Sunday, December 22, 2013

Running Humor

In 5 years of running, I've had my share of humorous (aka embarrassing) moments, so in light of that, I decided I'd share what I've learned.(And provide you readers with a laugh or 2). I'm going to back this up, starting with my very first race. When I decided to start running in 2008, I chose the Flying Pig Half Marathon to be my first race. I was such a rookie back then…


4 am, my alarm goes off, and I get up and begin my morning pre race routine. Only, because this was my first race, I didn't really know what the pre race routine was yet.  After preparing, we all exited the house on that rainy morning. It was still very dark outside, and I had no idea what I was getting into. I had butterflies in my stomach. My biggest fear? Getting lost. Yes, getting lost. I was afraid I wouldn't turn in the right place or that I would somehow take a wrong path. Little did I know there would be 10,000 or so runners around me and that fear would be non-sensical.
  My rookie behavior showed through as I got out of the car and began walking toward the start line.
 
  "Excuse me," I say to a couple of fit, experienced looking runners. "But where am I supposed to be? I've never done this before."

 The 2 fit (younger) runners looked at each other like, "Is she serious?" But answered, almost mockingly, "Well, over there, where the big start line is. You just line up."  And they were on their way; I never saw them again.

 I walked over to the start line area, and found my place in the middle of the street (aka the corral area). No one else was lining up. (Oh, did I mention there was still over an hour before it even began??) I learned from this experience, needless to say.

 Anyway, as the race took off, I found myself really needing to use the bathroom. I felt like it would pass, because perhaps I was just nervous. Mile 1, I passed the port-a-potties and kept going. I was convinced I could hang on. Mile 2….I slowed a little bit, but kept going. By mile 3, I knew I could not go 10 more miles holding it! So I stopped for the port-a-potty line. Yes. I said Line. I waited my turn, knowing that the clock was ticking (literally). When i finally got in and sat down and "felt better", to my dismay, there was no toilet paper! I had to resort to creativity. And press on. (But I admit, I was self conscious about it the entire rest of the race and endured some jokes about it after the fact.)  I finished in just under 3 hours (ok. Literally my time was 2:59:37) But I finished…. And I didn't get lost.
  I also learned from this first race experience to ALWAYS take Immodium before every race and make use of the port-a-potties all along the start area 15 minutes prior to race kickoff.

  What else have I learned from silly running experiences??
 -DO NOT take your brand new dog out for a run before you know how he behaves and he knows you. I made this mistake. I had just gotten the dog I'd always wanted: A weimararner. We changed his name, and on the 2nd day of having him, I decided I wanted to take him for a run. Only the problem came 3/4 of a mile into it. Having never really tripped running, that was not an obstacle I'd considered. Yet this time, I tripped and literally went flying in the air, skidding across the sidewalk. My dog ran off, I was crying, and it took a half hour to chase him down. I was left with a scraped body and pride. And a lesson well learned: wait 'til you know your pet to take him running! (Or perhaps the lesson was Don't trip!)
  -Stretching is more important after a run than before. I figured this out through my experience post first half marathon, when bending over to tie my shoes hurt and i walked oddly, as if I'd been horseback riding and my legs were a bit stuck that way.
 - On long training runs, I need to pack toilet paper in my water backpack. I learned this lesson the hard way: I was out for a 14 mile run (training for a full marathon), and there were no bathrooms for miles. I could not wait any longer, so I discreetly (as discreet as one can be on a bike path) did what any good runner would do: I fixed the problem.( And left a bit of clothing on the side of the path behind me due to lack of toilet paper…again, I used my creativity).
  - If I fall, get up. Keep going. It's funny. (So long as I am not hurt).It's also a great life lesson. I once was running in the dark (as I usually am, actually. 4:30 am runs are lit by the moon only), on a slightly broken up path, and while picking up speed to finish out the last mile strong, I found a part of the broken path with the tip of my shoe and skidded hard (on my side). Apparently I have fallen more than I thought. Anyway, I got up, laughed at myself, and finished strong.
  running has taught me much about determination, satisfaction, passion, accomplishment and a love for something I never thought possible. I have also learned to laugh at myself…..And always have toilet paper as one of the running necessities.
(Taken at the Flying Pig Expo)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The pursuit of….diligence?

This week a friend asked me if I were to be summed up in one word by another person, what word would that person choose? I found that to be a very thought provoking question. I know what I would like to be said, but her response (and she knows me quite well) was very different from what I would've said. However, the conversation took me back to a word, falling under a different category:
     Diligent.
  Back in the beginning of 2013, by the prompting of a fellow blogger, I chose a word for which I wanted to define the year.  While many came to mind, diligent was what stuck out, so that became my choice.
 I have been thinking about that recently and with the year growing closer to the end, I was evaluating a little bit.  The reality of my diligence results left me realizing a few new things about myself.
 
  I wanted to become more diligent in :
    my role at home: being a wife and a mom
       my life dreams
          my prayer life and walk with God
              mom's scholarship

In my reflections the last few days, I have come to realize that as I became more diligent in one area, sometimes another area lacked. Usually, the area that lacked should have been the larger priority. It's a work in progress for me.

  Through the last months, I have learned the beauty of diligence in prayer. I have seen answers to thing I know only God could have done. I have developed new friendships for which I prayed about for a very long time. I have felt new peace in areas only He could do that. I also have felt redirection at times when I didn't really want to feel it, but nonetheless, deepening that time with Him helped me see circumstance and events in all new light.  Time praying….and listening….has become some of the most powerful moments of my year thus far.

  Diligence in the 5K, mom's scholarship,  showed great results, in our nearly doubling the scholarship fund this year. Through that process of diligence, I did come to learn the hard way that my diligence in my home lacked during that time. It's not always (ok, rarely) good to sacrifice one area of life for another. My family was amazing through the process of planning the event, though. Diligence is a great aspect to have in light of life dreams, but at times needs to be checked as well.

  Diligence in my role at home needs some work. I'd like to say that this role took my priority slot this year. Some days it did; other days, not so much. I struggle very much as a working mom/wife, to balance this aspect. Diligence in my role at home doesn't always mean a spotless home, either. Diligence at home often times should mean leaving the floor a bit dirty and reading to Elizabeth; or folding clothes later so I can jump on the trampoline with Joseph. Those moments matter far more than a moment of a clean floor in light of eternity.

 Life dreams....this aspect of diligence is one which shifted greatly this year. I started out 2013 with every intention of being back in school this year. I was determined this was the year. However, in my diligence in prayer time, I felt God redirect my steps significantly and tell me "No" to school. My first inclination was to fight that. I was sure that I was supposed to go to school. After all, I'd been saying it since I was 18. However, the more I pursued it, the more evident I was not supposed to take that path. I fought God many times on it, telling Him (Haha- as if I should be telling God what I should do!) that I was not supposed to be "Just" a barista the rest of my life; I was supposed to be in school! But He patiently redirected my heart over this. He opened my eyes to new aspects of my job and brought new excitement and joy to it. He showed me powerful pieces to what I do. And through the process of redirecting this piece of diligence, I believe one of the most important aspects I took away from it was that I am not "just" a barista; He has made me to be so much more. And through it, I developed a new love of my job. More importantly, I have developed a new sense of who He created me to be. He redirected my life dreams so I can more diligently focus on my family. and He planted new life dreams in my heart. (Stay tuned for future posts on that....)
 
