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.
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