Defying gravity

I’ve been thinking about gravity a lot lately. I’m finished with physical therapy for the injury that kept me from running for many months, but during many of my sessions, I got to run on an AlterG Anti-Gravity treadmill.

This high-tech treadmill lets you choose to run with as little as 20 percent of your body weight, all the way back up to 100 percent. When you run on this machine, until you set it back up to 100 percent, you are defying gravity.

During one of my last sessions, after I’d already graduated back to a regular treadmill, my physical therapist showed me a video of a blind runner using the AlterG. It was the first time he had been able to run on a treadmill without holding on with his hands. As he swung his arms back and forth, he exclaimed, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. This is amazing.”

There are parts of the Advent story that defy gravity, too, just a different sort of gravity. Mary ignored the gravity of her situation and agreed to become a mother out of wedlock. Joseph ignored the gravity of staying betrothed to a pregnant woman and instead believed an angel telling him to stay with her. Together, they and Jesus (and one might argue everyone else in Bethlehem, too) defied the gravity of His birth, and a simple stable became the birthplace of the King of kings.

One of my readers responded this way to last week’s poll about favorite nativity figures: “The whole thing! A stable as the birthplace of the Son of God! How absurdly wonderful!”

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The season of Advent challenges our ideas of where kings should be born, and Jesus’ entire life and ministry was meant to challenge our assumptions about God and faith. My reader is right: it’s absurd and wonderful. Continue reading

Lost races

Late last year, hopped up on post-race endorphins, my husband and I registered for a half marathon at the end of August, a race that would be at the perfect point in my training for a December marathon. “It’ll be great!” we told each other.

My body wasn’t on board with the training schedule, though. Thanks to a nagging injury, I spent the last six weeks in a boot and am just now getting back on the road to recovery. I’ve lost a lot of strength and a lot of flexibility. And I’ve lost both the August half marathon and the December marathon.

My husband and I had been anticipating the weekend getaway, though, and cheering him on would be fun, if bittersweet. Our hotel was near the start/finish area of the race, and I decided to walk part of the course, scream like crazy when he ran by, and take photos along the way. It was a beautiful, chilly morning, and I enjoyed the slow walk.

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Along the course

A few tears threatened to fall, though, when I saw the pace group near where I should/would have been at that point in the race.

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Unexpected sermons

When you think of preachers and sermons, legendary singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett may not come to mind first.

My husband and I love Lyle Lovett’s music and were thrilled to learn he and his Large Band would be kicking off their summer tour in Sacramento. We headed to the fabulous old Crest Theatre, anticipating a great show. We didn’t know there would be a sermon, too.

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Lyle Lovett with Destiny Baptist Church’s choir in the background

As Lovett walked to the center of the stage for the first time, a choir assembled at the back of the stage. Together, they sang a rousing rendition of “I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord.” And then another song (“Church”) about long sermons and preachers who, eventually, will get as hungry as their congregants.

Lovett introduced the group as the choir from Sacramento’s Destiny Baptist Church. “Have any of you been to that church?” he asked us all.

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Winter roses

We’ve had a recent cold snap, and though last week I may have poked gentle fun at rainy day behaviors out here in California, I have to make fun of myself this week. I am quickly losing my tolerance for cold.

Monday’s cold weather brought a bitter wind, and all I wanted to do was hide inside—after a morning run, of course. I have to dust off the winter running clothes every now and then, right?

It was cold here over Christmas, too, and when I returned from balmy North Carolina after the holidays, I knew I had to tackle a winter gardening chore: pruning the roses. (Not my favorite gardening activity, I’ll confess.) I left three stems taller than the rest because small buds graced them, and I hoped they might bloom, despite freezing temperatures in December.

One bud finally began to open within the last week. So I cut all three buds to bring inside and finished the pruning chores.

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To me, this is the exact color of dusty rose

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The dragonfly visitor

As I continue to fight to get over a lingering illness, my energy is slowly coming back. A couple of days ago, I knew I was on the mend because I felt like going outside to take some pictures.

A visitor has been stopping by my house every day, usually several times a day. She kindly posed for me on several of her favorite perches:

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Glittering in the sun

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Smiling at me?

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Sunning atop an apple tree

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I cannot get over the intricacy of her wings

I’ve been calling her Joy—first, because her visits delight me. Second, one of my dearest friends is named Joy, and she loves dragonflies. So when this small, beautiful creature visits me, she makes me smile and makes me think of my sweet friend.

What visitors delight you in your garden? Or bring you joy on your daily walk? Or welcome you in a special place you visit to unwind?