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Not sure if saying I ran “18 miles” sounds all that impressive, so I converted it to feet. Either way, David and I headed to the Montour Trail south of the city on Saturday to do our longest run…ever.

It was a gorgeous day which rarely happens in the Burgh. Blue skies, white clouds, sunny and a balmy 30F. Ha. You can’t get everything you want, right?

We finished in 3:01, and it took until today to get back to normal. Whew. I can’t imagine running another eight miles after that (marathon distance). We have until May 18 to finish training, so I know we can do it.

Can’t wait!


March 22. Easter eve. Wonderful day covered in God’s hand. This past Saturday was a whirlwind to say the least, but definitely provided a fun ride. Want to know more?

We started out our day with a 12-mile run in North Park. Since we are still here in PA, we had to deal with frigid temperatures, wind and of course, snow. We’ve sort of gotten used to it by now, but this was our first 10+ mile run in such conditions (we’ve been blessed with better weather for our previous long runs). That said, it was a little tough to stay motivated. Then we passed a sign:

“J.C. Stone 50K”

There was an arrow on the sign pointing in the direction we were running. That’s right…we were running right along a race route of a race already in progress. For those who aren’t so familiar with kilometer-to-mile conversions, (don’t worry, I’m not either…I looked it up), that’s a 31 mile race. Needless to say, running alongside some “Ultra-marathoners” was enough to motivate us to push right through the conditions and finish our run. Fabulous! Thanks for that little nudge, God!

We rushed home, got ready in record time and headed back out the door to meet up with our tax guy. We had already prepared ourselves for “You owe Uncle Sam some cash” to come out of his lips, but no. We’re getting a refund! How cool is that? So we left that meeting feeling pretty pumped up and certainly in high spirits and high energy–despite such a long run that morning.

As we had planned that morning, we headed over to the National Aviary in downtown Pittsburgh. It’s essentially a zoo for birds (200 species), and it sounded like fun, so go we went. It wasn’t a very large place, but we stayed for nearly two hours admiring the toucans, lories, flamingos, etc…at one point, we watched a “Flights of the North Shore” bird show and had some extremely close (and awesome) encounters with an owl (the thing was HUGE and flew right over our heads) and a penguin. Although the penguin was named Elvis, he was definitely my favorite. God’s so creative. I knew that already, but the aviary definitely solidified that thought.

After leaving the aviary, we planned to go straight home, ice our legs, relax and maybe even nap, rent a movie and go to bed. God had other plans.

We were driving out of the aviary and saw a sign for the Carnegie Science Center. We had talked about going there at one point, and I piped up suggesting that we just head down, park and check out their rates. “Just to see,” I said. Before we knew it, we were pulling into the parking lot with cars lined up behind us and realized that we had to pay to park. We were both kind of irritated, but figured we could just go ahead, pay to park and check out the one exhibit that we really wanted to see: “BODIES…The Exhibition.”

Now, you may have heard of it before–especially with all the recent controversy surrounding it. Unclaimed bodies from China were preserved (sometimes taking nearly a year to complete) and dissected so that you could really get a sense of the inner workings of the body. We were really intrigued by the thought of it, so we headed in. We were immediately slammed in the face with a $22 per person fee. Whew! No AAA discount either. So we were getting pretty discouraged, but went ahead and bought tickets. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” we thought.

After buying the tickets (our tour didn’t start for 45 minutes), we sat down in a row of four chairs by the entrance. We were reading some handouts about how the bodies were legally and ethically obtained, etc…when another couple sat down beside us. Not wanting to hold on to my handout anymore, I asked them if they were headed in to the BODIES exhibit. “No, we just came out of it,” Linda said (introductions happened later, of course). We kept talking to John and Linda about all the normal “we just met you” sort of topics: they were from Indiana County, PA, were in town for the Penguins hockey game at 7:30pm, but were killing time until then.

Then John said, “You know, we have two extra tickets to the game tonight. Would you two like to come?”

