Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: July 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gear Review: Skirt Sports Women's Arm Warmers

     Last month, a trip to Colorado (RELATED: Hiking to the Base of Engineer Mountain), I talked my mom into getting us some gear: arm sleeves for her and arm warmers for me.  She decided that I needed two pairs, so I decided on Saucony DryLete Arm Warmers (click HERE to see my review of them) and Skirt Sports Women's Arm Warmers.  I would highly recommend a pair of arm warmers for long runs in brisk weather and/or long hikes.  They also would be very helpful in a number of sports!  These ones, were stylishly functional, but I must admit: not as good overall as my Saucony pair.




Appearance:  **** (4/5 stars)

     The Skirt Sports arm warmers I bought are in a beautiful soft blue.  I really liked the color online, and it is very true to the actual color.  Additionally, there are many colors available both from the Skirt Sports website and Amazon-- where I bought them.  However, the fun patterned ones are available in limited sizes.


Fit and Feel: ** (2/5 stars)

     The smallest size available for Skirt Sports arm warmers is a small, so I was a bit hesitant, given that my Saucony ones were XS.  However, I was pleasantly surprised: they fit very well on my lower arm.  Plus, they were very easy to scrunch down or take off if I got hot.  I have very tiny upper arms though-- don't judge, I'm a distance runner-- and they were very loose up top.  I wasn't very pleased with that because they slipped down a bit while I was using them.  It wasn't a huge deal-breaker though, because they didn't slip far enough down that they didn't serve a purpose.  Thankfully, there is a silicone gripper at the top that prevents it from slipping too far down.  If your arms are closer to the average size, I don't think this will be a problem for you.  However, order a size down if you are on the fence about sizing.



Price: *** (3/5 stars)

     While it is normal for arm warmers to be more expensive than arm sleeves-- they are built of a warmer material because of their different purpose-- I was surprised that the Skirt Sports Women's Arm Warmers were $28.00 on Amazon.  Usually things are much cheaper there, but they're list price on the Skirt Sports website was an (about) equally expensive $30.  The difference was that we got free shipping with Amazon Prime.  With the quality of the arm warmers overall though, I would say the price was too high.  My Saucony pair (RELATED: Gear Review: Saucony DryLete Arm Warmers) was only $20, and is now listed for only $6.  Yet, those worked much better for me!


Gear Review: Saucony DryLete Arm Warmers

     Before my mom and I journeyed out to Colorado last month (RELATED: A Hiker's Review: Ice Lakes, Ouray, Co) , we decided we needed some arm warmers to help minimize layers-- which really weigh down a Camelbak, believe me.  Well, let me rephrase that: I decided we needed some arm warmers and convinced my mom to buy them.  I mean, seriously, what elite runner doesn't have arm warmers?  If Ryan Hall sports some arm warmers or arm sleeves, than I must have them!  Shallow, right?
     There is a real benefit to having them though.  If you buy the right ones, they are perfect for a long run in brisk weather or a hike.  They served us well when we were doing 7 hr. hikes and needed to constantly adjust to the changing temperatures.  The point is, when you get hot, you can easily slip them off instead of taking off a whole long-sleeved shirt, or scrunching it up till your elbow is a gross, sweaty mess.  Arm sleeves are predominantly used for sun protection, whereas arm warmers are a more thermal material to serve their purpose of keeping your arm warm.  I got two arm warmers, since I didn't see a reason to get arm sleeves.  My mom bought arm sleeves however, and I might review those later on.  In this post, I'm going to review my orange Saucony DryLete Arm Warmers.  I also reviewed my Skirt Sports Women's Arm Warmers (Click HERE to read).


Appearance:  **** (4/5 stars)
     
     Has a man in your life ever told you that you can't buy something based on color?  My dad tells me that sometimes, but I must admit: that is what drew me to the Saucony arm warmers.  Well, that and the fact that those are the ones Ryan Hall wears.  I bought a neon orange pair.  They are super bright, and have the Saucony logo going down the side.  After five wears-- but no washes yet-- a couple of the letters on the logo have started to crack, but I don't mind that much.  Otherwise, they still look pristine, and are an excellent pop of color to my running ensemble.


Fit and Feel:  ***** (5/5 stars)

     I was worried that arm warmers would be a bit itchy, but these were not very itchy at all.  The only time they itched was if I was getting to sweaty and was going to take them off for that reason anyway.  What sold me on buying these sleeves was that they were one of the only kinds that came in an XS, which is necessary for my puny arms.  They fit PERFECTLY.  I couldn't find a single problem with the length or compression.  They were also very easy to slide down to my wrists or take off when the weather changed.  The Saucony arm warmers were also warmer than the Skirt Sports arm warmers I bought (RELATED: Gear Review: Skirt Sports Women's Arm Warmers).




Price: ***** (5/5 stars)

     We bought the Saucony arm warmers on Amazon.com for only $22.00.  Plus, we have Amazon Prime, so shipping was free and the warmers arrived in only three days.  They were $25.00 on Saucony's website at the time.  However, at the time of this publishing, they are on sale and only $6.00 with free shipping!  I wish that had been the case when I was looking to buy them!  Click HERE to purchase the Saucony DryLete Arm Warmers on Saucony's website.



