Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The First McAnulty Cousin Night

Earlier this week, the two most beautiful, sweet, precious little ones you could ever imagine came to Grandpa and Grandma's house while their parents enjoyed some child-free time.  It was our first time to babysit four-month-old Evy at our house, so the excitement was very real!
Kam was eager to see her and immediately shared his little truck with her.
Grandpa's left hand is holding onto Evy's hand, and Kam's hand is in his right.
I love it.
Papa helped Kam hold Evy on his lap. Evy doesn't look too certain about it! 
Those eyebrows!
Kam still finds time to play with Zeek.
Such a hungry boy - eating with a spoon in his left hand and a fork in his right!
They were all extremely well behaved at dinner. 
Kam is such a good worker, he pulled some weeds for me after dinner.
Kam is not perfect though, he does not sit still and say cheese for pictures.
He sat long enough for me to take just this one.
Evy is still good at sitting fairly still.
Such beauty!
Zeek loves these kids.
Yikes, he just couldn't resist a quick affectionate little face lick.
 Dogs!! Sorry, Evy!
So I say to Will: We need to take pics with these two on our first cousin's night with them. In my usual kind, unselfish manner, I let him have them first.
Kam is pleased to demonstrate "patty cake" to Evy and goes through the whole thing with great joy.
It's just the cutest. So many cute pics of this.
Then it's my turn. "I want to get down" says Kam. But Kam, Nana wants a picture of us together! Say cheese! Look at papa! Please!
"I go play!" he insists.
Fine, go play then.
Ooh, look what I found! Water in the bird bath! So delighted!
Just have to touch it, don't we?
Oh, so sad, while Nana is in the house warming up the bottle for Evy, Kam gets his first time out from Papa because he keeps picking the flowers from the pots of impatiens even after Papa tells him not to. "I'm all done with time out," he announces after about 10 seconds. Oh, buddy, sorry, your papa is a tough one, he's gonna make you sit at least 30 seconds. Oops, when you're set free and immediately pick more flowers, Papa has to sit you down again.

Baby Evy made short work of the bottle and it's all going great. Kam decides to join us in the house for a few minutes, and Evy gets a little fussy as her bed time approaches. Kam chooses to go back outside with Papa, but somehow he slides the screen door all the way back and manages to pinch his finger. Next thing I know, I'm squatting on the floor with a loudly wailing child in each arm. That's enough to break a grandma's heart! Especially when grandpa's ears aren't what they once were and it takes him awhile to come help me! But a little boy's face lights up and the fingers feel fine when he can put them in a bowl of water with some ice cubes.

The bigger challenge was making sure the daughter-in-law doesn't come back to a crying baby the first time she leaves her at grandma's house. This grandma doesn't even want to even admit that the darling baby cried while in her care, much less be caught with a crying baby. After a little singing and reading and rocking and walking, then lying her on in the crib upstairs, she was content to lay there awhile. After Kam left, I brought her back downstairs, and when her parents came soon after, she was still as happy as could be.

Such a happy evening. Oh thank you Lord, and please bless us with more!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Life and Death

On a recent Saturday, we attended two memorial services, both former co-workers of ours who left this earth far too young, in my opinion. These men were not much older than my husband, and it was heartbreaking to see the grieving widows, children, grandchildren and friends they left behind. I don’t like to think about my death or my husband’s death, but after two services in one day, what else could I think about?!

If I knew I had five years left, how would I live my daily life? What if I only had one year? What if I knew my husband only had a few years? How do we truly live our lives to the fullest and make the most of our time together? What would I regret if I (or my husband) were suddenly at death's door? Do we need to sit down and make a list of places we need to go and things we need to do? Oh, and I definitely need to go through those boxes of old junk in the attic and get rid of my teenage journals so no one reads them and finds out how ridiculous I was back then!

And what about my own memorial service? Who will speak? What will people say about me when I’m gone? I can imagine someone blunt enough to speak the truth, “LeAnn meant well, she had a lot of good intentions that she never followed through with. She was always really busy but she didn’t actually seem to accomplish much, bless her heart.”

