Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: August 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Most Intense Sport of Them All: Another Attempt At Humor

     Let me tell you something.  When it comes to intense-sweaty-hardcore sports, football and wrestling might come to mind-- although I would add running, of course!  But you must be forgetting one, right?
     These athletes lurk in the swimming pools, swiftly making turns and keeping their eye fixed on you with bullet like precision.   They aren't swimmers-- if that's what you're thinking.  They are aqua joggers.  You might think of grandmas and the atrophied elderly when you think of aqua jogging.  But again, you would be wrong.  If these elderly athletes are really aqua jogging, I'd pit them against an MMA wrestler any day, because aqua jogging is a sport for the dedicated, the driven, and the downright hardcore.
Uh hu..this is what you thought of, isn't it?
(photo credit:
     So when I first started having pain in my hip (RELATED: Spiritual Warfare to the Max), I was ushered into the pool, an intimidating thing when I am far from a swimmer.  The first day, I tagged along with a teammate who'd been in the pool routine for a week already.  I pulled out my goggles and was about to hop in when I saw her grab a little foam belt and strap it around her waist.  That was the moment that I began to tremble in fear.  I was not swimming after all.  I was aqua jogging.  Timidly, I strapped my own belt on and edged into the pool, leaving my lonesome goggles behind (RELATEDHow To Be Awkward in the Gym Locker Room).
     We both started our watches and I wiped the nervous sweat from my face and began.  Aqua jogging, my friends, is extreme.  I began to tread under the water, fixing my eyes ahead.  Before I knew it, my friend had reached the wall, and whipped around splashing water up in my eyes.  Frantically, I pulled my hands up and wiped my face.  But my hands were wet too!  I was panicking, and in all the wetness: I forgot to tread water!  It was my worst nightmare come true!  I blinked furiously to clear my vision, in fear of what I could come across without being able to see the lane in front of me.  A shark?  A barracuda?!  The possibilities where terrifyingly endless.  And just as all hope was lost, my friend looked over as blasted by in my right peripheral. "We're on," she said, as if the world wasn't ending.
     With that, the water began to stir up and I decided I had to move or else I was doomed to float in the middle of that pool forever.  Suddenly hit a roadblock.  I could touch the ground; I had made it 25 meters from the edge of the deep end and now, it wasn't deep anymore.  I began to panic again, and started looking for the closest area of escape.  There was a ladder not too far away, but how would I get there!?  What in the world could I do.  I watched as my friend approached the danger zone.  And then, as if it was nothing, she flashed a smile and just turned around.
See!  Doesn't she look hardcore?!
(photo credit:
     That was it?  It seemed so simple, yet so difficult.  In that moment it took to turn, I would have to stop treading and simple adjust my body 180 degrees.  I took a deep breath and began the maneuver.  Slowly I inched around, but suddenly: I found water splashing up in my face again.  I couldn't handle it;  the pressure and intensity were driving me mad.  What would happen to me?  Would some collegiate swimmer find me in the bottom of the pool years from now?  Would anyone know I was gone?  With that, I let my legs go dead and waited for the end.
And kept waiting...
         and waiting.....
         and waiting.......

      I waited until I realized I wasn't going to sink.  I was floating.  Suddenly, it dawned on me what that belt was for.  Maybe the lifeguard hadn't been staring at me for the reasons I thought.  Sheepishly, I started up the workout again, and-- moving 1 mile an hour-- made it back to the deep end.  I'd done another 25 meters in 30 seconds.  I was on a roll!
      And thus, the reputation stands: aqua jogging is the most intense and scary sport of them all.  If you think other swimmers aren't taking you seriously as an aqua jogger, you need to come to the pool where I am.  At my pool, they all stare at me in awe as I pull on "the golden belt," and quickly eat up the length of the deep end.  Ya...I told you it was intense.
(RELATED: Satire on How to Make Your Flight A Little More Interesting)

