Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coffee for your Heart: You are Not Alone

Good morning, dear friends! 

  It's Wednesday again, bringing me back to Coffee for your Heart Wednesdays, where I get to link up with all kinds of new friends at and share from the heart, over coffee of course. 

  4 am is early for most, but that is my time of the day. To write, to think, to pray and to share….
with my own cup of coffee in hand of course. Grab your cup of coffee or tea or hot chocolate and join me, would you? I always enjoy sharing a cup with a friend. 

   Can you think of a time when you felt alone?
Perhaps that brought on fear.
   Or maybe sadness.
Perhaps it was a horrible feeling and you wanted nothing more than to escape feeling of being alone, but the more you tried, the more alone you felt.
  Most of us do not like the feeling of being alone.
   I've been there.
I've even been through a time of feeling so alone a few years ago, I wanted to escape the feeling so badly, I even had thoughts of taking my own life. That was a time of feeling alone. The good news is, I didn't stay there.
 You Are Not Alone.

God, who created this world and holds it in His hands, sees every tear you cry. Every Tear. (Psalm 56:8) He sees. He cares. You Are Not Alone.

   God knit you together in your mother's womb, from the beginning of time, He has known you. (Psalm 139) You Are Not Alone.

 God knows all the plans He has for you. All of them. At times, that might include painful moments even. But He knows what is best for you, even when you don't. (Jeremiah 29:11). You Are Not Alone.

God sees and knows your heart, when no one else does. He hears your words, your hurts, your fears, your joys, your victories and your failures even when no one else does. You Are Not Alone. 

   All those things you do….You know what I mean…picking up toys and clothes,
    Doing laundry,
       Writing cards….
  Helping out a co worker
         Paying for that person who didn't have enough change
    Opening a door for someone
           Giving a hug
     Working a bit extra for someone who had a family emergency
 Driving a person in need
           Shoveling the neighbors snow
    Taking water to a person on a hot day….
  Buying a coffee for the one behind you...
The list goes on..
   Those things you do that feel so small, yet are really SO big, because they are done from your heart….
Those things that feel unnoticed….
    God sees all of those and smiles and says "That's my child…and I love her."
He notices.  

 So please hear me from the bottom of my heart today: You Are Not Alone.
 It can be hard at times when God is not tangible to feel. But if you take time to pause and soak in these words and truths, maybe you actually will  feel Him. Because He is right there. Always by your side.
  Trust me, I've been there, and I know.

You Are Not Alone. Do Not Lose Heart.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Winter Season

Seasons. I love the different seasons.
        Here in the heart of Ohio, winter has definitely played it's tune.
  We have had plenty of snow and record low temperatures this year.
This winter season has been evident on all levels.
    The seasons of nature often play an analogy in my life as well.
We go through seasons in our own lives.
  There are definite periods of winter: clouds, cold, ugly, and something most people dread and hate and don't like experiencing.
    Spring looks more like green, growth, beauty, excitement, joy and new found warmth.
  Fall and Summer play their own roles as well.
But it is difficult to truly appreciate spring unless you've experienced winter.

This analogy has been on my mind lately.
   I used to hate winter. I mean absolutely dread every day of it. I was one of those whiners and complainers when it came to the cold and snow. I've come a long way in that journey. Perhaps one could say I've grown up a lot when it comes to dealing with winter. I admit, I still do not like the cold. But I have learned to truly appreciate the dreary season. I was leaving my dad's the other night in the middle of a snowy storm of sorts and I just smiled and truly enjoyed the pure vision of untouched, glistening snow. The beautiful white dust sparkled at me, winked at me as if to say "Hello! I'm glad you are out with me." I loved how pristine it was, how pure and untouched.  No plows had been out yet, and the snow was beautiful.
  Today I thought of that view in light of my life. Winter seasons happen. In all honesty, the last few weeks have been a bit "wintery" for me. Times when the roads are hard to navigate. It's difficult to see through the ugly grey clouds and dreary days. But as I have grown up, I have learned to appreciate the beauty behind those clouds and "cold days". I may not see it in the very moment, but I have learned not to complain and dread it. I have learned this the hard way, but I have learned it because I have seen beauty come from it. When before I would choose to drown in my own weariness, now I choose to see it for what God intends it: a season; a time where underneath the surface, seeds are growing, but cannot bud yet because they aren't ready. But when they are (when He sees me as being ready) then the spring time will be all the more beautiful and appreciated. And I can bloom in all new ways. But it isn't possible without winter.
  During the winter season, the trees appear dead and ugly. But really, they are just preparing for something greater, for a time when their leaves will sprout and their beauty will shine and they will become full once again. Without winter, those buds wouldn't have appropriate time to prepare. I'm like that. Through winter seasons, I learn a new dependance on God. And underneath, inside my heart where others cannot see, He is preparing me through the ugly times for a greater purpose. Perhaps to encourage another person going through a hard time; perhaps to accomplish a task I am currently unable to do; perhaps to teach me new aspects of His characteristics and of prayer with Him.
   so, perhaps the next time you think about winter, maybe you can see it in a bit of a different light, even if just for a moment, and stop and appreciate the beauty within it. Without winter, we could not truly appreciate the spring and warmth that will come following the cold season. And if you're in the middle of your own winter season, don't lose heart. Your buds are growing, even though you can't see them. Spring will come.
  PS-I wrote about seasons a long time ago. If you care to dig into my archives, you can find it in May 31,2011.June 1,2011. Seasons were quite different then, and it was cool to see how far I have come from that time.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Fighter in Me

