Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: March 2013

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

     Happy Easter everyone!  I am reminded today that we are so blessed to have been given the gift of a life with Christ.  The amazing part about this message that sets Jesus apart from other "saviors" of religions, is that he came for us.  There is no other world belief where the god actually offers us something without any payment on our part.  Jesus did the hard stuff.  He endured our beatings and rejection; he hung on our cross.  It didn't end there though, because he didn't just die.  He rose again.

     Ever think about the significance that he actually did rise again?  I mean, the whole message of Christianity hinges on that one fact.  He rose.  Without that, this whole belief would be in vain.  A god who just dies doesn't mean so much.  He bore our sin and then he came back to life, in order to give us life.
     So many of us though-- myself included-- often succumb to the daily routines of life.  Whether or not you belief in Christ's message, you can attest to the dreary repetitive cycle we all get into once in a while.  Consider this though: you have a daddy in Heaven who loves you so much that he decided you were worth saving.  He knew that you did bad things and you would reject him throughout your life, yet he still loved you so much that he sacrificed his precious son for you.  Not only that, but he now seeks to be with you every moment of every day.  Because Jesus paid the price for your sin, the Heavenly father who doesn't need you, wants you desperately.
     Try for a minute to grasp that, and then think about the daily routine.  Perhaps, your like myself and you all too often forget:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5).

     We were not freed in order to just "muscle through" our daily lives.  We were freed to be, well, free!  Every moment of every day is a gift that we are personally given by the same God who said we were worth the brutal hanging of the son of God!  I challenge you, as well as myself, to go forth with that realization as we step into a new week.  Granted, we won't remember the gravity of this love every minute of every day, but with practice-- like my Grateful 2013 project-- we will grow in our knowledge of God's love forever and ever.  If you aren't sure quite where you stand with God, or whether or not you're buying this extravagant love, I challenge you to imagine how your life would change if this really were true, if there really was a God of the universe who not only knows your name, but intensely desires a relationship with you.  Maybe it's worth investigating for yourself if this is true.  The only thing you could lose is some time, and it seems that within the daily grind: we already do a lot of that.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Already planning for Peru

     I don't have any plan to go to Peru anytime soon.  Nor do I have the finances to do so.  However, it is never too early to do some planning and inspiration.  After all, I want to be ready to go travel the world at a moment's notice, and until I can do so: I want to know about as much of the world's sites and destinations as I can!
     Yesterday I was thirty minutes in to a travel reading binge, where I was just sure that the next page I flipped on my moms iPad would be a better travel story.  I just couldn't stop!  Good thing I didn't though, because when I got to Monday's travel articles (this was all on the Flipboard app), I saw an intriguing article called, "World's Best Treehouse Hotels." (click the title for a link to the original story)  Alas, I just now noticed on the original article that the cost is $460 in the summer-- not sure if that means our summer or when it's summer in Peru...Either way, that's a lot of money.  It's on my bucket list though, so I will get there one day!  What better way to experience the Peruvian Amazon then to sleep among the trees.  

Possum siting

   Check out this cute little guy I saw with my mom the other day while walking at the park. I'm so grateful for the little things like that, that display God's beautiful-- and bizarre looking-- creation. They are also mostly nocturnal, so it's very rare that we saw this one foraging around at noon. 
    Thanks for that little reminder that you care for all your creation, God, and you made it adorably cute too:)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Unforgettable Runs: Ogle Lake, Indiana

     If you've read any of my Unforgettable Runs posts (or even my most recent one, Unforgettable Runs: Indiana University, IN) you would know that I have the tendency to a.) get lost, or b.) do something stupid on just about every run I'm on.  The good thing is, I always have something to laugh about or be grateful for afterwards.  My run the day after we visited IU was no different.
     We were hiking out a Brown County state park-- it was absolutely beautiful-- but I began seeing runners as we got further onto the trail.  The fact that they were doing some real distance-- indicated by their Camelbacks full of water-- made me pang even more for a run.  I'd done a shakeout 10 min. jog that morning and had been planning to give my legs a break by doing the elliptical that night, but I couldn't resist for long.  "Man!  I wish I hadn't worn my coat," I finally remarked as we saw yet another runner go by.  My mom offered to hold my coat, so I shed a couple of layers and told them how long I'd be and where I'd meet  back up with them.  "Take your phone with you," my mom instructed as I tried to hand it to her.  I knew that it made sense, since there was no other way to contact her if there was a problem.  "I'm just scared I'm going to drop it," I worried aloud.  But I realized that it was probably important, given my track record for getting lost and what not.
     The trail itself was beautiful.  I started my run out by Ogle Lake, and made my way around the trail.  The best part was the roots and bumps along the way.  For most runners, those are a hassle to be avoided.  For me, they are a fun challenge that keeps my mind engaged and having fun.  I was thoroughly enjoying myself crossing over little footbridges and jumping over ruts in the ground.  After a mile or so, I came to a fork in the path where I could go further or turn to circle around the lake the rest of the way.  I had plenty of time left in my run, so I kept going.  There weren't a lot of people other then runners on any of the trails, but this second trail was even more desolate then the first. I love it.  The wide path thinned out to a single track, and I ran along not knowing where I was going or even how long I'd continue before turning around.  After another mile or so, I came to a large hill upward.  I charged up the hill, only to see a large platform ahead that rose from 20 or so steps.  I urged my legs up the steps and stopped at the top as I saw the trail continue upward.  I'm all for a challenge, but I'd done a long run the day before, and a hard run the day before that.  My legs were aching pretty bad by that point, so I figured it was best to turn around.  Not before I snapped a few pictures though!
     My run back to the original trail was pretty uneventful.  Again, the nature was beautiful and I was so grateful for the change of scenery in the tall trees and vast wooded landscape.  Back at the original trail, I forked left to continue my loop around the lake.  At that point though, I had to actually cross the lake, which was pretty cool.  There was a wide footbridge of planks that crossed over and onto the other side, which was on much greater of an incline.  By that I mean that the trail was hugging the side of some pretty steep drop-offs to the lake-- not too high, but high enough to provide for a pretty dangerous fall.  It was really cool though, as the trail was not at all straight and predictable.  At times, I would be weaving the side of the drop-off and a few minutes later, I would be right down by the lake.  I was almost back to the lake front where I would continue back the way we had hiked out there, when I saw the mud was getting pretty bad ahead.  I was down by the edge of the lake though, so it made sense that it was getting so darn muddy!
     A little ways ahead, I saw a nasty spot of mud.  Trying to be proactive and smart, I sidestepped it to the right.  Before I knew it though, I went down.  My feet quickly slid and I frantically looked for a tree to grab. In that split second I realized that there were none.  Come on!  I'm right next to a forest for goodness sakes! I slipped down into the mud, coming within a meter of the cold water, before I caught myself with my hands. Looking like a muddy fool, I stood in that same crouched position for a good minute.  I had been sure I was going straight into the lake, and now I was sure that any move I made would send me straight for that reality. After gathering the last bit of my dignity, I made a giant leap up to the trail and then surveyed the damage.  My purple running tights were completely covered in mud, my backside looked like a giant mud spot, and my hair and face were spotted with evidence of my little mishap.  That's when I looked down: my phone-- just a three week old baby-- was completely, utterly, covered in mud.  I'm not big when it comes to technology, but it was an investment and I take pride in being unbelievably responsible with all my possessions.  Forget the fact that I was unharmed and not soaking wet: I ruined my new phone!  I debated whether or not to touch the screen to call my mom, but finally did.  I was crying like a baby as I told her, "I...I fell...and I'm okay...but I'm covered with mud and so is my's ruined!!!"
     Ya..not one of my better moments.  Believe me, I learned quite a bit from that experience.  FYI- a muddy phone is not worth crying over when the alternative was a wet injured runner and a phone at the bottom of a lake in Indiana.  Looking back, there really is no better option when falling into a lake: catch yourself with your hands without dropping your phone or losing your balance.  By the way, the phone's fine.  Absolutely not a scratch (it had a case on it), except for some dried mud in the speaker.  I'm hoping I can blow that out with that stuff people use on keyboards.
     Anyway, I walked back to meet up with my mom and brother-- still crying-- and recounted the rest of my story.  Eventually, I ran the rest of the way back to the car.  Mostly to clear my head at that point: I was still freaked out that I'd almost fallen and mad about my phone.  Back at the car, I walked up to the top of the outlook post and stretch by a picnic table while I waited for the rest of the crew to return.  It was gorgeous to be up there surrounded by the trees and woods, and although I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have at the time, this blog is my chance at redemption!  All in all, it was a very memorable run to say the least.  It was so beautiful, scary, and frustrating all at the same time.  I'm amazed I can pack that many emotions and events into one distance run, but that makes it all the more unforgettable.

