Holy Living?

Judges 2:1-3

I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give your forefathers.
I said, ‘ I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’

Yet you have disobeyed me.
Why have you done this?

Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you: they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.”

Lord, you put challenges in our lives. You ask for complete obedience and constantly lay down choices before us in which we can choose to obey or to disobey. To disobey you is sin, and my loving and almighty Father, of sin I am guilty. Oh. So. Guilty. Every day I am reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice for me, and I am the most grateful.

Judges 1:17
Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their brothers and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed the city.
Therefore it was called *Hormah.
*This Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them. 

In my own life I am constantly attempting to give things that I struggle with over to you. It seems like a terrible game some days, where every issue I throw to you turns out to be a boomerang that comes hurtling back towards me a while later. Redemption is a fluid thing, I think. Also perhaps there is no end to earthly troubles, and to walk through life thinking that my troubles will come and go away permanently is to be a spiritual infant.

Your death on the cross gives us freedom to CHOOSE to obey you. Yet you did not and do not take away the temptation to CHOOSE to disobey you. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, to quote Paul. Perhaps he was trying to irrevocably give his thorn over to you, like the Hebrew term Hormah, but in the end you wouldn’t take the thorn so that Paul continually had to CHOOSE to follow you in the face of his reality.

Lord you are so good, thank you.

Love, Laura Jean.
grandpa's glasses

The Reason

My name is Laura McKinstry.  My middle name is Jean and I love being called Laura Jean.  Jesus is my leader.  He plays every significant role in my life- teacher, Father, creator, lover, healer, friend, provider.  If I were to wake up and find him absent, I would not be able to live.  To breathe is to know that I am His and His alone.  My love letter to Him is written in steps, gestures, quick smiles and the light in my eyes.

His love letter to me is longer than my life and starts at the world’s conception.  The opening greeting is his love for Adam and Eve, every sentence after that beginning with one of His followers as a capital letter.  Recently he has included sentences with me as the capital letter.  I am His faithful one in this new sentence.  The people that encourage and influence me are the consonants, and the His beautiful creations are the vowels.

The words change throughout the letter, but the same light remains behind them all.  This love letter makes me cry.  It makes me laugh for joy and disbelief.  It brings me pain when I am unfaithful to Him, but the largest rock in my chest comes from God’s son, Jesus Christ.

He came to this earth, can you believe it?  God saw that the people he loves are broken and hurting. He knew that I was hurting.  He did not abandon, or forsake me (us).  I need Him so much because of my brokenness.  I have committed wrongs that no (wo)man can right.  Daily it seems His love for me should not and cannot be.  He is God.  He is light, love, and all that is right.  He is holy.  How can he love me??

In His letter he told me that Jesus was man and God at the same time.  The only way for me to be made right, was for Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, to die in my place.  Amazing.  I don’t have to die for my sins.  Jesus did that.  For me!

This is my favorite part of the love letter: Jesus died- for 3 days he was dead; then God raised him back to life.

Jesus is alive!! He’s not on earth anymore, he is alive and the devil couldn’t defeat him!  Ahhhhhh so cool!  All this is written in God’s beautiful love letter to me – to us!

His letter is not finished.  It will not be complete while the devil continues to rule the earthly realm.  One glorious, fantastical day, Our Lord- Jesus Christ- is coming back to earth.  Here he will come to claim His conquered kingdom.  He will create a New Heaven and a New Earth.  Amazing!

Thank you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.



Seasons are incredible.

That may be a strange thing to say when in Indiana that can mean 100 degree temps into September, blizzards in March, and humidity that makes you want to scream. As a Southern California girl, I grew up without seasons. In San Diego on the beach it’s 65-80 degrees almost year-round, which sounds great- and it is- but there are some trade-offs. No pretty leaves in the fall and definitely no snow on Christmas.

Today in San Diego it was 70 degrees and mostly sunny. If my parents took their usual walk by the ocean the trees would have still been green, just as they are all year round. Here in Kokomo the leaves are just starting to turn and the night air is just a bit crisp. Today I ran past a tree that was literally half green and half red/brown! Other trees have shed their leaves prematurely, covering the sidewalks in a red and brown blanket. A different paradise than San Diego, but paradise nonetheless.

Each year I live here I revel in the gorgeous colors and falling temperatures, and I hope I continue to do so no matter how many years I call the Midwest home!

I haven’t run for a while, but managed to convince myself to get off my butt today. I just did a mile, but it was one mile more than I did yesterday (or the day before that, or the day before that…)! I’m hoping that the fall colors and cooler temps will get me out the door more often. Here’s a little running inspiration I found here on Pinterest 🙂 Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!


