Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chevron Houston Marathon 2017 Training Week 5

Running is an instrument of learning. What most people see are sweaty, yet happy people training in the summer heat. What they do not see are the many life lessons we carry on the inside. 
This week, for my "Once upon a Run" feature, I want to introduce you to Christine Soliman. I met Christine at a playground where our kids went to Preschool. I didn't see her for a while, then I recognized her at my running group a few years ago. I remember that at the time she wasn't sure if she was going for the full or the half marathon at Houston. She finished her first Chevron Houston Marathon in January and she is back for more!
Christine always enjoyed running but she got back to it after losing her daughter Gabriella in 2013. 
"Losing Gabriella taught me that nothing is guaranteed for tomorrow. In a split of a second everything can change," she said. "I've always wanted to run a marathon but was always waiting for the "right" time. I decided I can't keep waiting, if I was ever going to see that dream to fruition I had to start. I run to honor Gabriella and her fight against cancer and to take care of the body God gave me." 

I asked Christine what was her favorite Houston miles and she said her favorite was mile 8. 
"I love that stretch after the full and half marathons split. You run through that long stretch with the trees. There was actually not a lot of people there. It was very peaceful and I was still feeling good. I wasn't struggling so it was  just a great place to stop and think 'hey, I'm actually doing this!'" 

Her second favorite mile is mile 23 where the Fort Bend Fit tent was and Lajuan (FBF Member) spotted her and ran up the hill with her. "It gave me confidence to push through and finish," she said. 

Christine also enjoyed running through a neighborhood where all the residents were cheering and offered the runners m&ms, orange slices and other goodies. "I thought it was so thoughtful, I was touched that they not only came out to cheer but brought us snacks!" Christine said.

Running is an outlet for Christine as well as a place to connect with God through prayer and worship. Christine is a married mother of little ones so I asked her if she would give words of encouragement to moms who want to start running. Here's what she said: 
"As moms we don't give ourselves enough credit for what we can do. We always tell ourselves 'I can't do that, my schedule is too busy.' But the reality is you can and you will and you will when you start telling yourself you can. It's just getting out there in small steps. You don't have to go for the full marathon when you first start. Go for the 5k or the 10k and slowly build up. We're strong, women are strong!"

I am thankful for Christine's life and for who she is. Every time I see her, I am encouraged to keep running and keep doing my best in all areas of my life. Do join me in praying that God will continue to bless Christine as she takes care of her family and pursues her goals. I can't wait to see her with her medal at the finish line of the Chevron Houston Marathon in January! 

My Training
On a personal note, Saturday our running group completed a 6-mile run. I decided not to do any extra mileage this year and stick with my "new year, new runner" plan I set for myself. I also took time to program intervals in my watch. I held back the speed in the beginning and ran smart. As I followed my plan, I cut 30 seconds of my average mileage! Not bad for a summer run! I'm so thankful. I got my first "confession" for January. Last Saturday I kept telling myself "I'm content with who I am, where I am." This message has been of great encouragement lately and I will stick with contentment as I continue in this journey! Thanks for reading friends!

Previously in this Series:
• Week 1
• Week 2

• Week 3
Week 4

Read the stories of my previous Marathons in Houston:
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2014
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2015
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2016 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Own your Life

"Own your life!" the podcaster told me while I was standing in a kitchen full of dirty dishes. It makes sense. I can't change everything about me and I dislike the feeling of dissatisfaction. 
I agree that comparison is the chief thief of joy but I still do it. I am planning on doing less of it tough. When I quit comparing, I'm left with all I have. I have real love, health and friendships. If I didn't have anything else, this would be plenty. 
Owning my life means that I can tackle those dirty dishes. They'll get dirty again but I can own it. Life right now looks like this: a mother and her little ones, enjoying life for what it is. 
Owning my life means that I can run with the body I have. This exact same body, the one that took me through 4 marathon finish lines, one half marathon and countless other races, will take me through other finish lines successfully. It doesn't matter what others think, what matters is that I own my body and I am completely content with who I am, where I am. 
Owning my life means that I can rely on God for comfort when unanswered prayer requests cloud my mind. I have a pretty good idea on how He could answer every prayer I pray. Still, I have a pretty good idea that God is sovereign and He is also good. I can rely on Him to offer me comfort when answers don't come as I'd like. I can be assured that if answers don't come at all, it's for my good. 
I find that I can breath easier as I do this "own your life" thing. It sure is more peaceful than living under the pressure of dissatisfaction. 
The day the podcaster told me to own my life, I was trying to get out of the door but I had to feed my kids first. I decided that my "owned" life included muffins, so I baked. I looked at my flowers and I smelled my scented candle. If I'm going to own my life, it's going to be on my own terms. My terms include flowers, candles, muffins and plenty love to go around my house. I pilled more dirty dishes on the sink and walked out.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What happens when Friendships die?

