Friday, August 29, 2014

The Little Moments

there's no better day than today to recall the little moments through the week.... the moments that make me smile. The moments that cause me to pause and be grateful. .... The little moments.

  - a beautiful monarch butterfly, quietly hovering, allowing me to see the details of it's wings.
   - Cuddles with my son.  The fact that every night when I tuck him in, as I leave, it has become routine for him to say "Wait..." and come up with some silly question to ask just so I linger for an extra moment.  I've come to expect that now.

  -  Sitting on the patio, enjoying a thunderstorm rolling in.  A warm breeze tickling my skin; thunder rolling in in the background; lighting striking its blaze across the sky; the smell of a fresh rain pushing its way through the clouds.

    - Being greeted with a nice, giant genuine smile when I walk into the room.

 - Coffee. Yes, I say often that I am thankful for coffee. But.... sometimes it's not about the caffeine (and sometimes it is) but sometimes it's about a warm cup in my hand, which warms my soul and quiets my mind.

   - getting to do something fun and different for the job which I love. Getting to talk to different people about running and our event. I love people. I love running. I love my job . That's enough to put a smile on my face for sure :)

   - Grace. God's Grace. People's grace. Grace is a true picture of how we are supposed to live. Some struggle to extend grace. Others struggle to accept it. I feel grateful for grace all around. Grace is a true picture of Jesus.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What my sweaty, Sunday run taught me

The morning air is sticky, but tickled with a soft breeze.
   I taste salt as I sip my coffee this morning, because my face is dried with a mixture of sweat and tears from my morning run.
   I pounded out 7 miles today. My intention was 5, but my feet were flying, my emotion was high and I needed to feel the ground beneath my feet.  I needed to burn off the anxieties that have built within me this week.
   Waking up at 4 on a Sunday is not typical for me. I enjoy Sunday as my day of rest normally. But between the week's events and my friend, Mary, asking me to join her for a long run, I reluctantly set my alarm.
  And as I sit here and write, body cooling down, heart rate slowing and taking in the chirping of birds and squeaking of squirrels, I am so glad I endeavored out early.
   I do not want this blog to sound like a complaint session. In the end, I want you to hear my heart and feel what I am learning ,so bear with me, because my brain is a muddled mess of thoughts.
  Lessons I took away from my difficult week:
1. You don't have to meet every goal you set.
    Not accomplishing a set goal is not a failure by any means. Being the goal setter that I am, I often struggle with not meeting what I set out to do. Usually, I accomplish it out of sheer determination, and sometimes stupid stubbornness. This time, my August goal of running 100 miles in the month was unattainable. While I could have pushed my limits and accomplished it, due to emotion and events of the last few weeks, I knew I needed rest. And thus, gave in to the reality of not making it 100 miles this month. It's been a beautiful lesson for me, really. Not meeting a goal is ok; it's not failure. It's a way of re evaluating, readjusting and learning. Pressing on... I won't quit making goals. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a goal setter. But I have finally learned not making the goal is ok, learning in the process is just as important. Not to mention that today when I set out, I took no watch, no phone, no headphones, and the I think the freedom from those "things" allowed me to rekindle the joy of the run, instead of the push of a goal. It was the best sweaty, Sunday run I have ever had.

2.  God will take care of it....
   As busy season is vamping into high gear for me now, I often get overwhelmed with details. I worry about people signing up for the 5K. I worry about getting sponsorship to cover cost. I worry about my time usage. I worry...worry..worry. Can you see the theme here? It's part of my nature, and it's part of how I function each year my event rolls closer. But that being said, I am also working to stop myself and remember that God is in the details. The whole reason I put on the 5K is not to memorialize my mom, although that is a small detail of it. In the end, the reason I put it on is to use a passion and a gift I have with the aspect of event planning and running combined, to ultimately bring God glory. Not me. Not mom. But God. The more we raise for the scholarship, the more we can help students who are going out to carry His light to a world for which I have a heart but can never reach  myself. So God will take care of the details. But every year I have to remind myself of these details. And in a couple weeks I will likely need to remind myself once again.

