Sunday, November 27, 2016

November 27

Today I am thankful for Colombia.

 My time there was life-changing and I cannot say enough about that experience. It's one of those moments in time where I could literally freeze it and just savor it. What a precious 10 days that was for me. I will share just a few tidbits here today, but if you missed out on any of those thoughts, you can read them starting here, which is actually the post I wrote just before leaving. There are many following it to describe the experiences.

  I am so thankful for that time. It was healing and transforming for me. It was there I rediscovered myself for the first time in years. It was there I found joy and life and laughter amongst a tiny village called Brisas del Mar.
 In Brisas, I met people who forever changed my perspective of the world. In Brisas, I saw poverty, but amidst the poverty, saw people who love deeply.
 In Brisas, I met a teenage girl who wants to be a translator, just like I want to be.
  In Brisas, Paola and Tia and Yuleida became my family.
 In Brisas, I found peace. I saw God with fresh eyes. I dived deeper into walking with Him and found healing in a broken heart.
   I learned about a new culture and brought home a fresh perspective about life, although admittedly, it's hard to apply all that I learned.
    In Brisas, Paula became my best friend. And James and Eric became my brothers. New family.
In Brisas, I was taken to another country, a third world experience, and a village full of people who have seen absolute devastation but have risen through the adversity.
      My time in Colombia forever changed me. And today, and every day, I am grateful for that.
 Choosing just a few photos is so hard, but here are a few to give a glimpse. (I'm trying to pick ones perhaps I haven't used in previous blogs....)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November 23

Today I am thankful for warm fires and coffee.

 I never have to worry about going cold in this weather because I have a roof over my head. I have a home in which I can keep warm. And it's cozy. I need to work on not complaining about the house not being clean or how much laundry I do because honestly, there are people who don't have those things. I have a home to clean, clothes to wear, heat in my home, air in the summer, electricity for convenience and water to shower.
 When I was in Colombia, those things all came to have such a greater value to me because I saw so many without. Returning back to the day to day, there are moments that those memories from Colombia can be far removed in that sense. (The people are forever close to my heart, but sometimes I lose a bit of the gratitude I found when there.)

    And also, to throw into the mix of all of that, I am thankful for coffee. I joke that I might turn in to a cup of coffee one day because of how much I consume. Once I was a barista, and I guess you can take the barista out of the coffee shop, but you can never take the coffee shop out of the barista. Coffee is to me a place to gather with my friends, a long sip of waking up, a moment of escaping into quiet, finding warmth on a cold day, and stress relief. I love coffee and I am thankful for it.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November 20

Today I am thankful for opportunity.

 I am blessed. I have been given the chance to do a lot of really neat things. Of course I have a bucket list a mile long still, but this year alone I have had the chance to travel across the world, start attending school again, run some races, go zip lining, and try paddle boarding.

 I have been given the chance to experience some great opportunities this year. I have met some incredible people, including but not limited to, a US Olympian Marathoner.

 The bucket list continues, but I am grateful for what I have been able to do this year. I also am completely grateful for my health to be able to do all of these activities. I am not the thinnest, fastest, strongest person out there. But, I am healthy and thankful for that. Not everyone can say that.

 Health and Opportunity. I have much for which to be grateful.

 PS- My race this morning, the Hot Chocolate 15K was a lot of fun. The weather was so cold that my phone shut itself off and my hands were sort of numb (somehow I lost a glove today?? ), but it was so worth it and Danielle declared we are going to make it be our annual event. She finished far ahead of me, but maybe next year I'll catch up to her (probably not, but hey... I can dream/goal set!).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

November 19

From 78 degrees to 37 degrees in less than 24 hours! Welcome to Ohio, my friends!
 Tomorrow's race will be one to bundle up for, that is for sure! But I think it will be so fun. Today when we went and picked up our race bibs, I got to watch Danielle experience her first expo as a participant. (Of course she had experienced the AFM expo, but as staff, that is a whole different story.)  It was so fun to see her excitement and to take in the experience with her. Sometimes I forget what it's like to be a "new" runner.
 Although she says she may never do another race again. Tomorrow she endeavors into the longest race she has done yet. I can't wait! But I suppose that will be more for tomorrow's blog.