My Not-So-Special Jellyfish Encounter

     When we first arrived on Hilton Head island a few days ago, I was struck by one strange observation on the beach: no one was in the water!  Other than a few people wading near the edge, nearly everyone was hanging out on their beach towels at a safe distance from the waves.  Well, I found out very quickly why that was the case.  Jelly Fish.
     I decided to wade out and enjoy the warm ocean water.  Once I was up to my waist though, I felt what I thought was a bite and immediately reached down to brush off whatever had bit me.  However, I didn't feel anything.  By the time I'd gotten out of the water, the extreme stinging reminded me that a young boy had just come to a lifeguard after getting stung by a jellyfish.  "I think something bit me, or stung me," I announced as I limped back to our towel.  The sting was getting more extreme, and yet, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
(photo credit: en.wikipedia.org)
     If the beginning of my story is boring you, hold on: this is where it gets funny.  I limped over to the lifeguard stand, quite worried.  I'd never gotten stung by a jellyfish, but I wasn't sure what would happen.  I've seen some of those lifeguard shows on TV, and I was worried that I would be laid up the rest of the day.  "Excuse me," I urgently said, "I think something bit me...or even: stung me!"
     Without even looking to see my throbbing leg that I thrusted up in the air for him, the tanned lifeguard nonchalantly held out a giant spray bottle that read: "Jelly Fish."  I stood there for a minute until it dawned on me that he wasn't going to get down and spray it for me.  He wanted me to do it.  I gingerly grabbed the crudely labeled bottle and doused myself in the liquid.  Then, I awkwardly stood there again, not sure what to do.  Still not dropping his gaze, he lazily reached out a hand, expecting me to return the bottle I guess.  So I did.  And then I stood there, wondering if that was all he was going to do.  Ashamed that I had thought my jellyfish encounter was so special, I slunk away back to my towel. Apparently, that kind of thing happens all the time...
     Still, I was chuckling at myself the rest of the day.  Every time I thought of my awkward moments with that lifeguard, I thanked God that I probably won't see him ever again.  Here I was thinking they were going to lay me down and suck the venom out of me or something!  But if my stupid tale is worrying you, I promise: it didn't even hurt that bad.  I had assumed it was because of what I've seen on TV where people come out of the water with bites or stings.  Don't avoid the ocean because of a jellyfish.  I was just being an overly-dramatic tourist.  You're more likely to see one of those, than get seriously hurt, the next time you're at the beach.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Back in Town

     I'm back home.  No more beach.  No more bright sunny waves.... can you tell I'm a little depressed? Other than that though, it was an amazing time.  I've got lots of posts to catch up on this week, talking about where we stayed, what we did, where I ran, and how amazing the frozen yogurt options are in Hilton Head!  I'm the most excited to tell you about the awesome wildlife refuge-- Pinkney Island-- where I did my 90 min. run on Saturday.  I got in 12.43 miles: woo!  That's it for now, time to finish stretching after this morning's run.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Walks With God

     One of my favorite things about coming to the beach (RELATED: On the Road to Hilton Head, SC.) is walking along the shore and just talking with people or God.  Yesterday, everyone seemed content to resting after our long drive the night before, so I took off on my own to walk along the waves.  To be honest, I was quite angry.  My mind has been rushing with condemnation, college anxiety, and fear about my faith.  "What if I lose God in college," "What if God's not speaking to me because he's angry at me," "Why can't I be more secure or patient or outgoing or trusting...ect."
     These lies seem to swirl back to me when I'm not being watchful of spiritual warfare.   So yesterday,  I was angry that I hadn't been being watchful!  After a few waves kicked, I began to just sing to God.  As time went by, I became less concerned with what a passerby might think and more focused on just telling God how much I loved him and wanted more of him.  I told him that I knew I could trust him to hold ME in college, not the other way around.  I reminded myself of all my dad and I had talked about, about how college will challenge me and will be a huge change, but God is already there and he has prepared these four years as a time I will get even closer to him.
   
     Hold me, tighter
     Hold me Jesus
     Lavish on me, everything of you
     Let your grace fall on my shoulders as you
     Hold me, hold me, hold me Jesus
     Lavish on me, everything of you
     Let your joy fall on my shoulders as you...

     Your love is forever
     And I will love you forever
     Hold me Jesus, as I fall more in love with you

These were the words that just kept pouring forth and I was so excited.  As this was happening, God reminded me that when I focus on how to correct my sins and not on him, I am letting the sin be the lord of my life and I am acting as if I was never saved.
(photo credit:fromtraditiontotruth.wordpress.com)
     See, friends, God didn't come so you could fix everything up and try to be perfect.  The more I come to know my heavenly father, the more I realize that if I just focus on him and how much I love him, everything else will fade.  I will become more secure as I focus on God's love.  I will grow more patient as I focus on God's love.  I will develop further into the woman God has created me to be, if I just fix my eyes on how much I love Jesus!!!  Isn't that freeing?  Yet, isn't it easy to forget?  2 Corinthians 3:11 says, "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ."
     That is what it's about: a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  It's not about all that other stuff.  So what I'm going to try next time I get caught in this cycle, is to get in the habit of saying, "No!  These things are true, but they aren't my focus.  I focus on Christ and these things will fade away as I fall more in love with him.
     Maybe that will help you if you struggle with the same condemnation as I do, and perhaps it will also help to memorize 2 Corinthians 3:11.  I'd love to hear your comments on this aspect of spiritual warfare, so don't be shy! 