Egg Dyeing 2013

Enjoy some pics. from egg dyeing at my dad's this year:

Some of my finest eggs
Other notable eggs
My little bro is so creative!  I love this one.
This guy had some cracks in him before we dyed, so I drew a face around his "scars."  I think he turned out quite nicely.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What I'm grateful for on March 27

Woo!  Oh how I love morning workouts!  I was feeling pretty anxious all week about the hard track day we had today, as the same workout was a killer last week: 3x(2 1,000s, 3 200s @ threshold pace).  Good old Jack Daniels (the running guru in case you were very confused all of a sudden).
     Last week, I also had a group to pace with, and this week they aren't coming to the optional Spring Break practices.  I woke up feeling pretty "ehh," and continued to feel that way as I warmed up.  I was pretty positive it was going to be another failure of a workout-- not to be at all pessimistic, which I am.  I am happy to say that I was completely wrong!  After making sure that I was indeed running the right distance, I mentally got my head in the workout because I knew that if I finished it anything like I'd started, it was going to be one of my best.  My times were great, my recovery was fast, and I was loving it!  I took off my sweats after the first few reps and started to feel invigorated by the fresh air slapping my legs as I circled the track.  It was getting fun!
     I have a way of tricking my brain.  It works quite well because I am awful at any type of calculation, so my mind doesn't understand that "only" 600 meters left, is actually quite a bit when I'm only running 1000.  But today, my brain must have been on its own Spring Break.  I was hitting under my times, and feeling like the word that God gave me on Sunday is actually true, "I'm back!"
     I'm still waiting to hear more results from the doctors, because I have no idea why I raced so terribly a few weeks back (RELATED: God speaks through tears), I'm reminded that God knows.  I don't have to know why my body has had such extreme fatigue, because knowing won't do anything on its own.  I'm perfectly fine if God just heals me up and I never think about this again.  And maybe that's what he's in the process of doing!  Either way, I'm learning more and more every day to trust him and enjoy the gifts he's given me more.  I'd say that's a pretty awesome day of thankfulness already-- and it's only 3:30.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Movie Review: "Father of Lights"

     "Father of Lights" is a recent documentary, made by the same people who produced Finger of God and "Furious Love."  I loved the first two films, so I was really excited when my best friend gave me the third in the trilogy for me birthday in January.  Regrettably, I didn't get the chance to watch it until last night.  Now that I have though, I am absolutely in awe!
     Like "Furious Love" and "Finger of God", "Father of Lights" focuses on the amazing nature of God-- this one is on the light of God's love in particular.  Instead of telling viewers who God should be or is, the creator (Darren Wilson) of "Father of Lights" set out to see God's love at work, in whatever way that meant.    This means a trip to an Indian witch doctor-- he had recently cursed a pastor who died the next day along with his wife-- as well as many other voyages to cultures around the globe.  The movie is aimed toward an already Christian audience and includes key discussion from well known Christian evangelists and pastors (such as Heidi Baker, Robbie Dawkins, Andrew Womack, ect.)  Yet, I was shocked at how relevant is could be for unbelievers as well.  Understandably, it would seem a little bias toward some, but I see it as an amazing tool for debunking and destroying those misconceptions about both Christ and the Christian walk of faith.  The film depicts many miracles and wonders of God that are all too wonderful to describe!
     No matter who we are or what we believe, there is an extremely beautiful message of God's love for his children presented in "Father of Lights."  There is an amazing passion for Christ springing up all over the world; people who are desperately searching are finding their daddy.  What "Father of Lights" shows viewers is a very captivating look into this powerful love and its impact on everyday life regardless of one's belief in God.  Wilson talks to Chicago gang members, "fire and brimstone" preachers in California, and Muslims alike, trusting that God is going to come in power.  And he does.
     I would highly recommend this movie no matter who you are.  There is something to be gleaned in all walks of life and faith.  Most importantly, "Father of Lights" will shed new light on what it actually means to be adored by the God most high.

UPDATE: Wanderlust is coming out with a new film in Fall 2014!  Click HERE to read more about it!!!

"Duck Dynasty"

     Go ahead and judge me, but I am unashamedly loving Duck Dynasty, the show about a redneck family who became filthy rich off of duck calls (used to hunt).  It is a lot more real than any "reality show" I've regrettable flipped to, and it is hilarious!  I was reminded of this by a funny quote I saw on Pinterest today, so I've rounded up some funny ones to give you a laugh.

Free time

     I love to keep myself scheduled and busy because I find that I am less mischievous when doing so.  Yet, even I like some time off every once in a while.  With this week being Spring Break, I am highly enjoying having some time to get stuff done that I've been procrastinating for far too long.  For instance, I got some work done on scholarship applications today .  I am really thankful for the extra time because I am praying and trusting God with the financial aspects of college, but I haven't had any time to do my part of it: look for what's available!    

Monday, March 25, 2013

Anyone want to explain why the Easter bunny carries eggs

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     It causes me to wonder what other things foreign children and adults are chuckling about when they think of Americans.  I can almost hear their snooty French accents as they gossip on their fancy French playgrounds: "those American kids think that Easter is about eggs.  What's worse: they grow up thinking that rabbits lay eggs!"  They probably laugh and laugh and laugh when they think of how stupid American children are.

     Before you dismiss me and my dismal blog post completely, understand the dark tunnel of deception from which I have emerged.  All my life, I've mindlessly believed that there's nothing odd about a bunny carrying around eggs when rabbits do not lay eggs.  Furthermore, my young mind is still trying to wrap itself around the whole egg concept anyway.  Did somebody just decide one day, "Okay. So, Jesus died on a cross and rose again.  We call that Easter.  Because animals are being born when Easter occurs, lets hide eggs that could have been baby chicks, for children to find.  That way, they understand that Easter is significant of candy and the dead potential for baby chickens.  Brilliant!"? 

