Friday, February 29, 2008

Triathlon Swim Training and Song

Watching some of the you tube videos of Triathlons, I started getting a little bit nervous about the swim. I've been told a few times to try and get practice swims in open water because it has a different feel than the pool. So, I do hope to get a few in this Spring when I go to Lake Balaton for "Let's Talk." How do you handle all the flailing arms and legs in the swim part??? I'm a little nervous.

OK, but this you tube made me laugh!

AND I thought this was kind of silly.

Feelings can be deceptive

A series of events in my life have proven once again that this is a faithful phrase.
Feelings can be deceptive.
It's not that we can always control how we feel about certain things. I don't think everyone has mastered putting reigns on that mysterious link between feelings and actions. Of course we can in many situations. This has been seen throughout history in even the most difficult times.

This morning a number of things have reminded me that feelings are often deceptive. It's interesting to me to watch my own life, almost as an observer, and see how specifically in the way I feel about a few certain things isn't the sum total of truth. It's also a bit confusing but nonetheless, I'm learning from it.

So when I consider the process -- breaking it down ....feelings originate from thoughts attached to objects/people...right? If this is true, then some thoughts are tricky because they make us feel hopeful or hopeless/frustrated or peaceful.

I read in a devotional this morning that King David was in a cave, depressed and hopeless before the promises of being King came to pass. Joseph was lying on a prison floor falsely accused before he was promoted in life. The Israelites were literally between a sea of hopelessness to cross and their enemies on the other side when God opened up a way for them.

I can relate to these Israelites who escaped Egypt, a land of slavery, to follow God. I'm sure they felt abandoned and defeated, wondering if God would come through or if He brought them to this place only to have them swallowed up on the brink of destruction.

My own trials, though trivial to others sometimes seem insurmountable to me. It's not until I realize that there is no way around this process of going through it that I will finally have vision for the other side. I must go through these difficult moments and I may feel a thousand different feelings yet, it doesn't mean they are based in truth. I like this quote, though I'm not sure who wrote it.

"Our feelings and our experiences are not the sum total of truth. God’s word is truth and we need to cling to that when what we can observe tells us otherwise."

I don't like waiting through the pain of unanswered questions I have about my life and my future. Yet I know that God comforts me in my questioning and says, "I am with you and I won't waste a single tear you have cried."I'm realizing that no matter how I feel right now in the moment about my life -- it is not the sum total of truth. Maybe there is some truth in some of it, but God's promises and His truth is what I need to hold onto to determine my future, not what I see or feel.

Someone once said don't doubt things when it's dark --- things that you know to be true and saw in the light.I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes we all need strength to remember that.

"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to Give you a hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, February 28, 2008

An International Wedding

I've been a bridesmaid lots of times before but never with an international flavor.

Tonight Nori asked me to be one of her three bridesmaids along with friends Flora and Anna this May when her and Peter get married. When I asked her if Peter would have groomsmen, she said it's not traditional for the men to have groommsmen but that Peter was so excited to have bridesmaids. Hmmmm. The men stand alone on their big day. Is that biblical? ;0) Well, it was cool when Peter announced their engagement last week at the service, he said he is so thankful for other men who have been good and "real" examples of fatherhood and being a husband, people he can stand with and run this race of life with so yeah, he's not standing alone.

The most unfamiliar thing I learned tonight about this international wedding is that -- we (her bridesmaids) will have to "steal" Nori away during the reception and Peter will have to come find her. Normally, they would come back out together to laugh, drink and party until the early morning hours with their guests as traditional Hungarian weddings can begin at 4 pm and not end until 3 am.


But, Nori said they want to take on the Western wedding style. This means after we hide Nori and she is found, they will briefly show their faces before taking off together at a decent hour for their honeymoon. yep! I'd have to agree....

Anyways, I could share story after story of what God has done in Nori's life this past year. It's truly amazing and I stand back in awe as I see that at so young in this couples life together God wants to build a strong story and make it crystal clear that He is blessing them, encouraging them and honoring them for doing things right.

It's going to be a great year.
I'm trying to get Peter and Nori to come and meet my family and stay on the west coast for a vacation in the future, since Nori was originally going to spend this past year near Stanford as a nanny. Truly, God had other plans in the works. As long as Peter can see Legoland and Disneyland, I think a west coast visit might happen. It would be great for them to see California and Nevada.
Tonight Nori and I were reading through the analogy that the church is like a body with different parts that all function and do different things. My friend Susan, the quadriplegic from university came up again in our conversations and I get choked up as I remember her life. I'm struck by how much God taught me through her life. Truly she was a "weaker" part or person who deserved even more honor! God taught me so much about Himself and about people through her.
My flat neighbors must be having a male bonding night. I can hear their male conversations and laughs loudly through the wall as I type. No female sounds have been heard in that direction since before Nori arrived at 7pm and Now it's 10:45 pm. Seems like they're having a good time. It's fun to hear another language and not know what the hec is even being said. When you finally DO understand one or two words it's like "Oh, I know that word!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Saturday to Szentendre

I have been wanting to do this bike ride since I first arrived to Hungary in 2006.

I think that it's going to finally happen this Saturday. It's about a two hour bike ride and I'm SO excited to see this historical city in Hungary. Here's a little bit about the city and some photos taken on Wikepedia.

Populated for well over a millennium, under the Romans it was called Ulcisia Castra, meaning Wolf Castle. Since the 1500s it was considered the center of the Hungarian Serb community. It is the see of the Buda Eparchy of the Serb Orthodox Church. In the 1700s, after liberation from the Turks, Szentendre enjoyed a rebirth with Mediterranean leanings, as Serbian, Croatian, Slovakian, German and Greek newcomers moved in and lived alongside the Magyar (hungarian) inhabitants. According to the 1720 data, 88% of the population of the town were South Slavs (mostly Serbs, but also some South Slavic Catholics). [1] The town to this day is characterised by a south European atmosphere with much baroque architecture, churches of various faiths, narrow sidestreets, and cobblestone roads.

Hopefully the weather will stay as nice as it has been, and Nona and I will make the trek to this cool city. It may become a regular event.

Nona is stellar and I can't wait for March to come

WORKOUT UPDATE: Nona and I ran for atleast 35 minutes and walked a bit too. Can't wait to get a tracker so I can put down actual times and distances. Also talked a lot about bikes. Hopefully I will have something figured out by the late Spring. I'm planning to bike to English club tonight and then finish out the night with some laps around Hero's Square. Hope to get in 45 minutes.

My friend Nona from New York is pretty much stellar. Adventurous type. Just tell her where and when to meet and she's usually up for a run or a bike. She called last night to say just call her this morning and we'd meet.

Anyways, we're gonna meet in 20 minutes across the street from my house so that's great. She wants to do the long trek to Szentendre this weekend so I just need to hear back about the horseback riding first and then we'll make some plans. I'm completely jazzed about it. I've heard so much about this bike ride to Szentendre and this little town in Hungary, that now I'm excited to see it. If it's worth seeing, I might take Noel and Andre there in March too. It's about a 30 minute HEV (inter city train) ride.

She's also up for doing the 1/2 marathon with me in September. So, that would be three of us!! The more the merrier.

I started compiling a list of places I want to take Noel and Andre when they get here. Looks like they will be in Budapest for five days and we will travel a bit too. My list contains old roman ruins in Obuda, the caves, the cave church, gellert hill, margaret island, castle district, heros square, the ice skating rink, parlaiment, the Saturday market experience, the open market building near the bridge, Jewish quarters and synogogue the chain bridge, dinner in the castle with gypsy music playing..........and if we have time and they are up for it, maybe the opera or a museum or something. There are like 50 something museums in Budapest. Incredible. Also want to figure out a way to go on a bike ride. Not sure how we can do it -- maybe borrow Chris and Renea's bikes.....Hmmmm. I'll have to see about that. I am SOO excited!

I'm a juicer and proud of it!

Bree posted one of her juiced concoctions. I will have to try it.

I just have to say, as if I haven't said it a ton of times. I LOVE to take veggies and fruits and stick them in this blender thing and see what comes out the other end. Awesome.

