she had read more.

We're still friends, but I had to realize that we weren't going to move forward romantically.

This was an interesting growth experience for me.  The verses about being unequally yoked always seemed so obvious to me before now.  But then when you're in the thick of a situation, the water seems cloudy.  I need to remember that God always desires to shine the clarity of his truth into any circumstance.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Two Half Marathons

This is the closest together I've ever done two races, and both of them out-of-town.  I ran the Surf City Half Marathon in Huntington Beach on Superbowl Sunday, and I ran the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Pasadena Half Marathon this past Sunday.  It made for two great weekends in Orange County and some great therapy to get my mind off the mess at work right now.  The downside is that both races were on Sunday morning, so that ruled out going to church down there.

I did the HB race with Amy M. and Kristin L.  We went to the expo together on Saturday to get our race bibs and swag.  I signed up for the Pasadena race on a whim at the HB race expo.
Race 1 was rough.  I didn't sleep well the two nights prior to the race, and I mentally couldn't perform well during the race.  I also neglected to notice my iPod shuffle needed a battery charge, so I had no music to keep me pumped through the race.  The spectators were pretty pathetic, too--very few cheering, holding signs or ringing cowbells--must be an OC-image thing.  I was on a great pace for 10 miles, but then had to run/walk the end of it.  I came in at 2h03m.  Then the medics grabbed me when I sat down on the curb after the finish and were concerned because I was shaky and not sweating.  I was ultimately fine.

Race 2 was great!  I expected it to be rough because I still wasn't fully recovered from Race 1, and looking at the elevation chart the night prior to the race, I saw some foreboding hills and inclines.  I started not thinking I'd be able to run the whole way, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  The spectators were awesome: cheering, yelling, encouraging, holding funny signs.  In a wry nod to the elevation, Lonestar's Mountains came into my music queue as I was in my last mile of the race.  I came in at 1h59m, just a minute shy of my personal best time.  I was ecstatic.  Then I went out to Riverside and sang in a wedding that afternoon, but that's another blog for another day.

Not being with anyone for race 2, I talked to a lot more people at the expo and at the race.  I love being a part of this community of runners.  It helps me feel more at home wherever I am.  I remember having that same feeling in Denver back in 2010.

One person I met at the expo was Aurora.  She shared with me her goal of running 52 half marathons in 52 weeks.  She actually ran the same HB one I did two weeks prior...on crutches.  She had sprained her ankle and isn't letting that deter her.  I was amazed.  She shared her blog with me and I look forward to following her future races this year.
I don't know how many more races I'll do this year.  I'm signed up for the Portland, Oregon Rock n Roll Half in May with Amy M. and my sister Joy, but that's it so far.  I really want to do one or two full marathons this year, probably Fresno in November and I'm not sure what other one.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I love kids.  So much so that I borrow them on occasion from my friends.  Clearly, I don't have any of my own yet to drive me crazy.

That's an area of ministry where I love to serve.  I'm Games Director for Awana this year, and I'm having a blast with it.

I used to work in Sunday School, but I had backed off in the last few years because work got out of hand, and I really found myself needing and craving more adult fellowship on Sunday mornings.  And a regular commitment always seemed to block potential trips to Orange County.  But our children's pastor asked me to consider doing Kindergarten once-a-month 2nd service.  I prayed about it, and told him yes with some caveats.  I would confirm (a week in advance) each month whether I could or couldn't do it that month, and I was not able to hunt down subs if I couldn't do it.  I hate phone errands with a passion.  They drive me crazy.  Ken said that would work for him, so I agreed to do the 4th Sunday of the month.

This past Sunday was my third time in this class.  The first two times were a little hard for me.  The first month I had 16 kids, and no plan.  I was way out of practice.  The second time went better, only 8 kids, but I had been given the wrong lesson to prep, but still fudged my way through it.  It was almost harder being once a month because I wasn't feeling as connected to these kids.

But this month, I found my connection.  The kids whom I didn't previously know outside of this class are now recognizing me.  I know my schedule, and I knew our story.  I didn't get a helper, so Janet, the wife of the 1st service team, stayed to help me out.  Her grandson Colby is one of the spitfires in the class.  Janet paid me a huge compliment at the end of class.  She thought the kids behaved much better for me than for her husband Dick during the story time.  I almost started crying.  I had been feeling like I didn't have very much classroom control.  These kids are so fidgety.

I just love playing with the kids.  Playground time is my favorite.

And the biggest secret to success in Sunday School: no crafts, just coloring pages.  There are never enough supplies, the craft is too complicated for the age group, or the final product is a mess for the poor parents to carry around.