Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Never give up

"Never give up for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."
Harriet Beacher Stowe

Discouragement is like taking a sharp needle and popping your courage bubble. Lots of things in life come along to try and do that. Sometimes the biggest struggle is to get perspective on the situation to get your courage back.

Because of my nieces, I've had the chance to hear the next generation's music. :D This weekend Emma turns 10 years old! Happy Birthday Emma!! I can hardly believe it. Her generations super star is Miley Ray Cyras aka Hannah Montana. I recently downloaded one of her songs called "Nobody's Perfect"

"Nobody's perfect
I gotta work it
again and again
till I get it right
Nobody's perfect
you live and you learn it....
Next time you feel like it's just one of those days
and you just can't seem to win
If things don't turn out the way you planned
figure something else out
Don't say down."

Sometimes in life we just need to wait for the tide to turn.....don't say down.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tanya's getting to see the Opera, Caves, and Vienna

First, a workout update. Last week and this week are recovery weeks, I guess, with fewer workouts on the plan. That worked out good because it's been crazy around here! But last night I was finally able to get a 35 minute bike ride in and a 3 mile run. It was a slow jog because it was still really warm at 7 pm. The amount of bugs flying around in the summer night heat reminded me that I need to do early morning workouts this summer! Needless to say, it felt great to workout.

It's harder when you have guests staying at your house. I'm constantly considering the amount of time I've had to spend at work so on my off time, I don't want to take another hour/hour and a half to work out when I know Tanya has had to fend for herself. Also, the Jakovlev family stayed for 3 days and they were in major transition, moving back to the states. It was just hard to leave Tanya with them just to go work out.

My brother's girlfriend Tanya arrived last Tuesday and although she's had to do a lot of things on her own and fend for herself because I have to work, I think she's enjoying herself and the city. She's really getting to see what my life is like in Budapest....including the smells, the language barrier, the little things that daily remind you you're living in a foreign country. We have had some gut-wrenching laughs. It's been great!

Some fun highlights of her trip -- Friday night we went to the Italian Opera "Don Carlos". If it weren't for the nice American lady who was sitting next to us who was familiar with the complicated plot I would have been completely lost as it was done in Italian and there were Hungarian subtitles above the stage box. I'm not exactly an Opera kind of girl, but this could really grow on me. The inside of the Opera House is beautiful and our seats were front and center. It's really fun to dress up and go out. I've never heard Italian Opera. That was cool.

Saturday we went to Vienna, Austria for the day. Tanya had a train ride experience as we visited the other capital of the Austrian-Hungarian dynasty, Vienna. We saw all the main important buildings and ate Wiener Schnitzel, which was fabulous. Just outside the city is the summer palace for the Hapsburgs. Their backyard alone was outrageous! The whole place was gorgeous, although I can hardly imagine actually being a Hapsburg and living in this place. Unfortunately, my camera died so I can't upload pictures. I have to wait until Tanya gets back to the states and uploads.

So far this week I worked Monday and Tuesday, but I pleaded for Wednesday off so I could show Tanya the caves. Chris is covering high school and university English clubs today so I'm very excited about going back to see this labyrinth of incredible formations beneath the city of Budapest. Part of it has to do with the thermal water hitting cold water many many years ago. They are so COOL! If you can imagine, we are bringing our sweaters today even though it's 80 degrees outside. The caves are chilly!

Still on the list of things to see include: Statue Park, Tropicarium, Visegrad Castle, Szentendre, Estergom. We are coming to the last five days of her stay and hopefully we can fit things in around the rest of my work schedule and events around Nori and Peter's wedding.

Tanya and I have had lots of conversations about a variety of topics. Everything from what it means to be a Christ-follower, sex before marriage, gay marriage, life forms on other planets, and something that's been really interesting to flash back to -- our old neighborhood in Carson City which is completely ghetto now (over by the 7-11 off Hwy 50). Tanya actually grew up just one street from us, our dads worked together in radio, but we never knew each others families because our dads weren't close. So my brother and Tanya never knew each other even though they lived a street away. What a small world. It's funny to talk to her about the field where we rode our bikes and walked as kids in a place that used to be near 7-11 which has now become a strip mall. It's strange for me to think about Tanya and realize that if Greg and Tanya make a commitment, she could be my sister-in-law. Having two sisters, it was easier to look at the men they chose and consider them as brothers because you have a different relationship with your brother. But a sister is something all together different. So I'm going through this interesting thought process about it all and I'm not sure if I like it. I think it's harder for families to accept their sons and brothers choices because there's something about that relationship where you realize this is the one who is going to draw your son/brother away. I don't know. I guess it could be true with sisters too, but so far that hasn't been the case in my family. Not to say that would be the case with Tanya and Greg. It's just been interesting to consider it all.

Well, these are my ramblings. I'm off to get a run in before we see the caves. Have a great week.

Have a great weekend if I don't blog again soon!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Work out update

My workouts have been going fine this week with a 45 minute swim, a 4 mile run and a 3 mile run with Tanya yesterday at Margaret Island. I've been feeling a bit sluggish but I'm trying to push through. Tomorrow, unfortunately, I won't get some workouts in that I have scheduled (a brick bike and run) because we made plans to go to Vienna so I'll fall behind. But today Tanya and I are going to the thermal baths which has the 50 meter swimming pool and I'll be able to get the 35 minute scheduled swim in while we're there. Maybe later this afternoon I can get the Saturday scheduled bike ride in so that I'm not extremely behind. We will see. I feel like I'm bulking out in my legs and I don't like that! I'd like to tone and slim down a bit but not sure how to make that happen as workouts increase. I keep thinking that I need to be more consistent with resistance training. Well, happy workouts to you! Have a great weekend.

Tanya's here

So my brother's girlfriend arrived safely late Tuesday night (actually 12:30 am Wednesday morning) and will be here until June 2nd. She will really get a chance to see the best of Budapest and in between things, I get to join her. Tomorrow, we're going to Vienna for the day. Unfortunately, this week and next have been and will be packed with high school events, university student meetings and Nori's wedding next weekend. But Tanya has joined me at a few nights of English club so that's been great.

Last night on our way to English club, there was a Hungarian guy in his early 20's who was slouched in the corner directly across from me on the tram. When I say directly across I mean our knees were touching. He had tears rolling down from his eyes and his face was red from crying. He was directly across from me and hard to ignore. I started to ask God what to do because he was obviously distraught and I couldn't just leave him that way. Finally, he took out his earbuds where he was listening to music and looked up at me. I sort of smiled and asked him "Are you OK?" in Hungarian. He just shook his head, turned his eyes away and his eyes welled up with tears that came streaming down his face. Then he pulled out a ratted up tissue from his pocket and realized he couldn't use it anymore. Then he asked me for a tissue. I gave him tissue and tried to talk to him. He showed me his cell phone that was playing the song "Over the rainbow" That didn't make sense but he said some things in Hungarian that I couldn't really understand. I found out his name was Csaba and then the next stop was ours and I asked him if he wanted to come to English club with us and meet my friend Matt, thinking he could talk to some guys plus there would be Hungarians there who could interpret for us. Surprisingly, he said yes. He joined us and met the people there. Long story short, his mom had just died two days ago and he was obviously dealing with it. He stuck around for awhile then he had to go but Matt had a chance to talk to him and pray with him too. He told us thank you for caring and that our concern meant a lot to him.

