Monday, April 21, 2014

Vacation Pictures

It was hard to choose just a few, but in order to not clog up your email inboxes or to put too many on here, I chose from a few of our endeavors to share the best pictures. I hope you enjoy. We now are trying to settle back into "normal" life once again....

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Vacation Bliss Part 2

Today our vacation bliss is ending. Although it closes tomorrow on our flight home, we will carry these memories forever and into the days to come and allow them to continue to bring us joy.
  We have continued to enjoy many moments over the last few days of building family joy. The jagged mountains and deep canyons of Utah speak loudly for themselves as the colors speak volumes of God's gorgeous creation. I could easily get lost in the beauty of Utah. Here are a few more highlights
  -Shopping downtown Cedar City and experiencing their local food. Although the town is small, the shops were quaint and fun
 -Again, I say that the local coffee shops were a good time for me. Partially because I love coffee; partially because I work in the coffee industry. I am even bringing back an idea as a new weekly special when I return. I'm excited!
 - Date night with Michael. Bekah kept the kids for us one night and while they stayed up as late as they wanted with her, we enjoyed a quiet evening together.
 - The best bacon we have ever eaten
 - A "fancy" dinner out on Friday night. I enjoyed duck, something you don't find every day.
 - Playing at the park with the kids. While our nephew experienced his first time at a playground (6 months old), Bekah and I  enjoyed swinging high with the kids and Tim and I enjoyed a silly sibling climbing competition of sorts on a giant spider web, while Michael enjoyed watching and taking pictures. All the while we were all laughing
 -An evening walk with the family, mountains stretched out for miles ahead of us and Nathan falling asleep in my arms.
 - Saturday was spent the day in Las Vegas, as that is our return flight destination city, so we decided to spend the day there. While this can be quite a risk with the kids in tow, we spent the majority of the time there in the day time.  We saw the big city hotels, browsed a mile long mall, did a little bit of our own souvenir shopping, rode a tour around the city and learned quite a bit of its history and ate the best burgers we've ever had at Gordon Ramsey's Burger restaurant. We will soon be ending the day with a night time visit to the Bellagio Fountains, which we are anxious to see in all the beauty it beholds. (While being careful to avoid the risqué parts of the town).
  The sun is hot here but feels amazing on our winterized bodies. To be in a sun dress and flip flops is pure bliss and smiles for me :)
     This has been the best family vacation we have ever had. And in the midst of this time, I have discovered some great things about myself as well as experiencing new family moments. The least of which is to say I am totally an outdoors girl and not a city girl. I probably already knew that, but the contrast between being in Vegas and being in the mountains brought that truth into an even greater light.
   Tomorrow is Easter and our vacation will close with us traveling on the day of our Lord's resurrection. While we hate to miss out on being in church,it is not lost on us what the day is, and we will celebrate in our own way as we travel. The picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross holds an even greater significance for me each year, but this year the beauty of His grace stands out in all new ways and triumphs in our lives. And I am forever grateful for His sacrifice He made for me so I can be called His. Forever. Grace is so beautiful.
   So, vacation bliss comes to an end, but the beauty of our family life takes on a new life of its own. And Easter falls on a day we travel, but His grace is not lost on us by any means. In fact, I'd say after this week together and a week basking in His creation, Easter is more potent than it has ever been to me.
 Pictures soon to come....
   Happy Easter. The Lord is Risen! Celebrate!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vacation Bliss

