Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cheap Grace

Last week I was telling my summer small group that it's easier for me to make up excuses for people when they act ridiculous than it is to accept that maybe they're just not kind/smart/considerate/(fill in the blank) at that particular moment. 

I'll make up crazy things when people whip around me on the highway going 20+ miles over the speed limit like obviously there's an emergency they need to get to. I can convince myself of this even as they fly by the exit with a big H on it. OR when someone leaves their cart in the aisle in the middle of the grocery store. I'll think, maybe their child threw a tantrum and they just had to leave. I can come up with an excuse for most any behavior. And I think I do this because it just makes it easier to cope. Do you do this? It totally makes it easier for me to extend grace in the situation and not judge people. 

And after I had explained this at our study,  I left to go back to work. In that drive I felt incredibly convicted that I was cheapening God's grace. My thoughts make it easier for me to deal with a situation, but in many cases I'm probably lying lying to myself. God's Grace is infinitely greater than a grocery cart in the middle of an aisle. If I really think about what Jesus lived his life for, reducing his grace seems absurd.  In truth, God's grace is vast and more than enough for me to forgive the actions of those around me without excuses and without judgement. In truth his grace for us cost him much. It wasn't easy and I don't expect that it will be easy to change habits, but I am determined to try. 

What have you been suddenly and deeply convicted of?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Glorious Weekend

Hello Friends!
I hope everyone had a great time celebrating the Risen Lamb this weekend!  The weekend was a little busy for me, which was kind of unfortunate, but I am still thankful and loved celebrating at the 7:07 service last night.

I wanted to check in and see how everyone is doing.  Please use this post to comment on what awesome things have been happening in your life (Jesus or running related).  Also, if something is difficult right now then post that too so the rest of us can pray for and encourage you.  As always, I will start the comments.  Don't leave me out there by myself!

Love you all!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

5 Questions

Hi Running Friends!

I'm going to try to get this thing going again by asking 5 quick-ish questions for you all to respond to about running.  I'll include my answers in the comment section too so you can see what I'm looking for.

1. When/why did you first start running?
2. How do you stay motivated to run?
3. In what way (if any) do you set running goals?
4. To you, what qualifies as a "good run"?
5. What is your favorite running outfit and accessories?

Can't wait to see your responses!  If there are any lurkers out there... come out, come out, wherever you are ;)

In Christ Jesus,

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tonight is the Night!

Hi Everyone,
Tonight is Engage Group at Koren's house!  Dinner at 5:30pm then EG/ LG from 6:30-8:30pm.  I'm determined to be conscious of time this week, but that also means that yall need to be there on time hahaha so we'll see how that goes ;)

We will be talking about/ pondering over our own person stories.  Should be really interesting!

See you in... 10 hours!  Yes!


Monday, February 28, 2011

Blacksburg Classic: A Humbling Experience in Running

Hi Friends! 

A big CONGRATS to everyone who ran in the Blacksburg Classic yesterday!  Also, I huge word of thanks to everyone who encouraged me around mile 5 and then again at the very end on the last of the killer hills.  I needed you desperately as you could see on my face.

I think it was so cool for people there to see us all in the same shirt, too!  Huge thanks to Jesse and Hannah!  Also, when yall were cheering for me at the Huckleberry gazebo area...  I feel like that was memorable for the other spectators right there too because overall there weren't that many cheering fans at this race.  Yay!

The part further down the Huckleberry totally kicked my butt.  But it was a great reminder in humility.  I don't really struggle with needing to be humble about running because I know that I'm not the best ever; however, I do get a prideful area in my spiritual life sometimes.  So this race is making connections for me in that area as well :)

My final time was around 1:53, I think.  Honestly, compared to how I was feeling, I am pleased with that.  The results aren't posted on the website yet and my watch messed up.  So we'll see once they post them at

I really want to get your feedback, all of you who were there.  Let us know your time and thoughts!

Love you all!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Almost Missing the Lesson...

Is anyone else out there as hard headed as I am?  Recently, I've realized that I have been so hard headed that I've been thinking that I'm not hard headed for a good couple of years.  Can anyone give me an amen?  Anyway, Praise to our merciful Savior for breaking through to me the other day. 

Around last September or October I began doing a Bible study written by Priscella Shirer called "Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted".  Many of us have heard the Sunday school rendition of this "whale of a tale" for many years.  Actually studying the book seriously proved to be much more intense and than I could have imagined.  I'd even say it was deeper than the blue sea, if you know what I mean.