  All this to say, I am not sure diligent would be a word that adequately described the year as I had anticipated. (Just as my friend's word to describe me was not a word I would have chosen). But as often times is the case, God's view of what the year should be is often different than what I say it should be. And His plans are always better than mine.
   Jeremiah 29:11 -12 , Message version
  "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out-plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen."
   His plans for my future are far better than mine.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Treasure

Growing up, one of our Christmas traditions was a treasure hunt. I was recalling this memory recently as I thought about treasure .
  One of us always had to hunt for something…and usually that something was a big gift to us. One year, my uncle sent all of us cousins on a treasure hunt of clues. Each clue was part of the puzzle and then we put it all together, only to have to solve a riddle. Long story short: he was taking us all toChicago for a weekend (the only time i have ever been there!). That was a treasure worth seeking.
  One year, mom sent me on a treasure hunt for my leather jacket. Also a big deal for me.

Sometimes, though, it was little things which were part of the treasure hunt. One year we sent mom on a treasure hunt for a trash can! (Which she totally loved!)

 The point is, seeking for treasure is fun. Everyone wants treasure. Everyone also wants to BE treasured.  I have pondered this much lately.

  To treasure is defined as:verb
  1. 1.
    keep carefully (a valuable or valued item).
    synonyms:cherish, hold dear, prize, value greatly;

    We all want to feel that way. We all want to be treasured, cherished, held dear and valued greatly. To know that someone loves us that much to consider us treasure. Sometimes, though, society makes this difficult. 

     Society holds us to "values" which are unachievable, and puts worth in places where it does not belong, such as beauty, status,or  position in a company or even how much we do in general. And the more we are immersed in society, the harder it becomes to see treasure from God's perspective : the heart, relationship with Him, how we love others, and who HE is shaping us to be. 

     This year, I have been learning and re-learning the lesson that no matter how I feel about myself, or even how others may feel about me, I am treasured by God. This is a very difficult application to put into practice, I admit. I am not very good at remembering this day in and day out. But when I allow myself to seek God earnestly, just as I would seek a treasure, He reminds me that I am a treasure to Him. 

    In Psalm 139, we are told :  
           Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
        you formed me in my mother’s womb.
    I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
        Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
        I worship in adoration—what a creation!
    You know me inside and out,
        you know every bone in my body;
    You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
        how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
    Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
        all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
    The days of my life all prepared
        before I’d even lived one day.
    17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
        God, I’ll never comprehend them!
    I couldn’t even begin to count them—
        any more than I could count the sand of the sea.



    Now there are some treasured thoughts there…. 

    This is a lesson I have to remind myself of day in and out, but it's worth relearning over and over to catch a glimpse of just how much I am treasured by Him. 



Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Worn out Bible of a Tireless Prayer Warrior



A tireless prayer warrior. That was my mom. I have titled a few blogs "The Singer" "Love for Words and Books" and things of that sort. But lately I have been remembering mom as the tireless prayer warrior. I found her many mornings and even afternoons, with her Bible open, scribbling notes, praying for many others about all occasions. Some days it was for us, her kids. Other days for her friends. Sometimes likely for her own heart, though those were held close to her.  I found her even praying the scriptures.
   Her Bible was well used. The black leather cover was worn from its moments of tirelessly being read. The binding on it was taped, having been opened and closed time and time again. The pages have been underlined, noted and worn thin.
  And lately, I have been reading through her Bible, so wishing I were sitting across from her to talk about it instead. Wishing I could hear her words of encouragement over a cup of coffee on a day so needed. But she left behind traces of her thoughts through her worn Bible pages. Evidence of her constant dependence on God and her thirst to know Him more every day. Reminders, even, to me, of what encouraged her which she would often times use to encourage me.
  She would humbly sit quietly before God , not seeking attention, only earnestly seeking Him.

She left a legacy for me to remember. Her worn out Bible tells a story about her deeply rooted life in Christ.

 It's nearly impossible to go through a holiday season and not think about mom. I told a friend recently that it doesn't get easier each year, it just gets different, not having mom. This year is different. We will be at dad's, where evidence of mom's life still lingers in corners. Memories will be risen which haven't been thought about for a bit of time, simply by being in their home. And yet that will be a wonderful experience, too. A time to laugh and make new memories; a time to remember; and a time to be thankful for what she instilled in each of us. I don't go into Thanksgiving sad per say, missing her. I go in thankful. There can be moments where that is a hard emotion to choose, but I am Thankful for all she taught me; thankful that she was a tireless prayer warrior; Thankful that she wore her Bible thin and I can now, 2 years even after she's gone, find her wisdom penned in the pages of her lifeline, God's Word.  I am thankful for all she taught me, and even today continues to do so.
  I am thankful that mom was a tireless prayer warrior and that she wore her Bible thin in the process.




Friday, November 22, 2013

Thank-FULL heart

Tis the season of the holidays and bustle of "Are you ready  for Christmas? " "Are your kids excited for the holidays?"
  The stores have all the Christmas decor up already.

But in our house, we are focusing on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. I love this holiday because it is probably one of the least recognized ones….most are ready to skip around to Christmas already. I love this holiday because it's all about family- everyone together, without the focus of opening gifts and material things (not that I"m opposed to gifts, mind you, just that I like a holiday where that isn't a focus.) I love Thanksgiving for the food, the fall atmosphere, the football and the parade (watching Macy's parade is probably one of our biggest traditions for the day). But most of all, I love Thanksgiving for the very reason of it's name: being Thankful.

 I see on Facebook and other places where people are writing things once a day for which they are thankful. I wish that we would do that all year, and not just during this one month. I speak to myself here as well. Being thankful creates a FULL heart. I admit I get away from this aspect of life too often.

 In our busy lives, it can become so easy to focus on the bad of the day or the exhaustion of the moment or the irritation of another person interrupting….but what if we chose to look at the good in the day instead? To write down, for even just one week, all the little things which stood out in the day that were fun or happy or moments of recognizing God in all His beauty. I practiced this for a bit this year, but then allowed all the distractions to get in the way. But in looking back on some of the things which I wrote, here were a few. Even just reviewing these caused me to pause and be thank-full.
   -The click clack of my dog's excited feet on the wood floors
     -Braiding elizabeth's hair
        -Storm clouds
    -Cool breeze in the warm summer
        -Kisses from Michael for no reason
  -Warm brownies
 - God's perfect grace
      -My customer's interest in my life and asking about my day in a genuine manner.
 -Fog accents across the crescent moon; almost God's breath across the sky
       -Silly memories that come to mind about mom so often, such as the silly songs we'd sing like John Jacob Jingle Heimer Smith (sp???) and that list of songs continues….
 -Jumping on the trampoline and laughing at ridiculous things in the process


The list goes on. As I recall these things, a smile lights my face and gratitude fills my heart even yet again. I want to be thankful all year, not just in this season. The more thankful we are, the more Full we become. Try it….one thing at a time, one day at a time, it can likely become a new beautiful habit.



