Finding Peace for Paris

I spent most of Friday night watching my phone light up with news updates about the Paris attacks. I scrolled through BBC feeds, New York Times articles, and a piece in The Globe and Mail.

And I’m not okay.

I’m really shaken up. I’m torn up. I can’t even go to bed right now because of how disturbed I am.

Which is strange because I’m a small-town Midwesterner, and I don’t know any French people, nor any Parisians.

But I can’t let it go, and I’m sitting up late bugging my roommates with questions like “Why Paris?” “Why now?”


Doug Sanders in the Globe and Mail article “Attack on Paris an assult on the city itself” makes a statement concerning the locations of the attacks: a legendary concert hall hosting a U.S. independent rock band, a Cambodian restaurant in a bohemian district, and a France-Germany soccer match.

“These do not appear to be symbolic targets. They are not places related to the French state, to the military, to religion or commerce or international affairs. Rather, they are targets chosen, it seems, for maximum carnage: Popular, unprotected, soft targets all on busy thoroughfares with large crowds engaged in popular Parisian evening activities. It was, then, an attack on Paris itself. It is hard to avoid seeing it as an attack on the very spirit of modern, pluralist Paris, on the youthful libertine air that still permeates the French capital.”

Was it, simply, an attack on a modern, pluralist city? If so, what is the reaction to, exactly? Is it related to the Charlie Hebdo incident? Do we know who claims responsibility for the attacks? Are other European nations in danger? We will continue to watch this story unfold in the coming days.

These questions and more swirled around in my mind as I sat on my bedroom floor and prayed.

Yet even though I am asking so many “whys”, I am reminded of the “becauses.” Why do these things happen? Why does evil continue?

Evil exists because people all over the world have evil inside of them. I have evil inside of me.

While I sat on my bedroom floor, sipping tea, staring at empty space, I was reminded of all the times this week that I didn’t choose good. That time when I was irritated and snapped at an annoying student. That time when I was tempted to be selfish with a family member. And I was reminded of all the times this week that I didn’t choose God, the only truly good Being. And I chose my own selfish way instead. (“I don’t really need to read the inspired Word tonight. I can read something else.”) (“Whatever. This thing doesn’t really matter to Him. He wouldn’t really care. So I’m going to do what I want.”) I didn’t choose good this week because I never asked myself, “What can I do to get closer to God this week and grow His goodness in my life?”


I think that evil grows just a little bit when we live like this. And when it’s compounded to a thousand decisions a day, and multiplied by a thousand people, in my town, and then multiplied by the millions of people in my country, and my country multiplied many times over… … I think this is how tiny seeds of selfishness grow and become the fields we now have of dishonesty, of greed, and of corruption, which always lead to injustice. And where there is injustice, there is violence and death.

I’m reading the book Loving Jesus by Mother Theresa. She writes about a young Sister, just graduated from university, from a well-to-do Indian family who had just joined the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta and was required to spend time at the Home for Dying Destitutes. Mother Theresa cautioned her: “You saw the priest during the Mass, with what love, with what delicate care he touched the body of Christ. Make sure you do the same thing when you get to the home, because Jesus is there in a distressing disguise.” The young woman returned after three hours, and Mother Theresa was amazed to find her beaming. She said, “They brought a man from the street who had fallen into a drain and had been there for some time. He was covered with maggots and dirt and wounds. And though I found it very difficult, I cleaned him, and I knew I was touching the body of Christ!”

Reading this book moved me. Because, you see, this week, the evil inside of me (my selfish humanness) really wanted to give a difficult (yet needy) student an earful for her irresponsibility. But my conscience spoke beautifully and loudly to me. “That child is Jesus to you. You must treat her like Jesus.” And I swallowed the lecture, which would have surely wounded, and instead began helping.

These are the moments that breathe life. This is how good grows in the world.

It is very easy for us to read newspaper headlines and point out all the evil in the world. But that’s the point. Anyone can do that. My 12 year old students can do that. But I will tell you what a 12 year old cannot do. They cannot (or at least they find it very hard to) call out and fix the evil within themselves.