I even love cleaning the crud out of it after I've juiced. I look at this mushed up stuff and think it could be used for something --- maybe in baked breads?? I might try it with oranges or apples sometime. It sounds so healthy, so vegan, so strange to me but really, if you haven't tried will love a freshly juiced glass of orange juice not the kind from the grocery store. It's amazing. I feel like I'm doing a commercial.

Yeah, I'm weird but juicing is awesome. I love to juice. I'm a juicer and PROUD of it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscars and Half Marathon

Quick Workout post update: Just completed a morning bike ride of 48 minutes. I wanted to run too but had to come back and get a move on the morning. Not sure how long it will take me on public to get where I need to go today. Wish me lots of the best at immigration.
Of course I didn't watch the Oscars last night but heard that Bourne Ultimatum took three Oscars for sound editing and mixing. And, I heard there is a 4th Bourne coming out potentially with Matt Damon's sidekick, Ben Afflek -- with a potential setting in the amazing city of Boston, where the boys grew up. Love that city!

But I'm still amazed that the American dream is a reality for people like Matt and Ben. Before their stardom, it was the story of rising from poverty in the gritty Boston area and then making it big with their first movie together "Good Will Hunting." I love the fact that you can go from absolutely nothing. Of course, it isn't the reality for everyone, but it's definitely inspiring when it happens.

And I just realized that the Bourne movies are based on a book. I think maybe when I get back to the states I'm going to get the series. I don't normally like fiction books, but I could totally get into these. I LOVE the Bourne series movies and I heard the books have even more details. LOVE it. I also love Italian Job, though I'm not completely sure why because it's all about thieves who get their money back from a thief. I think it's the mini-coopers, and the adrenaline plotting and scheming -- plus the fact that a lot of it is filmed on the freeways of Los Angeles....which I can't say I miss but I love watching from a distance. Romance and action movies are the best! Italian Job has both -- plus the whole Napster thing is just funny.
I can't believe I'm even posting this, but Noemi and I talked yesterday about entering the Budapest Nike Half Marathon in September. Am I crazy? I hate to run but I think it will be a good challenge after the sprint triathlon in July. OK, guys. I think I'm officially going to enter this world. I was talking about it last night with Sissy (Szilvia) and Lucca and we were talking about the difference between being competitive with others and with yourself. I'm much more the type who enjoys the challenge for my own benefit. And with that, I'm going to keep getting out there and doing this. I know I haven't even done my first sprint tri -- but after watching the video of Randy last night I realized for those of us who have good health, it is absolutely something we should be thankful for, enjoy and continue to flourish in it because not everyone is physically in that place.

So I thank God this morning for my health. I thank God for things trivial too like the Bourne series and a good action series. And here's to the North Face motto: "Never stop discovering".

Monday, February 25, 2008

We Give Thanks

My friend Jon Owens lives in Florida with his wife Kelly and their baby boy. He has a worship CD that came out a few years ago. I wish I could post his songs because they are amazing. This morning, this song really resonated with me. In the background of this song is Christa Black, another girl who came out with her CD, but she is playing the violin in the background on this song! So Great.

As I go for a bike ride this morning, I will be listening to his CD......

When I was running from you
You called out to me
I was forever changed
And now
you're all that I need
My strength and my peace
forever (2 x)

I lift my hands to you
in awe of your majesty
I lift my hands to you
in awe of your love for me!

We give thanks
To the God of all Gods
We give thanks
To the Lord of Lords
We give thanks
To the King of Glory
We give thanks
to the Holy one

Your lovingkindness is everlasting
Great wonders you have made
Your kingdom reigns throughout the heavens
Oh, Lord, receive our praise

Randy's Last Lecture

This professor was about to die and gave a lecture at Carnegie University to 400 students. He has so much life and energy, it's amazing. He made sure to say this is not about death but about how you live. It's been posted all over the internet now. He was on Oprah and gave the lecture once again. This is a recording of it. I think it's good stuff.

Random thoughts

If I see your tongue one more time inside your girlfriends mouth I'm going to vomit. OK, those are strong words, but come on already! I don't want to see you giving "your girl" tongue. You are in my line of sight and it's bothering me. Get a bedroom, would you? Quit groping, caressing, and whispering sweet nothings to that girl. Maybe we don't feel like getting in on your love parade. Don't you care that we are all looking at you? How do I say that in Hungarian???? Yes, this is a daily random thought. From billboards to living, walking breathing posters, there's a constant barrage on the brain of this stuff. And I just don't like looking at it all the time. Some things are sacred and private.
I really feel bad for people with food allergies. Noemi came for lunch and at the last minute, I couldn't remember what she was allergic to and if the rice was edible for her. That just stinks to have to worry about foods you can't eat because your body will react. Fortunately, Noemi could eat rice. And while I was making my famous greek salad, I thought of my uncle who is allergic to raw/fresh vegetables and fruit. That just sucks if you have food allergies. I heard that babies who aren't breastfed are more susceptible to food allergies later in life. I wonder if that's true.
Hungarians are known for their horses and for being amazing warriors on horseback. When fighting the Mongols and the Turks, they would turn around and ride backwards on their horse, shooting arrows and killing their enemies. I guess you could say they are "lovers" and "fighters". Anyways, Noemi invited me to go horse-back riding this weekend and I'm really excited! If it works out, it will be an all day event, but I'm so jazzed! The last time I went horseback riding was with my sister Gina YEARSSSS ago! So, this is a real treat although I'm not looking forward to a sore butt.
Noemi wasn't the slightest bit put off by the Valentines event and how I talked about God's love as a Father. I asked her if she had a chance to read the "love letter" from him and she said "yes, it was good." You know, my hope is that before I leave Hungary, God will cultivate the hearts of two or three young women who will be bright shining lights in their dark culture. If you think of it, please believe with me for this to happen. Just two or three of these amazing girls would take the city by storm. I love each one of them so much.
I also met with Lucci and Szilvia today (she likes to be called Sissy which is good for me because she's the 4th Szilvia in my phone book....) and they want to get together to exercise, speak english and teach me hungarian. Tonight was actually great with them because this was the first time we met outside of english club. Great girls!
I thought this weekend or next I might bike ride to Szentendre, this little quaint city about a 2 hour bike ride away. I think it would be amazing and I'm trying to rope Nona (a New Yorker) and her husband (a Hungarian) into it. We will see. If the weather is bad, we might have to do it another time. I'm just not sure Chris will let me have his bike then. I skipped out on the bike ride tonight because I have a ton of papers piling up that need to be organized from the move. Plus, I needed to get a few things together for tomorrows visit to immigration. I don't feel bad about skipping out. I know I will work in a good bike ride and a run tomorrow morning.
I discovered something dangerous. A walk up PIZZA HUT stand right near the bus stop where I get on to come home from the city center. Why does temptation have to stare you right in the face? Yesterday I gave in. Today, I stared back and said NOO! You will not have me. This will be a reoccuring challenge, I'm sure, especially when I just want "comfort food". Luckily, I remembered I had a salad at home and felt good about saying no. Once in awhile I think it's great to have a slice of pizza or two though.
My sister Noel and friend Andre are coming to Budapest and I will actually see them in 23 days!!! I can hardly believe it! This is the first of mi familia making the journey back to the motherland. My dad's mom was partly Hungarian. So, there's some truth in that sentence! Ha! I'm actually glad I haven't seen a lot of places outside of Budapest so that I can see these places with people I love. We are talking about taking a one day excursion to Venice or Vienna. I'm going to try and encourage a trip to Lake Balaton too. And I'm going to meet them in Frankfurt! Never been to Frankfurt. Should be really cool. I told them once they get here, besides transportation, they don't have to pay for nuthin, that I'd cook for them and of course they get to hang out in my flat!!! So, Andre said, as long as there's bread and wine she's fine. Love that girl! Can't wait to have some fun in the old world!
I'm excited about the team coming from Florida and the events we have scheduled in high schools and universities but can I help it if I'm more excited to see family and friends?
Well, here's to rabbit trails and random thoughts.....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Unimpressive swim

Well, I was excited about swimming this morning. It's the first time in the pool in over a week so I was ready mentally. When I got there at 6.15 am, all lanes were full but I could share one lane with two guys who were swimming. After warming up with 100, I realized one of the guys was sort of "postal". He just had an attitude about me being in his lane. Fortunately, one of the group swim classes was ending and I was able to take the next lane over to swim. I'm following the new swim program for beginners that I found on the triathlete website that I mentioned a few posts ago. I think it will be good but my 25 minute swim was unimpressive. Nothing to write home about.
One thing I realized too is that swimming and running are my weakest things. I enjoy swimming much more than running, but I'm not good at it. So, I think I really need to focus on swims for a few months. I think I'm getting my volume up there for runs and slowly again for bikes.