Well much of the study focused on viewing life's interruptions as divine interventions.  The whole time I was doing the Bible study I really thought that God's calling for Alex and I to go on a long-term mission trip after we are married was my interruption and that I was being really great because I am happy to do it (unlike our dear Jonah).

Coming back after Christmas break, I had just one short week left of the study.  After coming back from break I began having a weird attitude about engage groups.  I'll be totally honest.  I have really been mourning my old home group.  They have been my family for a year and a half.  I've never had a community that I trusted and loved so intensely.  I didn't anticipate being so sad, but once a week or two went by without home group I got really sad.  The kind of sad where you hear a special song that reminds you of the sad thing and it's all you can do not to wreak the car because your eyes are filled with tears kind of sad.  Perhaps I'm the only weirdo who does that ;-)

So one innocent morning before work I opened up my Jonah study to the very last day.  You may not remember that the book of Jonah doesn't end with Jonah frolicking in a bed of roses.  It ends with him mourning the loss of a dying plant that he didn't even plant and being downright angry at God about it.

If you're not making the connections, let me spell it out for you.  I had been acting like Jonah.  It slapped me in the face with the weight of ten cinder blocks.  I was mourning the loss of my own home group that I didn't even make great.  God had grown Pendulum and made it great.  Candice didn't.  Now I was moping around because this running group wasn't at the same level as my old group.

It all became clear.  This running group is my divine intervention and runners are my Nineveh.  It's not me who is going to make any of this good or bear fruit; it is Him and Him alone.  Otherwise at the end of the semester I'm going to be sitting under a little dying branch.  On page 147 Shirer writes, "Jonah found himself face to face with the reality of God's perspective: Jonah care about a plant.  God cared about people".  Friends, you could have subbed in Candice for Jonah in that sentence.

Since that time, I can't say that I have been a total saint about the situation, but I have been so inspired by that morning in God's word that I am convinced we are not laboring in vain.  God's grace is carrying me through this process and I know that that he who began a good work in you (or this group) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6b).

What more is there to say?  Praise be to God!  Maker of Heave and earth!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Hi Friends!
Just a reminder that Engage.Together. is tonight at 8pm in 130Jackson.  We offer a lot of opportunities to get involved.  Many of these are just fun, extra activities.  However, our Thursday night Bible study times, engage togethers, and intentional out times are very important/ central to what NLCF is having us do.  I hope to see you all tonight.  If you can please join us for some dinner at Owen's just before 7pm.

Lots of love!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Running Today

Hey All,

Emily and I will be going running today at 5 pm.  Meet the at entrance to the Huckleberry if you're interested!

Happy Friday!

-- John

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Top 5 Reasons to Run and Attend the Pancake Breakfast Saturday Morning

Hi Friends!
Saturday morning the Honduras mission team is holding a pancake breakfast to raise money for their Spring Break trip.  You may recall the spaghetti dinner that they had last semester; same team but different cuisine this time.  Jesse and I are going to run together beforehand at 9am on the Huckleberry then walk over to the BCM (corner of Washington and Kent).  In case you're feeling a little non-committal or like $5.00 is just too much to ask... let me persuade you with 5 fabulous reasons to join us.

1. Running before eating pancakes means that you can devour more pancakes without feeling bad about the number of calories and also get your money's worth.

2. According to there is ZERO percent chance of parcipitation in Blacksburg on Saturday.  When does that EVER happen?!  Let's take advantage of running in that.

3. Like Mike talked about in Sunday service a few weeks ago, this $5.00 will be a true investment.  Helping people go on a mission trip where they will be inspiring others has a return so great that we can't even begin to quantify it.  Praise the Lord for these people who are going to spread Jesus' Name!

4. My inside sources tell me that they coffee that they are serving with the pancakes is Starbucks brand... need I say more?  Actually I do need to say more because usually for just a drink at Starbucks you pay $5.

5. I will personally pat you on the back and give you a round of applause for showing up.  You'll feel like a rock star.

Alright... I'm glad we got that settled.  See you Thursday at 6:30pm in the War Memorial Gym lobby for our group "out" run.  Then again Saturday for the run and pancake breakfast.  Enjoy hump day!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Running Wednesday

Hi Friends,
I am planning to go running tomorrow (Wednesday) at 4:30 pm at the Huckleberry. My past two solo runs have been really horrible with weird upper abdominal pain that I've never really had before. So hopefully that doesn't happen this time since I would love to run pretty far. Try not to blow away today ;-)

Peace out cub scouts.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Chilly Run

Yesterday was so beautiful! It was 50 degrees during the day, but come 5:30 the temperature still dropped quickly. Folks (other than Josh) were adding layers as we waited for others to arrive. We had a 2 miler and 4 miler group today. At the end I think everyone was ready to get inside to warm up, but we did it. Props to the those who did it! 