We are halfway through our vacation and I must share some highlights, otherwise the end blog will be far too long to hold any interest.
  Today our pale skin, which has been hidden beneath winter clothing for months, was kissed by the sun and blown by the wind.
 Today we ventured out on a four person four wheeler for the day. We entered new territory and explored the outdoors in all new ways. We sped down dirt roads, jumped over little mountains, rolled quickly over sand dunes and explored the meadows of southwest Utah.
  Many moments were breathtaking with the beauty surrounding us.
 Some other moments were frightening as we hit dead ends on cliffs.
   But most of all, ALL of the moments were memorable. Moments captured in time as a family unit. We hit pause on all the life complexities and laughed our way through the day.  A day worth remembering forever.
    Other highlights thus far in our week:
-Hiking the trail and a family of 5 deer walking right in front of us
-Walking hand in hand with my 9 year old son (Something I know will end before i care to admit; but while those moments are here, they are precious to me and worth capturing forever)
   - My 11 year old daughter discovering what a "selfie" means and trying so hard to figure it out
-Singing classic rock songs with Michael as loud as we could as we drove down I-15
   -My nephew's precious laugh
-Joseph and I walking off the beaten path and climbing high up the mountain
   -Finding local hole in the wall coffee shops
-Family rebuild time
     -New stupid family inside jokes that no one else would possibly get but causes us to laugh in silly ways
  - God's breathtaking creation. I do not tire of these mountains at all.
 -Being with my sister in law on her birthday
      -Eating at a local diner connected to a livestock chute and selling yard. But The food is delicious!
-A waterfall hike
    -Sun on our skin and wind on our faces
-Oh, how could I forget to mention that our 3 hour drive from the airport to my brother's took 6 hours because of a cattle/land dispute happening between a rancher in Nevada and the Federal Government. We saw snipers and SWAT and cops everywhere and protest signs and....sat in traffic forever because the interstate was shut down. A bit crazy and quite educational!
  -Feeling proud of my brother as he received his private pilot license this week after being grueled for hours by the FAA
     -Good talks/hand in hand moments with my husband

The list goes on and on, but I had to sit down and share a few before the days passed by any further. Pictures will be to come in the very near future. Until then, we will continue to enjoy the last days of our precious family time. One moment at a time.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Digging Deep: Race Day

Race day arrived.
Much anticipation has gone into this race for me, even if training wasn't up to the right standard.
  Saturday night before, the family and I went to the Spaghetti Warehouse so I could carb up for the big race. We had a great time there, as none of us had ever eaten there. We laughed and joked and ate good food.  Then not long after, crashed, in anticipation for the next day.
   I am fortunate that they all decided to join me and cheer me on through this half marathon.
Yes, I have run many races. I have accomplished this type of finish before. But this race held a different significance of sorts. This race was a time for the family to rally together. This race was a symbolism of faith in many aspects of "pressing on" and "fighting the good fight" and "finishing strong".
  Going into this race, I wanted to just say that I would finish. I didn't want to set a time goal on myself. However, I have the competitive gene in me, only against myself, not against other runners. And in my mind, as hard as I tried not to set a time goal, I wanted to at least finish better than my "worst" half marathon time. Which means I wanted to finish in less than 3 hours. silly me and my competitive spirit.
   Michael kissed me and the kids high fived me and I was off as the gun shot out it was time to start.  In my mind, I thought I would go a few miles and take some time to walk a little and then press on more. But I was feeling good, so I kept pushing forward. At mile 2, my family was there, shooting photos. A smile spread on my face. My steps got a little lighter. I could keep going. As the race moved on, my mantra became "Dig Deep". Runners often use mantras to keep themselves going. I really had never done this, but that kept coming to my mind, so I kept repeating it. Dig deep... see how far God has brought me. Dig deep.... see how strong I am without really understanding the strength. Dig deep....keep going when it hurts. Emotionally. Physically. Dig Deep and hang onto Jesus. Around mile 4.5, the family was there again. I never knew when I would see them! Michael stood and cheered. I yelled out "I have no idea what mile I am at!"(my watch somehow had died) But the encouragement pushed me to keep running strong. There were 2 ladies right in front of me at that time and they told me what the mile was and said "who cares! just keep it up!" I stuck with them for a bit, but we eventually split ways. Around mile 7, I see my son Joseph on the side of the path, waiting to run a few steps with me. He had a cheesy grin on his face, pointing out signs up ahead that would force to me smile. He not only encouraged me, he also encouraged those 2 ladies who were in front of me a few miles before.  I kept going. I couldn't believe I had not walked yet. Determination was strong. Digging deep was pushing me. My thoughts were wandering and floating through all God has been teaching me.
    I was getting tired, but kept saying Dig Deep and I kept going somehow. I was on track for a better time than I anticipated.
   Mile 8 I found the heels of those 2 ladies again. I stayed on their heels. They were high fiveing runners passing the other way (There was a turn around up ahead, meaning these runners were ahead of us, on their way back on the course). These ladies had some positive energy. I stayed with them, quietly. I listened to my music and found new determination yet again. By mile 9, I finally said to these ladies "You guys are pushing me. I love it!" And we began chatting. That  is one thing I love about the running community. It is so very friendly. You can pick up a conversation with just about anyone on a race course. You can share the most deep things or the most simple things, it doesn't matter. What matters is you have a bond for a few moments with a stranger. But the bond feels so strong it's unreal. It is a bond that keeps you going when it's tough out there. Kelly and Miranda became that bond for me around mile 9. We chatted, We sometimes traded who was just ahead or who was behind, but we stayed together. At mile 10, my family showed up again, at just the right time. I drank from the water they had. My son once again ran a few steps with me. He said "Have you walked at all?" I said, "No." He said "Keep it up . You're doing great!" What an encourager at 9 years old.
 AT mile 11, my back hurt, my feet were tired and the battery on my bluetooth headphones had died. But I was digging deep, finding strength, and the burning desire to keep going.
 Kelly and Miranda continued to serve encouragement. It was a beautiful 4 mile bond that served a great purpose.  As mile 12 came along, we were ready to be finished.
    The last 2/10 of a mile they pulled just ahead of me. I was tired. I was on the verge of tears. And I was ready to finish. But I dug deep. And I finished. I did it(under my worst half marathon time, mind you :) )  I was happy. I was tired. I was sore. But I finished.
    I found a new sense of strength in this finish. I found a new peace of "I am going to be okay no matter what" . I found a deeper joy in running. I found new lessons God wants me to see, about His love, His grace, His forgiveness, His presence, His joy and His strength. I can do nothing without His strength. Nothing-not run a half marathon, not be the wife He wants me to be, not be a great mommy or a good barista. I can do nothing without His strength and guidance. And oh yeah....I found a large part of me as well in this finish.
   I can't wait for my next race.... but I think I will give it a week to recover ;)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Finish the Race