We find it so easy to point fingers at terrorist groups, at governments, at nations, and at religions other than our own. But we do not recognize the evil that we carry with us every day. An evil that we refuse to regard. A sinful habit that we ignore. (Which may not necessarily be an overt “sin” other than the sin of ignoring or abandoning God, the bringer of good, which is no less serious.)

I challenge you who want to find peace for Paris.

First, you must find the evil within yourself. And you must recognize it and deal with it. You must make peace in your own home. You must first find peace in your own heart.

Like Mother Theresa says: “It is always so much easier for us to be very kind to the people outside our own circle than to be full of smiles and full of love to those in our own homes… We only have today. If we help our children to be what they should be today, then, when tomorrow becomes today, they will have the necessary courage to face it with greater love.”

This greater love, beginning with each of us, in our own hearts… in your heart and in mine… this greater love is the path to finding peace for Paris.

May you find that peace in the love of Jesus Christ, which is the balm that heals the wounds inflicted by evil in our world. May this balm heal our hearts, so that we may in turn heal our families, our children, and our lands.

O Jesus my Savior, my song in the night,
Come to us with Thy tender love, my soul’s delight.
Unto Thee, O Lord, in affliction I call,
My comfort by day, and my song in the night.

O why should I wander, an alien from Thee,
Or cry in the desert Thy face to see?
My comfort and joy, my soul’s delight,
O Jesus my Savior, my song in the night.

Don’t Read This Blog Post. Read a Book.

Even though most of my days consist of the following: Grammar Grammar Grammar Poetry Grammar Grammar Spanish Grammar Grammar Lunch Grammar Grammar Run Grammar Grammar Grade Composition Grammar, I do manage to get out of my house

One evening last week, I decided to take a night off from adulting, and I got all dressed up and went to The Library and checked out Books That I Like. This past week, I’ve been enjoying a fat book of poems (selected by Garrison Keillor) that includes a variety of poems organized around different subjects like “God,” “Trips,” “Lovers,” “Snow,” and my personal favorite category, “Yellow,” featuring the poem: “Elvis Kissed Me.” (?)

In this collection, I stumbled upon this little Dickinsonian gem:

“We Grow Accustomed to the Dark” by Emily Dickinson

We grow accustomed to the Dark –
When Light is put away –
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Good bye –

A Moment – We Uncertain step
For newness of the night –
Then – fit our Vision to the Dark –
And meet the Road – erect –

And so of larger – Darknesses –
Those Evenings of the Brain –
When not a Moon disclose a sign –
Or Star – come out – within –

The Bravest – grope a little –
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead –
But as they learn to see –

Either the Darkness alters –
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight –
And Life steps almost straight.

No, but seriously, a poem a day is a good thing.

So is peeling myself away from social media and letting myself be engrossed in a book, like my current classic, Great Expectations, which I’m reading for the first time (I knew I had to after I saw the movie). #lameenglishteacher

I absolutely love it. It’s quite readable, compared to A Tale of Two Cities. And I love the main character, yet despise him. I know him because he is human. He is us.

Halfway through the novel, readers understand Pip’s self-serving nature, and the older narrator laments his convenient behavior that in hindsight so obviously served his selfish desires rather than his fellow man, the product of which is quite dismal in any human.

“All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to self-swindlers, and with such pretences did I cheat myself. Surely a curious thing. That I should innocently take a bad half-crown of somebody else’s manufacture, is reasonable enough; but that I should knowingly reckon on the spurious coin of my own make, as good money! An obliging stranger, under pretence of company folding up my bank-notes for security’s sake, abstracts the notes and gives me nutshells; but what is his sleight of hand to mine, when I fold up my own nutshells and pass them on myself as notes.”

Oh, Dickens.

This weekend I also slipped away to Goshen’s art-themed First Friday event and after browsing works by local artists enjoyed a Nutella mocha at one of my favorite coffee shops. I also bought coffee beans from a girl with blue hair who smiled at me. It is so nice to be smiled at.

