90. Run a 5k

Running long distances has never appealed to me. I know a 5k is not a long distance for real runners, but it was for me. In high school, I ran track, and I was definitely a short-distance guy. I ran the 110 and 300 meter hurdles. The furthest race I ever ran was 400 meters, and that was plenty. Too much, really. We had to run longer distances for some workouts, but I’m confident that I never ran further than 2 miles during the first 26 years of my life.

About a year ago, Courtney started running (she describes that process here). My lack of desire to run distances continued, so I left that pursuit to her. Around the time we moved back to Oklahoma, though, something changed. For some reason, I wanted to run. I think the barefoot running craze had something to do with it, because I bought a pair of Vibram FiveFingers (aka, the shoes with toes) to run in.

So I started running with Courtney last July. And gradually, we built up our time and distance. In August, we were really good. We broke 2, then 3 miles. Then in September, Courtney found a job, and it got harder to find a time to run. After 21 miles in August, I logged just under 4 in September. Then in early October, we decided we needed a concrete goal to work toward, and there was a 5k at our alma mater November 3 – the annual Race for the Stars – so we signed up.

With a race coming up, it was time to get serious about training. Except, it didn’t happen. I ran a total of 5 miles the first 25 days of October. Then, a week out, it hit me that I was not in sufficient shape for the race. So, I hit it hard. And overdid it a little bit. 9 miles in 4 days was a lot more than I was used to, and my body didn’t like it. Fortunately, I overdid it early in the week, so I had a few days to recover, and I felt fine by race day.

When Saturday, November 3rd rolled around, we got up very early and made the 75 minute drive to OCU, where our friend Nick met us. The weather was colder than it had been, but the morning was clear and nice. We warmed up, lined up, and when the gun went off, we were off! Trying to start a run in the middle of a large pack of people was a new and frustrating experience. I got stuck behind people going slower than I cared to go, and opportunities to pass them were minimal. Eventually, I passed them and was able to get into a groove. The course was mostly flat, but there were a few small hills, which thankfully  were confined to the first half of the race. In the end, all three of us finished (goal met!) and none of us had to stop running and walk (bonus!). Courtney and I even set personal bests, which might also have something to do with the fact that we’d never run that far before. The Race for the Stars was a great experience.

Since the race, we’ve continued running, alternating between consistency and inconsistency. Our goal is to run a half-marathon before the end of 2013, so the clock is ticking! If we don’t start tending toward consistency, it may be painful. Hopefully, the coming of warm weather will help. We hope.

See you at the half,



56. Introducing Harvey



Our second anniversary was July 17, and we had big plans. We were going to head to Oklahoma City, get lunch in Midtown, visit the OKC National Memorial (#86 for those of you keeping track), get dinner somewhere nice, and see a movie. Just a few hours before we left, Courtney was browsing online classifieds for dogs, and she found a Yorkshire Terrier in Sparks, OK who was too cute to ignore. We didn’t know where Sparks was, but Courtney thought it was near Shawnee, not too far from OKC. So, she sent an email to the owner and we headed East.


We had lunch at Kaiser’s Bistro, which opened as an ice cream parlor in 1918. The food was great, and, since it’s a bistro and ice cream parlor, we figured we had to get milkshakes. They were also awesome. While we were eating, Courtney got a call about the Yorkie. The owner said we could come that afternoon to see him, and Courtney asked if we could. I knew if we went, we would not leave without a dog. But I said OK, and we headed further East.


As it turns out, Sparks is about 30 minutes past Shawnee – practically to Chandler. But we made it, and we met the puppy. The breeder also had several adult teacup Yorkies, who made him look like a giant, despite him being only four months old. He was very cute, but also very energetic and skittish. He was much more interested in trying to play with the teacup Yorkies than with us, but none of them were very interested in playing. I had my doubts, but Courtney wanted him, and I was warming as well, so we bought him. We wrote a check, he got a bow in his hair (which was taken out almost immediately in the car), and we began the voyage West.

He is now 8 months old, house-trained, and chewing up everything he can get his mouth on. We named him Harvey, after my great-great-grandfather. And because it seemed like a fun name. He drives us crazy half the time, but he’s pretty fun the other half, and it’s getting difficult to imagine life without him.

Harvey’s favorite chew toy,



98. Praying through Lent

You would think that a pastor and a youth minister would have no problems praying together morning and evenings for thirty days straight, right? Wrong. For both of us, making time for prayer is often a struggle. Sometimes, our vocations even seem to be part of the problem. When you’re called on daily (sometimes, several times per day) to pray publicly, it can be easy to feel like your prayer life is in good shape. But we’ve realized that’s only an illusion. If we didn’t set aside time with God outside of our work responsibilities, we found that our spiritual lives struggled. And when we don’t spend time in prayer together, a vital part of our relationship with each other is missing.

During Lent (I know, this is really late), we decided to pray together in the mornings and evenings. We used the book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, which both of us had previously used. We found it to be very helpful. It allowed us some spontaneity and space for extemporaneous praying, but also provided us with structure, which was very helpful on those days when we just didn’t have a lot to say. And as an introvert who is rarely inclined to use two words when one will do, I seem to have those days pretty often. We also really benefited from praying prayers from scripture and the wider Christian tradition. Particularly, I really felt the Spirit move when praying the Lord’s Prayer, the Doxology, Mary’s Magnificat, Simeon’s Song, and the Gloria Patri.

