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Archive for November, 2012

doorway to heaven…

From my reading for today – with apologies to the author:

I give you hope — hope that the best part of your life is not behind you.  Rather, it stretches out before you gloriously: into an eternity of experiences that will get better and better and better.  For now, though, you inhabit a world of death, sorrow, crying, and pain.  Let the hope of heaven empower you to live well in this broken world that is passing away.  In heaven I will wipe away every tear from your eyes — permanently!

If this world were all there is, it would be tragic beyond description.  When the day of the Lord comes, I will destroy the entire universe as you know it.  And I will replace it with a new universe where My followers will live forever in ceaseless ecstasy.  Let this hope give you courage to keep holding your head up high as you endure suffering and sorrow.

The best part of your life lies ahead — stored up for you in heaven, awaiting your arrival.  This is true for all Christians, both young and old.  As you grow older and deal with infirmities, you may feel as if your life is closing in on you.  Physically, your limitations do increase with age and illness.  However, your spiritual life can open up ever wider as your soul grows strong in the nourishing Light of My Presence.  When you “graduate” to heaven, your soul-Joy will instantly expand — exponentially!  Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.

–from 40 Days with Jesus by Sarah Young

The best is yet to come.  No matter how sad, or happy, I am here, heaven will be so good it will wipe everything else away.  That’s hard to think about.  Sometimes I’m very happy!  But when I think about all those happy times, they are a little poignant, because I know they are short-lived, or there’s something physical or mental that is keeping me from fully enjoying the time.

Like when we backpacked in Banff — the scenery was glorious, and the weather (for the most part) was great, but the packs were heavy (especially at 7500-8000 feet!), my friend was petrified of bears, we got sore and mosquito-bitten, we didn’t see any animals really, and we got cold or sweaty by turns, depending on the time of day and the altitude.  We got caught in the thunderstorm, and when we made it to Mt. Assiniboine, we couldn’t really even see the mountain because of the weather!  We had to leave without seeing what we came to see.  When I think of all that, it sounds terrible, but it wasn’t; it was a wonderful trip!  I think the scenery made up for everything, even the bad knot in my calf so I had to turn around and walk backwards down every hill.  I remember all those things, but I would go back again in a second.  And stay longer!

Mt. Assiniboine

Heaven will be that glorious, with the things that bothered us (pain, fear, discomfort, hunger, physical weakness) gone and the things we wished for (animals, view of the mountain, more of our friends there, good weather) all there, and perfectly too!  And the back-of-the-mind worries Kent and I had, like worry about money, whether our car was safe where we’d parked it, and whether I would get a job for the upcoming school year when we got back from playing around in Banff (I did), will all be gone too — we can enjoy heaven with our whole hearts, with no reservations or niggling worries. I’ll be in perfect shape — no muscle soreness, extreme fatigue, or little injuries — pain-free and able to do anything with ease and joy!  All of my family and friends will be there and doing wonderful things with me too, and everyone I meet will be a potential friend.  There’s no ‘kindred spirit’ here on earth like the kinship all of us who make it to heaven will feel — a soul-deep connection because of our love for God, who will have changed our hearts to be like His.

And over all that wonderfulness will be that feeling I get only sometimes; the overwhelming, irrepressible presence of God.  So full that I can’t contain it in this human form, but must cry for excess of space to feel such a thing in my humanity.  In heaven it will be more, immediate and always there.  Now on earth I must exercise my soul — like drinking the light in C.S. Lewis’ Dawn Treader — so I can get more and more accustomed to glory in my heart…and then, then He will make me immortal.  And the inexpressible love of God will fill me to overflowing, and life will truly begin!

The King took the bucket [of water] in both hands, raised it to his lips, sipped, then drank deeply and raised his head.  His face was changed.  Not only his eyes but everything about him seemed to be brighter.

“Yes,” he said, “it is sweet.  That’s real water, that.  I’m not sure that it isn’t going to kill me.  But it is the death I would have chosen — if I’d known about it till now.”

“What do you mean?” asked Edmund.

“It — it’s like light more than anything else,” said Caspian.

“That is what it is,” said Reepicheep.  “Drinkable light.  We must be very near the end of the world now.”

There was a moment’s silence and then Lucy knelt down on the deck and drank from the bucket.

“It’s the loveliest thing I have ever tasted,” she said with a kind of gasp.  “But oh — it’s strong.  We shan’t need to eat anything now.”

And one by one everybody on board drank.  And for a long time they were all silent.  They felt almost too well and strong to bear it; and presently they began to notice another result.  As I have said before, there had been too much light ever since they left the island of Ramandu — the sun too large (though not too hot), the sea too bright, the air too shining.  Now, the light grew no less — if anything, it increased — but they could bear it.  They could see more light than they had ever seen before.  And the deck and the sail and their own faces and bodies became brighter and brighter and every rope shone.  And next morning, when the sun rose, now five or six times its old size, they stared hard into it and could see the very feathers of the birds that came flying from it.

— from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

–2 Peter 1:5-11, 19 (italics added)

Then Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”

Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan.  And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”

“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?”

Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.

“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly.  “Your father and mother and all of you are — as you used to call it in the Shadowlands — dead.  The term is over: the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth had read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

— from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (italics added)

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

–1 Corinthians 2:9

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

–Revelation 21:4

“The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

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So I ran my first race this morning – the Turkey Day 5K!  There were over 20,000 people running, they said, and lots of people dressed up in turkey hats, costumes, etc.  Some people were wearing other costumes; I saw a Pilgrim couple and a Native American couple (dressed up, that is; they didn’t look Native American to me!), a candy corn, a Hulk, and some other leftover Hallowe’en costumes.  Most everyone else was wearing the orange shirt we got.  I wore what I usually wear to jog – it was 50 degrees and sunny, and at one point I was wishing I actually wore my shorts.