Tanya and I talked about it later and we both had the same thought when we first saw him on the tram but different responses. We both thought that maybe he was getting over a girlfriend who broke up with him. Tanya's thought was "It's a girl. He'll get over it and find a new one." Mine was a bit more complicated. I thought "People in Hungary have killed themselves for lesser things. If it's a girl and if he's suicidal that is NOT GOOD. What can we do?"

Hungary used to have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Now, Lithuania tops the list. Last year two students (who were not in my classes but in the school where I taught) committed suicide. One of my students was writing suicidal things last year in his English essays. I pulled him aside after class once and asked him about it and tried to find out what was going on in his life. Basically, he was having family problems. I told him suicide was selfish, that he had a lot to live for and told him the story of my friend Susan who was a quadriplegic and still had a great outlook on life. That nothing is that bad and that just like the weather in Budapest, circumstances in life change, so he better stick around and see some of his better days! He turned things around last year but I just saw him last week when he came to English club. This was the first time in months. I noticed slits near his wrists and he's wearing all goth clothing.

Anyways, that rabbit trail is to say that suicide is still a major concern in this nation and it pisses me off. I get angry at the fact that young people are thinking about taking their life. I get angry because Jesus said in John 10:10 that the thief (the devil) comes to rob, kill and destroy. He's doing a dang good job with some of these kids -- robbing them of their future. Jesus also said in that same place that HE came to bring life and bring it more abundantly.

Well, I don't know if Csaba was suicidal but he was definitely depressed and distraught.Obviously no one can go to the depths of pain that happens in grief when you lose a loved one. I just hope Csaba has a good support system around him during this time. We extended friendship to him and perhaps at least lessened his grief for an hour. That has got to be tough to lose your parent. Like John Mayer sings in "Off This Train" -- don't want to see your parents go. If you think of Hungary and Hungarians though, please pray for this issue of suicide because it's very real and it sucks. There are more situations but I don't have time to go into details. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Missing Southern California

This morning I woke early, ready to get outside for a run. The last few days have been really warm in Budapest, filled with summer weather and absolutely wonderful! Imagine the shock and surprise to find it POURING outside. Although my new potted purple flower plant is loving the precipitation as it hangs outside my door, I'm a little bummed. There are some things you just have to be mentally prepared to do and running 4 miles in the rain is one of them for me.

I've really been missing Southern California the last few days. Here's a few pictures of Redondo Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes, a place I called "home" for four years of my life. There's something about the Ocean and the sunshine that's medicinal. (I love that word! Especially when using it in the context of things that are actually not medicine, but bring life to the soul! I think I like it better than therapeutic.)

The fact that I'm landlocked for the summer in Hungary (except for the Danube river which is brown, not blue) could be a bit of a downer. But don't get me wrong! I love Margaret Island and Budapest is absolutely stunning! I'm a very thankful girl. This summer I'll spend some enjoyable time by the pools at Margaret Island and hopefully make it down to Lake Balaton as well.

But this past week, for whatever reason, I've been reminiscing of former days when I lived 5 minutes from the ocean in Southern California. I used to run along Redondo Beachwith a friend named Melanie. Mostly, Melanie and I would run along Redondo Beach (above) but occasionally I would run in Palos Verdes by this cool lighthouse and along the cliffs (below). Depending on the level of early morning fog, there were times when it was absolutely stunning! And on some mornings when Melanie and I finished our runs, we would rendezvous at Starbucks for a delicious coffee :D I almost always tailed it to the local Starbucks - with or without her.

Besides working out along the coast, the other thing I loved to do here usually after work or sometimes early in the morning was park my car, read my Bible and whatever book I was reading at the time and journal like crazy as I listened to the ocean waves crash along the shore. It was as though whatever challenges I was facing at the moment completely disappeared. All my concerns and fears were washed away in the sea of new thoughts, new perspectives.

I often took time to consider these Bible passages in Proverbs 8:29
"....He gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep His command when he marked out the foundations of the earth."

and in Job 38:8-12
"Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb?.... I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place when I said, "This far you may come and no further; here is where your proud waves halt. Have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place?"

This brings me to another musing that I've been having this past week. As I consider my life, my friends, my experiences, one thing continually rings true. Things in life change. People change. Circumstances change. Life is full of change. Sometimes we have to change - our perspective, our lifestyle, our work or personal life strategy, our character and we may not enjoy the transformation. Sometimes others have to change and we may not like their transformations- as they change their perspectives, lifestyles, strategies. As much as I love being "flexible" and enjoy the thrill of the adventure, I'm also a creature of habit. I get up in the morning usually around the same time to enjoy my coffee and freshly squeezed OJ as I read and start the day. I like routines, schedules, programs that I can work with and then I like the flexibility of mixing it up now and again. :D But I do like routine. So when things change in life it's easy to feel a bit unsettled and undone. Sometimes even the slightest changes can cause a bit of unsettled shifting.

One thing that brings me incredible confidence as I consider all of this is my faith in Christ and in His plan for my life and the lives of those around me. To know the one who set the boundaries of the ocean brings a level of confidence to my soul. He can handle whatever I'm going through, whatever others are going through around me, and I can lean on Him for strength and security.

When insecurity about the future begins to prevail in my heart, I remember that storms (hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones) come and go but the boundaries of the ocean remain. Much like those waves that only go so far, there's a deep seeded confidence that no matter how out of control things may feel or look in life, my confidence in Christ and His prevailing purpose is what I'm holding onto in this world of change. Though everything around me may change, God is eternally the same. He is good. I may not always understand all of His ways but He is good, trustworthy and I see this in the power of ocean boundaries and I believe it. This gives me an unending resource, much like a well of water in a desert that I can draw from each day. And I guess that's why I love the ocean because I see His goodness and power in the boundaries and in the beauty.

Next time I visit I have to get more pictures! Those of you near the ocean, would you do me a favor? Take some time to sit and journal for me, drink some coffee, read a book, enjoy the sunshine and the people you love and send me a mental picture:D

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The end of the weekend

It's hard to believe it's the end of the weekend. I'm sort of dreading this next week in a way but I'm sure I'll push through. Atleast with training, this next week is the lightest one in the training plan. I guess I shouldn't complain!

This morning I rode the bike for 45 minutes and came across yet another interesting event at Hero's Square park. With every lap, I watched as the Hungarian armed services and their tanks, a plane, and other machinery lined up along the grass. Obviously they were having an exhibition as everyone in camouflage flocked in. A line of camouflage tents also caught my eye.