3. Grief is a journey
   Really, grieving has cycles. This week, as I watched from a distance a close family friend pass into the arms of Jesus, the memories of that sweet woman were strong. As well as the memories of my journey with mom in the end were too. That sweet woman did so much for my family in our last months of mom's life. She continually called mom to check on her. She brought countless meals. She prayed fervently. She loved on us. She checked in with me to see how I was doing. And she, along with a couple others, provided a beautiful last Christmas dinner with my mom in 2010, allowing us to focus on family and not worry about anything else. She was a true servant of Christ. A picture of what we should all be. So saying goodbye stays true to the saying "Parting is such sweet sorrow" .  But it has resurrected much of my own grief journey as well. I have found myself many times this summer missing mom, as I transitioned in life in big ways. And this week, as school started up, and I had a pile on my plate of things to do, not being able to talk to mom was strongly evident to me. Grief is a journey. I am so glad for how far God has brought me out of the once dark pit I was in with it. But every now and then, the wave of it hits all over. This weekend is one of those waves. And it's one through which only I can swim. No one can do it for me. I just have to allow the emotions to flow, to process them, and to keep going more strongly in the end.  Hence, the tears flowed with the sweat this morning in my run. But it felt so cleansing.

 4. It's all Good.
   I'm finding myself embracing this life saying more and more. And there is much truth to be found it these words. In the end, while some moments hurt and sometimes I just need to cry, it's really all good. But I have to walk through the tough process at times to get to that conclusion. People pass away. We all mess up. Events don't always go as planned. Friends can't always be by our side. Kind word aren't always said. But in the's all good. Because I know the One who has my back. He is full of abounding grace and unending love. He sees the whole picture. And He holds the world in His hands.

The humming bird is buzzing above my head at the feeder. A beautiful reminder to me that He cares about the birds, how much more does He care about me and my heart and my needs and even my silly goals......  And so I keep pressing on, one day at a time.  More lessons learned.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Little Moments

The week has been overwhelmingly full, but it is the season for that, after all. Back to school, Marathon coming close, 5k not far behind that, and plenty more events to fill the fall season. Summer seemed to just start, only to wake up and I'm saying goodbye to it already. I can hardly believe how time is flying. (Does it make me old that I now say that so often??)
   My summer has been full of lessons learned, characteristics embraced, new life blooming, challenging times, wonderful moments, friendships growing and memories made.
 I have certainly propelled into a new phase of life, and one which comes with new challenges, as do all seasons, but one which I am loving.  In the grand scheme of it all, though, the little moments are what add up to being the most precious ones. I enjoy ending my week recollecting those moments. When life is beginning to spin in a stressful manner, stopping to embrace the little things makes a big difference. (If only I could remember to do this every time!) This week is no different.  Here are a few random little things from my week that have brought smiles, pauses, joy or quiet reflections.
  It's the Little Moments... Like...

 -Driving with the sunroof open (in the passenger seat) and looking up at the clear blue sky with white blazes across it
  -Singing as loud as I can because it feels good; or even singing a bit more quietly, but at my desk, and not caring who might hear because it's fun to sing
    - A solid's night sleep.
 - Dinner with a friend from far away in town for a night
   - Running in the rain
- The smell of beautiful flowers blooming, fresh with dew on them, as I pass by a blossoming bush in the early morning hours
  - Hugs
      - An encouraging update email in the midst of a chaotic planning time for the upcoming 5K in October
    - Helping out a friend
 - Realizing that I am not going to accomplish a goal I set (which would normally really frustrate me) but being okay with it. Growth in the works for me :)
   - In light of watching a family losing their precious family member right now, and understanding what that is like, I am thankful for the precious memories I have of my mom
  - A hot shower
     - The sound of my son snoring in his bed, tucked away safe and cozy
          - Listening to Elizabeth pray

Those are the things that matter.
It's the little moments that add up. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Cardinal