 Today I will share that I am thankful for the friendships I have been given. If you haven't figured it out, I am a people person. Relationships are very important to me and I don't take them lightly. I care about the people I get to know, maybe even to a fault. Some friends come and go. Still others are friends from across the miles but we still can pick up where we left off at any time.
 I have made some new friends this year that have become substantial to my life in a way I never expected. People who have become so close, I feel I have known them my whole life. Friendships I prayed for and was handed in such an unexpected way. I have said goodbye to some others, and not always so easily. Letting go of people is always hard for me.
 I can't begin to name the people here who have made a difference in my life because the list would tell too many stories for one blog. The point is, sometimes I struggle with wanting deeper friendships- the truth is, not everyone can handle my vulnerability and deep seeded thinking. But that is ok. I have come to appreciate all levels of friendships . And those who are the deep thinkers and those who open up their hearts to me.... you know who you are and I am more grateful for you than you can ever know. Friendships help shape me as much as I hope I contribute something to others' lives.

 Tell the friends in your life you are thankful for them! It can easily be taken for granted but there may be a day that that person isn't around as much. I am blessed to have some very special people in my life.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

November 17

The first blog I wrote this month said I was thankful for my childhood.
 Tonight I am thankful for my siblings.

I have heard so many stories of brothers and sisters who fight or don't get along or have some sort of division. I am thankful to say that is not my experience.
 I have amazing siblings.
We are so different in some ways, but we have a commonality that only the 4 of us can understand. We laugh at jokes before they are told because we just understand what the other is about to say.
 We share memories no one can "get" because they are unique to our family.
We can make fun of each other and know it's in total love.
    My brothers tease me like no one else in this world, but they protect me just as fiercely. Only they can get away with all of that.
     My sister and I communicate in the exact same way, so no words are needed many times. We laugh like silly and we cry together, too.
  The 4 of us share secrets and I trust them all more than anyone. It is a bond so rare, and one I do not take for granted.
      We learned hard work ethics and family values. We have endeavored into our own families but come back together in a way I have seen so very few do.
    We do not always agree about every part of life, but we agree to disagree.
 We have grieved my mom's death together.
 My sister is 42, my brother 39, I am 34 and my younger brother is 32. 3 of us in Ohio, one in Utah. One former marine, one employed civilian on an Air Force base, one manager at Sears, one pastor's wife. All four of us are fighters. All four of us love deeply. They boys are not afraid of conflict, the girls are people-pleasers. We learned about working hard from dad and living life to the fullest from mom.
   My sister is there for me any time I call, text or need a shoulder. She understands me in a way unlike any girlfriend every will. I laugh with her like I did with mom and when I need to cry, there is no fear of tears shed. We are different in some ways, yes. But we are so similar at times we can read each other's minds. She used to read me bed time stories growing up and let me tag along with her anytime. She is my big sister.
    My older brother is one of the most intelligent people I know. He never strived to have the best grades, he mostly wanted the knowledge. And he can tell you history about nearly anything or talk theology for hours. He's there for me when I need him.  I trust him and he listens when I need an ear. He supports me in all that I do. He will always have a big brother protector mentality I think, even if it goes unspoken. We can talk for hours or we can have coffee and say nothing.
   My younger brother and I are very close. Growing up, we fought horribly. Neither of us tolerated the other very well, but today I think we understand each other better than ever. We are 2 years apart and so he will always be my little brother, even though he is taller, stronger and smarter than I am. He is one of my biggest supporters when it comes to all my goals and ideas. He's innovative and creative and always trying new ideas himself. We are both fighters for what we believe in.  He served in the marines. He taught me about running. And while we have our share of differences, we are closer than ever.

 I have amazing siblings and I am so thankful for all 3 of them.
Stephen (older brother), Becky, dad, Me, Tim (younger brother)
March 2015. Dad's Surprise 70th Birthday. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14

Today I am thankful for all of God's creations.
 I love nature so much. I enjoy taking in the variety of creatures that exist and the colors of the trees and the scenic places that hold beaches or mountains or farmland.
 I enjoy the starry sky and the moonlit night. I soak in the sun and dance in the rain. I find snow a bit mystical (for the fist one anyway) and the seasons of the year are beautiful.

 This morning, as I stepped out for my run, one of the first frosts of the season kissed the green grass. The cold nipped at my ear lobes and tickled my thumbs. Fall is nearing its end and soon we will be in a new season. The giant moon- because it was so close to the earth- held such beauty it felt like I could touch it. And the stars danced across the dark morning.
   The doe raised her head and looked at me, as if I were the intruder in the territory. The pile of leaves lingered on the sidewalk for me to jump through like a child (sorry, neighbor... I could not resist kicking my feet through it with a smile!)
  The nature came to life in front of me and brought a smile to my lips.