And of course we had time to browse my favorite Goshen book shop, complete with old, creaky wooden floors, and tall old bookshelves, where I picked up yet another book but refused to feel guilty about it because it’s a genre I rarely read: contemporary fiction. Actually, technically, it’s contemporary nonfiction, but it reads like a novel. I read the first chapter surrounded by my friends who were arguing about the history of Mennonite women as we sat at a small round table shoved between two rows of bookshelves. In the first chapter, this fifty year old guy marries a sixteen year old girl even though he already has a wife. I bought the book because I was so disgusted (yet intrigued at the same time). How does one begin to understand a culture that foreign? Looking forward to reading The Bookseller of Kabul! (Even though it’s written by a Westerner, and the Afghan man that she wrote about sued her, saying she defamed his character, his family, and his country.) That sounds a little complex. Hopefully, I will read critically.

What are you reading right now? What do you WANT to be reading right now?

On Teaching Leadership: How Twelve Kids Raised $6000 for Syrian Refugees

We do not expect much from our youth today. When our students exhibit the all-too-common irresponsibility of a self-gratifying entertainment-driven society, we nod our heads knowingly. “Kids these days.” As a third-year English teacher, I’ve been around enough teachers to know that, all too often, sarcasm is a way of coping with young people’s lack of earnestness. We complain about their apathy, their lethargy, and their lack of leadership. We roll our eyes at their dispassionate, caffeine-sodden dreary faces. We watch them play their popularity games and wonder if they’ll ever grow up. We sigh, fatalistically, and point to their culture or their parents and roll our eyes. “They’re a bunch of idiots,” I hear us say. We complain about their lack of leadership. We complain. But we do not teach. We expect. But we do not model.

The thing about teaching leadership is that it takes time. I realized this the day that I ran damage control for a junior high student council event, and I found myself dashing about, flinging open windows, desperately shooing out smoke from an overheating cotton candy machine, while the entire school gathered in the parking lot at the behest of squalling alarms blaring their warnings. It was at that moment that I realized that I had two choices. I could blame. Or I could teach.

I could teach leadership.

Over the past two years, I’ve adopted a much more explicit approach to teaching leadership, especially in forming my class’s student council. Before nominations, I remind them what a student council is, and I hint at the possibilities of what I believe a junior high class can accomplish. I remind that they should not vote for their best friends or for whom they think is the coolest. It is not a popularity contest. Rather they ought to think about who is the most creative, who has the best ideas, and who is hard-working enough to carry out their own ideas. I challenge them by saying that no class before has taken me seriously on this point. This makes students perk up.

Last year it was a miracle if I could get my student council to actually fill out my “meeting minutes” templates. (Yes, organization is a part of leadership.) This year I was surprised to find curious, newly-elected student council members asking when their first meeting was. And one young man came to his first meeting with a little box of special notecards labeled “Student Council.” However, I still expected a very normal junior high student council, and I expected them to plan the normal frivolous events, full of indulgent ideas. (We eat a looooot of birthday pizza, that’s all I’m saying.) So I was curious when two student council girls asked to meet during study hall. They came to me a half-hour later asking if they could host a fundraiser for Christians in Iraq being persecuted by ISIS. (!) What a surprise! A glimmer of hope shined above their questioning faces. None of my students had ever done anything like this before. It was outside-of-the-box. And it demonstrated to me a higher-order development in them, because the students would be getting absolutely nothing out of it. Their motivation was purely selfless.