Unforgettable Runs: Hilton Head, SC

     Most runs I do are unforgettable because A.) It was absolutely gorgeous, B.) God showed me something amazing, C.) I was feeling really good, or, D.) An animal attacked me.  After getting to Hilton Head around 2 a.m. Wednesday though, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be feeling great come Wednesday morning.  Yet, I tried to remind myself that I was on vaca. and the run was supposed to be a nice comfortable long run.  In reality, it was anything but comfortable!
I ran along the main road in the center of the island.
No beach for me :(
     This run was so memorable because it was just a complete failure on my part, and I am reminded that things like that are a chance to laugh and give grace to ourselves.  First of all, I was hopelessly lost while trying to get out of the subdivision we're staying in.  I stopped a few times within the first fifteen minutes because my quads were so sore I could hardly run.  I was also grumpy and tired.
     After twenty minutes though, I finally made it out onto the main road, and began my unforgettable run that toured me around the main road of Hilton Head.  I aimlessly ran to the right, with the vague memory that this was the correct direction.  After a while, I stopped to like at a map beside the bike path.  I concluded that the round-a-bout where I was, couldn't take me to the beach-- where I was trying to run (Afterwards, my dad told me that the round-a-bout is exactly how I get there.)!
     So instead, I ran back to the left of our subdivision, passing a frozen yogurt place-- maybe the only viable moment of my run-- and stopping many a time to stretch out and just relax my poor body.  I had just about no will power and no sleep to keep me standing.
     Maybe that's why I'll forget this run.  It reminds me that I may be a collegiate runner, but I'm no better than I runner just off the street when it comes to how my training has ups and downs as well.  Rather than slow down and let my body recover like I knew it desperately needed, I pushed too hard and ended up running a 7:08 ave. pace for my 8.6 miles.  When I finally had passed all the gas stations and resorts and ended back at our house, I wasn't happy.  I was done, but I felt like I'd done nothing of value.  I'd gotten in some junk miles and I'd pushed my body too far.
     But this run was unforgettable because of what came afterwards: grace.  My dad reminded me that although it hadn't helped me, there was nothing I could do about it in hindsight except for learn the lesson.  The lesson, other than to listen to my body, seemed to be grace.  Understanding that I'm imperfect and prone to mistakes and screw-ups is hard for me, but little lessons like this are so valuable when it comes to getting back on track.  Sometimes, God uses some sore legs and a tired body to show me his love.  I believe that's what he did yesterday.  Today, I went out and felt a hundred times better, even with sore legs.  That's another blessing that I'll share in another post :)

On the Road to Hilton Head, SC


I didn't have internet access until I remembered I could get if from my cell phone.  I wrote this Tuesday in the car though, so here's your update:

Here we are.  It’s hour five in the car and I’m already getting a little stir crazy.  We are on our way to Hilton Head, SC, and are winding through the roads of Virginia.  Last night, I spent my first night in the new house.  It was weird because I couldn’t really sleep with all the new noises.  I was up at seven, although I didn’t have to leave to run until 7:45 a.m.
            I crept quietly into the bathroom to get ready and then down to the kitchen to get a few on my energy goos to sustain me for my hilly run.  I was sure no one was up, since my dad didn’t get back until late last night and everyone else tends to be a late sleeper.  Dad came down though, in a rush to go pick up Matt who was without a ride to his cross practice.  I got to say a quick hello before we both headed off.
            I told the guys I was running with that I wasn’t sure how I’d do.  I did my long run Sunday and then went a little too fast during my 8.5 miles yesterday.  Bad math skills combined with too much focus on a good pace, ended up earning me sore quads and calves after a 6:50 ave. pace.  Yikes!
            Believe me, I stretched real well before getting into the car this afternoon, but I do hate sitting still.  It’s been good though because I’ve spent most of the time digging into my college reading book.  I’m amazed at how close college is: 3 ½ weeks from now, I’ll be moving in to my college dorm.  I still have to buy so much, pack everything, and mentally prepare myself for one of the biggest changes in my entire life.  Yikes again!  Still, I’m super excited.  I’m ready to get into college classes and start running collegiately.  My summer running has been going excellently, and today I was feeling a lot better than I expected after the last few days.  I’ve got energy back, and I can’t wait to improve even more as I phase into the cross season.       I told my mom though, I can’t believe everything is so close.  I’m looking at where I am though.  Here, I’m starting a wonderful week of fun at the beach.   When I get back, I’m going to spend quality time with my family, and swapping stories with my mom who’s off in Boston this week.  I guess it’s my time to look ahead with anticipation but also live in the present.  Why does that seem so hard?  Still, I’m thankful that I have this precious time and the amazing opportunity to go to an awesome college in less than a month.  God is all over this, so while I ponder my rapidly-moving life for the next five hours, I’m also going to be praising God that there is a sense of peace in all that is happening and all that is coming my way.  Jeremiah 29:11 is the universal graduate verse for a reason guys!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Running Memes: Your Laughing Break for the Day



     As a runner, I find joy in running memes.  Maybe a little too much joy.  I'll do a real post later this evening, but while you wait, enjoy some funny running humor  (Laugh at yourself.  It's healthy!).
photo credit: runningmemes.com


photo credit: runningmemes.com

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Moving Out!