In another corner of the park, completely unrelated, the police were blocking off a section where horses were coming through and lining the grounds. Again, men in uniform on the horses. I wish I had the time to find out what the event was all about. On Saturday, there was a women's health fitness day sponsored by the margarine company "Flora", which I found hilarious. Walking past at one point there was a giant aerobics class taking place (over 200 women) in the park. It's been an interesting weekend at the park to say the least and I realized that this summer there will never a dull moment for me because this park is always going to have events going on!

I finished 9.5 miles in 45 minutes and jumped off, locked up the bike, drank some fluids and set off for a 2 mile run. Although I felt like I was going slower than a turtle, my mile splits weren't nearly as bad as I imagined. That was good news because on Saturday, I skipped a swim workout because I just wasn't feeling great. I figured it would be better to rest and recover than push it. I think it paid off. I'm still drinking lots of OJ and taking extra vitamin C. I think germs accumulate in warmer weather and riding all the trams, buses and metro where peoples hands are on everything is a germ infestation in the making. Thankfully, I've got "Germ Blaster" hand sanitizer from the states. Not that I'm germ-phobic, but I hate getting sick.

This coming week is lighter for training....I guess it would be considered a taper week? It's actually the lightest week on my schedule until the week of the race. Well, it's good timing because this week is going to be extra full of people.
Tanya comes from the States on Tuesday night and with her some Tri-stuff I ordered. That's always fun! She's also bringing 3 big jars of creamy peanut butter (YUM!), lots of tuna fish and 2 big bags of starburst, per my request. (Can you believe I've already gone through the two bags my sister brought in March? Yep, well, atleast I didn't eat them all. Giveaways at the high school! American candy rocks!)

I'm sure Tanya can self-entertain and in fact, I'm counting on it. Unfortunately, she's going to have to. I doubt she came to Budapest to sit in Hungarian high schools and help lead University English clubs. So, I've been pulling out the maps and trying to figure out a decent "suggested" schedule for those times when I won't be around and then hopefully I can join her in the off time. Most of the girls I regularly meet with are in the middle of "dead week," preparing and taking finals so that seems to work out well too.

This coming weekend I'm also going to have a Latvian family (Andre, Melanie and their daughter Elza) staying with me before they go back to the U.S. One big happy family in my flat! I hope we survive. :D I'm just thankful I have enough room for everyone to stay.

The one person I'm absolutely looking forward to coming is Lara in June. If all works out with her visa, she'll be with me for atleast a month.

Well, guys. Have a great week training and I hope you have summer weather to enjoy! If you're near the Ocean, please take a walk along the beach. I miss the smell of salt water and the sound of ocean waves on the shore. And take a mental picture for me then send it my way :D Have a great summer!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tortoise and the Hare - Training Plans

There's something about following a training plan but having the flexibility to "mix it up" a bit that truly helps me stay on course. I know there are no short-cuts in training just as there are no short-cuts in life. I'm familiar with the story of the tortoise and the hare. For all my excitement and somewhat flashy personality, I'm much like the turtle. I'm slower than it appears. I'm also too afraid to venture off and do my own thing because I would wind up like the hare, losing the race.

I just recently started combining training plans for the Sprint Tri and the Half Marathon, with some overlap on the run schedules but increasing the amount of miles. Right now in that combination I just have to make sure, for the next several weeks, to build the base first 5 x a week running 3,4 and 5 mile combinations for the Half Marathon. According to the plan, I'll be increasing miles in a few weeks so that I can finally run the half distance. I can hardly believe it!

So back to the tortoise and the hare. The good news is that the tortoise always finishes the race. This is symbolic for me not only with training but in life. I'm all about the journey. Honestly, running is my least favorite part of sprint-tri, but something is happening inside. I'm beginning to like it. And at the end of the day, I want to finish the race. There are things in my personal life that I honestly don't like right now and areas of being steadfast and faithful where it would be much easier to do things my own way. I know different people have different goals in training and in life but I realized through this children's fable that I don't mind being slow and steady as long as I finish well. I'm fully alive when I hear the voice of only one echoing in my ears at the end of the day - living for the audience of only one.

If I just take one step at a time, put one foot in front of the other and not worry about the results, it's all going to come together both in life and on race day. I'll stay on the path and make it to the final destination. Happy running to you!

Life callings

Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a colleague of mine. I've known Matt for a long time. I remember when Matt and Christy first got engaged. They feel like family to me. Last year, Matt graduated from Fuller with his Masters in Global Leadership and in his journey to complete a Masters, he read an incredible amount of interesting books on destiny, calling, nations, people groups, Christianity, global religions, leadership, etc. Over this last year it's been interesting to get the nuggets from books he's read.

Yesterday after we finished up on campus, Matt and I had a great talk about future, destiny, life callings in the outside corridor of Elte University. He made a comment and asked a few questions that I've been mulling over all yesterday and this morning. What are you passionate about? What gets you excited in the morning when you wake up and think about your day? What do you "live for"?

As I've been thinking a lot about the future and the direction my life could go, these questions were poignant. If I were to throw all my passions, all my dreams, all my desires into one pot and turn up the heat -- after boiling it down to its essence -- I think you'd find a few major themes. Young people, Nations, Women, and Health Fitness.
And so I guess, when I consider my life right now, I realize that in this very moment I am absolutely living out the dreams in my heart.

Although I think about the future and how things will unfold, I am not fearful and I don't worry. I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't curious. I'm curious to know where I'll be in 5 years, 10 years. I wish that every step were marked out clearly today. My ultimate heart's desire in the midst of these things is that God would be known, loved and recognized for who He is in this generation. He is the most misunderstood one I know. He's judged so harshly for things He has little to do with. No one takes the time to find out who He is, let alone wake up in the morning excited to know Him, passionate about His love, "living for" Him. I guess when i think about life callings and passions, that's where I always want to be no matter what other themes are running through my life....Another blog for another day....

Pilates & Yoga

Honestly, I forget how important it is to stretch and take the time to refuel your body. This morning I spent 20 minutes doing Pilates and wow! I feel like a new woman. I found out that Budapest also has a center for Bikram Yoga which is where you do several yoga moves but it's in a sweat box. Can't wait to try that! In my overactive personality, it's easy to forget that some of these slower, methodical ways of exercising are just as important.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A perfect run.

Although getting to Margaret Island takes a bit longer, it's my absolute favorite place for running and swimming. It's also not bad for biking either. I had the time today to leisurely make my way over to the Danube. Today is a religious holiday and besides meeting with a girl later this afternoon, I really didn't plan anything.

It's actually sort of funny to me that Hungary celebrates Pentecost, which apparently became a religious holiday in Europe to mark the day that Christ's followers were filled with wisdom, strength and power by the Holy Spirit. The holiday has been abolished in many countries more recently, but here in Hungary it remains a day off for people. I'd love to see this memorialized day actually become reality with that kind of wisdom and strength coming to Hungary! God knows this nation -- all nations for that matter, need it.