It was certainly a learning experience for all of us. Their youthful zeal wanted their fundraiser and Rome to be built in a day, and we had to talk about the importance of finding a charity first (which takes time), of creating fliers, and of contacting donors. (Okay, I cheated. I created the fliers, loosely based on the hand-written instructions they had given me, but give me a break. This was the first event like this that we’ve ever done. There’s plenty more time to teach 13 year olds layout skills.) Besides, the students used their creativity in other ways, so that besides contacting parents, grandparents, and their local congregations, they also hosted a classroom bake sale, some students baking brownies, others providing Rise & Roll donuts, which high school students hoarded in handfuls while dropping large bills in a glass jar. (I encouraged the students to make our bake sale free, instead seeking “Donations Accepted.”) One eighth grader coordinated with the science teacher to see if she would be willing to sell extra recess and donate the money to our fundraiser. Quite a few junior high students bought ten minutes of extra recess. We received an outpouring of generosity, and in a few weeks, my class of twelve students raised over $6000, which we donated to Christian Aid Ministries’ “Conflict in Syria” and “Terror in Iraq” projects, which provide immediate assistance in the form of food parcels and hygiene items to fleeing Syrian and Iraqi refugees.


I’m delighted with what my students have accomplished with a relatively simple idea, baked up by two junior high girls one September afternoon. I asked in a class discussion where the idea to help refugees came from, and the council never really said, but one student offered, “Well, they really need our help.” We went on to discuss what it must mean to live in a country that is in a state of war. In a state of anarchy. No government. No infrastructure. Bombed-out buildings. You have to leave your home. You travel with only the things you can carry. Your father and sister are killed. Your mom is taking care of your baby siblings. And there are no clean diapers for days.

And I liked how this fundraiser related to some other conversations we’ve been having in high school English. Conversations about immigration and the migrant crisis in Europe, which are removed from our own American immigration issues, but not very. So when we talked in 9th and 10th about German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the decisions that she and other European nations have to be making due to migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, we talked about this, and how 11,000 Icelanders have offered to house Syrian refugees to help the European crisis, even though their government is technically only required to accept 50 immigrants. And we talked about which international actions better relate to Christ-like attitudes toward those in need. These are passing topics in my classes. Things I insert into boring grammar lectures about colons and semicolons. But you see, there’s a big difference between “I like the following types of ice cream: chocolate, mint, and raspberry” and “Refugees migrating to Germany come from the following countries: Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.” Yes, in my classes, grammar is often a cover for discussing current events. And these discussions are not always comfortable as my students often have their own strong opinions about immigration, but I hope to at least broaden the discussion by looking at immigration issues on an international level. Because I would hate for my students to graduate and think that life is made up of the four walls of Nappanee, Indiana, America.

And because leadership must be taught. Leadership is something that is lacking in today’s world. Where are leaders of integrity? Where are leaders who are servants? Where is the lack of bias? Where is the knowledgeable leader? Where is the hopeful leader? Where is the leader who rises above the constant slinging of critiques and instead guides in quiet humility, always pointing to truth, beauty, and goodness?

I’m quite proud of my young students. I’m proud that a few of them selflessly responded to an injustice. And I truly hope that this is just the beginning. To my fellow teachers I say, “Do not give up.” Continue teaching leadership. Expect it. You will reap rewards in due time if you do not give up.

Eyes on the Prize

Hello friends! Just a little update on my birthday-present marathon!


So this year I turned 26 on the 26th, and following a very magical golden birthday celebration, I planned an even more epic celebration: running a 26.2 marathon!

And this post is announcing that….

Last week, I dropped out.


