November 7, 2010

  • Nike Women’s Marathon 2010

    this entry is long overdue, but better late than  never, i say. 

    this nike women’s marathon (nwm) was the 5th marathon i’ve run. i can’t believe it actually. it sounds like i’m some hard core marathoner, but honestly i’m not. and i wonder what it is that keeps me coming back for more. my friends can attest to this, that after pretty much each marathon i vow that i will never run another marathon again and yet i still keep coming back. i said the same thing after this one too, on the shuttle bus back to union square, my friend, christine, even recorded me, with index finger pointed and all, saying i would never ever ever run another marathon again. but since then, even that night, i was contemplating about future races in my delirium. this race was especially hard. there were definitely more hills. plus the rain…and the cold…and the fact that this marathon was combined with a half marathon made it that much harder for me, particularly at around mile 12 (i call it the bitter 12) where we split from the half-ers. 

    the start of the race was pretty awesome though. after we checked our bags in, our group of runners split up by pace groups. four were running the half and three of us were running the full. christine and i were together with the 12:00min/mile pace group. union square was pa-acked. it was kinda freaky how packed it was, but also pretty neat. i love running out on the streets without having to worry about cars possibly hitting you. christine and i waited for a while with the periodic “oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh” (taken from the double rainbow guy). everyone was just waiting esp our pace group cuz we were one of the last groups to go. we passed the start line about 25-27 minutes after the actual start of the race. regardless, it felt great. that’s the best part of it all the beginning of the race..when you have the most energy and your adrenaline is flowing. but then you get into it and now have to start focusing on what you need to do and just pacing yourself. cuz of all the runners, we couldn’t get that close to the pacer, but she was holding a tall sign so we kept an eye on her for most of the first half. 

    the first half was beautiful and scenic. the best part of the race. there were hills throughout that first half..more than i expected. i adopted a “briskly walk up the hill instead of run” method when an uphill came and then try to catch up on the downhill. so, we started at union square and then ran to embarcadero and all the way up towards the golden gate bridge. we didn’t run on the bridge itself but past it. i kind of remember the bridge, but not really. it was all just really nice and i felt really good. 

    by 10 or 11, i think i was winded from some of the inclines, but doing ok. it was bitter 12 when i first lost it and just felt really really tired and kinda defeated. when we split from the half marathoners, i was like, “oh my goodness, i have to do this all over again while those guys are done!” christine and i had stayed together for the first half, but this is when i started to lag behind cuz i was tired. plus i think because i drank so much coffee and not enough water the days leading up to the marathon, i was cramping here and there… at the start of the race, i had minor cramps on my side, so i just pursed my lips and breathed in and out and felt fine. but as the race continued because of the lack of water and also, i think, due to the cold weather, my calves were super tight and starting to twitch. i think the same thing happened to christine cuz she had to stop and stretch her calves early on. i started to do that around mile 9 or 10, i think. 

    anyway, back to bitter 12, i started to run slower and i motioned to christine to just keep going cuz i didn’t want to slow her down. i took some GU and some water and some gatorade and just kept at it. my energy started coming back around mile 14 or 15. we were still running inside golden gate park,  but i was starting to feel a bit better, so i kept going and just kept trying to think of other things, repeat various things to myself, and run to the beat of the music. i also started counting down the miles. so like at mile 14 i told myself i just had 12 to go, then 11 and so on.

    i think it was around mile 16 when we left the park and there was a transition time to the great highway. my calves were super tight again and twitching, so i tried to hold onto this railing and stretch out my calves, but the railing had no backing and just moved towards some spectators watching while i was trying to lean into it, so i just let go and kept running. this is when i started tearing up because i didn’t get to stretch my calves, cuz i’m dramatic like that and was feeling defeated again. but the open air and the straightaway of the great highway was kind of nice. the not nice part was being on my 16th/17th mile, while the people on the other side running in the opposite were on miles 23/24. so i just looked down and ran. i tried not to look up unless there was a water/gatorade station coming up. 

