Cookies and Cancer.

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Tonight I’m making a batch of Chocolate Chippers for tomorrow’s long rehearsal of Thomas Circle Singers . I love these traditional, tasty chocolate chip cookies. They are a bit salty, sweet, and when made just right, slightly chewy. So delicious. Every time I make these I think about the woman who gave me the recipe, my former colleague, Gloria.

She was a fantastic first grade teacher. Knowledgable, patient, humorous, and caring woman. She and I had lunch many a day at our little North Kansas City elementary school. We shared stories and she became a mentor and friend. She gave me lots of recipes; I believe with the primary goal of pairing me up with her son. It was in that year of 2001-2002 that I started making these beloved rounds of yum.

I had know that she had bravely kicked breast cancer ass a few years prior. And it wasn’t far after I left NKC for the opera that I had heard she was fighting again. And not long past that, she succumbed to brain cancer. I made the cookies. I wept.

In the passing years, cancer would strike family and friends with its brutal and vengeful sword. It would take my Aunt Nancy, my dear friend Pam, and strike friends in their prime of life. It would rip through the hearts and lives of families. And this week, it took another mentor, Beth, who started as the mom of a classmate and became a shepherd in musical leadership.

I hate cancer. And I’m sure you do too. It has no rhyme or reason. It offers us a chance to know both the unique fragility of the human body and the inordinate strength of the human spirit.

So I make the cookies and every single time reflect on the short and amazing chances I’ve had to learn and grow from incredible people. I offer up silent praises as I measure, sift, beat, stir, and bake. I treasure the cut out-xerox piece of paper that holds this most sacred of recipes. Not for its sweet tooth satiation but for its place in silent memorial of those gone by.

Tonight as the last cookies cool I pray for those who fight, for those who love, for those who care for, for those who research, for those who have not yet fought, and for those who mourn. May the souls of the eternal departed rest in peace. And may Jesus have a whole plate of cookies waiting for our reunion.

Peace.

PS-8 minutes, never 10. If you use butter, used salted!

No where too far.

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#shesharestruth

Jonah 1-2

Jonah fled. The Lord face him a great task-a calling-and yet he fled, on a ship in the exact opposite direction from Ninevah. His punishment was great; a raging storm, the anger of his fellow mariners, and ultimately, three days in the innards of a fish (yuck.) And yet….

“You brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.”

God delivered Jonah from the pit. God called Jonah and pursued him through the vast sea. God showed his awesome power through the storm and through the purgatory of a fish. And still God sought out Jonah. God had called him and would follow him to the ends of the Earth to help Jonah heed this call.

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Source

Jonah finally understood. There was no place he could run to escape the presence of the Lord.

When you are called, He expects you to serve. If you are in the deepest of pits, He will draw you out and put you on solid ground in the direction He has for you. No where is too far or too deep for God to find you.

I keep waiting to understand God’s call for me. In the waiting, I try to serve and live in a way that is honorable to God. (With daily failures, of course.) My greatest fear is not that I will run from God’s call but that my mind is too full of noise to hear it.

I am comforted by the story of Jonah 1-2. (3-4 is another story.) God has a call for Jonah and will not rest until it has been fulfilled. I pray that God will pursue me this way. That His signs for me will be BIG (perhaps not belly of a whale big but…) I pray He will fight for me when the noise of the world clouds His voice from my ears. And I pray that, like Jonah, I may be pulled from the pit to rejoice and serve the Lord.

Sacred Scared

I have been mesmerized and inspired by Momastery’s Sacred Scared series. Some of my favorite bloggers have stripped away the make-up, embraced vulnerability, and admitted a fear or insecurity. I will allow you to experience the five days of blogs for yourself, and I encourage you to read them. I will tell you that each one brought out a connection for me. Especially as I ask myself, Am I Enough?

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So here is my attempt and contribution to the Sacred Scared canon:

I’m Afraid I’ll Never Be Who I Used to Be. 