 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gratitude from a child's perspective

I learn from my children more often than they know.
  Today my daughter's school called telling us she'd been to the nurses office and they thought she needed glasses. It was news to us, but nonetheless, we took her for an eye exam and lo and behold, she definitely needed them.

 During her meal with her daddy before the exam, her prayer was "Please don't let me have to get glasses."
 Then she went for her exam to find out she needed them.
   At dinner, her prayer was this: "Thank you for letting me find out I need glasses so I can see better."

It was in that moment when she really taught me something. She asked God for one thing, but when it turned out differently than she wanted, she still thanked God. She allowed herself to see Him in it, to find the good, to be thankful. She could have been mad, but she was grateful that she'll now be able to better see.
  An attitude of gratitude.

That is what I want to have.
 
That is the small, yet powerful, lesson my 11 year old reminded me of/taught me today.

 How many times do I ask God for something, only to have to wait….or be told no…or to see it pan out differently? And when that happens, do I thank Him? Honestly: usually not.
  And so I challenge myself and you in this season where everyone remembers what they are thankful for, to be thankful every day. To be thankful when it doesn't go my way. To thank God even when the answer is different from what I expect or want.
  To have an attitude of gratitude no matter what…..one day at a time.
 
After all, sometimes we need better glasses to see life more clearly. Gratitude can do that for us.

I am thankful for my daughter teaching me something quite valuable that as an adult I often times have abandoned.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

When Jack Frost and I became friends

Jack Frost met me at the door this morning, as I stepped out to run.
  I literally opened the door to a burst of biting wind, and my dog sat down and looked at me like "Are we seriously going out in this??"

 I have never liked the cold weather. I dread its arrival every year, to be quite honest. When I lived in Florida, I always said I'd never move back to a cold place (never say never, by the way! often times God has other plans. ) My first year of running (2008), I did my training on a treadmill in the beginning of winter because I said I couldn't stand the cold. Then one morning, during a 6 mile run on the treadmill, I thought to myself how awful it was looking at the same spot for 6 miles, wondering when it would be over, instead of enjoying the running. So I broke down and bought the winter gear and said I'd try it out.
  That winter, I felt like I could say I was a runner for the first time. I ran in the snow. Sleet would freeze on my glasses (I quickly learned that it didn't matter if I needed them to see if the sleet was going to prevent that anyway ; I may as well leave them at home), my nose would run simply because of how cold it was, I discovered that spandex weren't so bad after all, and that there was a freedom in running in ridiculous winter condition/temperatures.

 Last year was a mild winter for  the most part, and I did not have to walk outside in dread many times. When this week rolled around (Now my training is back in swing after a brief break), and the weather man said the awful four letter word- s n o w- I was not excited. However, I pulled out my gear and prepared my mind for the task of braving the cold yet again.

 4 am arrived quickly and as I peeked out the window, Snow had indeed fallen. Even if it wasn't anything but a dusting, it was there nonetheless.

 I grabbed the leash, and initially my dog jumped in anticipation, knowing it meant I was taking him with me. However, when the door opened, I think he thought twice about his excitement. But we stepped out the door, and I said hello to Jack Frost for the first time this season.
  The hardest part about a run on a cold day is starting. Once I am going, there is beauty found in the cold temperatures. A silver lining, even, if you want to say. I am enjoying a moment most people are hating. I get to see God's beauty of the new season around me and soak in the moments of quiet because no one in their right mind is outside just having fun (especially at that hour!) I heard the crunch of frozen leaves under my feet. I saw grass draped with pure white dustings of softly fallen snow. I felt the sting of cold biting my cheeks, even as my warm breath puffed small clouds of steam onto my glasses. And one of my favorite parts about running in the wee morning hours: the beauty of the sky. There were streaks of grey painted across the black night, evidence of "Jack Frost" weaving his way into our lives again, through the hand of God's beauty. Stars sparkled at me, as if to shout, "Welcome to a new day! I'm so glad you are out and about." And the shining moon, blazing its light proudly among the streaks of grey. If I didn't run at that hour, I'd never enjoy those moments. God's beauty at a whole new level. Snow and cold and all.
  So, many ask me why I run even when it's so cold. Especially because most who know me know I really don't like the cold. My answer is: because I have seen the beauty in it. I have learned to enjoy every season and appreciate what each one brings. I have been drawn closer to God's creation simply by allowing myself to step more fully into it. I have even become friends with "jack frost" to a certain degree. I would not have those experiences if I didn't allow myself to step outside in those moments.
 My dog and I survived our first cold run of the year just fine; he was even ready to go the next day without hesitation. Perhaps he saw the beauty in Jack Frost as well…..
    So one season at a time, one run at a time, one day at a time, I have begun learning to enjoy each season. both in literal speaking, and in relation to life's seasons as well.
    I typically dread winter; this year, I choose to say "Welcome, Jack Frost. You have taught me new things about God's beauty."
 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Looking backwards at the view from behind

Looking backwards or Looking behind.  Sometimes the view is even more gorgeous when we glance behind us and we appreciate it even more. My ever wonderful (but younger) brother reminded me of this this past weekend.

I was on my first trip ever alone without kids or husband. EVER. In 12 years of being married, I have never gone away alone for even a night. I was like a child on this experience, full of both excitement and a bit of fear. I had 3 different planes to catch, one with a very short windowed layover. I was so excited to be out on a new adventure. I walked through my first connecting flight's airport (Chicago O'Hare) and stood for a few moments in the crosswalk area just looking.
 People everywhere….buzz all around me…..a dinosaur replica!! and the list goes on for the sites I was seeing. I made my first connecting flight just fine, but then we sat on the tarmac for a bit too long and I knew I may not make the next one just as well. Lo and Behold, I did not. I missed my next flight. The situation grew worse when they had no more flights (which would take me to my final destination) and I had a crossroad decision to make. Long story short: I spent the next 5 hours alone in the LA airport waiting on my brother to drive there to pick me up as opposed to waiting the next 11 hours to arrive at the destination . My brother was a real trooper, driving all night to get me in LA and then 6 hours back to his home…..all so I could be there for 2 days with him and his new baby and his wonderful wife.