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     I realize I am hardly the first person to question this strange phenomena, but I also realize that there are probably others like me.  There may be a whole handful of us who had no clue how weird this is, until a sibling brought it up, and rocked their entire world.
     We are launched into this confusing reality that rabbits don't even lay eggs-- and that our parents haven't put a stop to this nonsense (they've actually encouraged it!)  At this point, they-- and myself-- are feeling like that lady from the recent Prego commercial, when she participates in a blind taste test and finds out that the pasta sauce brand she likes best is actually Prego.  She is incredulous, "but I've bought Ragu for years!  I wonder what other questionable decisions I've made..."
     So I ask myself a similar question: what other questionable things have I believed it!  Do I know for a fact that these eggs that chickens lay, are even multi-colored when it is Easter time?  Can I continue to simply assume that Jesus' okay-ed this tradition and asked for a chocolate egg alongside his Hissup branch with wine?  Then I get angry.  How was I deceived for so long?  I didn't even think for myself!  Now I must cross-analyze every holiday tradition that I have played along with for years.  The idea that a rabbit steals chickens eggs-- on Easter nonetheless-- and delivers them to children, slipped by my radar.
     While I am aware by now that I have rocked your world as well as my own, understand I am not quite through.  My reason for coming at you so squarely with this life altering truth, is to bring about change.  I do not want to scare parents-- or alienate children--  but we need to take a close look at this "Easter bunny" and decide how he fits in to our Easter festivities.  I cannot stress enough that we must carefully discern as we move forward, lest we aggravate this bunny, causing him to steal our unborn children and candy and set off a worldwide rabbit rebellion.  Yes, I may be one of the only ones critiquing this "Easter tradition" so carefully, but I rest assured that I will also be the only one prepared with a tranquilizer, should the rest of you mess up and cause this rebellion in the near future.  Happy Easter!
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Back home and Palm Sunday

     So much for that...the weather-- and some other factors-- caused us to come home late last night instead of heading to Mammoth Cave.  Alas, I am bracing for the snow and terrible weather.
     Alas, I am very grateful though: I didn't have to miss Palm Sunday.  It is absolutely my favorite Sunday of the year, and I was happy to be able to be at church after all.  I hope you all have a beautiful Palm Sunday as we remember how Jesus humbly came to us, all the while knowing what was to come.

Friday, March 22, 2013

What I'm grateful for on March 22

I have so much to be grateful for today:

1. First of all, God is keeping me strong in faith and joy as I am enduring some health problems that have lead to extreme fatigue in running.

2. I am also extremely thankful that today I felt pretty well during my run.  That is the first time I've experienced that in a couple of months! (RELATED: Unforgettable Runs: Indiana University, IN).

3. I just recently registered my college classes.  As scary as that is, I absolutely know that is where God wants me and I'm so excited for that step in my life!  It was so fun to have my family there and be so excited with me.  I know I am so blessed to be able to go to the college I have chosen and be able to run there as well!

Have a great weekend!

Unforgettable runs: Indiana University, IN

     We are currently in Indiana for some hiking (RELATED: Bloomington, IN) -- though we're rerouting to Mammoth Cave because of a freak snowstorm.  This afternoon though, I got to take a run through my mom's alma mater and is was fun trying to find her sorority and find the track.  Besides that, the campus was a lot prettier than I'd thought!
     I started out by the main student union (I think) and headed off going nowhere in particular.  I made my way into a neighborhood though, and started weaving through some streets so I didn't have to run on some paths that required frequent stopping.  Thankfully, IU's basketball game today made for some pretty empty streets for the most part, and that is heaven for a runner!
     The campus has really pretty paths that are even unpaved at some parts.  It reminded me of a labyrinth with all the little mini paths that had been cut into the natural scenery.  I really enjoyed the run as I found myself out on a sidewalk beside a larger street out by the golf course.  It was definitely fun because I get bored easily with the same old running trails at home.  I'd have to say the best part though, was feeling great during the run!  My doctor is trying to figure out what exactly is wrong, but I've been extremely exhausted and fatigued lately, and it has been really discouraging in that it has led to some heartbreak and a lack of desire to run.  It just isn't that fun when everything hurts so bad.  I have learned though how to glorify God in such a different way in my running.  Enough with my sidetracking though!  I had a joyous run and I won't forget running down the sidewalk and reveling in the fact that I was really enjoying it.

Bloomington, Indiana

    This year, my little brother, mom and I took a slightly strange approach to spring break.  We are going to take a larger family vacation this summer when my older brother can go, so we decided to drive to Indiana and do some hiking.  Now the hiking part isn't going to work so well with a looming snowstorm!  We've re-routed to Mammoth Cave, KY.  In a cave, it doesn't matter if it's snowing 5-9 inches: you're underground.
     We went to Indiana University today though, because my mom is an alumni and anxious to show us her sorority and relive those "glory years."  I really had no idea how big the campus would be, even though I've toured both Michigan State and University of Michigan's campuses.  I took a great run around campus though.  (RELATED: Unforgettable runs: Indiana University, IN)
Bloomington, Indiana
(photo credit:
     It was really pretty though because the weather was a lot warmer then it was predicted today, and it was great weather to explore around and see Bloomington as well.  There was a quaint little town square, but we mainly stayed on the main campus area.  Anyway, just wanted to debrief after day 1 and I will hopefully blog tomorrow as we start some hiking fun!

Strangeness at the stoplight

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     I'm sure without me even mentioning what I saw this week at a stoplight, you have your own memory come to mind.  Cue the image of the grown man picking his nose or the diva letting loose with an ancient rap song.  I don't mean this all to be condescending either, as I can't even imagine the strange things people have probably seen me do in the short time I've had my license.
     I can guarantee you however, that you have never-- and will never-- see me sitting at a light taking pictures of myself.  That's not all of it either.  (*Just to disclaim, I am totally not making fun of this woman.  She is anonymous and I am merely pointing out the funny occurrence I saw.  Not meant to be mean!)
     So I was sitting at the light and glanced back at the big fancy Lexus behind me.  The driver was a young blonde.  I chuckled a bit though when I saw the dog on her lap.  I also realized that she was talking to it, as no one else was in the car and she wasn't on the phone.  As they conversed, she kept squeezing the dog with little hugs, and this was not a tiny chihuahua mind you.  It was a medium sized dog that looked like a poodle or cocker spaniel.  It was big enough that it covered the wheel, and the poor young woman was straining to even see if the light was still red.  But she did, and when she made sure it was, she pulled out her iPhone.  I then watched in amazement as she began snapping pictures of her and her dog.  How cute (and hilarious) is that!  It just about made my day and I found myself freakishly smiling along as she took pictures.  I was so busy staring and smiling that I didn't notice at first when the light turned green.  She was so busy making "Kodak moments" that she didn't honk at me either.  Alas, I finally glanced up and started to drive again.  I almost wanted to apologize for interrupting my Lexus friend and her over-sized lap dog.  Then I realized: there's another light ahead.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Arise my darling"

He calls me darling
Someone needs to hear this today.  Someone needs to know how preciously valuable they are to God.  Be encouraged: he has not and will not leave you.  He cannot leave someone he loves so much that he died for her.  Keep watch, because I have found that he often speaks in ways I don't even notice when life gets hard.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Answered prayer

     Today, I was so happy to hear from a friend that her family's financial condition improved today with a new employment opportunity.  We had just prayed for that last night at our Bible study!  I am so grateful for the power of prayer!  Thank you Lord!

