Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fight For It

Fight for it.

 I went for a 3 mile run this morning, and those were the words that were running through my head. Fight for it.

 Apparently I found my mantra for my 10K race next weekend. And my motto for the next few weeks probably.

 My running has struggled lately. I mean.... STRUGGLED. I have never quit, but I just seemed to lose my motivation for a little bit. And in so doing, I lost some ground. I feel like I lost the fighter in me for a bit. And now that I have a race coming up again, I have been digging deep to find her again.

 If you don't know or haven't figured out from my blogs yet, I am a fighter. Not the knock down drag you out kind of punch you in the face fighter. But I am a silent fighter. I fight for what I believe in. I push through the obstacles that come my way, no matter how small or how big they are, to get to where I believe I need to be. I instinctively fight back when someone tells me I can't. When others don't understand my reasons, that's ok, they don't have to. I am a fighter. If it is right, I will fight for it, no matter what the odds.
 I may not win every battle, but I learn and grow every time. Whether it's spiritual or physical or emotional.
 And what I have learned is that I don't win every battle, but I know that God has already won my war, so I lean into Him for strength.

 Last year the verse in 2 Corinthians 12 became a motto for me. His grace is sufficient for me. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

 I love that verse.

 I am weak. But He is strong.
 He fights my battles, but he has made me a fighter. The war is all around me, but He has given me the tools to be a warrior.

 It's who I am. I am a fighter. And the fact that I lost that a little bit made me step back and evaluate why. I don't always really like the reasons I come up with as I pray through and journal through it, but I love that He always brings me back to that verse.

 So I will continue to fight for it.

 I will fight for overcoming the mental obstacles in my running and I will have a great race - no matter what my finish time is.

 I will fight for my marriage, for my kids, for my family in the midst of struggling days.

 I will fight for my faith. I will, through His strength, overcome the obstacles that get in the way of spiritual growth. I have learned that as God is preparing me for something great, the hardest obstacles often come. I will fight those and by His grace, win. And grow through that.

 I will fight for me. Deep down I love who I am, who God has made me to be, who He is shaping me into becoming more and more. But sometimes the critics' voices are loud and sometimes those voices make me hesitate. But I will fight those. Because He has made me uniquely me.

 I will put on my armor and go into battle (Ephesians 6) and be the strong woman God has made me.
 Even on the hard days. And in the good ones, too.

 I will Fight For It.

 And I will carry that mantra and these ideas with me in to my 10K next weekend. It's not the half marathon I wanted to do... but I will give my all in this race and fight for it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Journey to Colombia 2017

Time is marching along. Literally.  I will not bother to unfold all of the events I have coming in the next few weeks, but as they unravel themselves, my mind is a tangled mess in working through all the intricate details. It's exciting, but it's a little on overload.
 That being said, I am less than 2 months away from yet another trip in to the beautiful Brisas del Mar, Colombia. And I need to journal out my thoughts as this trip begins to unfold itself.

 When I went to Colombia in 2016, it was a trip that had many months to formulate. I began in the summer of 2015, raising my money and preparing my heart and mind for that experience. Little did I know how much God was going to do in my life through that time. It changed me- literally. I found healing and hope. I found restoration and peace. I rediscovered passions and joys that had long been buried. and the last year has been a time of figuring out in some ways how to implement those into life as it is.
 Those implementations have come with challenges, but blessings as well.

 As I am preparing for this trip, the journey is very different. This time, I know a little more what to expect. This time, distractions in planning can occur rather than it being a season of learning. So I want to take a few moments to reflect and share on the process of how God is at work this time around in my journey to Colombia, 2017.

 Missions has always been a passion of mine. When I was growing up, we would host missionaries in our home. Mom would serve them meals and we would listen to their stories and I felt drawn to the idea of being used in a foreign country. My very good friend, just a year older than me, went with her family to the mission field in Africa when we were just in grade school. My closest confidant when I was a teenager- my youth pastor's wife - and obviously her husband and 2 kids- went on to the mission field in the Philippines. I could share story after story of close encounters I had, even if from the good ol' USA, with people who were on the mission field. It's just always been a draw in my life. I gained a passion for speaking Spanish in high school. I had the opportunity to go to El Salvador an Honduras at the age of 18 for 6 weeks with a team.
  The desire and draw to missions has always lived in my heart. Sometimes we get off the path a little bit. I got married and had children. And life rolled along, and I didn't have my hands in the missions as much. While we were involved in church always, missions was not nearly a focus in them as it had been in my church growing up.

 So in 2016, when I had the opportunity to go, it was clear that God was leading there. I had no idea how He was going to use that trip in my life. I am still constantly amazed about it. You can go back to  my February/March 2016 blogs to read more about that time if you wish starting here. But this time around, it's a different journey, but nonetheless a beautiful one.