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I used to be really fit. I ran a lot. I regularly ran 5-6 miles, 4 days a week and a long run on the weekends. I would go to body pump twice at week. I could run a 5k in 22 minutes. I could break 4 hours in a marathon. I occasionally placed in races locally. I was active in my local club and knew I had running friends all around.  My skin was clear, my pants fit, and everyone always talked about how I was a “runner.”  I became an Ironman triathlete. (While at the same time working two jobs and getting a Master’s degree.) Life was busy, healthy, fit, and happy.

In the last few years, I have lost almost all of that. I run twice a week, if I’m lucky. I rarely exercise. I spend more weekend mornings snuggling on the couch than hitting the pavement. I think a lot about running, but I don’t run. I ran a marathon this fall, sure…but I blew off more workouts than I did and ran my slowest personal marathon to date. My pants (or really any of my clothes) don’t fit. I am uncomfortable with my physical self. I’m embarrassed of the person I’ve become, outside and in.

I’m regularly afraid that I’m a fraud in the running community. I’ve lost friends because I don’t do ultras and I have likely gained a reputation for canceling more than showing up-mostly because I’m afraid I can’t keep up. And I’m afraid that I will never get back to my favorite self again. It is about the scale number too much (though it is disheartening and makes me fear for detrimental health conditions.) It is about being healthy, happy, and being a part of a community that I held so dear for so many years.

I have committed to some short term goals, but I have a lot of long-term work to crawl out of this pit I have created for myself. I owe it to the kids for whom I claim to be a role model. I owe it to my family who deserves a healthy partner, sister, daughter, and aunt. And most of all, I owe it to myself. To be who I know I can be. But it doesn’t stop the fear. The what if? The am I enough?

But with each new day comes an opportunity to begin again. And for that, I am so very grateful.

What Do (We) Value?

Wow.

I haven’t watched the Biggest Loser in several years. I lost touch with it after my college friend (and musical dance partner) Marty was on the show. I had always yearned for their to be a “Moderate Loser” for people like me who could be just a bit more healthy with 15-20 less lbs. So when I was up early this morning and saw the social media sphere awash in frustration, anger, and sadness about the drastic and seemingly unhealthy weight loss of the winner-I bit and looked up the videos, the tweets, and such.

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And I say again, Wow. The reaction from Jillian and Bob was all you needed to see to understand the severity of the weight loss. I compare her physical appearance to an elite marathon runner, very muscular, but very very very thin. But even as I compare her to the power duo of Kara and Shalane, she still seems so very very thin to me. I applaud her desire to grow, to change her life completely, to become healthy and fit, but I fear there was no one along the way to stay STOP. Well done, now that is enough.

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I don’t blame Rachel, the winner. She was driven. I don’t particularly even blame NBC. Their focus is ratings and money. (Though I seriously think it is time for a conversation about presenting a healthy, realistic approach to diet/exercise.) I don’t blame the trainers, they did a great job and sent her to finish the job on her own. I don’t really blame anyone. I don’t know this woman and I don’t know how she feels, how she lost the final 45 pounds, or the state of her current mind.

But I wonder…what does this modern example of extreme weight loss-turned into “winning”-say about the value of health and fitness in our culture? The backlash would certainly indicate that the populous knows the extreme, but we still awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to someone for breaking their body into bone and skin. What does this image provide for our girls? Who we are trying to keep healthy and fit while balancing strong mental health and a positive body image?

And in light of all of this…how do preserve our own value when the popular, prime time culture is saying…be skinny! Skinny is great! I haven’t been skinny since 7th grade and I’m ok with that, but I certainly know that skinny has a higher cultural value than fit or soft.

I value health. I value belief in oneself. I value positive self image. I value fitness. I value teaching our girls that skinny doesn’t always mean healthy and soft doesn’t always mean sick. I value honesty. I value so many things that I fear weren’t represented in the “winning” loser last night. And I hope that I am the majority.

What do you think?

Declare it.-February, 2014

I’m in a rut bloggy friends. I’ve become really good friends with my couch and my chromecast. I think my running shoes have forgotten my name and I’m pretty sure that the only food group I’ve consistently consumed in the last month is sugar. It is taking its toll on my body and mind. And it’s time to stop. I briefly noted a post on facebook about declaring one’s goals and making them public so I’m going with the SMART goals approach (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) and committing to a few small things for February. My hope and prayer is that my social media peeps will help me stay on track for just one month. And then we shall re-assess.