So I was thinking and fretting a little and asking God to give me wisdom and direction.  And then I went to church the next morning. Have you ever gone to church and discovered that the morning’s message was just for you? It wasn’t immediately apparent to me as Pastor Nathan introduced the day’s scripture, Psalm 90, written by Moses out of the depths of his disappointment that he would not get to enter the Promised Land. He gave a brief synopsis of the story of Moses, then said he would be talking about three truths from Psalm 90 that would help us walk by faith through life’s many seasons of ups and downs. (Oh and I didn’t even the mention the funny part about Moses’ BHAG, as well as Nathan’s wife’s BHAG. What’s a BHAG, you ask? But I digress, that’s not the point of this post. Or, maybe it is. Hmmm.  Well, you can listen to the sermon here.  (You really should. I've listened to it a couple times just for fun. It's easy, put it on your iPhone and time will just fly by as you clean toilets and do the dishes!)

Anyway, as I followed along with the reading of Psalm 90, I think my jaw dropped as we went through all this great stuff. We’re talking about the numbering our days so that we can be wise! We’re actually talking about facing our death!

Psalm 90
A prayer of Moses, the man of God.
Lord, through all the generations
    you have been our home!
Before the mountains were born,
    before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
    from beginning to end, you are God.
You turn people back to dust, saying,
    “Return to dust, you mortals!”
For you, a thousand years are as a passing day,
    as brief as a few night hours.
You sweep people away like dreams that disappear.
    They are like grass that springs up in the morning.
In the morning it blooms and flourishes,
    but by evening it is dry and withered.
We wither beneath your anger;
    we are overwhelmed by your fury.
You spread out our sins before you—
    our secret sins—and you see them all.
We live our lives beneath your wrath,
    ending our years with a groan.
10 Seventy years are given to us!
    Some even live to eighty.
But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble;
    soon they disappear, and we fly away.
11 Who can comprehend the power of your anger?
    Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve.
12 Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
    so that we may grow in wisdom.
13 O Lord, come back to us!
    How long will you delay?
    Take pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love,
    so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
15 Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery!
    Replace the evil years with good.
16 Let us, your servants, see you work again;
    let our children see your glory.
17 And may the Lord our God show us his approval
    and make our efforts successful.
    Yes, make our efforts successful!

I was so excited that this subject was being discussed and eagerly dug for the little spiral I had finally remembered to put in my purse so I could take notes instead of scribbling on miscellaneous scraps of paper found in its depths.

The first point: God is Big. Really Big. He is infinite, he is powerful, he is all knowing. The contrast between God and our measly 70 or 80 years of toil and trouble is pretty striking. We are small. But we tend to live our lives as though we are big and he is small, fitting him into our story instead of looking for how we fit into his story. Ponder: Is God big in my life? If so, how am I serving him?
God is big. We are small. So serve Him.

The second lesson: Life is Short, so Get Wise! Moses asks God to teach us to number our days so we can get a heart of wisdom. So we are supposed to meditate on the brevity of life. (I’m not crazy, I’ve actually been obeying scripture!) If I own the fact that I’m going to die someday, it will help me get wise. Nathan took this as a personal challenge to look his own death in the face and related how he embarked on a Google search that had me laughing so hard I forgot to be depressed about our impending deaths for about five minutes. He spoke of sitting at a computer screen watching the seconds of his life counting down, which brought him to a similar point where I was when I walked in the door. If you knew exactly how many days you had left, it would affect the way you spend those days. It would affect the way you spend your time, your resources, and what your priorities are.

How am I spending my life? It’s short, so get wise.

Thirdly, God is Good, and He can be trusted. Moses cries out to God to return and satisfy him in the morning with his steadfast love.  He recognized that true lasting satisfaction doesn’t come from a place or thing, not from realizing dreams and goals, but from his friendship with God.  Moses ends with a future oriented prayer that God’s work and power would be shown to his servants and their children. “God’s work and glorious power has been made known to us in Jesus in a story even more powerful than the delivery from Egypt. Because our powerful God came to earth as a servant and died on the cross, when we face death someday it doesn’t need to be the end. In Jesus, the Everlasting numbered his days so that our days could become everlasting. That is a steadfast love that satisfied; glorious power that shatters our disappointments; glorious news worth rejoicing with glad hearts. “ WOW!
God is good, and he can be trusted indeed.

Ok, I can check one thing off my list. Funeral plan: Ask Nathan to speak on Psalm 90. (Be sure to include the funny stuff, Nathan!)