 I am so very thankful for God's creation and beauty. Once I lived in Florida and was often asked if I missed the seasons. At that time, the answer was "no." I had the beaches and the palm trees and the warmth around me all year.
 However, if you were to ask me that today, if I would miss them if I did not live here, I'd probably say "absolutely." Because in the seasons, I am reminded of how life changes, how fortunate I am, how amazing God's creation is and how, like the seasons change, He is constantly working on me.

 Running is a part of me.  And in running, I see life through a new lens. Today it happened to come in the beauty of a dark, cool, crisp morning.  I wish I had a photo of this morning's moon and stars.... but it would not do it justice.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

November 13

Writing every day is a little harder than I thought it would be.
  Today, I am thankful for my family. I would not be who I am without them. They have helped shape me. They sometimes make me cry but other times we laugh like silly. I have grown in my faith because of our challenges and I have been challenged to become a better me.
 I learn alongside my kids and sometimes they are the ones teaching me. Michael brings out the best (and the worst) of me. We've made memories and Lord willing will have years more to come. We are different. We fight and we love. I am thankful for my family.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

November 10

I am thankful for photos.
  A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. I agree with this statement.
On my sad days, I often look at pictures and smile. When I miss my mom, having photos of her means remembering and embracing. I have documented nearly all my races through photos, and when I look back on all of them, there is a memory in every journey. Pictures of the beach or the beautiful Utah mountains bring serenity to chaos. Looking back on my kids' younger years tells a story. Sometimes I forget about something until I pull up an old photo and then I get to tell the story all over again for whomever will listen. Pictures from the AF marathons I have worked remind me how far I have come and those who I have met along the way.
 The list goes on for all the reasons I am thankful for photos. They pretty much bring me joy. It's kind of a funny thing, I guess, to say I am thankful for. I'm not the greatest at taking them, but I get such joy from looking through them.

 Pictures tell stories. And I love to hear people's stories and yes, I like to tell mine, too.
 It would be too difficult to share my favorite photos here because I have too many. So, I choose to just share a few of my favorites from this year- 2016.

Me and Joseph after one of his Cross Country Meets

Our Staff after the 20th Air Force Marathon

Me and Paula, BFF, Ziplining

Me and my brothers. One was poking me and one was trying to push the camera out of my hand. Both were making me laugh
Me and Paola. This is my favorite photo from the year. The joy I felt is radiating from my smile. This captures me. Plus, I love Paola to death. 

The kids on the beach in Alto de Julio, Colombia. Notice the free-roaming pig. This village is a lost paradise. 

Love these guys! James, Eric, Paula Lou and me escaped to Miami Beach for a short time while in between flights.

Paula, me, Paola. "Duck Face" Which I never did very well. We were the 3 musketeers

The 3 of us spent a lot of time digging this hole. Eric, Juan, and myself. They became my brothers. 

Very Special Young Lady, Mileth. 

Definitely not my best photo, but this race is the favorite one I ran this year (so far). Not because it was a beautiful course, but because this race taught me I can do anything. There was sleet, snow, hail, rain and COLD! And it was May! But I ran this race unlike any other one this year. Maybe because I was so cold. 1 minute off a PR, this race showed me I am capable of far more than I think. 

These guys! I love them to death! They've been there for me for everything! And they flew in to come run my mom's 5K. They surprised me and showed up race morning...from Florida! Amazing friends. Best of friends. Dug and ten
Elizabeth and I at the Lion King. An amazing mother/daughter day! 

Family Vacation in the PA mountains. Hiking. One of my favorite things to do. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November 9

I may write about this more than once this month, although it is my goal to not repeat the things for which I am thankful.
 Today I am thankful for running.
 Running is my peace. Running is my time to clear my head and get ready for my day. Running is a passion of mine. Running is my release. Running is my time.
 I can tell physically and emotionally when I miss a few days. Sometimes the difference between a good day and a bad day for me is all about getting a morning run in because it works out my anxiety.  It doesn't have to be my best run. Running just plays a large role in the battle of my mind and overcoming the anxiety that plagues me at times.