  This all to say that I was really upset at the onset of missing my flight. I was so mad. 2 minutes. That was all I missed it by. 2 stinkin' minutes!!!!
  But in the end, my brother and I had an amazing journey we would not have otherwise had: 6 hours together alone in a car, catching up on life, talking about God and politics and life crisis and emotions and everything that we haven't been able to talk about since we were teenagers because we haven't had that much time together! We drove across CA, Nevada, Arizona and finally arrived in UT. The entire time , as we talked, my eyes were wide as we drove across country I'd never seen. I felt like I was in a new world! Not to mention the wonderful company of my little brother .
    Quite literally I kept saying "This is so beautiful! Oh, look at that, Tim! Oh my, I've never seen mountains like this! Oh….look at that! What city is this? The  Desert….gorgeous! Who knew?? Tim, you didn't tell me it was this beautiful!"
 And he would smile and say "Do you want to stop for pictures?"  He was a trooper.
  I could gush on about the entire experience, but in the midst of the drive to his home through the wee early morning hours, when we stopped once for a short break, as I got out of the car and could fully see the view, I said to him " Wow…it's just as beautiful if not more from this side, already having come through it. " The car had to some degree blocked a bit of the majestic beauty surrounding me.
  My brother profoundly said "That's just like life. When we take time to look back at the view or what we just experienced, we see the beauty. In the midst of it, it's not always recognized."
   I loved that. And then I thought on that. How many times to I allow a "car" to block my view? Maybe a bad day; maybe a grumpy child; maybe exhaustion from my day; maybe something so small as a cake ruined or my inability to sew something simple and having to ask….. I allow those things to block the view of what can be beautiful moments . When I get past all that, I can look back and laugh and see what God was trying to teach me, show me, or allow me to experience. I can't truly see it in the moment because I was so annoyed by the interference. Even on my flight experience. I was annoyed at missing my plane. But had I not missed that flight, I would not have been able to soak in some of the gorgeous sights around me; I would not have had a really wonderful quality hour (or 6) with my brother. It was a beautiful thing to see looking back.
 So, all this to say…..enjoy the view. It might not be as pretty when you are in the center of it, but more often than not, in looking back, you can find beauty. Stop and appreciate it. (Speaking to myself here, too.). One day at a time, one experience at a time, He is teaching me this.
   Here are some of the views I enjoyed- some were taken on that photo stop. Some were just silly shots taken along the way.
   




Sunday, October 27, 2013

R.E.S.T.

" Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28

Much is to be said about and for the aspect of rest. It's almost ironic to write a blog about it, really. Nonetheless, it's what I am learning and what's on my heart, so it's what I write. I will, however, strive to be as brief as possible.

 We Americans, especially  those of us who are "working" moms, tend to lose out on rest. Everything is in high demand to be done now, right away, at everyone's beck and call.
  However, we cannot do that without also including rest in our lives…..somehow.

I will be the first to say I stink at this. I don't rest well.
  I don't sleep enough hours.
 I am up early, and I go all day long. I don't sit still. If I'm on the couch, I am generally folding laundry or writing a note or doing emails or SOMETHING. It's ridiculous really. But it's partially my fault. I love to do things for people.
   Text are immediate response.  Emails come to the phone. I work on a persons drink before they even speak what it is...And the list goes on….  Even my decompress time in life is RUNNING!

 Lately, God has been speaking to me the words REST.
  It came a bit forceable, I admit. It came because I got very sick. And yes, I pushed through even that, not even resting to get better as I should. However, in that occurrence, it has caused me to pause more and really ponder this topic. It's on my heart. I am learning it. And while I don't have it figured out, I am striving to embrace it.

REST.
  Really be quiet.
  Earnestly seek God.
  Stop all the extra activity.
  Take time to enjoy what matters.

He wants to fill me up so I can in turn pour out His love into others. But I can't do that when I'm totally expended. So He is teaching me to R.E.S.T.
 Really be quiet. Get up. Pray. Read His word. Soak in the silence. Silence will rebuild my tired body and heart and mind.
 Earnestly seek God. Pray. But don't just pray and then rush on. Pray. Stop. Wait for His beckoning back to me. Listen. Listen to what He is telling me.
 Stop all the extra activity. Sometimes this isn't practical. Other times, it has to be practiced. Take a break from running, take a break from lunch dates and emails and (yes, blogs, even).
 Take time to enjoy what really matters. In all the chaos of being so busy, I miss out on laughs with the kids, conversations with my husband, opportunities to see God in the every day moments.

 We have to take breaks so that we can be rebuilt physically (and not be sick), emotionally (and not have total meltdowns over spilled coffee beans…I may or may not have had that moment), and most importantly- spiritually (and not be so busy we drown out what God is teaching and showing).

 I'm far from mastering this. It is really hard for me, to be honest. But I'm working on it…one day at a time.
   "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I stand in awe

I sit here in front of my screen with awe in my heart and emotions captured inside me, ready to burst out of me, only to feel dumbfounded as to how to adequately express them to my audience.
  Last week held a number of emotions for me, leading up to the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K. The event which I am fortunate enough to organize in memory of my beautiful mom. Just like a child who builds so much anticipation for Christmas morning, months led up with that building anticipation for me for the few hours that would unfold in the 2013 event.
  The week of, my body was screaming it had had enough, as I came down with what felt like the world's worst cold. It was a nudge in my side yet again reminding me, I can do nothing apart from the strength of Christ.
   Volunteers came together to bag up the shirts and numbers and "goodies" that each participant would get. Checks and even more registrations were rolling in. By God, all things were lining up in good fashion. All things were building the excitement and anticipation of Saturday's event.
   Family came in from out of town. Mom's friends from college even came in this year. The sounds of the chatter were becoming quite contagious.
   Saturday morning, I was up early and finishing up packing the car with last minute items, as is the normal for me on the day of the event. With a quick hug and kiss, I was out the door before the rest of my family.
  Upon arrival at the scene, my right hand buddy, Dawn, drove in right behind me. Without her help, I may have lost my mind (Not to mention my keys, which she assured me more than once were in her possession).  I had a great team of volunteers this year, allowing me to be free to direct better. Fast forward to the scurry moments of runners bustling about and friends and family showing up and more than ever for us on site registrants, we were feeling the buzz in the air, played to the beat of the DJ's music.
   Mom and dad's pastor arrived and we shared a small conversation. A little about mom, yes. But more so about what this event is all about: helping out the students who get the scholarship.  As the music quieted and prayer was beginning, I moved to my place to sound the starting horn. New course this year; new people this year; new emotions. I stood in awe. Literally.
 I stood in awe of God's provision for my strength and energy
   I stood in awe of the beauty of the day.
    I stood in awe of how far God has brought me since that day long ago when mom passed away.
    I stood in awe of the amount of runners crowding in this year.
      I stood in awe of what months of planning ultimately led up to in that moment.
   And I'd like to think mom was standing in heaven looking down on the moment as well.

Not crying took all the energy I had, but I held it together and sounded the horn and they took off! I exhaled deeply and took it all in. God is so good.
  The day went on without a hitch, quite honestly. Michael took care of making sure all was well on the course.The kids ran/walked the event. My brother jogged his way strongly through it and dad finished the event in his blue jeans, true to his normal, only this year, he added on a utility knife to his belt to make it even more picturesque.
   I held it together fairly well until the very end, when I allowed a few precious tears to fall. Tears of joy over raising more funds this year than we ever have yet; tears of exhaustion; tears of gratitude for all the support I felt from all those who came out for what we are trying to accomplish; and yes, a few tears  for the missed presence of my mom.
 Words don't do the emotions justice. I left the event with a very full heart. And renewed excitement for putting together an even better one next year, by God's grace.
  I stand in awe, as I was incredibly humbled this year through this experience. God taught me a lot on the journey traveled through the planning of the 2013 5K and I know He will continue to teach me as it continues to grow.
  I stand in awe.