Well, someone writes the obituary. I'll jot a few things to help you get the idea. 

"Friendship "Friendy" Lost" - Sunrise, March 4, 1994 - Sunset, November 17, 1997. Resident of the heart. "Friendy" was born near the neighborhood park. She grew up surrounded by friends and enjoyed sunny afternoons drinking iced tea in the porch. Friendy enjoyed long conversations, taking silly selfies and trips to the mall. There will be no memorial service. In lieu of flowers, contributions to my understanding of why Friendy died is very much appreciated.

It is difficult to understand why friendships die but I'll attempt to explain just why. The friendships made for movies last. Thelma and Louise. Forrest Gump and Bubba. The cast of Steel Magnolias. In real life tough, some friendships die. Some die of natural causes, others, we will never understand. The pain of a friendship loss is real and lasting. Closure is nearly impossible to get. What happens when friendships die?

They need to be buried. In the digital age, it's hard to do. When you think you're over it, Facebook memories remind you of what it used to be. "People you may know" brings back that familiar face that is gone for good. Some way, the friendship gets buried in the everyday flow of life. 

What happened when "Friendy" died was a void. That void was accompanied by a pain that still hurts to remember. I thought Friendy would thrive. I did all I could, I was a good friend after all! Now that I look back, Friendy did what her last name suggested: she got lost. 

She got lost in her own interests - where I was non-essential. She got lost in the new phase of her life - which I respect as I wasn't included. She just moved on without non-essential me. I hear that not every "Friendy" out there graciously leave. I heard that sometimes they scream "GET LOST!" and you leave with your head down in complete disbelief. I heard that sometimes, she becomes violent, crazy, intolerant or just plain mean. In those cases, we volunteer to get lost, but it still hurts. How can a friendship so promising turn out to be toxic? 

What happens when a friendship dies? We have to grieve and walk away. I say grieve because it's part of human nature. If people keep telling you to "get over it, she was a witch anyway," find someone like me who cares about your story. That pain inside comes out through healing tears. They need to be outed in a healthy way. 

When the grieving period is complete, we are ready to see that there's life after the death of a friendship. Friendy may be gone but I'm not. I'm still a good friend. I'm still generous, fun and kind. I'm a good friend and I believe there are good friends out there waiting for me.

I can't let the death of a friendship paralyze me or inhibit me. I will find friendship again. 

When friendships die, we sometimes compare every friend material that walks into our lives to Friendy. I'm begging you, don't fall on that trap. Face new people with all the goodness that's inside of you, hold nothing back. What if that friend material proves worse? Give all your goodness, anyway. When you give what's best inside, you do exactly what God made you to do on earth. Remember that He didn't make friendship to be given for selfish reasons but He invented friendships to be generous agencies of sisterly love. What if the friend material proves to be better than you dreamed of? We will just have to find out right? New friendships are all about that delicious road of discovery. Don't let the hurt of the past determine what you will do today. Be healed from that hurt and give all the goodness stored inside of your generous heart. 

When friendships die, they somehow prepare the soil of your heart to receive God's best. He saw what happened cause He was right there beside you. I bet He cried too. That awful experience served as fertilizer. I know it stinks but beautiful fruit will come out of it. That's my daily hope anyway. 

God specializes in transformations. He can transform your broken heart into a whole heart again. Allow Him to be part of that healing process. Allow some of His children to hear your stories, cry with you and walk with you to a new place to love again and dream again and feel what real friendship should be like, all over again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

5 years of Houston: stuff I can say

We are celebrating 5 years of Houston! God has been so good to us. As I look back I can see His faithfulness and His purpose guiding us through this journey. The reason why we moved here is because of my husband's job as a Worship Pastor. We have found that God has given us a loving church and we are so thankful daily for being planted there. My roots keep growing deeper and of course, I am learning more life lessons as the years roll in. 

