The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


The town was beginning to awake.  Old men were beginning to spill out from the doorway of the local greasy spoon producing evidence the Saturday morning ritual of gathering for early morning coffee was still alive.  The men have been doing this for generations.  Sipping their coffee in between offerings of encouragement peppered with sarcasm and laughter.  I watch one of the town's gentlemen cross the street in front of me.  He waves and smiles, not because he knows who I am, but because this is what you do to offer a wordless "thanks" for stopping my car allowing him cross.  I wave back and continue my journey to my Aunt's home where we will continue our Saturday-after-Thanksgiving tradition.

Several years ago my aunt decided to part with her recipe for the Dutch treat of Almond Sticks.  The daughter of the town's baker, she had perfected the recipe handed down to her and now, she passes it down to us.  With all baking supplies in hand, I walk into the room that will transform into a baking mayhem. 

We are all there; mothers, daughters, nieces, aunts and cousins.  The women of the family learning and participating in our family's tradition, a place where the past collides with the present in a delicious moment in time.

The Recipe comes out and is set out on the table.  We never detour from The Recipe and read it ingredient by ingredient even though we know it by memory.  With precise measurement we prepare the dough for the crust.  We laugh when we miscount the cups of flour and have to start over, never passing up the opportunity to chide the person who can't count.

Once the almond filling is made, it is carefully wrapped and placed in the fridge for chilling.  There is magic in the chilling. 

I look up to see my mom teaching my niece, her granddaughter, how to handle the filling.  I watch as one generation touches a new generation.  In these moments I long for my Grandmother yet savor the moments I have with my mom.

With wonder I contemplate what this tradition will look like when granddaughter will become grandmother and pass on The Recipe.

All generations are present and begin learning The Recipe.  Each one doing important work in keeping the tradition alive. 

As the dough and almond filling chill, we clean and eat.  We kick our feet up and share our lives; the laughs I'm sure are similar to the ones heard at the old men's Saturday morning coffee time.  The encouragement is endless and so is the good-natured banter. 

The women in the room all contribute to the woman I am today.  And I am thankful.  My heart is full. 

With the food gone, we begin the final steps of The Recipe.  The rolling of the dough and the making of the Almond Sticks.  The flour is abundant and finds its way onto the table, floor and clothing.  Throughout the generations we have yet to perfect in preventing this mess.  And we love it.

Like the women before us, we roll and knead and pinch the dough.  We brag about who's didn't "leak" the year before and wager who's is good enough to be leak-proof this year.  This is the wining crown of tradition and one few of us have mastered.

One thing we never have to guess on is how long the baked Dutch treat will last.  We all know.  Upon arriving home they will be eaten quickly.  Spouses and children will greet us at the door and with sweet anticipation take the treats from us.

With the smell of Almond Sticks in the air, I am reminded of how blessed I am.  In a world where we often find ourselves too busy, this tradition keeps me grounded.  A time set aside each year for the young to learn from the old.  A time where we come together and meet history at the door with open arms.  We welcome the tradition and savor the moments it creates.

And then we wait.  Until next year.  When we do it all over again.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Night of Inspiration

Some time ago, my pastor (Bob, an accomplished marathoner) approached me before the beginning of a service and stated, "You know who Ryan Hall is right?".  

Of course I knew who THE Ryan Hall was, but if he was talking about a Ryan Hall who attends our church, nope, didn't have a clue who he was referring to.  

Fortunately for all of us, he meant THE Ryan Hall and when Bob confided to me of his work on getting Ryan to talk at our church, I promptly broke out into what my husband calls my pee-pee dance.  Publicly, it's quite the embarrassing dance but one that does exude the glee I can not possibly contain on such exciting news.  (No, I will not be inserting a video of the dance here as the name itself produces enough of a vivid visual for you to get the idea and will save my children from any further embarrassment by me, their mother.)

5 months after that initial conversation between Bob and myself, on Saturday, November 20, 2010 I was privileged to meet Olympic Marathoner Ryan and his wife Sara Hall. 

It was nothing short of inspirational to hear Ryan speak on his childhood, training and his faith in God.  Ryan and Sara also spoke concerning The Hall Steps Foundation, a fantastic organization helping the poor, which I encourage everyone to be a part of by clicking here.  