     Well, I got 12 miles in before church and a room--mostly-- packed up before lunch.  I'd call that a productive day!  I had my long run today, and was doing it solo so I was worried how I'd do.  My legs were tired most of last week, so although I was looking forward to getting up and running today, I felt a little anxious.  The run was great though, and I clocked a good 7:19 ave. pace with ease.  Best of all, it was a great way to spend some time with God before church.
I wish I'd taken a before pic.,
but you can still see how bare it is. Woo!
     I have to say, this time last month I was the least anxious to move to our new house.  My dad had been packing, but I'd hardly touched anything.  God has really moved in my heart since then though, because I've been antsy to get my new room decorated ASAP.  This past week has been especially so, and I am so grateful that the wedding was such a love filled event for me (RELATED: Wedding Day: I Wear the White of His Grace).
     So I have hiked up my packing efforts, and got so much done today already!  I'm taking a bunch of stuff over to the new house and am so grateful for my best friend who's on her way to help me out (Shout out K!)  Other than that, I have just been amazed by how God has showered his love on me this week (RELATED: What I'm Grateful for on July 19).
     I'm going to have a brand new room to create brand new memories and I'm not so scared anymore.  Ok, I am still scared, but its a fear that I can simply brush off to God during most moments.  Although I haven't blogged so much about that personal journey lately, it has been a huge struggle for me and I am so thankful to God that I am able to step out in faith and leave behind the fear.
Eek!
     My grammy has informed me that my old room will be the new home for her "Christmas clothing," so I'm glad she will put it to good use...I just hope she leaves the life sized Santa Claus stored in the basement.  That's it for now though!  Have a blessed Sunday everyone :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Adventures in Babysitting: Boat Making

     I am very fortunate to not have to have a "real" job.  In fact, I'm able to save up for college through nannying or babysitting a couple of kids on most weekdays.  The challenge however, is finding things that are interesting and fun for them to do, while not spending a lot of money.
     One of the biggest hits so far was boat making on the first day of summer.  With no ideas to mention, I looked at their family's recycling bins and had an immediate idea.  I started putting my boat together and let the kids ask me when they got curious enough.  Before long they dove in and began making their own boats.  We decided that we would take them to the creek behind the house and race them to see whose boat was truly fit for the water.  My boat was just a flimsy piece of cardboard with a plastic stick through the bottom that held my flag above the rest of the ship.  The best boat was the boy's, as he used styrofoam from an egg carton.  We learned that day that styrofoam floats much better than cardboard (shhh...don't tell them it was accidentally educational!)
     I hope to post periodically about my babysitting endeavors because I've personally found very little online about active, inexpensive, and fun things to do with kids during the summer.  Just to give a teaser, I'll post some of the things I've come up with like:

- The Summer Olympic games
- Tarp Slip N' Slide
- Bike ride with a picnic
- Kite Flying at the park
-Walking my dog
- Heading to local places near their house.

What I'm Grateful for on July 19

1 Corinthians 3:16...This is why I quit smoking years ago.
I thought about this verse a lot during the anorexia,
but it also applies to here and now.  I'm never alone!
     Wow.  Has it been a crazy week or what?  I can't believe it was only last week that I was nervously preparing for the wedding (RELATED: Wedding Day: I Wear the White of His Grace) and attending the rehearsal dinner.  As I shared previously, it's been a hard week because of all that change.  Yet, I am finding that God has lavished his love upon me.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am for all the people who have blessed me and loved me and prayed for me this week.  Sunday, when I was falling apart from being lonely, God brought 3 women minister to me.  I also began to notice that many repeated songs on the radio and in my surroundings were focused on the love Christ has for his children.  Knowing that my heavenly daddy is right with me no matter how scared or lonely I feel, is such an encouragement in my walk of faith.  Our God is not a stagnant God.  He moves!
   