    this is when i started repeating the following to myself:

    be patient. be patient. pain is temporary. regret is forever (remembering how i wish i had pushed more in the previous marathon). this isn’t difficult. jesus dying on the cross was difficult. (then thought about jesus hanging there on the cross and trying to really contemplate that, but not being able to focus). Lord, help me. Lord, help me…                                                                                                                                                                                                

    i wasn’t in any immediate pain. i was tired, but my calves were ok. i was just being really impatient and wanted it to be over. it was this total mental battle and i was losing it. oh and it was raining. it had started to rain at the beginning of the second half of the marathon. i had my visor on so i was totally fine. long ago, i was running at venice beach and it was drizzling. i didn’t have a visor and it was the most annoying thing to run without one. so now i run with a visor. anyway…

    i made it to the end of that portion of the great highway, which didn’t end up being as bad as i thought, but then we had to go around lake merced. i didn’t realize how long this was. i was calculating in my head, but i didn’t want to believe it. lake merced was pretty rough. not very scenic, the portion of the street that we had to run on was slanted, so i felt like it took extra energy to push yourself laterally and forward. i think these were miles 19 to 22 or something and they were pretty awful. 

    as i was running around lake merced, there were a couple of things i was thinking about. everyone around me probably felt the same way i did. or at least they looked as bad as i felt. i was thinking i could walk the rest of this marathon and just finish. but the regret i had from the previous marathon was that i wish i had pushed myself more and i really wanted to be that person that pushes herself more and to shoot for a better time. plus the faster i go, the sooner i’ll be done. so that pushed me to run instead of walk. i kept just telling myself “push push push”. 

    once we got back to the great highway for miles 23 and on, i felt more hopeful. i only had 3 miles left. i’ve done 3 miles countless amounts of times and i can do this! i initially set out to run the last 3 miles with pride and glory (in myself), but as i ran and ran and i couldn’t see the finish line, i slowed down and walked for brief stints. it was SO mental and i was losing it again. i was so close! and the thought again was that i could just walk this and finish, but i wanted to push myself more. anyway, i ran and walked those last 3 miles. when i saw the finish line, i started running faster and then i realized that it’s still kinda far and there were these large puddles of water, so i wanted to make sure i didn’t slip. my shoes were completely drenched at this point so i just ran through and finished. 

    there was a brief moment before the finish line when i raised my arms (cuz swan told us to), but after finishing, i was just so relieved and spent i just walked through. it was SO great to see christine waiting for me and experiencing the joy of finishing together. she was sick going into the marathon and had a nagging cough, but the Lord carried her through and she did great! cuz of the weather and cuz i think most ppl did the half marathon, there were hardly any lines for anything. so we got a bunch of freebies without having to wait. the only thing was that we were freezing. we didn’t get those foil blankets at the finish and we were drenched. but we made it onto the shuttle and made it back to the hotel. 

    one of the best moments was that shuttle bus ride back, just sitting in somewhere warm and dry, reading and sending texts with friends, and just having that awesome feeling of finishing the race. it was even better just to get back to the hotel and clean up and meet up with everyone else. 

    that’s the thing with the marathon. time waits for no one. i knew that it would be over before i even knew it. you wake up that morning in anticipation and that same night you go to sleep having finished a marathon. wow. so i wanted to try to make the most of it. but it’s just those moments of mental defeat and fatigue that were so difficult. that’s why i both love the marathon and hate it. and i guess that’s what makes it so great..because you become so broken, so weak and defeated, but then you get through it. by the grace of God, you get through it and that experience is like none other.  

    during the race, i was thinking of hebrews 12:1-3, but all i could remember was “run with endurance”. i love this verse. it’s my life verse and so perfectly describes the great marathon, that is, the Christian life. 

    “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”


August 24, 2010

  • to care or not to care..the agony of defeat

    some people know this about me, but i don’t have a favorite team like the dodgers of the lakers. some of you are die hard fans who are overjoyed with every victory and miserable after ever loss. my brother is like that with the dodgers. i think i used to be that way, not necessarily with the dodgers, but just with teams in general. but i don’t anymore. if you ask me why, i’d tell you that it all stemmed from my experiences rooting for nancy kerrigan and michelle kwan at the winter olympics and being horribly disappointed with the outcome. it was too much and it was after those events where *spoiler alert* they didn’t win that i decided not to cheer for any one team/athlete with my whole heart. 

    it’s difficult. the agony of defeat. when i played volleyball competitively, there were many moments when i was afraid to mess up, esp. during college. i didn’t want my teammates to hate me, i didn’t want my coach to be mad at me, i didn’t want to lose, etc…i was so anxious about these things and i remember praying during those moments not to be anxious and to trust the Lord with it. of course, deep down i was praying to trust the Lord so that i wouldn’t mess up and our team would win. 

