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. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What a deaf boy taught me

Have you ever experienced being around a deaf person? Specifically, a deaf child? One who is not partially deaf, but cannot hear a single thing?
 In some ways it is absolutely heartbreaking, if you stop and think about it. But this weekend was my first true experience being around a deaf child, and rather than being heartbreaking, the experience was beautiful. The 2 year old deaf little boy stirred my spirit in refreshing ways.
 My sister and her husband are certified to be foster parents for the state. This weekend, they were a "substitute" foster family while the host family went away for a time of their own . They had 2 beautiful children, and I got to experience them.  The little girl was only 8 months old, and how precious it was to hold a baby again. The little boy was 2, and completely deaf.
 I am not one bothered by "special needs" but this little boy caught my heart off guard.
  He comes from a sad story. His foster family is who he likely knows to be his mom and dad. He is deaf. He would have every reason to be a child who acts out or is grumpy or throws fits, as a normal 2 year old might, let alone a 2 year old who has not had a typical life experience.
  But this little boy taught me more in the few hours I got to spend with him than reading any book or trying to live out life ever could. He reminded me what life is about.
  He'd never met me, never seen me, but from the first moment I met him, he was smiling. He walked right up to me and put his arms out. He made a sign for "up" to be hugged (or picked up, he kind of did the same sign for both). What was even more special was in a room full of 11 strangers, he walked around to every one of us, grinned ear to ear and high fived all of us.  He doesn't talk. He has never heard a sound. But that boy spoke volumes to my soul.
   Because he can't hear, he is untainted by angry words. He hasn't experienced arguing or hearing hurtful moments spoken between people that cannot be forgotten. He hasn't been made fun of by others. He lives joy. He is what we all should be- full of joy, laughter, zest, love, and the desire to be with and around people in loving ways.
  Somewhere along the lines, we lose that zest. We become hurt by words and therefore our actions or our words become hurtful in return, or we choose to crawl into ourselves to avoid being hurt. In some ways, that is part of growing up and experiencing life. But even when we have those experiences, we are still called to love. To love God and to love others. To be a smile to the hurting. To care for the sick. To minister to the sad. As we grow, some days that is tough to do because we become the one who is hurt or sick or sad or in a despairing situation. And it becomes easy to forget what life is about, and what God is about.
 But although this little boy is only 2, he brought a refreshing view back to life.
  What if I walked into a room full of stranger and high fives all of them?? They might look at me like I'm crazy, but they might also wonder why I'm different.
   What if I smiled at every person I met?
        What if I laughed so much it became contagious?  
             What if I, instead of retaliating within myself or with hurtful words or actions, simply loved?
 I realize as an adult, this is much easier to say than to do. But my little deaf friend reminded me maybe it's not so hard after all. Maybe I can return to those moments and be the one to refresh others' spirits. Maybe I can make a difference that will in turn leave another with refreshed spirits.
  Maybe I can be Jesus,  can be a smile, can be love to those around me?
Easier said than done some days....but if a deaf boy who has every reason at even such a young age to be sad and upset can do it, why can't I??

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Little Moments

The Little Moments blog ....
   One of my favorite moments of the week to sit and recall the fun little things through the week that make me smile.
  - Fall colored daisies
   - Time at the lake
-Reading a great book and finishing it in 2 days
      - Writing. One of my favorite past times.
  - Family moments of playing go carts and laughing so hard over the crashes and the feel of the wind spinning through my hair and competing against one another for fun
    - Serenity and quietness of the lake
 - Warm weather (now that summer is "over" it's finally feeling like summer!)
      - My dad. Quiet in his own way, but always there for me.
  - running with my son. A time he has begun sharing about his day, all the while we are working towards a goal together
     - Friends who know me well and love me in spite of all my quirks and faults.
   - A rain run with Mary. Soaked to the bone. But one of my favorite kind of runs, with thunder rolling in the distance and rain falling on my skin.
    - Singing (or listening to other sing) songs I haven't heard since i was a child. Unexpected, but beautiful memories from that. Leading up to inspired moments.

  Find your little moments and hold onto them.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