Ok. Hold the phone. You don’t know us and you want to give us two tickets to a sold out Penguins game (they’ve sold out the last 51 games)? Of course we’d like the tickets! So, we took them, thrilled beyond believe. We had toyed with the idea of going to a game, but the tickets were just so expensive. Thank you, John and Linda! And thank you God for encouraging us to head to the science center.

So, we headed into our BODIES tour, Penguins tickets in pocket, and were blown away. We spent a little over an hour looking at the displays and reading all the signs. One of the most poignant displays was of the lungs. They had a set of normal lungs beside a set of a smoker’s lungs. The difference was obvious of course, but beside the case was a box full of cigarettes. There was a sign above it saying “A cigarette takes 2.5 hours off of your life, and we want you around here for longer. Throw your cigarettes in here.” It was pretty awesome to see.

I’d definitely recommend checking out the exhibit if it comes near you. It’s a little intense, but it will certainly help you see the insane intricacies of everything. For me and David, it really enhanced our view of God’s amazing design for each of us. So incredible.

After we left our tour, we were getting pretty hungry and set out to find food. David suggested Spaghetti Warehouse in the Strip District of downtown, but on our way there, I really wasn’t wanting to go there. We decided that we weren’t in an Italian food mood and headed off in another direction. We found out Sunday morning, that there was a shootout right outside of Spaghetti Warehouse that night. Glad we went somewhere else!

We ended up eating at Houlihan’s in Station Square. The restaurant was pretty empty when we were seated, so we ordered and got our food right away. Then it sank in. We’d never been to a Penguins game before. How did we get to the arena? Where were we supposed to park? Oh man. We planned on asking our server, but before we got a chance, a couple was seated right beside us (in an empty dining area). They were decked out in Penguins garb, so of course, we asked them.

Larry and Melanie gave us wonderful directions and tips on parking, but while they were waiting on their dessert, we kept right on talking. Turns out, Melanie is from Pickens, SC! What on earth!? So she knew all about Clemson and Greenville and all things near and dear to my heart. Small world! After chatting all about our time at Clemson and how we ended up in Pittsburgh, etc, we mentioned that we’d be moving to Savannah, GA in a few months and had been having a tough time finding apartments.

Well, God rocks. Larry and Melanie mentioned the name of a church (Iron City Church…it’s in our backyard practically) and said that they knew that the pastor and his wife were in their 20s and moved up from Savannah, GA. No way! So we’re planning on meeting up with them this Sunday to get some pointers.

We left dinner and walked with the Hart’s over to the T station, then to the arena where we parted ways. We found our seats–15 rows or so behind a goal. Amazing! The game was against the NJ Devils, and since David and I don’t know much about hockey, we didn’t know that the Penguins and the Devils are the #2 and #1 teams (respectively). What a game! We enjoyed chatting with John and Linda (from the BODIES exhibit) since we were seated right next to them. They extended an open invitation to come over for dinner/coffee when we’re up their way. Can’t wait!

The Penguins ended up smoking the Devils 7-1 (we left with five minutes still to play, and the score was 5-1…a lot can happen in five minutes)!

We got home around 11:00pm after leaving our apartment that morning at 11:30am. We had a fantastic Easter eve, and experienced God’s guidance and protection throughout our day. So yes, a day of wild happenings, but divinely inspired ones.

Sorry for the lapse in posts. I had no idea so much time had passed, but I assure you, I have a few entries in the works and plan to have them up during this week.

I promised in a previous post that I would blog as David and I continue to pursue our passions. We’ve taken some steps, and it’s been great so far. We can’t wait to see where God leads next.

God closed the door on the praise band, and that’s ok. I got in touch with the gal in charge of auditions and set mine up only to realize later that week that there are mandatory practices on Thursday nights–the same night as our couple’s Bible study. I love our small group too much to sacrifice those nights for praise band practice. I’ll just keep singing in my car and playing the piano–and listening to Pandora while working. If you’ve never used that website before, use it. It creates a radio station of songs related to whatever artist or song you input. Wonderful way to get exposed to new music that you’ll likely enjoy!