Five weeks ago, I suffered an injury in my right foot which I have yet to identify as either a slight sprain or plantar fasciitis. Two days after my 18 mile long run (which I can only describe as exceedingly exotic, one of the most perfect long runs I’ve ever had), I went out for a short run on a route I don’t normally run. Two mistakes: I didn’t stretch out properly, and I was running on uneven ground. The following day I was experiencing noticeable arch pain and bruising on the right side of my foot. I immediately R.I.C.E. ed and quit running for two days. Foolishly, I went out later that week for six miles, running at normal pace. I was able to endure the tightness in my foot. By the time for my next long run, I could barely pound out four miles, and I limped home, collapsing in my laundry room like a tipped-over bucket of tears for my roommates to clean up. Determined not to give up, I resolved to stay off my foot for a solid week and a half. I turned to biking and circuit training to maintain my physical fitness. I wore a brace, iced religiously, and did stretches and therapy daily. (Though I fought the urge to throw in the towel and simply eat copious amounts of baked goods.) Instead of running my last long run of 20 miles, I opted to bike instead, after a morning workout. This was a very low day for me. I was quite upset about not having the chance to run 20 miles. (Yes, I understand not very many people can relate to this!) I slowly returned to running by first walking several miles, then slowly increasing mileage over the next week. My next mistake was thinking I could throw in a longish 13 mile run the same week. I felt the need to run that distance because I had missed my last long run, and I wanted to test myself to see if I could expect to finish a marathon distance in two weeks. I finished 13, but I was grimacing the last three miles. An ice bath and stretching didn’t amend the pain I was feeling in my arch. With two weeks til race day, my hopes were slowly fading. I eased up on running again and focused on stretching, icing, and easy balance exercises. However, the closer it came to race day, and the more reading and research I did, I realized that it was wisest to drop out, heal up, and focus on healthy running, rather than a defiant finish that could have finished my running career forever.

So this weekend, instead of running 26.2 miles, I celebrated four solid months of valuable long-distance training by skipping town with this chica, a running buddy and very dear friend.


We began our day with retail therapy at IKEA,


before consuming allllll the steak at a the very delicious Wildfire restaurant in Oak Brook, just west of Chicago.


I enjoyed the Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Tenderloin Tip with grilled red onions and wild rice, and I will spare you the details, which is really just me saying, “OH MY GOODNESS IT WAS THE BEST MEAT I HAVE EVER TASTED.” The benefit of running is learning to eat good protein, and I’ve certainly branched out in this area due to training.


The sun shined brilliantly as made our way from shop to shop, leisurely browsing some of our favorite stores, and discovering new favorites (including Anthropologie, which I’ve never had a particular fancy for, until this Saturday, when I found these cunning blue coasters, each one featuring an extra-large, drab bird perched atop an ugly, crooked horse creature.) The find of the day.

It wouldn’t be the end of marathon training without a significant dessert, which I chose to be the Cheesecake Factory’s chocolate tuxedo cream cheesecake, topped off with Starbucks coffee.


It was a very happy day indeed, despite the disappointment of a missed goal.

I really do hope to run my race sometime. No matter when I finish, it will be significant, but as thethingaboutchange says, “just less poetic.” Yet I refuse to look at this as four months of “wasted” training because I’ve learned so many lessons, and, additionally, I simply just feel great! Yay, fitness goals!


For now, I can turn my attention back to the classroom, and relish in all those little moments that make my day-job worthwhile. Like pointing out to my students that I actually HAVE descended from a witch (my mother’s maiden name matches that of one of Salem, Massachusetts condemned witches), like watching tenth grade boys laugh hysterically while listening to stories about apostrophes in Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves, and, at our school’s annual open house, convincing students and parents alike, that, yes, you actually CAN eat cactus, and isn’t it nice, and doesn’t it taste like pickled peppers?


So long, everyone!

How’s Your Hygge?

I refuse to write guilty blog posts. This is not a guilty blog post.

I’m here drinking lemon tea, practicing my Hygge. What is Hygge, you ask? Ahh, but that would be giving away the secret to life-long happiness. (And a self-help blog this does not claim to be.)


But since you brought it up, I shall indulge you. Hygge [hoo-ga] is the Danish custom of intentionally practicing, how shall we say… coziness. It includes lighting candles, donning your favorite woolen stockings, sipping hot drinks, and sharing warm spaces with loved ones. This custom is practiced more as a natural way of life than anything else. (There is nothing inherently rotten about the state of Denmark, but there are polar bears and ice afoot. Little sunlight and biting winds.) The practice of Hygge keeps the Danes calm in the best sense.

Researchers are finding that the intentional practice of Hygge customs leads to the unusually high rates of happiness among our Danish friends. So does consuming large amounts of cheese. Or maybe that’s the Dutch. In any case, I have taken up Hygge.