    there’s a lot that i’ve learned through the years about losing and handling those losses. when i play in leagues now or even when it’s more competitive, i’m not as afraid to get the ball or to mess up during a tight situation. i’d like the opportunity to try to do something rather than not try out of fear. i don’t want fear to dictate my actions. 

    hmm..i seemed to have made two different points with my first paragraph and my third. ok, well with my first paragraph about not cheering for any teams, i realized how actively choosing to not invest in a team for this reason is not a good habit for me to cultivate. this doesn’t mean i’m going to become a die-hard dodger or laker fan or anything, but it means that i don’t want to become the type of person who doesn’t invest in friendships or people out of fear of being hurt or let down.

    in both types of situations, whether as a spectator cheering for a team or as an active participant playing on a team, you’re putting yourself out there. you will either win or lose. no one likes to one likes to experience that feeling you get when you lose, but don’t try to run away from it. accept it, be thankful for the opportunity and grow from it. all this is possible because God is in control. He is in control of all the victories and all the losses. and if in those losses it causes us to be less dependent on ourselves and our abilities and more dependent on God and His power then awesome! mission accomplished. 

November 13, 2009

  • i love…

    … how at 6 years old, ryan is learning to read, write, do math, play soccer, play piano, and is obsessed with handball..

    ….how at 3 1/2 years, lauryn is wanting so badly to learn to read, write, do math, play piano, and dance/perform…

    … how at 1 year, benjamin has just begun to learn how to walk and how he loves being around his older brother and sister.

October 14, 2009


    i’ve been following for a little over two years. two years! crazy. i can’t believe how much time has passed. i recently caught up with the blog and was so sad and burdened to find out some news about ian’s father about a week ago.

    if you have a chance, read the blog..if possible, from the beginning…i have been comforted, amazed, exhorted, convicted, and encouraged by this blog and the faithfulness of those who keep it up.

July 31, 2009

  • Whitney Praise Report

    Praise God!!!  We want to thank you all for praying and to take this opportunity to give God glory for working in a mighty way on our behalf.
    We are so thankful to report to you that Whitney is doing well.  She did not need to have the surgical injection into her retina that we had anticipated.  Her vision has remained stable and the black spots and fuzziness have diminished.  The doctors remain confident that her macular degeneration is not progressing at this time.  We have so much to praise God for!
    On Tuesday, when we left Albania for Greece, we had such a peace that God was directing our steps and caring for Whitney’s eye.  Thank you so much for praying for God’s comfort and protection for us.  He heard and answered your prayers.  Our trip was quick and uneventful and we arrived in Thessaloniki in time for her Tuesday evening appointment.  The doctor performed two very detailed tests (one that scans her retina and another that involves dye being injected into her bloodstream to show if there is any hemorrhaging in the retina).  Both of these tests showed very clearly that her macula/retina have not changed since our last visit in June.  We were so very relieved to see with our own eyes this good news. 
    The doctor told us that sometimes these black spots and fuzziness occur because of the scar tissue, as the eye grows and changes, or if she has some excessive activity.  We had informed them that she had been hit by a ball at camp just a few days earlier (she is a very active 10 year old).  Our concern had been that maybe the bleeding in the retina had started again because of that ball.  The retinal specialist informed us that these black spots can occur naturally, but that there is no way to tell if they are the innocent kind or the hemorrhaging kind until we have these tests done in the office.  We all were very thankful to have the peace of mind that everything was stable in her retina.
    However, the most memorable part of the trip was the drive to and from Tirana.  Kris and I have been reading a book together on Biblical transformation.  During the 7 hour drive to Greece I was reading aloud and Whitney was intently listening in the back seat.  Whenever I had to stop to take a break, she would ask when I was going to start reading again.  On the way home, she wanted me to start reading right at the beginning of the drive.  Now, keep in mind that this book is not written for children or directed at their comprehension.  We continued to be surprised at how engaged in the book she was and that she asked questions if there was something she didn’t understand.  It was really exciting to talk about how real biblical change occurs from the moment of salvation and how God continues to tranform and change us through sanctification.  The most poinant moment was when she said that she knew God used circumstances to show how He worked in our lives because of what He had done in her life through her eye injury.  She recounted a time when we were in Turkey, right after her injury last year, and God had answered one of the specific prayer requests we made while we were in the hospital.  I had even forgotten that particular request, but it had stuck in her mind as a way that God showed Himself real and alive in her life!  What an answer to prayer.  Thank you for continuing to pray for her spiritaul condition.  Only God knows the true state of her heart, but we have seen a real softening of her heart and a greater interest and interaction in spiritual things. 
    God is truly been at work, using this ongoing eye injury to open the eyes of her heart as she sees Him answer prayer and provide all that we need. 
    Psalm 117 says, “Praise the Lord, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples!  For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting.  Praise the Lord!”
    We continue to pray that this “difficult” circumstance will bring Him praise among the nations now, while we live in the midst of it, and for years to come, as those who are impacted by it learn to trust the Lord more completely.  We are certain that God never wastes pain and we thank Him that He is changing us and growing us through this “light and momentary affliction”.  (II Cor. 4:17).
    Thank you again for all the love, support and prayers.  We are blessed to have you as our prayer support team.
    Praising the Lord among the nations,
    The Stire family

