Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014

Today brings another year to a close.  Like many others I know, I'm ready to wrap this year up, tie the bow on it and put it away. Not to forget about it, but to keep moving forward. To open up a new year, with new beginnings. A new year is always a fresh way to see life.
   I want to say so many different thoughts about this year and what it has been and all I have learned. For me, this has been one of my biggest growing and learning years, with some of the most painful days of life, and yet some of the most beautiful as well.  The old saying of You can't have a rainbow without the rain holds accuracy to this year for me.
  A good friend once told me that some life events just cannot be put into words. The experience is so deep and so meaningful, that it just cannot be explained. It's simply lived, and the person having that experience is the only one human who can truly understand the depth of the moment and where it takes them. I find those words adequate for my year. There are so many thoughts about my experiences and my journey this year I want to share, and yet I feel speechless much of the time when I try. Because it has become a journey with God, meant to be understood between me and Him for right now. And really, that's a rare and wonderful thing to be able to say.
  So, for now, i will quit trying to explain the amazing pieces of my year with inadequate words. I will just say some of the highlights. If you follow me all the time, you'll know that not everything about the year was wonderful, so don't get me wrong in this post. There have been plenty of moments about this year I just want to move past and keep going. But for today, I end the year by reflecting on some of the good, fun, and beautiful moments...
   A few of the best books I read were:  Millionaire in Flip Flops,   The Best Yes,   My Life on the Run. This coming year, I want to keep better record of what I read. I love a good book, fiction or non fiction. I just often times forget what I read. Those books have stuck with me, though.
   Great running moments for me: I ran 2 half marathons this year, each one having a different meaning, as they typically do. But the race i just ran in Florida in December was a great marker for me- fun, out of town, and a marker for my new training journey.  My 5K in memory of mom, the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K, continues on. While this year held its difficulties for me, I already sense God moving in some neat ways for the coming year. I look forward to what He will do with it. For His glory, not mine.
  Family times: We were privileged to do some great family moments this year. The trip to Utah was no doubt the most memorable vacation we ever have had. From hiking, to four wheeling, to hanging out with my brother, sister in law and nephew, the kids, Michael and I  talk about those moments fondly. Best vacation ever. Michael and I were able to go to Florida just the 2 of us to see our best friends, and that was a weekend of laughter and fun without the kids. Christmas this year was a special one. Not because we got a lot of cool things. On the contrary, it was a low key time which made it more enjoyable. We were a family. That's what made it the best holiday ever.  Michael and I celebrated 13 years together this month. Challenging times, yes, but challenge brings growth. An anniversary is always a good way to end the year.
  Career:  It cannot be written about this year without acknowledging once again the career shift I have experienced. I am incredibly happy in my job, and the whole process was God orchestrated. And, every time I recount the story of how I got into the marathon business, I smile and thank my mom, even if with a little bit of teary eyes. Because mom was always my supporter of running. And crazy as it sounds, if I'd never lost mom, I never would have started my own 5K, which led to my desire to learn more about the industry, which has ultimately led to my career. See.... God does use painful experiences to bring about beautiful moments.
  Friends:  I am a people person. I love to talk, I love to listen, I love to help. I love to know people. And this year, I crossed paths with countless new people . I said goodbye to some friends and like any path in life, those friends were just there for that time. And I have said hello to new friends. A few will be lifetime friends. But those others, they were part of my journey, or are currently part of my journey, in life. Some very special ones from this year would be MC, MN, KA, RA,  DP and BS. They know who they are.
  New Experiences:  I began doing and marking items off my 'bucket list' this year. I finally learned to swim! I am no athlete with it, but I can tell you now that I can do it. I traveled alone more. I can't say I love to do that, but there is an aspect of it which has taught me new things about myself. I gained new confidence. Insecurity may always be a  battle for me in some fashion; however, God brought me very far this year in that way of life.
   And the list goes on... but the year closes. 2015 will bring many new experiences and people and challenges, no doubt. But I am so excited to see what will come! Happy New Year!

Good friends

Marathon Staff

I got to snap a photo with the Air Force Running Team, celebrating their race
Hiking in Utah


Las Vegas

When I left the coffee world, I felt the love

Girlfriend Moments in Florida


My older brother, dad, my older sister and me

Half Marathon victory

The new addition to our family this year...Brutus

Monday, December 29, 2014

Monday Musings

It's not 2015 yet, but I have been thinking about my blog and putting some more format to it. Meaning, certain days cover certain topics, instead of my just rambling all over the map about whatever I want whenever I want.
  I mean, it is my blog, so this is one place I can do any of that; however, I like the idea of putting more order to my thought process. Doing so  will help keep me on track a little bit in some ways.
  So, even though 2015 hasn't hit yet, and you will find some random blogs still this week, I am introducing to you my Monday Musings:
  I was searching hard for 2 "M" words that fit together. For now. that works. But, Monday Musings are going to cover the topic of running/fitness/exercise.

 If you know anything about me and have read even one of my posts, you've likely gathered that I am a runner and I am passionate about the sport and what it does for me, Perhaps my blogs on early Monday Mornings can inspire many of you, who may be setting 2015 exercise/fitness goals, to keep going with it. Let's start each week out with a bang!

 To share what my 2015 ambition is with my running is a bit frightening, because the goal is quite ambitious. But then again, a goal should be, right? Ambitious, but attainable.
 I've always said, since I began running, I don't care what my time is, I care about finishing. Who cares if I place in my age group? Somewhere along the lines of the last few months, that has changed slightly.
Perhaps because of the encouragement I get from those around me in the marathon business who believe in my crazy, silly dreams.
   Perhaps because I am more immersed in the culture and see all kinds of dreams come true.
     Perhaps just because I need a new goal with my running.

Where this new desire comes from isn't as important as what I do with it.
 So, here I say it for the world to hear it so I can keep pushing for it-
   I want to run a 2 hour,  half marathon by the end of this year. 13.1 miles in 2 hours.

For many, that is a laughable goal, because many I know can run a half marathon in an hour and a half or a little over. ( For instance, the average time of the female winners in my age group is 1 hour, 36 minutes) But for me, this is a huge, HUGE challenge. I have to work to make my time faster.  To make this goal a little more attainable, I am saying that I'd like to get to 2:15 first, and then push for the 2 hour goal.
   So, I will be doing a couple of half marathons in April and am aiming for the 2:15 mark. Mind you, this is taking over a minute off each mile for me. Not seconds, but minutes.  ( IE- I currently run around an 11 min, 15 sec pace per mile. We are talking that I have to make that be at the very least a pace of 10 min, 30 sec constant) .
  This is an ambitious goal, but one which I plan to reach. This falls among many of my goals, but for the purposes of Monday Musings, I will stop with this one for today. To achieve this, I will be doing hill training (yuck), Yasso 800's (yuck) and speed work, similar to the Yasso 800s (yuck), in addition to my regular training runs, spread out in a wise manner. All of these things I know how to do and that I should do them, but time was never my aim with my runs, so I skipped that. But it's time to implement those training methods again for the first time.
  And so Monday Musings is born. No doubt this process is going to be a journey. Today begins that journey. After taking a week off fighting sickness through the house and my own body, I decided I had to get out and run today. I'm not totally over my illness, but that being said, I do not have it nearly as bad as many. And a run always does the body good.
 So I laced up to embrace the cold, stepped out the door and breathed in the (COLD) fresh air. Yet that air felt so refreshing on my lungs.
 I coughed a bit, had a few snot rockets (sorry, those of you who are non-runners, but that's what we call it) and kept pushing my feet forward. I felt tired, but amazing. Running and fresh air have the potential to be the best cures for my body fighting sickness (done in the right fashion, of course. I had to listen to my body the first few days and rest.) But the journey of shedding this winter sickness.....and more importantly, moving towards achieving a crazy new goal....has begun.
 One day, one run, one step at a time.
   