Today was an incredibly beautiful day with the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky. Taking the tram to the middle of the Margaret Island bridge is always scenic. It's beautiful in every direction and today was no exception! I forgot my camera, so these are not from today but I wanted to post a few pictures because it's the love of my life.

Today was the first time I ran in a tank top and shorts and I was still really warm. I think it's going to be a warm summer here in Budapest if today is any indication! The running path at Margaret Island is awesome! It's padded the entire way around and is about 3.4 miles once around the Island. A lot of people were no doubt enjoying their day off and as I got off the tram on the Island, a flood of people got off with me-- arriving to picnic, swim, sunbathe, run, bike, whatever (even an old lady sunbathing topless). Yep, this is Europe folks. I'm not shocked by much anymore. She won't be cited for indecent exposure either.

My goal was to push a bit harder and run my best 3.4 miles possible. Most of the time I succeed, though I did have to stop and re-tie my shoe on the third mile. I tried to keep an even pace and put more thought into my feet. The first mile came in at 9:16, which was O.K. I picked up the pace a little bit more the second mile and came in at 8:89 (18:05). My third mile was slower and came in at 9:28 (27:33). The final .38 mile was finished in 4 minutes flat. Even though it's not on the chart this week, I'd like to get a few more runs in. I can't wait for the day when I can actually run the Island twice around without stopping, then three times and finally four times for a half marathon! I've got a long way to go but it can be done.

I have to say that today's run was beautiful. With the sun shimmering off the Danube river, people kayaking and canoing, the light scent of river water floating up from the heat and no clouds in the sky. As I started pounding my feet the first mile, my I-pod landed on U2's "Beautiful Day" and I thought, quite appropriate!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to every beautiful mom who reads this blog!! You are beautiful and you're doing a great job! Both my sisters are moms and I know it can be more than a daunting task. Every day you make the decision to love and discipline those little ones, you are making a huge impact on the world. Thanks for raising the next generation of young people :D

While living in Budapest the last 1.5 years, every time I talk with my mom she swears that she has no idea how to use skype; then she apologizes for not contacting me more often and finally she makes a promise that she's going to have my little brother teach her how to use skype so we can talk more frequently. But I don't blame her and I'm not mad. We find other ways to communicate. Techy stuff can be a pain in the boot-tay especially if you don't have a lot of time and you just want to contact your daughter.

This past year I purchased a Vegas area code skype number that rings in Budapest when I'm at my computer. When it's working (still don't understand our global world!) it's great because it's easy for my family. BUT skype to skype is the most incredible option when the connection is strong because it's absolutely free!!

This afternoon, my MOM of all people, contacted me through skype! I almost had a heart attack! I was actually going to call her to wish her a Happy Mother's Day but she beat me to it. She called to say she remembered when I was born, my cute dimples (awe...)and how much she loves me....Oh, wait. I thought I was supposed to be the one to call HER and encourage HER. Typical of her unconventional style, she beat me to it.

I have to say that raising 5 kids must not have been easy. My dad worked so hard to keep food on the table and my mom actually went into daycare to help supplement their income to feed and clothe us. We didn't exactly grow up in the lap of luxury, but I'm thankful for my parents. Both have taught me so much about life. I still want to write a blog about my dad, but I haven't finished it yet. Maybe I'll finish it for Father's Day in June.

Anyways, my mother has an incredible heart for people and animals. She's constantly got someone she's helping. I'm looking at a picture I have framed of my grandmother and mom who are both smiling. Today I realize, I come from a long line of incredibly giving, beautiful women. I couldn't be more grateful.

I know that almost every mother misses their children, especially when they leave the nest. I guess I've been the bird that always flies away. I went to college in the mid-west. All my brothers and sisters went to school or are going to school in Northern Nevada...(I guess we'll see what Jeremy decides). Then I lived in Los Angeles for four years and now I'm living in Budapest. Unfortunately for my mom's sake, I'm still that free bird. Nations, travel, the world is in my heart. I don't think that will ever change and honestly, I don't want it to. Neither will my mom's (and my family's) desire to have me home. Even if I were home though, I doubt it would look "normal." I'm sure I'd have to figure a way to get to the nations. And this is the struggle we face.

My mother is a bit more subtle now with her comments that are often intended to evoke some kind of response that she hopes will get me home.

She used to just say things like "Come home to your motha'. What the hell are you doing in Budapest?"

Not so subtle, right?

Once she said to me, in her Bostonian accent, "You know Jen. I know ya' teachin' kids English but ya' fatha' is always correctin' my English and he says my English isn't that good. Come home to ya' motha' and teach ya' motha' English."

By every creative tactic possible, not so subtle.

Her tactics have now changed. Her most recent way of phrasing things actually does tug on the one string that really does strike a chord with me. My parent's health. Just tonight she said again (and this is not the first time), "Well, you know, ya' fatha' and I aren't getting any younga'. We could die. If ya fatha and I die, we have it all taken care of. You just bring in this little slip of paper and it's all paid fo'. I guess I betta' set aside some money so they could fly ya' home in case of an emergency."

"Mom, you and Dad AREN'T going to die anytime soon." I reassure her.

"Well, one day we will Jen. So don't be mad at us when we do. We all gotta go." She says.

I say, "I know but you're not going to die now. You have too much living still to do. Are you taking care of yourself? What about those dance lessons? Are you walking? You have to stick around long enough to see my kids, mom. So you can't die yet!"

"I'm tryin," she says."I went walking the other day and I'm trying to convince ya' fatha' to start Waltz lessons. I think your fatha's trying to lose weight now." She says to reassure me.

I know they want me home. Every day is precious. I think about my family and especially my parents. Yet I'm always thinking about nations, students, people, and what God is doing around the world too. My heart has been formed this way and I don't think it's going to change anytime soon. I don't want to have regrets for not being around or missing out on their lives but I don't want to have regrets for not doing what's in my heart to do either. Can I have the best of both worlds? If so, sign me up.

Walking out the things that I know I'm supposed to do, atleast in this season of my life is going to require a new measure of wisdom and direction. And I know it's coming. In the meantime, it's an interesting and challenging balancing act and sometimes I feel caught in the middle. I guess that's my cross to bear.

I am a firm believer that as we dream, consider the future, and think about life, it is also important to take one step at a time. All you can do is what is placed before you for the day. All we have to live for is today. So I refuse to look too far ahead and lose sight of living today. Of course that doesn't mean I'm not making plans, asking people for their thoughts and their wisdom and trying to figure out the best option for me in the future. I absolutely believe that God will direct my steps, so I'm not worried about it, but I am interested and looking to see what the future holds and in my mind the best option would be the best of both worlds -- having my family and traveling to the nations too. We shall see! One thing I know is that whatever it looks like, it's going to be good for all of us!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Weekend musings....