The Job Search

I trust God. Not in man, not in my own devices, and certainly not ‘well-meaning’ friends and family members. In the past two weeks I’ve undergone yet another major life change- I moved from the rural, quiet life in Idaho to the bustling city life in California. Not only is the landscape different; the people, culture, and climate are polar opposites as well.

I’m a ‘special admit’ student this semester at Point Loma University. This means that I’ll graduate at LeTourneau, my ‘home college’ in spring 2014, but for now I’m taking only one class and staying home to save money. I must admit though, that most of my motivation for hanging out in San Diego for a semester was enjoying my parents’ company and using the extra time to save up for what comes after the bigscarygraduation.

So here I am, two weeks in San Diego, at least 15 part time job applications, and one response later, about to go interview at a Mexican restaurant for a delivery driver position. My very first job interview in the ‘real world’ starts in T minus 38 minutes, and I would be sweating, except the air conditioning in the house is chilling.

I trust God. I’m not saying I’m going to get this job. I’m not even saying that I’ll get a job this semester like I had hoped! All I’m saying is that God is in control of my ‘crazy’ life and any job will come straight from Him.

Am I nervous? Heck yes. Am I joyful? Heck yes. Knowing that Jesus Christ is my Savior means more to me than any job offer or rejection. I’ve heard tell that when your eyes are focused heavenward, everything here on earth works itself out for His glory and our Good. I’ve seen that in my life in every situation I have ever been in. Ever. And I’m taking a psalmist’s advice and choosing to remember when God has been faithful, and through that knowing that He will be faithful in this situation, job or no job. Let’s celebrate His faithfulness with my next post: will He give me the job or provide another route?

Praise the Lord, and here I go!

August/July Running Update

Four whole months running (fairly) regularly! I’m really proud of myself- if you knew how difficult it is for me to stick to things, you’d be amazed that this has lasted so long 🙂

July total: 31.8 miles

August total: 20.3 miles (running), 10.6 miles (cycling/swimming)

july runs


Personal records:

Ran 2 miles without stopping! (July)

Fastest 5k times (36:16 in July to 35:40 in August)

Most calories burned (524- July)

Farthest distance (4.01 miles- July)

This is the first time I’ve done a calendar format and it’s interesting to see the trends. I tend to run in two day increments, oddly. I do one long-ish run per week (although I did three long runs on the 4th week of July!). My running was definitely too haphazard- for one whole week in each of the months, I didn’t run at all! And apparently I was only motivated to run at the end of the week in August… Despite not getting very many records and not sticking to any sort of schedule at least I ran, right? I’ll definitely aim higher this month though. Most of my runs were at Foster Park since it’s so close, although it might help me to vary the locations so that it doesn’t get monotonous. I finagled (great word right?) my wonderful husband into running with me a few times and I hope to keep doing that when our schedules match up. I also ran on a treadmill for the first time in over a year and I don’t like it as much as running outside, but it’s convenient when I also need to bike and swim that day.

Here are some highlights of my notes in Runkeeper:

July 3rd: “…its crazy how much my mental determination or lack thereof makes a difference…”

July 11th: “Woot! Fastest 3.1 time yet! AND I ran 1.5 without stopping! I started out slow (11:00 mile) and walked a bit. I ran around the park a few times (a little scary after dark) and then around the streets by the house. I felt like I could run for miles 🙂 I’m really proud of myself!”

July 15th: “…I did get to my happy running place though 🙂 I need to remember to push through the first mile and a half-ish and then I’ll be fine. Maybe if I think of the first mile and a half as a warm-up?”

July 26:”Ran 2 miles straight! I went slow and steady and it felt good! I didn’t do negative splits but i did both miles at the same pace (12:09)!”

July 25: “Woot! Started out with a slow one mile (it really helps to think of it as a warm-up), walked .25, then ran another mile! Walked another .25 and finished off 3.1 with a run. Did a 5k in 37 min exactly! I’m really proud of myself. Then I walked .25 and ran .5. Then walked the last bit. Did 4 miles total in 49 min!!!! My last 4 miler took 54, so a great PR for me :-)”

Aug. 16: “Terrible. Note to self: poptarts are not enough food to fuel a run! Ran .5, walked .25, ran .5, walked .5, ran .5. Ugh. BUT I did it and that’s all that matters.”