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Prayer

Prayer.
 At the beginning of 2014, I was challenged to choose a word in which to help define my year. I chose  the word Pray (or prayer).
 Now, the year is almost over and I am spending much time reflecting and preparing to enter a new year. But as I reflect, I cannot help but dwell on the meaning of that word throughout my year.
  I will be honest and tell you that I did not always abide by putting that word as a priority in what I was doing. In fact, I often acted without using prayer as my go-to. But I think I learned just as much (albeit in a painful manner) from not defining my day or my decisions with that word, as I learned when I did use the word.
 What does it meant to pray or to be in prayer? I had that conversation this week with a good friend of mine. For me, it's simple: constant communication with God. And like any relationship, the more I communicate with Him, the more I hear what He wants to communicate to me. The more I see answers to my prayers. It's as simple as having a conversation and pouring out my heart.
Every part of my heart. The good, the dreams, the ugly, the hurt, the desperate, the love and all the other emotions and feelings and thoughts that fall in between those things.
  In 2014, I saw countless answers to prayer, my prayers: I was given an amazing new job, one only God could have orchestrated.  My family was blessed beyond measure with ways to update our home and pay off debts. I saw friends receive blessings which can only be explained by God's hand and answered prayers. I closed doors on necessary areas and God opened doors and made ways to show me Himself in new friendships and new opportunities.
  At the same time, there were definite moments I did not choose to pray. Those moments had potential to lead to utter destruction for me. And yet, through the prayers of others, and eventually my own heart cries of prayer, I found myself for the first time really climbing out of grief, insecurity and uncertainty of who I am and meant to be. Those moments, while they could be looked at and viewed as completely dark, have actually led to the most amazing growth God has ever done for me. I leaned into Him in new ways and found what I have always believed, yet was really forced to investigate and hold onto and become.
 2014 is almost gone. And while I chose the word pray(er) to sum up my year, as I close the year out, I will tell you that I learned so much from being in prayer, that I would sum up my year in one word: Growth.
 I was stretched in ways I never expected.
 I had to make decisions I never dreamed I would face.
   I have learned new ways of doing things and have been mentored by some amazing people.
     I have cried, laughed, talked, listened, watched and learned.
        I launched into a new career, a dream career, one which I never expected to come to me this year.
       I have learned to say no more effectively and yes more appropriately.
            I found me. The me that has been there all along, but was hindered at times by others' opinions or words. The me that has been being shaped for many years, unbeknownst to my own heart. The me that loves to dream, has learned to say no, has chosen new paths and wants to make a difference, all without being what others try to tell me to be. I found the me that God has been trying to tell me for years is there.

And that is why, my friends, 2014 can be summed up with the word growth. Growth through prayer for certain. Prayers I have prayed. prayers others have prayed for me. What a beautiful, even if at times painful, year this has been. I am so excited to enter into 2015 . My goal list is long ( Um, perhaps too long, lol) but that's ok. That means adventures and more growth is to come ....
  The end of the year is really just another day. But each day brings new mercies. And I simply cannot wait to continue my journey of prayer and growth as 2015 quickly approaches. What will my word for 2015 be??? Well... I am praying about that. Stay tuned for that ;) In the meantime, you will find me the next couple of days recounting the best moments of the year - from books, to races, to stories and so on....

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Christmas Tree

My Christmas season has bustled with being busy and has been consumed with much baking. But in the midst of those moments, I have smiled and remembered and laughed more than I have in a long time during the holiday season.
  This Christmas holds a joy to it which has been missing the last few years. Death and grief can do that. Those 2 ugly partners can steal the moments of joy that are typically found at the holiday season. But this year, this year has been different, and I am thanking God for that. It's a marker in time for me, as much of this year has been.
 I have missed being with you here on my blog lately, but the events of the season have taken priority. Joseph chose to make buckeyes, Elizabeth and I made our family tradition passed down by mom- Futtimuhns. I made a McKinney favorite of cinnamon bread for my family and everyone in the office. Peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies...the list goes on. I haven't baked this much since I was  child. But I have had so much fun doing it.
 However, I have missed the quiet moments of sitting and sharing my thoughts.
 So this morning, as I sit quietly with my coffee, enjoying my lit up Christmas tree, the thoughts flow. This time of year I reflect not only on memories of growing up and of new memories being made with the family , but it's a time I begin to really reflect on what the year has been for me and what I envision or "goal plan" my next year to hold. Those thoughts will definitely consume the next few blogs. However, this morning, as I soak in the sight of my tree, I am struck by a certain line of thought.
  My tree is dying, actually. It still stands tall, but it's top is beginning to tilt to the side. The pine needles are still green, but they are more of a dull green than a brilliant forest green, and they are more steadily falling to the ground. More gaps are showing between the branches, leaving ornaments which are on the heavier side, struggling to hold on to the branch as it droops. Sadly, the tree is dying.
 And then it dawned on me- I don't remember the last time I watered it. Oops. I have been so busy baking and shopping and watching Christmas favorites and tending to a million details like many of us  do, that I neglected that small, and yet so important, of a detail. Admittedly, I would think of it for a second but tell myself, oh, i'll get it later, it'll be fine for tonight. And "tonight" turned into... I don't even know how many nights. Oops.
  But that led me to think about my spiritual life. I am to drink in God's Word just like a tree needs to drink water. Yet how often do I find myself saying "oh, I'll do it later." or "I'll be fine today..." and then little by little my "branches" begin to droop, and some of my brilliant light (joy) which comes from time with God begins to be a little more dull. Still there, but not quite as bright and bouncy.
 I am much like my dying pine tree. If I don't water my life and drink in the Word of God, I will begin to dry up. I will grow more weary.  I will have less light shining off me. Good intentions of doing for others and enjoying the season again can become lost because I can easily grow weary if I am not also taking time to sit still, listen to what God has to say and spend that time with Him. I can (ahem, I have) grow short with the kids and/or husband because I am tired and grumpy instead of being full of God's joy, simply because I have neglected a few minutes alone with Him.
 One day of not having that quiet time alone with God, drinking in His word, can easily become 2, 3 4 and so on, just like not watering my tree has done the same.
  And so this morning, my dying (but still beautiful tree) has taught me a lesson. A reminder of the importance of drinking in God's Word...and really, what this season is all about anyway. The baking and the shopping and the movies are fun, but the whole reason we have any and all of that is because of the most beautiful gift sent years ago in the form of the baby Jesus. A miraculous story, so often taken for granted.
 This Christmas, i am grateful to be enjoying the festivities again. But by the end of the week, I believe my tree will have had it (even with its fresh drink of water today). I am so thankful for the beauty it has shined in our home this December. But this morning, as I sit in front of it, I am just as thankful for the little lesson it has given me this morning. While it will go away by the end of the month, I can find new freshness and life every single day in the Word of God.  What a beautiful picture that is. May my light shine bright every day, one day at a time,  for His glory, just as the lights on my tree glow in the dark.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Little Moments

As the week wraps up and the holidays come closer, here are a few of my little moment blessings this week.
 - A fresh smelling pine tree all lit up
  - Lunch with a long time friend from far away
   - Puppy love and snuggles with our new family dog
- Learning new aspects of my job
 - Coffee with my friend
  - Holiday parties
    - Infinity Scarves
     - A beautiful hand carved Nativity scene from the Philippines, one of my favorite wedding gifts we ever received, which I enjoy putting up every year
      - It might be cold but the sun was so bright yesterday, which leads to smiles

The little moments are truly what make up the big picture. Hang onto those pauses in time....

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Run like a Diva

Sunday, I ran like a Diva.
  No, really, that was actually the name of the race- The Diva Half Marathon series.


But I felt like a Diva. Not because of the tiara and boa they pass out, but because I felt on top of the world out there running. I felt amazing. I felt happy. I loved every moment of the event. In the beginning of signing up for the event, it was my goal just to go have fun. But as I approached closer to the day, I decided I would go all out and find out where I was with my running. I love to run and I talk about running and I even make a career in the running industry, but much time has passed since I actually went all out.

So that became my goal. But in the process of executing goals, I always learn new lessons. Training and goal setting leads me to an end race, but quite honestly, the process of getting to that race is always more of a journey than I ever anticipate. God always teaches me new lessons about myself along the way.