Healing Power of God...And Some Fruit

     I'm glad I got out last night and went to the minor league baseball game with some friends.  It was a pretty bad day, but by the end of it I think I was in a much better place both emotionally and spiritually. The anger and pity are slowly being replaced by willingness to submit to God and just sadness.  It's okay to be sad, I know, but I also know there is hope for the future because God has amazing plans for me and he has told me so in his word (RELATED: When Things Aren't So Easy).  I had to get up for practice this morning-- which was kind of a bummer since I just watched everyone do warmups and stuff-- so I'm pretty sleepy now.  
     But I am getting in the rhythm of things at college.  I still wish so badly that I could just be at home.  It stinks when I have a day like yesterday and I have no dad, mom, best friend, or family to just hug me.  But my mom did send me an edible arrangement, which made my day.  Sometimes, fruit has that healing power, haha.  In the moment that I got the package though, I felt so special.  I'd spent all day just trying to not lash out at God, because I felt like he'd abandoned me too.  But I know now that God is in the midst of all that, and receiving a gift reminded me that I am never forgotten.  "If you then, who are evil know how to give good gifts, how much more will your heavenly father give good things to those who ask him (Matthew 7:11). I'm silly to assume this isn't good because I can't see out of my own present bubble.  But God sees the eternal, and he's whispering: "Hold on, just a little longer!  It's going to be great!  I'm going to reveal more of myself to you and you will have a harvest!"
     For the next week, I can't do much of anything.  No running, biking, or swimming.  So I'll have to find productive ways to use my time instead.  But that means I'll get to spend more time writing and praying to God, which is a definite silver lining.  "Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world." Christ says.  And I offer the same word to you.  No matter what you are going through today, lean on God and look to the eternal.  This is all little and insignificant in the light of God's glory forever-- I think that's pretty sweet!  Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

(RELATED: Walks With God)

Friday, August 30, 2013

When Things Aren't So Easy

There is beauty in the darkness.  Lord, please open my
eyes right now so I can see it.
     Things have been crazy the past few days: 6:30 a.m aqua jogs, three hours spent writing out homeworks for the semester, and an MRI that served as a 30 min. nap but a 3 hour ordeal.  Thus, writing and blogging have fallen to the backburner-- although, on a side note, I'm hoping to write for the school newspaper!
     "Things," A.K.A: life, is going well with school, but I am really homesick still.  To make it even harder, I found out this morning that I have a severe stress fracture in my hip.  That means it will be a recovery of 6-8 weeks, and as much as 12 weeks.  I've cried and cried about it, and I don't want to write a lengthy post on the matter at this time-- still too emotional.  But I will say that God is still good, somehow.  Even though I question why he led me here and why I can't run this season, I know that his greatness cannot be measured by how much I understand.  So I hope that encourages you.  This is a day where I have felt absolutely alone, with no one I am close to that can give me a hug or just cry with me.  But I still have God, and I've been honest in telling him that I'm angry, I'm frustrated that every time I work to get back up, I'm slammed down.  But after praying, I was reminded that none of this really matters.  Soon enough, I will be with him forever and ever.  Today is a day when I need to keep that in perspective.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My "New Things" This Week

     With my recent posts about spiritual trials and homesickness (RELATED: Spiritual Warfare to the Max), you must be thinking I'm the most miserable college girl in the world.  On the contrary, I'm having a great time and really enjoying myself.  I guess I just fall into the trap of focusing on the hard, difficult events.  So to perk things up and put some pep back into the blog, here's a list of the awesome stuff I've gotten to do this week, for the first time:

For the first time, I...

1. Purchased something with my Flex Dollars (meal plan vernacular)-- last night!
2. Spent 2 hours dancing, running, and playing around with hundreds of other freshmen on campus!
3. Met my math professor, who is very nice.
4. Set up a study schedule for my college classes
5. Started my "church search" with a visit to a church nearby with some girls on the team.
6. Swiped my student ID card to get food at the dining halls-- the card swipe wasn't on until other students actually got here.
7. Nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement at the sight of cantaloupe-- it's my favorite guys, and its been over a week since I've eaten it!
8. Have a more clear idea of what I want to major/minor in!
9. Went Aqua Jogging-- it's actually pretty fun, once you get past the strange looks from every lifeguard and swimmer can see you slowly treading through the water...
10. Feel really excited to start classes tomorrow morning!!!!

Have a great Wednesday, and good luck to all of you who've started or are started classes tomorrow.