I have known for a while that as a Worship Pastor's Wife, there's a lot of stuff I can't say. It is not the confidentiality type of stuff or the 'I'm mad about this stuff' kind of comments. I can't say a lot of things I observe and I know I might be able to say them in the future. I call these things I can't say, life lessons in the making. When I consider these things I can't say, I realize there are way more things I can say. Here are 5 things (because we've been here for 5 years. Ha!) I can say:

1 • I see you and you matter - a lot of people go to church to hide. God has taught me to see people from the inside out. I don't try to "out" them in any way, but I do feel that God's message in my mouth for them is "I see you and you matter." I don't have to do anything other than to be God's mouthpiece. I am not called to be their savior because Jesus does a great job at that. I'm not Holy Spirit junior in this person's life either. I am called to be obedient and do that Jesus would do. He noticed people and He cared for everyone. If he saw someone trying to hide, I bet He'd say "I see you and you matter." 

2 • I love you for who you are - Jesus' love is so amazing. I have learned that being part of a multi ethnic church is a blessing. The differences abound and they are wonderful. God meant to make us different so our family has had the joy of telling people 'I love you for who you are." Because of who Jesus is, I can love people for who they are, where they are. Loving my neighbor is not easy but it is possible as my mind is focused on Jesus Himself and His great sacrifice. 

3 • I honor you from the depths of my soul - Different cultures have outward ways of expressing honor. Because I am Brazilian, I am not familiar with those different traditions. I am familiar with the word of God and with the lessons my ancestors taught me about honoring others. I have learned to be sure I honor others from the depths of my soul, instead of by an outward sign. Honoring from the depths of my soul means that my heart is correct towards that person. It means I recognize God's gift in that person. It also means that no matter what age, I gladly receive the anointing God has given that person. I honor you from the depths of my soul because that's the best way I know how to honor you. I think it's priceless and it's Godly. 

4 • I will pray for you because I have no answers - there are many things we hear in ministry for which we have no answers. I have learned to say, "I have no answers but I know someone who does." I'm not famous (and I hope I will never be) for being a genie with ready answers and solutions for the world's greatest problems. I do want to be faithful to my God as I interceed for others. I may not have answers but I do have access to the One who does. 

5 • I will walk with you in this Christian journey - Sunday is the easiest day of the week to be a Christian. We all get dressed up, the music is jumping, the message is like fire... then Monday rolls around and we get back to our regular lives. I have learned to say (through actions), I will walk with you in this Christian journey. I can't walk for you, nor will I attempt to do that. I will walk by faith with you as I continue to pray and encourage you every chance I can. 

We're so thankful God has brought us to Houston. Being here has opened up amazing possibilities (such as marathon running) outside of church. We continue to trust God to help us bloom as we are so happily planted. 

Previously in this series:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Chevron Houston Marathon 2017 Training Week 4

I love stories. I love to hear the amazing stories that happen all around me. This year, as I train for the Chevron Houston Marathon, I want to introduce you to some of the amazing runners that like me, love Houston and who are training for it. The first person I want to introduce you to is runner Barry Walter. Barry will run his fourth Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January. I asked him what convinced him to start running in the first place and he said "Joyce told me, 'we're gonna do this!'" I am amazed at how a little encouragement from those who live inside of our homes can help us accomplish so much. I started running, then my husband Zeke decided to join the fun. He will run his second Aramco Houston Half in January.  
Barry Walter and I after a run with running group. 
If you do not have support at home, you can always join a local running group or an online one. It has been said that if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go further, go together. 
This week during our group run, I decided not to add any extra miles and just focus on the group run. It was the best decision ever and I'll stick with it. I started and finished strong for a summer run. As my overall plan (nutrition, hydration, strength building, rest) progresses, I am looking to see improvements in my long runs. I also met new people who have been running the same pace as myself. We might tag along and encourage each other to stick to our goal pace. My challenge is NOT TO START TOO FAST. I know, this is the year I will actually practice self-control and stick with my pace plan. Pray for me friends!

On a personal note, I just walked out of an extra busy season this summer. I finished co-teaching Bible study with two friends. I am now ready to totally focus on fitness and nutrition. I never stopped training but to totally focus on nutrition was so difficult. Yesterday I packed all my meals for the week and I am starting weight training this week. Today is my weigh in and I lost 3 lbs. My goal is to run Houston better than I have ever ran before. Being leaner will help me rock 26.2 miles instead of suffer through it. I appreciate your encouragement in this journey. Oh, if you follow me on Snapchat, Insta, Twitter and Facebook you can get some behind the scenes action on my weight management process and all things SimplyCintia.com. 
Have an amazing week friends! 

Previously in this Series:
• Week 1
• Week 2

Week 3

Read the stories of my previous Marathons in Houston:
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2014
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2015
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2016