The months of training leading up to this race held some personal difficulties for me. I faced big decisions about life. And I faced new truths about the journey I'm traveling. (Again, I reference back to my previous blog- we all have a story of this journey of life we are walking.)  And in this journey of training for the race, I found myself. Truly dug into the truths of who and what God says I am. And began to put those into place in new ways. Allowing those truths to seep in to my heart have given me a new joy I cannot even describe. And a new lightness to my step.

 This race was my first time to ever go away by myself for a race. The furthest I'd ever ventured away for a race was Kentucky, so this was a new experience for me. It was also my first race to not have Michael at the finish line. I missed having him there to cheer me on, but the overall experience was really good for me. I felt a bit more grown up somehow. A reminder again of having found myself along this journey. At age 32, you'd think I'd have found myself before this time, but this year, and specifically the last few months, have marked a new solidity in that aspect of life.
  I found myself saying to my friends over the weekend, "I am so happy. Happier than I have ever been."  And truly smiling for no reason at all except that I have a deep seeded joy within.
  A joy that comes from running races and doing a passion which I love. A joy that comes from achieving new goals. A joy that is rooted in truths of moving forward, of love and forgiveness and grace. A joy of unity within my own family and home, and the support being given to me in all my ridiculous goals. A joy of for the first time enjoying the holiday season once again. A joy of being covered in God's truths and who He says I am.....and finally being that.

 So yes, this race I truly felt like a Diva.
 And I ran my heart out. While I concentrated on my goal and used a mantra given to me courtesy of my boss and repeated it when I felt like I was losing steam, I also smiled as I ran. And when I finished in 2:31, I raised my fist in satisfaction.
 Because the journey of this race has led me to knowing some incredible pieces about priorities and passions and people.
Going a new direction and not looking back. Psalm 103, my sins are as far as the east is from the west. And I am pushing forward. A new direction that is beautiful. Part of my journey this fall. 

Kristen and myself, ready to run

Of course I had some relaxing time at the beach as well. 

 Pre Race

The Diva Run. The tiara and boa were silly fun, but what a race! Toasting it off with a glass of champagne and fresh rose. 



Post Race Good Times

Friday, December 5, 2014

People Watching ....And Stories

I'm sitting in the Atlanta Airport, waiting on my next flight to take me to my sunny and warm destination of Jacksonville, Florida. The weekend of my half marathon has finally arrived! I am like a little kid, as I walk through the airports and watch people and anticipate that in less than 48 hours I will be hitting the pavement once again. It's been a while since I have done a big race, and to be back in it feels like a child eagerly waiting to open that Christmas present.
 To say I am excited for my Sunday race is an understatement.

But as I sit here in the airport, I have been people watching. One can learn a lot by sitting and watching. Over the course of the last few years, I have gained much insight and wisdom from watching and listening and learning to keep my mouth shut.
 But in the midst of an unfamiliar place, with people of all ages milling about, I am always quite curious and in amazement as I watch and listen.
 I've encountered young moms carrying babies, middle aged couples traveling together quietly, businessmen in suits and bluetooths attached to their ears, talking important details as they scurry through the terminal, a not so sober woman spewing words loudly, oblivious to her behavior and men and women of different cultures, people of all sizes and shapes...and I watch and I wonder. Where is their journey today? What's their story?  I am a people-person. I love to hear what a persons story is- why they are traveling, what's their purpose, and so on.

 We all have a story. Each one of us is made in a unique way, with events and details that happen over the course of our years. It doesn't matter if a person is 12 or 32 or 84. Each of us is on a journey, we all have a story. And I believe it's important we share those stories. We can learn from one another, if we take the time to stop, listen and invest.
So often we are all busy and just don't find the time to connect. There is much evidence of that even in the airport and the few people I've encountered today. Or perhaps we have fear in sharing our stories because we have been hurt too many times by others. Sharing our stories can be scary. But as I sit and watch these people today, and wonder what each persons story is, I think about my own life and my story.
  I have a deep desire to make a difference, and that's the honest truth. My life has by no means been worse than what many people have experienced. In fact, I have experienced a plethora of God's blessings. But that doesn't make my story less important . God can use it. Sometimes I think i sit and write meaningless details, stories of my running or growing up or whatever is on my mind and heart that day. But my prayer and my hope is that as I share my heart, that it can find its way to making a difference somehow. I have been pondering this blog the last few days, and I think as December brings 2014 to a close, my blog posts may have some silliness and some reflection in it, but as 2015 pushes closer, the point of the blog may take a twist. I want to make a difference. Perhaps dive a bit deeper into my story, which ultimately leads to sharing deeper truths of God's love, grace, redemption. That's the whole point of why we are here- to share, to make a difference, to bring others closer to God.
 we all have a story. We can all make a difference, if only we have a willingness. I want my story to be used for His glory.

In recent conversations about my running lately, I've been choosing new goals for the spring. (yep, there I go again, ever the goal setter!) But the conversation with the other goal setter ended by saying, in talking about the goals, "I don't care if I succeed at the goal. If I fail, it's ok. Because while I set the goal and want to achieve it, it's really about the journey to get there. So it's really a success any way I look at it."
 And that can be said of life, too. Our lives are, in part, about the journey. And what we do with that journey. Will you dare to share yours? It can make a difference you may never even know about, but it starts with sharing.

That being said...I'm about to board for warm weather and a good time of seeing some old friends and running a great race. So, I'm off. Stay tuned for details about the race, but more so about the journey this particular leg of training has taught me. Because a finished race always makes me reflect on the journey. And the story.....
One step one day at a time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Holidays are here!

My eyes are heavy this morning, and the coffee is warm in my hands and soothing as I sip it down.
  There is no snowfall today, but the wind is whipping outside and there's a bite to its bitter gusts.
 I feel cozy, wrapped in my blanket with a quiet home and my Christmas tree next to me, all lit up.

 Tis the season, for sure. Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. I love the food. I love the family. I love the football. I enjoy that it's a day where people truly take time to pause and be grateful. It is, quite often, the holiday in retail that gets skipped. People like to jump from Halloween to Christmas, and the beautiful meaning behind one day tucked away in November often times becomes lost.  For me, Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday.
 this year is the first year we have ever decorated for Christmas prior to Thanksgiving (mostly because I am so adamant that we do not trump my favorite fall holiday with the next one.) However, due to a few reasons, we had to put up the tree a bit early this year. And while, for me, I am still in Thanksgiving mode, I admit, I am enjoying the beauty of my lit up tree and the fresh smell of pine that greets me as I walk into the room.
 Holidays are full of a plethora of emotions.  Memories surround from years past, as much as memories being made for future days of remembering. Tears are sometimes shed over the ache of missing a loved one. Laughter can be found in the squeals of children's joy or perhaps around the game table after the big meal.
 This is my 4th holiday season without my mom. The ache of missing her is still strong in a way difficult to describe in words. And yet, this year is the first year I feel fully immersed in the holidays. I have been like a kid again this year with the decorating. I have told stories of what Christmas was like for me growing up. I have done a lot of remembering and smiling. I made stockings for the office. The joy of the season has found new corners in my heart.
 As we decorated our tree this past weekend, and pulled the ornaments out of the box, I smiled. This year, decorating was not a time of sadness, but a time of joy. Some of the ornaments are hand made by the kids, and some of those ornaments were made by the crafty hands of my mom. I giggled a bit as I pulled all of my Snoopy ornaments out to hang up. Few people know that Snoopy is my favorite cartoon character, much due my childhood years. Mom was really the only one who gave me Snoopy items, but Snoopy still brings me a smile, and likely always will. I still love to "collect" a Snoopy ornament every year. As the kids and I hung those on the tree, they listened to me tell childhood stories of where the ornaments came from and why I had so many of them.
 It feels really good to enjoy the holiday season to its fullest again. In light of the holiday season, I'll do a post once a week sharing a holiday memory/tradition. I'd love to hear about yours as well.
 Seeing as how this week is Thanksgiving, I share a Thanksgiving memory.
 My mom was often found every morning with her Bible open, her Bible's pages worn and underlined from years of her studying. One year, mom took time to every day write out a verse of Thanksgiving and share with us over the breakfast table. I love that she did that. Those memories are her voice still speaking to me, reminding me i can still do that today.
 In our home now, one of our Thanksgiving traditions is watching the Macy Day parade. The stereo gets turned on, coffee is made, and all the cooking (that I have to do) is done the night before. Sitting and watching the parade (uninterrupted in my pajamas with my coffee) is one of our favorite Thanksgiving day activities.
  Stay tuned for more fun traditions and recipes and memories. And please share yours with me! I want to hear.
 Now it's time to leave the coziness of my blanket, couch, coffee and tree and don the winter running clothes and brave the wind for a quick run.....

