Sunday, December 30, 2012

Celebrating years...

This weekend, my husband and I celebrated 11 years of marriage. This particular last year has been our most of growth, I'd say. He is my best friend, and truly knows me better than anyone else on this earth. He doesn't have to ask what I like to eat, he knows; or what I want for a birthday or Christmas, because he knows me. He can buy clothes for me better than I can! He knows what pushes my buttons to make me angry and what to say to calm me down. Michael knows what makes me cry and what makes me laugh. But all that knowledge has not come without tears amongst the laughter. In our 11 years of marriage, we have experienced a lot of life together. To name just a few events:
  -Birth of 2 children (now ages 10 and 8)
  -Miscarriage in between those 2 children
  -Many job changes
  -from day one of marriage to now we have lived in 7 different places (apartments/houses). God has blessed us to give us a wonderful house now which we love and plan to be in for many years to come, unless He shows us other wise.
  -Death of 5 grandparents
  -Death of my mom
  -a major move from Florida to Ohio
  -financial struggles
  -Relational struggles
  -A great job for both of us this year (well, I've been at mine since 2011, but he got his this year)
  -A lot of God given blessings this year to spurr our marriage forward in growth and love
  - A new church family, which we have grown to love so deeply and are so glad God led us there this year.

IT was from those events that we experienced much grief and pain, but we have been so blessed to see so many beautiful qualities come from those times. We have also experienced:
  -Laugher til we cried
  -Understanding of another human being deeper than we ever knew could be the case
  -True grace and forgiveness
  -Physical connection only 2 united can experience
  -A best friend alongside for every experience, even when it was painfully hard to stick together
 -A true picture of what God has done for us
 -Change. And loving the other person as they change...both the good and the bad
 -Emotional ups and downs...sometimes daily, even hourly, especially as I have walked through this journey of grief and losing my mom.
 -The meaning of TRUE LOVE. One day perhaps I will write a more in depth blog, or even a book, about why I say we have discovered that meaning, but today is not that day.

God has taught me tremendous things through these 11 years, both about Michael, about myself, and about Him. I have been and am learning what He has called me to do in love.

21 Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.
22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

Submission here doesn't mean what some make it out to mean. It means respect. And I am learning all new definitions of respect. Respect means something to one and different to another. So I am learning to respect Michael is ways that mean respect to him. Is it always easy? Heck no. But God is diligently working in me. 
 He also says in 1 Corinthians: 
The Message (MSG)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

These qualities are so hard to do every single day, but in the last 11 years, and the last year especially, I have been learning more and more about them. Love is so pure, when acted out correctly. These words, written so many years ago, could not speak it any more clearly. 

So, happy 11 years to my husband! I do look forward to growing old together. 

Michael and Rachael McKinney, December 28, 2001

Michael and Rachael McKinney, October 5, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

From the heart of a runner

I have had all these silly running (literally) thoughts going through my mind lately, as I have experienced some funny things, and so I decided to share some running "funnies" or embarassing things...or just words in general. It is well known I love to run. I am not be your fastest, sexiest runner out there, but I have a passion for it like you may not find in some.
 You know you're a runner if.....
  -5 am in sleeping in
 -Port a potties are no longer the most disgusting thing
 -There's no shame in admitting using the bathroom on the side of the bike path
 - The brighter the better (in clothes, that is!  don't want to get hit on the road)
 -You own a bracelet with your ID on it because of your hobby
 -your idea of fun on a weekend is getting up at 4 am, waiting around 2 hours-no matter the weather-just to run a race and gain a PR or claim the medal or just because it's what you love
 - you have to say "Watch out for that skunk! or Look out for the deer just ahead" because it's so dark when you run, all the critters are out
 -You experience the most breathtaking sunrise, or sunset, in the most raw moment of nature
 -Spandex tights hold no shame in your wardrobe, no matter what size you are.
 - Your Christmas and birthday gift ideas usually include: Asics running socks, Nike Running shorts, Runners World recommended items.....and it never gets old
 -You know who Hal Higdon and Dean Karnazes are
 -Vacations are planned according to races
 -Your wardrobe is mostly shirts from races you've run
 -Clif bars and GU take up a part of your pantry
- The beat of your feet and heart is the beat of your drum ....the tempo of your run...and the song of  your day.

And the list goes on....