Essay Buddies

     I believe that I am a fairly proficient writer, but when it comes to essays for my AP Composition class, the more the merrier when it comes to peer editing.  Ever since we sat at the same table in AP Literature last year, one of my classmates and I always send each other critiques when it's essay time.  I am not oblivious to the fact that the majority of assistance comes from her end.  I tend to be very unsure of myself, and am basically a perfectionist when writing formal pieces.  Because of that, I have been so grateful for her help with paragraph structure, qualifiers, thesis', and just about every other boring-sounding aspect of an essay.  That is doubly so tonight, as I have an essay due Friday that is just about done, thanks to some serious peer editing.  I am so thankful for the help at putting forth my best and improving upon what was previously my best.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

The woes of a high school runner

     If you are at all on the same wavelength as I, one of the first things that should come to your mind after reading that headline, is the disregard for runners in the rest of society (RELATED: How to anger a cross country runner).  An example of this disregard at its finest, is exemplified the day before or the day of a big meet.  Here's the basic gist: dedicated runner drinks their body weight in liquid ounces, and then sits squirming in their seat as the teacher begrudgingly lets them go to the restroom..again.  It may seem like a little thing, but as someone who hates the freezing chill and shaking teeth that accompany pre-race prep., I don't need any more difficulties!
     Understand, I'm joking by saying this.  I'm not really mad at teachers.  Rather, I think its funny because very few really understand that you would not ask to go to the bathroom two times in 45 minutes unless you were desperate enough to throw your dignity out the window.  I suggest then, that the running community unites and helps each other out a bit on this.  I have just the plan!

The Lowdown
Ever heard the joke that girls always travel in pairs?  Well the same can be said for runners.  No one wants to run into a half naked guy smoking a pipe and carrying a fishing pole, on their own.  Trust me, I've been there.  The pair philosophy also applies to the classroom or workplace.  You can't be the only Ostrich in a room full of sloths.  They will scoff in confusion when you begin gabbing about the latest elite record or your recent tempo run pace.  You need more Ostriches people! (RELATED: Ostriches.  This will explain the whole Ostrich thing:).
     Provided you have followed my advice and changed your class schedule-- blame OCD tendencies that make certain schedule paths very disorienting and disrupting to others-- discuss said plan with your fellow runner before a "situation" arises.  Finally, when its 98 degrees out and you have a meet after school, you will have your chance.  When you need to use the restroom, instead of alienating the running community even further from your teacher, give the secret sign to your Ostrich companion.  It could be as simple as the wink and twitch, but I would highly recommend the fishy-face-eyes-crossed look.  You will know exactly what that means.  Be aware however, sometimes it's confusing with the wink and twitch.  I've found it hard to distinguish between a sign and a weird facial itch.
     Once the signal is received, take action!  Walk up to the teacher slowly and start asking an in depth question about the concept your studying.  If you have no idea what your studying, bring up any in depth concept you've heard about that week.  With any luck, they'll be too caught off guard to realize that the significance behind stock improvements has nothing to do with Romeo and Juliet.  Captivate the teacher's attention and eyesight as your lanky running friend slips out the door to relieve him or herself.  Give them about two minutes to getaway, then release a scream and begin spinning around nervously.  "Oh no!  My friend has serious allergies and must have slipped out because he was about to throw up.  I'll go find and rescue him!"  Before the teacher has a chance to oppose your quest, scold the couch inhabiting sophomore who's eating a peanut butter sandwich, and dash out the door.  Sprint the nearest restroom and where your friend is waiting, and go to the bathroom quickly.  Then, grab your friend and run back to the classroom as your friend rubs peanut butter-- stash this away before you enact the plan-- on their hand.  Return to the classroom and await the cheers of everyone as you explain how you found your friend in the bathroom, hyperventilating as their throat closed in.  Tell everyone how you pulled out your EpiPen and treated the allergic reaction right then and there.  They will clap and you may have to sign a few autographs.  Make sure to draw little running symbols by your name.  The running community has got to build some cred.
     As the class shuns the confused kid who has long since hidden their peanut butter sandwich, thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during your risky endeavor.  Remind them that you are a runner.  Then remind them again how you just saved someone's life.
     Problem solved!  You have efficiently relieved race day hydration overload and fostered love for runners everywhere.  Just make sure to use a different food allergy when you head on to Science and you have to pee again.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Running Motto

This will make more sense if you read my earlier post: God speaks through tears (and frozen computers):

I run for you.
You- that’s it.
Not for times, nor medals- and not the glory that I get
Cause they do give glory, and it can be nice
To hear the praises, to be lifted high
But the reality is, that praise is to you
What can I do on my own, cause this is stuff I cant do!
So when they say that I’m fast and my ego roars inside
My challenge is to direct the praise to you, I’m just along for the ride!
Thanks to you, I can race- cause I love to compete
Thanks to you, I can run- cause there’s something about letting my legs free
Something about getting out there God- just you and me
But that Satan’s a schemer, and he doesn’t just quit
Around that time, the doubt sets in
What if I’m not good this time?  What if I do bad?
And I either entertain it, or I get downright mad!
But he keeps on lying: cause what if I fail?
What is the best of my season is now, and then its all downhill?
And its funny now, to think of it all
Because , firstly those are lies- beckoning my fall
He comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy
Well I for one, am not leaving my door open wide
Second of all, even if they were true…
I don’t run for the success God, I run for you
I pray that every race I can dare
To achieve the purpose for which you’ve placed me there
Now, it may be to win…. or to lose the whole race
Giving you glory in how I carry myself when there are tears on my face
The world wants to see how I can react in all things
So I will forge ahead with the light, and I will be carried on your wings
Now I fully believe though, that you gave me that dream
A vision of me running 7th in the state meet, it would seem
So I hold on to that promise, and I take it in my heart
All the while knowing, that’s not where my hope would start
It starts in knowing who my God is
Regardless of results or injury- he is who he is
If I am wrong, then so be it indeed
Ill race as long and as hard as you want from me
At the end of the day, I cross the finish line
And I do my best, and I have a great time
You gave me a gift, and I credit that to you
But help me to always lay it at the cross when each day is through
Running is your amazing gift and a talent to use
But how I so use it, is my gift to you
Thank you Jesus, and hold me tight in the faith
Humility, joy, and endurance always
Give me grace, and strength to do my best
I’ll work as hard as I can God, you’ve got the rest!

*Written back in early 2012

God speaks through tears (and frozen computers)

    A very trying week makes for a very inconsistent blogger.  I have truly been a wreck trying to get school stuff done, and had a really difficult weekend.  Unfortunately, my race yesterday alluded to something not working right in my body. My muscles haven't been recovering and I was exhausted within the first few minutes of the race, despite ice baths and easy rest on the days leading up to the race.
     At first, I was really mad at God.  I didn't understand why he has called me to running for him if he knows it will lead to so much pain.  Then I became scared, wondering if I was just doomed to repeat the heartbreaking xc season I had this past fall.  The truth is though, I know that God keeps his promises.  That may be all I know right now, but I do know that.  It is a huge test of faith because I love feeling God glorified in my running.  Yet I know that he can be glorified when my muscles are shaking and I can't run like I usually am able to.  It is all his.  He can do with me whatever, and yet I trust that God will restore me.  It's going to require a lot of hard work on my part, but I know that I am up for the battle.  I am not one to shrink back (Life Verse: Heb. 10:39!)
     So I sat on my bedroom floor today after church, just wondering where to go next.  I can't tell you how loud that voice was screaming, "Give up!  You want to give up!"  But I knew I didn't, I just didn't know why.   I was opening up a word document on my Netbook, when it froze.  I waited a few minutes and suddenly, up popped a document that I hadn't seen since I wrote it last year: "My Running Motto."  It's a declaration in the form of a corny poem.  It wasn't meant to be eloquently written mind you.  It was meant to send a message to myself of who I am and  why I compete.  What a God thing!  When I was literally lying of the floor in despair, he reminded me in different words, the same message he'd uttered in church that morning, "I (God, that is) am not going to lose."  And I, am not going to give up this fight-- this spiritual warfare-- I'm engaged in.  There is a promise of God in Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, to give you a hope and a future."
     God is right here with me.  And if you are in the same disparaging situation: he is with you too.  Take heart.  We are more than conquerors and there is a larger scheme plan going on than we can even see through the current tears.