I have a childhood memory of a beautiful cardinal that took up residence next to our house.
  Each year,  we came to an expectation of this cardinal returning to our residence.
My brother had a big bush like tree outside his window and the cardinal loved to be in that tree. The cardinal seemed to even more want to try to be inside his room, as nearly every day, we'd find the bird attempting to fly into the house, only to find the window closed and smack itself into the glass.
 The cardinal was by no means a pet, but we came to enjoy the bird and expect its return each year. Some days, it would fly around to the front of the house. Mom had beautiful, large windows in the kitchen, and as we would stand at the sink doing dishes, we could see into the bushes out front. There, we would sometimes find the cardinal with what we saw as its partner.
   But the primary place we found the bird to reside was near my brother's window.
One year, we heard the cardinal's song, but could not find it in the bushes when we looked. Upon further examination, we found the cardinal to be on the ground, wounded. Perhaps it attempted to fly into the window too many times. Or perhaps it grew old and could not do what had in the past.
  we will likely never know, but the memory of that cardinal still makes me smile, especially any time I see one today. My kids have probably heard me tell the story a hundred times, any time we see a cardinal ourselves. My brother would remember that cardinal very well himself. Sometimes a simple picture just sticks with you.
 Perhaps because of that cardinal, I have always had a tender place for the beauty of birds. Perhaps finding that cardinal singing, while even injured on the ground is what is impressed upon my heart at times. Perhaps because I have a tendency to worry, and God addresses worry in reference to birds, gives me a relation to that cardinal in some aspect as well.
 My daughter starts back to school today, and as she sat last night and began to have tears of worry, I found myself again thinking about the cardinal. And telling Elizabeth about the verse found in Matthew.
 It says " Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one bit to your stature?" Matthew 6:25-27
  I love that verse. I am a worrier by nature. But that verse so often reminds me how silly that is. And the cardinal only makes the point even stronger in my mind. That cardinal, as stubborn as it was, never got its wish to be inside the window. But it was always taken care of nonetheless.
 How much more will God take care of my needs??!  How can we not smile at that fact?
 When the cardinal was injured, we hated that. But the fact that though it was injured and yet still chirping and singing a beautiful song also makes a strong point. Sometimes our hearts are injured but we can still carry a beautiful song as well.
 This morning I read a poem that spoke volumes upon this lesson, so I close with this:
  Once I heard a song of sweetness, as it filled the morning air
 Sounding in its blest completeness, like a tender, pleading prayer
  And I sought to find the singer, where the wondrous song was borne;
And I found a bird, quite wounded, pinned down by a cruel thorn.
 I have seen a soul in sadness, while its wings with pain were furled,
 Giving hope and cheer and gladness that should bless a weeping world
And I k new that life of sweetness was of pain and sorrow borne,
 and a stricken soul was singing, with its heart against a thorn.
  You are told of One who loved you, of a Savior crucified,
You are told of nails that held Him, and a spear that pierced His side;
You are told of cruel scourging, of a Savior bearing scorn, 
and He died for your salvation, with His brow against a thorn.
 You are not above the Master, will you breathe a sweet refrain?
And His grace will be sufficient, when your heart is pierced with pain.
 Will you live to bless His loved ones, though your life is bruised and torn, 
Like the bird that sang so sweetly, with its heart against a thorn?

 A beautiful bird. A simple creature. Teaching me lessons I'll never forget.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Little Moments

Friday brings recollection. And with that comes my newfound posts of gratitude of my collection of little moments through the week.  I now call this post "The Little Moments" each week because the times I find myself smiling truly bloom out of the little moments.
  1. A beautiful sunrise Thursday morning, full of purple and pink bursts, literally causing me to stop and stare. And thank God for His painting across the sky.
     2. Hearing the words "Thank you for being my mommy"
 3. Knowing there is someone who's got my back. No matter what.
     4. The freedom and feeling of wind blowing through my hair.
 5. Bacon
        6. The hummingbird at the bird feeder, fluttering its wings. A picture of peace.  A reminder that God cares for the birds, and He cares for me even more.
   7. Baking bread with Joseph and remembering it doesn't matter how messy it gets, just have fun.
     8.  Dandilions blowing in the wind
         9. A firefly lighting up the sky. Probably the last to see this summer.
  10. A heartbreaking sad moment in time reminding me to be grateful for all that I have and how far God has brought me out of those places.
     11. Beautiful memories of my mom. Some days are busy and time has passed to where  I don't dwell on or think about it every day. But some days, like yesterday, mom and dad's anniversary date, those memories flood my mind and bring smiles and gratitude.
The little moments. They are all around you. You simply have to be open to seeing them.

