Wednesday, December 31, 2014


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

Good friends

Marathon Staff

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

Las Vegas

When I left the coffee world, I felt the love

Girlfriend Moments in Florida

My older brother, dad, my older sister and me

Half Marathon victory

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

Monday, December 29, 2014

Monday Musings

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 28, 2014


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

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Christmas Tree

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Little Moments

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

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Run like a Diva

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristen and myself, ready to run

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

 Pre Race

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

Post Race Good Times

Friday, December 5, 2014

People Watching ....And Stories

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

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

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

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

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