How many people can say I get to go to work today! Not I have  go to work, or a heavy sigh of getting up in the morning to do the routine all over again, but being excited to go to work?
   I can honestly say that. I get to to work today!  I love my job!
I feel inspired. And today's blog entry may sound more like a journal entry. To some, it may sound like a person rambling off about life. But if you know me, I hope that my excitement and passion can jump across the page and touch you somehow. Perhaps inspire you.
 Because that is what I felt yesterday in my job, and many days really, but especially yesterday. Yet finding the right words to describe it is difficult to pinpoint.
  I work in event planning, but specifically, planning a marathon. One of the county's largest, even. I am passionate about running. I love what it does for each person. I enjoy working hard on something all year and then watching it unfold all in one day.
 But sometimes, the closer an event you've been working to plan all year rolls around, the more stress that can come with it. After all, you want everything to be perfect. And of course, there are always politics of some sort that go with a large event. And at this point, most of the staff is in high gear mode and tired, too.
  But Yesterday, I had the privilege to go alongside my friend and boss and listen to him speak to a group of people about our event.
 We went to a Rotary. Who even knows what a rotary is?? To be honest, I sat through an entire Rotary meeting yesterday at this speaking engagement, loved it, but walked away still not knowing what one is! However, it was a moment of inspiration. A pause in time, even.
  The people there were so outgoing and friendly. They sang songs, which came as an unexpected surprise to me. Songs that even took me back into my childhood because they were songs Mom would sing to us. It was strange how these old school songs no one knows, I didn't even have to look at the screen to know the words. A song about "hello" where they all walked around, shaking hands and greeting us as guests. A song about peace on earth. And as a tribute to our organization, the United States Air Force, they even sang the Air Force song. It was truly a moment in time to almost pause and remember why what we do is important. Why it matters. Sometimes in the daily grind of planning or of life's events outside of work, remembering how much fun what I get to do can get shuffled in the details.
   And then I listened to Rob speak. I asked to go along to this event with him because I want to learn. I have my own event I work on through the year, and now getting the privilege of doing this as a career is helping fuel my passion of my own 5K. I wanted to learn from him. When he got up and spoke, he had everyone's attention. His excitement radiated into the crowd, his energy punctuated with every word he spoke. He didn't say anything life changing, but when he spoke about the marathon, the chaos of the latest moments faded into the distance. The excitement of what we get to do permeated the room. The passion of our job filled the moment instead of the politics behind last minute details. The room was hanging on his every word. I have never not liked my job. I always have enjoyed it since the very first day I started. But like I said, sometimes it's easy to get caught up in my own life itself or in nitty gritty moments and lose a bit of the radiating joy of what I get to do.
  Listening to him speak, and then being alongside for conversations with people afterwards was inspiring. Silly as it may sound, I was even in a moment of near tears once simply because as I listened, I felt so lucky to be a part of all he was sharing. I never would have guessed I would have such an awesome job. And I cannot wait for race day to be here.
 On top of the marathon event, my own 5K will follow just a few weeks after. And just as the chaos of the marathon can happen weeks leading up to it, so does the chaos of a smaller event which I put on. And I feel that just as much, probably even more because it is my event. But stepping out into the rotary club, being amidst these people with their nearly old school ways, and learning from and listening to my boss, the fire felt reignited. I have the best job in the world. I work with an amazing staff and my boss is a great mentor to me. And i wouldn't trade it for anything. And I am drinking up the lessons like a thirsty person in the desert.
 I'm inspired. And I want to inspire just the same.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


My family and I went up to Lake Erie this weekend for a little getaway. To be in a "new" area, and to unplug and just be quiet is a rare experience for me, but one I found to be so refreshing. We spent some time at the lake, and the more we were there, the more the quiet and the beauty of God's creation spoke to my heart. I didn't have my computer with me, so I sat in the old fashioned manner with a pen and paper; but here is an excerpt from my heart this weekend...

As I sit on the edge of the lake and watch the waves crash over the rocks, I am struck by a quiet analogy right in front of me. 
  We are not on a designated beach area. Even the kids want to "be away" from the people and just be our family, so we found a picnic area that is also suitable for swimming and claimed it as our own place for a bit of time. While the kids dash into the lake to swim, and Michael takes a place on a bench, I take my pen and paper to sit in the blazing sun and write. I don't have a topic to write about, I just want to be in the moment. 
 I love the water. I love nature. Some people feel closest to God in moments of being with others. Some feel closest to Him when serving. Some find their special moments with God when studying. I have come to learn that my favorite moments with Him come when I am out in nature. When I run. When I hike. When I am by the water. Getting into nature, however that might shape up to be, is my favorite way to hear Him and connect. 
  Sometimes, I am looking for a magical answer from God, but I am often reminded that is not how He works. He takes His time, usually, because when He takes time answering me and showing me His attributes, that's when I draw closest to Him. The analogy sits right in front of me.
  The waves are loud against the rocks where I sit. The only sound louder is Elizabeth's laughter, as she bobs in and out of the water. I smile, just taking the moment in while it lasts. But as I dangle my legs over the large rocks, barely dipping my toes into the water, a rock catches my eye. It's covered in moss and is one I'd avoid upon stepping into the lake. It's dirty, messy. But the longer I sit here on the edge of the lake, the more that rock catches my eye. The waves keep crashing over it, harder as the afternoon goes along. The more the waves wash over it, the more the rock is actually revealed. The waves are pulling the moss off the rock. As the moss is removed little by little from the rock because of those waves, the true nature of the rock is revealed. It's smooth. It's shiny.  It's actually a beautiful rock. Typically rocks don't strike my interest. But because this rock sits in front of me for the entire time I sit with my pen and paper, my eye is continually drawn to it.
 The rock is becoming an analogy I was not looking for or expecting. The rock is like me; or perhaps I should say, I am like that rock. 
  I am kind of messy. Some would maybe avoid me (or perhaps I'd avoid them because of what I feel my "moss" might be). But the more the waves of God's truth and love crash and splash or sometimes gently roll over me, the more the true beauty- HIS beauty - can be and is revealed.  His truths, His love, His grace roll over me moment by moment, and as I allow Him to "shape" me, His attributes can shine through brighter than the "messy" ones we as humans tend to see.
 This is why I love nature. A simple rock can become a lesson for me. Or a picture of how God works. 
   Pen and paper. It almost feels strange to write that way again, yet I love it. It's quiet. The sun feels so good on my skin. The waves and  the laughter of both kids are calling me to do more than dip my toes in the water. Nature. God's way of speaking to me and reminding me who I am. Time to jump in.