The last part of the chapter (v. 14-17) resonated deep within me.  Here is a plan to live life to the fullest.  So often I am crazy busy doing so many things that I love with people that I love while neglecting things and people that I don’t love and feeling guilty about things that I should do but fail to get around to, as well as being annoyed that I can’t get my job done in eight hours a day so that I could have more time to do what I want to do. I just can’t seem to find the right balance of priorities.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have read and listened to this Psalm numerous times, praying these verses at the start of my days.  I created this paraphrase on a photo of a wonderful sunrise at Crater Lake and am planning to pick it up from Costco tomorrow, frame it and hang it next to my mirror where I will see it every morning.
As I continue to think about priorities and how I should live so I don’t have regrets should I unexpectedly face the end of my life here on earth, I keep finding myself confronted with situations that make me recognize how thoughtless and selfish I am, forcing me to choose between a good or a best, an easy or a hard. I would like to conclude this by saying that I have it all figured out and will live a life of perfect prioritizing from now on. Though I am often unrealistically optimistic, I am not a liar, thus I shall not make that preposterous statement!

The other thing I wish I could do is wrap this up by sharing my own BHAG. I’ve been thinking about that too, what is my own personal Big Hairy Audacious Goal? I have finally come to the conclusion that  as an old-fashioned 57-year-old woman, I am just not cool enough to pull that one off. Everything I come up with sounds trite and ridiculous. Kind of like when I found myself on a Hood to Coast team named “Embrace the Suck”. Are you kidding me, I tried to forbid my children to even use that word back in the day. But when I found myself running on steamy Portland streets in 97 or was it 98 degree sunshine, the phrase became very real and personal to me, and I am now accepting it as a very valid and helpful motto in many of life’s situations. Oh but I digress, how far off track I have fallen once again.

What I really, really want when I reach the end of my life is to know that I will spend eternity not only with God, the amazing Creator of this incredible universe and my best friend, but that my family and friends; all the people I love, will be there to enjoy it with me someday. As I hear many times on Sunday mornings, Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, he came to make dead people alive.  Eternally alive.  Death is not the end. Because of that, the fact that I am somewhat older than middle-aged and have a husband who is way older than middle-aged (sorry sweetheart), knowing that death could surprise either one of us at any time doesn’t totally suck after all (excuse my language), though I don't make light of how devastating the loss of a loved one truly is. Thank God, death is not the end.

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:1

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Crater Lake Rim Run 2017

Three years ago on August 17th after I finished my one and only marathon, I posted this on Facebook "A great experience, a very satisfying accomplishment..but boy am I glad I don't ever have to run 13.1 miles again." (It was pretty convenient that it popped up in my Timehop yesterday!)

So how wonderful it is that I did not have to make a fool of myself by contradicting that statement when I completed the 13 mile Crater Lake Rim Run last Saturday. Not a half marathon, just a 13 mile run. I wondered why they didn't call it a Half, but I think I now understand that it was just for me, to preserve my dignity and veracity. (Here's a link to the blog  My First and Last Half Marathon). Strangely, I not only enjoyed most of my long training runs much more this time, I also did not find the race itself as tedious and difficult. Location, location location?! 

My Canadian nephew Steve and I enjoyed running together in Maui back in January 2015, and he's been running all kinds of races. When I learned about the opportunity to run at one of my favorite gorgeous places, I invited him to come all the way down from northern BC to join me. Thus we found ourselves together at Crater Lake last weekend. 

We drove the course on Friday, and I was horrified to see that the first two miles were on gravel (because of road construction). Argh, my feet had nearly killed me a week earlier when I did a carelessly rambling 8-mile loop around my local country roads and found myself on gravel for several miles of it. After a gentle little uphill start, most of the gravel was a gradual downhill, followed by a hill, but most of the first six miles were mainly a nice down hill, then it went up and down again, and then the last four miles were uphill. And we're talking uphill! The marathoners had to continue uphill for at least another mile for the marathon. It was hard to tell where the marathon ended, and since that was the route Steve would be taking, he was interested in finding out. It appeared to end at a small campground down the Pinnacles road, and after talking to several other guys who were either camping there or scoping it out, it was clear no one really knew where it would finish. We went to the Steel Visitor Center on Friday evening to see a video that was supposed to be showing, but the only thing we saw was other runners standing around wondering why the place was locked up!

On Saturday morning, Will drove us to Rim Village, where the race would start. We left our fancy motel rooms at Diamond Lake at 6 a.m. to be sure any traffic delays would not hinder our 7:30 start time. Whew, there was no traffic whatsoever, so we had plenty of time to meander around, enjoy the view and talk to other runners, who had come from far and wide. What a beautiful morning, with temps in the low 60s.
We are ready!