When the team comes from Florida in a few weeks, I am so excited because I ordered a set of those hand paddles, flippers and a tri suit!! Nona said I should wait until there is more stock here in Budapest and try and find a wetsuit that fits versus trying to order one from the states and have it brought over. The frustrating thing is there is less of a selection, and the prices are higher. Oh well. We shall see. I could always have my brother's girlfriend bring it with her in May if I don't find anything here.
I found "Mr. Muscle" at the store. So I poured him down the bathroom pipes and I'm hoping for the best next time I go to shower or bathe.
Nori and I will get some things done this morning about my visa, then I'm meeting with girls the rest of the day. Believing for good conversations. I also need to send an email proposal of our ideas for this teachers meeting scheduled in March.
Tonight I'm going to try and ride the bike. I have to get in as many rides as possible before I have to return the bike when Chris gets back on Friday. Even though I was going to end my gym membership, I might have to check into a little fitness place just down the street called "Dave's gym" to see if they have stationary bikes.....I'd love to get one of my own, but there's so much involved in that. I'll just have to see.
No staff meeting tomorrow (woo hoo!!!) so I think Nori and I have to go down to some visa offices and plan some things regarding that. It's really amazing all the different visas I've had to go through this year, prolonging my stay just a little longer. This next visa will hopefully be good for 1-2 years whether I use it the entire time or not. It will be GREAT not to have to go through this red tape anymore. Later, Nori and I can meet and continue going through Biblical Foundations.

Hope your swims are better than mine!

the flood

First, on a positive note:

I was able to run 47 minutes tonight. I started out slow again, and felt pretty sluggish but by 30 minutes I was good to go. My goal is to pass the 1 hour mark....just to say I did it...hopefully in the next few weeks. In the midst of it, I'm trying to be aware of my running style. It was a good night running. People in the park, walking their dogs, kids with their little bikes and I ran by the castle and the ice skating rink. So cool. Every time I do, I think, what a cool experience I'm having. I should take this in and really enjoy it.....

OK - find me an arc....there's a flood in my bathroom!

I just thought it was the lack of a shower curtain and the hand held shower nozzle that caused water to seep onto the floor, or that somehow I sprayed it on the floor.

Nope. Not the case. Looks like I'll have the re-enactment of Noahs flood anytime I wish to take a bath. As I was letting out the water the drain in the middle of the bathroom started gushing with water. Ooops.

On my way back from my early morning swim tomorrow, I'm going to stop by the store and see if this country sells something to the equivalent of Draino. I'm sure they do. These pipes have been around for awhile. And if that doesn't work, call the handyman.

I have Noemi coming for lunch so I hope I can get it figured out by then. Right now I have a half full tub of cold bath water waiting for draino to do it's magic so it can be released into the whirlpool of community water! Funnnnyyyy.

Oh well. I'm going to bed! Good night all.

Ok, another great site. It has everything from logging your workouts, nutrition, etc. But it's another reason why I'm sure I need something to log my distances -- like one of the watches that are out there. Just don't know what I can get in Hungary or what's out there that's semi-reasaonable in cost. Possibly I could have my sis bring it with her from the states if I order it in time. Any advice for the best kind of distance tracker for running and biking is greatly appreciated. Cliff, I checked out that site you told me about but couldn't figure out how to make it work. Thanks though.

Lance Watson and the Dream Team

So I started by checking out and found they have a beginners program to follow. I actually like it better than the one I was following. Even though I am doing longer runs and bikes, I think this is more challenging and more training specific with swimming. So, the idea is that when I get in the pool I'm being specific with training now. I like that! Here's the site:

I liked Lance Watson's stuff so I ventured over to his website where I found lots of great articles I'm planning to read on all things training tri. Then I got to the page on Lifesport Elite Team with the list of coaches and coaching prices. First let me say I really loved their values because I claim them as my own.

Our Values:
* Sport is a lifestyle and sport is for life
* We embrace the joyful balance of sport and life
* We challenge athletes to strive to fulfill their potential and we create opportunities for them to achieve
* We have a can-do attitude and support sport dreams and life dreams
* We believe that sport should be fun; we celebrate success
* We believe in the life benefits of structured training and goal setting: creating life skills, enhanced health and self-confidence
* We believe that excellent coaching should be available to anyone who has the desire to achieve personal excellence! Amazing. Sign me up.

And second, I noticed how famous Bree is and was SOOO impressed! Bree, you rock. Thanks for your encouraging comments here and thanks for being a world famous superstar. I love the fact that you are a mom and that your family is right there with you!! Love it.

So, here's a shout out to all those training and pursuing the values listed above.

All the best this week!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Robbie Seay Band - Give Yourself Away

Recently I've been listening to the Robbie Seay Band. I like their style of music. It's worshipful. Favorite songs right now of theirs: "New Day", "Beautiful, Scandalous Night," "Song of Hope," and "Love Wins". OK, actually I love the entire CD - Give Yourself Away.

Yesterday's workout and a night watching "Smallville"

After some R & R, I got on the ball and spent the afternoon working out. I ended up doing weights and pilates for 45 minutes. After about a 15 minute break, I took Chris's bike down the four flights of stairs. (Technically, according to Hungarian math I live on the 3rd floor because they don't count the ground floor. But in all reality it's four flights)

Rode the bike across the street to the park and chained up. Dragging my feet on the run but was able to do 45 minutes. My goal for the coming week is to get over the 1 hour mark. Someone posted that quantity isn't as important as quality of the run and what can be done in those shorter runs to build for the future, so I'm keeping that in mind. However, I still want to keep pushing myself to increase time too.

After the run, where I continued exploring the park in zig-zag motions, I biked it for 30 minutes. I wanted to do longer, but honestly, I kind of got bored looking at the same four corners of this park.

It felt great in the legs and as I stayed hydrated, I had energy. One thing I want to figure out is how to hydrate while riding. I have this completely impractical unscrew the top of the 34 ounce REI type plastic container. So, I need to figure something out on that one.

Hardest part of the workout -- carrying Chris' bike back up the stairs!

Last night was enjoyable after I worked out I went exploring in my neighborhood and had to go grocery shopping. I still haven't figured out the bus lines so I ended up carrying two bags of groceries a little longer than planned but that's just part of living in Europe. Sat on the couches watching re-runs of Smallville. I also made my own french fries from potatoes and dipped it in ketchup and made/ate this really yummy fruit dip! Cheers to good eating.

Todays plan is either a bike or a run. I'll decide what I'm up for this afternoon. Have a great Sunday!

This bliss....ahhhhh

With no one to meet and no where to go today, the day is "mine."

It was total bliss to just sleep through the morning. I originally set my alarm for 9 am just thinking I "should" get up by that time but when the alarm went off, it got turned off completely with me enjoying the comforts of being back in bed until 10:30 am.

Hajni had other things going this morning so I didn't have to meet her for a run at 10am and realized I could pretty much set up the day as I wanted to.I'm going to spend the morning reading and resting and this afternoon I want to hit it hard on workouts -- probably a run/bike, but maybe a swim too or spend time with pilates.

I just made a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. So delicious! Now I'm sitting in my lofty bed, where I found I get internet access (woo hoo), sipping a cup of hot coffee with creamer and honey and a pile of books near my bed to read. I'm listening to Chris Tomlin and just taking it all in. My new flat. First morning where I really get to enjoy it. Really, my life is good. Thank you God for everything!