The evening is one I will always remember and gave me renewed determination to work at my training to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  There were several pictures taken that evening, but this one is one of my inspirational favorites.  What better way to be inspired than to spend time with Pastor Bob, who's run Boston and Ryan Hall who's WON it?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Day Begins

What?  Oh.
The alarm.
Off. OFF!
It's so dark.
And cold.
Brush my teeth.
Get dressed.
Running shoes.
Slide open door.
No moon.
No rain!
Bazillion stars.
Start watch.
Running slowly.
So cold.
Running easy.
Heavy legs.
Last night's workout.
Feel slow.
Running slow.
Incredibly thankful.
Shooting star!
Owl screeches.
Can't see him.
More shooting stars!
Rooster crows.
No sun.
Lying rooster.
Chilly air.
Wide awake.
Senses alive.
Feels good.
Mr. Neighbor driving.
And smile.
Still running.
Cold Northeast wind.
Winter's here.
Where's fall?
Shooting star!
Run is over.
Stop watch.
Walk.  Breathe.
Gorgeous morning.
Thank you Jesus!
Back door.
Quietly open.
The day begins.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Trail

The morning was wet.  The sky was colored an endless shade of gray due to the misty rain it was releasing.  My spirits were not dampened as I looked forward to running a trail in the foothills with my friends.  Besides, my feeling was it would stop soon.

We carpooled to the trail head.  Looking at the map, we plotted the trails we would run and then we began.  The rain had stopped and the chill in the air was perfectly fall.  Our talk and laughter rose into the branches of the massive evergreen trees which were so tall the view of the sky was completely hidden.  Rocks and fallen branches were navigated with jumps and bounces.  

As the elevation rose, the silence of the woods was broken only by our breathing.  Switchbacks were tackled with determination.  My understanding of "challenging trail" was being broadened.  The top afforded no breath-taking vista, rather, a view of the woods that God created; spectacular in its own right.  The downhill produced a needed break before battling the uphill again.  It was mesmerizing and I found myself immersed in my surroundings.

Running on wet leaves, over rocks and roots through the narrow trail, I was being given a gift.  The trial was giving more to me than I imagined.  Amidst the trees, I was gifted the motivation I haven't had since my last marathon a month ago.  Perfectly wrapped in a pine scented box, I was handed the reminder of my love of running.  The run was a tough one and it broke right through the mediocre and pierced through to the joy.

We piled back into the car and headed back to the lives waiting for us off the trail.  I smile.  Welcome back Motivation, oh how I've missed you. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Curb

I'm sitting on the curb near the fork in the road mustering the courage to pick a path.  Do I stay on the path I know?  Where the journey, as of late, has been met with frustration and exhaustion?  Or do I chose the path I've never traveled before?  

This parenting thing is hard.

Every parent can attest to the feeling of perfection you feel when you first gaze at your beautiful new baby.  So much hope and so much promise bundled in your new breath of life.  You vow to make the possibilities endless and the encouragement grand so they can chase their dreams with passion unbridled.  Almost 14 years ago I looked into the eyes of my son and promised him the best of what I could give.

I look at him now and still see all the potential he holds, but I wonder, why can’t he?

Our house has always been one filled with encouragement balanced with discipline when needed.  We’ve always demanded the best of our children’s abilities and it was always good enough, no matter what the outcome, as long as the best is given. If our children came in dead last in a race, we celebrated with high fives, hugs and whoops and hollers when we could see them trying with all their might. Their best is always good enough.  Always.

Recently we’ve noticed our teenager not giving his best, and it is frustrating.  At first we questioned and coaxed.  As improvements didn’t come, we set guidelines.  When guidelines were ignored, we set up restrictions all the while encouraging him to show the world how great he is.  But he won’t.

This raises many questions in our minds, but we reduce them down to two.  Do we continue doing what we are doing or do we step back?  In 4 short years the world, by its standards, will view him as a man, a view as his mother I find cold with the sting of reality.  Continuing down the same path we are on, will lead to more frustration and more defiance.  Choosing to step back will allow him to make the decisions, with negative life-long impact, on his own.  I’ll be brutally honest here, the hardest part about stepping back is shaking the feeling that I’m giving up.  This, I suppose, is right where God wants me - giving my son and his future for God to direct, not me.  I was not prepared for letting go in such small steps to be so heart wrenching.

It’s exhausting to encourage someone who does not believe in the potential you can clearly see in them.  As a parent, exhaustion isn’t a reason we can use to stop.  It’s an excuse.  There is no room for excuses, especially when it comes to giving confidence-instilling encouragement to your child.  Exhaustion has a way of bringing me to the Edge of Hopelessness, a place I try at all costs to avoid.  I do no one any good there.

Which brings me back to the curb.  In my exhaustion, I sit down on this curb and look intrepidly down both paths. Knowing each path will bring its own trials and its own joys, it does not make the decision easier. I know I must choose.  With parental determination, I find the strength to get up and stand.  

In complete uncertainty and in hesitation, I take a step...