Runners on the rim overlooking the lake.
With a depth of 1949 feet, Crater Lake is said to be one of the clearest lakes in the world. The morning reflections are awesome.
Was Steve really as relaxed as he appears?! He started out running with me for about the first kilometer, which is so sweet of him since his pace is about twice as fast as mine! But he says he likes to start out slow to warm up.  When we started running, the elevation made the heart rate rise ever so quickly! 
When it was time for him to take off, his neon shirt was almost out of sight by the time I had a chance to raise my phone and take a running picture!
I was so excited when the lake was in soon in sight again!

 Seriously excited! I was feeling so good, because the gravel was nicely graded, not too heavy, and didn't hurt my feet at all!
Off the gravel, about ready to turn right and go uphill.
Oh the views.
I was more than ready for water when I got to the three mile point….but they were out of water. OUT OF WATER!!! I was thinking they had water stations every mile after 3, and there was nothing at 4. I spoke a text to my husband, informing him that I might need him to bring water to me. There was nothing at Mile 4. There was nothing at Mile 5. I sent a more urgent text. Then at 5.2 (according to my Runkeeper) oh thank you Jesus, there was water!! I sent him this picture.
Of course, there was not enough service for the picture to go through! I sent a text instead, cancelling my water Mayday!
Despite my water scare, the miles were flying by.  This is so fun, people!
I couldn't believe it had already been 6.7 miles when I reached that finish line. Seriously the most awesome and easy 6.7 miles I've ever run! Oh, the real joy was about to begin!
A kind runner at the water station offered to take a picture of me. She may have spotted my inept attempts to take a selfie with the view.
I paused momentarily to take pictures now and then.
I was inspired by a women's retreat speaker, Laurie Smucker, about a year and a half ago, to pray when running. Since then, running time is prayer time. I admit I admit I am easily distracted and don't focus as well as I'd like,  but this has become another reason to love running!
However, when you're surrounded by this kind of beauty as you run, it's pretty easy to thank and praise the Creator!
Toward the end of Mile 9's uphill rigor, I fell into step with an older gentleman who was travelling at my pace (slow!).  The gal below was standing by the truck ahead of us, calling out encouragement. He called back, "You are one hot cheerleader."  Without thinking, I asked, "Do you know her?" "Oh yes," he replied. "We are a Match dot com success of 7 years!" 
He told me that it was his 67th birthday, and running the marathon was his birthday gift to himself. He was retired military and always worked to be fit. He had previously run the Crater Lake 13 mile and had always wanted to do the marathon. He said he had to overcome many obstacles along the way, including an injury that prevented training for five weeks and most recently, his father-in-law's funeral in Iowa the day before. They had taken a late flight in and he'd had only a few hours of sleep the night before. He didn't care how long it took, he was determined to do it! He congratulated me for being 57 and running a half marathon and encouraged me to spread the word that being active and fit adds joy to life!

His wife was cheering him on as he passed, then driving the pickup to the next side spot in the road and waiting for him again with a bottle of water, a smooch, or an encouraging word! She had a pickup full of water and was sharing it with everyone. I appreciatively accepted a bottle and asked if I could take her picture and put her on my blog! She saved me, because I sure didn't see water every two miles! (The next morning at breakfast I overheard the people at the next table talking about this couple, and one of them said that she's a Christian lady and she prays for runners as she waits at the turnouts. So sweet!)

By this time, most of the people around us were walking but he and I were still running. (Hey we were slow but we were running!) He said he told himself he could not walk until mile 10. When we got to mile 10 and the uphill seemed steeper all the time, I could not see anyone ahead or behind me running. My feet were killing me, and I found that walking magically made them feel better, as the pressure was on different points. So I blame both peer pressure and foot pressure, but I walked (as fast as I could) most of the last 3 uphill miles. Truthfully, there was no way I could have run all of those four uphill miles, especially at that elevation. I did a good bit of hill running to prepare for this (including Washburn Heights!), and were I to do something like this again, I would train on Washburn Heights regularly instead of once!

I fell in with a group of people and enjoyed talking and hearing their stories as well. It was pretty funny to hear a couple people say such things as, "This is killing me. I didn't run any hills to get ready for this cause I hate hills!"  And "Surely this hill is going to end soon! It can't go on forever." To which I would say, "Do you really want to know when this hill is going to end? Are you sure?…..It is not going to end until this run is over!" Oh there was wailing! And I snickered silently.
We are approaching the end…the road will curve to the right up ahead and we will see the finish line  and start running again!

This was not a high tech race by any means. When I ran across the finish line, a young man there said, "You're time is 2:52.36." Then we tore off the bottom of my bib and it got posted on this board.