I have two last piles of stuff from moving that I need to sort through, but other than that, this day is bliss. Thank God for days of rest like today!

Friday, February 22, 2008

High School Graduation In February......?.

Tonight I went out on the town!.... Not really, but I got dressed up for a high school graduation where most of the students I taught last year were "pinned" and performed a special dance, among other things.

All the graduates dress up in suits. They look so great! I love it. I was very proud of two students of mine who recited Hungarian poetry. They just look so handsome all dressed up in their suits. Here's Tibor and Adam. Adam has come out and played American football with the guys last summer and we've been building a friendship with him and actually two other Adams in this class. Sorry the pictures are so blurry. I can't figure out my camera!

Anyways, high school graduations are a bit different here. First, they have it in February. It is a bit of a varsity letter/pinning/dance party event. It's definitely a great experience! First, let me explain one thing about the classroom set up because it's quite different from the way we experienced high school in the states.

Imagine that your freshman year you are introduced to your "class master" and to the group of students you will spend the next four years of your life with in classes. The only variation takes place in subject matter or if someone moves away, gets kicked out, dies, etc. These kids KNOW each other really well. I'm not sure what I think of it. For example, one girl in my class last year ended up dating one of the guys. It was obvious after a few months that something went wrong. When it didn't work out, there was this really awkward atmosphere in class. Can you imagine four years of that? It would be hell -- especially if you didn't particularly get along with the students in your class. So for this night, each class comes up to be pinned separately by their class master. Much more of a personal touch on that because it is almost like a school within a school. You are closest to your class and class master. Interesting huh?....

So their last big project together is this "dance". Every kind of student in the class is forced to work together on have your student musicians who have longer hair than me, organizing with students who are much more prone to play soccer and football and they have to come up with something together.

Tonight there were six sections and everything from traditional Hungarian dance,

to Michael Jackson,

to Sister Act the movie

to I can't even remember but hilarious.

And without fail every single one except the traditional Hungarian dance, the guys came out with a white shirt over another shirt and peeled it off once the funky music started. I wondered if they all saw the same video and copied the moves???? ha ha.

The one class I taught last year did a number where the girls came out all slithery in these black dresses (kind of scary how "grown up and sexual" they acted) and the men were supposed to be all coy too. I sort of felt I was in a bright, sleezy bar at one point. And this was high school. Definitely different social norms when it comes to things sexual here. Of course I took a lot of pictures of them because I just have such a soft spot for this class. I noticed of all the classes, they are the biggest graduating class/section and I just think there's definitely something special about them. Maybe I'm like a biased mama, but they won my heart the last few years.

I was a bit blown away that this was allowed, when one of the classes all came out with shirts in English that said, "Smile when you're 'horny'"!! No JOKE!!! And they did this jig to a bunch of rank songs. I just wonder how much of what the kids get away with is because besides the English department, the Hungarian administration doesn't speak English. I doubt they know what that word is.

On a more noteworthy note, one of the things they do is carry a light and walk around in the gym together to two Hungarian songs. It's kind of boring but the picture to me is clear.....Each one of these lives represents a life with potential for the future and they can add their light to the rest of the world. We keep a beat to the songs by clapping as they pass us in the gym. We can hoot and holler too.

It's sad because this past summer two kids committed suicide. And I thought about the light of their life snuffed out prematurely. Actually Hungary no longer has the highest suicide rate. So that's good but they are still in the top 10 of nations per capita around the world. I think it's even more damaging when you are in a class like that together.

Unfortunately, by the end of the night when I wanted to get pictures with the class I taught and some of the individual students, my camera died. So that was a bummer but I got some great ones of their dances and the lit candles! I have been spreading the news now. I want to have a graduation party for them at my flat this year - maybe in April or May. So, that should be a ton of fun too.

But I find these graduations to be inspiring! I think it's because there is the potential of your whole life right before you and knowing that the choices you make can really shape your future.

My senior year was NOTHING like I planned. I had been planning to leave high school with a trail of final parties and craziness for my sisters and brothers to reap the benefits when I was gone....out with a bang. I had "friends" and lots of parties I was planning for senior year....but the spring of my junior year something amazing happened and I'm glad it did. My heart got captivated by the truth of God's love, purpose and design for my life and things changed. When I had a stronger desire to go learn about God with "church people" my "friends" thought I went crazy. Instead of walking with this guy Chris, I walked with my cousin Cheri at graduation and that actually turned out good because we have good memories from it now. Don't get me wrong. I had a blast my senior year just in a completely different and unexpected way. I found a whole group of other high schoolers in Reno at a place called "the lighthouse" and some of my best friendships today are from that group.

And I guess these are the life changing experiences I'm hoping for the students tonight. There's enough pain and brokenness that I'm sure they will remember but it's these life changing, significant things like finding out about the creator of the universe and His powerful plan for your life that make life worth living every day. Wouldn't it be great to have it happen now at a younger age than later? Of course anytime is good. Anytime is the now time. As tough as it is in Eastern Europe, the future really is bright for these students. I just see their potential and love them so much. Good things are ahead for these talented kids and I just hope nothing snuffs it out. It's tough in Hungary and I just pray to God they find their creator along the way to make sense of life in it all.

A new training week started today!

Woo hoo!! It felt so good to get out there again! 45 minute run and I was kicking myself for skipping all my planned workouts this past week. But it's a new training week and I'm off on the right foot. Felt it a little in my knees and back so I'm going to take extra care to stretch a lot this week.

I loved walking outside the front door and crossing the street to the national park. The run was "Nona style" which means I didn't stick to my normal routine of doing laps around the park. It was the off-path adventure. I loved it. North Face has a tag line which says "Never stop discovering". Hmmmm that's a life tag line for me. We only use such a small percentage of our brain, it's good to challenge the limits of that.

New Goal: Keep discovering random paths and work myself up to pass the 1 hour run mark in the next few weeks. What I need to get is something to measure my distance and miles per minute. I also need to figure out how I can track my mileage on the bike. Not sure what's out there.

On a personal note, a friend and I had a really good chat about putting your hope in God and trusting Him when things are unclear. I was very encouraged! Also been encouraged by a book I borrowed from the Scofield library over Christmas called "A Shepherds look at Psalm 23." Did you know that when sheep get too heavy from wool, they fall over on their backs and can't get up and it's called "cast down"? The author talked about this analogy to our life as believer's in God during those times. When life gets too heavy on us we get thick with wool. Oh yeah and growing inside that wool includes all kinds of bugs and diseases. The author said that it's the hardest thing to sheer a sheep because they fight it the entire time but once it's done, everyone is happy. I love Psalm 23 too!! One of my all time favorites, probably because it also has sentimental value with my grandma.

Have a great weekend all! And if you're training, never stop discovering....;0)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Terrible training week.

Well, I hope I still remember how to run, bike and swim. I can't believe the last time I worked out took place a week ago Friday. This was definitely not my plan. The weekend was crazy, this week got away from me too in trying to get the new flat together. Guess you could say I'm not having an off day, it's an off week.

My goal is that tonight I'm gonna get my tush out and run as well as bike. I'm just going to have to wait until the weekend to do those things I wanted around the flat.... I want to atleast get ONE workout in this week! I can't believe it's been a whole week! Ahhh.

The last few days I've been thinking about how thankful I am -- right now I'm thankful for this new place with kind neighbors and a cool new neighborhood -- it's well lit, right across the street from a Castle, the largest ice-skating rink in Europe, the national park as well as two museums and Hero's Square -- I feel safe being able to run at night -- SO thankful for that.

Anyways, now that I'm settling in I can get a routine again and make the training happen. Chris and Renea come back in a week, so I'll be returning his bike to him. I need to think about a bike.... For race day, my friends in London said they found me a bike and a place to stay in that part of the city. I just have to get there a day before and try it all out. That's kind of scary but I'm sure it will be fine. They also invited me to stay with them a few days. They have a little girl now and last time I saw them she was only pregant with Charis. Amazing how time flys by.

Apples to Apples and body functions!

In high school english club yesterday we talked about motivation and then we played the game "Apples to Apples." If you've never heard of this game and you're looking for a great party or fun game, this is it! If you're in the states, I got it at Walmart for $30.