Thank you Lord.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Placement test completion

     I have no room to complain: the stress of choosing a college is out of the way, I only had to take two placement tests, and my teacher lengthened to due date for a huge paper that was supposed to be done tomorrow.  I'm a pretty blessed girl!
     Yet, I was reveling in not having to spend my night making footnotes and warrants, when I remembered: "Oh ya, I still have to take the Spanish placement test."  Since I schedule classes very early-- as in: next week-- the tests needed completion before tomorrow.  I already took the math one on Tuesday, but put the Spanish one off in order to use some study materials my AP Spanish teacher gave me.  All in all, it was hard, but not nearly as hard as I'd thought.  I think I did pretty well, and I'm hoping that it'll save me some money down the road.  I plan to study Spanish on through college, and although my AP test score will impact what classes I actually take next year, this placement test is important in case I don't get a 4 or 5 on the AP test like I'm aiming for (not a 5.  Goodness no: I'm aiming for a 4.  Gotta be realistic here!)
     This lovely test that summarizes five years of studying and learning Spanish, had to be completed tonight, and it was an hour long...  Now, I wouldn't say I have senioritis, but an hour long test when I'd been celebrating not having to stress, was not appealing.  At all.
     I did it though!  It makes me even more excited to think that I'm that much closer to attending the college that I love and that I know God has chosen for me.  Although it's still very scary, it's also exciting.  I am super thankful that I'm done with those placement tests though.  Oh my goodness, I am thankful I don't have to do more than two!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Unforgettable Runs: Rio Grande Trail, Aspen, CO

photo credit:
     During an amazing trip to Colorado last summer, my family spent a few days in the ski mecca: Aspen.  I absolutely loved it, because it was a sleepy and homey town without the winter crowds to hit the slopes.  The first morning we were there, I left the Mountain House Lodge where we stayed-- I have to write about that in another post, it was such a neat place!  The hotel manager was a hiking-skiing-cycling outdoors-man and directed me to a park that was right down the block.  From there, I could hop onto the Rio Grande Trail, and run for basically as long as I liked.  It was a perfect morning for a run: 60 degrees and wide open blue skies.  My mom set out behind me, and I began to weave my way through the park and onto a path that went behind some houses.
     I am an HGTV nerd; I love anything dealing with houses.  Running past those amazing Aspen, CO houses had me wishing I'd brought my camera!  They were sitting right on the river, and it was as if their floor to ceiling windows were standing watch over the furious rapids below.  Every one I saw was my favorite.  After a few miles-- and a turnaround after going the wrong direction-- the landscape began to change as I left the center of Aspen.  Occasionally, I saw a large house, but I was mostly swept along by the river to my left and rock formations on my right.  It was so beautiful!  The river began to carve into the rocks as I went along, until it was like a small canyon of to my left.  It was black at first, before turning to a magnificent burnt ember as I ran along.  The crisp air felt wonderful on my legs, and the idea crept into my head: what if I just keep running, forever?  I entertained the notion as the path began to rise.  What had started as a small river in the city had now grown to a rushing body of water, now very far below the path.  I was up on a cliff, running in the sunlight and wishing I could pick up my life and drop myself right there in the midst of the Colorado mountains.  I came around the corner as the trail took a sharp right, and carefully navigated my footing so I wouldn't end up as floating cargo in the river below.  That's when I saw the most beautiful trickling spring, falling from the rocks above me.  There was a pool carved out on the right side of the path, leaving very little room for anyone to pass the narrow spot.  Sprinkled with water, I once again felt remorse that I hadn't brought even my phone, for a picture.  "Maybe mom will have made it that far," I told myself wishfully.  I looked at my watch, and realized it had almost been an hour.  I had to make it around that bend though!
     I could see the trail curving for many miles on ahead, carved into the mountainside and glinting in the sun.  I decided that I had to make it a little further at least!  In all honesty, I was picturing seeing the Pacific Ocean on the other in: I ran all the way from Aspen to the west coast of California.  I guess the scenery got the best of my creative brain...
photo credit:
     Alas, I turned the corner and saw no ocean.  I did see birds though.  Lots of birds.  Sitting up on the rocks to the right of the trail.  Rather than ocean Seagulls however, they were evil Ravens that were cawing like crazy.  I inched my way past them, aware that there was a steep drop to my left if I happened to get a little jumpy.  I prayed my way past the birds, and only then did I realize that unless I wanted to send my mother into a panic attack, I should really turn around.  I cringed, realizing that I should have checked my watch three minutes ago.  Not only was I much later than I'd promised my mom, but I had to pass those stupid birds again. I decided that the slow-inching method had only terrified me more, and the best option was to gather my resolve and sprint pas the birds as fast as I could.  "Please Lord. Please Lord. Please Lord," my mind frantically prayed as I rushed past the Ravens and toward the falling stream.  Safe!
     I wasn't exactly home safe yet though.  See, I have this clever way of challenging myself in most everything I do.  In running, it combines with my poor math skills to consistently give me a longer run than planned.  Most everyone knows, that if I said I'd be out for an hour, it'll be more like 75 minutes.  I always run a bit faster on the way back-- I love to finish strong-- and I like putting myself in that exciting time-trial situation.  That being said, it has also gotten me in big trouble with parents and coaches alike.  Most of the time, it's subconscious though, I just kind of keep running before I turn around!
The stream/waterfall I ran past (photo credit:
     I kicked into high gear though and pushed past the waterfall.  My layers of clothes had seemed like such a good idea that morning, but I was getting pretty hot after such a long, fast run.  "More motivation to get back," I told myself excitedly.  I wound my way back through the canyons quickly.  I kept my stride firm as the path began to decline and wind its way back near to the houses.  Begrudgingly, I didn't linger to take in the architectural genius  and instead picked up my pace again.  Although my legs were exhausted and I seriously had to go to the restroom, I was loving every minute of that run.  It was exhilarating  a change of pace and a challenge for my competitive nature.
     Finally, I sped through the park and sprinted down the street before keeling over at the entrance to the lodge to catch my breath.  I walked up toward the room, where the rest of the family was packing up for our big hike that day.  "I'll be read in just a minute," I told my mom-- after explaining and apologizing for my extended absence.  With that, I cracked open the porch door and collapsed onto the floor.  My oldest brother stopped packing the Camelback for a minute and chuckled at me: spread out on the floor with a big grin stretched across my face.  "The run," I said, still catching my breath, "It was beautiful!"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