"The most important thing is not to win but to take part, just as in life the most important thing is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." -The Olympic Creed

    This week, training has been rough. I mean throw the covers back over my head and sleep some more rough. Last week I shared about mind over matter. This week, the matter won a couple of days. Life demanded a bit more of me and I was worn out. Thus, sleep won out a few days. But I have not, nor will I , let that knock me down and quit.
  Running has taught me to fight. I don't mean put up my fists and fight; I don't even mean shout at another person and have an argument fight. I mean it has taught me to push through and stop saying "I can't."
    Though I grew up on a farm and have that stubborn strong girl in me, I frequently found myself at one point not too long ago saying "I can't."
  I let what others say to me too often define my own mindset. I allowed myself to quit when I should have kept going. I fell into the trap of lies said to me and often times gave up.
   Running became so many metaphors to me when I started (and then finished my first race in 2009), and to this day it remains a metaphor to me on many playing levels . This week, I have remembered the fighter in me. And running has helped push that trait through.
  Running taught me that I Can do what I put my mind to.
       Running taught me I am bigger than words said to me.
           Running taught me it's not about winning, it's about taking part and pushing through.
 Running taught me (as stated above) that it's not about the triumph, but the struggle.
     Running helped me believe in me.
  Running taught me to fight for what I love.

And I can take all those lessons and apply them to all areas of my life.
   I can push through days when I feel like falling apart and in the end, I am stronger for it.
       I can push through words said to me and conquer them and be a better person for it.
   I don't have to win, to be in the limelight, or to have any awards; I am accomplishing a great feat and it doesn't matter who sees it or knows it-I know the struggles I conquered along the way and it is a huge victory for me even if I come in "last place."
      Life is hard. It's full of curve balls and unknowns to navigate. Yet, those struggles are what build me, part of what grow me and make me who I am. I don't like them and I don't have to like them; I just have to recognize the struggles for what they are and grow.
     I can do more than I ever thought possible.
 Fighting for my family, my marriage, my beliefs in Christ- It's worth it. Keep fighting.

If you aren't a runner, you may not understand that running has taught me all of this. But it has, and it has helped bring the fighter out in me. And for that reason, even when there are days I decide to sleep that extra hour, I am still a fighter, and the next day (like today, when it is -1 out as alarm goes off) I will conquer the bold task(s) in front of me. Whether that means getting up and running or if it means pushing through a long day at work, or if it means fighting for my family values. I am a fighter.
 One day at a time.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

CFYH: You're Beautiful

Today's link up with Holley Gerth ( for your heart :cfyh) is all about beauty.
   I don't mean the way society tells us beauty should be portrayed; I mean the way beauty comes in its truest fashion: from within.

   And I want you to know: You Are Beautiful.

I went through a time where I obsessed almost over my size. Or if I had a zit on my face. Or if I looked ok. Don't get me wrong….I still struggle some days with these aspects. But it took some darker days in my journey to realize that beauty is NOT found in my pant size or in my skin or how I look. Beauty starts from the heart. And the most beautiful women I've ever known are those with the deepest joy from within. My mom was one of the most prime examples of beauty. She never wore make up; she was overweight; But she was SO full of joy. She also taught me my entire life that I was beautiful. She instilled the truth in my heart from a young age what beauty meant. But I went through a time where that was a harder concept for me to grasp.