FebGoals

  1. Continue Daily Bible Study
  2. Complete 8 swims with L4 Swimming (I’m so nervous to try this new group!)
  3. Complete 8 runs of at least 2 miles
  4. Reduce sugar and complete Phase I of the 21 Day Sugar Detox
  5. Read Brene Brown’s “The Gift of Imperfection” and reflect upon what it means to be whole
  6. Connect and reach out to others at work rather than waiting for them to come to me
  7. Serve others with joy, not grumpiness
  8. Vegetables. Yes. Vegetables. Green Ones.

So there you go, 8 goals for the remainder of February. I realize that some of them are not SMART in nature (how do you measure serving with joy?!) but I’m ok with that. I’m most concentrated on the 8 runs and swims and the DSD. Taking control of these physical elements will go a long way in a return to health.

I DECLARE these things to you. Can you help me stay committed?!

Sisterhood of the Blogging Pants

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I love the Sisterhood that I have found on social media. A group of incredible women-strong, independent, fit, balanced, Godly, loving, or at least trying to be all of those things while encouraging others, working full time, raising babies, and loving families. Kelly @ No Thanks to Cake tagged me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers, so here I go! 

1. Favorite Color: Navy Blue. I love it, particularly when paired with grey. All shades of medium to dark blue but navy in particular.

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2. Favorite Animal: These two boys. Hands down.

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But Honorable Mentions to Baby Giraffe, Calming Manatee, Piggy with Books, and Ponies in Sweaters. (everyone needs cute animals now and again. I need them every day.)

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3. Favorite non-alcoholic drink:  Coca-Cola. And before you can tell me it is battery acid, yes, I know. I try to limit to one can or less per day. The mini-cans are even better.

4. Facebook or Twitter: Facebook for Friends, Twitter for Teaching, Instagram for everything!!!

5. Favorite Pattern: Polka Dots. If you could see my classroom, you’d totally understand, plus….my co-presenters in crime for teaching and I all showed up in polka dots accidentally to present last spring and we immediately became the Polka Dot Sisters.

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6. Favorite Flower:  Pink Gerber Daisies. Dark Pink, preferred. I used to get them every week from my farmers market in Hillcrest. I don’t miss much about San Diego but boy was that market amazing.

7. What is your passion?  Teaching! I love seeing people learn new things. The spark that comes alive as kids or adults click into a new concept or task, make a connection or just plain reach a goal-it’s amazing. Learn more about my journey as an educator on this blog.

Thanks for letting me share a bit today! I will tag my two favorite Lindsay’s.  Lindsay of @Lindsay’s List and Lindsay of @CotterCrunch

The Rules

1. Post the logo to your blog

2. Thank the person who nominated you

3. Answer the questions

4. Choose several other ladies who blog as your nominees

5. Post the links to the nominees’ via social media

buhbye 2013

We are 10 hours away from the big ball drop in New York City. The fire is roaring in the fireplace, a casual day at home is well underway, and the cans of Sofia are chilling in the fridge. If we can, by some amazing feat, stay awake until midnight, it will be a lovely miracle. A quick re-cap of 2013 is obligatory on this NYE.

This year has been a whirlwind. We have had many blessings in the Thomuto house this year including living in our new teeny-weeny palace. We have spent great times with friends, run another marathon and each had our first DNF. We became Netflix junkies (House of Cards and re-runs of great 90′s tv have been particular faves).  We have had highs and lows with our boy, Parker and even with an uncertain future ahead, we love him so very dearly. We celebrated the growing of our family with the wedding of my baby sister, Cait. We welcome Thomas and his whole family as our own. We said goodbye to my Grandma Thomas last week, capping 94 years of a life well lived. Christmas felt sparse but we were immersed with family, so a blessing was found within. Our employment blessings abound and we take each new career challenge as a new adventure. At the end of the day, we roll to the middle filled with thanks.

We bid adieu to 2013 and await the new adventures 2014 will bring.

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