We bend the rules so that bribery of the judges is included. This was discovered over Christmas break while playing with my family. It's actually a ton of fun this way as each contestant has to come up with their best "argument"for why their card should win and then convince the judge. Each person gets a turn to be the judge. Sometimes you don't get cards that fit the main word so you have to be creative.

So yesterday's high school group was all guys, so if you can imagine the next scene and then'll get the picture.

One of the words this time was "ancient" and a student chose "picking your nose" as his choice to argue the word "ancient". His argument was that picking your nose is as old as time itself -- that everyone has picked their nose from the beginning of time. One of the guys said that it's not picking your nose unless you are three knuckles deep. All the guys started hootin' and hollerin' and having a grand old time.

I didn't have anything to say but I was definitely laughing at their craziness. What was I supposed to say to this? Definitely a guy moment.

Anyways, needless to say although it wasn't the winning card, it was definitely the favored card and the one which brought about the most conversation among the guys. Jeff (our pastor of the church in Budapest) went with me to the club and as we rode the tram back to Budapest, he laughed and said that its pretty true. Guys will always talk about body functions -- burping, farting, picking your nose is not excluded and that all guys can relate. So it was an interesting and informative high school group.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's 1:30 am...

.........and I should be going to bed! OK, I need to go to bed but I'm making up for the weekend's lack of blogging. That would be four blogs in one sitting! Wow. I guess I've got a lot to say.
Well, I wanted to post this since I just uploaded all my pictures tonight.

Here's the artwork Eszter did for me. I've already got it in my new flat in the kitchen. I bought her paint supplies for her birthday. Isn't she good?


The moving crew.

After staff today, the team officially moved me over to my new place!

Tonight I was unloading and setting up camp. Literally I felt like I was camping for two reasons. First, we never did figure out the heater. So I have every blanket in the house nearby. And second, I used the stove for the first time here and you actually have to use matches to light the burners. Also, I went to reheat coffee and realized "oh" I don't have a microwave. So, I reheated the coffee on the stove. It's really funny! Reminds me of camping. Once I get the place together I'll post pictures.
No workout news unfortunately. I hope to get back in the groove tomorrow.

The bookstore

On Sunday Andre (music leader) and I were chatting and Andre asked if I would consider joining the music team on Sundays. Maybe someday, but for now, I’m just not feeling it. I think I’m doing good setting up coffee and greeting people as they come in. I love that! Next month we are going to meet twice a month in a very cool, trendy bookstore in downtown Budapest. The music team is trying to come up with songs that can be played over the bookstore intercom as our entire time together will be broadcast throughout the 3 story bookstore.

We met for staff meeting there last week to check it out and get a feel for it. I really think it's going to be great. A little weird to have our whole service broadcast over the intercom of a bookstore, but hey. Kind of cool. So Andre was asking my thoughts on songs even though we will continue to do worship songs they want to add a few others too. I thought “In Your Eyes” or “Love’s Divine” by Seal. I also have a few new favorite Christian songs like “Love Wins” by Robbie Seay Band, “Signature of the Divine” or “Shine On” by Needtobreathe. All of them are upbeat and great. We have two guitar players, the bongos and Andre, Bruce, Lisa and Renea sing.

In April, Jeff asked if I would teach twice at the bookstore. So, the message my friend developed for Straight up Beautiful – about the mirrors that we look into – specifically women, but men too – is what I’ll talk on. I need to figure out a way to make it applicable across the board but the main message is there are three mirrors – the mirror of the world/culture and what people say you should look like, sound like, act like, then there’s the mirror of self-judgment where we judge ourselves by certain standards and finally there’s the mirror of God’s word. And living in the light of God’s word is where we are going…..! I'm excited about it.

The team from Florida comes in March and with it, Katie is bringing my trisuit and some other swimming things! Woo hoo!

BUT EVEN MORE EXCITING..... for me is just after the team leaves, my sister and a good friend are coming to visit!! Woo hoo! They found a cheap ticket and will be on this continent in about a month! I CAN'T WAIT TO SHOW THEM THE OLD WORLD....

Weekend fun

So, this weekend was full and busy but here’s a few pictures. Saturday’s Valentine event went better than expected. It was a natural, enjoyable evening. We left the girls with a “love letter” from God and a rose --- the love letter being the words from the Bible that talk about His love as a father and how He made a way for us to have relationship through Jesus. Two girls hung around for a long time after the event, so I know we didn’t scare them away.

Sunday’s birthday party went well too. Peter and his sister Eszter have the same birthday but are two years apart. I’m actually glad it turned out the way it did because originally we were celebrating my roommate Anna’s birthday, Bruce’s birthday and little Elsza’s too. But Anna’s tooth was pulled, Bruce had other plans and Elsza was sick so we actually got to focus on the Hungarians, which I thought turned out cool. They were extremely happy about it. Eszter said this was the first birthday party she has EVER had in her life. She turned 23. And yes, necessity is the mother of invention. So, I actually made both cakes and some cupcakes for their birthday. The chocolate cake called for baking cocoa and all I could find was a chocolate pudding packet. I used it and it turned out alright. My favorite part was 1.5 cups of coffee -- I think that made the chocolate cake!

We were celebrating a lot of things, actually! Nori and Peter are engaged as of Thursday night and I was dying to keep the secret from everyone. Nori told me earlier but Peter wanted to announce it Sunday. Marriages don’t happen a lot in this part of the world so it’s always a BIG celebration when people do! So already there's good fruit! We are breaking the trends of co-habitation without commitment! This May they will be Mr. and Mrs. Tatrai and hopefully help re-populate Europe with little Tatrai babies!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

House slippers and my new flat

As I write this morning, I am sitting in my new flat, freezing my tush off, wearing my "house slippers" but happy as a clam. I slept here last night for the first time. I was absolutely exhausted. Although I haven’t worked out since Friday, I definitely got the run-around workout the last few days, walking some of the stuff between flats. I'm going to need to do some repair tonight or tomorrow in stretching my back. And my workout schedule starts again tonight. I also need to really monitor sugar intake….Man I went overboard this weekend! Parties went great but lots of baked goods and I fell hard.

Now I know why most Hungarians wear "house slippers". Everyone takes their shoes off when they enter your house. I had some Korean friends in Highschool and this was their tradition too. I always thought it was strange. I think it is mostly an asian tradition and Hungarians have some Mongolian who knows. Anyways, whenever I go to a Hungarians home, you take your shoes off and wear a pair of their slippers left by the door for you to put on as you walk around the house. I can see why -- your feet freeze if you don't wear them. So last night I bought a few cheapy pairs of house slippers from Ikea (my favorite store in the world....)

Anyways, my new place is furnished and came with a “coffee maker” I’m trying to get hot water out of the thing so I can make a French press but it keeps spitting at me. Not a friendly roommate. This french press from Ikea is awesome! I actually got it for my dad two Christmas' ago but this summer i realized he hadn't even used it once. I thought for sure he would have tried it so I asked him if I could have it back (does that make me an Indian giver?) if he wasn't going to use it. I'm loving it!!

The coolest part about this new place - - the bedroom has a loft. Yes, that's right. I'm sleeping in a very cool loft! I feel like a kid, but I'm just scared I might slip on my way down. Anyways, It's really cute!

I can’t figure out how to use the heaters here so I guess I will remain cold until I do. Some of the staff will bring the rest of my stuff (the heavier stuff) to the flat after staff meeting. Hopefully, we can figure these old heaters out. If not, I'll be using every blanket around until it gets figured out.