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Little Moments

Friday. Freezing Cold Friday. But we can certainly still find little moments for which to be grateful.
  Especially with Thanksgiving approaching.
So, this week, my little moments were good moments:

 - A gorgeous snowfall
  - A warm blanket
   - 2 healthy children
- A solid income - God's provisions for me daily
 - A campfire
   - A kind card, unexpected, lit up my day
- Hugs
  - My own health. I don't have back problems or knee problems or any kind of ongoing problems that prevent me from being active. I am extremely grateful for that.
   - Belly Laughs with my coworkers
- An upbeat, fantastic running playlist
   - Hot showers
     - Women willing to be there for me when I am so missing my mom
 - Hot Chocolate with my dad


 As Thanksgiving approaches, what better time than to find gratitude in all the little moments? The moments that often can go unnoticed. Things which, at times, I totally take for granted.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A cup of coffee and permission to be real

This morning feels like one of those days where I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee.
  While I am not a big-time writer as many of my friends are, and perhaps one day I aspire to be in some fashion, I wish I had a way for each of you to know my story, and even more so, for me to know yours.
 I wish that we could sit and talk over coffee. Coffee and connecting- two of my very favorite activities to pass time, both of which I could do for hours.
  I used to be the barista behind the counter, watching all the customers come in and talk over coffee. I watched some shed tears. Others laughed hysterically. Some came and sat and held hands and sipped their lattes. And some brought books and had no need for words, just each other's presence.
 
 Now I have become the customer who orders a cup of coffee and sits and talks. Having a cup of coffee with my best friend is my first choice of "something to do" in those rare moments of "extra" time. Now, I get to be the one sipping my coffee, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes just sitting with a book.

Today, I invite you to grab your coffee and pretend we are sitting together chatting.



  What is it you need to hear on a hard day? 

We all speak different languages.
  Some of us need a hug on a hard day.

     Some of us need to hear we are awesome.
 
          Some of us crave the approval of a supervisor or a spouse desperately.

 Others need a "snap out of it" kind of conversation, or  as one friend said it, "Quit that stinkin' thinking'"

  We are all made uniquely and what I need on a hard day is likely different from what you need. And that's okay.   What I have come to believe is that what we need most is permission to be real.
 Permission to be who we are.
 
 But so often, we want to put others into our own box. If we have a hard day and need a hug, we tend to want to give others a hug on a hard day, but they might need space. If we need to talk when we have a hard day, we tend to try to push others to talk, but they might want us just to sit quietly with them. If we feel a need to cry on a hard day, another person might have a desperate need to get out and laugh. We are all made uniquely, and therefore, need to be able to told it's okay to express that.

 It's  a proven fact that men are fixer -upers. If you tell them a problem, their solution is to try to find a way to fix it.  But women...women respond even differently.
 How many women have you interacted with who, when you tell them your problem, you find out later they go and whisper it to someone else?  Or some women want to try to relate so they come up with a story that is to try to say "I know exactly how you feel" only their story has nothing to do with what you're going through?
  I've been there, and then my tendency becomes to shrink away from sharing at all.

 I have come to believe that what we need most on a hard day is permission to be real, however that is expressed. And if I need that, then how much more so do others need that, too?
   I also believe that in the christian world, many women try to pretend it's all good, because  that is the behavior engrained in their minds. I was once there...
 But there is  significant power in sharing and in being real. I think we struggle to do this because that permission to be real gets lost at times.  We are supposed to have it all together, we've been told.
 Most often, my best blogs come out of my hardest days. Why? Because when I sit down and write, when I allow myself to get real, those are the moments in time God stops and uses. Why? Because we are all real people, with real problems, who need to understand others' have those real days too.
   I battle anxiety. I fight depression. I have marriage struggles  you might be surprised about. I wrestle with a middle school age daughter trying to find herself in this crazy world. I struggle with thoughts of insecurity about my image, my body. I am real. But God uses real...if we allow Him to.
  And when I allow that "real me" to be expressed, God takes it and uses it. And as He uses that,  He begins to change it little by little. The anxiety and depression become a gift, a way to relate to others (or others to relate to me) in new ways, new conversations, new friendships.  Marriage struggles become God's miracles. Parenting problems become a way for me to connect to older moms and take notes on what I can do to encourage younger moms. And those nasty insecurities about my self image? That struggle that nearly every person faces in some fashion? Sharing and getting real on those days helps me remember that it's not about size or what others say I should look like. Those moments have the potential to remind myself- and others around me- that beauty comes from within. And as that smile returns, the beauty shines through.

 Permission to be real.

 What do I need most on a hard day?
 I could tell you I need a hug or a kind word, and that would be true. I also could tell you I need a cup of coffee!! But mostly, I need permission to be real.

 What do you need most on a hard day?
   
   

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Swimming is my Frenemy

Running is my passion and my friend in life.
  Swimming, I decided yesterday, is my frenemy.
This is a blog post about my journey in learning to swim.

What, you ask, exactly is frenemy?
     
"Frenemy" (less commonly spelled "frienemy") is a portmanteau of "friend" and "enemy" that can refer to someone or something who really is a friend but also a rival. 

Swimming has the potential to be my friend in life, but right now it is also my rival. The thing that mocks me at moments and says "you will never get this!"  Yesterday, I literally looked at the lifeguard and said " I sure wish I'd learned to this at her age, " nodding to the 5 year old in the lane next to me, also learning to swim. 
 I am no longer embarrassed at this, as I once was when I began this journey only a week ago. (Sheesh, it feels like a lifetime already!) Now, I laugh about it, but proudly share that, yes, I am learning to swim. I am conquering a fear I have always had. Many people walk away from their fears. I am facing mine. Finally. 
  I spent my first week in the pool learning how to properly kick. And then I learned how to do the arm movements properly. And then came the dreaded task of putting my face in the water and breathing. In all my years of "swimming", I plug my nose, and then bring my head above the water. Keeping my face in the water has never been an option for me, mostly because of my fear. 
 When I was 5, I nearly drowned. I am not making that up, it happened. And I believe that moment contributed to this lifetime fear of my face in the water. 
Well, it's about time I conquer that!
    So, my goal yesterday was to do the breathing. (By the way, I never thought swimming was going to be complicated. Michael Phelps makes it looks so easy!) I began by kneeling in the shallow end and pushing my face into the water and breathing out through my nose. While there was a bit of benefit to that, for me, it was too easy just to come up. So I knew I needed to try to add this with my movements. So I pushed through the fear and dove in and began.
  My first attempt at this, I stopped before I'd even made half a lap. "I can't do this..." I said. But then I stopped. "Can't" left my vocabulary a long time ago, and I'm not about to let it return on this adventure. 
  When i first started running, I remember going out with my brother (a marine drill instructor, mind you) and feeling like I was going to die. "I can't do this, Tim!" I'd say. And he would look at his watch and say "Yes, you can. Keep going. Almost one mile."  When he and I finished that run, he laughed- "Rachael, you just did a mile and a half..." He tricked me, but i will forever be grateful for him doing that. I was pushed and conquered. That moment in time taught me much about overcoming. 
 Now, the pushing and conquering is different, but nonetheless, I have to remind myself of that beginning running journey. I did not run a race on my first try. For pity sake, I am not going to be swimming laps my first try either. I have this determined mind set , and when I don't reach it right away, I tend to get frustrated. But yesterday, in a moment of nearly giving up, I put my face back in the water and kept going....until I made it one lap. And while I was exhausted, I was satisfied.
  My breathing has a very long way to go. I kept my face in the water, but as far as coming up for short breaths, I am still working on that. I took longer breaths, but at least I put my face back in. That was one big step further than last week.
 Like anything, it will come with time and practice. Nothing good ever comes easy. Successful moments come from time, determination and hard work. 
  I laugh because in doing just one lap, I am severely out of breath. I said to my friend, Kristin, "I can freakin' run half marathons, and this puts me out of breath??" She looks at me, smiles, and says "Welcome to swimming" and heads off for her next lap. 
  When I started running, I never imagined how it would lead to such beautiful events for me, including but not limited to, my new career. I couldn't even run a mile. Now I've done 10 or so half marathons, one marathon and many 5Ks.  
 Right now, swimming is my frenemy. I love that I am conquering it, but it remains my mocking rivalry as well. I cannot imagine doing a mile of it, but that is my end goal. I have no intentions of it becoming a passion, but I will conquer this fear. One lap at a time....
    