Monday, January 31, 2011


We've talked about doing a couple races this semester. Here's the info for the ones we're looking at. Note that the early bird deadline for the Blacksburg Classic is tomorrow. 

2/27/2011 - Blacksburg Classic
1 pm  10 mi, 5k Blacksburg, VA $20 until Feb 1, then $25

3/19/2011 Montvale 
9am  5 & 10 mi        Bedford, VA         $25- $35

4/9/2011 Mill Mountain Mayhem
9am  10k                Roanoke          $25-30

4/9/2011 Komen Race for the Cure
5k                          Roanoke           $30

4/30/2011 7 am Park to Park Half marathon
7am         Stuarts Draft/ Waynesboro $49 - March 18 ; $59 - April 15 ; $69 - April 16- race day

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Running this week

Hi Friends!
Can you even believe how beautiful this day was?!  I obviously cannot.  Unfortunately it probably won't be as beautiful tomorrow, but we will be running at 5:30pm on the Huckleberry anyway.  Can't wait to see you all :)

Have a marvelous Monday!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Cold Weather Attire

Hi Runners!
I am so excited to write my very first engage blog :)  I wanted to take a few minutes to address a major concern for many of us: the cold.  In case you haven't left the couch or your snuggie for a couple months, you probably realize that it is basically frigid in Blacksburg.  Well take heart, my fellow runners, there is a way to run outdoors and not die of hypothermia.  I am going to give you some tips from head to toe that work for me.  Please feel free to comment back with your own suggestions.

Head:  For me once it gets to the low 30s or 20s it is nice to have a fleece headband to protect the ears.  Others prefer a tight stocking hat.  Additionally, many runners start breaking this out around 45 degrees.

Upper body:  For the temperature it has been this week and last week, I like to wear a dry-fit or technical long-sleeve shirt.  Then I wear either a track jacket or cotton long-sleeve shirt over that.  Today I even broke out a light fleece vest over that because sometimes my middle just really needs another layer.

The dry-fit shirt on bottom is great because it wicks/ pulls moisture (aka sweat) away from your body.  This keeps you from getting too hot in the summer.  In the winter it can keep you warmer because the sweat doesn’t start to freeze or get cold on your body.  Sometimes even in cold temps cotton can get really hot if it is the base layer.

Also, gloves are a great addition.  I usually shed them mid-run, but they make the beginning way more pleasant especially with the wind.

Lower body:  There is lots of room to play around with this one so I’ll just give my personal preference, but it probably doesn’t matter all that much as long as you are comfortable.  Recently I have become the biggest fan of tight, moisture wicking pants.  SO NERDY to me, yet SO AWESOME.  I’m going to be really open and tell you why- no chub rub from a saggy, droopy pants.  If you don’t know what I’m saying let’s talk in person.  The legs just glide so much smoother, and my muscles feel nimble.  Runners high all the way.
Foot wear:  For me this has stayed the same.  I know some people will wear wool socks.  I think that’s a little overboard, but if you disagree feel free to rebuke me.

That’s almost all for now.  I have to share the single best piece of running attire advice I have ever received.  My fiancĂ© Alex’s dad told me this, and it hasn’t failed me yet.  He said: if you are warm at the start, you are over-dressed.  This is seemingly simple, but oh boy is it true.
See you all Wednesday!  Looking forward to putting same names to faces J


Thursday, January 20, 2011


Hello fellow runners!  
I also wanted to post our tentative schedule for the week of January 23rd. 

Monday - meet at 5:30 at the Huckleberry Trail entrance ready to run.
Wednesday - meet at 5:30 at the entrance to War Memorial Gym. We're working out details on reserving a room for bible study. We'll go for a short run around campus afterward. 
Friday - meet at 5:30 at the Huckleberry Trail entrance ready to run. 

I'm working on getting an interactive calendar posted to the blog. That way you won't have to search posts to find weekly schedules. If anyone is technically savvy and up for a challenge please let me know.

Monday, January 17, 2011


You found us. We're really excited about this upcoming semester. We have a lot of ideas about how we can use running to fuel our In, Out, and Up relationships. At this point we don't have plans set in stone. Our intention is to let the group members shape what this engage group will be. We hope you'll join us on this journey. 

This blog will serve as a sort of home base, so please bookmark it. We'll post current discussions, scheduled runs, and upcoming events here. Till next time.