 This morning I stepped out the door and ran 4 miles. I felt so good when I finished. I felt ready to enter my day. I breathed easier and smiled better.

 I am thankful for running. If you don't know, I wasn't always a runner. I've only been doing it for 8 years. I'm not the world's greatest runner, but I do love it. For me, running is about much more than maintaining a good weight or staying a certain size. Running is about being mentally healthy. Like I said, I can always tell (and maybe those around me, too) when I need to get out and run.

 I am grateful for the ability, the health and the discovery of running. I've been blessed to be able to run multiple races and look forward to more.  Running does not define me, but it is certainly part of me.

My Most Recent Race, October 2016

A Wet Winter Run, 2015

Finishing My Very First Race, with my best friend spectators Dug and Ten, May 2009 

Monday, November 7, 2016

November 7.

Today I am thankful for food.

 While this sounds totally generic, when I went to Colombia this year, I saw what it meant to not have food and it broke my heart. I have learned to be grateful for this. (And feel so bad every time I waste it.)
  I am thankful for my husband who is an absolutely amazing cook (because I am totally not!). I am thankful that we have the money to buy groceries every week. There was a time in life we barely scraped by. I am thankful for the farmers who grow our food. I am thankful for a stove on which we can cook.
 These things sound pretty generic, but the truth is, I love food, and I am thankful that there isn't a day that goes by that I worry about not having it. God is good in His provisions.

Nov. 6

November 6
 I am thankful for my church.

 It's a really cool story for me how God led us to be in the church we now attend. But it quickly felt like home for me. It is special to have a place where people love you for who you are and where you are at in life.
 The Bible is taught and the community is unique. I really look forward to serving in this church and becoming more a part of who they are.
 They take time to listen to me and to talk theological topics with me.
 Much could be said about Fairborn United Methodist Church. I am thankful to call them my church and my family.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

November 4 & 5

Due to a busy day of expo travel yesterday, I missed my chance to share what I was thankful for. So I will combine the 4 and 5 post into one. Besides, then I spare you from reading every single day :)
  So for today (and yesterday) I will just share the little things for which I am thankful this particular week. Little experiences that accumulated to bring smiles to my face and lift the moments of my day.

 1. An unexpected, beautiful bracelet from my bff Paula. She knows me well. And I smile as it dangles from my wrist as a daily reminder of what God says about me. And what others always try to tell me as well.

 2. On that same note, a brunch date with my bff, Paula. She's a special lady who has had an incredible impact on my life. I love our (almost) monthly meetings and look forward to our next one already.

 3. A Buck.
 No, not a dollar buck, but a deer buck. I rarely see these beautiful animals, but often see doe on my morning runs. This week, I was not 10 feet from a beautiful, young buck. He watched me as I ran near him, and I stepped a little further away into the street, not sure how territorial he was. But he was absolutely stunning.

 4. Laughter with Lisa
   Those moments when you get tears from laughing so hard. Those are the ones to capture in a bottle and forever recall. Lisa and I had more than one of those times in our travels to Indianapolis this week and just as the ones we've previously created, these new memories bring smiles to my face that make sense to no one but her and me.
Being Silly with Lisa (who was taking the photos) 

 5. New Foods
  As much as I try to be healthy and eat differently and right, I am kind of  foodie in some ways. I had the most delicious salmon tacos this week and they still make my mouth water. Worth every bite.

 6. Theological Discussions
  I love it when people take time to discuss the Bible with me. It's a living, active Word. And we can forever learn from it, no matter how hard we have studied it or how long we have been taught it. This week, I was able to have a good discussion about various theological issues that stimulated new studies and thoughts. I appreciate those who take time to not debate or preach or shove, but lovingly discuss, and at the same time, listen to me, too.

 7. Kind People
  I love nice people. (Don't we all??) But every now and then there are random experiences that deserve to be noted. This one would take far too long to share, but this kind man from the Air National Guard was also spending hours at the same expo where me and Lisa were. And the time he took to learn about our event and share about our event and drum up conversation with us was meaningful. Kind people make a difference. And this was one of those experiences that just served as a reminder to show that you never know when you are doing something that will reshape a person's day. Take time to be kind. This guy Mike did.

 8. Plank Victories
  As time keeps going, and the plank challenges each month keep happening, I keep pushing. And when I was able to hold it another 30 seconds, I felt victory. Now to challenge myself to keep on going with it, keep on getting better. I can't wait to see what December's challenge will be.