     For me at least, sleep is high on the list of things I take for granted.  As I've previously stated, I am a morning person.  So 9:45 is bedtime for me, which gives an ample 8 1/2 hours of sleep most nights-- at the least: 8 hours.  Or so I thought.  We have 2 1/2 hour delays this entire week, and I am finding that I am so energetic with 9 hours of sleep.  Honestly, I love being able to relax and get some homework done by waking up early.  Granted, it could be the placebo effect, but I genuinely think my body just needs a lot of sleep.  I already know I need more sleep than the average teen, because I get splitting headaches if I get less than 8 hours of sleep, like clockwork.  Or perhaps it's because I don't drink coffee, because I'm scared to try it and get addicted!  Ya...that's a stupid story for another day.
     Anyway, I am so grateful today that God has reminded me today how important it is that I get my sleep!  The better rested I am, the better I can go about my day.  The better I can go about my day, the more able I am to glorify God's name in all I do.
     So get some sleep tonight!  I'll struggle with this come next week, when I have to wake up very early again, but for now: I'm reveling in nice short school days and ample sleep at night.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Back to to the track

     I went to bed last night with a funny comparison to Christmas Eve.  It was no normal night because today my friends, was the first day of the 2013 Track and Field season.  I'm pretty sure that I have never been so excited for track season to start.  In fact, as dorky as it sounds, I actually dreamed I was walking around school telling anyone who would listen, just how excited I was about track starting.  Turns out, my dream came true!
     I view this a total gift from God.  I was just asking him yesterday actually, to give me some confirmation, some word that he is with me in this season.  I believe he spoke to me by causing me to be overwhelmingly excited.  I know that with him on my side, this is going to be a season to remember.  I found a verse while reading through 2 Samuel last month that was so impactful on me, and I think will be a driving force in the way I carry myself and compete this season:

2 Samuel 18:23

New International Version (NIV)
23 He said, “Come what may, I want to run.”
So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain[a]and outran the Cushite

The context behind this verse, is that a soldier in David's army named Ahimaaz (pronounce that how you will, haha) wanted to tell David that the army had just defeated David's rebellious son, Absalom.  However, David had not wanted his son to be killed under any circumstance.  It seems that Ahimaaz doesn't understand this fact.  In my head, I picture him full of excitement at the battle won.  He is strong and bursting with "good" news he wants to share with the king.  The leader of David's army, Joab, says no to Ahimaaz.  He knows that David will be upset at such news and it won't bring the reward or joy that Ahimaaz thinks it will.  But here's what i love-- verse 23: where Ahimaaz says, "come what may, I want to run."  He wants to be part of the great thing that is happening. He wants to bear the news, to be the messenger.  He wants to go to the king.
     That is how I want to run this year, and all years to come.  I want to be like Ahimaaz, not concerned about myself but focused on being part of what God is doing.  Ahimaaz is blessed with speed and he is given what he wants, an audience with King David.  Although it isn't good news in this case, we can pull out the lesson that we need to be just as excited to be part of what God is doing, regardless of what we think it means for us.  Come what may, I want to run for God this season.  I dedicate it all to him, because he has given me the passion and he's given me the drive.  I want to run for him.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


     It was gorgeous today.  Almost 70 degrees outside!  Alas, I was inside working on a paper for my AP Composition and Language class.  I really do love English and writing, but it was a whole lot of work to get this first rough draft even completed..emphasis on the word "rough."  I feel really good about today though, because I did what I needed to do.  The Bible tells us to focus on God and not on self, and to find confidence in him.  I also see however, that in order to partner with him, we need confidence in the abilities he has given us.  He needs someone who is willing to move and go where he leads.  Along the same lines, as a Christian, I am called to humility.  That being said, we are to boast in Jesus' name and in the work he does in us.  
     That is why I am so proud that I was able to get this done today.  Rather than finishing it up this evening, I have been able to relax because I was done a few hours ago!  I had prayed about that today, and God enabled me to be diligent rather than waste the afternoon away with my favorite activity: procrastination.  I am so thankful for diligence today, because God has given it to us.  He has given us the ability to complete the work he's called us to.  I think we often view that in regards to physical work, but it equally applies to the emotional work behind the physical.  Today, he enabled me to mentally push through something I didn't really want to do.  I am so thankful for that, because I couldn't have done it on my own!  
     If you're with me- be grateful, because it's not of our own doing!  If you are struggling in diligence, as I think we all do, basically all the time, take heart because God is working in you.  His word says he will carry out his good work to completion.  Rely on him and move forward in joy.  Not because you have to, but because you want to serve him with diligence.  Have a blessed evening and beginning of the week! 

Satire: How to make your flight a little more interesting

     With many people's minds focused on either spring break and travel, I couldn't help but think that such a post was appropriate.  Besides, we've all heard the outrageous airplane stories-- celebrity Words With Friends, girl walks into airplane propeller, child gets kicked off flight.  It seems that people are just bound to act a little crazy in airplanes, when they are often tired and loopy to begin with.  It seems logical then, that individuals would act even more bizarre when flying 30,000 ft. above sea level in a giant aircraft with people that they typically don't know.  At that point, there's not much they can do about it if you are a little weird.  Unless you are actually a danger, I'm pretty sure they are going to keep on flying-- but perhaps throttle the engine a little faster.  In that case, I'm sure you all are wondering what ridiculous things you may be able to get away with on a plane.  You just go book your ticket; I've already got the list for ya:

1. Wait for the last boarding call, then proceed to get on the aircraft and greet a random person every few rows by saying,  "in the chance that the plane goes down, tell my mom to excavate under the maple tree for further instructions and the escape pod instruction manual."
2. Ask the flight attendant for a blanket and pillow.  Then, create your own fort and loudly pronounce yourself, "Dictator of flight 320!"  (or whatever your flight may be.)  Take your airline flights and fling them at unsuspecting passengers with the declaration, "Prepare for battle stations!  We are at war!"
3. Pretend to fall asleep after takeoff and then begin murmuring "Princess Pony: I will follow you!" Say it a good eight or nine times.  As you do, progressively scoot closer and closer to your seat mate, and get louder and louder.
4. Pass along a Yes/No note to passengers, asking them to circle yes if they would like to participate in your 'High Flight Musical' that will be a surprise event during hour 2 of the flight.  If they say yes, start teaching them alternate lyrics to High School Musical songs.
5. As soon as the first "free to move about the cabin" light dings, get up quickly and yell "Alright!  Everybody up, time for calisthenics!"  Proceed to direct the passengers in stretching drills.
photo credit:
6. Find passengers who are dozing off and stick a piece of gum in their mouth.  When they inevitably wake up-- if they choke, start the Heimlich, smile, and walk away-- say that you are testing out a new version of your homemade gum.  Do they like it?
7. Bring on board a jar of peanut butter.  Once the plane is in the air, open your jar, grab your spoon, and start eating your peanut butter with pronounced smacking and slurping noises.  If your feeling daring, bring a straw-glasses set (where the straw forms glasses and then goes into your mouth) and slurp jelly through it as you eat your PB.
8. If your lucky enough to get a window seat, get up with the explanation, "Oh MAN!  I HAVE GOT TO GET TO THE RESTROOM!"  After walking down the aisle a bit, return to your row and explain that you were wrong.  Repeat the process every five minutes.
9. During the promos for the in-flight movie, ask someone if you can borrow their headphones.  When you find someone who says yes, proceed to use them to scratch your bare foot-- that stupid foot fungus is coming back.  (RELATED: How to be awkward in the gym locker room)
10. Sit calmly in your seat and wait for any turbulence.  Then, begin violently shaking and sneezing at the same time.  Explain to any bewildered passengers that you are allergic to turbulence caused by flying unicorn collisions.