I love to run. I am not the fastest. I am never going to be a world record, or for that matter, even a race event-holder, but that's ok. running is my happy hour, my sanity. In a day full of chaos many times, running is my peace, my prayer time, my jump start, my passion. Running has many benefits, and to each runner it's a different one, I believe.  Depending on the season, my benefit changes. It's never ever been about weight loss or even about health for me. It's been my time to gain confidence, to laugh and smile and remember. It's been time for me to grieve. It's been time I've pounded out angry thoughts and words. Time for me pray. Time for me to breathe. Time for me to me! I love running. I've learned a lot about myself through the process. I've learned I'm capable of more than I ever thought possible. I've been able to create an event in memory of mom to benefit students because of my love of running. I've made some of the strongest friendships I have because of the connection of running. I even have a dream to one day write an article (or perhaps even for it to become something regular I could do) for a running magazine or website. Running isn't for everyone, and I know that. But I am often asked why I run, why I get up at ridiculous hours to do something like that...and hopefully this sheds some light on it. I wouldn't call it a talent of mine, by any means, but I would call it a gift. A gift from God. A blessing. And i am grateful to have discovered it. Until my next post, one day, one run at a time, I keep on keeping His grace.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A time of year for memories

Too much time has passed since the last blog post-and there is too much to capture in one blog. My thoughts are roaming all over the map, so I'll have to take some time this week to post a couple of different ones.
 Thanksgiving has come and gone and now Christmas season is well under way. What a difference a year can make. The saying goes that the worst year of grief is always the first year. While I still experience a lot of sad moments, the grief this season is very different from last- a testimony to what God has done in my life, as well as adding truth to the previous given statement. Last Christmas, I have to admit, I was in an ugly place. I didn't want to shop, didn't want to listen to the music, didn't want to decorate, just wanted to skip the entire holiday, even though I knew in my heart it wasn't what mom would want. This year, it's different. I have really enjoyed decorating my home.
 I have done baking again this year (which is one of my traditional holiday activities, one tradition my mom always did, which she carried from her mom, which I am now trying to pass on to my kids). I have to admit, I teared up a few times while baking and while baking one particular cookie mom used to always make, I really wish I could've called her because it just wasn't turning out like hers.  But it felt good to bake again. I laughed with the kids (in between their moments of arguing whose turn it was to add the ingredient!) . It's been fun
 I am enjoying shopping for the family.
Last night we went to our son's christmas school musical play, and it brought many memories. I will say it struck me deeply when one set of grandparents was there and my dad was there....without mom. Of course I know that, but there are times it just sticks out and pokes me and hurts. It lasted a moment for me, a private moment of words between me and God for how I missed my mom there, and then I moved on and enjoyed the program. I recalled my 3rd grade musical. At my school growing up, though it was a public school, we were still allowed to sing the traditional Christmas songs and even act out the Christmas nativity scene. That 3rd grade year, I held a part in the play, complete with a solo and a costume. The song was about the different animals in the barn that were there when Jesus was born. I was the "Red and White cow" (just follow me on this....). My song went like this: "I said the cow all white and red, I gave him my manger for his bed, I gave him my hay to pillow his head, I said the cow all white and red." My mom worked hours on my costume and she did an amazing job. It was truly white and red and complete with a head piece and tail. I went on for a few years to wear that as a halloween costume. My mom was a true seamstress ( a trait which i have most definitely NOT inherited!). Memories...they are everywhere, at this season especially.
 Last year I attended a grief group, which was a good experience for me. In the group, we talked about starting a "new" tradition after the loved one passed , to sort of be a way of remembering them at the season. Last year, I wasn't ready to really do that. This year, I went back to the baking-and baking mom's cookies. We celebrated every year on Christmas eve-opened all our presents Christmas eve. I went to the cemetary and took flowers on Christmas eve last year, and will likely do the same this year. Mom loved Christmas.
 She found joy in everything, even the years there was no money almost for buying gifts. My mom got excited to get a laundry hamper  or a trash can. She never asked for anything that wasn't practical. I want to return to that simplicity. There is so much at our finger tips all the time, somewhere along the way, I have to admit, I've lost some of that simplicity. My mom was full of lessons she didn't even know she was teaching....and still is.
 God has brought me far from where I was last year, and only He could do that. I am excited to celebrate His birth this year. We do celebrate, or have reason to , every day, but at this time of year, it's more in the forefront of the mind. And I have a smile on my face to know that my mom is celebrating in front, face to face  with Jesus this year.  here are a few pictures from the past for you to get a picture of what Christmas was like growing up, and what mom was like....
Mom, in her simplicity. She got a stuffed pig she collected pigs) and wanted her friend to see her with the gift so we took a photo to send her.
This was the year our heat went out at Christmas and we sat in the kitchen in our coats around the card table and oven open to open presents. Of course, mom was taking the pictures.
Mom opening pots....again, the practicality. And yes, that is me, also enjoying simplicity of earmuffs and gloves as a gift.
every year, we acted out the Christmas story. Here is me and my younger brother, playing Joseph and Mary, with baby Jesus.