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I try to take long walks over my lunch hour. One of my favorite spots is along the Cedar River. We have a beautiful downtown trail that hugs the river through town for over a mile, and will soon extend over the river in a beautiful bike/pedestrian bridge. We have all kinds of birds that use the river (and trail) as a food supply. As I was walking today I couldn’t help but think of the traits of some of these birds and how they mirror the traits of some people I know (no names, of course).

Year round, the Cedar River area teems with Canadian geese. They love the trail even more than I do…because they leave multiple deposits everywhere they go. They nest along the river, pecking along the grassy banks for whatever food geese eat. (This blog is not meant to be a science lesson on the habits of Midwestern birds.) And they are more than slightly territorial…especially at this time of year. When those male ganders see a pedestrian, they stick their heads pretty high in the air, make some serious hissing noises, and intimidate me to no end. Even if it’s all an act, they are very believable, and I go a different route.

We also have a crow problem. I’m mean a serious crow problem. Three years ago city workers installed dead crows in the trees to try to deter the living ones…maybe it worked to some degree, but not totally. As the snow is melting, it’s uncovering dead crows everywhere. Large, ugly birds…which I’m sure have a purpose on this earth…but while living, tend to be loud and obnoxious, pushing into others birds’ nesting areas and eating dead animals. Yuck!

Lastly, we have a large, but temporary, population of bald eagles. Last week I counted over 30 of the large, majestic birds perched on a tree along the river, sometimes swooping down to catch an unwary fish but more often, gliding beautifully up and up and up through the sky. Soaring_EagleI was mesmerized today by the three or four I saw on a different stretch of river. They were perched on a patch of ice, occasionally lifting off to glide just above the surface of the water, and other times, playing “chicken” with each other. One in particular kept my attention. At first he drifted above the river, close enough that I could see his beautiful white head. But as I watched, he soared higher, and higher, and higher, until he was just a speck in the sky. It was obviously a good day to fly.

I started thinking…what kind of bird am I? And, what kind do I want to become? Am I only interested in protecting what’s mine, taking over and leaving crap everywhere I go? Or maybe I’m loud and obnoxious, a bully that’s satisfied with taking what isn’t mine and pushing everyone around. No – I desire to soar on eagles’ wings. And that means I must place my hope in the Lord. Only He can cause me to rise above my circumstances, my fears, my disappointments. Only He can renew my strength and give me the ability to fly.

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

 

 

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My 30-Day Gratitude chart has some very interesting topics on which to focus. Today says “What hour of the day are you grateful for?” This seems like a silly question to me, as I’m grateful for every hour of the day. Aren’t you? Why would I not be grateful for another hour to live, to breathe, to love, to eat, to sleep…whatever? Maybe they mean – “what hour of the day are you MOST grateful for?”

Easy – lunch hour.

And not just because it’s another opportunity to stuff my face.

Monday through Friday I work in an office where I sit for the majority of my 8 hour day. But on my lunch hour – almost every day – I walk. If it’s warm, I walk. If it’s cold, I walk. Even if it’s rainy, I walk. As you can tell, I’m somewhat obsessed with walking.

TrailWalking does many things for me, physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually. One website says a daily walk of 20-25 minutes could add 7 years to your life. Sounds great to me. The author, Dr. Mercola, claims a two-mile walk a day can cut your risk of heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. Other benefits include improved sleep, joint health, and circulation.

I love my lunch hour walk because it clears my head. I usually pop in my ear buds, turn on a walking playlist of music, and sing along as I walk through the neighborhood. Yes, I’ve received looks from other pedestrians, but I’m not concerned. I don’t sing THAT loud. By the time I’ve completed a 2 to 2.5 mile circuit around downtown, I feel refreshed and mentally ready to tackle the afternoon.

Even if the weather is cloudy, or chilly, or gloomy, I can walk because Cedar Rapids has a great skywalk system. If I start at our public library and walk to the end, including all the little side trips, I’ve gotten over two miles of walking…and stayed warm and dry. There are several restaurants along the route so if I feel inclined, I can stop for pizza, or a burger, or soup and salad. I can enter and exit the skywalk at over a dozen different locations, so I can do a little inside and little outside walking, depending on the weather and my mood.

Sometimes I leave my music in the office and pray as I walk. Sometimes I just think about the tasks I have left on my to-do list or what I’m going to blog about. My lunch hour walk is a sacred time for me, when I quiet my spirit and worship through music or prayer; when I give my body a good workout; or when I just think. I don’t believe it’s an accident that God promises to walk in close fellowship with us through life. He wants to accompany me as I journey along each day…not run from task to duty to job…but walk, conversing together as I put one foot in front of the other.

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

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hungry-games-logo

My taste buds are excited about next week. The Hungry Games are coming to Cedar Rapids.

Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week is March 1 – 6 and 29 area restaurants are going all out to draw us in and feed us great food, for a pretty inexpensive tab. Making it into a competition, participating restaurants are serving up special Hungry Games menus for lunch (only $10) and dinner ($25). They are hoping you’ll try more than one and then vote for your favorite. Check out the link to see all the restaurants and their offerings but, working downtown for the last 8 years has given me the opportunity to check out a lot of downtown eateries. So if you can’t decide where to start on your Hungry Games tour through food, I’ve compiled a Top 3 for various categories. I’m only listing those restaurants participating in Restaurant Week. Let the Games begin!

Top 3 Downtown Lunch Stops:

  1.  Need Pizza – so good that when my college kid comes home, it’s where he wants to go. They make your pizza any way you like it…truly.
  2. Rock Bar American Grill – great hamburgers, great price. FYI – The mechanical bull doesn’t run at lunch.
  3. The Lost Cuban – I’ve only been here once but really, really liked it. If the number of Rockwell engineer-types eating there is any indication, I’m not the only one.

Top 3 Outside of Downtown:

  1. Winifred’s – a special place to eat with special people. I have wonderful memories of my last time in the purple building along First Avenue. It’ll probably always be #1.
  2. Zeppelin’s – very good, very busy.
  3. Emil’s Hideaway – you’ve got to look for this one. It’s hidden behind the Taco John’s on First Avenue across from Lindale Mall, but it’s worth the search.

Downtown Top 3 I’m going to try (if not next week, sometime soon):

  1. Daisy’s Garage & Filling Station – ok, not right downtown, but I’ve been intrigued with this new restaurant since it opened last summer. The front door is a garage door which stays open on good weather days (which won’t happen here for about 4 more months). The menu is my draw: Steam pots, oil can burger, and Guinness shrimp.
  2. Popoli’s – more expensive and only open for dinner so it’ll have to be a “date night” try.
  3. Sauce – one of the many new restaurants in Czech Village. Located in a building slated for demolition after the 2008 flood, it was lovingly restored by the owners. I enjoy supporting local chefs who use as many local providers as possible.

I’ve personally eaten at 13 of the 29 restaurants participating in The Hungry Games so I have quite a few yet to sample. Probably won’t happen in one week but since eating is one of my favorite pastimes, I’m looking forward to a fun summer. Better get back to running!

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