Friday, October 11, 2013

Doing all things through Christ

I have been reminded today that I may make my own plans, but God ordains what my life is every step of the way.
  The fact that I have become quite sick this week, in the midst of a very busy time of an approaching event, is God's way of telling me to REST! I don't do that well. I am sure I will have to learn the lesson over and over, like a hammer slamming a nail into a wall. I very easily get caught up in the details and the daily grind that it usually takes getting sick to force me to take a deep breath and slow down.

This 5K is no exception, of course. I have run myself ragged, by my own fault, only to become sick and take away from a tad bit of the joy in the days leading up to the very event.
 So, I am once again humbly reminded that I can make all the plans I want, but God is in charge. Not me.  I have had to sleep at a time when (I felt) much needed done.
   I have had to call on others and ask for help in a situation that I want to do it all myself.
     I have had to call on all my prayer warrior friends asking for much prayer to get well, or at the very least, make it through.
      Most importantly, I have been reminded of the truth that I can do all things only through Christ.

Not through my strength and energy.
  Not through my friends' help.
    Not through my family's support.
I can do all things through Christ alone.
  He gives me people to help through the circumstances and events, but all in all, without Him I am nothing.

 So tomorrow, the event which I have spent months of time and energy and planning, is finally here. I am SO excited (and yes, nervous) to watch it unfold as God has planned, not as I have planned.
 And as next week brings me into a wind down, I will remember the valuable lesson I have been learning lately of rest, And strive to apply it. One day at a time.
 For all my readers who may be running tomorrow, below is a preview of a banner from one of our sponsors. For those of you who can't be there, but are faithful supporters in my life, thank you.
 Here is a caption of the energy our race will bring tomorrow.... a race that in essence makes a huge difference for the future!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Legacy Banquet

The Legacy Banquet.
  Tears filled my eyes on more than one occasion as the president of Cedarville University addressed the crowd....the crowd in which I unrealistically sit now each year in memory of my mom.
  Friday Night I had the opportunity to take part in the yearly Legacy Banquet at Cedarville University. This banquet is put on by the university to honor donors of scholarships.
  My dad and I are asked to be there to take part because of the scholarship we give out in memory of mom.
   The Legacy Banquet always is a humbling reminder of why we do what we do.

I love how this banquet falls at a time of year that happens to be the weekend before Mom's 5K. I love that because it is during this time that I am tremendously caught up in all the details of putting this event on. My living room is full of boxes of shirts, pens, coupons from sponsors, bib numbers and race details. All of these things are exciting elements of hosting an event which I love to do. However, the entire reason we put on this event is because we are striving to grow the scholarship in memory of mom.

 We are setting out to help students who could not otherwise afford to attend the University. We do this event to help these young individuals who will further His Kingdom, one patient at a time. We do this 5K so that we have funds to give as a gift to young people who will not touch just one person, but hundreds, on behalf of the love of Christ. We do this so that God can ultimately receive glory.
 The banquet helps remind me of our reasons at a time it can be easy to forget.

 Sitting next to my dad, taking in the events, the food, the speeches, and the students sitting among us, is a very humble reminder of the small piece we get to play being His hands for His plans.

 With this comes a varying amount of emotions.
     Renewed excitement for the upcoming event and what we are striving to accomplish.
        A twinge of sadness as we also recall the memory of mom that is bound to our scholarship.
            A sense of humility in playing a small part for His Kingdom.
    A sense of awe over all God is doing around us, through us, and for us.

I love doing the 5K, and it is just days away for me. But I love even more watching God work, and I see him do that every year in me through this event. The humble reminders handed out during the banquet often bring me back to the realities of His work.

 The time with my dad was precious as well. After the banquet, we stood under the stars talking, and even soaking in just a few quiet moments of nothing being said, knowing where both our thoughts were being directed- toward the beauty of my mom.
  This post today has nothing much profound to offer.  I am just being humbly reminded daily that I GET to be a part of His work each day, and my home is not here....but I am striving toward the eternal. Mom did that. She did that one day at a time, and now I am learning to be doing it one day at a time as well. The Legacy Banquet was a drop in the bucket of reminding me of that. Onward this week towards the unfolding of a piece of that work- the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K. One day at a time....It's not about me; It's about Him.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Humble Lessons

Over the last week, I have started 3 different posts.
 I have stared at the screen, piecing my thoughts together, only to have them fall apart or be interrupted.
 
  Writing is one of my passions, and yet, as life has been quite full lately, I have struggled to pursue it and make it happen. Not for lack of want, but for lack of time and putting my priorities in order. Even today, as I sit here, I am at a loss for how to put my words together of what is in my heart and what I want to say.

 And so, I will just share a bit of my heart and what I am learning. Perhaps next time there will be something more profound to share.

~John 15:5-"Apart from Me you can do nothing." Jesus said that. I am learning that.
         Anytime recently I have even attempted to do something on my own strength, plan , or energy, it falls apart somehow or does not come together in a neat, tidy bow.  I am in the midst of the heat of my "ahem..." God's 5K ...in memory of my mom. Times I have attempted to do something with it on my own idea or accord, I become frustrated. I have seen this. Yet when I stop and give it to Him and put Him in the middle, I see an answer. Sometimes, that answer is "no" other times, it comes together beautifully. Regardless of the answer, I see Him in the midst of it.  And it truly is HIS 5K, not mine. At times, I have to be humbly reminded of this.

 ~Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  (2 Cor. 12:9) 
   
Boasting about my weakness is a struggle for me, I will not even pretend it is not. I don't like my weakness... seriously, who does?? But my weakness comes in the form of anxiety. It isn't easily seen; I hide it well. The weakness of anxiety has made huge strides towards disappearing all together from my life, and I have been working to be totally off the medicine I've had to take for it. Yet just when I think it may be totally gone, there may be a small flare up of it. (Perhaps because of a large event pending and when I try to take control of it, God reminds me of my weakness so that I utterly depend on Him through it all. )  I cannot overcome the anxiety on my own. It will have to be a God oriented healing. Anxiety is often misunderstood by our culture, and deserves blogs all of its own. The point is, I wrestle with the beast of it. Anxiety is my weakness. My reminder that His power works through that. One day I may say I don't have it at all, I believe. But for now, I am reminded that He is all I need. I cannot do anything on my own strength. And I will BOAST in that fact.  Yes, I have anxiety more often than I'd care to admit. BUT guess what?? HE is stronger than it! And because of that I shout with joy at His strength! No matter what.....

    And those are just 2 lessons to recap what's been in my heart the last week as I have been daily working on His 5K coming in just 2 weeks. 
 I am a work in progress, a pot being molded by Him. Sometimes He has to smash me and start all over again, but that is what is so beautiful about His workmanship... and His mercies being new every day.... One day at a time. I will keep running the race for Him as I press on toward the ultimate goal: Life with Him ....one day at a time. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Open Eyes

"God is at work all around you"
 That is the statement that has stuck out to me today. And as I have been dwelling on that, my eyes are more open in so many aspects as to how that is true.

 He is in the brand new friendship He's given me in an already dear friend.
   He is in the kind words of customers .
    He is in the crisp, cool morning runs.
      He is in the warm cups of coffee I get to make over and over all day.
         He is in my husband's hugs and my children's laughter.
            He is in every single registration that files in for the 5K in memory of mom.
       He is even in my tears and my hurts.