Spiritual Warfare to the Max

     This has been a hard week in that my hip/glute injury is not getting better, and in fact: a bit worse.  Despite a week of aqua jogging-- which is quite fun actually-- it is hurting when I walk around and the rehab exercises don't seem to make a difference.  This has really taken a toll on my faith that God has got everything in his hands (RELATED: See How God is Using the Trial by clicking HERE).  I have decided to use my time while I wait though.  God is so good, so this is going to be great.  Just wanted to update friends and family though, and would ask that you keep praying for both this and my homesickness.  I am truly grateful for all of you though.  My best friend sent me my first official package this week, and it made my day! I plan to write letters to all of you though, or at least as many as I can.  I have 100 time is the only determining factor in all honesty!  Tonight, I'm going to see the doctor again, but the trainer told me he will most likely order an MRI.  That means I get 45 minutes to just lay and talk with God, right?  That's how I'm choosing to view it!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Freshmen Welcome Week Commences!

     All the parents and freshmen are swarming campus still, filling up the lines at Starbucks and crowding the dining halls-- which aren't open for lunch by the way, because they assume students will go out to lunch with their parents.  So sad for me!  I'm supposed to take the day off of running or cross training to really get my hip/glute injury to heal up.  Here's the cool thing though: I was up this morning and was really upset because I couldn't do the long run today.  But God immediately spoke to me and said: "How about you spend the time that you would've spent running, being with me."  So I got up and walked over to the Starbucks with my Bible, devotional, and pen.  I just sat there and began to listen and study my Women of Faith study focused on Grace.
     I've been angry.  Downright grumpy and upset.  In my head, I would be running and prepping for an amazing college season.  Instead, I've been doing rehab and cycling, with extremely inflamed glute muscles and hopefully not a stress fracture.  All week I have lived in this mindset that God was angry at me, that I had to DO something to get him to do what I wanted.  Yet, I've been missing out on finding him in the midst of this.  This morning, he showed me how prevalent grace is in my situation.  I don't deserve healing.  In fact, I really deserve pain and suffering and loneliness.  But Jesus is with me and he has promised me good things.  That is radical grace.  And me?  All I've been wanting is for God to do what I want, and nothing else.  Just like the prodigal's son, I want the goods from my father and that's it.      This morning though, God opened my eyes to something new.
     My senior running season was a mess; it was awful and discouraging.  As a result, I've started to run and look at running through a lens of fear and selfishness.  I know God is in control and in complete abandon, I am choosing to give up my right to judge this situation by what I can see.  In the meantime though, I don't want to be healed back to brokenness.  I want to be running in joy and with a focus on Jesus and Jesus alone.  I need not be afraid of all that other stuff that has taken the fun out of the gift God has given me.  While I wait on his amazing grace, I will proclaim freedom over who I am.  I'm not just a runner, I am a daughter of the most high and I will not be afraid.
     If I truly believe that God is the creator of this entire world, if I really wrap my head around the concept that he is GOOD, then I have nothing to fear.  This is my time to rest in his arms while he moves the world and moves in me.
     When I return to running and receive the harvest that God has prepared in all areas of my life, I want to be a good steward of it.  Part of that is knowing that my talent is for him alone and not for my glory and my selfish gain.  Part of it is knowing that there is great joy in this waiting period, in this time with him.  Although I can't change my whole mindset and make myself more patient; trusting; selfless; God centered; faithful; joyful; and graceful, I know that I can focus on my heavenly father during this time and my communion with him will align all those other things.  What I can do though is command the fear out of my life.  I will not allow the fear of what others think and of my own incapability stop the amazing things God has planned for my life.  I will not let running become my life and lose sight of the reason I do it in the first place.  While I wait, I can refocus on these goals and be prepared for the battle that lies ahead.
Amen!  The weight of fear and anxiety is lifted off of me and onto the son.

     I pray that you give me a vision of what you see for me Lord and of the way you love me.   For I tend to get my vision of myself mixed up with yours.  You are the God of grace, abounding in love.  You not only CAN heal my body and my spirit, but you WILL.  I am here daddy, and I am using this time to come closer to you and to the woman you've created me to be.  I surrender in complete abandon and I don't have to worry anymore.  You've got this, you are actively working and Jesus is interceding on my behalf.  I can relax and enjoy this period of time, knowing that whatever you have planned for me is good.  I know that you want to be glorified in my excellence in running, so I pray for that, as a desire of my heart.  But I pray that my eyes will be stayed on you, knowing running is one output of my faith, but it isn't my faith and it's nowhere close to being the chief reason I'm here.  I'm here to meet with you, be with you, and to show your love as a witness.  You are so good.  Nothing and no circumstance can change that.  I believe you are good, I declare you are good.  I will not accept the lies that say otherwise.  I will not accept the fear that threatens to steal this sacred time I have with you.  I love you daddy.  You are marvelous in all your ways and I trust you.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Psalm 61:1-2