Here I am with a new candle and a book.


Though I actually spent most of that Hygge trying to get the right angle for my Instagram.

But I gleaned enough of Hawthorne to be very sure that there is, indeed, an eagle above the Custom House.
He also spoke to me as a writer, gently advising me to think before I publish:

“It is scarcely decorous, however, to speak all, even where we speak impersonally.”

Help, Hawthorne. It IS?!

“But—as thoughts are frozen and utterance benumbed, unless the speaker stand in some true relation with his audience—it may be pardonable to imagine that a friend, a kind and apprehensive, though not the closest friend, is listening to our talk.”

Did you catch that, my darlings? We are, in fact, only distant friends.

“And then, a native reserve being thawed by this genial consciousness, we may prate of the circumstances that lie around us, and even of ourself, but still keep the inmost Me behind its veil. To this extent and within these limits, an author, methinks, may be autobiographical, without violating either the reader’s rights or his own.”

Tonight my woolen socks are in storage, I’m writing by the light of an incandescent light bulb, and I’m far away from home, but I AM sipping a steaming cup of tea, and I just finished off a piece of butter cake after giggling with my roommates about hilarious English class stories.

Hygge game strong. Very sure the happiness will start kicking in at any moment.


If candles, books, and drinks are not your style, then you might try consuming large amounts of cheese. It has worked for the Dutch. Or maybe cheese just makes them tall. I’m not sure.

Yet, perhaps you suffer from dairy allergy, in which case, I’m sorry, you’ll just have to be miserable for the rest of your life. The only true path to happiness lies in milk products and and a good dose of Danish Hygge.

Why Married People Make Great Friends

So ummm, I wrote this. (BY THE WAY: HELLO BLOGLAND! It’s been a while! I know, I know, you could hardly stand it without me. But seriously. I’ve kind of been busy teaching Nathanial Hawthorne, cooking quinoa, and running fartleks.) Anyhoo, this little post has been popping around my head. Not sure if I want to apologize for this beforehand or not. Just, if I overgeneralized your identity, I’M SORRY, and here’s a dried fig newton to wipe your tears with. There, their, they’re.

“Why Married People Make Great Friends”

One of the things that’s tricky about post-college life is navigating relationships and friendships with people who are at stages of life that are different from you. You’re single, they’re married. They have kids, you don’t. You work full time, maybe they work part-time. How do you build good relationships with otherwise cool people who are living very different lifestyles than you? While I’m still looking for the answer to that question, in the meantime, here are some reasons why married people make great friends.

1. Married people give good advice based on experience.
You know that older sibling who was always getting into trouble, getting in scrapes, testing the limits, so that you never had to?

Rooster 2

Married people are like older siblings. They go before us, plowing guiding the way, and we wait til they get back and tell us everything to do or not do. Hanging out with married people is great because you can learn from their mistakes. Just like you learned from your older siblings.

It’s like that time my sister wore a bright, multi-colored, pointy bow a little too far forward on picture day. In the photograph, she came out looking like a deliriously happy game cock.

Rooster 6

What a memorable day for me! I made sure to avoid big, colored bows on picture day from then on!

Married people are like those older siblings. The coolest ones are patient listeners and give good relationship advice. They tell you embarrassing stories about moving in with their spouse, and they regale you with hilariously awkward in-law stories. They tell you which Tupperware to buy, where’s a good camping spot, and that funny story from their honeymoon. They give great advice, based on their own experiences. Whether it’s a new recipe to cook, a new thought-provoking book to read, or a new perspective to lend, married people have a lot to give. Young parents, too, have important things to teach us about relationships and getting along with other people. Rubbing their needy child’s head, young parents solemnly declare: “Parenting is so good for me. I just can’t be selfish anymore. It’s not about me. It’s all about the other person.”