  Some of you, as my readers, have heard and known my story all along. Others of you are newer to who I am and to my blog. There are so many swirling thoughts that come to my mind when the topic of beauty comes up; so many things I'd like to share that I have learned along these lines. But the one thing that kept poking my heart when Holley prompted this topic was a story I wrote called
  Beauty From Ashes: One Day at a Time

 It's my story. A part of the journey I have been on in the last few years. I know some of you have read it, but when something comes to mind over and over, I tend to believe it's what I am being prompted to share. So, below you find my story about what I learned about beauty the last few years. I had become a pile of ashes, really, in so many aspects. But I believe God has taken it and shaped it into beauty. Not for my sake or my glory, but so that His light can shine brightly through me . So, here is my story:

From Couch Rebels: Because Stories Like These Aren't told by Potatoes. 
Beauty From Ashes, One Day at a Time 
   By Rachael McKinney

November 6, 2010 was the beginning of the end for my mom. Her cancer was aggressive, and on that morning mom woke up unable to speak or write. That day we discovered there were 3 tumors on her brain. In those moments, life changed for me.

In the months that would follow leading up to the passing of my mom, depression walked through new doors in my life, sin crept into the corners of my heart, anxiety beat within the walls of my chest, and sometimes darkness threatened to take my life. Yet through all of that, I have been able to overcome the unknown and hold onto the hand of my Creator, my God, to allow Him to turn me into beauty from ashes. 

Mom held on for 4 months after that horrible day of discovering the tumors. I held on too, but barely by a thread. My husband had lost his job in the midst of that deadly diagnosis. I was mom’s caregiver, second only to my dad, and I was desperately striving to function. Those months were dark for me. I felt more alone than I ever had. I didn’t know how to share the desperation with those around me, so I often held it in, allowing barriers to go up. Mom went home to be with the Lord on March 20, 2011. I never thought that my life would be the same after losing my mom. To be quite honest, it hans’t been. I have traversed ugly paths and chosen unwisely at times. But God walked alongside me the whole way, never leaving me. And now, 2 years later, I am able to see His beauty through what was my ashes. I have seen the good come out of this exhausting event. It just took time, prayer, faith, counseling and healing.

Losing my mom has been one of the ugliest events through which I ever walked. Grief was a long journey for me and took me on some dark routes. Saying goodbye was a long winter season for me. However, in patience and perseverance, I have been able to see how God can use that for His good.

Born out of losing my mom, I took on a cause. We formed the Linda A Ferguson Memorial scholarship, to be given out to students studying to be oncology nurses. We desired to have mom’s name carried on, but even more than that, to have students carry God’s light to dark places. Places I had walked myself. Places I couldn’t go, but I could help students who could help more cancer patients and families. We fuel funds into mom’s scholarship through a 5K, a running event. Running is a passion of mine, it helped me through some of those dark days. Running would help me overcome hurt by bringing good. Giving out that first scholarship in 2012 became a life defining momment for me. My heart was filled in a new way, yet I felt speechless as I tried to put into perspective what seeing the life of that scholarship was like for me. 

It brought on waves of new emotion as I remembered my mom by having a scholarship in her memory. Knowing she’d love the girl who was receiving it, missing mom and wishing she were here for it all, but also realizing if I had not lost her, the scholarship would not even exist, was emotional. Seeing good come out of bad life situation. Seeing the scholarship and 5K event unfold brought on more dreams, and brought on the realization that I would carry on. I would be ok. Good came from the bad. Beauty rose up form the ashes. 

I do not think I will ever be able to say I am thankful I lost my mom. I miss her with a deep heartache and tears more often than not. I can sau, however, that I am thankful for all that God is teaching me in the proceess, for the scholarship we have seen come to life, for a deeper understanding of God’s grace and compassion, and for learning to live life one day at a time because it is too short.

Depression still plagues me, but God’s compassion covers me. My eyes were opened up to the sin crevices in my heart and God’s grace surrounds me. Grief has become peace. And love has found new depths in my life on a daily basis. 

He is able to bring beauty form ashes, one day at a time. I am living proof of that. 

 You see, beauty is not found in what society tells us it is found. Beauty cannot be found in a piece of clothing, extra make up, a person's words, or a perfect size. Beauty comes from your heart. And I am telling you, without I doubt: You Are Beautiful. 
   It took me many ugly events, bad choices, rough days and intense struggles to truly grasp this concept. But God took me from ashes and made my story a beautiful one. 
    He will do it for you, too.

Believe it friend: You are Beautiful. 

1 Samuel 16:7

The Message (MSG)
But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A best friend

Think about your very best friend ever.

   Is that the first person you want to call when you are having a horrible day? Does she get so excited for you when you call to tell her your greatest news? Can you sit together in quiet, with no words necessary, and still be communicating?

  That's how it is with me and my best friend. Yet I know I can always count on my best friend to love me unconditionally, cry with me, laugh until we are blue, sit quietly with me and be there for me. That's (part of) what makes up my best friend.