These verses were a great reminder for me today, cutting me off with my whining and anxiety. For I know that God has control summer he is watching over every situation in my life. Not only is he watching, but he is acting and he is listening. Sometimes it's hard to believe that because nothing and no one else on earth is so present, so loving. But that's just our God!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I'm a College Student: Day 4

     Good news: I've been a lot less homesick today and yesterday.  I've started to get in the hang of things and make friends.  One of the hard parts is the pain in my hip.  It started on Friday before I came to campus, and didn't get better regardless of what I did.  Basically, it started in my lower back and hurt all the way through my right glute.  Not fun.  I went to see the athletic trainer, and yesterday, she sent me to the sports doctor.  The good news is it's not a stress fracture like she thought, it's just extreme inflammation of those muscles.  Praise God for that!  I'm also really thankful that he's healing it and it feels better for the first time today!  I've had to keep reminding myself that his plan is much better than mine, even if it doesn't seem that way.  God's got it all under control.
      Yesterday, the freshman on the team went out for frozen yogurt, which was really fun.  We also had another meeting and then played games in the lobby last night.  By night, I mean 7-9 p.m.  My roommate and I were in bed by 9:45-- waking up at 5:45 for practice will do that to ya.  On a side note though, I'm learning that I really love getting up that early, once I am dressed and awake that is.  I love being done with practice at like 8!
     Tonight, we're going to have movie night and right now I'm headed to lunch before another meeting.  I had to cross train so I missed eating with the group a few minutes ago.
     Spiritually, I love that I'm drawing closer to God because he is the constant in all this change.  I want to grow in my trust though.  I want to look this hip pain and homesickness in the face and say: God is so awesome!  It will be hard this weekend with all the other families coming in and dropping students off.  Some of my teammate's parents are coming, but I think I'll be a solo act.  The worst time for being homesick is when I think of all the memories I'll miss creating with my family.  I'm not sure how to get past that one yet, so if you've got any idea: let me know!  I do know that God is good though, and he wants me right where I am.

Monday, August 19, 2013

One Day Down

     I'm officially at college!  The first day has gone pretty smoothly actually.  I've moved myself in, made some friends and successfully made it to all the cross country meetings and meals- on time too! While we get the rest of our gear next week, we received our shoes today (trainers, flats, and spikes).  That was super exciting.
     I'm not gonna lie though.  I'm seriously homesick already.  After two hours, I called my dad to check in, but I was really happy and not sad.  What made me sad was starting to think about how I'm going to feel tomorrow or next week...  Then, the girls started talking about when classes start and when it finally cools down-- no air conditioning is NOT fun-- and I started to get seriously homesick.  It's 10x worse when I realize that I don't just go home tomorrow.  I'm a little nervous too, because everyone has told me I'll be fine for the first few weeks, and then I'll get homesick.  If I'm really missing my family already, I'm worried how I'm going to feel in a few days.  To make matters worse, I forgot my phone :(  It's one of the only things I forgot, and one of the most important to have.  I'm either going to run out to scavenger for one tomorrow or see if shipping it is easier.
     Campus is great though, and everyone is so nice.  I'm super excited for practice in the morning, although I will be up before the sun at 5:50 a.m.  I'm already loving my desk and bed area, which are organized perfectly and are very cute!  Although it's only eight o'clock, I'm wiped out.  It's been a long, emotional day and I'm ready for bed.  Before I collapse though, I have to tackle my first "communal bathroom shower"-- the bathrooms are clean though.  Maybe I'll pop some popcorn and make some tea after that and pretend I'm back at home with my family.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

College Move In

THis is only a small portion of the pile!
     Tomorrow is the big day.  I've been really grateful for God's peace that has just been overwhelming me today.  Wellll...I did just about break down 5 min. ago, but for the most part: today has been a day of excitement.  I've got everything packed up in piles and it's even semi-organized.  It will be in the car and we will leave bright and early at 8 a.m.
     I was given so much love and encouragement at church today, and I can feel the prayers as I contemplate this next step in my life.  It's going to be good.  This is where God wants me, so even though I'm nervous and scared to be homesick, God's got it all.  Easy isn't fun guys, easy is boring.  I want some adventure, and dare I say it: I want the challenge.  That's why I'm in a relationship with God, that's one reason I'm a runner, and it's why I'm venturing out of the nest and moving three hours away.  This is an adventure in faith, and one that will grow my faith immensely.
     So I'm blogging now, so I don't feel like I need to blog tomorrow-- when I will most likely be an emotional mess.  I'll just keep reminding myself that I'm not ever alone, and I've got an amazing adventure to discover!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Eek... (Complaining About the Weather Again)