 I thought this meant that I came in 39th, and I assumed there must have only been around 70 13-milers. Ha ha. I'm glad I didn't run around bragging that I came in 39th. I looked at the results page tonight and see that I was 142 out of 167!
There were snacks…fruit, cookies, bagels with cream cheese, and peanut butter sandwiches. A nice man and his two grandchildren were manning the station. The kids were placing the bagels directly on the picnic table to spread them. (I'm sure it had been sanitized!) They were really enjoying helping and working together. Really sweet.
I had some Gatorade, and then I went back and got a Pepsi in honor of my sisters, who are serious Pepsi lovers. Here's to you, Hope and Jean. Maybe we could find a pretty place to walk a 5k someday?!

I didn't lollygag around, because there was a bus just up the hill which according to the schedule was headed back to Rim Village at 10:30. But no, after hurrying up there, I learned that this bus was heading to Klamath Falls. No one seemed to have any idea when our bus was coming. About 45 minutes later, two buses finally arrived. 

After we took off, listening to their radio chatter, I learned that the other bus took the direct route back because two lane traffic had re-opened, but our bus driver didn't know she could do that so she drove all the way around the lake. Oh well. The bus driver heading out to pick up marathoners was asking where he was supposed to go. Oh did I mention this whole race seemed extremely well organized?!

I was sitting by a fascinating young woman from Indiana. She and her best friend moved to Seattle after college and she works for Boeing. She loves to explore the Northwest, and is celebrating the 100th anniversary of National Parks by running at Crater Lake and also a half marathon in the Smokies this fall. She ran a half in London on a whim when she was visiting a friend there. Her two roommates drove down with her the day before, and since one of them had to work til 4, they got stuck in traffic and spent many hours on the road, so she had a short sleep at a motel before getting up early and getting dropped off by her roommates, who were going to try to find a campsite. I really enjoyed our visit and only bragged about my grandchildren a little bit.

Anyway, we finally got off the bus. It was so fun to see my niece Faith, her husband Harold and of course my husband, waiting patiently there to greet me! Well, they were not exactly right there. I got off the bus, sure that they would be eagerly awaiting my return, but no. They had all wandered off and I had a few minutes of confusion worrying if they were at the right place or not. I was very happy when we connected!
We had plenty of time to hang out and enjoy the beauty waiting for the bus to bring Steve back from the marathon finish.
Steve had to wait more like an hour and a half for his bus but eventually it arrived and he came bounding down the steps, unlike the other poor souls dragging their aching bodies out.. 
Of course, the website results matched what Steve told us. He came in 8th place (out of 90 marathon finishers) with a time of 3:53 on a course that ended with some brutal steep hills on a dirt road. Woo hoo Steve! You are amazing!

We headed back to Diamond Lake Resort, where we snacked before they all left us to head home to spend time with visiting children/nieces.

Will and I enjoyed a wonderful relaxing early dinner on the restaurant patio overlooking the lake, a nice nap and some more runnig (on the classic 24" boxy TV in our luxurious resort room!)

and then back to the restaurant for dessert at sunset.
Thank you Will, for being an awesome supporter and companion. Love love love you!!!

We enjoyed a stop at Crescent Lake on our way home the next day. Our new Suburban looks all ready for adventure with a handsome man and a lake in the background!
We were way overdue for a selfie!

And on Monday night, the running twins were reunited at my niece Jewel's home! Neither of us would admit to experiencing any pain or soreness. Perhaps just a slight stiffness now and then when arising after sitting too long! Training definitely pays off!
Thank you Steve for coming and sharing the awesomely special experience with your loving old aunt! A memory we will treasure forever!

And to my other running nieces and nephews….maybe we should find a half marathon in Bend (or anywhere!) to do together? Or a 10K? 5K anyone?

Back to Crater Lake Race info - the website states that the elevation ranges from 5980 to 7850. Below is my Runkeeper graph. Our starting point at Watchman Overlook and the ending point near Scott Mount trailhead are actually both around 7400 feet, so those lucky marathoners were the ones who got to experience the highest elevations.  My Fitbit said I had 150 floors. :) 

(I don't know why it says 2,915 ft. Is that the total elevation gained and lost?!) 

This was a great experience and I'm so thankful we were able to do it. I don't think I would do this race again, partly because of the lack of organization and poor communication. Partly because there are so many other beautiful places to run…

And coming up next, I'm a last minute replacement for someone on the Hood to Coast Relay the last weekend of August!