 Sunday I had the opportunity to go meet my team for the first time. We've had meetings, but they have been all Skype for me, as it is challenging to make it down to Cincinnati for those. And my heart strings were pulled once again. The hugs from the old team members who are on this trip warmed my heart and reminded me how much God used them in my life. Being welcomed by the new team members and seeing them face to face brought on an emotion  I wasn't expecting.
 From afar, the planning is all good and exciting, but being in person brought a reality that encompassed my soul with a warmth that is unexplainable.

 I get to go to Colombia to serve God once again.

 I am humbled.

 I want to share just briefly how I got to this point this year. You see, I hadn't planned on going back. As much as I loved the people and the country, I didn't feel like I was supposed to go this year. But God had other plans. And when I watch how the journey unfolds, it's amazing to me how he makes things so clear sometimes. His plans are not always mine, but He always knows the plans for me.

 I had every intention of going with my new home church to Nicaragua. I was excited to be involved with a church body of my own who embraced missions. However, that time frame did not work for me with my job. So I had to decline that trip. And when I did, I began praying and asking God if I was trying too hard to go on a trip and maybe He had other plans for me. And so I relinquished my desires to go on a mission trip this summer.
 Sometimes when we let go, that is all God is asking us to do.

 At that point, the team leader for the 2017 trip to Colombia called me and asked me to go with them. At first I said no, but I also said I would pray about it. And God has clearly laid out this path for me. He laid it on one person's heart, who spent months praying about it, and I realized this:
 Sometimes God answers our prayers through laying something on another's heart.

 When he discussed some things with me, then I took it to my family. And everyone got on board. God was laying out the path and it was evident this was one He had for me to walk. And so in January, my journey to Colombia in 2017 began.

 As I have met new people in the last year and they learned of my journey, they have become financial and prayer partners with me and I praise God that my trip is now provided for once again this year. And I am thankful for these new friends.

 You see, when we are obedient to Him, patient, and sometimes still... He answers prayers.

 Sometimes it comes in a way we totally unexpect, sometimes it comes in a way we may not always like. But He does always answer. And that is a beautiful piece of this journey into Colombia this year. God is in every detail.

 There will be plenty more He is going to do in me through this trip, I know. And I don't know what to expect in regards to that. It's pretty hard to top what he did in my heart in 2016. But that's how He works. he's always molding me, shaping me, growing me, teaching me. Sometimes painfully, sometimes beautifully, but always lovingly. Because He is a God of love.

 Also in this journey, I have  new church who is providing a huge support system to me through love and prayer. I feel it as I share with them about my trip. I sense it in how God has so wonderfully placed us there. And I see it in all the new exciting missions interactions  I get to experience with them.

 God took me to Colombia  a year ago and I thought it was so I could be used. And it was. But it even more so remolded me and has helped me grow. And this trip, as I enter into it very quickly, is doing the same. In a different way, but a way He has planned for me.

 It's beautiful and I can't wait to see how it continues to unfold in the next months as I grow closer to my team and have an opportunity to once again step foot onto the soil of the foreign mission field in June.  Our lives here are every day on a mission field. But when we get to be an extension to place that pulls on the heart strings... I know God is up to something big.

 One day at a time. Including the process leading up to the trip.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"The Scale" Part 2

Because of the overwhelming response I got to the blog I wrote about The Scale I decided I would follow it up with more thoughts on this topic. Because i think that to a degree, we all struggle with this issue one way or another.

  Why do we worry so much about how we look? Or how much we weigh? Why does that ever glaring number, whatever it might be, seems to bring on such negativity for so many of us? Even as I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago, it has continued to be a struggle for me. But I have learned through the years that as I am working to overcome an issue, it seems glaringly worse. I want to share about my mom a little today.

 My mom was overweight. A fair amount overweight. I don't like to write that out loud because it sounds negative and mean, but go with me on this story. I think that one of the reasons growing up my body image was never a huge issue for me was because my mom never focused on it. I can even recall vividly one time saying in my latter teen years "Who cares if I have a pimple? If it bothers the other person, that's their issue. " (somewhere along the line I have lost this way of thinking.) There is a balance with anything, and it can go from one extreme of caring too much to another extreme of not caring enough. But my mom seemed to be in the middle of that. In all the years of having her here on earth in my life, she was overweight (post childbearing days.) But I never heard my mom complain about how she looked. I don't even remember there being a scale in the house.
 She was a farmer's wife. She made home cooked meals and truthfully, she wore clothes given to  her from her best friend. She did not wear make up. And she smiled... all the time. I do not recall her ever being upset about her body image. I can count on one hand the times she made a complaint about herself. That is remarkable. I can count on one hand (ok, two...) how many times I make a complaint about myself in a DAY! (That is really sad, but I remind you, I am a work in progress on this)
  When my mom passed away, do you think that anyone...anyone.... was talking about how she looked or how much she weighed? No! Of course not. People talked about how she lived her life. They remembered her for how much she laughed and smiled, no matter what her circumstance was. They remember how much she followed after Jesus even when it was hard. We stood in a receiving line for hours listening to people say how much they would miss mom's love.