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A good sweat, A good cleanse

"Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach."

-George Sheehan

Every day, I receive an inspirational running quote in my inbox. Some days, they resonate a bit deeper with my story. Other days, they are silly and fun. And some days, they push the competitive gene in me when I may have the inclination to sleep in a little longer or run a bit slower.
 So, I really enjoy these running quotes. Perhaps one day I'll have my own collection of running quotes from all my conversations over the years. (yes, watch out if we are talking running, I may end up quoting you!)  In the meantime, I am inclined to write about the above quote.


This morning, with the cold snap having arrived, walking out the door was a challenge. I donned my winter running clothes for the first real time. (There have been a few days here and there that have been on the colder side, but this morning the thermometer was in the 20s!. Most definitely the coldest yet).  I know it's going to be a challenging run when, the moment I begin, I am already saying 'I can't wait for that hot shower!' . But.... I am in training. And the cold won't stop me. In fact, although it's hard to start out on that day, I usually find much joy in those cold runs, burning lungs and all.


But I really liked the quote that sweat cleanses from the inside, from places a shower cannot ever reach. That is a quote which resonates with my story. I am asked all the time why I run. I heard recently of the story of a runner who had damage to her leg . Her leg was so badly damaged that surgery wasn't fixing it. So she decided to have it amputated  so she can get a prosthetic and run again.
 My son was the one sort of recounting this story to me, and he thought it was crazy. He asked me if I would do that. And I answered "Yes, I believe I would." He wanted to know why. And I said because running means so much to me. Running helps me . And I believe I would want to do it to prove to myself that I would be ok and can overcome anything, just like this young lady is similarly doing. 
 Quite honestly it's hard to say, without really being in that place. But I believe that would be my response.
     The point is, sweat (aka running) cleanses places within me that a shower can never fix. Cleanses and frees me at times. Just a few of the examples of how this is true in my life, is that running helps me combat:
  - Depression
     -Anxiety
       -Stress at home or in my friendships
          - Weight gain (although that has never been my motivation, it certainly helps that area of life)
And brings new life to :
   - Discovering who I am
     - Liking myself
       -Laughing
         -Starting the day right

So, like George Sheehan said, "Sweat (aka running) cleanses from the inside....."

and that is why I run. Why I train. Why I love being involved in the running industry. Why I enjoy doing races. Why I thrive when I talk to runners every day via email or phone in my job.

 Because I know first hand what running can and does do for me.

  My running mantra?
   I am Stronger Than Yesterday.

 (One day at a time...)
 
    

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

Veterans Day.
  A day to remember our military.
     I am forever grateful for the men and women who have sacrificed for our country.
Sacrificed so that I can have freedom.
     Sacrificed so that I can have luxuries so few other countries have.
 Sacrifices I have not had to make, but they made for me.
   Words cannot even say the gratitude I hold for all the men and women who have served and do serve the United States of America.

 I have always held such a high respect for the military. My brother went into the marines in 2002, and watching him graduate was a moment I will never forget, with all the cadets (sorry, Tim, if that is not the correct word) in line, saluting and doing drills.  I am so proud of him and the years he spent serving our country for our freedom. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other places. I saw firsthand the sacrifices he made.
My brother, Tim. 


  I now have the privilege of working on a military base, and being surrounded by that atmosphere of pride. Most would find this completely silly, but when I am driving onto base, and the car in front of me holds an officer , and the guard at the gate salutes the officer, I swell with pride. I love seeing that.  I get to see flags waving proudly all around me every day. The Star Spangled Banner plays every day, and cars stop and soldiers salute.  I have the privilege of meeting  military personnel of all ranks and job duties. And I get to work for the United States Air Force Marathon, where generals and colonels award medals to our participants, and I am part of that experience.

The Marathon Finish line

 This year, I also saw one of my closest friends retire from years of serving in the military, and was able to be a part of her military retirement ceremony. When she asked me to give the prayer for her ceremony, I could not have felt more honored. Not only was I extremely proud to go to her ceremony, but I was humbled to be a part of that. Words cannot express the humility I felt in that experience. Me, who has not done much for our country, was asked to be a part of her ceremony. The National Anthem was sung by a woman acapella and was absolutely beautiful and, for me, a moment of bringing tears of pride and joy. I listened to stories told of her years of service and looked through photos, and watched her stand at attention when awarded with her certificate of retirement. I choked back tears, simply because I felt so much pride for what Kristin has done for our country over the years. What an honor to be a part of her ceremony.

TSgt  Kristin E. Aguiar

 I have often taken for granted the sacrifices made by the military of our country. But now, being more educated in all that they do, I have an eternal gratitude for all they each have done- they have given of their time, their family life, their own life, all so we can live in a country full of freedoms.
  Freedom to vote.
   Freedom of religion.
     Freedom of speech and choices. 

Freedoms we have never known any other way....because of the men and women of our country. The stories I shared here are just a few of the people who have touched my life. To try to include each person I've come to know would fill pages of blogs. 

To all my military friends, THANK YOU. May we learn to say thank you more than just on Veterans Day. You have spent your life sacrificing for mine. And my heart is forever grateful for you. 


Monday, November 10, 2014

Fear or Faith

 I have started this blog post 3 ways and erased them all, not liking what was being produced. I know what's in my  heart, but finding all the words to share it comes as difficulty lately. I think because of how deep it runs.

I shared in my last blog (the little moments) that I am learning to swim. That's right, learning to swim. I am 32 and do not know proper technique. I can doggy paddle the length of the pool. I can swish my arms and kick my feet. But when it boils down to actually swimming, I cannot do one lap in a pool if my life depended on it.

I've had this wish list I've kept for a couple of years now. My friend, Tiffany, and I started writing down all the crazy things we wanted to do in life. Oddly enough, we both wanted to learn to swim. Well, I decided this year that I am tired of sitting on that list. And there are things I am capable of knocking off without having to spend a ton of money. And so I said that before the year ended, I would learn to swim. Saturday I endeavored into that for the first time.

I got the proper arm and feet motion going. Know what my hindrance is? Putting my face in the water and popping out briefly to breathe. I am scared of it. I get panicky and then can't breathe at all, which you can imagine leads to disaster in the pool. For some reason, keeping my nose under water and breathing out, then taking short breaths, scares me to death. So I bring my head up and just breath above the water. You can imagine how exhausting that is when swimming, to try to constantly hold your head above the water.  It was day 1 of swimming. I can't expect to master it all in one time. I made good progress, and the next time I go this week, I will do better at keeping my face in the water. Determination can carry one a long way. I either want to do it, so I push through the fear, or I don't and I give up. All these years, I have given up. But this time....this time will be different.