     In my perfect little world, I shouldn't have to stretch for my morning run in the bathroom just to stay warm.  I shouldn't have to do so in the middle of August, nonetheless!  Yet, that is exactly what happened when I went out to run this morning and it was 50 degrees out!  Why is it that I have so many posts that complain about the weather!?  I guess it's because I live in Ohio...enough said :)  Only 4 days till college move in!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Adventures in Babysitting: The Summer Comes to a Close

     Believe it or not, the kids are officially back in school and my job as summer nanny/babysitter has died with the fun in the sun.  During my last day yesterday, the kids and I made our Summer 2013 photo book.  Every day of the summer, I took at least one picture of the fun stuff we did together.  Our collection is comprised of photos from Lemonade Stands (RELATEDLemonade and Popcorn Stand), made up games, crafts (RELATED: Melted Bead Necklaces and Candy-cala), trips to the zoo and skate park, fun at the splash park, minnow catching, boat making (RELATED: Boat Making) and just about every other activity I could brainstorm.
     Before we threw water-balloons at each other to end summer with a bang, we lined up our photos and decorated the book.  A scrapbook would've taken far too much time, but we did add some mementos in the back.  That way, the kids can look later and see our Olympic Game schedule, our summer fun flag, and our seashells from the beach.
     While the majority of my summer photos have the kids in them, I'm leaving those off the internet.  Barring those pics., enjoy a flashback at the babysitting fun I had this summer:
Boat Making.

Fun with colored clay: the one in the back is a skillfully made
lego piece.  The other two are lego-sized motorcycles.
I'm not exactly sure what the black one is...
The clay creations of the girl I babysit.  You can definitely
tell which of the clay items were from which gender
(black and blue vs. pink rainbow).

Mancala with candy.  Each player gets to eat the candy
in their "hole" at the end!

Making an extravagant card for someone who was sick.

My melted bead creation

Fun at the skate park.

A VERY bad, blurry picture of a snapping turtle at the zoo.

Six Days Till College: What Happens to My Blog Then?

     It's my last Wednesday at home!  This week I've become very sentimental like that, and have been viewing everything as one of my last experiences.  I've also been saying my "last goodbyes."
     Anyways, I just wanted to let my family and friends know that my plan is to keep blogging.  For me: faith comes first, school comes second, and my family and running come after that.  However, blogging is still something I love and I know that writing is good for my academic focus as well as my emotional well-being.  When in college, I will most likely write a lot less, at least for the first few months.  But there will be more of a focus on life updates than I have had on my blog thus far.  While I'll keep in touch with close friends and family, I'd like to let my loved ones-- those who care at least-- know how college life is going.  Since I'll be living 3 hours from home, I can still have some contact with friends and family that would otherwise be out of the loop.  I'll keep writing my Grateful 2013 posts, my Unforgettable Runs (as I'll get to run all over the country!)  and other travel and faith stuff.  I'm just going to add a section for life updates as well.  I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride as I discover the new and adventurous part of life that awaits me!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Runner Etiquette

     From my years of trail running and street running-- which I do realize are few compared to many of you-- I have gathered many hints of etiquette and unwritten rules that, well, many people don't follow.  They're universal enough that most of us have learned to follow them, but I feel that it's my duty to inform the rest of you.  As you will see, most of these are things that I have direct experience with you. So while this is partly to inform you, it's also to tell some funny stories where I made a fool of myself.

Passing Other Runners- Depending on the runner, this might not be taken to very well.  But you have to go your own pace and do what your fitness calls for.  That being said, don't be that runner that sprints past a fellow harrier just to slow back down to a snail's pace.  It's pretty shallow, and doesn't gain you much respect with others!  Trust me because I've been there.  Just last week, I was supposed to be doing an easy recovery run.  Well, another female runner and I turned onto the same path and seemed to be going the same pace.  Having someone on my tail makes me edgy though, so I sprinted ahead of her.  She had soon picked up her pace and I was running a pace that was 30 seconds faster than I should, just so she wouldn't pass me.  Honestly, I think she was just doing a good hard run, but I couldn't let another woman be faster than me, even if I wasn't supposed to go fast.  Oh pride...