 Because, my friends, those are the things that matter. That is what people will remember.

 1 Samuel 16:7 "For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

 The eternal perspective is what matters. Not the momentary size of my pants. Or how thick my thighs are. Or my little baby belly.
 The pictures on the running magazines are air brushed.
  The movie stars pay thousands of dollars for makeovers and personal trainers to look as they do.
But none of that matters in the end. What matters is the heart.

 I am going to be real and tell you that this winter I have gained 10 pounds. That sounds minimal and also, if you saw me, you probably would not notice. I hide it well and tuck it away. But I know. I feel it as I work to squeeze into my same clothing and not go buy new ones. And as that has transpired, I have to work to fight the frustration that comes with that. However, while there is a balance to everything, and finding that middle ground rather than being on one side of the fence or the other, I have been learning that I'm good.... I'm ok.
  I have been able to go off of my depression meds for the first time in 10 years. 10 years! This is HUGE for me! God is amazing. I think that has been a contributing factor to the issue of my body, because the medicine served in a small role of being an appetite suppressor. But if that means I'm healthier mentally, I'll take it!
  Gaining weight makes my running a little slower... which has a tendency to frustrate me, in all honesty. (I am already not so fast...) But my steps are freer and lighter, and therefore, I will take that!

 We usually think of pride as a scenario where people are so focused on themselves in an arrogant way. But I think pride can be anything about being focused on one's self. Therefore, saying negative things about my weight is just as much of a pride issue as those who seemingly parade around their beauty.

 God created me to be beautiful. He says so in Psalm 139.  And that beauty shines through no matter what the scale says, when I am being the best version of who He made me to be.

 I chose the word vivacious for the beginning of this year. That I want to live life to the fullest. Now, again, there is balance with everything, so I have to be careful to find those lines. But am I living vivaciously... am I being the best me God has made me to be... if I am focused on my weight?
 I can answer that with a big NO. Because then I am focused on one thing and losing site of the important pieces to life.
 Like going for a run and the fact that I am healthy enough to do so... no matter what my speed or my time may end up being.
  Or taking my daughter horseback riding.
   Or having a coffee date with my son.
 Or dancing with my husband.

 It can't be about the number. It's about my health.

 My mom would tell me I'm ridiculous if she heard me say anything negative about my body. I am not fat, and I realize that. But it is still a struggle for me how I view my body. So perhaps I should smile and remember that. It doesn't mean I can't keep working on being the best me- physically. I can and I will. But it does mean I should not lose focus of the puzzle pieces of life that truly matter in the end... a happy, healthy me. Which do include doing TRX and running.

 It's not about the scale. It's about the heart. And please keep reminding me of this when I lose sight of it. My mom always did. And she lived it. It's time I do, too. Besides, I want my daughter to embrace that about life... not the number on the scale. 


Friday, April 7, 2017


I have another post brewing along the lines of The Scale that I want to share, but today I want to focus on the happy and not so much the "heavy" of life. TGIF, my friends!

 Amidst some of the heavier moments lately, there have been plenty of happy ones, too. The little moments that make up the happy of life. So here we go...

 1. Horses! This week, Elizabeth started to work with horses again. Triggered by a friend of hers at school, she wanted to get back to horseback riding. The cool piece of this is that my friend, Hannah, owns a horse and has asked if Elizabeth will help out with him and she can ride for free! So she is gaining some great life skills of hard work, etc. while she gets the benefits of riding and being around the horses. (And to be quite honest, even though it adds to the schedule, I am loving being in the barn again, too!)

This is Cassie, Hannah's daughter. And Buster. It was Buster's birthday this week. 

 2. Linda A. Ferguson Memorial Scholarship
 Many of you know that I host a 5K in memory of mom. The money raised is used to award scholarships to students studying to be oncology nurses. This week we awarded the 6th scholarship! Doing this is always a humbling experience. And with the 5K just a little over a month away now, it helps put it all back into perspective for me. (more to come on that next week.) Grant Olsen has a great story and we are happy he was the awarded participant this week.