 Fear can be crippling. Fear can keep us from wonderful experiences. Fear can raise anxiety and exhaust us. Fear is the opposite of faith.  Think about that. If I'm afraid, I"m not trusting someone or something. I'm afraid to put my face in the water because I fear I won't be able to breathe. I'm not trusting myself in this case, or that many people I've seen do it. Yet they are class 1 swimmers, so why should I think it will be harmful?
  Fear can keep us from saying yes to God. Think about it...Let me use some examples from my life.

-I was afraid to change jobs to the marathon office back in June....fear could have prevented what is now a dream job and one where I am thriving. There were what ifs for me in the scenario, but  If I had listened to that fear and not to God I would be missing out on a lifetime experience.  And those what if thoughts have become "thank you God" moments.

- I was afraid my first race I ever ran. I worried about getting lost on the course, about not finishing, about looking stupid, and the list goes on. But If I had said no and listened to those fears, I would not be who i am today because running has played a part in shaping me to a certain degree, both physically and emotionally. And even spiritually.

 - I was afraid to begin a 5K in memory of my mom. But I put my trust in God and guess what? We've now awarded 3 scholarships to students in need and I have an amazing job because I said yes to that.

 - I was afraid to be me. I was afraid to allow myself to be used and to be true to who He has made me. And in that process, my faith was crippled to a certain degree. Now I am thriving because I am being who He has made me. And my faith runs deeper than it ever has.

 Fear can be crippling. It is the opposite of faith. Maybe you're afraid to change jobs because you're comfortable where you are, but changing jobs could lead to amazing things. Maybe you're afraid to leave a relationship because you don't want to lose someone, but perhaps that's what God's asking you to do. Or on the other hand, maybe God is asking you to stay in one in order to work His miracle of what only He can do. Fear or faith? Which will you choose? Perhaps you're afraid to start something because you fear failure (could be starting to run, could be starting to lose weight, could be starting to write or to run a business....could be a list of anything) . But if you never start, you'll never know. Don't let fear cripple you. Trying and not succeeding the first time is better than never giving it a chance and always wondering if you could.

Fear or faith?

  Swimming is a small example of conquering a fear. But this week, I will conquer the fear of putting my face in the water so that I can learn to properly swim laps. And who knows where it will lead? Perhaps a triathlon one day.... or perhaps just a newfound way to exercise. Either way, I'll be conquering a fear.

 What will you choose today.... Fear of ________________ or Faith in the One who knows everything about our days and our life???


Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Little Moments

The week is nearly gone , and I have no idea what even went on this week! Ever have one of those?
  So I am sitting down to think about it a little bit and remember the little moments that have made up the good times of the week..
 - An amazing Sunday afternoon run in the sunshine
    - Movie night with the kids and dinner on the couch, something we rarely do.
- Lunch with my good friend, Kristin. Just what the dr. ordered on what had been a frustrating morning for me.
   - A best friend who listens to me, laughs with me, lets me cry if need be, supports me, tells me when I'm wrong and totally says go for it on all my crazy ideas
     - Being a dreamer and a goal setter. It's part of who I am and I have learned to love it. My list grows all the time, but it's fun to have dreams
- Listening to Elizabeth talk excitedly after her first time at journalism club. She may have found a new niche, and I am excited to watch her grow through it
    - A warm bed. The weather is turning cold. I am thankful to have a warm bed on cold nights
       -Peanut Butter Pop Tarts. A newly discovered treat for me. Yum.
- Determination - it goes a long way. I've decided to start kicking things off my "bucket list" (but the list needs a better name, since I'm not sick or dying . Perhaps Rachael's fun wish list??)  This week I began learning to swim. Yes, I am 32 and could not swim. I could dog paddle, but that only goes so far. Now I am learning to swim laps... something I've always wanted to do. (Stay tuned for future blogs on that)
     -  Thanskgiving decorations. My favorite holiday. Favorite decorations.
 -Pumpkin Lip Gloss
      - Sharing a cup of coffee with a friend
 - Saturday afternoon football.

The little moments. They make me smile.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hide and Seek

Growing up, Hide and Seek was always an activity found at our home on the weekends.
 We had the large spread of farmland, barns, trees, bushes and places to hide, making our place a favorite to play the game. My friends and I would be outside for hours, into the dark, hiding. We'd whisper secrets, as we'd wait for the others to try to find us. We would sneak around the buildings, heart beating quickly to try to beat the person who was "it" to the base.  We would climb trees and watch below us as we went unseen to the seeker. Many times, my cousins, who lived just down the road, would come join and the game grew into an activity long into the night.
 Hide and Seek growing up was one of my favorite games to play. I very much disliked being the seeker, though. I did not enjoy counting on my own and then calling out "Ready or Not, Here I come!" and then searching all the spots, while they quietly and quickly snuck around me to the base. Never the fast one of the group, I often had to be "it" several times in a row until one of my brothers would have mercy on me and take my spot.  I did, however, always find an exhilaration in being the participant to sneak behind the seeker, reaching base and yelling out "Olly, olly Oxen Free!" (wherever that saying came from, I am not sure, but that's what we learned and that's what we said when we reached base without being caught)


 I thought about this in relation to life. To hide is much easier at times than to be out in the open. To try to tuck my secrets away, to not share, to put myself behind a large building and curl up and stay there is much easier than coming into a place of vulnerability and "being found" or life being exposed. But staying in a hiding spot is not what I am supposed to do. If we all kept our lives and secrets in the dark, how could we ever truly learn from one another? God wants us to use our lives for His glory, and that includes the dark hiding spots, too. Perhaps not always immediately or in the moment, but often times sharing and exposing can be part of the healing process.
 
God is the seeker, of course. He patiently waits (equivalent to me counting while the others go hide) . He waits for me to be used by Him. He waits for me to come out. He waits for me to be willing to expose myself. He waits patiently, but He is out in the open shouting to me all the while "Ready or Not, Rachael, Here I am! Ready or not, Come Out! You don't have to hide now!"  He is not playing hide and seek; I am. I am afraid to be "caught". I am afraid of what others might say. I am afraid of exposing my hurts and failures and being judged. And yet...why?  Just like my brothers had complete mercy on me so many times in the game, So does God. He is the most merciful one. And in coming out of my shell into His merciful presence, I can openly shout "Olly Olly Oxen Free!" Because that is what He has done for me. He has freed me. From my past. From my sins. From my guilt. I put myself in the hiding spot, though, and curl up. But quite honestly, coming out of that place is so freeing. Because He can use it.


 October was a painful month of growth and learning. While the month was full of many fun activities, the month was also clouded with times of decisions and obedience and discoveries. But going through a tumultuous month has definitely allowed me to stand strong, come out of my hiding place and shout "Olly Olly Oxen Free!" because I will no longer be held back by those moments, those times. I am free. Free to be me. Free to laugh. Free to enjoy life. Free to share my story with others. Free to be used by God.
  And that is the most beautiful place to ever be.


Hide and Seek. One of my favorite games still to this day, though it's hard to find adults to play. Perhaps more of us should be less afraid to be the seeker.  Both in the game, and in life. To first tell our story, but then To sit and listen to others. To allow stories to be told without judgement being passed. To tell others "Come Out! I'm here for you!" 
 Easier said than done, I know. But when you shout Olly Olly Oxen Free, you will understand the joy I am talking about!
 One day at a time.....

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 1

November 1. Fall is most definitely here, but winter seems to be quickly approaching.
  This morning was a longer training run for me, and the hardest part was beginning because of how cold it was. In fact, as I ran, snow flurries fell around me.
 I believe it's a good thing that I'm training for a race in Florida, because that sure does add a push factor for me. To be completely honest, I cannot wait to get away for a weekend in Florida, and doing an activity I love.
    I love training. As hard as it can be at times,  especially in this cold weather, I love the outcomes. Every single race I run holds some kind of meaning for me. For many, that is silly. A race is a race. But for me, while I don't start out training thinking "oh, this race is about...." the journey of the training often times becomes that. This race I have taken on a new mantra. A race mantra, but a life mantra, too. And this race has become about my new mantra.
 Many people have mantras they repeat while running. Many have life mantras.
 I have used "It's all Good" Because my best friend says that and I love it. But it wasn't mine. I have said "No Worries" I have said "Dig Deep"
 But the newest phrase I have landed on is "Stronger Than Yesterday".
Because I am stronger than yesterday.
  2014, and specifically the fall, has held some extreme challenges for me. But, in all of it, I have become stronger than yesterday. We all do, if we evaluate and truly look at our lives. We are all stronger today than yesterday.
 But with my running, this training round was a challenge. I was tired. I had a lot going on. But I sat down, made my schedule and pushed through (ahem...am pushing through) the challenges and I am stronger than yesterday because I got up and ran. I am stronger than yesterday because I have learned new things about myself. I am stronger than yesterday, not through my own strength, but through the strength of Christ alone.
 Stronger than Yesterday.