I love my new neighborhood. I’ve had to figure out new bus routes to get where I’m going but so far, so good. It’s like a new adventure, which I’m always up for and it means staring at new faces, seeing another side of Budapest. I realized the people who ride the buses are much more lively than those who ride the metro. On the metro you can literally sit there for 10 minutes and not hear any noise. It’s reminds me of catholic church when I was growing up. But on the buses, people are talking, moving around. It just seems more lively. I like that. I’ve already met some new neighbors – even the lady who checked me out at Ikea (the best store in the world) is my neighbor. People are friendly and I’m finding they speak better English, always a plus! Woo hoo!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quick run with Nona and biking in Buda

I feel good about todays workout. It was a shorter run -- just 33 minutes, but we took on a hill and ran through the open parks of Hero's Square. I like following Nona's lead as I tend to do the same old boring route when running by myself....just doing laps on Margaret Island's track or laps around Hero's Square. She likes to mix it up and I appreciate that. She's getting ready for some adventure racing and is slowly working herself back into the mode of being a workout maniac so I get the benefit of her slow journey back seeing as I'm on the slow end. So, this is working for me. But I want to increase my endurance, my volume. I'm ready for longer workouts -- like all you champions who take on more than 45 minutes. When will I ever get there? I'm ready for more. Bring it on!

Today I had to go to Buda to do some shopping for the parties we're having this weekend. At the last minute, I decided to bike it over there with backpack so I could carry stuff back. I love one particular stretch of the road along the Danube river, past the castle district and then into the heart of Buda. It ended up being a one hour bike ride each way. Some of it was city streets but mostly I had the Danube and the bridges. The weather was colder than I expected but I wanted to be outside. It didn't sound appealing to ride the metro and be in cramped spaces with lots of people. Plus my metro pass expired and I didn't feel like standing in a line to get it renewed today.

I'm back home, unloaded what I got and have to go back out again for more things.

It's funny because unlike the states, there is no Walmart or Target or a place like that -- a one stop shop and so a lot of times you have to go to several places just to get what you need. Everything takes so much longer than usual. For example, this past Sunday I was going to make a cornbake for this party I went to and I ended up going to three stores before giving up because I couldn't find frozen or canned corn. That's when it gets frustrating.

Anyways, the bike ride was great. Actually it would have been 2 hours and 15 minutes because earlier this morning I biked to Hero's Square and back. And I'm proud of myself for choosing the harder thing. Crazy thing is that if I would have ridden metro it would have taken 45 minutes each way so it isn't much quicker to ride public.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I'm enjoying this blog

I'm enjoying this historical blog. I've posted the link in the past, but just wanted to give kudos again to it and encourage all to check it out.

historical, thought-provoking....I like it and just bought the book on CD so I'll be listening on my I-pod. I need this kind of stuff because I'm the worst at remembering details. Maybe it's a family trait - embellishing, forgetting details, mixing details up. Our family is notorious for this but I am determined to sharpen my mind and not go out with Alzheimers!!

Here's a bit from todays blog
"To review: in 1919, the United States ratified the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited the manufacture and sale of “liquors,” and passed the Volstead Act, which stated that “no person shall manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, furnish or possess any intoxicating liquor except as authorized by this act.” This bit of legislative lunacy remained on the books for over a decade, giving rise to bootleggers and all the crime associated with them. The amendment and the law were finally put to rest in 1933. As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt put it after signing the Cullen-Harrison Act, which amended the Volstead Act to death, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

Along with crime and a horrible precedent for American law, Prohibition also gave rise to a contempt for law that hadn’t been seen since the days of the Boston Tea Party, a contempt that often took the form of jury nullifications: over half of American jurors just couldn’t bring themselves to prosecute anyone for having or serving a drink. This was a major contributing factor in the repeal of Prohibition; after a time, the government couldn’t continue to lose credibility with a law its citizenry refused to enforce. Power to the people, says The Devoted Intellectual, and bottoms up!"

a few good men.....

This morning I woke to a phone call from my friend Andrea in Texas. These morning calls seem to be happening a lot lately, but I love it! Some friends seem to call at just the right time. Lord knows I've needed it recently. Her words were exactly what I needed to hear. New confidence and faith have sparked my thoughts since our conversation this morning. Amazing, isn't it? The power of words.

Unfortunately, this training week (which ends for me tomorrow) will only include one time in the pool. Unless something drastic happens in my schedule tomorrow afternoon, I won't be making it to the pool again this week. My workout plan is trying to get in three bikes, swims and runs each week and do a few of them as "block" builds. I'm also trying to build duration and speed. This is my goal over the next several months.

I fell short this week. I felt super tired today. Earlier this morning I made it through some weights and I was planning to go for a bike or a run tonight but I just got home after English Club and I'm too wiped out. I think I need to rest. Plus, I'm meeting Nona in the morning for a run and I just feel as though I need to save my energy. I've read a lot about listening to your body so that's what I'm doing tonight.

Today's high school group was a lot of fun. And tonight at our university club one of the guys said there's another high school that wants us to come beginning in March. I'm thankful that we have a team of guys to help with these high school clubs. Taking responsibility comes quite naturally for me..... but can you be too responsible or I guess, can you be responsible to a fault? Maybe that's me being the first born. The truth is that I like not always having to feel like the "responsible one". And that's where I'm so glad there are men who protect, provide and partake in responsibility. Our team here in Budapest is made up of some great men who walk in the three P's. That probably sounds funny but I could expand later. I'm so thankful for our team of men. I realized that tonight and so I just want to put a shout out to a few good men.

I love the way men and women are so different. I learn a lot from the men who are in my life and I'm thankful for them. We are definitely created with unique and distinctively different ways of viewing the world and even viewing what is priority. God knows men are from mars and women are from venus. I hope women remember to be thankful for......a few good men.

Refiner fire

"If I never turned up the heat, how would you experience my deliverance? Would you settle for a dull finish or would you rather reflect my light? Hold my hand tightly. We'll walk through the fire together...."

"Sometimes it hurts when the outside layers are burned away. And just when I think I can stand it no longer, I see gold."

"These trials have come so that your faith - which is of greater worth than gold - which perishes even though refine by fire - may prove genuine and result in praise."
1 Peter 1:7

What does it mean to refine something? - remove unwanted elements; typically a part of an industrial process; improve by making small changes, remove impurities.

Sometimes I have to take my dreams, my desires, my future, my life and all of what I'm looking at when I look ahead, jump up on "God's lap" and ask my daddy for wisdom. He is like a refiners fire -- which is great. Because as I allow Him to give me His perspective, my life and faith prove to be genuine.

Just when I think I can stand it no longer, I see gold.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Tonight after Nori left I had this unexplainable sense of pressure from within. I think it's a combination of everything going on right now. Lots of little details I need to pull together for this weekends events and for some things coming up in March. It's all about lovin' on people and I LOVE that so I definitely am not complainin' just explainin'.

I'm also in transition as far as my flat - living at a friends house and waiting to move into my new place. It's a completely new neighborhood. I'll have to discover the quickest bus routes to get different places around the city, where to get groceries, who my neighbors will be -- I thought I heard a dog barking next door the first time I went to see the flat. So yeah. Even though I'm going to like it, there are adjustments and I have to get used to everything. I love the fact that I'm literally just across the street from Hero's Square where I can bike and run. That is going to be fabulous, atleast until I get bored and need a Margaret Island fix.

I think I'm also feeling the pressure because some things are undefined in my life. I'm in the process of moving so that sense of being unsettled definitely adds to the pressure cooker of definition. I don't know if it's just women who operate this way or if men do too, but I know for me, I'm a nester. I need to have some things in a routine way organized -- I like to "nest" -- to have a place that's mine, where I can let it all become my organized mess.....not organize everything, but lots of things!

Oh and then there's language. I'm painfully aware that I'm failing at Hungarian. I love trying to read the Bible in Hungarian with Nori tonight but I botch the language so bad that often times, I just have her read it. I'm so thankful for Nori and excited about her future. So many incredible things have been happening in her life. And I just love that girl. I can't believe she's only 20 years old and SO mature! Sometimes I forget and think she's more like 26 or something. But yeah, I've been avoiding my Hungarian teacher or actually, I just haven't called her since I got back and I know it would be good if I did. Darn it!

The one area I'm really loving and don't feel the heat of yet is triathlon training. I'm 4.5 months out and I'm honestly very very thankful for training right now because it helps release some of that pressure from the other areas. All in all, the pressure is doing something -- there's a focus that comes in my thoughts, prayers, desires. I guess pressure is good for that.