  I was thinking on this in regards to my prayer journey these past few days. Ultimately, as cliche as it may sound to some, God should be my best friend.
   He should be the first one I talk to when I am having a bad day….He understands it more than anyone. Even to a point of being beaten, judged, mocked and put cruelly on a cross…for me. He holds every tear I've cried even.
   He rejoices with me when I rejoice. He gets excited with every victory I have!
He asks me to come sit quietly before Him. There are times no words are necessary because He knows my heart better than I do even. And when I am still enough, He can speak love into the depths of my heart when I allow Him.

 But it is my choice whether I allow this to take place.

  Having a best friend is a great gift from the Lord. He knows I need one, that's for sure, especially as people oriented as I am.
   But ultimately, there are times when a person cannot be available. No one person is available all the time.

But God is. He is ready to listen any time. He wants me to come to Him.
 I heard it said this weekend (once again, in our church sermon….I'm pretty sure the Lord is making a point in my life with this prayer journey) that we often times become like those we are around, those with whom we spend the most time.  This can reflect beautifully or it can reflect ugly….it depends in part with whom we are spending our time.  That being said, the more time I spend talking with Jesus, the more I can become like Him. It's a beautiful picture.

  Having a best friend is a great gift.   Allowing Jesus to be my best friend is the best gift. It's not always easy, since He is not face to face with me physically, but the results are joyful.
    I strive to choose this one day at a time. One prayer at a time.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Birthday Cup of Coffee

Today would be my mom's 65th birthday.

 I miss her dearly. 
  If she were here today, we'd likely sit over our cups of coffee, play a game, and laugh hysterically. Perhaps we'd even cry a little( because of laughing so hard, though).  There would be much encouragement to go with our warm cups of caffeine. 
   But today she gets to celebrate with Jesus in heaven. I'd venture to say that birthdays are not really celebrated there, but I won't know until I meet up with her again one day. 
   Until then, I will pretend she is having her coffee,too, and I will toast to her and chat here with you as  if she were sitting with me. 

     Just a few thoughts I've had over a few days' time. These are things which stuck out to me in newfound ways over the course of events this week. These are things for which I felt a great amount of gratitude. Some are simple. Some are larger.

   ~My dad.He's so courageous, so strong, so silly, so stubborn and such an example of love, determination, dedication, and a heart like Jesus. 
     ~ An SUV that navigates well through the snow. It makes it so I really don't mind driving in the weather, especially when the snow comes in unexpectedly.  
       ~ A beautiful snow fall. Large flakes, each one unique in its own way.
      ~ Good health. 
~ Successful surgery for my loved one, and the ability to be near by for it. 
   ~ Coffee. In so many ways, I always find a gratitude of coffee. For it's warmth and comfort. For the caffeine. And for the smile it brings as it touches my lips and goes down perfectly. I really enjoy my coffee. 
    ~ Laughter. A solid belly laugh over the dumbest thing that only siblings can share because we understand each other without even using words. I LOVE to laugh! 
      ~ Memories. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A memory is as well, I'd say. Often times it's hard to capture a memory into a blog post or even a journal entry. I have hundreds of good memories of my mom and of my childhood days.

Those are just a few thoughts I'd share with mom today. Thoughts I get to let you in on this time :) 
       So, Happy Birthday, Mom! This cup's for you…in one of your favorite mugs, even. (Mom collected pigs, so don't be startled by the silliness of the saying on it). 

(if you'd like to see a video of mom's life and learn more about the scholarship we have in memory of her funded through a 5K every fall, you can find it at

Friday, January 17, 2014

mind over matter

Have you ever seen the show Brain Games? The show is a short program which features on each episode some crazy way the brain functions. The episode I most recently watched focused on how our brain processes color. The results were crazy!
 Our Brain is truly amazing, if we really stop and see how much it does and how it processes events, things, conversations, activities and people.
  The reason I share this is because when it comes to exercising, our brain plays a big part.

It becomes mind over matter.

People ask me how it is that I get up at 4 am every day to exercise/train.
  My answer is that a lot of it boils down to mind over matter.

 When the alarm beeps at 4, the first thing I have to do is decide if I truly am going to get up and not lie in bed. Mind over matter. I will feel better for doing it.

   When it's 21 degrees and I really want to stay curled under the blanket: mind over matter. I will get to experience weather and learn to appreciate it more than another might, simply by going out.

When I am tired a couple miles in and I really want to walk (but haven't hit my walk break point) it becomes mind over matter. I tell myself just take another step, and another….