2. Married people live responsibly.
Straight out of college, we young people are adjusting from pretty pathetic daily routines, including our ridiculous, non-existent sleep schedules and poor diet. Newly graduated, newly employed, we’re pretty proud of our care-free status. It’s nothing for us to go out for ice creams at 11, or stay up til 3 BECAUSE WE CAN and there’s no paper due.

Rooster 4

Married people, however, seem to be miles ahead in the responsibility department. To put it simply, they plan ahead. They have a schedule. Maybe it’s because they spend most of the day apart from one another, so they want to maximize the time they DO have together. Which means getting up in the morning so that they can see their spouse off to work. It means going to bed at a decent hour the night before so they actually CAN get up in the morning to see each other off to work. A lot of married people I know actually get adequate sleep. They’re so good at adulting. Whereas, we single people are like:

Rooster 3

But maybe we could learn from this responsibility thing.

3. Married people are settled, dancing in time with the rhythms of life.
When I hang out with my single friends, our conversations go something like this: “After we talk about the Purpose and Meaning of Life, why don’t we discuss Poverty, the Philosophies of Broken World Systems, and How I Can Change the World Through An Obscure Major Yet Still Live in Communion With Everything I Used to Hold Dear Except For Whatever I Decide I Don’t Identify With Anymore.”

Rooster 5

All of this, but we still haven’t learned how to cook a decent, healthy meal, how to file an insurance claim, or how to install a cupboard door in the bathroom. I am suggesting that singles in their 20s and 30s live philosophically, rather than physically. Many of us are still nailing down exactly what we want to do with our lives. We’re figuring out our careers. We try jobs here and there, moving to different communities (because our status allows for this mobility) when we decide our talents may be used better elsewhere. Education, work, and figuring out life’s calling takes up a lot of our mental capacity.
In a sense, it’s a little different for married people. (Not that they never philosophize or never take big career steps.) But there’s something settling about a marriage relationship and the human element of physical coexistence. (For heaven’s sakes, they buy houses! I certainly call that “settling.”) I’ve found that the conversations that I have with married people are often about physical things and day-to-day life. (And I’ve found that sometimes they are self aware of this and feel the need to apologize for these conversations.) They talk about the lemon chicken ziti they made. They describe the fun, new thing their child started doing. They talk about the trip they took to their in-laws. Life for married people, in some sense, becomes more about experiencing life alongside another person, rather than, as for some singles I know, about still searching for the life they want to live. You may choose to disagree with me on this point. (In fact, I just thought of some married friends of whom this is not true.)

But I would say this: I think we singles would do well to take a hint from our married friends and take some time to ENJOY LIFE. Married people take time to enjoy each other and enjoy their children, either by spending time together or by celebrating special milestones. I think that sometimes we singles are too afraid to enjoy life because sometimes celebrations can seem so self-indulgent. (Especially when some people make sure we are keenly aware that we are only spending our resources on ourselves. Whatever. Not sure what that guilt trip is about.) But to my single readers: celebrations are not self-indulgent. They’re a part of the rhythm of life. Seasons and times are sacred. You ought to go out and enjoy a milestone. Make some special muffins. Pray a special prayer. Better yet, ask a married person to celebrate a milestone with you.

You might find that if you do, you’ll get a break from trying to fix the world, trying to fix yourself, trying to fix whatever’s wrong with you that makes so many people say, “Why are you still single?” And good married friends will treat you like gold. They take you kayaking, they make you yummy brownies, they introduce you to new friends, they let you spoil their children, and they are totally comfortable with you being yourself.

These three reasons are why married people make good friends.

A Running Commentary

Favorite running moment this month: meeting this huge Spanish-speaking cycling group on the outskirts of Nappanee. Leading the group of 50+ cyclists was a pick-up truck carrying a huge image of a saint and a giant vat of red flowers. (?) I couldn’t cross the country road where they were passing, so I turned left and started running against them yelling “Buenos dias!” like a hacienda was on fire. One cyclist gave me a high five, and I heard one man say, “Sabe que no es un señor.” (“She knows she’s not a man.”) Hahaha! #runningskirtsforever

Summer is winding down! From hiking the Rocky Mountains, to relaxing with my family, to enjoying a quiet month at home (my roommates were gone for the month of July, so it was definitely quiet around here), I definitely feel refreshed.