I only need to open my eyes.

It's so easy to become consumed with daily details, bad news, ugly comments, disappointing people and frustrating circumstances.
  Yet I will be the first to say that lately, I have seen God with totally new eyes. I just had to ask. And OPEN them (both heart and eyes) ....to see what He is doing.

  When this happens, the above details become  :
      Daily blessings,
          growth opportunities
             moments to extend grace
                chances to see people in His eyes
                     and times to deepen my prayers and walk with Him....

And He is faithful . He is ALWAYS working in and around me. I just have to have open eyes.

 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

His Plans, My Hands

The 5K that takes place in memory of my mom is less than a month away, and I have been in full force planning mode the last weeks. The next few weeks will be just as much full with things like last minute emails, registrations still coming in, tshirts to come in, and goodie bags to be assembled.  These are the very exciting, yet very exhausting, days of the event coming to unfold.

  In these last few weeks, I have been asked :  
   "How's it going?"
    "Are you ready?

     "Are you excited?"
        "How's your family doing?" (Those closest to me can well understand that at times planning an event as large as a 5K can take a toll on family time)

 My answer was sounding like this:
  "It's good, but not where I want it."
     "I'm getting there."
  "I'm as ready as I can be at this point."
    "Family.....tough question. Trying to balance all that a bit better this year...."

It has been a year of learning with this event, but I won't cover those things until after the event takes place. What I really want to share today is this:

This event, done in memory of my mom, is to help fuel funds into a scholarship for students studying in the nursing field. These students study under a blanket of God's word and truths, and one day, they will be able to carry His light into a world where I cannot be.
   It's HIS event....I am just lucky enough to be HIS hands for it all to unfold.

He gave me a dream with this, but sometimes I have to remember it's not all about my goals. I'm a goal setter...and that is not a bad thing by any means. I believe you have to set goals to reach higher. However, I have remembered this week, as I have been piecing together more and more details and praying more and more over the event, that it's not about my goals.
 IT'S ABOUT HIM.
 I just get to be His hands.
       The cool thing that's struck me is that that applies to all my life:
  I'm His hands in the coffee shop every day.
     I'm His hands when I vacuum and do dishes.
          I'm His hands when I wipe Elizabeth's tears or wipe Joseph's scraped knee.
I get to be His hands in all I do.
 His plans....My hands.

Sure, I take time to remember mom and how much she gave to everyone around her through the 5K.
   Yes, I am so excited to be able to be a director of an event, which is running, about which I am openly passionate.
        Yes, I get to see students blessed in the process, and we aim to see even more blessed in higher ways.

BUT..... even more importantly,
  I get to do something He has planted in my heart.  I get to be His hands; a small piece of His work unfolding. And that is beautiful.
 So, if you ask me how it's going, I will probably say...
    It's right where He wants it for now.  I am excited to see what He is doing and watch it unfold. I am just the hands that get to do it !
             

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Take Time




Just a thought I've had lately:
  What if we all...

Took the time to....

  Write a note of encouragement? Just a few small words.....

     Smile at the person behind us or the cashier in front of us, instead of being so busy with our phones?

  Pray for our co worker?

            Help the elderly with something as simple as reaching something high on a grocery shelf?

 Buy coffee for the obviously weary mom behind us?

       Ask someone how their day is? And REALLY listen to the answer.

   Hug a friend?

           Give change to a person fumbling to find it for themselves?


Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, when you did it (fed, gave water to, visited, or clothed....) to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me."  (Matthew 25:34-46)

  "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28

  What if we choose today, and one day at a time, to serve and not demand (or even think) that we should be the ones served. What if we choose to mirror Jesus' example?
  Imagine how different life would look. And honestly, you may very well end up being blessed far more than if you were the one being served.
    What if we took the time to serve?
       Starting today...
          One day at a time.......

Friday, September 6, 2013

Learning to Ride a Bike

I was about 7 years old, and a lady from the bookstore offered my mom a brand new bike for me. It was shiny red, with a royal blue seat and black handle bars. I'll never forget the day she pulled into our driveway and unloaded that bike for me. My eyes sparkled with delight over this gift; it was a big deal to get something new, and not to have a hand me down.
   The catch was: I didn't yet know how to ride a bike.
 It wasn't until probably a year later I really learned to do it. I wanted so badly to learn, for my daddy to teach me to ride. When the day arrived that he took me out to teach me, I was so excited.......
   I got on the bike excitedly, but scared.
     He held on to the back seat, and rolled me down our slightly inclined drive( which then turned to gravel).   And I pedaled. He held on and it was a success! I was riding! The problem is....he had to let go, so I could really learn to do it alone.
     I crashed, Head first into the huge tree in the yard.

I don't remember if I cried or got scraped up, but I clearly remember hitting the tree. Then I remember getting back on and my daddy once again helping me conquer this task.  He continued to let go and I pedaled farther.  Then I realized i could do it! I was riding a bike! Thanks to Mrs. Day for a brand new bike, and my daddy for teaching me.

I was recounting this story to my kids this past week, and in so doing was reminded that life is often like learning to ride that bike.

 New opportunities get handed to us, and we have to learn how to handle them.

We have to choose whether to quit or keep going when it gets hard or when we fall down.

We have to choose whether or not to keep trusting the One guiding us, even when it gets bumpy.

 When a smooth incline turns to gravel, will we keep going or will we halt to a stop?

When a giant tree knocks us down or blocks our path, how will we conquer that obstacle?

   The more we pedal, the farther we can go.

I didn't know it then, but learning to ride that bike many years ago taught me life lessons I will recall forever, just as much as it gave me a precious memory.  One thing that struck me as I thought on that was this:
   My dad HAD to let go of my bike seat, or I never would have learned. What a painting of a picture of my heavenly Father as well. He allows me to "keep riding" my own way sometimes. But He is there all the time to pick me up when I call on Him. And in those moments of "hitting a tree" because I get stubborn or scared, I learn. I have learned the hard way by hitting large trees and creating many scrapes and scars on my own heart. But God has been there to pick me up every time, just like my own dad was back then.
   Isaiah 41:10 " Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

 Perhaps you can recall learning to ride a bike as well, metaphorically or not.  Does that verse mirror your story at all?

While God lets us choose our own ways at times, He is always there to hold us up with His hands. He never really lets go.
 One day at a time.....keep pedaling forward.



Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Like my mother does"

When I was a little girl, I did  not like to play with baby dolls, or even barbies- I was probably more on the "tom boy" side of life.
  I also never really grew up saying "I want to be just like my mom"

But now, as an adult, I say all the time " I wish I were more like my mom"
 But God has created us all differently, with unique life situations, making us shaped differently . Sure, I have characteristics of my mom's, but I will never be just like her.

Recently, I made a big baking "mess up", and ended up crying over it because (and I quote myself here) " I just want to be like my mom was with us. She was the best baker. She made goodies all the time. She let us help with them, and she never dictated how we did it, and it always still came out right." Sniff... sniff.... wipe a (silly) tear.
   Now, I laugh about it, and Michael and I have made the joke that I am teaching my kids how NOT to bake!  (To my defense, this was not typical; I can usually bake fairly well. Cooking, on the other hand, not so much.)