Monday, August 11, 2014

August Challenge

What's life without some goals or challenges presented?
   I seem to function better at times because I set goals.
If you don't know me by now, you'll learn that I am a goal setter. At times, my goals are a bit lofty and unattainable. I have learned over time, however, to get more realistic with my goals.
  I am a runner. Runners often times are goal setters. Since I began running in 2008, I have set race goals, time goals, distance goals, finishing goals, and run so many days in a row goals.
  August brings about a new challenge for myself. I am setting out to run 100 miles in August.
Having run half marathons and a full marathon, I am sure that I have at some point, run 100 miles in a month's time. However, I have never really paid attention to that. And so, that brings me to the new goal of tracking it and completing 100 miles this month.
 I don't set out to do this because I am training for a race right now. I am not trying to set any time records or become something great through accomplishing this goal. It's simply a push for me. A challenge. I get up far before is necessary for my work day so I can have  a bit of quiet time and a good, solid run. I love the early morning hours. (But admittedly, some days it is tough to get out of bed.)
  I actually prefer not to wear time devices when I run, and just enjoy the moment of being alone. But, obviously, for this goal's purpose, I am wearing one and logging the miles day by day. I am at 25 miles so far. A quarter of the way to my goal, but the month is more than a quarter over, so I have a way to go.
  Anytime I set out on a challenge, I generally learn new characteristics inside me in some fashion. This time will be no different, I am sure. I'm 11 days into the challenge. Stay tuned at the end of the month for the exciting lessons learned (and exhausting moments of pushing through).
 My motto is "One day at a time". this challenge is no different. I will even break it down into "one step at a time" I will reach the 100 miles.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

It's Good to be You

 Have you ever felt like the "different" one in the room? 
 Perhaps everyone is outgoing, and you are quiet.
   Maybe everyone is having a cup of coffee, but you don't like the beverage at all.   
Maybe the others are athletic and you are not involved in those activities. 
 Or perhaps everyone tells jokes, but you have nothing to offer except to laugh. Or maybe the joke is about you.  Perhaps it's that you just don't dive into what the others are participating in, be it a game, drinks,  or conversation.
 Regardless of the scenario, we have all been there, if we are willing to admit it.  But how many of us are comfortable enough to accept ourselves just as we are? 
  I admit I have conformed many times to the crowd. Sometimes in ways that didn't have great end results. Sometimes in ways that were meaningless, but nonetheless, not necessarily me, either.  
 But that's not how we are designed to be. We are all unique. Made in a way that is special. God has a purpose for each of us, and each person contributes attributes that matter. That's why the world is sometimes challenging; that's also why being around all different kinds of people can be fun.  Not one of us is the same. We share more in common with some than others, and that is good, but not one of us is the exact same.
  Feeling like the different one in the room is hard. Loving someone and desperately wanting them to love you back for who you are is hard. Loving someone as they are when they are different from you can be challenging. But what if we chose to see those differences in a new light? 
  What if we chose today to see that God has made us all unique, and that is beautiful? It doesn't mean everyone has to be your best friend. But if we chose to look at others that way, imagine how different the outlook of the interactions could be? 
  Better yet, if we choose to love ourselves as we are, imagine how different it would be?  I don't mean arrogance. I mean the ability to be in a room full of people who seem so vibrant and outgoing, while you sit there quietly, unsure of what to say or how to participate...but being okay with that..
 Let me change the perspective a little and get real with you: sometimes I feel out of place. I love so much to be around people. I thrive off the interactions. But I often times have nothing to contribute to the jokes or the conversations, so I sit there a bit awkwardly some moments.  I so enjoy being in groups of people, but I am definitely more conversational one on one. so at times, in groups, I feel like the different one in the room. I'm not drinking. I'm not making fun. I don't really have jokes to crack. I laugh a lot, but also will be asked if I'm okay because I'm not really contributing or participating.  I have knowledge of certain topics, but generally those topics are not what is the discussion. This struck me yesterday, and I experienced a moment of total insecurity and uncertainty and found myself trying to get busy doing something because I felt like the outsider, even though I know I was not. I can "do"  things, like help out, sometimes better than I can "be" myself some moments. 
  I took that moment to stop and realize a big lesson. I am not the jokester or the drinker or the loud one or the funny one in the crowd. I totally love to be around people, but my nature is much more to listen than to talk. (Odd, since here I write all about my life; but that's kind of the point. This writing is for me to learn about myself as much as for others to read.. No one is forced to sit and listen or read; who wants to can, who doesn't , doesn't.)  My nature is to encourage someone or make another person feel good about themselves rather than to crack a joke or say something sarcastic. I don't have to be in the middle of the "fun" to be having fun. And if I'm the brunt of the joke, it's ok because it really is kind of funny. If I can't laugh at myself, I would probably cry, and what's the better alternative? There is a balance to it all, but I learned a valuable lesson. It's ok to be me. And I can be immersed in that place of feeling like the different one in the group without walking away feeling different, per say, because I have learned that God has made me like I am and it is good. I have an amazing time full of laughter and good moments, and if I feel like the different one in the group, it's probably because I'm allowing myself to feel that way.  There are exceptions to that, but for me, the moment of that particular realization was big. I moved from insecure to ..... content. Because God has given me unique qualities to be expressed differently from others'.  
  I get real because that's how I am. And I believe that's how others can learn, too. So, take it from me: be who you are. It's really good. Who you are is who God made you. And while you may feel like the "odd man" at times, being who you are is beautiful.  And good.  Don't let it keep you from trying new things or being around new people. You never know what might come out of that moment. For me, I left the moment laughing so hard I had tears and feeling content. And i think even more so...learning that who I am is ok. 
 It's good to be you. Embrace it. 
   As summer comes to a close all too quickly, that has been one of my biggest lessons over the months. God made me to be me. And it's time I love that.  God made you to be you. Embrace it. Trust me: it's a good thing to do. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

