Sunday, September 19, 2010

Purpose Statement

Have you ever crafted a mission or purpose statement for an organization? Have you reflected on the purpose of your life and set about to craft a personal mission statement?

I have been keeping a personal goal journal since 1999 (when I was 22), which I call my 'Life Project Book'. I record all my goals in it and track my progress in achieving them. I felt that I had explicitly established a partnership with God at that time whereby I agreed to thoughtfully detail a mission statement that was scripturally based, construct goals following from that statement and then pray over my goals. For his part he would provide guidance, direction, and connection+correction to mold me toward perfection in him for his glory. I know that he is working to do all of these things in me because there are numerous scripture references that state so.

Originally when I began the journal in 1999 I thought that developing my character was the single most important accomplishment I could effect in order to be useful/ready for God when he calls me into service (as I viewed service to God as my ultimate purpose for it's own sake). Over the past 11 years I've come to realize that while service (love your neighbor) is an important directive (second only to loving God) it's actually (along with loving God) a subset of the ultimate purpose: to glorify God.

My revised Statement of Purpose follows:

Our essential purpose as God's holy creation is to glorify him.

References:

1 Pet. 4:11. "That God in all things may be glorified."

1 Cor. 10:31. "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Prov. 16:4. "The Lord hath made all things for himself:" that is, "for his glory."

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”

Westminster Shorter Catechism

How then do we glorify God?

  • God calls us into an intimate and loving relationship with himself (to be begun by confessing our need for salvation and then praying to ask God to abide in us).

References:

John 17:3 "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent"

Deut.6:5. "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

  • God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves (passionate service/love) and spread the gospel to them (evangelism). This flows out of loving God as he created all of our neighbors and loves them also.

References:

Galatians 5:14. "The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Matt 22:39. ... "Love your neighbor as yourself."

1 Corinthians 9:16. "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel."

  • God calls us to be good stewards of what he has entrusted to us (our talents, our relationships, our finances, our time, our bodies as his temple). This flows out of loving and respecting God as he created everything we have.

References:

Matthew 25:15-30. Parable of Talents

Genesis 2:15-20. (Wherein God appoints man steward over creation on earth).

Luke 16. Faithful stewardship.

Romans 12:1. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."

1 Tim 6:16. "Command them [the rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share."

1 Tim 6:20. "... guard what has been entrusted to your care. "

Good external reference on stewardship: http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/spiritua/spirit12.htm

  • God calls us to obey his other commandments (which all proceed from loving him, loving our neighbors, and being good stewards) and lays out the qualities of a good disciple (this is spiritual/character development)

References:

John 14:15. "If you love me, obey my commandments."

1 Tim 4:7 "Discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness"

Colossians 1:10. “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work.”

  • God calls us to  joy and recreation. This proceeds from our recognition that we are created in the image of God and delight in joy and recreation as he does.

Phil 4:8. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

Deut 5:12. "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you."

Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Genesis 1:31. "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. …"

Every goal that is worthwhile falls under the scope of one of these five avenues of glorification.

I track subcategories under each avenue (for example, ‘Stewardship of my Body’ under ‘Stewardship’ . For each subcategory I list an objective (or objectives) which is/are qualifications of what it means to be in compliance with progress in that avenue.  Then, following good goal setting principles, I translate the objective(s) into measurable goals. (A common failure in goal setting is to fail to define measurable goals for your objectives, preventing you from being able to rationally/objectively define when you’ve met the objective.) Finally, I create action steps which, as they are completed, will bring me closer to completing the measurable goals. These action steps can usually be conveniently scheduled in outlook with the calendar or task manager.

I want to add a final note to remind blog readers that while this method of qualifying and quantifying the Christian life appeals to me (perhaps I truly was born to be a Methodist who prefer a methodical and systematic approach to theology, which is the denomination I have found myself in these days) it’s not the ‘only’ way to approach life in Christ. In fact I am sure many may find this systematic approach as complicated, overthought, and overwhelming. I once heard a pastor report that his goal list boiled down to ‘find the next wholesome thing that needs doing in your circle of influence and do it’.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why I Don’t Like Abstract Art

Today while meandering with my husband through the Norman Rockwell temporary exhibit at the American Art Museum (works on loan from the private collections of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas) I realized what I don’t like about modern art: it lacks a storyline. Artists such as Rockwell, Monet and many of my favorite Flemish artists are masterful storytellers and through their art they craft amazingly rich tales in a single frame. Modern abstract art instead typically attempts to convey an emotion [or several] or a philosophical/political statement. Frankly, I’d rather be pulled into a story than a statement.