But as we joked about that and kidded around about it, I wondered "what am I teaching my kids?" I have beautiful memories of my mom. What memories will my kids have with me?
 I confess, I struggle with mommy working guilt. I was blessed to have my mom stay at home. And now, all the ladies (my siblings' wives) stay at home. I am the only female who works outside of the home. For a long while I struggled with this. And my mommy guilt left me often times giving in to the kids' whims more. This has been a conviction of mine a lot this year of 2013. I have not conquered giving in to my own guilt totally, but it's a work in progress. But a working mama can teach just as much as a stay at home mama....
 so, back to my question of "what am I teaching my kids?" It's not always about what can I teach them; I have learned it's what can we (Michael and I together) teach them as a partnership....Looking back I learned a lot from both my parents, even if at times in indirect ways.
    Both stay at home moms and working moms can teach their kids the most important things in life; it just looks different for each person. I am blessed to have a husband who gets them on the bus and to school, while I am already at work, and then I get the major after school duties. Good team work.
   So I can teach them team work.
      I have modeled rough characteristics at times in the last few years, with countless meltdowns and not always wise decisions. But I have grown tremendously through that and I can teach my kids better now. Especially my daughter, who often has the same emotional characteristic of me. I already see her dealing with things more gracefully than I ever did at that age.
       Hopefully I can teach them about handling emotions and life as God wants us to; not as we want to.
     Michael can teach them to cook far better than I can. I can bake with them. (and teach them that it's ok when you make mistakes when baking!)
              The list goes on and on really....
 But lately I've been learning to grow in new ways as a mama. Both kids are growing up tremendously fast! And with Elizabeth in a whole new phase of life, it's also creating a new phase for me and us. Perhaps that's why I have missed my mom with more depth lately.....I have longed to call her for advice .
 Michael found this song for me  and gave it to me at just the right time. The words go like this:

[Verse 1]
People always say
I have a laugh
Like my mother does
Guess that makes sense
She taught me how to smile
When things get rough

I've got her spirit
She's always got my back
When I look at her
I think, I want to be just like that

[Chorus]
When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I feel weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
Because I see myself like my mother does

[Verse 2]
I never met a stranger
I can talk to anyone
Like my mother does
I let my temper fly
And she can walk away
When she's had enough

She sees everybody
For who they really are
I'm so thankful for her guidance
She helped me get this far

[Chorus]
When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I feel weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
Because
I see myself like my mother does

[Bridge]
She's a rock
She is grace
She's an angel
She's my heart and soul
She does it all

[Chorus]
When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I'm weak and unpretty
I know 
I'm beautiful and strong
Because
I see myself like my mother does
Like my mother does

I hear people saying
I'm starting to look like my mother does

Perhaps I am more like my mom than I thought....even if my cakes don't come out perfectly ;)   


Saturday, August 24, 2013

True Friendship

Friendship is a topic often crossing my mind and my path.
  And as my daughter has entered the world of middle school, the topic is also a frequent conversation we are having in our home.  This weekend was no different, as we experienced a tough lesson in the world of friendships.
  She was scheduled to have her 11 year old birthday party. Because she is growing up,I encouraged her to handle the details on her own. We planned it, set the details, but she did all the calling and inviting and setting up.  She was so excited, as she has never had a birthday part with friends since we moved here 6 years ago. Her party was simple: grill out, have a bonfire, jump on the trampoline, and giggle like school girls. She'd built so much excitement into this that Thursday night sleep was not easy to come by for her.
  Friday evening rolls around and Michael did all the cooking and we waited. 6:00. No one.
 Well, Maybe they just aren't precise people.
    6:07......Should we call?
6:18.....Time to call....the food would be cold soon.

Quiet comes from her room, as she called the friends and they all cancelled.

Heartbreak from me. I know how that hurts.
  Frustration from Michael. For his little girl.
A desperate attempt to say "it's ok...." from Elizabeth.

A first hard lesson in friendship.

Now, it's not to say that these girls aren't her true friends.  It was just oddly coincidental that they all cancelled and didn't tell her. Or perhaps it was a lesson for me, as a mother, to make better connections with the other girls' mothers.  But regardless of the reasons, it brought on a valuable lesson I have been taught over the last couple of years and really learned to embrace, and one I was able to talk about with Elizabeth in this circumstance.

The most true friend is found in Jesus.
    He is the ONE constant we have in life.
He is there when we are sad. (Psalm 56:8 -every tear is recorded and held by Him)
   He is there when we are angry.
         He is there when we rejoice.
               He is there when we call on Him and He waits for us when we walk away from Him. (Ps. 50:15)
 He is found in the midst of grief, sorrow, pain and hurt. (Is 41:10, Is 43:2, 2 Cor 1:3-4)
      He is the center of joy, fun, dancing, laughter and fellowship. (Ps. 149:3; 2 Sam 6)

I have learned this lesson in painful ways over the years. I have always been one to thrive on friendship. And friends are a beautiful gift from God. But, we have to learn to go to Him first. We have to learn that He is our constant. He is a true friend....through thick and thin. Good and bad. Pain and joy. He is always there. He knows me inside and out and is still the most constant in my life.

  This weekend, we were able to talk about that. Every life circumstance presents us with lessons. For we girls, friendship lessons can be some of the toughest. Elizabeth handled it gracefully. she was probably one of the most understanding girls you'll find out there. And she learned some important things about responsibility and about God through it all.
 
By the way, the night ended up fantastically. We went to a movie as a family and then came back to have our own bonfire and do sparklers and eat cupcakes around the fire. A beautiful picture of a friend from next door even joined us for it all.
    All the while, we could smile, knowing God was in the moment, just as He always is, if we look for Him and allow Him. He is our most true friend.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A chipped mug

When the alarm sounds at 4 am, and I roll out of bed, I am ready for my coffee before I do anything else. Literally. Recently, as I went into the dark kitchen, and pulled out my favorite mug to drink my savory cup of morning joe, I found my favorite mug was chipped.
  It is my favorite mug because it is ceramic, it is 20 oz (and I need my big cup to start the day), it has a large handle, it is colorful and it is happy. It's a great way to start my day. When I found it chipped, I was devastated (ok, that's dramatic; not devastated, but disappointed). My favorite mug was chipped! I was going to have to throw it out.
 
  As I pondered that, and decided to drink from it one last time, I began to ponder another idea.

I am chipped.
   I have bumps, bruises, knicks, chips, and scars from life's battles.
 I have made mistakes, chosen unwise friends at times, had trust broken, broken trust, and been beat up at times (emotionally, that is).
 I have wrestled with the battles of anxiety and depression and some days I have lost, other days had victories.
    I faced thoughts of wanting life to end head on (and thankfully won that battle).
 I have grieved.
   I am chipped, and my story is evidence of those "chips".
The beautiful part of my story is that even though I am chipped, God still loves me. He didn't throw me out. He sees my knicks and scars and bumps and bruises and chips and embraces me.
  He is strength in my weakness.
     He is the potter and I am the clay, and He doesn't throw away the "clay" just because I am chipped.
  He loves, not because or if I love Him, but because He IS love, and He first loved me.
         He chooses me every time, even if I don't choose Him.
And He never has, nor will He ever, throw me away because of my "chips".