Monday, February 11, 2008

2 am

I kept thinking it was my alarm. How do I shut it off? Deep in sleep, I finally realized that it was actually my cell phone ringing.....someone is calling.

It must be family. It's hard to remember that I'm 9 hours ahead of West Coast time. I never care though. I always want to hear from the other side of the world.

"Hello" I say in my groggy voice as I try and find the light switch and pull myself up. "Oh, Jen, I woke you huh!" Well it's hard to hide groggy morning voice. And the conversation continues with my good friend Lara who is calling from Kansas, which is actually only a 7 hour time difference.

Soon she will be on the same continent as me and the same time zone. She moves to Lithuania on March 10th and has made a year commitment to work with a church there. She grew up in a Lithuanian community in Chicago. This is a lifetime dream for her. In fact years ago we both felt like we would be in Europe at some point in our lives. Now it's happening. I'm absolutely excited as it gets rather tedious to remember time zones. How nice it will be to see each other now after two years as well.

The last time we were together was in Latvia and Kansas when I traveled with a team she organized for "Straight Up Beautiful" and we hosted a conference there for young women. Needless to say, after our 1.5 hour conversation, I had a really hard time going back to sleep. We actually talk quite frequently but I was so excited about what's happening with SUB. She told me about their amazing conference in Kansas where 600 girls came and she told me about this process she's going through to finish her book. She's trying to get it finished by the time she gets over here.

Wow. This book is going to be like gold in the hands of women. I cannot wait for it to finish. She was saying it will take about a year to finish the whole process with getting it published. If you think of her, please pray that all goes well and that things work out for her in getting it published.

I'm so excited that she's coming over here! WE are going to bust it up in Europe this next year -- and fulfill the dream we both had -- to invest in the next generation of young women living in Europe who desperately need to see, taste and touch something different when it comes to living out Christianity.

Great quote

"Faith is believing that one of two things will happen. You will land on something solid or you will be taught how to fly."

I really like that. Thanks Marry.

"I'm still.......

Yesterday was a day of rest for me. I was really tired from the week. I woke up with a cramp in my neck so I was glad it was a rest day!

Today, I split my workout into two parts.... This morning was a weight workout and a quick core pilates set. I used the jump rope again to warm up with, doing 500 reps. I think I'm going to add it to the days I do core/weights.

I had to look online to find some lower body workouts to do from home. I won't be going back to the little gym I used to go to anymore because I need to use those resources for other things. I won't miss having to bring two pairs of shoes to workout there. I still find it funny (but I see their reasoning) that you had to change into your workout shoes because they didn't want dirty shoes on their floors while you work out.

Anyways, the second part of the workout came tonight on a bike ride. I brought my I-pod and listened to music. It was a 45 minute ride. Anna calls me "ghetto girl" and maybe this is why.... I love hip-hop. I'm sorry I can't deny it. And there's that old J-Lo song...."Jenny from the Block".....

"....put God first and can't forget to stay real
to me it's like breathing....
No matter where I go I know where I came from!!!!
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block....."

Ok, I'm a dork but I had fun listening to the tunes and riding around Hero's Square. Now I'm eating Hungarian leftovers from Saturday night and thankful for another good day in Budapest.

ahhhhh I'm still.....jenny from the block..."

Random thoughts

Fresh OJ in the morning is awesome.
(after a cup of coffee of course.)
Fear is the opposite of faith.
Jumping rope is a good workout.
Don't want this Saturday event to be "cheesy."
Miss kissing baby Savanah's soft skin.
Ready to start running hills with Nona.
Don't know what the future holds but I know who holds the future.
Tired of living out of suitcases and can't wait to get into my apartment.
Want to be committed to healthy eating.
Miss hearing ZeyZey come up with something random to say.
Hope the girls who come Saturday really feel God's love.
Miss Sol Dolls big fat grin.
Want to learn how to train smarter AND harder.
Can't wait for Andre and Noel to visit.
This world is not my final home. I'm just passing through.
Need to find a wetsuit and a bike.
Don't like staff meetings, but tomorrow is going to be fun!
Miss Em and Chlo and their little girl "dramas".
Hope this summer in Budapest is filled with good memories.
God wants to do far more than asked, hoped for or imagined in our lives.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Releasing endorphins

Don't you just love it when friends make you laugh? The gut wrenching kind of laugh.

Tonight Nori (a Hungarian) and Anna (an American/my former roommate) and I went to a restaurant that Anna chose since tomorrow is her birthday. We had a few funny moments releasing endorphins. Anna tried to jump on this art deco cow but the shop owner came running out and said, "Nem, Nem, Puha..." Which means "No, No, it's soft or it will fall apart." I thought she was crazy for trying but we got a few photos by it anyways. Just none of Anna on top of it.

Then, when we were sitting in the car, trying to decide where to go next, there was this funny moment when Anna was saying "farka ehes" which means hungry wolf in Hungarian. Funny thing is where we meet on Sundays is a theatre called "Faklya klub" and you get the picture when you try and pronounce that one. So I was like "farka" or "faklya" what are we talking about here? Scary when it sounds like we're cussing them out as we invite them to church. Then there's another word that sounds like farka but means something entirely worse which is not even worth mentioning here but you get the idea.... I managed to say every version of Anna's "farka ehes" and still didn't get it right. Plus, I thought she was saying hungry bear. Within a matter of moments we were crying with laughter in Nori's car on an empty street in Budapest. Some things are just funny in another country.

We enjoyed a lot of laughs tonight which is always great. Funny thing is I was originally thinking I'd have a relaxing night inside. Original plan was to chillax and read some books.....but Nori came over and Anna get the picture.

Hajni's got Determination and Focus

"There is in this world no greater force than the force of a man determined to rise."

When I'm working out, I enjoy taking in the scenery. I'm all about atmosphere - open roads, forests, by the water. It's medicinal. So maybe If I see a cute kid or bird, I say "cute kid" or "cool bird." If I look at the Danube River and get inspired (not because it's long, brown and the only bit of water around these parts but because it's cool looking against the bridges and I'm ocean deprived,) I will say to someone I'm running with "Beautiful day, huh?" or "I love this city!"

I'm an interactive type of gal, I guess. Yet today I worked out with the force of someone determined to rise above the scenery. It's never been a problem until today but now it looks like I have to change it up a bit.

Hajni's a university student who has done a sprint triathlon and has run a marathon. She's training now for a relay Ironman this summer. Whenever we meet at Margaret Island we usually stretch for a few minutes and talk about our week quite briefly. Then we are off on the padded lane that circles the island, joining other runners who keep different paces and tempos.

Maybe it's hard for me to be quiet when someone is right there - next to me. I mean, I don't have a problem with being quiet - I enjoy quiet times and I'm perfectly content to sit at home and read a book quietly or work out quietly. But when I get with other people, it's kind of like -- I want to know about them - I have this incessant need to want to chit-chat....atleast a little bit. But not everyone is made like me. And that's my point. I was throwing Hajni off focus and apparently me too...

Realizing she wasn't feeling very "chatty", I found a nice running pace and finished the run. When we met up again, she said, "If we are going to train together we can't talk. OK? And I noticed you aren't focused because you are looking around taking in the scenery. I think we might have the same speed, but you can get ahead of me and you need to do that because you can't hold back. If you want to be ready for race day you have to focus."

I said, "OK coach Hajni" and started teasing her for being so serious about it. But I get her point and I'll take her advice. It's true. I don't know what I'm getting into in July, and enthusiasm and inspiration will only get you so far, right? Well, after my initial shock at her forthrightness, I told her it was good advice as I do think she's right. My body is ready for more but my mind is comfortable with what has seemed like amazing strides to me. But I love this kid! I've been saying I want a coach and here she is.

I did have to set her straight on one thing. We're going to have to get together for coffee outside of our trainings so we can talk. She said, "OK. Of course." So that's good.