Another powerful realization that came to me this afternoon is how much of an impact American art has the world over. One of the visitors to the exhibit signed the guestbook and provided his personal testimony to Norman Rockwell: as a child growing up in poverty in Columbia he glimpsed the bright and beautiful America that Rockwell depicted in the Saturday Morning Post and knew he was destined to be a part of it. (His father had brought back several years of the Post with him from a visit to New York City.) His mind was filled with the stories told by Rockwell’s art and he dreamed often of being in our country where one can relish the four freedoms - according to FDR these are:

The first is freedom of speech and expression.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way.

The third is freedom from want.

The fourth is freedom from fear.

This young man from Columbia set his life about the goal of migrating to the States and becoming a citizen and in the 1960s his dream came true. His entire life – changed forever by the impact of an American artist. What a beautiful story.

The Rockwell exhibit is on display until January 2011. If you get a chance to make it to the Washington D.C. area before then, I recommend you make time to take in the collection.

Workout Schedule for Autumn 2010

  Cardio Flexibility Strength
Mon Run ------------------- -------------------
Tue Kickboxing
or
Swim
or
Power Step
------------------- -------------------
Wed Run Pilates (week A) Weight Machines
(week B)
Thu --REST-- Yoga (week B) Weight Machines
(week A)
Fri Run ------------------- -------------------
Sat Zumba
or
Spin
or
Bike Ride
------------------- -------------------
Sun Run
or
Swim
------------------- Weight Machines

Friday, September 17, 2010

Working the C25K Program: Tips

Consolidating these here for the many people that have asked my advice for going from couch potato to runner on the C25k program:

1. Make sure you have decent running shoes. Other equipment that I have AND LOVE: wicking socks [asics], running skirts to look good while running and prevent chafing or riding up [skirtsports.com], wicking sports bra and tops [any sports store], garmin fr60 watch with heart rate monitor and shoe pod [the only way to objectively measure gains in cardio fitness- as you move through the program your resting hr should go down, your ability to stay below 170bpm during cardio should increase, your return to resting hr after workout should quicken, etc. also tracks mileage, pace, time, etc. you can buy on amazon.com]

2. Make sure your form is anti-injury: midfoot landing [versus heel strike] and try not to push off with your feet so much as lift them up using your leg muscles for each stride.
3. Make sure you stretch stretch stretch before each run. I do 10 minutes of yoga stretching before I run.


4. Make sure you warm up walk enough. I have finally gotten to the point where I can run after just a 5 minute warm up walk, but for the first gazillion sessions of this program I had to do a 10 minute warm up to get my muscles ready to run or I had hip flexor pain on my right side.


5. HYDRATE. I hit a wall early in the program b/c i wasn't drinking enough water. i used to drink like 1 glass a day, now I drink 50-80 oz a day. makes a big difference- if I forget, my ability to run the next day goes down the toilet.


6. Don't give up. Don't think you have to accomplish each session goal in a single day. My method is to keep repeating a session until I achieve it.  Almost every session is a challenge in pushing myself past where I think I can make it.

7. Unless you can actually keep a 10 minute mile pace, you will have to switch over to the distance goals sometime late in the program, otherwise at c25k graduation you won't actually be running a 5k.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This and That