     Tuesday, my brother left to go back to Massachusetts and I won't see him again until we both return to college next month.  It stinks because I was having so much fun hanging out with him and reconnecting.  My grandma has been more than gracious though as I've stayed with her.  I am really enjoying her company, and although she does go to bed at like 8 o'clock, I am very thankful that I have someone to hang out with and talk with.  If it weren't for grammy, my mundane routine or running and work would leave me extremely lonely and sad :(
   
   
 
     Speaking of running, mine has been pretty bad this week.  The fact that I heavily increased mileage last week leads me to believe that my exhaustion this week is a combo of that and all the stress from the wedding.  I found myself suddenly fearful that the previous fatigue I'd had was coming back, but I was able to quickly rebuke that lie.  Thanks to God's grace, I praised him for this week because its taught me to better listen to my body and take it really easy if I need to.  Even if my Garmin tells me my pace is slow-- that's the hard part!
strangely dim- francesca battistelli
I've been loving this Francesca Battistelli song lately!
     All in all, it has been a very productive week.  Not in the sense of life itself-- although I did get a lot done and I got a lot of packing done!  It's been very productive because God has brought me closer to him through this week that I thought was going to be the end of me.  Although I'm still dying to have life back in a routine with my dad back, I know that God is stretching me with all this change.  He loves me enough personally take me along for the ride as he grows my faith and shows me his love.  God's love.  It's something I kind of take for granted, until I'm talking to myself after 8 p.m and babysitting from 11-4 most days and without my earthly father.  This week has revived my knowledge of how present God is in every moment.  Like I said: our God is not a stagnant God.  He moves.  He loves.

I Always Thought it Said... (Misheard Christian Song Lyrics

     I was thinking the other day how different and unique our perceptions are.  A prime example: song lyrics.  A little while back, my dad and I were listening to the radio in the car when I heard him singing along and realized, "Oh!  You mean THAT is the lyric?"  Mine was a harmless misinterpretation, and I still sing it that way because there not much difference except for it keys in to God's love in a word that speaks to me more, and it's not what the artist intended.  Aah, good old interpretation.
     Kids especially, tend to have some interesting lyrical interpretations, that are usually a bit further from the true meaning.  I couldn't stop laughing this past Christmas season when I heard on the radio that one young boy thought the lyrics to the Little Drummer Boy were: "Shall I play for you Barack Obama?  I am a poor boy too Barack Obama."
     So I compiled a list of-- no joke-- some of the actual things I thought songs were saying when I was a kid.  Well, some of them are a little more recent...

1. Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
     We sang this one frequently in church as a child and I was always convinced that I had the correct interpretation, although I always wondered why we were supposed to praise meatloaf.  When I finally got curious enough to ask a parent, the truth was revealed.
MY LYRICS: "Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise our Father and meatloaf."
CORRECT LYRICS: "Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise our Father here below."

2. Love is in the House (by Toby Mac)
     I think my version is very creative and clever compared to the 'correct' way to sing this song
MY LYRICS: "Love is in the house in the house of Mac."
CORRECT LYRICS: "Love is in the house and the house is packed."

3. Brave (by Nicole Nordman)
     I'll admit that this adaptation is really quite depressing...
MY LYRICS: "So long saddest girl.  I think I just let go."
CORRECT LYRICS: "So long status quo.  I think I just let go."

4. Restoration (by Phillips, Craig, and Dean)
     I'm going to confess here that this song is now our family inside joke.  Since discovering the real lyrics, we-- mostly: I-- have created several unique twists to one particular refrain in the song.
MY LYRICS: "We sing hey now, hey now now now now now.  What we need is desperation.  Hey now, hey now now now now now.  What we really need, is desperation.
CORRECT LYRICS: "If we sing hey now, hey now now now now now.  What we really need is restoration.  Hey now, hey now now now now  now.  What we really need, is restoration.
THE BEST LYRICS: "Hey now, hey now now now now now.  What we need is respiration.  Hey, now (deep inhale) hey (deep inhale) now now now now now.  What we really (deep inhale) is respiration."

5. What Child is This?
     To be honest, I still don't know what "laud" is, but I guess that's what Google's for, right?
MY LYRICS: "Haste, haste to bring him lard."
CORRECT LYRICS: "Haste, haste to bring him laud.


Jesus loves gifts from his kids.
 Then again, who really
gives lard as a gift from the heart...?


What other lyric misinterpretations have you encountered?  I'm sure there are plenty of funny ones!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Adventures in Babysitting: Week of July 15

     Well, after a crazy packed wedding weekend (RELATED: Wedding Day: I Wear the White of His Grace), I was pretty tired when I woke up to run Tuesday morning and knew I'd be babysitting Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I've found that the key is keeping myself just as entertained as the kids.  It takes a lot of effort to be thrifty and plan ahead though!  Naturally, I took to Google.  Here's a look through our week:



Tuesday-  Pool fun!  Also, they are fascinated by playing school.  Do you know how easy it is to trick a kid to learn over summer?  I can't believe my cousin and I played school so much!  I taught the kids I babysit about aerodynamics, velocity, and 3 Spanish verbs and 2 Spanish nouns.  I'd call that a success!

Wednesday- Well, we were going to go to a dog beach.  That plan turned sour when the babysitter didn't map it out because I-- er...she-- didn't know where to go.  We ended up picnicking at a park, playing with water guns, and cooling down with Popsicles.  I got super creative when I saw the kids playing with my old Mancala set.  I don't know what possessed me to create "Candy-cala," but it was a hit!