   I hate (really and truly do not like) speed workouts and stair runs. That especially becomes mind over matter. I have to convince my brain that I need to do those exercises. But once I do, that mind over matter translates into better times, muscles worked, body feeling good.
   And weight training….I am not the strongest individual. And weight lifting (or strength training) is not easy. It's probably why I've let it slide for well over 2 years now. However, I am back at it 2 days a week and when I decide to increase the poundage on a certain exercise, it is mind over matter for sure. My face crunches, my breathing is hard and I probably even grunt as I push through it. However, that mind over matter translates into a smile as I feel good by crossing another obstacle.

   The hardest mind over matter for me when it comes to training??? My eating habits. I love food. I especially love sweets and chips.  It is not until just recently that I have put mind over matter into practice with this. I work in a coffee shop/kitchen and it is SO hard to avoid eating the brownies, cookies, pizzas and fresh goodies that come through my doorway every day. But I have found recently that as I made one choice to say no to the junk, it led to another choice, to another good choice, and so on. And the more good choices I've made, the better I feel. However, it is truly a mindset. I convince myself I will not eat the hot brownie. I will choose the vegetables over the pizza. It doesn't mean I never indulge; however, those choices have been limited. And it feels good. Mind over matter. Trust me, I don't like  vegetables. But…. mind over matter. And I like the results much better.

  So, that's what I share today about my training journey this year.  It often boils down to mind over matter.
  I tell all the people I talk with about this: if I, a working  mom with a lot of things on the plate, can get up at 4 to train… can you.
  Mind over matter… day at a time!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Coffee for your Heart: You Are Loved

Today is another day I link up with Holley Gerth over at Coffee for your Heart. ( And The above photo/quote is how I want you to feel as you read through my blog: like we are 2 friends, having a cup of coffee. Because if I had all the time in the world (and wasn't busy making coffee for everyone) I'd love to be sitting with you, having a cup of your favorite blend and chatting. 
   It's early morning, and I am just out of bed, hair messy, eyes baggy, and moving slowly,but quite content as I sip on my cup of coffee.
 Please….grab your cup and join me. 

  Today I want to tell you that You Are Loved

Not for what you do as a career.
  Not for what awards you have won.
    Not for what ladder you may be climbing.
        Not for your looks. 
Plain and simple: You Are Loved.
      In spite of your past mistakes.
          With disregard to any future movements. 
              No matter what pant size. 
                   All scars shown bare….
You Are Loved. 
         There is nothing you have to do to earn the love of Jesus. He offers it freely. He wants you to have it. He longs for you to know it and hold onto it with every breath. 
  If you strip every thing you own and all you feel you have become, He loves you for who you are. 

I am a people pleaser, and when anyone is upset with me, I tend to worry about being unloved (or unliked). This has  often caused me insecurities but it has been a huge lesson God has been teaching me over the last year, and I hope you can hear my heart as I pour it out here. 
  We mess up….but God extends Grace.
     We sometimes put on fake smiles….but God sees the depths of our hearts and feels compassion for our biggest hurts, fears, dreams and desires. 

  We are human, there truly is no "perfect" size, no matter what the magazines say…because God created us in His image and finds us beautiful simply because He made us, each one of us, unique.

 We strive to achieve…..but Jesus says "Come Just as You are" 
 Because You Are Loved. 
  He says "Child….I love you!"
   I don't have to earn it.
        I don't have to try to be the "people pleaser" that  I am with Jesus- He loves me as I am for who I am.
So stop and think about that the next time you want to beat yourself up over a hurtful word or a past mistake or what the scale may say or what you may have allowed yourself to believe for many years.
   You Are Loved.

I'm preaching to the choir here….as much as I want you to hear this and know this, this is just as much a reminder for my own heart today.
    Embrace it. One Day at A Time. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Prayer with a semi-colon

I'm taking you a bit with me on my journey of prayer this year…what I am learning through it and what I see God do through it.
 Pray is my word for the year, and as we are 2 weeks into the year, I am already learning many lessons through this journey.
  I loved what my pastor, Casey Cockerham, said today (which, by no coincidence, was a service totally dedicated to praying). He said
  "Don't end your prayer with a period; end it with a semi-colon. Pray without ceasing."
We are encouraged to pray without ceasing, but who has the time to do that? Well, prayer doesn't have to be profound. It can be one word, echoing within the chambers of the heart and mind, and God hears that. It can be a tear rolling down the cheek and the words full of fear saying "Oh, God"  It can be a prayer of peace whispered for Him alone in the quiet of the morning, only to be interrupted 5 minutes later with a crying child or a frustrated spouse. The point is…it continues through the day. And I loved the way it was worded: to end it with a semi-colon.
   Let me take you into my Sunday morning beginning…. and let's be honest here….many of us have these type of starts to a day and Sunday is often times no different, if not even worse at times.
   Nothing seemed to fit right on me out of the closet.
 My middle school daughter was having a meltdown about….I'm not even sure what.
     It was an emergency to have…..breakfast….because we hadn't grocery shopped yet this weekend.
The kind of morning when I felt like I could do nothing right.
    And well, the last thing I felt like doing was stopping to pray.

