Category Archives: yadda yadda and all that

What are you giving up for Lent?

When I was a kid giving something up for Lent was a big choice: chocolate? pop? television? It had to be something that felt like an indulgence – or maybe something I could complain about often.

I grew older and latched onto the idea of doing something extra for Lent. Reading books about scripture or faith. Praying a certain prayer each day. One year I put a box in my office and each day dropped in something that I didn’t need – it was both doing and giving up.

Now I tend to try and do both the giving up and the doing extra. I’ll be honest though, the giving up part seems silly. I know, I know there’s something about strengthening your self-discipline but for someone who is self-disciplined all the time? It seems unnecessary. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m drawing any closer to Jesus or remembering his sacrifice in some special way because I’m not eating snacks in the afternoon.

But Lent starts next week and something does, in fact, need to be done to honor the season. In preparing to lead a youth ministry night, I came across the 1 – 1 – 1 challenge for Lent. That’s what I’ll be following:

  1. Give up one thing
  2. Pick up one thing
  3. Focus on one sin

Here’s hoping for a fruitful, strengthening Lent. How will you be honoring the season?

My new friend Louie

Every time I’m out on the bike trail between 7 & 8 in the morning, I see some familiar faces. There’s one man in particular who always walks the same stretch – no matter what day of the week, I see him. He walks with a bit of a bounce to his step…. like he’s just happy to be out enjoying some exercise. And he always, always has the loudest, most cheerful good morning.

I saw him this morning on my way north as he was heading south and we exchanged our typical “good mornings” and “beautiful days.” I decided that if I passed him again after my turnaround, I was going to stop to introduce myself. I went on my merry way for a few more miles, turned around and saw him up ahead. As I neared him I almost chickened out “This is so out of character… are you really going to ride up on a stranger and just introduce yourself?!?” But I pushed those thoughts to the side, took a deep breath and shouted out “Coming up on your left and I have a question for you!”

I slowed down to roll alongside and told him that I enjoy seeing him out whenever I’m on the trail: “I’d love to say good morning by name. My name is Barb, what’s yours?” He stopped, extended his hand and said “It’s so nice to meet you Barb, my name is Louie. No one ever stops to share their names even though us regulars see each other all the time. That’s real nice of you. Real nice.” I thought that might be it but he started to talk. So I shifted gears and rolled alongside him for what turned out to be fifteen minutes of delightful conversation.

Louie worked for the steel mills for 44 years and the day after he retired he started walking on the trail. He now walks five miles every day “rain or shine – even in the snow.” He’s 69 years old and will turn 70 in November and is grateful every day that he’s healthy and active enough to get out.

I now know he’s a Colts fan and one year shortly after Christmas he found a brand new money clip with a Colts logo on it on the trail. He carried it with him for a week and asked everyone he saw if it was theirs but it wasn’t… and it had less than $10 in it so he didn’t report it. Every time he gets it out of his pocket it makes him smile.

He has a brother who just retired from being a mailman and this spring he helped him move down to Florida. He misses him. He has a niece in the area, another in Nashville and a third down in Florida.

He asked about my family and how long I’ve lived here. He’s a “region boy” who grew up in Whiting. He joked that I was probably a little shaky and nervous about sending my oldest to college in a few weeks but that I shouldn’t be because it will be the best time of her life.

When we got to his car, he extended his hand again and said he’s looking forward to seeing me on the trail again soon. “I’m excited to be able to call out to someone by name. I sure hope I don’t forget it but if I do feel free to smack me on the head as you ride past and shout it out – that will make sure I remember.”

Me and my new friend Louie… I’m looking forward to talking with him more and I’ll be sure to ask what he thinks about the Colts when the season starts.

One word

I’ve started listening to a new podcast called Abiding Together. It has a beautiful voice and at approximately 30 minutes is just right to listen to on a walk. One of their episodes was about picking a word for the year. Sort of a theme for your personal year and, in this context, your prayer life.

I’ve heard of this notion before but never really been interested in doing it. But they brought up the idea of a word for a season – in this case for Lent – and that struck a chord. That seems more tangible to me and a good way to focus what has felt a bit like a scattered Lent so far. So I started thinking about it as I walked and listened.

I thought I had a word but I wasn’t sure. I said a prayer about the idea and left it in God’s hands. And then the word that I was considering popped out of someone else’s mouth the next day in my Lenten faith sharing group. So I started to think about it some more and how I could apply it.