My body was just feelin' crappy this morning and I really don't need to do any more workouts this week, so I stayed under covers and I'm calling today a rest day. I may try and get a run in tomorrow though as I want to increase my running to prepare for upcoming races....

Last night I had a great conversation with my sister. I'm so proud of her and my (almost 10 year old!!) niece for completing the 1/2 marathon walk. Way to go guys!!
I got the update on all the kids, home improvement projects, and life in general in earthquake ridden Nevada. Small earthquakes affecting half of the city but nothing too dangerous, from what I hear. So strange. :D

I also had a great conversation with my good friend Lara who recently moved to Lithuania. It looks like she's going to come and stay with me for a few months! I couldn't be more thrilled. She's finishing her book and as her visa challenges are still getting worked out, it may work for her to come here. I'm SOO excited for that and hoping it happens!
Although it's Saturday, I'm off to all day meetings today at Jeff and Ana's house. Yes, I've actually been excited about extra meetings. (Did I just SAY that???) Our guest who is with us is awesome! As an older man in his 70's he's walked through the challenges of life and has so much to impart. John has started Christian works in Australia and Malaysia and traveled the world while being married and raising 5 boys. Awesome! It can be done and I want to follow in his footsteps!!

Today we actually have a time when words of encouragement and wisdom will be given for each one of us as staff members. There's a lot of transition on our team at the moment -- Nori's getting married to Peter the end of the month, Andre and Melanie are heading back to Sacramento the end of the month, Matt and Christy will no doubt start a work in France by next year --- and the rest of us are all in a holding pattern. What does the future hold? Only God knows and He often chooses to use the spiritual gift of words of wisdom and encouragement/knowledge through people like our guest, John, today. I'm excited about that!
After staff meeting, Nori and I are going to a flower shop near my house to see if they have the flowers she needs for her wedding. It would be very convenient and easy for us if this flower shop has what she wants. To be able to have a flower shop so close the morning of the wedding would be really nice since everyone will be staying at my house the night before.
Tonight I've been invited to Csaba and Aniko's house for dinner. Can't wait to see their flat, meet their black cocker spaniel "strawberry", a dog with a bright red tongue, and just hang out with my Hungarian friends. They don't mind that I'm a Christian and we've had some great conversations.

Got to go catch the tram and the bus to get out to the countryside of Budapest.

Have a great weekend all....

KFC cheerleaders? Get out of town!!

OK, this is over the top. Tonight while getting off the 4/6 tram to walk over to my bus stop, I once again found a strange KFC occurrence. Will I ever get that twister?

KFC cheerleaders doing a little jiggy to Beyonce's "Beautiful Liar". I DO NOT make these things up!!! What else will the KFC in Budapest come up with next?

Fearful that I might meet big burly man at the door (read my blog on KFC a few posts ago), I avoided approaching the entrance. I would have had to get through the red and white girlies and that wasn't happening. Needless to say, no twister tonight.

Chris and Renea and baby Samantha are practically my best friends in Budapest :D. Can you tell I took my camera along for the day? Tomorrow I'll try to get a few shots as we take the bus across the Danube. Anyways, I work with them on the high school campuses and Chris is a total blast! Not to mention pretty cool to let me use his bike more than he has at this point!! Love the Gills. They rock!

Last few workouts of the week....

Looking on the training plan this morning, my final workout for the week was a 30 minute run. I was wide awake by 5 am so I headed out the door by 6 am and decided to engage the city and try to get to the Danube. I ended up running a total of 4.14 mile to the Danube river near Parlaiment and back. Because it was through the city, I stopped to take a few pictures. My time was really slow, completing it in 44:57 minutes. With two months to race day, I think I can add a few run workouts during the week if and when I get the nerve. I think this will help me prepare for the 1/2 in September. I'm just curious how much mileage to add each week. Right now my longest run is a piddly 4 miles. So, should I add a mile each week as my long run or just maintain 4 miles for a few weeks?

As to Wednesday and Thursday's workouts of this past week, they were as follows.....
Wed - swim 45 minutes
Thurs - bike 45 minutes

I'm getting more and more comfortable swimming longer distances in the water. That's great news for me as I remember the day when I could barely stay in the pool for a few minutes. I used flippers for half of the workouts and actually felt the affect in my ankles when I was running today. Is that supposed to happen?

Thursday morning I rode the bike for 45 minutes. There were a few guys doing laps with me in the park and they both sported the look as if they are training for a race -- race shirts, serious clip pedals, etc..... Unfortunately, Chris' bike is a mountain bike and it was making some strange noises on the chain. I'm going to take it to the bike shop and get it fixed. I need to get that bike back to Chris and get my own sometime in this lifetime!! Can you believe I still haven't purchased my own bike? I'm hesitating because it's a big investment. And there are a lot of future factors I'm considering.

I started thinking about race day. I have no idea what kind of bike I'll be on in London. Andrew is connecting me with someone in London who is going to let me borrow their bike.... I trust Andrew and his connections. I'm planning to get in a day early so I can see Andrew and Berna and try the bike out prior to race day. Here are my bike "splits"? Is that what you call them? Basically, I rode 9.28 miles in 45 minutes.
Lap 1 - 4:46
Lap 2 - 9:32
Lap 3- 14:15
Lap 4 - 19:34
Lap 5 - 24:30
Lap 6 - 29:07
Lap 7 - 34:04
Lap 8 - 38:59
Lap 9 - 43:47
Lap 10 - 45:06(only .28 miles)

As I've mentioned in the past few blogs, my eating has been outrageous. So, I decided to start tracking my food and I'm realizing why maybe I'm not feeling the best about it. Lots of breads, pastas, etc but much more than I'm used to and I think I need to be sure I'm getting more protien. Not to mention the overload on chocolate and a nice glass of wine in the evenings. I'm sure that doesn't help. Now that I realize what I'm doing I can hopefully tailor my eating habits and try to get back on track.

Here's a little fruit and veggie market at the end of my street that I ran by today. :D I'm going to try and run tomorrow morning too. We'll see how I do on that. Fun times in Budapest.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

American cuisine

Far from enjoying delicious American cuisine, I still held a sense of unexpected jubilation when our eyes met in the store. Could it be?

"Smack" -- Hungary's equivalent to Top Ramen. Never mind the picture this was Top Ramen, baby!! First time EVER finding it here in Hungary. As kids, our family grew up on Top Ramen as the poor peoples version of pasta. That flavorful little packet does so much! :D Anyways, I learned that it's good with shredded cheese melted on top. Ad if there's not much else to eat or if you're living in another country and familiar foods are thoroughly enjoyed, you appreciate things.....even as simple as Ramen noodles.

Now when I'm really missing home or in the mood for comfort food in Budapest, there are two American fast food chains conveniently located near my bus stop. Directly across from one another, Pizza Hut and KFC are dangerously good and very convenient. I rarely eat either in the states, but since I've been here in Budapest....well, yeah.