As far as the fitness passion goes, all is wonderful. We’ve really amped up the amount of time we spend exercising each week:

1. For the marathon training, we’re running on Sun, Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat, and we ran a half marathon on Sunday. Woo!

2. For weight training, I’m working out with a trainer at the gym three mornings a week for around an hour and a half. Tough, but fun.

3. For fun, I’m running with a friend one to two mornings a week.

I love doing this so, so much. I just can’t get enough! If you had asked me six years ago if I’d ever fall in love with exercise, I’d laugh at you. At that point, I could hardly jog a mile and was (unbeknownst to me) just about to walk on to the NCAA Women’s Rowing team at Clemson.

And as far as great relationships go, we’re making a joint effort to invest more fully in relationships both new and established here in Pittsburgh, back in SC and beyond. Since we’re looking at a lifestyle of moving around for a little while longer, we want to feel connected wherever God places us next–whether we’re there for a few months or a few years. Pittsburgh has been a learning experience for us as far as friendships go.

When we first moved here, we were brand-new newlyweds, and honestly, we couldn’t care any less about meeting new people. We were fully invested in spending all of our free time together–all the time. Well, as any of your married folks know, we ultimately got to a point where we were hungry for other friendships. We got to that point around May/June of last year.

After visiting several churches with no luck and being certain that we’d never make friends with David’s co-workers (most 15-20 years older), we sort of reached a point where we felt like we’d missed our chance to make friends here. We briefly lived in the mindset of “we can’t wait to leave here and move to GA.” I was so close to starting a countdown, and for those that know me, whatever is at the end of the countdown is something I absolutely cannot wait to happen. I don’t do trivial countdowns. It was definitely a low point for us.

Then God revealed a truth to us: if we didn’t invest in any friendships here, we’d never have any real sense of connectedness or sense of roots in Pittsburgh. Without any connection here, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our time and would inevitably take the “glass half empty” approach toward everything. Plus, I kept referring to SC as “home.” That was a big roadblock for me. David and I are now of the mindset that “home” is where we both are. So now, home is Pittsburgh. SC is where my parents live and where I went to college. As far as we know, we could be sent back to Pittsburgh later one, so why not invest in friendships now?

We made some great friends through a church we attended in the summer, but the services weren’t a great fit for us. We kept in touch with the friends we made and went church hunting again–ultimately visiting a church that David passed every day on the way to work. We loved it and still do. We immediately got connected with a small group and have made several new friendships we wouldn’t have otherwise. We love those folks more than even they know. It’s so wonderful to do life with others in similar life situations.

Of course we miss our friends back south, but they know that whenever we’re in town, we’ll stop by and get caught up. We still love them and are so thankful that they’ve been with us through such pivotal parts of our lives. Who knows? Maybe we’ll live closer to them one day, but for now, we’re letting God stretch us however he sees fit. If that means living far from familiar places and far from “comfortable,” so be it. This was not my attitude last year, but God has a wonderful way of being a catalyst of change in our lives and attitudes.

So when we move in June, we’ll continue to invest in our PA friendships while immediately seeking out friends around our new home. We’ll take what we’ve learned in Pittsburgh and apply it quicker. Should be fun–and hard–but most of all, worth the effort.

Ah Club Julian. You’re a great gym, but sometimes you make decisions that baffle me.

I was startled when I dragged myself into the gym this morning at 6:20am. Why dragging? I ran 13.1 miles yesterday with David and Nathan–wonderful, but tiring. Why startled? There was a huge sheet cake in the lobby of the gym for their 17-year anniversary celebration.

Nice gesture, but with so many people trying to lose weight by going to the gym, why tempt them with cake on the way in AND on the way out? Whew. I resisted, but it was really tough. When I left at 8:00am, over half of the cake was gone.

A shame.