Friday, July 31, 2015

What I learned In July

July is gone already?? How did that happen?
  That means time for back to school and life just keeps getting busier.
But  I love taking a few minutes every month and recollecting lessons learned, discoveries formed, frustrations experienced and memories made.
 So, that brings me to what I learned in July. Sometimes these "what I learned" bullet points aren't so much new lessons, as they are experiences to remind me of the core of what I love/who I am/what I am capable of/dreams that live within me.  People tell me I write so seriously, but I can't help it...

 1. I love to serve. 
  Serving has always been an enjoyment for me, but the last few years I sort of backed off opportunities because of life. But this month, I said "yes" to several serving opportunities and while the intent is to be there to help, I think I always end up coming out more blessed than those I was there to serve. I don't share this to say "yay, me!" I share this to just say this month I was reminded how in serving God, the focus is no longer on ourselves, and that is where true joy is found.
 I volunteered with Pan Ohio bike ride this month doing a hydration station, and it was incredible to cheer on these 350 bikers who were riding across the state of Ohio, raising money (and awareness as well) for the American Cancer Society. It was moving and inspiring and perhaps has made it to my bucket list to participate in one day. I'm used to the running community. The bikers were a new and motivational experience. I was blessed to help out.
   I also helped with Vacation Bible School. We sang silly songs (that stick in the head forever), made crafts, listened to Bible stories and of course played games. But my favorite part was just being a part of the event in a small way by being with the kids. They are so vibrant and innocent and full of wonder and questions. It's refreshing. My heart left full, even if my body was exhausted!

2. The dumbest jokes are my favorite.
   Why did the banana go to the doctor? ... A: it wasn't peeling well.
 My kids and I laughed for minutes at this. I have the "kiddiest" sense of humor. But who cares, right? I laughed... and laughing feels good.

3. Sometimes you have to "fail" in order to learn what you're good at. 
     Bottom line is this: I am not good with numbers, but I am great with people. Not news, per say. Counting pallets is not something I am good at; fixing people's problems is much more along the lines of what I do. But I am determined to be able to do better in the number category.  just takes a more work, a very focused mind, a few tears maybe, and a lot of determination. It'll never be my strong suit, and I am ok with that, but I am determined it also won't be a foreign language for me.

4. I have a new running "hero"
   Hero is a strong word, but I have high admiration and new respect for Major Ben Payne. While I have followed his running career slightly, I have come to learn his story at a greater depth in recent weeks, and now follow him more closely. Ben ran the Peach Tree 10K July 4th weekend, and while he came in 2nd place, his story was national news. I am not going to share his story, because he tells it best here. Please read what he shared!  His faith and humility have inspired me to a greater depth this month, both in my personal life as well as in my running.
  He is on the "Road to Rio". When I get discouraged from a bad run (or for that matter, a bad day), I remember the 5 lessons he shared in his blog (the link above). Watch for him... he's a great runner and a great guy. While I have met him briefly in the past, I am looking forward to him being part of our event at the AirForce Marathon in September and talking with him a bit more.

5. I do like audio books... and also, you can learn from fiction books, too. 
   I never thought I would enjoy an audio book, but when I couldn't find a copy of the newly released Blue Mind, I decided to give audio a try. It's not so bad. I still prefer pages turning in my hand, but it was relaxing to plug in my headphones and listen to the book while lying in my hammock in the sun.
  I also have learned I can read more than one book at a time. (meaning, a fiction and a non fiction, just different hours of the day, obviously.)
  In Undetected,  while it was a fiction book, I could relate in some sense to the main character. Sometimes you can learn from a fiction book just as much from non fiction.  The male main character said to the female main character that she shouldn't agree to so many things in life (in a people-pleasing manner) so that no one knew the true her. (ie- don't eat Mexican food just because everyone else wants to if you don't really enjoy it...) You have to read the book to understand the entire context, but I actually walked away remembering that statement. Often times I have played that role. I thought the statement held much validity.

 I have read some good books this month:
    Blue Mind (it still counts, even if it's an audio version)
    It is Finished

If you have good book suggestions, throw them my way; I'm keeping a list.