Aug 14: “Ran at Jackson morrow park with Duke. Ran one, walked .4, ran one, walked .2, and sprinted the last .5. It felt good, especially after a weekend where I couldn’t run at all. I hardcore sprinted the last .25- it was awesome. Had sweat/tears in my eyes, snot globs on my face- but it was worth it bc I PR’d!!! Best 3.1 yet and I wasn’t even trying until the very end. Proud of myself :-)”

My goals for September are:

– Complete the LazyMan by the 11th (I’m getting pretty close! 9 out of 26.2 miles ran, 30 out of 112 miles biked, and 1 out of 2.4 miles swam already!)

– Run more regularly- hopefully using this training plan will accomplish this.

– Run in more locations than just Foster Park.

– Run a 5k!

Have you been sticking to your workout plan this summer? What are your running goals this month?

Hope you’re having a blessed day!


Falling Behind

falling behind

Isn’t falling behind one of the worst feelings? Whether it’s school or work or fitness… the short-term act of avoiding responsibility feels so good and then time goes on and suddenly you’re hopelessly behind. That’s how it is for me, at least. Avoidance begets avoidance and productivity begets productivity (who uses the word begets anymore?). This month is an unfortunate case in point: it’s been 23 days since I last posted on here and 8 days since I last ran. That is the longest amount of time I’ve skipped running since I started this whole venture.

I’ve been beating myself over the head about it, yet nothing has changed. So I’m starting a crazy event to motivate myself: the Lazy Man Triathalon. Hosted at my YMCA, it’s an event in which you run 26.2, bike 112, and swim 2.4 miles. It’s called the Lazy Man because you can choose to complete it in 2 days, 3 days, 4-7 days, or two weeks. I don’t have a bike (and I don’t want to spend hours on the spin bikes- can you say painful???), so I’m just going to do the running and swimming I think. My goal is to complete it in two weeks.

Wish me luck! I figured that the best way to become motivated about exercise again is to give myself a goal, so why not make it a crazy one, right? As for the blog, a July/August running update is coming soon, as well as a scrapbooking post. Plus, Laura should be posting more about her adventures! If you’ve wondered why she’s been silent lately, it’s because she moved from Sandpoint, ID back to San Diego, CA with a vacation in between. She’s a busy woman!

I’ll be updating you on my progress with the Lazy Man, so keep checking back and feel free to (figuratively) hit me over the head with a 2×4 if I’m not on track! What challenges have you set for yourself lately, or have you fallen behind like me? Let me know in the comments!



Guilt-Free Scrapbooking

“I’m too busy to scrapbook.”

“I’ll do it when I’m old and have nothing else to do.”

“I have all of this paper and crafty stuff, but when I get it out it’s so overwhelming.”

“How will catch up on the years and years that aren’t scrapbooked yet?”

Although I love the idea of scrapbooking, these are thoughts that have crossed my mind at some point or the other. For a long time I’d do it in great bursts of productivity where I’d get ten pages done in a few days, and then nothing for months after that. I have to confess, my wedding scrapbook still isn’t done (over two years later). After years of struggle I finally stumbled upon a solution that works for me. I actually enjoy scrapbooking instead of looking at my “Pictures” file on my computer and being filled with guilt.

Some of the regular readers might be thinking what in the world does this have to do with running/healthy living? Our blog title/tagline reads “Sisters in Search… of health, happiness, and holiness.” Well, we write a lot about the first one, some about the last one, and not so much about the middle one. I think that as much as running and staying healthy is a huge part of my life, it won’t make me happy. I could be the best/fastest runner in the world and that alone still wouldn’t guarantee happiness, right?

So what does make me happy? My relationship with Christ, for one. My relationship with my husband. Basically, the “rest” of my life that isn’t a huge feature on this blog. So in an effort to show more of who I am and what makes me tick, I’m going to start featuring the scrapbooking that I do for my little family. Like running, it will help me be accountable for keeping up with it every month and I’ll get to show off my hard work a little bit 🙂 I’ll let you know what’s working/not working for me and hopefully give you ideas and inspire you to scrapbook on your own!

I know there are a TON of time-consuming and tedious ways to scrapbook, but here’s what I’ve figured out is best for me:

1. Using Project Life.

Developed by the brilliant Becky Higgins, this system takes the stress out of scrapbooking by basically doing the layouts and color coordination for you. You can buy clear 12×12 photo pocket pages in a variety of layouts, plus coordinated cards (my favorite design, SeaFoam, is on the link) that come in sizes that fit in the pockets, and literally all you do is take your photos and slip them in the pockets. Then you take the cards and write whatever you want on them, and slip those in the remaining pockets. On her website it says that her system makes scrapbooking “guilt free” and “less time consuming” and that is SO true. I can’t second those statements enough! Find out more about Project Life here.