Hope your next flight is a little more interesting!  ....and if you get kicked off, I am immediately deleting this post so I can't be traced for blame :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013


     Here's the truth: I'm a morning person.  I'm that nerdy girl you know who goes to bed early and has no problem waking up for school (most days).  However, even with school off yesterday, my body seemed to be exhausted today!  It was a pretty bad day-- one where all those little irks add up-- but with a reminder from my dad of 1 Corinthians 10:13, I was set to make the best of it.  My head was hurting after only a few periods, and with the effort it takes to be "positive," I was pretty tired when I finally got home from the gym and walked in from the garage.  Before I knew what I was doing-- and all the homework and tests I needed to study for-- I'd collapsed on the couch.
     For the first time in months maybe, I just relaxed with my eyes closed and listened to my own breathing.  No stress.  No to-do list, no schedule: just rest.  I was surprised when I woke up 20ish minutes later from a dream about a new distance runner's stretch using weights (courtesy of Muscle magazine at the gym...I've read EVERY other magazine they have: no joke!)  when my dad and brother came home.  
1 Corinthians 10:13     Both in life and running, I rarely take the time to appreciate the rest God gives.  He gives me strength to push myself and do my best, but he also gives us rest and a time to relax.  Today, I am so thankful for that.  I am thankful that God cares enough to know I need a break, and provide me with that.  I have a feeling he knew that I wouldn't have taken one if I hadn't just collapsed there without thinking.  God's always working!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lessons from a long run

     I set out today for a run in the freshly fallen snow.  I've recently been reading Born to Run by Chris McDougall, so I am at the height of running inspiration, basically.  Yet, I had a few things going against me: 1. I'd left my shoes at my dad's and was wearing old running shoes and, 2. I didn't have my inserts that prevent against overpronating.  I had my Yak Trax on though (they are a necessity for all runners who experience snow!)  and was ready to go.
     First of all, I learned that running in old shoes doesn't work so well-- it's pretty obvious, I'm aware.  I'm telling you though, because its necessary to understand that to understand the real lesson I learned today: Don't pop a blister in the middle of a run.  Ya...I was the stupid runner who did that today.
     I was planning to go about seven miles for a shorter distance run, but was only three miles in when I started to feel the blister.  I get them sometimes, but usually don't even notice until I'm done.  For some reason, I was sure that the reason it was hurting was because I was bleeding.  So, I stopped to check and saw the blister.  I kept running for another mile until I couldn't take it anymore.  Without disgusting you or being too graphic, it was a pretty bad blister.  So I popped it.  Then my sock came off and my foot slipped into a muddy pile of snow.  Then I shoved my foot back into my shoe only to find that my shoe was also full of ice.   My poor, icy, damaged foot was aching to even walk on.  That's when it dawned on me: that probably wasn't the best idea...
     At first I couldn't even walk on it, but I limped along until I built up a little pain tolerance-- I just kept thinking how wimpy my whole story was: "Ooooh poor me.  I stopped my run because I had a blister!-- and then was getting sick of walking.  At times like these, although I haven't had another one quite like that, I think of my competition.  That's what pushes me the extra bit.  With that in mind, I started to run again, thinking: "'so and so' isn't toughening up like you are right now.  They aren't running in the deep snow with a popped blister!"  Yet I couldn't help but laugh when I then thought, "Well...'so and so' wasn't stupid enough to get themselves in that situation!"   True true...but I did learn a lesson and have a good laugh about it afterwards.  So in case you're still wondering: don't pop it during the run.  Just keep on going and save your dignity.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Satire: Growing up a photographer's daughter

     I have grown up in front of the camera lens, as a result of a mother who not only enjoys taking pictures, but also makes a living off of it.  As a result, I have what my doctor sensitively calls: Automatic Flash Response Reflex.  Basically, AFRR has made it impossible to live a daily life.  The doctor says there are others like me, I'm not alone.  Yet, when I come to support meetings, it is only he and I.  I'm stepping up though.  I realize that I am a face of AFRR-- er-- THE face of AFRR.  I am a afflicted but I am not a victim.  I am a photographer's daughter, and here is my story:

photo credit:
     Every day I wake up.  Yes, this is quite typical.  What follows though, is 14 hours of pain and misery that have followed me ever since I looked up with my blue eyes and heard, "She is such a beautiful baby girl!  Oh my goodness: she's moving- quick: get the camera!"  
     At the age of four, I began to notice the first signs of AFRR.  I remember sitting in preschool when I first noticed.  We had just watched a movie about puppies becoming best friends despite their difference in playground preferences-- a typical educational film.  My teacher flicked on the lights, and I, in bewilderment, began to flash a smile.  At that, I couldn't stop.  Classmates looked in awe as I gave my different smiles: sweet, shy, goofy, mature, ect.  Then, my body began twitching along with my face and arranged itself in cute poses.  I could hear the mocking voice of my mother calling, "Ooooh!  Don't move!  Just one more!"  Even in my darkest hour, her camera was mocking me.  After a few minutes, just as mysteriously as the "seizures" had started, I stopped.  That was it, just some freaky event that bought me frightened respect among my fellow peers and throughout the preschool.  Or so I thought.  
     After a trip to the beach that summer, my symptoms began to worsen.  My mother happily denied my pain and found an excuse to photograph me even more.  "I was always so perfectly poised for a picture," she would brag with delight.  At that, I would give the meanest most ugly scowl my mind could concoct.  She would just stick a flashlight in my face and giggle, "you are SO photogenic!  I'm gonna have to buy a new sim card!"  
     As time went on, the pain grew deeper and I began to retreat into my room to pass my days in darkness. Because of the nature of my condition, many others new about it and I was sick of "random" strobe light parties at school or when I was angry.  On top of that, things grew worse.  By the time I was ten and we'd had more vacations and Kodak moments, a light flicker was enough to set off the camera spasms for up to five minutes.  That's my parents finally agreed to take me to a doctor.  He analyzed me, laughed at me, tested me, and took some pictures (he said they were necessary, but I was suspicious.)  He concluded that I was hopeless: my smile seizures would eventually gain control of my life and turn me into a living Chucky doll.  "Don't worry," he assured, "you might be put out of your misery and simply freeze one day, mid smile.  It's hard to gauge." 
     Worry I did.  No longer could I scowl at my brother, or lunge at my mother.  Heck, I couldn't even record my pain on video camera because every time I turned one on, the blinking light would set off my AFRR and the family would come running for some cheap entertainment.  Out of humiliation, I stopped attending birthday parties.  Too dangerous.  I missed my own baptism because the glare of light off the water was bound to start a seizure while I was in the water, drowning in my own giggling smile.  So I sat at home while they baptized my American Girl doll-- dressed for the occasion in her scuba mask and fins.  
     I burrowed myself in my room and acquired a taste for peanut butter and canned Artichoke Hearts-- two foods that don't expire for years.  So, with my peanut butter covered Artichokes, I would read those hidden object the dark.  Sometimes, for a pick-me-up, I would listen to home videos of myself.  There was never any sound though, so I would just hear birds and wind-- other than at the start when I would here my own painful sobbing.  Those were the things that got me through.
     And now?  I am typing this to the outside world with my eyes closed and my heart heavy.  My AFRR has indeed become debilitating.  It is only a matter of time now before I either freeze with a smile or invest in an underground dugout in which to grow old and die alone.  Wanting to be part of the process, my family took a vote last night over which option I should take.  They told me it was 4-1.  Mom, they reasoned, wants to get a picture of me at graduation, whether I'm really "there" or not.  "I just want to capture you life," she explained to me the last time I saw her.  That was two months ago, and she is on visiting probation because she brought out the camera.  
     So I bid you all warning: stay away from the lens.  The limelight seems nice and your parent may seem like they have good intentions.  But according to my doctor, there are plenty of other people who suffer with AFRR.  I don't want you to become the next.  Tackle your photographing family member to the ground.  Grab their camera, claw off the shutter button, bury the camera, and cover it with cement sealing that includes an engraved carving of a skull.  That skull represents your lively-hood if that camera is ever resurrected   I urge you: do it soon.  Save your life so you don't experience a story like mine and have your life "captured" forever.