 3. Soup
 I am not really a huge fan of soup. I like it alright, but it isn't a meal I would choose out of a menu of choices. But the Catholic chapel on base has offered a soup lunch to anyone every Wednesday through the Lent season. Me and a few others have gone to enjoy this each week and it has been refreshing. Seeing as how just down the hall from our office is the chaplain's offices, I am good friends with some of those admin girls. This has given new opportunities now to not just build friendships with them, but to meet new people.

 4. Home Sweet Home
 One of my favorite places to be is the farm where I grew up. While it has changed some for sure, it holds relatively all the same feel. It warms me, no matter if I am there to help dad clean or just visit with him. I enjoyed spending the afternoon there this week.

 5. Nice Customer Service People
 Isn't customer service all about the customer? This is lost often times honestly. And I don't often complain about that. But I do recognize when it is delivered. I forget my brain at times and had that experience this week. As I went to the Wendy's drive through to grab just a few quick things, I got to the window to pay and realized I didn't have my debit card! 😲 I asked the cashier to remove a few items because I only had a few dollars cash. The manager bought my whole order! Nice people are refreshing. He didn't have to do that. But thank you that he did.

 6. Essential Oils
I have utilized half the oils in my cabinet this week. I have diffused them at night, fighting a cold of sorts. I have used them on the nasty headaches this strange dreary weather has brought on this week. And I have applied them to help the emotional moods. I can tell you they work! And I find it refreshing to use these more natural methods as opposed to chemical medicines. (I'm not opposed to using medicine, but if/when I don't have to, I appreciate that.)

 Even in the midst of small snow flurries and hail in April ... happy moments can be found! It's the Little Moments that add up!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Love Others

The experience of losing a person to death is never an easy one to face, but we all go through it at some point.
 But this weekend, the talk in our home has been heavy on that issue. This weekend we discussed an issue that is prevalent in our society, but for the first time touched our home.
 On Thursday, March 30, a student in my daughter's freshman class committed suicide.

Unfortunately that is no longer an uncommon occurrence among young people, and I think we even become a little callous towards the word because it now is so often verbalized, where once in society it was taboo. Even more sad is the fact that it is a growing problem among the young people. Bullying is a factor. Social status is a factor. Many factors play a role and sometimes we never know the entire situation. Nor will we ever in many cases.

 When my daughter texted me Friday morning as the announcement was made at her school, my heart broke. For the boy who felt the need to commit the act. For his parents. For my daughter, who is now experiencing a new taste of death I hope she would never have to experience. For all the students who knew him. Death is never easy, no matter the way it unfolds. Somehow suicide seems to be a whole different realm.

  Why do you think we avoid the topic? I think it makes us all uncomfortable because it's death, of course. But also because it is one that brings with it judgement. Some whisper "How could the person do that?" Others will say "He must have had a sad life." Some will try to guess all the reasons.
do you remember when Robin Williams committed suicide? One of the funniest men in America who made everyone around him laugh took his own life.

 The truth of the matter is we never know what a person is facing. Even those who appear the happiest on the outside may have a broken heart on the inside.  That is one of the reasons why Jesus tells us to love our neighbors. We don't know how lonely a person is or what their inside hurts might be.  It is difficult to love the angry or the outcast. But if those of us who have Jesus in our lives won't do it, then who will? I'm not saying I am perfect at this myself. But I am saying that the circumstances of Grady's sad death have made me stop and evaluate. And as my daughter has talked about it and asked questions, my own answers have made me think about if I am practicing to those around me what I am trying to teach her. Love others. One of the greatest commands of Jesus.

 Maybe if we loved more and judged less, we could all learn from each other.  My daughter wrote this post on her Facebook the day after the news.

Yesterday was a sad day for the students and staff at Fairborn High School. We lost one of our fellow students. His name was Grady mccurry . He touched the lives of many students. I did not personally know him so I can not understand how his friends and family feel right now but I do know he will be greatly missed. I wanted to take this post to say that suicide is a serious issue and you need to just love on people sometimes because you don't know what their lives are like so love on everyone. It can make a difference. Rest In Peace Grady

 She is a little wise beyond her years at times, truthfully. I love her gift of empathy and her love for those around her. She has been deeply touched by this event. He wasn't someone she was close to but she did have a class with him and talked about how he was so funny.  I wish this were not a reality for her to witness, but with it being so, I have definitely hugged her a little tighter and loved a lot harder. 

 I have also been reminded that we never know what a person is facing. We can never be responsible for the actions of others, of course, But we certainly can be of our own. Take an extra moment to slow down and learn about those around you. It may be just what your "neighbor" needs that day.

 I know this was a bit of a heavy post, but I write about that which I am learning. I am a work in progress. And I am learning not to take anything or anyone for granted. One day at a time.