One of the things that we found particularly helpful was the prayer of confession during evening prayer. Sometimes, it would be an opportunity to confess to one another the ways that we’d failed to love one another during the day. Sometimes, it’d be playful (“Sorry my wife is a annoying”), and sometimes there were opportunities for confession that weren’t taken. But overall, it provided us with an opportunity to reflect on where we fell short in our relationships with God and one another, and our marriage benefited from that.

Predictably, we fell off the wagon shortly after Lent ended. Committing to praying together for a set time period was easier than maintaining the practice indefinitely. And while there were definite benefits to our relationship, praying together didn’t make everything all of a sudden magical. But there was something very right about beginning and ending our days together by offering ourselves to our creator in prayer, and I hope that’s a practice we will engage in more faithfully in the future.

What prayer practices or spiritual disciplines have been helpful for you?

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,




40. Host a Star Wars Movie Marathon


While Courtney was trying to get me on board with the whole 101 in 1001 thing, she tried to come up with some items that might entice me. She quickly pulled out the big guns and went for my first love – Star Wars. I was helpless to resist, and we recently hosted a Star Wars movie marathon weekend. Courtney devised the schedule:

1:15-3:30 Episode I
3:45-6:05 Episode II
7:30-9:50 Episode III

10:00-12:05 Episode IV
1:00-3:07 Episode V
3:15-5:30 Episode VI


Makeshift window blinds.

I have to admit, I was intimidated by the schedule. I love Star Wars, but that is a lot of time staring at a movie screen. Nevertheless, I set aside my hesitations and went with it. Courtney’s office, which happens to be in the converted garage of the parsonage, has a projector, so we set up shop there. Unfortunately, while the sound and video were great, the office has a ton of windows with no blinds. We don’t stay up late anymore, so most of the showings were during the day. We used what was available and improvised. It wasn’t perfect, but the extra mission trip t-shirts were effective enough.

With a mountain of snacks and two friends present at showtime, we hit play. We made the decision to watch the prequels first in order to see the story in order. It was interesting to notice the dis/continuities and to try to imagine Hayden Christiansen beneath Vader’s mask. (Incidentally, I discovered that the Captain Antilles to whom R2-D2 and C-3PO are given at the end of Revenge of the Sith is not related to Wedge. Who knew?) I also decided that our children will watch the original trilogy first. Watching the OT is much less exciting if you already know (SPOILER ALERT!!!) Luke and Leia are siblings and Vader is their father. Why would i want to deprive them (and myself) of this?


My marathon attire.

The marathon was fun. The prequels still don’t hold a candle to the originals, but they were entertaining. Friends came and went throughout the weekend. Trooper that she is, Joanna watched all of them start to finish with us. Despite my fears, watching them back to back to back wasn’t bad at all, although I was definitely ready to be done when the credits scrolled on ROTJ. I still love the movies, I would be alright if I didn’t watch them again for a while, and I confirmed that my level of Star Wars knowledge classifies me as a nerd, although I readily admit to paling in comparison to hardcore SW nerds. Still, I own a Darth Vader mask. And that counts for something.

Still wearing the mask,


Watching a Classic, Part I: Citizen Kane

One day into our 101 thing quest, we decided to do thing one – or, rather, part one of thing one. We watched Orson Welles’s classic film Citizen Kane and have now completed 10% of #41 on the List: Watch 10 classic movies we haven’t seen. This wasn’t planned; it was just next in the Netflix queue. We didn’t know much about it other than that it was a highly regarded classic film, so we were unsure what to expect.

Courtney was not terribly impressed, but I rather enjoyed it. After reading Roger Ebert’s commentary, it seems to me that this is a film that rewards multiple viewings. Citizen Kane is an entertaining flick on its surface, and it appears to have significant depths that we were unable to penetrate since we were quite exhausted and not expecting a heavy movie. Or perhaps we are just shallow when it comes to movie watching.

What might have been most fascinating for me is its connection to William Randolph Hearst. Hearst’s life provided an abundance of the material that made up Charles Foster Kane’s story, so much so that Hearst attempted to have the film destroyed before it hit the box office. After this unsuccessful attempt, he barred his news outlets even from mentioning it. I would not have expected a mainstream press in the 20th century to act so shamelessly. Of course, now that I type that, I hope I am not actually that naive!

C. S. Lewis wrote that a classic is a book that people want to have read, but not actually to read. Citizen Kane is a film that I am glad to have watched and enjoyed watching, and I hope I will return to it soon.

One final non-Kane related note: today, we bought tickets to Mumford and Sons at the Ryman Auditorium! So, on March 6, we will be able to cross off #79: See a concert at the Ryman. It will be a great band at a great venue, and we cannot wait.

Only 100.9 things to go,


In the beginning…

The Blackstens are jumping on the blogging bandwagon. Call us sell outs if you will but we’re excited to try it out.We’ve been married for a little over a year and a half and have already had so many great adventures and this is just one more. Starting a blog.

In 2 short days Brandon and I will begin yet another adventure – the 101 in 1001 project. If you aren’t familiar with the 101 in 1001 you can read more about it here. Here’s the short explanation: We have made a list of 101 goals to do and are attempting to accomplish them all within 1001 days. Some of the goals are small, some big, some funny, some serious. To see our list click on the ‘101 in 1001’ button at the top of our page. The items in black haven’t been started yet. Green are tasks we’ve started. And items that are crossed off are completed!

We’ll update our blog as we go along (that’s one of our goals) so you can see our progress. Enjoy!

1001 hugs and kisses,