This is the beautiful car ornament
I made today.
Thursday- Bringing over your old play things is always a hit when babysitting.  This is especially so when they are older versions of toys the kids play with!  For instance, I brought over my American Girl Dolls and we compared how my Kit Kitteredge was different from the girl I babysit.  I also brought over my little brother's old Rescue Heroes' ship.  Apparently, Rescue Heroes are now really tiny, so the boy I babysit was amazed at how huge the boat was!  The highlight was a walk to the park where we soaked the slides with squirt-guns and saw how fast we could slide down.  We also made some awesome crafts by melting plastic beads in the oven.  So easy!  I found instructions HERE.

     I hope this gives you a few ideas for your own Adventures in Babysitting, or child rearing...or just plain boredom!  If you want some more ideas, check out the boat making I did last week by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Upping your Rep. in Church

     I sure hope I'm not the only Christian who's ever made a little slip-up and perhaps soiled their reputation.  I'm not talking bad stuff here.  Still, being caught with an eye open during prayer or laughing in the middle of the sermon are things that people are going to remember.    
     About five years ago, my best friend and I were the major goofs of church.  We would draw pictures of ugly ladies on the back of the prayer request cards.  We would mouth every other word to worship songs-- that took great skill and practice.  We even went as far as singing like hillbillies during a particularly country song we didn't care for.
     What did that do for us?  Well it got the attention of the pastor, who all too graciously spoke to her parents, who spoke to us about it.  No one was the harsh on us, but the mortifying reality of my pastor seeing the ugly; fat; and hairy women we drew in church while he was trying to bring us closer to God, was more than enough to turn this heathen around.
     After I got my own little notebook and began actually listening in church, I realized: "Hey, this is pretty cool!"  Aside from my obvious stupidity though, I was struggling with the fact that almost every member of my congregation-- its a very small church-- knew that I was having my own little playdate every Sunday morning.  Yikes.
     So, from trial and error, I have begun my journey back to spiritual prominence.  All joking aside, this stuff is ludicrous.  But if you've got a funny history like my own, I would beg to differ that you haven't even been tempted to try one of these moves to improve your reputation in church:

1. Raise your hands at least twice each Sunday
This should help you out with the hand raises
(photo credit: christianmusicmakers.com).
     Frankly, it could be during the sermon or during a song, but ideally: get them up there and wave 'em like you just don't care.  Go for the goalposts or the concert wave, but do something!  That way, the poor people behind you who are trying to worship, will be blinded by your holy reverence and stellar worshipping!

2. Murmur during the prayer times
     This is effective in church, Bible studies, or just praying with others.  Come to think of it, this is even more effective if you are just praying by yourself and happen to be doing so in the lobby that everyone is walking through.  The most effective phrases include: "Mmm..yes Lord," "Yesss Father," and "Come Holy Spirit."  You can tell there are many others who seek to up their church rep. when you begin to hear these phrases flowing together like the speaking in tongues.  Murmuring captures others' attention best when you repeat yourself over and over, in a cult-like way.

3. Throw "Churchy" words into everything
     The pastor's wife asked what you did on Independence Day?  Well you went to a parade and hung with some friends, of course.  Wrong!  As far as she needs to know, you read some essays of Charles Spurgeon and witnessed of God's redeeming power at an elderly home.  Then, you did an interpretive dance to "My Country Tis' of Thee," while your brother read scripture in the background.
     Catch my drift?

4. Seize on the floor
     When all else fails, and you just don't know with of the above will help your situation: this is your go to.  Just crumple up on the floor and begin shaking with the power of the Holy Spirit.  Everyone will be so amazed that they will revel in how wrong they were about you all these years.  With luck, they will begin to think that the drawings you always made and the notes you always passed during the service, were really divine moments of communion with God.  Trust me, this is the way to go.  Worst case scenario, you can claim that you don't remember anything and it was just a seizure.  Most likely though, you will get up off the floor as a highly respected woman/man of God.


     I hope these provided a few laughs.  In all honesty, I wouldn't recommend any of these.  I wouldn't lie though and say I've never thought of them!  The important thing is to remember that the one who matters in your relationship with God, is: God!  It's never too late to turn to him, even if you were a sneaky-pew-sinner like myself.

The Long Run

photo credit: torichurch.org
     I'm upping my mileage for college running this next year and my long run has become one of the highlights of my week.  Although my legs have been feeling pretty awful the past few days-- between the wedding, heat, and little down time-- I had a productive week of running last week and am enjoying running with some friends.  I set up little "running appointments" in an effort to keep my sanity and avoid running by myself every day.  Anyway, I heard this new song my Mandisa come out this past week and haven't been able to stop singing it.
     Back when I was in the middle of anorexia, an elderly couple prayed for me and after an hour or so of crying and praying, the woman looked at me with earnest eyes.  I'd just bared my soul and pain to her, and she tenderly reached for my hand and smiled: "I sense an overcomer in you."  That little word of encouragement from God has stuck with me the past few years.  As soon as I saw Mandisa's song was called Overcomer (Click the title for a link! It won't give permission to view the video on Blogger.), I knew that it was another word for me from God.
     So as you go about your long runs; short runs; and everyday life, I pray that you relax into this same freedom.  His word says that the Lord is the spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty!  You are an overcomer because of who HE says you are-- not what everyone else says you are.  Perhaps, like me, you are broken and messed up, but Christ is in you and He says you are an overcomer.  In the long run, what matters is who Christ says you are.  He says you are valuable, amazing, and worthy of this joy He's given.  You are an overcome my friend!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hiking to the Base of Engineer Mountain