I used to hate that I had all these knicks and chips in me. But now, I look at them differently. I see them in a beautiful way. They make me.....me . They tell my story- one of grace, love, learning, forgiveness and compassion. The chips are simply evidence of my journey through life, and a picture of what God can do through even a cracked vessel like myself.
   
  I drank my morning brew, spent time pondering, reading and praying. I saw myself and others in a new light that day.

  I didn't throw away my favorite mug. I keep my mug and drink from it regularly still. The mug is still my favorite. It is still chipped. It always will be. But that is what makes it even more beautiful.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Savoring Summer

Where has the time gone? Summer is coming to a close, in terms of school beginning.
 I am entering new territory as a mom, with a daughter moving into Junior High. Change is happening. But it is good change. We had orientation and open house this week at the new building, and though they were good tears, I had to stop the big crocodile drops from running down my cheeks as I watch my little girl grow up in a whole new fashion.
  I am savoring the last days of summer. We will have a campfire with S'mores, we will have our last "late night" movie nights, we will jump on the trampoline and we will do sparklers.
  I want to recap some of our good times from this summer, though, and I will also recap some lessons I have learned in this particular "Season". As summer closes, and a new season approaches, so will a new season of life for our family. Here's what this summer has looked like a little bit:
  Highlights:
-A family trip to the Zoo
-Weekend movie nights-sometimes at the drive in; sometimes on our couch.
-Elizabeth's first mission trip./graduation into the church junior high group
-Birthdays! Joseph, Michael, myself, and Elizabeth! We had a lot of cake during this time.
-catching fireflies
-Walking the beach
-Creek swims.

Challenging experiences:
-Saying goodbye to Granny forever
- Saying goodbye to our 9 year old American Bulldog
- Emotional changes of an 11 year old daughter
-Time flying....


As this season draws to a close, I always stop to ponder what I've learned, what was good, what could I do better.
 My friend, Julie, at come have a peace, has been blogging about her transition of her daughter going off to college. It has made me think about many things for many reasons. Her daughter used to be a child I babysat when I was a teenager. I can't believe she is now entering college. Her transition has made me think about how fast time goes.  It seems like just yesterday I was babysitting her. Now I have my very own, growing up before my eyes daily. And a few things I've been learning more deeply this summer are:
 Embrace the moments.  They go too fast. These are the days that are important.
   
   Be thankful.  

God is good. ALL the time!!

Change is a constant in our lives. But change can be a really good thing. 

I'm perfectly imperfect.  That is my new mantra. I embrace that. It's been a really tough lesson for me, taken me a long time to really embrace this, and one lesson I am sure I will need to remind myself of (or you may need to remind me, too) . I am perfectly imperfect. I am who God has made me, I am a beautiful mess, I am constantly working to be the best woman I can be- as a wife, as a mom, as an employee, in my dreams/goals, and when I look in the mirror. I will never be a Perfect person, as far as my mind can grasp. I am, however, perfectly imperfect, His daughter, and He loves me....and I will embrace that. Size, weight, mistakes, idiosyncracies (sp?) and all....Perfectly Imperfect. And I embrace that.

  There have been challenging moments this summer, but I know God has brought me a very long way because I never completely fell apart during them, as I have in the past. I looked for the above things in those hard times. And God showed up each and every time. when we sat at the table last night, after Junior High open house, I asked the family their favorite summer moments.
 Elizabeth: Her mission trip to TN.
   Joseph: His trip to the water park with Grandma, Papa and his cousins.
    Michael: our date nights.
  Me:.....I couldn't pick one. I was savoring all the summer moments and all I've learned. I'd say the trip to the zoo as a family was mine. Watching my kids' faces light up and "Oh, mommy, look!!!" and even the moments walking in the rain, holding Michael's hand that day.  The little moments.
   I also had a perfect cup of coffee while in Florida (for the tough reason of the funeral) and I got to go back in the Cuban kitchen and they taught me how to make their Cafe Cubano. Now I can bring that to my coffee shop. The little moments.
   I'm savoring the next few days....they are going all too fast.
 Some summer picture moments:
Elizabeth and her cousin, Abi.

Joseph, and his cousin, Kenzie

A time to reflect. 

A perfect cup. Cafe con leche. Cuban coffee.

The last days with our faithful dog, Milo.



A zoo snapshot

A ridiculously fun race this summer, with my friend, Alyssa.

And my favorite.... time with my husband.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Labels

Labels are everywhere.
  They tell us how many calories we consume.
 They warn us of possible side effects.
   They tell us the latest and greatest brands.

Labels are all over our society.
 Now step outside the visible labels.
Let's be honest here.....we label those around us. Even worse, we label ourselves. Labeling is a habit we sometimes don't even realize we do. We say things to ourselves repeatedly, and saying it so much often makes it so we are putting a big label across our chest. It may be one only we see, but it is a blazing neon in our own eyes.  Just a few examples would be:
  Divorced.
    Fat.
      Adulterer.
        Ugly.
         Failure.
           Angry.
             Depressed.
               Anxious.
                 Infertile.

Those words, or "labels", are things we put on ourselves when we  have done something, gone through something, or feel something that the world says is wrong, or ugly, or bad. And when we repeat it in our minds enough, we become consumed by it, just as a product on a shelf is posted with a label, telling us what we, as consumers are about to have.
   The beauty in us labeling is that it doesn't have to BE that.
      I struggle with this. I, myself, will have a battle within my own mind about this, often times daily and even hourly. I get consumed by it. And the label I put on myself isn't true. I struggle with the battle of looking in the mirror and not loving what I see. I get consumed with what the world puts out there as good and when I see myself, I don't always see myself as God sees me.
 Or I see my past mistakes and label myself with those, hanging my head even at times, feeling like that neon sign is flashing brightly for everyone to see.
 I struggle with seeing myself as God sees me. But I realize this and I am working on it daily. and working on it is the best place to be. I'm allowing God to teach me. I am allowing HIM to place the label on me, and not me place the label there.
   So let's change something. One label, one thought at a time. Let's look at others differently. Better yet, is to start within our own hearts and look at ourselves differently. Perhaps I should say, I am going to start with me. I am going to endeavor on a new journey of looking at myself like God does. It won't be easy all the time, but with Him all things are possible.  Below aren't necessarily all labels of my own, just examples of labels we put out there and hang around our necks. Have you felt one or put one on you? Cross it out. Put on God's label.
   Divorced                     wanted
Fat                                 loved
Adulterer                       forgiven
     Ugly                         beautiful
          Failure                Redeemed
Angry                            kind
    Depressed                sympathetic/empathetic
 Anxious                        normal
    Infertile                      God's child


 Rip off the label you are putting on yourself and replace it with how God views you. Because He doesn't see you that way....He sees His child. His creation. And that is beautiful in and of itself.
   Psalm 139: 13-16 
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.