I started near the front, probably thirty seconds to a minute after the start time, and it was weird because I had to run short steps because there were so many people crowded in.  I wove around and tried to get where I could run my stride.  I think I was actually running pretty fast because about halfway through I was suddenly super tired.  I’ve been running 5K the whole time, especially the last couple months it’s been at least that if not more, but my time has been just around 10-11 minute miles.  (I did get a 9:11 minute mile one day that was 28 degrees and I was COLD!)  So today I actually had to stop at the 2-mile marker and walk a little (I had a stitch too), and again at the 2.5-mile marker, just for a second.  Even with that, they said 32:20 when I crossed the finish line!

Kent and I hung around for another 20 minutes or so, looking for the one guy dressed up as a turkey.  He had started at the back of the pack and Lifetime Fitness (the sponsor of the race) was going to donate $1 to Second Harvest Heartland (our local food shelf) for every person he passed.  I saw a lot of turkeys, but I wasn’t sure which one he was.

Then we went to Kent’s cousins’ house for Thanksgiving dinner.  I brought roasted winter veggies (parsnip, carrot, acorn squash, sweet potato and purple potato, red onion, turnip, etc.) and apple crisp with crystallized ginger and cranberries.  I was sort of good but not really…who can pass up pecan pie and stuffing?  Not me!  🙂  We sang some Christmas carols and played some games.  During the afternoon it clouded over and got cold and snowed about an inch!  All the evergreen trees had beautiful white frosting…I do love winter!

All told, it’s been a lovely Thanksgiving day — I am especially thankful for my warm house and for my body that is getting more in shape every day (well maybe except today)!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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I had a hankering for baked beans and brown bread the other week, so I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up some Jacob’s Cattle beans, which according to John Gould in his book The House that Jacob Built (a book I love dearly), are the only beans to use for baked beans.  He also says to use a well-seasoned bean pot on a wood stove, and to put in salt pork (or bacon), but I had to adjust a little.  I used a crockpot and some G. Washington broth.  And a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, Maple Baked Beans.

The beans turned out really thick and juicy, although if I do it again, I will put in more beans per broth.  Then I needed to find the brown bread.  I remembered buying brown bread here somewhere, but since this is the Midwest, it’s easier to buy lefse in the grocery store than New England brown bread!  I thought about making some, but I didn’t have any cans.  So I started looking online to see if I could find out where it was sold.  I found some on Amazon I could have gotten with free 2-day shipping (yay Amazon Prime!), but I wanted it NOW.  I finally found some at Lund’s, which is five minutes from my house, and I ran and bought four cans, although they were the kind with raisins…aaah, it’s ok.  And yes, the B&M company is based right in Portland, ME — a little taste of Downeast Home! 🙂

So today for lunch I sat down with some maple baked beans, brown bread, and steamed broccoli with salt and single-source olive oil from Spain….Ahhhh, bliss. 🙂 Who needs turkey?

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All right.  I’ve been running, as those of you who see my Facebook posts and Mapmyrun posts know.  I haven’t been losing any weight, however.  It’s a little annoying.  Maybe I am eating more to compensate? Maybe running twice or three times a week (I haven’t managed to be very consistent) and nothing else isn’t enough?  I know I need to do yoga or other strength training too, only I never seem to manage to do it.  The holidays are coming up and I’m a little afraid.  Last year I was at the same weight and gained 6# over the holidays — then lost them (and a few more) by summer and gained them all right back during the summer classes I took.  I managed to get the 6# off again (to my current weight), but haven’t really budged more than two pounds in either direction for the last two months, despite semi-regular running.  As I said.

So one of my FB friends posted this challenge — a Skinny Snowman challenge.  I do better with some support or incentive, so I’m going to take this challenge.  Starting Sunday the 25th, I’m going to try to maintain, or even lose, during the holidays!  That means, for me, since I already eat pretty healthfully, I will need to plan my meals better, do some strength training, and step it up on the cardio (time to actually *try* to get those 10K steps on my FitBit!).

Anyone want to join me?  You don’t have to lose, just maintain, but maybe it will help you feel less sluggish when Dec. 31 rolls around and you realize it’s time to make those New Year’s resolutions you just spent a month making more difficult…Here are the rules and point charts!

Anyway, please cheer me on!  I will post at least weekly about this during the next 5 weeks (starting the 25th), and I will need some encouragement — Christmas is my favorite time of year and part of that is the lovely Christmas treats…and I’m going home for a week between Christmas and New Year’s, and my family is all about food, and not much about exercise….See why I’m afraid?  I will definitely need help! 🙂

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And just for the record, I weigh 150#.  I am trying to get my weight down to 125 from 179, which it was two years ago now.  Haven’t done too well after the initial weight loss, but still trying!

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The Fall Almost Nobody Sees

by David Budbill

Everybody’s gone away.
They think there’s nothing left to see.
The garish colors’ flashy show is over.
Now those of us who stay
hunker down in sweet silence,
blessed emptiness among

red-orange shadblow
purple-red blueberry
copper-brown beech
gold tamarack, a few
remaining pale yellow
popple leaves,
sedge and fern in shades
from beige to darkening red
to brown to almost black,
and all this in front of, below,
among blue-green spruce and fir
and white pine,

all of it under gray skies,
chill air, all of us waiting
in the somber dank and rain,
waiting here in quiet, chill
November,
waiting for the snow.

“The Fall Almost Nobody Sees” by David Budbill, from Happy Life. © Copper Canyon Press, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

This is the Minnesota fall, the fall that disappointed me for the first few years until I learned to appreciate the more subtle colors of prairie grasses and brush.  Not the flamboyant joy of a New England autumn, but a graceful slow sink into the hush of winter.

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