As in creating an intentional space to grow. To pray. To think.

Metaphorically pushing aside the clutter of thoughts and to do lists and demands on my time and creating space. I imagine this space as blissfully quiet. It’s warm there. And sheltered. And peaceful. I’m sure I can see water. I think I like this space. Now the challenge in front of me is taking the time to create this space on a regular basis.

Running & distance… or not the distance

I’ve trained for and run two marathons. I completely understand the focus and hard work it takes to get to that finish line. I know all to well how all-consuming 26.2 miles can be for months at a time. And I wholeheartedly believe that reading articles and hooking up with other marathoners can be a HUGE support system during training. HUGE.

But when did all the running blogs become marathon blogs?

Why did people stop talking about running just for the joy and strength of running? What ever happened to running WITHOUT a training plan? Where are the runners who are out there logging miles, getting stronger, putting their all into the miles but not racking up 16, 18, 20 mile runs?

How about the half marathoners? The no-way-in-hell-ever-gonna-run-a-race-with-marathon-in-the-title runners? The runners who are signing up for the occasional 5k or 10k just for fun? The don’t need to race, just want to run runners?

I’m not necessarily talking about the individual’s blog who is currently training for a marathon. That person’s blog is likely about more than marathons and just dominated by the topic for a few months. I get that. It’s good. I’m talking about the blogs that have become running publications (because that’s what they are – online publications with huge readership). And suddenly these publications are raising the marathon up to such heights that the rest of us (or just me) are left behind.

It’s certainly inspiring to read about a person lacing up and making the marathon go from a dream to reality. But I’m at a point where it would be inspiring to hear from someone who just likes running and isn’t slogging through a training plan. Someone who shares the joy of a trail run or the conversation they had when they took a walk break (gasp). I’d love it if my blog feed stopped having the word marathon in 50% of the titles.

Maybe I’m just being grouchy and I need to unfollow a few blogs. But I feel a little like the lonely voice in an echoing room… Hello?? I like to run too! Sometimes I train for longer races but sometimes I like to walk and swim and ride my bike. It would be nice to find something that talks about the casual exerciser who sometimes trains for big races but always wants to be healthy.

Being thankful for: my faith

Week #7 of the 15-week gratitude challenge and the topic is thanking someone who helped you find God. I grew up going to Catholic school. As a young child I seem to remember that our Mass attendance was a given. As a teen we didn’t go to church as a family and I know I didn’t go on a regular basis. As a college student I found myself going fairly regularly on my own. Once I was married we had a routine of going to Mass on Saturday night and then going out to dinner. I started to become active in our church as a young, married adult.

I grew up with God as a part of my life, and can certainly thank my parents for that, but I can’t think of an epiphany where someone “helped me find God.” However, I can think of someone who modeled a family life of faith that I knew I wanted for my family someday. A life that I work hard to instill in the lives of my children…

Who helped me find my faith?

My godmother.

My Aunt Mary Lou is the mother of four children. If there was one impression I had of their lives when we were all growing up it was “they do a lot of church.” They went to Mass every week even when they were visiting for the summer. Mass on vacation just didn’t make sense at all to me at the time – though when we went to visit them, I remember going to church with them. All of my cousins were altar servers and active in their church. I barely volunteered at church and remember sketchily attending any sort of church functions. Even though I went to Catholic school, just like they did, they seemed much more closely tied to their church community.

I don’t remember making a conscious decision to model my family’s faith life after my Aunt’s family, but I can see now that her influence is strong. Going to Mass isn’t a question of “if” around here, it’s “when.” We go to Mass on vacation, even when I’m on a vacation with just my husband, we always find a church and go to Mass. My children are all active in our church. The rule in our house is that your church gives you a lot, you have to find at least one way to give back to your church. Our church community knows each of us by name and we know a lot of people in our church community. We pray as a family and I’ve worked hard to instill faith traditions into our lives outside of Mass.

Looking at my family I realize… we do a lot of church. It is a foundation of faith that I wanted to give my children. I have my Aunt to thank for that.

Thank you, Aunt Mary Lou for giving me a model of faith to follow.

15 weeks, 15 letters, 15 minutes. To kick off 2015. Read about the gratitude challenge here.