 November is here, believe it or not. In 34 days I will run the Diva Half Marathon, and I cannot wait. I am stronger than yesterday, one day at a time.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Little Moments

I'm striving to be back to my basics- the things I love.
 Writing,
    running,
       Reading,
          Playing.
 Being me. Easier said than done at times, because the demands of life can become all consuming at times. And when those demands become all consuming, the little moments escape all too easily. And so it is important to me to return to my end of the week little moments blog post. To remind myself what matters and what made me smile throughout the week. A time to sit and just take a deep breath and say "thank you, Lord, for the little moments." So, here are some of my little moments from this week:
  - An unexpected phone call from a long lost friend to remind me to keep pressing on
    - A crisp morning run
      - A beautiful Indian Summer day, yellow leaves boasting their colors against the bright blue sky
  - Playing Boggle (Yes...Boggle, the old fashioned not much heard of any more game) with my 10 year old son  
     - Making banana bread, which in essence, made someone else's day better.
 - Feeling excited to run and train again and the good feeling that comes when a run is complete
    - a shirt on sale!
    - My new friends Liz and Sandra, who made me feel a part of their family from the time I met them to now all the texts and emails we exchange already
        - A warm hug
  - A quiet car ride, no words needed, just good company
      - Crisp, clean sheets
          - Hot Apple Cider
            - Discovering new things about myself
       - Finding time to read again
- Morning dew on the grass and fog rising around me
   
  the little moments are all around me. It's time to remember them again. Every day. One day at a time.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Just Do It

There's the old saying by Nike, Just Do It. 
  Much to my chagrin, and the jokes of most of my friends, since most of my friends are older than I, I can't really remember all the commercials or what the hype was over that Nike statement, I just remember it being out there. (Ahem, I was sort of young when that was the popular statement.)
 Just do it . 
 Oh, how we can apply that to so very many areas of our lives.
  But the point of today's blog and just do it is all related to running.

Many months have passed since I have run a race. I have been hands on in the running industry, and I have never stopped running. I just haven't trained. I've laced up and jogged for fun.
  But I quickly have a race approaching.
I know how to train.  I also know how not  to train.
 As I looked at my calendar last week, I realized I was following the not training so well program and needed to kick my butt into gear and just do it. 

 So I laid out my schedule leading up to race day (December 7) and began the process of it all. While it has taken me a few days to get back into that groove, I am in love with it all over again. I cannot wait for race day to be here.
 Training is hard. It's a mindset as much as anything else (especially when life is whirl winding around me and exhaustion sets in, 4:30 am is all the more difficult.)

 Quite honestly, life is always full of chaos in some aspect, and sometimes you have to tell yourself to Just Do It. That applies to any area.

 The plan is to Just Do It a lot better in the approaching days, and that goes for life all around, not just running. Somehow, interestingly enough, running keeps me centered. When I am running, I tend to do all of life somewhat better. When I slack off (and it doesn't have to be a race for my reasons of running) I seem to unintentionally allow myself to slack off in some other ways.
  So, I am going to keep running and Just Do It. Give the race my all.
And give this race of life my all as well.  One day at a time.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lack of words

The past many days I have sat in front of my computer and started a blog, only to get a few words into it and feel deflated at the lack of purposeful words.
   I had my annual huge event last weekend, the 5K in remembrance of mom, and usually after that event, my heart is full and bursting to share the excitement and God moments of the event. I felt that the day of the 5K this year, as always, but when I sat to write, nothing flowed from me.
  Then I spent and entire day in nature, and while I walked, the words I wanted to share danced through my mind, just as the trees danced in the wind all around me. And yet, as I sat to write about those moments and what God was speaking to me, the words were once again falling flat.
  I write because it helps me understand, as much as I write for others to perhaps learn from my mistakes and lessons and joys as well.
  When I draw blanks in my words, I find that to be a rarity, and even a frustrating scenario for me.
And then I realize, perhaps God is asking me to be quiet for a little bit. Perhaps He wants me to hear Him and only Him and to drown out even my own thoughts for a bit.
 If you don't know me, I am a thinker. I am the one who will ask random questions to my friends because I think of them and want to know the answers about those around me. I am a thinker, and at times, that can get me in trouble because I will overthink a scenario, instead of following my initial God given feeling of what the correct response is. I tend to hear a conversation or a piece of advice and say "Let me think about that...."
 Thinking is not a bad characteristic; it certainly can even have its benefits. But sometimes, thinking is not always the best attribute.
 I can think on hurtful words said to me rather than positive ones, leading me to great insecurity.
    I can think on sinful actions rather than God's grace bestowed on us all.
       I can think about what I want, instead of what's right in front of me already.
I chuckle as I write this because I realize just how much I am thinking about what I should write!
 
As I walked through nature the other day, I didn't have to really think because God's voice spoke clearly to me all around me
  His voice was...
- in the whispering winds, whipping around on my skin
  - Tickling my face as the leaves fell around me gently
    - Blaring His presence all around through the blazing colors of orange, yellow and red on the trees
- heard in the crunch of the leaves under my feet on the trails
   - seen in the intricate details of the squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies and birds, pretending I wasn't there, but ever aware that I was
   - felt in the warm rays of sunshine, followed by the slight breeze
- seen in the bending branches of fall

God is all around me. Around You. He is telling me constantly that I am intricately, beautifully and wonderfully made. He is telling me He is guiding me and right next to me, no matter what. He is telling me that He is always good, no matter the circumstance of life. He forgives and loves and I am redeemed. He is shouting to me that He has given me gifts that are to be used and not sat upon. He loves me. Just. As. I . Am.
  Look around you today. You don't have to stop and think about it. You just have to listen and look at times. Perhaps it's in another's smile. Perhaps in creation. Perhaps in the fall day or in even in the dreary rain (which is at times a common day here in Ohio right now).
  I may not have the perfect, profound words to share all the time. But that's ok. I don't always have to. Because sometimes, God just wants to be the words, and wants me to listen.  And really, His words and beauty speak far more than I am ever capable of doing myself.
 Sometimes, God tells me to just stop thinking and talking and just listen. He's all around, I just have to get out of myself and He speaks volumes. Only when He speaks to me, can He be spoken through me. One day at a time.



 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Rejoicing each day....