For the past few months KFC has been under remodel and closed to the public. After a nice makeover from an early 90's decor to a more trendy look, I recently made a mental note that KFC re-opened.

But a very funny thing happened the other night! As I was coming home from an English conversation club, I realized my hunger pains as I neared the bus stop. I figured it was the best time to get that delicious twister. I started to walk towards the front entrance of KFC where a beautiful red and white arch of balloons cascaded over the entry door in all it's well-lit glory. I assumed they were celebrating the re-opening of KFC and I thought to myself, "God bless America" as I could taste the twister in my mouth.

As I came closer to the entrance, I noticed a table just inside with glasses of champagne poured and lots of people mingling. It looked so.....classy. I thought....Wow! Customer service at its finest in a KFC, no doubt. In this part of the world, I've seen stranger things. It's an interesting mix, but I'll go for it. Free champagne and a twister.

This is where perception is NOT necessarily reality.

As I approached the front door I failed to see the burly Hungarian body guard keeping watch over the entrance and giving the eye to all who passed by. As I came within a foot of the door, he looked at me sternly and said,
"Zarva van" as he stood in front of the entrance. (Which means "It's closed.")

"Zarva van?" I said disappointed, "Bistos?" (are you sure?).

"Zarva van" he said again.

No questions asked because they won't get answered. Just "Zarva van".

OK, I guess I won't be eating a twister tonight! As I joined the other bystanders whom I noticed were also looking into the windows as if to wonder why it's not closed to these people inside, I had a brief moment of understanding what it might even slightly be like to live in communist times when you stood in line for food rations.

I guess I'll never quite know why I didn't get that twister. As a select few were wining and dining on American cuisine and champagne inside KFC, I thought to myself, this is just really strange. :D Strange place for a reception, office party or whatever they were doing in there! But the nicely remodeled atmosphere doesn't look half bad and I'll get that twister soon, I'm sure.

With this ravenous appetite it will be sooner than later!!
Did you know how KFC got started? Here's the details.

Take a trip down KFC's memory lane
1890 Colonel Harland Sanders is born just outside Henryville, Indiana
1900 – 1924 The Colonel holds a series of job as a farm hand, streetcar conductor, army private in Cuba, blacksmith helper, rail yard fireman, salesman and service station operator for Standard Oil.
1930 The Colonel starts serving meals to travelers in a small room of a gas station in Corbin.
1937 The Colonel bought over a motel and café, which caters enough for 142 people.
1939 The Sanders Court & Café is first listed in Duncan Hines' "Adventures in Good Eating". The pressure cooker is introduced. It enables the Colonel to fry his chicken within a shorter time.
1940 The Colonel perfects the Original Recipe of the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.
1952 - 1955 An interstate highway is built to bypass Corbin. The Colonel sells off his restaurant and goes on the road to seek new franchisees. Pete Harman in Salt Lake City becomes the first KFC franchisee.
1957 KFC is first sold in buckets.
1960 KFC has more than 600 franchise outlets in the United States, Canada and the first overseas outlet in England.
1964 The Colonel sells his interest in the U.S. company to a group of investors headed by John Y. Brown Jr. and Jack Massey for $2 million.
1966 KFC goes public.
1971 Heublein Inc acquires KFC.
1980 The Colonel dies from leukemia.
1982 KFC becomes a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds Industries Inc. as Heublein Inc. is acquired by RJR Nabisco, Inc.
1986 KFC becomes a subsidiary of PepsiCo, Inc. for $840 million.
1997 PepsiCo, Inc. announces the spin-off of its quick service restaurants - KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut - into Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc.
2002 Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc., the world's largest restaurant company, changes its corporate name to YUM! Brands, Inc. In addition to KFC, the company owns A&W® All-American Food® Restaurants, Long John Silvers®, Pizza Hut® and Taco Bell® restaurants.
2006 More than a billion of the Colonel's "finger lickin' good" chicken are served annually in more than 80 countries and territories around the world.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

60 some days....

This morning I got up and it hit me. I got a little nervous as I thought about only 60 some days before race day when I'll complete my first ever sprint-tri. I'm sure it won't be my last. I can tell already I'm going to want to perfect and improve and make this a part of the life-long journey.

As I set out this morning for a 3 mile run, I got half way into it when I realized that this might be fun too. That's important to me. I realized that Andrew, Berna, Javed and maybe Brittany will be there in London and I'm going to make some great memories.

I finished the run and went back to the flat long enough to go to the bathroom, grab Chris' bike, and head back to the park for a 30 minute bike ride. Yep. I did a brick workout today.All in all, it felt great. My hip is bothering me a bit, but I stocked up on MSM and hopefully the pain will leave post haste.

But something has been bothering me recently. My appetite is out of control and I haven't figured out how to not eat everything in sight. It's driving me crazy! Part of it may be training, but honestly, I think the other part is something I walked through about a year ago called "emotional eating." Yep. That's right folks - going to food for comfort. I learned a lot about this a year ago actually felt like with that insight I had some personal breakthroughs and was able to divert my appetite and see things change. I need to get back to that place. Not sure where to begin. Maybe by pulling out my old notes....that might be a good start.

Nori's Shower...

Nori's bridal shower was a blast. I think I've become a pro at throwing parties and getting lots of people together. I love doing it, that's for sure and I think it will be a part of my life forever. I'm a gatherer....I love to connect people, gather people together and see what happens. It's a lot of fun for me as I think I'm uber-social.

Nori was so incredibly thankful and encouraged by all the gifts people got her. She was so surprised that people actually got everything on her Ikea list. Someone made the comment that her list wasn't long enough. She was shocked! She thought for sure she was being greedy. I explained to her that in the states, people like to know what to shop for and they like options -- thus, the comment of not having a long enough list.

Anyhow.....Luca, Anna and Flora had a really good time and enjoyed learning about this American tradition too. Hungarians just don't throw bridal showers for their brides but all of them agreed that it's a great idea! Of course it is. Lots of love and gifts and prayers and words of encouragement. Who doesn't want that before diving into the unknown of marriage. In Nori's words, the Hungarian tradition is just get really drunk at a bachelorette party and that's it. Sounds boring to me! It's much more exciting to be with friends who are going to speak life over you and your future and enjoy the moment---and get lots of gifts while you're at it :D.

Well, we're going to have a bachelorette party for Nori at my flat the night before the wedding. Everyone will sleep here but it's not our style to get smashed. Although we will probably share a bottle of wine, watch girly movies, talk, whatever Nori wants to do, it's so much more about the excitement of their future. My brother's girlfriend will also be here visiting from Reno so it should be an interesting experience for her too.