From Zechariah Chapter 1, verse 4: ‘Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty.’
I read this verse last night (I’m making my way through Zechariah) and it really jumped right off the page at me. After everything God’s people had done to each other and to him he extended this invitation. They murdered, they blasphemed, they lied, they cheated, they worshipped idols and turned their backs on God stubbornly. And yet, God wanted them to know it was as simply as turning back to him and he would respond with love. It’s the most beautiful love story.
Aside from reading scripture verses that get me emotional, I’ve been filling my time as of late with work, exercise, and trying to manage my very hectic to-do list.
The government contract of my primary employer’s ends at the conclusion of this month, so there is a lot of tasks to be completed related to that, especially a lot of technical writing (which I love, so it’s been very fulfilling). It’s been a great four years, but I’m ready to move on to something new and look forward to what God has lined up for me.
With regard to exercise, I’m still working the couch to 5k program and currently *still* battling the goals of week six, day three, making slow but steady progress.  Previously I was following the time goals (which only overlap the distance goals if you run 6mph or a 10 minute mile pace) whereas beginning with week 6 I am following the distance goals. As I’ve written about before, this is so at program graduation-week 9- I will actually be running a 5k distance; If I followed the time goals I’d be running 30 minutes at graduation, but not a full 5k. So to go from the previous longest time goal- 20 minutes  (week5d3) to the time required to run the week6d3 distance goal (2.25 miles at my pace = about 29 minutes) is going to take awhile, and I’m realistic about that. So far I’m up to 23 minutes. I lost my groove for about a week and a half as I was traveling overseas (trip report on Australia is coming soon!) and it disrupted my entire physical environment (eating patterns, sleeping, etc) but I got it back this week and am feeling great about running again.
I am now logging all my technical data about my runs and a detailed description of every workout over at Daily Mile (http://www.dailymile.com/people/jenniparks). It’s a workout community online where you can meet other runners (and hikers/bikers/swimmers/walkers/etc) and share your workouts and give each other feedback. I really like the layout and social interaction of the site and decided my blog readers here are probably tiring of the detailed workout posts clutter hence the move. If you *are* interested in the details of my workouts (how far i went, how i felt, time, etc) you can read my updates over there at any time. They’re also being syndicated to my facebook account so you’ll see them show up in your feed list if you’re on FB and friends with me there. Otherwise, I will still post general progress updates over here with regard to where I am in the program overall and any significant physical milestones or emotional revelations that come through running.
I don’t think I noted it before, but Jonathan and I joined a new fitness facility in Manassas. The new gym is the same price as our old one, but has two swimming pools, jacuzzi, and hundreds of cardio and fitness classes every week. It’s also just about the same distance from our house as the old gym so it works out perfectly.
As always, I am juggling a lot of activities and projects (besides work and exercise described above). I’m still leading the NoVA Walkers meetup group and need to get some hikes scheduled on the calendar for autumn (will carve time out to do that this weekend). I’m organizer of the NoVA Travelers meetup group and we have several trips upcoming: New England Fall Foliage Tour, NYC Culinary Weekend, Spa Weekend in Vegas, Christmas Lights in Austria, and a two week trip to Thailand. A lot of amazing journeys, which means a lot of detailed itineraries for me to plan for the group’s enjoyment. And there is always a myraid of social activities planned with my friends – movie nights, dance classes, horseback riding, etc.
There’s a bit of turmoil at our church; the men who had been pastoring for the past few years have either all died or been transferred (local congregation does not have control over pastor assignments in the Methodist church) and we now have two new pastors. The lead is a charming older gentleman (voice twin of Dr. Lynn Ames, so it’s a bit eerie) who presents a lot of thoughtful sermons punctuated with a nervous chuckle(toastmasters could swoop in for a rescue training perhaps).  The associate pastor is a granola type who is all about living in peace and harmony with each other and the earth and fellow animals. She’s very nice.  Still, we realize that we’ve haven’t yet been able to make a solid connection to our fellow congregants (other than our Monday night group of folks our age) or the church ministries in the 5 years we’ve been attending. We don’t think it’s all on us. There’s something slightly broken about the church’s operations that’s not facilitating ministry and mission and get-involvedness. I couldn’t tell you exactly what’s wrong or how to fix it but we are thinking of moving on to another church home that isn’t broken in this way. So we’re going to try out Grace United Methodist (just down the road from us in the opposite direction of our current church) and see how we fit. We briefly considered attending the Manassas Presbyterian Church but they are so blatantly politically liberal it’s nauseating.
Our families are hanging in there. Jon’s family is doing well (as usual- they’re pretty put together and rarely have any major problems). My parents continue to decline in health and I find myself pulling away from them more as required to protect myself from their dysfunction. 
I got to spend a few hours with my uncle Lucien while we were on layover in LA earlier this month and that was very pleasant. He’s nothing like my dad, despite being his younger brother. He shared some insights with me about my father that I found troubling. It seems my grandmother was *exactly* the same sort of parent as my father in terms of impossible standards and constant air of disapproval and disappointment.  Hard to believe my father incorporated all of that into his parenting style when he had first hand experience of how awful it was to be treated that way.  Uncle Lucien was exposed to that parenting as well, but rejected it. He would not grovel and self-abase to please his mother and perhaps the most interesting thing that came of it is that my grandmother was nicer to him than to my father. That makes me very sad for my father. It must have been hard to be ridiculed and jump through hoops to please and never be good enough while your brother who refused to play the game was lavished with praise and love. People act so strangely. I cannot find a way to explain my grandmother’s behavior toward her sons, nor my father’s behavior toward me. I’m just glad we decided not to have any children so that there is no danger of perpetuating the dysfunction. 
I keep loosely in touch with most of my sisters and brothers (there are 8) and most of their lives are very different than mine. I wish those of them that don’t know God could find their way to a relationship to Christ and receive  healing.
Our dogs are doing as well as could be expected. Jenna (13.5 years) is moving much slower these days and now can only walk as far as the mailbox before tiring and needing to come home and rest. Her arthritis is starting to hurt her more we think and we need to get her on pain meds from the doc soon. Julia (either 5 years or 6 years depending on whether you ask Jon or I) is really behaving better since Jon started running her 5k every morning. Guess she really needed the exercise to be happy and healthy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My First 5k Race

This morning my husband and I both ran our first 5k race together. (Technically he ran a race or two as a kid but that was a long time ago).