 And yet that is what my heart needed most on this morning. A quiet moment- even just a second or two- that I didn't carve out like I should have. It could have been as brief as a semi-colon moment. It would have made the difference.
  And as I left in a rush to get off to church, I felt that familiar nudge inside my heart telling me to pause and pray.
   And then I arrive to a service dedicated entirely to prayer.
 It goes without saying that the majority of the service, I was quite the bucket of (quietly dropping) tears. Because it was totally what my heart needed this morning.

 It is what my heart needs every morning.
   From the time I wake up and grab my morning coffee until I crash at the end of the night.
   Prayer with a semi-colon. Prayer that continues all day long. Brief at times.
     Longer at other moments.
Prayer for the day…
  Prayer for my heart to follow His
    Prayer for the hurting customer….
       Prayer for the frustrated co worker….
 Prayer for the children's day….
    And the list goes on.
          Pray without ceasing. View it as a semi-colon. That is the lesson my heart learned today in my journey of the word shaping my year.
                    One prayer, one moment, one day at a time. Nothing is too big (or too small) for His care.

Friday, January 10, 2014

winter wonderland workouts

Friday will be my day to bring you stories of my running and what I am learning along the way. Some might be stupid stories; some profound; some just what the training is for me in the week. So, here is the first in my Friday series…
             Friday morning. 4 am. (Insert yawn here)
  Some days, getting up so early in order to fit in a training workout is REALLY hard.
   Snow fell lightly with big flakes all night long.
This week's weather has consisted of Monday and Tuesday being in the negative temperatures (yes…negative. With windchill factors, it was around -30) .
  Wednesday warmed up to 10 degrees; Thursday got into the 30s.
 I was feeling excited for a Friday morning outdoor run, because early week temperatures forced me onto the treadmill (which I loathe).
   The Thursday night snow took me by surprise, but will not stop me from putting on my spandex, my under armour clothing, and stepping out into the snowy swirls of this morning's crisp air.

   I am back in full on training again for a half marathon, so snow will not stop me.
Quite honestly, though I really don't love the cold weather at all (true Florida girl at heart, to be honest), I have come to thoroughly enjoy my winter wonderland workouts.
 The snow that came in quietly all night greets me with a beauty unspeakable. The snow is yet to be disturbed, so it's pristine white. The pine trees are draped in a curtain of white, and the contrast in colors is breathtaking. No one else is out and about; it's me, (my dog), and God. This is the time I have come to love the most in the day…the moments where I am allowed to have uninterrupted time with God, accompanied by a good workout. There is a quietness found in the morning that cannot be found at any other time in my day. This is my time.
 Don't get me wrong: getting up every day at 4 is really tough at times. Moments come when I ask myself why I decided to go back to doing long distance again…
  But when I finish my morning run, whether it is speed, tempo, or otherwise, I always feel better. I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoyed training.
   I don't run to lose weight; I don't run because I need to do something with my time; I don't run because I have to…..
   I run because I love it.
 I am slow.
    I struggle at times.
        But with hard work put into it, running helps me in more ways than I can count.
And thus, I savor my winter wonderland workouts.

    Running has become a parallel for me to life. It is hard….it takes work….and most times it is mind over matter (especially when it comes to getting out of bed). But the more I stay with it, the more results I see, the better I feel.
   Life is like that…it is hard at times….it takes a lot of work to sometimes stick with it….and some days it is mind over the matter (or I must say…. even choosing truth over lies of the heart) but the closer I stick with God, and the more I keep pressing on….the more results of Him I see in me and the better I feel.
  So I train. In running….and in life.
    The race is months off and there will be many more 4 am days, not to mention, I have no doubt, many more cold days….
   But I will continue training one day at a time. It's one foot in front of the other, one deep breath after another, one run down, many more to go, but all one day at a time.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Coffee For Your Heart: You Are Significant

As 2014 is on its way, and we launch into all new projects, resolutions, goals, ideas and plans, I wanted to take a moment to tell you something.
 come closer…
  Grab your coffee…
I want you to know
   That YOU are significant. You matter.