July 27, 2009

  • prayer request

    if you are reading this, please lift up a prayer for whitney stire and her family, esp. her parents. i’ve posted about what happened to whitney’s eye before. but this is an email update i just received. thanks!

    Faithful prayer partners,

    We have just a quick minute before we make an “unexpected” trip back to Greece to see Whitney’s eye doctor again,  to give you a short update on her situation and ask for your continued prayers for her.  Last Friday Whitney told us that she was seeing the black spot and fuzziness again in her injured eye.  However, we were at a youth camp in south Albania and were not able to contact her doctor until this morning.  Her actual visual acuity has not changed dramatically, which is a big blessing, but the blind spot and fuzziness usually precede a drop in vision.  When I spoke with her doctor in Thessaloniki this morning and told her the symptoms that Whitney was having, she told us to bring her in as soon as possible for the retinal scan.  Her plan is to perform another surgical injection into Whitney’s eye if the results confirm that the retina has begun to hemorrhage again.
    We will leave early on Tuesday morning for a Tuesday evening appointment.  The surgical procedure would be scheduled for Wednesday morning.  We would really covet your prayers for Whitney and for our family at this time.  We are extremely tired and feeling a little “thin” from a couple of weeks of intensive youth camp ministry.  Tomorrow is Sierra’s 9th birthday (we will spend it apart because the 3 other girls will stay here in Albania while we make this quick trip to Greece) and Kris’s mom arrives in Tirana on Wednesday night for a 6 week visit.  We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends that will care for our kids and even Kris’s mom until we arrive back in Albania on Thursday.  We are continually reminding eachother that it is in our weakness and total lack of strength, that God displays His magnificent and unending power.  We are really clinging to that hope right now.  What peace and joy He has girded us with in the midst of these tumultuous and uncertain times. 
    We are so encouraged and thankful for each of you.  Your labor of love in prayer for us has sustained and supported us so often in the past year.  Thank you for continuing that vital ministry.  We will update you when we return from Greece. 
    Secure in His tender care,
    Kris and Chelle Stire
    Job 23:10 “But He knows that way that I take, and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

June 16, 2009

  • Resolved – 6/13/09 – Sat AM

    Blessed Bankruptcy
    Steve Lawson
    Matthew 5:3

    -can’t glorify God and sin/tolerate sin at the same time
    - Edwards had zero tolerance for sin in his life, which is why God used him – not cuz of his giftedness, but his godliness
    - declare war on sin in my own life

    -who possesses the kingdom reality in their hearts?
    -Beattitudes- attitudes that ought to be
    -we are penniless and destitute before God cuz of our sin
       – a debt we can never repay..spiritual beggars..we are nothing and have nothing
    -we must admit how spiritually bankrupt we are.

    -the kingdom of God belongs to those who have filed for spiritual bankruptcy with God.

    5 key truths

        -why is this passage first?
        – all beattitudes flow out of this one
        – must first be poor in spirit. most fundamental and foundational
        – will never get to v. 4-6 until first you are poor in spirit
        – this is the gatekeeper guarding the entrance to the Beattitudes
        – Jesus begins here because the gospel and sanctification begins here
            -the Pharisees missed this. they never saw it as a heart issue
        -we are all poor in spirit. some know, some deny
        *my life is an offense to the holy God.
        -until i take ownership of this, nothing else can happen.