The quiet whisper


    Today, I woke up with a go-at-it attitude and a smile.  Naturally, I'm a morning person, so I jumped out of bed and I told myself: "Hannah, you're gonna make this a great day!"  As cheesy as that sounds, it's basically the truth.  I enjoy pumping myself up before heading off to school....for 6 listen to people tell me what to learn...and give me homework.  Ya-- sometimes,  a girl needs a little pumping up.
     Anyhow, I've been praying lately that God will use me more in everyday life and that I, in expectancy, will be more deliberate about how I go about my day.  Retaining that thought, and my gun-ho attitude, I strolled out the door, and absolutely went from a determined bright eyed student to a disappointed teen.  My morning went mostly like this:

1. I got in the car and immediately thought: "It's raining.  I hate it when it's cold and rainy."
2. I was running late for school, which always stresses me out!
3. I walked into first period, where I got back the quiz that I had studied for during the entire weekend.  I received a BAD-- as in: extremely bad-- grade.
4. I walked into my next class, just to find out that I did BAD-- slightly less bad than the first incident-- on an essay.

...To be honest though, that's where it all stopped.  I saw that grade and gritted my teeth, realizing that if I didn't take control of my emotions quickly, the rest of the day would be downhill.  It had nothing to do with the circumstances either; it had everything to do with how I chose to view my day and find the blessings.  
     Today, I was grateful that we watched a movie during one class-- no one can grade me on my movie watching skills, especially when it's actually interesting.  I think the best part of my day was when I was just doodling before class and I wrote out "God, your grace is AMAZING!"  A song that I love, but haven't listened to in a while, came to my head:

Your presence is Heaven to me
Your presence is Heaven to me

Singing, Oh Jesus
Oh Jesus
Your presence is Heaven to me
Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus
Your presence is Heaven to me

     In that single moment, God softly reminded me that he is with me.  I often complain that I don't hear enough from God, but that instance drew me back to the fact that he is always speaking.  The question is if I am listening.  That precious song is about the whisper of God, the gentle voice that says, "I love you."  Even on days where I want to start listing the "bad," that whisper reminds me that I have no right to define what is good or bad.  It's in his hands.  I'm still learning to be grateful for that whisper.  To me, a loud voice seems much easier, yet the quiet voice of God shows his gentle love in a way that booming thunder could not.  Today, I'm thankful for it because it was once again a reminder that God cares enough to speak to me!   I'll attach the video of that song, and I hope it encourages you as much as it does me.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

The sock conspiracy

     To all you adults who have accused and speculated for years: it's true, we teenagers really do have a reason for mismatching our socks every day.  You all figured it was our latest fashion statement though, and that's where you're wrong. We, as a collective group of rambunctious irresponsible young adults, have conspired to take over the world.
     I'm aware this sounds a little far fetched, but I assure you: I would not joke over a matter that has been the chief point of concern at Teenage Sock Plan Takeover Association (the TSPTA) meetings got the past year.  
IMG_20130304_170645.jpg     The original plan was to drive adults insane and thus, unable to run the world, with incessant nagging and immaturity.  The first members of TSPTA soon found out however, that adults don't pay much attention to teens anyway.  They spent months in a dedicated training facility to hone in on their whining skills, only to find that it gave the adult population just another reason to ignore them.  So now, we turned to socks.
     Although thought of as insignificant, socks are a fundamental object in every fiber of our being.  They bridge the gap between shoe and foot, they provide endless entertainment in the form of monkey puppet, and they keep cold toes warm in  a desperate time of need  Naturally, we chose socks as our avenue for world domination.  Adults wouldn't have to take teens seriously in order for this plan to work, we only needed to mismatch enough socks to start a chain reaction of rebellion.
     By spreading the secret plan-- under the alias of a "fashion statement"-- the TSPTA knew the exact outcome that would result.  Namely: world domination.  First, teens would stop matching their socks in a deliberate effort to provoke parental anger.  Then, as parents grow angrier, especially when an odd number of socks would go through the wash-- which the teen member of TSPTA would ensure occurred every time.    Then, the teen would start to do the same to their parent's socks, causing mass confusion and frustration in the household.  Imagine the horror: parent grabs long checkered socks only to find that one is a pink princess pony.  With careful maneuvering, all the family's matching socks would "disappear."  This would lead the parents to go out and buy more socks.  
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     At the same time, the brightest young minds in the world are using the their technological advantage over the older generations, to hack the websites of the biggest sock sellers.  They would then reroute shipping orders to the TSPTA factory headquarters, causing financial ruin.  The only sock company that adults could rely on, would then make its national debut: Tapst socks (a clever teen rearrangement of the TSPTA acronym).  After raking in the millions from sock sales as TSPTA member continued stealing matching socks, the TSPTA would gain more monetary funds by opening a giant frozen yogurt theme park, to which TSPTA members would flock-- and force their parents to pay for overpriced tickets and merchandise.  In the grand finale, the TSPTA would build a Wi-Fi enabled coffee shop in the frozen yogurt theme park (aptly named Attsp).  Cell phone addicted parents would frequent the shop, which would serve coffee genetically engineered to freeze the body in motion.  Slowly, the park's popularity would increase, key adults in the government would "go missing" after a visit, and world domination would be reached as the adult population is frozen in fear of who is "next to go."  And thus, this is why teens have chosen to unite in the act of mismatching their socks.

Not really.  We're just really lazy and don't care....     

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A new season

     I'm looking outside and grimacing at the snowflakes falling down.  Excuse me?  Is it not March now?  I'm not here to complain though.  What I'm here to say is how excited I am for this spring, regardless of weather.       It's crazy to say, but in less than three months, I'll be out of high school.  For good.  Everything has gone by so crazy fast, and although I am so excited for the next step, it's a lot to process.  The biggest thing I think, is wanting to leave a mark.  I don't say that in a haughty way, but in an honest and sincere way.  I want to have utilized the time I had in high school to bless others, make a move for God, and grow further into the woman I was meant to be.
     Granted, I've messed up numerous times-- probably more than times I've gotten it right-- but I've learned so much.  I've learned that God has equipped me.  Just like Robert reminded me last week (RELATED: Robert), I am prepared to face all that God has set before me.  I know change is coming, and I can either freeze up and embrace it for good.  Easier said then done, right?  Yet, I'm going for it.  I keep hearing people say that college is "the best years of your life."  Well, I'm adamant on having many good years throughout my life, but college can be four of them.
     Just next month, I will go for early registration and meet my academic counselor, ect.  Crazy!  When did I   grow from a bewildered freshman to a bewildered senior!?  God's timing is good though, and I know that these bittersweet last months and registration will be my way of slowly opening up the door to the next part of my life.  I don't have to set my mind to making it great either-- God has shown me his goodness and he will make my transition and next step the way he sees fit.  I'm pretty sure he seeks to bless us, right.  So, I put my hope in the Lord and slowly begin to prepare for what's coming: another great adventure.