Other than a very ethereal idea of what it means to focus, I'm not really sure I know what it means or how to "be more focused" while training.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Press on! A better fate awaits thee.
Victor Hugo

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
Chinese Proverb

I hold a doctrine, to which I owe not much, indeed, but all the little I ever had, namely, that with ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.
Sir T. F. Buxton

It is interesting to notice how some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage, and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles.
Washington Irving

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
Louis Pasteur

The best way out is always through. Robert Frost

It isn't hard to be good from time to time in sports.
What's tough is being good every day.
Willie Mays

LT, core workouts and fresh juice

Tonight the "Let's Talk" leadership team made up of "native" english speakers (that's me and a few Brits) and Hungarian english speakers met at this great Mongolian BBQ restaurant and it was delicious (free too which was wonderful!). I thought it was probably the best food I've tasted in Budapest so far. I don't get out much. It's definitely a place I want to go back to in the future! One of the Hungarians that I roomed with last time at Lake Balaton was guilt ridden because she hadn't contacted me when she said she was going to....I told her "don't sweat the small stuff...quit beating yourself up". This is the same woman who said that it's just expected for husbands to cheat on their wives in Hungary (yuck!)......Her name is Szilvia and I'm really hoping some good things happen in her life. She wants to go to church with us and she wants her daughter and me to meet....I think it's great and I hope it happens.

Worst part about tonight - one of the older British ladies brought an incredible-looking, hand-made cake - The outside was so beautiful, so scrumptious looking BUT it turned out to be FRUIT CAKE inside. I'm sorry if you like fruitcake, but it was rough to have to eat that in kindness. I managed to stomach about half of it.

This morning I was supposed to meet someone at the flat where I'm staying for about two hours, but they never showed....(third time this week....a charm?) So I spent about 30 minutes doing a core workout and I ran for 45 minutes. But I have a question, like always. Is a core workout weight training and things that build the connecting muscles around your abs only? I'm just curious as to what I can consider a "core workout." I jumped rope this morning too(2x25,2x50,2x75 and 2x100 = 450 reps) Well, it must be good for something.

This year, I had to cut back on some expenses so I'm no longer going to the gym just down the street, which had a really nice weight room. I have to figure out how to do leg weights at home. I only own a few free weights. Any ideas? Any websites with training at home?

Finally, my final news worthy event of the day --- I had a delicious fresh orange juice early in the morning and I also juiced carrots and tomatoes. I know I sound like a health freak, which I'm not, but I really love juicing! I'm experimenting a little too. I feel like a mad scientist..hahahaha....coming up with these healthy concoctions. Not everyone likes juicing, I hear. But, I think I prefer it to eating a fruit or veggie whole and having to eat it that way....Funny.

Anyways, if you've ever vacillated about whether to get a juicer or not, I say "do it!" And for those of you who have one, here's your friendly reminder to pull it out and use it if you haven't for awhile. Nothing like fresh OJ in the morning!!!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Yeah, right.

So I'm online when I read an advertisement that says..."NATIVELY.
Break the language barrier.
Learn the language in 10 days."

10 days? Yeah Right.

Every week I'm reminded of my grave inability to speak Hungarian.
This week it came when I paid bills and at the pool (described a few blogs ago...)

The people who write these advertisements have obviously never tried to learn a new language. Who are these people? and who believes them?

I have to admit that this ad might have easily worked on me if I saw it before moving over here. Now that I have been living in a country for a year and a half, taking lessons, "immersed" in a Hungarian high school, and still only barely surviving with language.....I can only mock this ploy for my money.

Learn the language in 10 days? Are you kidding me? I LIVE in this world of misunderstandings and language barriers. I would LOVE to break the language barrier! I would LOVE to learn this language in 10 days. But I'm painfully aware that it will never happen.

Don't believe these ploys for your money. (I'm sure you probably wouldn't). And if you learn a new language in 10 days, I'll nominate you as president. But if you learn it that quick, you are definitely NOT human and something is wrong with you.

Ravi Zacharias Podcasts

On my way back from Laura's house today I had 45 minutes to listen to stuff on my I-pod. I put it on shuffle and it ended up being several podcasts from Ravi Zacharias. I'm always inspired by his university talks. The one I listened to today was from his time in 2007 at the University of Michigan. I highly recommend listening to his podcasts "Just Thinking". He's amazing. If you want to be challenged and encouraged, I think this podcast is great.

A good day

Chlorine is my new perfume. Goggle eyes and really nappy, corse hair are my new fashion statements. It hurts ----but oh well.

The workout in the pool today was a little longer. I was surprised to find as many swimming enthusiasts as I did that early in the morning. Who are these people? Next time I will try a little bit earlier because I do like the earlier workouts versus the evening ones. Sharing a lane with two other guys who were swimming quite fast helped me realize something about myself. I'm not that competitive. I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing but at this point it's nothing to worry about. I just want to survive my first sprint tri. After that, I'll think more about picking up the pace.

I had a 35 minute workout in the pool but I grabbed the wrong set of goggles and forgot my earplugs -- didn't realize it until I was "suiting up". So after the brief upset, I told myself that this is a good thing - being ready for anything. I can see how some pro athletes develop fetishes about their workout routines, but I wasn't going to let this bother me.

I'd love to hear some advice on future workouts for training on the swim. I don't know that longer is better. All the training schedules I'm looking at say that a 20-35 minute workout are good for building a sprint-tri base. But sometimes I wonder if I should push for more and work to an hour in the pool. What is a good work out time or set to do when it comes to pool time? I ended up swimming a longer distance than what is in the race, but I'm just curious about this.

One of the girls I was going to meet with tonight canceled on me -- I see a pattern here and I don't like I have time for a run. I think I'll do a short run.

My meetings today were uneventful but productive. Also, it looks like we will be meeting twice a month on Sundays in the Alexandria Bookstore. This is a big change for our Every Nation team....They will publicize our topical studies and it's a great venue - non-threatening and fun. Should be interesting. I'm looking forward to it.

I spent time with Ana and Laura and we prayed for this February girls event --that it won't be "cheesy". I really don't think it will be so that's good. Later in the day, I was organizing some events for our High school English club --when the team comes from Florida. We will have the chance to be in classrooms and on the school yard talking about American culture and giving students a chance to talk with "native' english speakers. The next few months will be busy but good.

I know someday I will look back on these days with fond memories. I live in Budapest, Hungary, for crying out loud. Each day I'm here, I am going to love every minute of it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Go out and live!

"Live more than your neighbors. Unleash yourself upon the world and go places. Go now, giggle, know, laugh,....Understand this is not a dress rehearsal; this is it, your life. Face your fears and live your dreams, take it all in, yes, every chance you get. Come close. And by all means, whatever you do, get it on film." -- Jon "Blazeman" Blais, Ironman

A rest day

As far as workouts go today ended up being a "rest and recovery" day. It wasn't intentional but after Eszter canceled this morning's run, I just decided to stay home. Blah! I had a busy day and evening ahead and figured today was as good as any to rest from working out in the a.m. Now it's 8:30 pm and I'm ready for bed. My plan is to get up at the but crack of dawn tomorrow and swim. The pool opens at 6 am and I think I'll have more lane options if I go earlier versus going in the evening. This may be my new plan for swims. I'll let you know how it goes. I do want to work harder in the pool tomorrow so I'm really hoping for a good swim day. I've been watching internet videos on swim techniques, which are interesting. You know, I'm a novice at all of this.

Tonight at our English conversation group we were talking about Hungarian history. I'm really enjoying the students who come and find it fascinating to see the world through their eyes. Most of the university girls I work with get back this weekend so next week will be a lot of reconnections. I can't wait -- and our Valentines event for girls. Jozi (a 22 yr old Hungarian student) walked me to the metro after English club tonight and when I was telling him about this Valentines event for the girls he said it's "cheesy." Then he said that he's a guy and guys have a different perspective. For example if they had a guys get together and handed out roses, it would be weird. I agreed. But all I know is that there are very few girls who would refuse a rose and a love letter. This love letter being biblical truths from God's heart towards them as daughters, written in both Hungarian and English. Honestly though, I'm excited about the event. I'm really hoping that these Hungarian hearts are open to hear about another kind of love....We will have it here at Chris and Renea's flat. More than anything, I really hope it's not "cheesy." That would really suck. I want to see these girls resonate with the truth that even if they dont have someone on their arm they are loved by a very true and living God. That's my hope. No cheese please.