     This was the hike we did on our first full day in Colorado (RELATED: Check out the first hike we did on our trip by Clicking HERE).
video


 This was our first view of the top of Engineer.  Lots of people go to the top.  However, they usually do it in late summer when the snow is all gone and they do it with equipment-- its very technical.  We just made it a little past the base, which is where you see the big patch of snow in the middle of the picture.
 There were lots of fun streams to cross!
 This was our view from the top.  We stopped to take some pictures-- and catch our breath-- before descending the very steep slope made of dirt.  I fell on my butt twice because of the bad traction.
 Mom made sure to get some good shots of the huge amount of snow that still covered the base in the warm summer months.  I also made sure she got a picture of me throwing a snowball down into the valley.  Where else can you throw a snowball when its 75 degrees out and its June!?

And here's one last picture of a cute little rock that looked like an alpine mushroom.





Saturday, July 13, 2013

Wedding Day: I Wear the White of His Grace

     Today was definitely a big day.  To be honest, I wasn't quite sure how it was going to go, or rather: how I would do.  I've known my dad was getting married for over a year and a half.  He has been dating my step-mom for something like seven years.  Yet,  I found that because of the difficult divorce and struggles in my past, I was the kid in the family that was having the most trouble with it all.  I beat myself up about it, prayed about it, beat myself up some more, and then receive grace upon grace from my dad, my step-mom, and God.
     Everyone told me,"you'll be ready when its time."  Well, we got closer and closer to the wedding and I felt less and less like I even belonged in the 'family.'  I was still feeling like that yesterday when I took my dad putt-putting for his father's day gift-- we've been too busy until yesterday (if it hadn't happened then, it wouldn't have happened till late August or even winter!)  I told him I didn't belong, I was too messed up, and I was afraid.  He talked to me.  It was nothing I hadn't heard before: trusting God, going all in, ect.  But when he was done talking to me, my daddy told me I was an amazing girl.  And you know what?  That was what hit me.
     For this past year, I've been inflicting so much hatred on myself because I've been the bad one, in my head.  I've been the one who's too broken to ever fit back in anywhere.  But my daddy told me that I was loved.  Like he's told me many times, he said that he will never give up on me and that I was already in this family.
Click on the pic for a link to the song, Wedding Day
     I'm slowly learning that things in life change rapidly.  Many changes might be painful, like the numerous I have gone through thus far.  But Christ came so that I don't need to be afraid of these changes.  He works through all things for our good.  He has good plans for us.  Little by little I am grasping that to a fuller extent, but I'm a long way from the finish line.  What comforts me however, is the knowledge that God came for the broken, not the whole.  I don't have to pretend for my new family and I don't have to pretend for him.
     I couldn't sleep last night for fear and anxiety both from my dreams and my thoughts, and yet: today was a good day.  It was definitely a good day.  When I found myself crying, it was mostly out of joy.  For I know that I can trust my dad, his new wife, and most importantly: God.  Change is always worked for good, but on some occasions the work is in taking the leap of faith out into the water.  I guess today was that leap, and God was with me all the way.
     I'm here to say that I don't have it figured out.  I'm broken.  I'm a little too clingy, a little too insecure,  a little jealous and stubborn and fearful and messed up.  Yet, I am also covered in love and grace that is not going anywhere.  If these people who I love have not left yet, I'm pretty sure they're in it for the long haul.  I'm pretty sure that I'm going to have an even better relationship with my daddy.  I'm pretty sure that my heavenly daddy is reaching down and starting an new adventure of blessings that I've been awaiting for along time in this desert.
    For now, that's all the soul baring information I've got.  But I hope it's an encouragement to you that God's arms really do wrap their way around us and hold us tight when we are afraid.  He shows me the ultimate love of a family every day, and especially today as I took a leap into the deep.  Take a listen to the Casting Crown song, Wedding Day, and maybe you'll get a taste of what I mean.


There's a stirring in the throne room
And all creation holds it's breath
Waiting now to see the bridgegroom
Wondering how the bride will dress
And she wears white
And she knows that she's undeserving
She bears the shame of history
With this worn and weary maiden
Is not the bride that he sees
And she wears white head to toe
But only he can make it so

When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart and says your beautiful
When you don't know you are
And all you long to see
Is written on his face
Love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day

On that wedding day

She has danced in golden castles
And she has crawled through beggar's dust
But today she stands before him
And she wears his righteousness
And she will be who he adores
And this is what he made her for

When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart and says your beautiful
When you don't know you are
And all you long to see
Is written on his face
Love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day

When the hand that bears the only scars
And heaven touch her face
And the last tears she'll ever cried
Are finally wiped away
And the clouds roll back as he takes her hand
And walks her through the gates
Forever we will reign

When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart and says your beautiful
When you don't know you are
And all you long to see
Is written on his face
Love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day
On that wedding day
On that wedding day

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Movie Review:Despicable Me 2

     As an avid fan who can recite funny lines from Despicable Me, I would admit that my review of Despicable Me 2 might be a little biased.  Look at the other reviews though, and you will see it really is that good.  I have an affinity toward comedies, so Despicable Me 2 was a great choice.  I'm 18, and still loved it.  It was a great family movie that was so funny!  I would definitely recommend it because there was a great theme of LOOOOOVE and it was quirky enough to keep my attention and give me some laughs-- Agnes is my favorite character!  
    