I spent time in my life looking for this in wrong places at times; People would tell me, but I didn't believe them. I also had people ask me, "Don't you want to do more with your life than coffee?" Those words held a strong grip on my view of my own significance for a long time until I chose to break free from them and see what God wanted me to see in me. I really hope you will hear my heart on this and know that YOU are so significant.

  Your worth is not in your job, your tittle, your accomplishments, others' words, others' opinions or even in how you might view your own life.
 You are significant because….
      God created you unique.
 There is no other you.
         No one person in this world holds your talents, your thoughts, your desires or your abilities.
 No one person can do all that you do.

 Are you a stay at home mom?
   Are you a secretary?
       Are you a writer?
            Are you a project manager, a IT person, a party planner?
    Are you a barista?
Maybe a single parent striving to figure things out…
 Perhaps you may even have a title like a VP or CEO.
 Maybe no one even knows what you really do.
That isn't what matters, though...
       All of those jobs are important, but don't define you.
 YOU are significant because HE said so.
    You are loved, forgiven, important, chosen and a child of the One true King.
What could possibly be more significant than that??

   You are you….and the only one. So live the day to the fullest, and smile.
 Because you are significant. You matter.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fresh Beginnings and Prayer

I love fresh beginnings.
 New days.
   New years.
     New weeks.
      New goals.
   Lamentations 3:22 says His mercies are new every morning.
  Every day is a fresh beginning.

 My blog is titled "One day at a Time". That was  a lesson I did not really learn or embrace until I watched mom in her last days. The phrase one day at a time means something different to each person. But for me, I remember clearly I was sitting by mom's bedside, worrying about if that would be my last moment with her. In that moment, I also realized that by worrying if it was the last one, I was missing out on the fact that I still had her. I began to look at time and life and circumstances a bit differently. One day at a time. Every day fresh. New mercies. New beginnings. New ways to see God. New ways to live out a day. Fresh.
  Mom taught me about the importance of one day at a time; enjoying what is happening now- today- because if I am busy worrying about the next day, I am missing out on joy in the moment.

 If one day is a bad one, I wake up the next day reminding myself that His mercies are new every morning. A new day.

 We have just begun a new year. I haven't set out resolutions, per say, but I will share a couple thoughts as the year launches.
    Last year, I chose the word "diligent" to define the year. I wasn't going to choose another word this year, but upon a conversation with a friend, I decided to do so. My word for this year is "Pray"
  And it has become clear that it is the right choice, as since choosing this word, the messages at church have revolved around prayer. And, having no idea that this idea would be laid on my heart, I had asked for a book about prayer for Christmas, and just finished this book. leaving me even more excited about shaping my year around the word "Pray".
  I have seen great results when I take the time to pray, and this year, I'd like to be more defined by that.
   Having a bad day? I can't change it always, but I can pray, which changes me.
A fight with my spouse or a hard day with the kids? Pray. I can't change the moment per say, but I can change my attitude with prayer.
    Don't know what to do next? Worrying? So elated but no one around to share it with??? Pray.

Prayer applies to everything, everywhere, all the time. God is always there. And prayer changes. Not always in the way we anticipate, but it will bring a change.
  Prayer changes the person doing the praying.
  I don't think this will come as easily as it sounds, but it is my goal to define my year with prayer. In every aspect. Feel free to ask me about it any time….and hold me accountable :)

 This year you may see my blog take on a new life in some aspects.
   By prompting from Holley Gerth (, a fellow blogger and fantastic author, I will participate once a week in a series called Coffee for Your Heart (could the title be more appropriate?? Not only do I love coffee and work with coffee every day, but I love having coffee with friends; hence the idea she is presenting. It's kind of like you will be having coffee with me for a day). It's a prompted writing each week, but it's my own words and thoughts and ideas, only many other bloggers will take place in it, too. You'll find me writing in Coffee for Your Heart on Wednesdays.
   I will do my best to a couple times a month write about what the word Pray is doing for me/teaching me as the time goes along. I have no  doubt I will see and experience and feel new things through prayer that I hope can encourage and inspire you, too.
   I will write each week about running in some aspect. Perhaps it'll be funny; perhaps inspirational; perhaps something that comes to my mind while running.
  So, whether you asked for it or not, you'll be hearing more from me this year….and I am very excited to bring you these blogs, one post, one day at a time.
     So as we launch into what most will look at as a new beginning (the new year) I want to remind you that it's not always about a new year….each day is a new, fresh beginning. What will you do with your fresh day?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Recap

2013 comes to a close today. Like most people, I have been reflecting on this year. Thankfully, I am smiling much more about this year than I have in a long while in my reflections. Today's post is more like a journal entry, perhaps a peek into my soul in some aspects, than it is anything profound. But it's what's on my mind and heart, and thus I write it.