The July chapter is closing now and the August one will open tomorrow. What will your story be in the next month, one day at a time?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Birthday Thoughts

I am, by nature, a very reflective person. I love to look back on the past (and hopefully learn from it). I truly enjoy drumming up dreams for my future and writing out all my crazy ideas that go along with those dreams, some to play out, others not to.
  Birthdays bring about both of those two qualities much like January 1 does for most people. 
 Many people I know don't enjoy birthdays- they groan about being older or claim that as an adult the birthday doesn't really matter anymore.
  Perhaps it's my inner child that still thrives in me, but I love birthdays. Like I get giddy about them even. Perhaps it is the fact that growing up, my mom always made a wonderful deal out of each of our birthdays (and trust me, with little money and all 4 of us born in July and the fact that July was often a busy month with wheat harvest, baling straw and the county fair, having a big deal out of our birthday was extra special.) Perhaps because it's a good excuse to spoil myself for a day. Perhaps I love the idea not just on my own day, but on everyone else's, too, that it's a day all about them, and it is a special day. Unique to any other. 
 I'm not really sure I know why I love birthdays so much, but it doesn't really matter.... I just do.

 And I hope that remains the truth for me every year, no matter what my age is. 

 This week I turned 33. I don't say this so that everyone will wish me a Happy Birthday. I simply write about this because writing is what I often do when the ability to say the adequate words escapes me. Writing helps me capture a moment in time, much like a picture does. 

 The last year of life brought along many lessons for me, many of which have spurred on a growth unlike any I have ever experienced prior to it. My hope is that, as is expected, it means I am growing in wisdom. 
 I have learned much about being quiet, and yet speaking my mind when it is necessary. That has never been an easy task for me, but in practicing it, it has become a healthy one, when exercised in the right manner.
  I have learned to let go. Of people. Of past. Of expectations. (Ok... I'm probably still working on letting go of expectations, but I have learned the value of holding less of them because that so often leads to the wrong road of disappointment.) 
   I have learned (or am learning) to better laugh at myself. 
       I have, in a sense, in the last year, grown into my skin and love it for maybe the first time ever. God has made me who I am and that is beautiful. 

  I have gained new job opportunities and experiences. i have traveled away from my family for the first time ever. I have pushed myself to do new things I never thought possible. I have gained new friendships, deepened long lasting ones, and let go of others. 
  I have been reminded that life is about Him, not about me. 
 It's been a challenging year in certain aspects, but an amazing year.

 And now I embark on a new year.  Of course, I wouldn't be me without some goals in front of me. 
  My word I chose for the year 2015 is different. Which also translates into making a difference. 

 It has taken me 6 months to really come around to embracing the meaning of that word, and I am excited to be endeavoring into new opportunities.
 while in the last year, it has become a very important part of my journey to embrace me, and love who I am,  in wanting to be different and make a difference, I know I must let my focus be on Him. Let Him shine through the me He has made me; the me I have come to discover at new depths. 
   In the next year of my life, between now and my birthday next year, there lie many opportunities in front of me.
    - Potentially a mission trip to Colombia
      - A new exciting idea of a running group ahead, where I can encourage women in their own journey of faith, fitness and friendship and family.
        - Opportunities to serve with my children  as I watch them grow during this pivotal time of their own lives of middle school years
           - Finding that balance in being content with where God has me, but still striving to become all He wants me to be.
 I am looking forward to : New Races to run, New places to travel, New faces to meet and no doubt, new experiences which will grace the threshold of my door.

  Goals? well, you know me... I always have goals rolling around in my head. I'll save those for a different blog.

 I am not so naive as to think it will be a perfect year. There will be challenges. That's a part of life, while difficult at times, I have come to embrace. But I am excited to see what new possibilities will open for me in the days and months to come.

 So, while birthdays hold a darkness in some people's minds... for me it's light and joy. Not just because it's "my" day and a great excuse to eat lots of cake,  but because it brings ahead a fresh chapter of the story of my life. And I cannot wait to see what climaxes might be written in my 33rd year.
     Being different, so I might make a difference.