 Good times this week. I have so very much for which to be thankful. Lots of great interactions, special people, and a strong support system.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

November 3. My Job

Thursday, November 3.
 Today I am thankful for my job.
I am not only thankful for an income that helps provide for my family, but I am thankful for getting to do something I love.
 I am thankful for the group of people I get to work with, who help me grow and be better not only at my job, but as an individual.
 I am thankful that I get to talk about and work on something about which I am passionate - running. I hope I never lose that.
   I am thankful for a boss who takes time to invest in my future and my growth.
I am thankful for the times I get to travel and see different cities, run new races, and experience new runners.
 I am an extrovert, which means I gain energy from being around people. And so talking to runners at other expos about our event is exciting for me.
   I am thankful for the friendships I have formed through my job. Katie, Sharon, Ed, Bill and Eric, Aunie, Anne, Bill N., Ken, Josh and his crew, D, Dolly, Angela. I've met some pretty cool people through my job, each forming an impact of some sort on me.
 I am thankful for the guys who help in the warehouse, who become like brothers to me.
   I am thankful for the laughs shared with Lisa.
 I am thankful for what I have learned about running and nutrition.
 I really do enjoy my job.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 2

Today I am thankful for a beautiful, warm November day.

It is unseasonably warm today. The leaves are shining their brilliance. Yellow bursts, Orange streams, Red Shadows dance across the streets and the yards as the leaves fall gracefully. As the sun burns through the blue sky and fluffy clouds, it feels so good to soak in these last drops of warmth.
 Soon enough I am sure that the weather will turn cold, so for today, I embrace the moment of this unseasonably warm day. And the smiles it brings with it. Autumn Cozy looks a little like my back yard would if it faced east.:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Thanksgiving 1

November 1.
 Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love it because it's in my favorite season: fall. I enjoy it because of the food that comes with it. I celebrate it in full because it seems to often be the forgotten holiday. and I embrace it because having a thankful heart makes a world of difference in a pessimistic world.
 I don't always share thankfulness like I should or want to, so this month I decided (in all my free time) that I want to every day this month write a post about what I am thankful for.
  Some posts might be short. Some might be long. Depends on the thing I share. I have much to be grateful for in my life. And yet I admit to focusing on the more frustrating things too often.
 So, this month, while there will be other posts as well, I will try to write something every day. If I miss a day, I'll try to make it up. So,
 November 1.
 To avoid an obvious one (that will be shared at some point) I will share that I am thankful for the childhood I had.
 I watch kids today hurt and be bullied and deal with far more painful situations than I ever faced. Granted, I grew up in small town Ohio, but that doesn't matter. I had an amazing childhood. Perfect? No. But wonderful? yes.
   Farm life. Hard work. But lots of laughter. Games with mom and my siblings. Hide and seek with my friends late into the night. A good church. Crazy stories of God's provisions. Fun school days. Growing up with the same kids most of my life. Special youth leaders, who still are part of my life today. Great teachers. Friday night football games. 4-H. Tractors. A father who never quit. A mother who forever loved. An older sister who was loved by all and so much fun. An older brother smarter than any one else in our home, quiet, but always a protector for me. A younger brother I fought with like crazy but has become one of my closest friends today.

 I could go on for a long time. But today, I am thankful for the childhood I got to have. I was free and I was loved. And I love reliving some of those memories. In fact, the farm remains one of my favorite place to be because of those days.  I am blessed. Here are a few silly snapshots from my childhood.
One of my favorites! We always made a  scarecrow out of dad's farm clothes stuffed with straw and "attached" it to our lamp post. I was 3.

Me and my younger brother. When it rained, we had a little "lake" puddle that formed in the yard. We had a blast playing it in it!  Notice the way oversized rubber farm boots ;) 

3 Musketeers. Kelsey, oldest. Beth, middle. Me, youngest. We spent a lot of time together in high school. This was at Beth's dad's trailer at Lake Erie. 

Senior Night for Band. 

We used to rake leaves and play in them for hours. Me, my brother, Tim and my best childhood friend, Courtney.

We always acted out the Christmas story. I was Mary, my brother was Joseph and of course, baby Jesus. 

One of my favorite Christmas' growing up.... our heat had gone out, so we ate around the oven, which put off heat, had our coats on and opened gifts in the kitchen- the only "warm" room that year. Mom must have been taking the picture.