  I have found that this year was about significant, exciting growth for me.  I feel that through obedience to Christ and a new, profound understanding of grace, I have moved forward in pieces of my life that I  once viewed as roadblocks.
                                       2013 in review…..
 Anxiety once held a grip over my heart like the cold wind taking your breath away. I feared that I would never overcome this obstacle, that its grip would always hold tight on my emotions and reactions. And yet this year, I experienced a new freedom from anxiety I thought would never happen. It has been a refreshing breeze in my life to let go of what once held me down in this aspect. By God's grace, I was able to stop taking medication for this and a new sense of peace replaced the grip of the anxiety. For some, I know it's not that simple. I thought I'd never have that freedom again. But it is just that for me: a new sense of freedom; a weight lifted that once sat heavy on my heart. It does not mean I do not worry (on the contrary: those who know me, know I worry about WAY too much! ) But it means that I don't have to literally gasp for breath anymore because of panic attacks; it means that I don't cry quite as often; it means that I don't need a medicine to slow my heart down or calm my pounding fears. For me, it s a true freedom I haven't felt in a long time. And one I do not any longer take for granted.
   I still fight the depression. Believe me, I attempted to stop all medicines, thinking I was in a place to be able to no longer need them. And yet, through some battled emotions, some wise counsel, deep prayers,a good doctor and loving family and friends, I accepted the fact that this is still a battle I fight. And accepting that is in part a victory. Many are surprised to know I battle depression. It is my thorn, as Paul referred to something he constantly battled in  the book of Corinthians. I call depression my thorn. It makes me rely on God in all new ways; His strength made perfect in light of my weakness. And if it can be used for His glory, then I accept it even more. Many battle it; few openly talk about it. Depression looks different for any person who experience it. It can be a dark  place at times; I have also seen God shine through it when I let Him. Sounds easy….but seeing Him in the midst of it is not. Yet when I allow Him to be my strength ….it makes all the difference.

   I have learned this year to embrace who God has made me to be. I work as a barista, but that is not who or what I am. I write, but that does not label my life. I am a wife and a mom, and love those roles more than I can express, yet those are not my definition. God has opened me to new truths about Himself in me, and in so doing, has enhanced the above lists and blossomed them in all new ways (an incredible customer base in my coffee shop; larger blog audience; awesome new experiences with my husband and kids ) . To try to explain the heart change He has done for me in the year 2013 is like trying to run a marathon without training: extremely difficult. And so the way I just worded it is the best I can find to explain it. God has worked in my heart in new ways. He has helped me find (thought it doesn't mean I have mastered it) my identity in Him rather than in what I do or what others say I am. He has strengthened me in ways I thought impossible.  It's been a year of good changes for me and for my family.

  We've had many highlights and as I often liked to ask others the question of what was the highlight of their 2013, I found a hard time answering the question myself. Highlights for me would include:
   - Getting published in the book Couch Rebels. Because Stories Like These aren't Told by Potatoes. (You can find this book on and a portion of every book sales go to purchase clean water for those in Africa).
  - Family times. We experienced some great family moments this year and God really blessed certain aspects of our lives. We had a couple of good family trips, including Michael and I getting away for our anniversary this year and experiencing some new things together.
  - I was able to travel out to Utah to see my brother, his wife and their new baby. And this was the first time I got out on my own since having kids. It was so fun and refreshing and good.
 - The 5K in memory of mom, and her scholarship, took on a new growth this year. The goals were exceeded and the excitement has grown. I cannot wait to see what will happen in 2014 with it.

  There were challenges as well, so don't get me wrong that 2013 was all roses and candy.
 -We entered a new phase of parenting with a middle schooler. We've experienced new emotions and foreign territory as she is growing up in this year. I have often times felt at loss for (nearly the first) time as a mom, and haven't known what to do always. I have been stretched in new ways. I have missed my own mom in all new aspects. We are definitely in a new phase as parents. Good, yes. But challenging just the same.
 - We said goodbye to our very last grandparent. Although expected, saying this goodbye did not come easy. However, we are thankful for the years we had with Granny.
  - We had to say goodbye to our faithful dog of 9 years. Milo had to be put down this year.
 - I let go of some old friends. That is never easy for me. I tend to think I can always hold onto people when they come into my life. And yet letting go is good, too. I have made new friends in light of that. I have learned tough lessons along with that. But God has taught me some great truths in the process. (which is entirely its own blog).

  So 2013 is now gone and we usher in 2014. I, for one, am excited to see what God will bring my way this year. Challenges, I have no doubt. But excitement, too. Are you ready??
 One day at a time….I will keep looking to Him.