        -”Blessed”- primary meaning – redemptive favor; saving grace
                        – secondary meaning – deals w/ our emotional state
                                                        – deep seeded joy, bliss
                                                        – not dependent on earthly things
                                                        – abundance of His happiness and gladness
                                                        – gladness now, glory later
                                                        – Psalm 1-2, 34:8, 112:1, 119:1-2, 128:1

        – seems like this is upside down, but it’s actually the world that is upside down
        – shows how supernatural it is
        – must have spiritual eyes which requires a supernatural birth

        – to be poor in spirit is not: – referring to financial poverty
                                                 – talking about having a poor personality (boring, dull, etc)
                                                 – those w/ false humility (self-pity)
        – to be poor in spirit is:   – receiving one’s own spiritual state and how far i fall short
                                             – come empty-handed before God
                                             – poverty of spirit
                                             – i have nothing, i am nothing, i can do nothing
                                             – consciousness of my emptiness
                                             – all righteousness are as filthy rags
        -Luke 18:9 – pharisee and tax collector
                          – tax collector doesn’t want justice, but mercy. justice/fairness would be the flames of hell.
        – my life has been a violation before the holy God.

        – “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
        – the grace of God is greater than our sin
        – only in confessing my sin, do i receive salvation
        – as i get closer to the light, i come out of the darkness more and more
        – i am what i am by the grace of God
        – what a great sinner i am, what a great Savior He is.. (Newton)
    -Jesus only died for sinners.

    ** you can listen to the mp3 at

June 11, 2009

  • sorrow and joy…

    so, that 3rd thought i had was about the amazing testimonies of andrew and grace mark.
    ( this was back in february when he passed and i was greatly
    effected by everything that happened which was/is chronicled on their blog. i briefly met them
    when they visited ibc, but through their blog, i became so invested that i wished there was
    something -anything- we could do to keep him alive and there for his family. 

    but as time waned, i realized that God had a different plan for him and all we know right now
    was that He desired him to be with Him. circumstances don’t always go the way we want them
    to go…doesn’t mean that God is any less loving or any less powerful or in control. it just reveals
    to me how insignificant i am, how great He is and how He has a plan that i won’t always understand,
    but that i can trust fully.

    tonight, i’ve somehow stumbled onto different blogs regarding this sorrow and joy.

    first, i found this entry:
    it caught my attention because i love sandra mccracken and her music. i’ve actually been listening
    to her latest live album constantly. molly piper is the one who mentions sorrow and joy in the
    entry before this one, i believe.

    second, grace mark posted an entry on their blog:
    i appreciate her honesty. i can’t even imagine the difficulty, but am confident in the God of all Comfort
    who helps us in our times of need.

    lastly, from the girltalk blog, they had a link to this site:
    it’s about a lady named rachel barkey…
    “Rachel Barkey has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Rachel is a wife, a mother of two children, and she is not expected to live to see her 38th birthday.”
    “On March 4, 2009, what started out as a speaking engagement for 40 women from her church, blossomed into an event attended by over 600 women.”
    i’m still trying to listen to it all…on the site there is a video and audio link.

    check it out and be amazed at the work of God in the lives of these women.

March 20, 2009

  • on our way to tkts, i walked a bit ahead of my friends cuz they got caught at the light. while i was waiting, this guy approached me… i had no idea that janete had taken a picture, but i’m glad she did cuz it cracks me up just thinking about our conversation. i so wasn’t getting what he was trying to say…

    aspiring musician (AM): you don’t seem like the type to listen to rap, but you seem cool enough to have an open mind about it.
    me: aww…thanks! yeah i don’t listen to rap.
    AM (showing me his CD): but this is…blah blah (i can’t really hear him, i think he’s describing his music) blah blah blah
    me: so, you want me to listen to it?
    AM: yeah…blah blah (still can’t hear) blah blah blah
    me (confused): can i take it?
    AM: no, i want YOU to listen to it 
    me:(still confused) do you want me to give it to my friends?
    AM: no, you can listen to it now and then help us out with some money.
    me: ohhhhhhhhhh…sorry i can’t. 

    helen caught up with me and was laughing as she was listening to the latter part of the conversation…HAHAHA