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."
 That verse is found in Psalm 118. My mom often quoted that verse to me. She also would sing a song about it, which sticks in my mind often as well, and has allowed me to always remember the words of the scripture. That verse has resonated to me loudly of late. Because each day is a new day, a reason to rejoice and be glad, no matter what is happening in my surroundings. God's grace and mercy are new every morning.
 But, I get off topic here for today's blog.
   I sat at a banquet Friday night for scholarship donors at Cedarville University. I have the privilege to be a part of the banquet ceremonies because of the scholarship we award each year in memory of mom.  I found it quite appropriate that the first person who gave a small speech started her speech with that verse.  I found that meaningful and quite the reminder in the moment.
  This time of year is often a struggle for me, as I am overly busy with details and last minute preparations for the 5K, just days away. The banquet, just a week before my 5K event, which is in essence, what raises all the funds for the scholarship we award, always gives me moments to pause and be reminded why we do what we do. Why I get so busy this time of year. And that the whole point of the scholarship is, yes, to remember and honor mom, but even more so, it is about glorifying God and helping students who need the help, who can then use their gifts to touch cancer patients we will never touch.
 I am not a nurse, nor is it the gift God has given me. But He has most certainly planted me in a place of having a passion to carry out this event, which can help nurses.  He has even now given me a career to help further this 5K because of what I get to learn and do each day for a living in marathon planning.
  This year's 5K event has held new challenges, as it comes on the heels of the busiest time of year for my job, and that was a new balance for me. I have faced personal challenges as well , which have led to me pour less time into this event. I have even battled the emotion (and words of some) that I am a failure this year with the 5K. But then I hear the words spoken by the Psalmist years ago that "this is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it"  and so I pause and thank God for so much, specifically in regards to this event, as I head into a very big day...
   - for the passion He has laid on my heart and how He has not only blessed that passion but has given me a career in it
      - for a heart to carry on mom's legacy through other nurses
 - for the support of so many
   -for growing pains, as each year takes on new ones, each in different ways. This year being more personal than anything else
          - for new opportunities.
   -For closed doors as much as open ones.
           -For my dad. Not a runner or an event planner. But he is most certainly a support system and has a willing heart to help however directed.
                   -For my mom. She is the reason we do this event. The memories of mom have flooded my heart and mind lately. the verse referenced to as today's blog being just one of them.  I have found old silly pictures of mom, bringing back laughs. Dad and I have chatted about mom. Being at the banquet and carrying out the 5K every year always does the same. My mom was my hero. She was an amazing wife, mom, woman of God. And I am forever grateful for her and all the lessons she engrained in me.

 This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.
  This weeks theme for me. A busy week, lots of details to be carried out. The event may not be where I want it to be this year, but it is where God wants it. And He always knows best. And one day at a time, I will continue to learn to rejoice and pursue what He has in store for me.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Plowing Through It

Because I am a farm girl at heart, analogies involving anything farm related paint real pictures for me.   So I found it relevant that the comparison of a plow was used today for me in conversation. The plow analogy, quite honestly, applies to many areas of life. At times, those areas are more serious, and at times, more comical
 A plow, if you do not know, is a piece of farm equipment that attaches to the back of the tractor, is lowered into the ground and essentially digs up dirt to prepare the ground for planting. The piece of equipment almost looks like claws/disks on the end, if you will, depending on the make. Regardless, the outcome is the same- it goes into the ground and digs up the dirt from the bottom up to prepare the dirt for the seeds to be planted.
   I have thought about lately how sometimes life throws curve balls, and you just have to go with it. It wasn't until later in the day when the plow analogy was used, that I realized how that was an applicable analogy to many aspects of life.
  No coffee pot in the morning? Seems like a tragedy, quite honestly. I am an avid coffee drinker and for many years, the first thing I am doing upon getting out of bed is drinking a cup of coffee. I always said I'd never make it without that coffee to start the day. But somehow, when the coffee pot breaks or there isn't one available upon the stumble out of bed, I manage to plow through anyhow and  be fine until I do find that cup of coffee a couple hours later in the day.
   Tired from lack of sleep? Plow through and get the job done regardless.
Sad from a life tragedy happening all around you? Plow through...
  Discouraged over an event or a thing not going as expected? Plow through....
 Dig deep, turn the dirt over , plow through, because plowing through prepares the way for beautiful seeds to be planted and grow and blossom.
   I've been told excuses are easy to make. And quite honestly, they are. How many of us can tell stories of co workers or family members who give excuses for not accomplishing something? worse yet, how many of us have been that person using those excuses?
  I battle depression. I take medication for it. But I don't let it stop me. I plow through it. I get up, I run, I go to a job I love, I have people who support me all around me, and  I smile. I plow through that obstacle of depression every day.
 Yes, there are times when life's excuses are relevant and not really along the excuse line. For instance....my 5K this year is definitely not in the place I would like for it to be. I could give a millions "reasons" why, or excuses even, but reality is, those reasons hold some relevancy.  But those reasons don't mean I quit and give up. I am going to plow through it. Play it out. Do it. Learn from it. Dig up the dirt so that it can grow to be better the next time around.   Plow through the excuses, the reasons, the discouragement and road blocks and let God take it, mold it, grow it and shape it into an even better one next year.
 Plowing through is not easy. If it were, everyone would do it. Nothing good ever comes easy. Rainbows after rain. Smiles after pain. Beautiful crops after a plowed up ground.
    Pressing on and plowing through. I choose to do that. Because I want to be a better person. I want to grow into who God is shaping me to be. I want to  blossom. But it takes plowing through the hard days to do that.
 One day at a time.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Joys of My Job

As many of you will know, I launched into a new career this summer: working for the United States Air Force Marathon. Working there has been such an incredible experience already in just the short amount of time I've been part of the staff.
  Between a wonderful group of staff, to learning all new aspects of the race industry, to learning more about myself through the process, the job has been a gift from God.
 But, this weekend, on the 19th and 20th, the whole event unfolded. The details on which I have been working along with the staff unfolded in a beautiful fashion.
 To try to put into words how I felt in those moments is difficult. There were moments of tears of joy for me, as I stood, hand over heart, while the National anthem was sung, surrounded by military folks, proud to be part of the country, but part of the event just as much. I met so many runners and heard stories and helped with small issues and answered questions that by the end of the event, I feel like I'd made hundreds of new friends!
   One of the cool aspects of what I get to do as part of the staff there is to see a little bit of everything. Many people have absolutely no idea how much goes into the planning of an event for 15,000 runners. But my role on staff currently allows me to get a piece of each part of it.
 I learned how I can do my part better, some by mistakes I made and some just by doing and learning and asking. And while I am sure my friends with whom I had contact that day got sick of my saying it, I loved it so much, I could not stop smiling. I know without a doubt, that this job is a god given gift and I am in the right place for sure.
   I would be asked "Aren't your feet tired?"  "Are you doing ok?" "Are you stressed out?"
   To which my answers were always... "No, quite honestly, I am good. Feet are fine. "
" I have never been better....this is awesome"
   and "No, I am not stressed out at all...This is my zone."

Granted, my position is not one of the more stressed levels, but I believe when you are in a place of doing a job you love, while it will come with stresses, those are not the moments to which you cling.
   I left the day saying : Best. Day. Ever.  This is where I am supposed to be.
A job does not define who you are. I have learned that through the years. But, being in a job you love and finding the place you are meant to be does make a difference in life, no doubt.
  To find the right words to share how being a part of the unfolding of the marathon was for me is difficult because it's more than just an emotion of "This is awesome!"  Being part of it is a long time answered prayer, a joy that starts deep down and flows outward and a passion I've found I never expected.
  I wish everyone could love their job like I do mine.
  Tired after the event? Absolutely. But.... Happy? More than I have words to say.
 There is a strange emotion that comes when the event ends. Almost a sadness of sorts, even if a sigh of satisfaction as well. But how awesome is it to get to do this all year long?
   I feel lucky. And blessed.
Yes, cheesy, but sporting my Marathon proudly. Day 1 of the expo.

Expo, Day 1.

Me and Mary. 5 am. Race day. Mary and I have been running together for months, as she trained for the full marathon. Her first. 

Brenda. One of my favorite volunteers. Bless her heart. Here to volunteer at 4:30 am because that was the slot left and she wanted to help. 

 My UBC volunteer friends! Happy to pick up trash. Seriously, our event couldn't be done without all our volunteers. 

The finish line area. 

Kind of my "stomping grounds" of the day. The info tent . 

Lori, another of my favorite volunteers. Stayed later than her shift and downloaded the QR app on her phone so she could tell runners their times as they came to the tent to ask, but didn't have the app on their own phone. 
 And then there's Rick...our marketing coordinator. He did not like my taking this snapshot because I caught him sitting down, a rare moment for those of us on staff! The only time I saw him sitting that day, though. 

The end of the day, Lisa, our expo coordinator, and myself. A bit slap happy but Still smiling :) 

After Party at the Greene. Part of our staff. Lisa, myself, Jeanette (volunteer coordinator) 

Ending the day with the Air Force Band of Flight playing the Star Spangled Banner. 
Beautiful day.

I am blessed.