With regard to the c25k program, I am currently on week 6, able to run 2 miles with a 3 minute break in between, or able to run 1.75 miles straight through.

We got to the race location and I had a bit of anxiety that I wasn’t expecting. Before arriving, I just assumed it would be like any other run session; I didn’t know I was going to feel jittery and nervous about the race. I hadn’t seen anyone write about that before in the running communities (maybe it’s unique to me then?). The net effect was that my heart rate was up to 125bpm before I ever started running!  (Normal resting hr is 74 for me). My second surprise was the pace at which everyone took off from the starting line. From reviewing previous year’s race results I *knew* I would not be the slowest in the pack, but when I started off with everyone else and saw my Garmin was reporting my start speed as an 8.5 min mile I panicked. I was already toward the back of the pack and I didn’t want to be last but i knew there was no way I could maintain that kind of pace. Not when my normal run pace is just under 13 min/mile. After a third of a mile I had to slow to near my normal pace and was relieved to see plenty of others had slowed down as well also.

As expected, I was not able to run the 3.10 miles straight through- there was some walking intervals involved. However my run times were faster than ever before, giving me an overall pace of a 12:47 min mile. I placed second in my age group (30-34 and, yes, there were actually more than 2 of us in the bracket) and although toward the back of the back for most of the race am relieved to say I wasn’t last in the race (probably about 6-8 people behind me). 

Also it turns out that my first 5k was not actually a 5k but a 5k + .06 miles. Since it was organized by a church the theme was the 3:16 Freedom Run (as in John 3:16) and the actual distance was 3:16. This kinda screwed me up at the end b/c I launched into a sprint at the 3.05 mile mark at a pace of 7:30 min/mile. Would have been able to keep that up if the race had actually been a 5k, but with the surprise .06 at the end I had to slow back down. I nearly stopped and collapsed just before the end except that a good friend happened to be there (who is a teacher and coach by profession) and he came over and ran with me, cheering me on the last little bit. For this I was very grateful. My husband also ran beside me at the end too and that was awesome.

My husband performed spectacularly. He finished right around 23 minutes and placed first in his age bracket. He was in the top 10 finishers overall also. He is amazing and I am so proud of him!

Our next 5k is in October on halloween.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

C25K: w6D3 stalled

As a reminder, W6D3 of the couch to 5k training plan is a 2.25 mile run. I successfully completed W6D2 (1mile run; 3 min walk; 1 mile run) on Friday 8/27. I was scheduled to run next on Tues Aug 31st to attempt day 3, but I let packing for the trip and other last minute errands that day get in my way. Wed was out for running b/c we were traveling all day to Sydney, AU. Thurs disappeared into the vortex of time zone differences, never to be seen again. So I finally ran again a week later in Sydney on 9/3 and only managed to squeeze out 1 mile of running before I had to switch over to walking the rest of the session (did 2.92 miles total).

The rest of the days in Sydney  were jam packed with very little sleep and sightseeing and at least 4-6 miles of walking per day (seriously!). Although Jon had the self-discipline to get out and run every morning I did not. I was too busy trying to manage metric to standard conversions, walking on the left instead of right, adjusting to the 14 hour time difference and trying not to get run over when crossing streets (hard to remember to look right instead of left). Excuses excuses excuses. I am full of those this week aren’t I?

Anyway, we got back from AU yesterday and I spent most of the day in a zombie catatonic state of jet lag. The 23+ hours of flight is really rough on the body. So I went out to run today. On an empty stomach. Without having had any water. And after having been up most of the night (so was Jon) b/c we are now trying to adjust back to this time zone. More excuses. Net result was that I could barely run a full mile in one burst. It went something like .75 mile run, 2 min walk, .2 mile run, 1 min walk. I kept at it until I reached the 5k mark, but I was only able to run in intervals. My final time was 43 minutes for the entire 5k.

My next official attempt to tackle W6D3 will actually be in a 5k race on Sat. Our church is sponsoring a 5k here in Manassas,VA and Jon and I are both signed up for it. Although my training session is prescribed for 2.25 miles of running i am obviously going to push myself to run as far into the 5k as possible as my brother in law Jerry suggested. Then I can pass out on the finish line and pick back up with regular training next session on Tuesday.