Until the next party at this flat (which I think will be a girls movie night coming up after finals end in May)'s to sharing traditions :D

Monday, May 5, 2008

Intellectual Devotional & training today

For whatever reason, I've been bored with the music I listen to while training and decided to go back to the Intellectual Devotional for awhile. I'm the worst when it comes to remembering details so I find this audiobook helps keep me sharp. Today I was listening to a very sad and disappointing part of our American history -- specifically the time when Jim Crow laws were enacted and the South fully embraced discrimination against blacks. One thing I found interesting was that prior to Jim Crow laws, baseball teams were mixed. Once Jim Crow laws were passed -- even baseball, the American past-time, was segregated. It wasn't until Jackie Robinson took the world by storm that baseball became colorful again.

I absolutely love the United States and honestly, now that I've lived somewhere outside of the US, I'm even more thankful for many of the incredible liberties and opportunities that exist in my native homeland. Of course that doesn't make us a perfect nation nor does it erase the dark marks on our nations history. I know we aren't nearly as prejudice as we once were 100 years ago, but it still exists and to me -- that's just disappointing.

A few weeks ago when I was talking at Alexandra bookstore about pop-culture, self-image and identity in God, I brought up an experience I had in college. I think I've shared about Susan in the past but basically she became a friend of mine during my second year. When I first saw Susan on campus I was honestly scared and repulsed. She was a quadriplegic and could only use a few of her fingers to direct her motorized wheelchair on campus. She had a hard time keeping her head up and when she talked, her words were often loud and slurred. I was embarrassed for her sometimes. But as we became friends one day after meeting up at the elevator, I began to see her life as something of incredible value when at first glance I was honestly nauseated by the thought of going deeper than surface.

Susan was a quadriplegic but she didn't let that hinder her ability to make the most of life. She was full of confidence and joy and even when it was obviously hard to be in her situation, she had seen herself in the eyes of God and was not moved by other people's opinions. I can't tell you how much I learned from her. Yet, initially I categorized her and was afraid to engage. Oftentimes, awareness brings the ability to change and I guess I just pray that despite our differences around the world that we could see the beauty in others and not reject them based on first opinions and perceptions. Everyone has a story. Are we willing to listen to it?

OK, now that I'm off my soap box inspired by the Intellectual Devotional, I want to say.....Thanks for letting me ramble. I love having food for thought and discussing things like this. Now onto training....
My training in the pool today was incredible! I was impressed with myself and encouraged. I had a 55 minute swim to make up from last week and fortunately, I did it with much more ease than I anticipated. The lanes were clear and wide open for training! I brought my hand and feet accessories and I inducted them at Margaret Island pool. :D I think I got the hang of using the flippers. Isn't it to do controlled foot movement? I need to watch some swimming instruction videos or something on that one. I'm curious.
Here's what I did for swimming.
4 x 100 free style for warm up
4 x 50 stroke and I used hand paddles (felt the resistance!)
2 x 50 stroke without paddles
1 x 50 free style
1 x 200 stroke with flippers (felt the resistance)
2 x 50 stroke without flippers
4 x 50 stroke with flippers
2 x 50 stroke without flippers
1 x 200 free style
(I spent the last 5 minutes back stroke and slow swimming. I forgot to count laps. I also lost an earplug halfway through training which would normally have tweaked me. I'm kind of a wuss about getting water in my ears, but that open water swim helped me get over a lot of fears and uncomfortableness. For that, I'm thankful!

If the race day swim goes as well as training today, I'd have to say the swim part of the tri is going to be a breeze. We shall see....As for the 25 minute run scheduled today, if the rain doesn't stop I don't know if I'm going to make it out there. I may have to get up early tomorrow and get it done.
I'm excited about some additional staff meetings scheduled this week with a guest from the States. John has been a pastor, a basketball coach and many other things in his lifetime. He's in his 70's and is coming to provide some special training and encouragement to our staff. I'm looking forward to this time together later this week. In the meantime, I'm trying to re-arrange Thurs/Friday and fit it into the beginning of the week so I can attend these extra meetings.. We'll see if I can do it! I think I can.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I learned Turkish today & other random things

My training week officially begins on Mondays and ends on Sundays. I had a 50 minute bike ride and a 55 minute swim still left on my workout chart. Unfortunately, when I ran with Luca on Friday, which was not in the plan, I sacrificed that time and sort of stacked myself up for today. Oops! I'll have to plan that better.

This morning I got myself out of bed and traveled across the street to the park where I did a 50 minute ride. I was planning to get in 55 minutes of pool time after our gathering today but many things happened. First, the weather went bad and it's beginning to rain. Second, we went for lunch and I'm tired! So, new plan. I'll tag that 55 minute swim workout for early tomorrow, along with the scheduled 25 minute run.
One of the guys brought a Turkish friend of his to our Sunday gathering today. I was impressed at how brave she is for living and studying in Hungary given her circumstances. Turkish is her first language. Then she learned a little English but she doesn't speak it fluently. She is studying in a Hungarian program for six months, which they translate into English. What a brave girl! And I thought school was hard?! Wow. Anyways, I asked her how to say:
"My name is Jen" in Turkish.
It sounds like this:...
"Adaom Jen."
At lunch we were laughing because what if your name is Adam....
You would say....
"Adaom Adam." :D

Languages, nations, and the world. What a fascinating thought! And what I find absolutely alluring is God knows and fully understands every language and nation.
And because He does, I want to too.

I don't remember where I heard it or in what context but there's a saying out there that goes something like this...

"The world is an open book and most of us have only ventured to read the first page."

Thank you mom for yet another one of your classic lines. She is notorious for coming up with some of the funniest things. And usually not on purpose. So that's what makes it even better. My sisters and I have plotted and talked about how we could write a best-selling book based on mom's sayings. This one is a little less hilarious, but I definitely got a laugh tonight while reading her email.

She said that my soon to be 16 year old brother just got a hair cut and none of his friends like it.
In my mom's words:
"They are saying it is ELMO? What ever that means. I thought he looked great and handsome. I was glad to see him get such a clean looking hair cut. Oh well! It grows. I'm just glad to see it's out of his eyes so much."

Elmo is that red fuzzy creature who sings that obnoxious song "Elmos world". EMO is a term that I believe comes from the word "emote" which means to portray emotion in a theatrical manner. It's one of those terms from this past decade to categorize high school students -- a skater, a punk, a pothead. Now you can also be "emo."

Mom was close! Apparently, my lil' brother's new cut is kickin' it "emo style."

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sunflowers & Swim Training

At Ikea today while shopping for Nori's bridal shower gifts, I stopped in the flower section. I'm looking for flowers around my house. I'm not exactly what you'd call a green thumb, but flowers sure are beautiful! My neighbors hang flowers outside their door and it really makes me happy when I come walking home and look around at their potted flowers. So, I think I'm going to join them. But first I'll start with some inside flowers.

I found a sunflower that will go with the bright yellows and turquoise I put in my bathroom. This sunflower put a smile on my face! He needed a home and for $3 I could afford to give him one. :D Sunflowers have always been my sisters favorite. I remember when their neighbor in Carson City used to grow ginormous sunflowers. They truly are beautiful.
I must be what people call ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Every time I have something going on at my house (like Nori's shower), my place is an absolute mess -- as is the case today. I have about three projects going on at once.