2. Doing a page (or so) per month.

Although the Project Life website suggests doing a weekly page, that would be a nightmare for me. Doing it once a month takes the pressure off and I actually look forward to scrapbooking instead of dreading it. I also find myself including more day-to-day activities instead of having just major events like vacations/birthdays/holidays. Sometimes I’ll include movie tickets or pictures of pretty flowers (you know how much I love those!)- things that probably wouldn’t make it into a normal scrapbook.

Confession #2: I haven’t been keeping up on this very well (as in, I’m scrapbooking February right now), so I hope this will help keep me accountable. I did it every month from August 2012 to December 2012, which is a pretty big deal for me but life (moving, new puppy, new job, school) got in the way and I want to scrapbook regularly again! So here goes… I hope you join me!

Here are some pictures of pages I’ve done in the past. The rest are here on my Pinterest. Enjoy!

One of the Dec 2012 pages

One of the Dec 2012 pages- the square that the movie ticket is in and the top right card are examples of the Project Life cards you can buy.

A Nov page

A Nov page- no Project Life cards, although the pocket pages were invaluable here!

Another Nov page

Another Nov page- this time I didn’t use anything Project Life related. Although it’s a useful tool, sometimes it just doesn’t work with the photos I have.

Photo Aug 06, 1 29 00 PM

An up-close look at one of the pages: Thanksgiving with the lovely Laura! The two 3×4 cards on the top right are both Project Life, as well as the one on the bottom left that you can barely see (it has a dark red background with brighter red dots on it).

MyFitnessPal Review


After reading this post from Greatist about the best health and fitness apps, I decided to try MyFitnessPal. It’s a calorie-counting app that hooks up with RunKeeper (I first mentioned it here). When I joined it asked me how much I weigh now, how much I want to weigh in the future, and the rate at which I would like to lose weight. Then it comes up with how many calories you can eat per day, a number which grows when it adds in workouts from RunKeeper or ones you put in manually.

Today is the fourth day that I’ve been using it and so far I’d give it a 6 out of 10. I’ll start with the good: The front screen of the app tells me what I need to know at a glance- how many calories I have left today. There is a huge database of different foods and their nutritional information. I haven’t had a problem finding almost exactly what I’ve been eating. Sometimes portions are an issue (what does 8 oz of cereal look like?), but I just over-estimate and figure that should take care of it. I love being able to see the total nutritional information of one day. Any categories that are really out of balance (ahem, cholesterol and sodium???) show up in red and are really easy to see. It’s not hard to pinpoint areas that I need to improve on. The graph feature is great as well- at a glance I can see how well I ate that day. Finally, the ability to connect to RunKeeper is awesome, even if it is slow most of the time (I’ll get to that later).


The first screen- shows me what I need to know now.


Dairy view one: to add a food, I just touch the top right-hand corner.


Dairy view two (scrolled down a little): I like the water consumption option.


The red numbers show where I’ve gone over the nutritional limits.


the awesome graph view.

Onto the bad: Let’s start with the front screen again, this time we’ll discuss the useless newsfeed. I’m not one of the “diet with friends” type of people, so it’s annoying to have a little banner that says “Diet with friends and lose up to 3x more. Learn more” staring me in the face every time I open the app. No I do not want to learn more, MyFitnessPal. Below that is a newsfeed that updates incredibly slowly with no option to manually update it. For example, the only two items on my newsfeed now happened three days ago, even though I’ve been using the app everyday. If you’re going to have a newsfeed, at least have it update more than once every three days.

One of the main problems I have with the app is that it gives you a lot of information, but not necessarily a good way to analyze it. The graph charts and daily/weekly/monthly detailed nutritional information are all awesome, but it’s a little overwhelming and hard to know where to begin in improving your eating (except for the aforementioned red numbers). With so much information on such a small screen, the app is really clunky and hard to figure out. For example, the side to side arrows that let you switch between days are tiny and half the time it takes me a while to actually press them. If I wanted to see my nutritional info from a week or two ago, it would take forever! Compared to RunKeeper, where all it takes is a simple scroll down to see my past activities, this is very inconvenient. Speaking of RunKeeper, the connection is really slow. It took over an hour after my run for the activity to show up on MyFitnessPal (I know, first world problems), and there is no way to sync between the two apps. By the time it finally showed up, I had given up and already input the activity myself so I had to go in and delete the manual input. A small annoyance, but an annoyance nonetheless.

Overall, the app is somewhat difficult to use and fails on quite a few fronts. If you take it as just a calorie-counting app though, it does the job and connects with RunKeeper to boot. Will I keep using it? Yes. However, I hope the developers update the look, feel, and user-friendliness of the app soon!


check out the timing on this screen (picture taken today).