The little moments

 Over Two months have passed since I hung up my barista apron, and those two months have been full of change, joy, discovery, learning, and growth. Those elements are still occurring, but perhaps slowing a little, allowing me to now take what those have been and process them more.
   As I was out on a run yesterday, I was pondering coffee stories I had not yet shared. I didn't have one sticking out at me as they have in the past, though there are still a plethora of them yet unveiled.
But as I brewed the coffee at work yesterday, my coworker grabbed a cup,  passed by my desk, lifted his cup, and said "Still serving up smiles one cup at a time " .  And his saying that prompted the thought process.
  It's the little things that matter, that bring the smiles.  It's not about my standing behind a counter, passing out a latte. It's not about my sitting at a desk, answering runners' questions about the race. It's not about me at all, really. It's about the little elements that occur in a day's time that bring the smiles. The more one takes time to look for them, the more joy that can be found. The little things are what are filling my thankful journal.
It's a fresh pot of coffee.
   It's a smile shared across the table understood only between two people.
It's a favorite pen that writes just the right way.
    It's a best friend who is always there and allows me to share every single detail of my day or my feelings.
    It's getting a card in the mail.
         It's laughing so hard tears come out.
   It's having a long, hard cry because my heart hurts but then being able to pick up and smile and move forward.
     The smiles are found in the little moments that add up each day.
Smiles are found in ...
  My daughter's smile, excited to turn 12 this week.
       My son's snuggles, which I know will only last a little longer.
    A real conversation, one with all barriers down and all trust in place.
 A sweaty 5 mile run, tallying the miles towards my 100 mile goal for the month.
      Knocking out a project that has been challenging.

This was totally not the blog post I set out to write today, but the words just came and sometimes you just gotta go with it.  Embracing the little moments is becoming a theme for me, I guess :)
  Summer is floating away all too quickly, and I am definitely soaking it in, one day at a time, and embracing the little moments.

Friday, August 1, 2014

It's All Good

A great way to end a busy week is to recall the details for which I am thankful. I have started keeping a thankful journal again, and doing so has become a great practice at the end of the day.
  No matter how chaotic or stressful or busy or hurtful or good or fun a day is, there can always be good moments found in a day if we look for them.
  One of my closest friends has the mantra : "It's all good"  And while I am still progressing to embrace this every single moment of the day, keeping a thankful journal (and stealing the mantra for my own self) help make strides in seeing that It truly is all good. One way or another, there is always good to be found.  Some days the good is harder to see, but that's the beauty of embracing the mantra and keeping a thankful journal- you purposefully have to pause and see that no matter the stress or situations, good and beauty can still be found. So, to name a few from my week, here are some of my "thankful" details from the week.
  This idea isn't mine- I've read it in more than one book. So don't credit me with doing this. Try it. You'll be amazed what you might find in a day.
  - Soft frozen lemonade (Memory in a cup, I say)
- My daughter's hugs
   - A person coming alongside and encouraging growth/ a friend who believes in me regardless/ who sees the potential within
- An awesome job, full of hard work but tons of fun and great coworkers and new, stretching but proving experiences
- A solid, strong cup of coffee
     - Sitting by the river quietly, just taking in the beauty of nature
 - Experiencing the different hues of sunrise
     - Funnel Cake
          - Playing a game with the kids I laugh so hard I have tears
  -Sweatshirts. I may be the only one, but Yes, even in July I am thankful for sweatshirts.
     - Firefighters. This week, dad's truck caught on fire while he was in it. Thanks to the firefighters, he is safe and fine. Truck is totaled, but "it's all good" quite truly, because dad is unharmed.

                                         What do you have to be thankful for this week?