Re-stain the coffee table (which I hope dries by tomorrow afternoon), sweep and mop

Hang picture frames for prints on a bare wall

Unwrap new pillow cases from Ikea and admire the futon couch with my new, beautiful orange pillow cases - I promise they aren't that orange in real life!

I seem to always "kick it into high gear," getting a lot of things done all at once right before a big moment -- which causes a crazy mess for a few hours, but then I "whip clean." That's the term my mom coined for cleaning up your huge mess in a few minutes -- or in my case, hours. :P

There's a method to this madness. Start with the rooms that most people will be in first (livingroom and bathroom) and make sure it looks great. Throw everything into the other room (which happens to be my bedroom and kitchen) and sort through those things next.

Finally, your house will look fan-tabulous.

I got an email today that on May 18th there's an Open Water Swim seminar at Eton's Dorney Lake in London and top tri coach Bill Black will be giving open water swimming techniques and how to handle the mass start. Unfortunately, there's no way I'm going to be able to go to this. So my swimming tri friends, what advice would you give a novice? Will you be my Bill Black? (Not to be confused with film star Jack Black).

New moments

"The Message Remix" Bible is one of my favorite parallel Bibles for the way it reads. It's not a literal translation, but it perfectly describes my desire and the pursuit to find myself "belonging to Christ."
This is from Galatians 5
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about, it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good – crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts but work out its implications in every detail of life. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

I'm working out its implications. I find myself thankful for each new moment, every breath and every step of life.

Beautiful Day....

It's a beautiful day in Budapest. The sun is out and the clouds are gone. This morning, I met Luca and her friend Anna at Margaret Island for a run. Our running time wasn't the best but the important thing for Luca was that she finished running the entire island without having to stop and walk. Her friend Anna got ahead of us at first and later lagged behind, finishing after us. We ran 3.36 miles in 33:16. Obviously not the fastest pace, but it was steady. Although this run was not included in my training plan, I'm always glad to run with other people. I also had a leisurely bike ride over to the island, which ended up being a total of 38:52 minutes round-trip and a distance of 5.42 miles. It was a city ride, so I was dodging people where the bike paths aren't clear. I'm lovin' this Garmin watch for tracking though!

Luca is moving to London for six months. She's really excited about it - and I am too, but part of me is sad. She will be a nanny, much like what Nori did last Fall for six months. While she's there, she's enrolled in an English language course, so she's really happy about that. I'm happy for her too and this opportunity she has to expand herself -- her life, her experience and her use of the English language. She was excited that I know people who live in London and can connect her with students and staff in the Every Nation London church. I'm praying for great things ahead for Luca. :D

Yesterday and today were public holidays in Hungary so the city is bustling to a family friendly, leisurely atmosphere. And the sun is out(cooperating quite nicely, I must say), so everyone just looks chipper. :D Now that sounded British!! The city park was absolutely packed yesterday but I loved seeing families together. There was a carnival in town. (I hate carnivals -- they just remind me of dirty, slimy, gross Mills Park experiences in the states) but somehow, it was nice to see families getting a balloon or riding the rides as I strolled through the park. I hope this weather keeps up for the weekend!

Nori's Bridal Shower will be at my flat tomorrow and I'm excited about that. I'm off to Ikea to get Nori's gift and then do some shopping for the party. This is the first of many celebrations for her and Peter. Anyways, she likes banana bread, so I'm making her a banana bread cake....I think everyone is at home today for the holiday, so hopefully I wont have to fight the crowds.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Office Craze

REALLY QUICK WORKOUT UPDATE: Today a 25 minute run was scheduled on the training plan. Again I was focusing on speed and distance. I finished my first mile in 8:48; The rest of my time came to 2.6 miles. Not sure how I can track mile by mile on my Garmin but once I figure it out I'll be sure to post. Come race day, I think at this point I would be really satisfied on the 5 k if I finish each mile at around 9:30 to be safe and 9 to be really stellar. Am I aiming too high on my first tri? It is the last leg of the race and I may be toast by then. Who knows! Just curious how it's all going to work together.

I'm sort of a non-conformist especially when it comes to the craze of TV programs. "The Office" has swept the world and it seems there's a global epidemic of seismic proportions when it comes to "The Office" quotes, innuendos and the like. I've only watched a few episodes with Chris and his wife because they are such enthusiasts. I'll admit it was funny, in its own sort of way. It takes me awhile to warm up to things like that. It's probably more the fact that I don't have time to sit around and watch a lot of TV, so when I do, I want to make it count! (OK, press pause on this thought for just one moment, please.)
Last night Matt, Bruce, Chris and I went to the Ujpest high school graduation to congratulate and support many of the students I taught almost two years ago now.

We have our best high school English club here. I really love the students at this school. They're bright, open and just really fun to be around. I was able to get a few pictures before the chaos began. They looked so sharp!! I was so proud of all of them :D

Anyways, we started in the courtyard for their ceremony and atleast the students had a chance to let go of their balloons as a symbol of their lives being wide open now as they enter the world.

But about an hour into the ceremony it started to rain and over 500 people were forced through a very tiny door to get out of the building. Talk about a fire hazard. If there would have been a fire, people would have died for sure! Here's a few snaps of Matt, Bruce and I surviving the crowds. And then Chris being crazy! What a moment. We all got drenched and when that happens, my hair goes crazy too.

Anyways, because we ended unexpectedly early, we met up with Addison and Joci who were just finishing the University English club. We decided to go out to eat and that's where it all began.

Office jokes. Office quotes. And then the question. "Which Office character are you?" They started guessing and laughing and I don't even know enough about the characters to really get in on the conversation. So I just listened. I love to study people and studying my co-workers is the best! We have a unique and fun group of people here in Budapest. For that entertainment I'm thankful.

Well, the results are in and according to a test I took, I am Jim on the office. Here's his description which I find humorous.
"You're the office prankster. Smart, kind, and funny, everyone loves you, even the psychotic woodsman seated to your left, (though he would never tell you as much). Also, it may take you until Season 3, but you will always get the object of your affection."
In my opinion, I think the majority of people probably relate to Jim and if they were to take the test, would probably be his character too. He just seems normal. Work dynamics are always interesting and maybe that's the point of the Office. I have to say that honestly we have a great team here in Budapest.

I'm often reminded of that verse in the Bible that talks about how just as iron sharpens iron, so does a friend sharpen another friend. When it comes to being with and around people in any kind of relationship, let alone working with people, it is a humbling thing. There's constantly the tension of laying down your own agenda to be open to others versus making your point known and being "heard." There's always going to be that sharpening if you look for it but it can be a positive thing. It should be actually. If you fight it, then you have problems.

Maybe this summer I'll finally borrow the Office from Chris and stop being a non-conformist here.