     The plot centered around Gru starting a job with the Anti Villian League, and finding a girl as well.  Along the way, the Minions get in a sticky mess and Gru tries to prove his worth as a father and defender of justice!  Go see it now before I give away the rest!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I'm exhausted!

   
     Usually, I take to my blog to describe how A.) I'm spiritually struggling, B.) I'm physically struggling with running, or C.) I've just encountered some amazing adventure.  Well, I guess today would fall under C, as in: the amazing adventure of life.  Life, however, seems to be kicking me in the butt.
     As I just relayed to my dad, I'm not physically tired.  Other than a terrible knot in my left quad, my legs are feeling pretty good.  Spiritually, I'm chugging along-- that's not to say I'm doing splendid, but I'm leaning in on the right source!  Frankly, I'm just exhausted emotionally.  I've had a long week of babysitting-- yes, I know it's only Wednesday-- and lots going on with my dad's wedding this weekend.  I'm tired!  I half forced myself to sleep in this morning and wait till this evening to do my run.  Bad idea.  I couldn't enjoy my morning because  I somehow woke up extra early and was anxious because I wasn't running.  Then, we got tornados after I got home from work, so I had to wait till six to run.  When I did run, my stomach was all jacked up from the greek yogurt I'd had 20 minutes before...stupid, I know, but at that point I didn't really care.
     Other than tonight though, I relearning to look forward to a long easy run.  So after tomorrow morning's run, I'm just gonna coast through to the weekend.  The kids I babysit want to go swimming tomorrow, which means I get to relax and play in the water (and show them my lacking diving board skills), then I plan to just REST!  Not physically, but emotionally and spiritually.  After Bible study and women's prayer group, I'm going to sit myself down and watch some TV and not think at all!  Sound good?  You can join me in spirit.  Until then, I wish you all a great and blessed Thursday!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rain Rain Go Away!

     Call me a complainer, but I highly doubt you jump for joy when it rains...and rains....and rains for weeks straight.  That's what it has felt like lately here, but to get myself out of this complaining rut, I decided I need to look at all there is to be grateful for!
     Today, I took the kids I babysit (RELATED: Adventures of a Babysitter: Boat Making) to Inniswood Metro Park.  It's a gorgeous place to have a fun day, and we the rain that started around 3:30 p.m.  There are water features, a tree house, and plenty of fun things to thrill a kid on a muggy and hot day.  Fittingly, they were having a kids program about conserving water and measuring rain water.  I have a feeling however, that the rain gauges the kids made aren't going to measure all the water that's coming down this week!  Inniswood also has gorgeous flowers.  Although I'm not a big garden-lover, I do appreciate a beautiful rose or a blossoming daffodil.  These things that I missed when I visited Inniswood as a kid, I appreciate a little more now.


    
(Photo credit: etsy.com)
     This verse came to my mind when I was racking my selfish little brain for what I was grateful for on a day like this-- a day with relationship woes, exhaustion and a bad run.  The rain was just what the flowers need, just what I need, somehow.  Maybe God brought this rain to personally show his provision.  Maybe he brought it to show us how stunning it is to watch a soft water droplet fall to the ground or a dark sky of clouds eventually let light break through.
     My point is, however, God has a reason for every little thing that happens.  He puts little things in our paths every day to show us how much he loves us.  I, for one, am not very good at recognizing that.  Once in a while, I will acknowledge one of these things as "cool," but too rarely do I actually thank God for it.  
     If you are feeling a little ungrateful like me and maybe are missing out on some of things that God has placed in your daily walk, its never too late to start.  Try writing in a notebook or even making a note on your phone where you jot down the little things from God every day.  Some powerful rain and a dark sky make me feel very little in this vast world around me.  Yet, God has his hand in all things: big and small.  Look for those little signs every day (and yes, rain can be one of them!).

Monday, July 8, 2013

Colorado Wildfires in Pictures

It was so sad to go out to Colorado and see the wildfires wrecking such havoc again this year.  It seemed that everywhere we went, there was a reminder that the beautiful landscape was being threatened.
 Here was one big fire that had started a few days before we arrived, and was rapidly spreading that day due to severe winds.

 It had split into two fires by this point

 And mom had to capture the sad scene on camera :(
I am so grateful though that God kept us safe and protected many people's homes and properties.  Unfortunately, these fires cause a lot of damage, but it is amazing to see both the goodwill of the people and the excellent planning of the fire response teams.