"A runner must run with dreams in his heart."  -Emil Zatopek

I am a dreamer. I have realized it is truly part of my makeup of who I am. When I try to squelch it or tone it down, I may succeed for a short time, but then the dreams start blooming in me again and springing forth like flowers in a field. I can't seem to stop. Generally I am a realistic dreamer, but sometimes I have one or two that are far fetched. But that all being said, I believe it can be a good quality to withhold, a part of how God has made me.

 A runner must run with dreams in his heart......

Perhaps that is one reason I love to run. When I run, the dreams and the goals flow.

 This week, I achieved a great dream of mine. I received my race director certification! While to some that may make no sense, or some may say I already had a 5K going well, why did I need a certification, to me receiving this certification is so much more than a piece of paper.  Receiving my Race Director Certification became a dream achieved. I had to take online courses and I had to read a text book, and essentially,  I had to study for the first time in over 10 years. It was a challenge put before me, worthy of doing not only for my own personal self, but also for the cause of the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K. To me, it became a dream achieved. The title may not mean a bachelor degree, but to me, the title represents a challenge presented, knowledge attained, and a dream achieved .  To me, the title represents new capabilities and potential fresh starts. To me, it is so much more than just a piece of paper.

 This weekend, I will push towards another dream. I'm not sure it could totally be put into the category of "dream", but more so of "goal". This weekend I will run a half marathon once again. It's been 2 years since I have done this kind of distance. As I have shared, the training has not been up to par. But this race, this goal, represents moving forward and pushing on. This race is going to be run with my family cheering from the sidelines where available, and God by my side. This race is about healing and persevering and growing and learning. This race is a parallel of running the Ultimate Race of faith, one in which it isn't about being first, but it is about finishing in good faith. That's what this dream, this goal represents to me this weekend. Am I nervous? Sure. But I am also excited. I am excited in part because I am a dreamer.
  Bill Cosby said " Decide you want it more than you are afraid of it." Fear can be crippling.  But I want this finish more than I am afraid of the muscle aches or the scoffing of my time or of the competitive gene in me that says I will do terrible.  I have decided I want it more than I am afraid of it.
  I have decided there are also some things in life I want ; things others may say I should walk away from or not be or not embrace.... But I want it more than I am afraid to face it. Know why? Because I have God by my side and my God is not a God of fear.  I have been learning that through this (lack of) training process the last couple months.
      I am a dreamer. And that is ok. And I will run this race with new dreams growing inside me at deep levels. I will run and not be afraid. I will persevere . And I will finish.
      2 Timothy 4:7 "I have fought well. I have finished the race. And I have been faithful."
 I can't say I can say those things in fullness right now, but it is my prayer I will be able to. Not just in relation to a physical race, but in relation to my race in this life, my walk with Jesus. I want to fight well, to finish well and to be faithful. That is in part what this weekend's race represents to me.