Even though I’ve been taking time to rest, I’ve been working on a few goals. This month my goal is: perfecting my long run.


Currently I’m working toward a long distance running goal that’s been a dream of mine. To be honest, I haven’t been *exactly* diligent in my training due to my relaxed summer schedule, but now I’ve got my regimen down, I’m halfway through my training schedule, and I’m currently working on perfecting my long-run ritual. It’s a good idea to follow a ritual when planning long-distance runs. That way there are no surprises on race day, and you are confident that your fuel and gear are appropriate.

Okay, so now I am going to go ahead and geek out about running.

In case you were wondering, right now I’m working out about four times a week. Two workouts are short runs (4-5 miles), one workout is circuit training, and one workout is biking. On the weekend I complete my long run distance (currently it’s 14 miles). This distance will increase by one mile every week (up to 20 miles). One of the terrifying things about running your first marathon is that you never actually run 26 miles until race day. Many training schedules only take you up to 20 miles before you decrease mileage for two weeks in what is known as a “taper” period. Decreasing activity and resting during that period, followed by drinking a lot of water and eating a lot of carbs means that your body will be more than ready to conquer the full marathon distance on race day.

Maybe some of you are wondering how it is possible to run 26 miles without stopping. Well, it’s not. Most marathoners take short walk breaks every now and then. We newbies typically take short walk breaks every few miles, especially when we come to water stations.

During my weekend long runs, I’ve been working at perfecting my hydration. It’s been really tricky with the heat we’ve been having. I finally decided to buy a fanny pack hydration belt.


(One of my friends said it should be called a chastity belt. Lol.) I really like this design by Nathan which can hold several different kinds of liquid. It’s comfortable, holds A TON of liquid, and has great little pockets for storing gels and my keys. Now I can easily take a sip every now and then when I’m feeling thirsty. Or at the end of every song. Whichever comes first.

I’ve also been trying out a new source of fuel. (“Fuel” is runnerspeak for EATING WHILE RUNNING, which is totally a thing. Runners simply burn too many calories not to refuel mid-race. So we eat and jog at the same time. And no, it’s not very glamorous.) Last year for my half marathon, I used protein gels, which weren’t so much for energy, but rather for muscle-building. This year, I’m focusing on using fuel as energy. I’m also exchanging gels for gummies. I find that energy gummies are so much easier to consume, and they feel better in your stomach rather than that full yogurt-y feeling after squishing down a whole gel pack.

muscle milk

Besides hydration and fuel, I’m learning about my mind.
NERVES. All the nerves! These last few long runs have been nightmares! I wake up in the morning feeling queasy, sick to my stomach, and a nervous wreck! Two weeks ago, it was so bad that I put off my run for two hours, laid on my couch, called my mom, and wailed to her that “I can’t do it! I can’t run that far! I feel SO SICK!” To which my mom sort of giggled and said, “Well, I mean, isn’t kind of mind over matter? Just go out there and run it! You’ll be fine.” So I did. And I was.
My. Mom. Basically the best running coach ever.

Anyway, it’s a really weird feeling to know that your body is strong enough to do something that your mind is not. I’m finding that one thing I canNOT do is think about the run, or dwell on race logistics the night before. Eating pizza and thinking about something else is about the best thing.

Running is such a crazy mix of emotions. Strange feelings of anguish, uncertainty, and euphoria can all characterize the same run. The crazy run that I thought I couldn’t do? I had this nervous stomachache for like 3 miles, but mile 8 was totally insane, and these crazy endorphins had me smiling ear to ear, and I felt like I wanted to jump into the swimming pool of happiness that is the world. And these are the things that keep you running. Rustling corn. Warm sun. Rolling fields. A town’s rhythm.

Yes! I’m SO EXCITED for October!