Passing Walkers- Passing walkers is a bit different.  They would be quite confused if you flashed a thumbs up as you zipped by.  In fact, many get extremely alarmed.  To stereotype, I've noticed that dog walkers especially seem to be in their own little world most of the time.  I have a dog, but I'm not sure even I understand the phenomenon.  For those who are lost in the world of dog walking, I recommend "the cough."  As my running friend and I were discussing the other day, the cough must be skillfully executed.  Once you are five or ten meters behind a dog walker, or just any walker, let out a loud cough.  They will immediately turn around, giving you the chance to raise your hand from where your elbow is covering your mouth (always use your elbow people!) and give a slight wave of appreciation. Just so they don't get suspicious, give another cough after you've passed.  Although the typical "on your left" works sometimes, I've learned from experience that it often erases all knowledge of left vs. right on the walker's part.  Weird, huh...they kind of just swerve back and forth like a delusional cyclist.  The cough is a little more obnoxious, but is proven to be more successful for me.

Crossing Streets- I'll be brief on this one, because I know that some safety-oriented reader might call me on the stupidity of this tip.  But here's the low down: If there aren't any cars coming, just go!  From a running stand point, I would argue that it's a little wimpy to run in place instead of crossing an empty street just because a little orange hand said not to.  Just go!  You can stop some other time, but you aren't running in order to catch some scenery at a red light.

Share the Path- As a cross country runner, I know my sport is guilty of ruining the mornings of many park walkers.  These cute elderly walkers and sweet groups of friends got up early to enjoy nature, but the typical cross country runner wrecks havoc on that serene ideal.  We run four across, talk really loud,  and dart in between walkers.  When I was on vacation a few weeks back, I felt the need to loudly announce to my dad that I had only nine minutes left in my 90 minute run.  "I'm almost done," I yelled with joy.  He put his fingers to his lips and motioned towards other side of the path.  Oops!  There was a group of cyclists who had dismounted with fancy cameras and were trying to get pictures of some rare birds...some of which I prompted to flight.  My bad!

Look Out For Other Runners- Earlier this summer, I was running on the side of the road when the cloudy sky opened up and proceeded to soak every inch of my body.  Seriously, I have NEVER seen such a torrential downpour.  Since I couldn't keep my eyes open to watch where the road was curving, I decided to seek shelter in some trees by the side of the road-- so as to not get hit by a car.  I waited for a good five or ten minutes before the rain had let up enough that I could see.  Here's the thing though: during that time, at least 15 cars drove past me.  Did none of them question why a young girl was soaking wet and huddled under a measly twig by the side of the road?  Isn't is probable that at least one of them was also a runner?  I'm not sure what I would've done if someone had stopped.  I told my friend that I would've hitched a ride home and done another run later that was of better quality.  She quickly forbid it though, saying it is too dangerous.  Regardless of what I wanted or would have done though, nobody even slowed down!  If I am ever driving down the road and see a young girl soaking wet, I would at least ask if she was ok.  As a community, we need to watch out for each other.  I love it that some of my friends run with me on a weekly basis.  The buddy system is very effective.

So now you know a little more about how naive and stupid I can be.  I hope to spare you from some of the same mistakes :)

Summer Comes to an End

     I'm at the point where I've got a week till college and everything has become a "last."  For example, today is my last Monday.  Normally, a Monday wouldn't be that special, but now I'm thinking about all the things I'm going to miss.  It's also my second to last day of babysitting this summer-- all the local kids go back to school Wednesday.  My little brother also goes back to school Wednesday, which means this is also the second to last day I get to spend with him!  Ah!
     I've humorously pointed out that going to college feels a lot like I'm dying.  I don't know about you other college freshman, but I've been frantically calling up friends and trying to get together before we leave.  That's what we say too: "leave."  We don't really say we're going to college or anything, but that we're "going" or "leaving."  I have to say my last goodbyes before I take off for school, and I'm finding myself more social than ever this week.  That's good and bad because, although I want to be around my friends, I also would rather have the time to just relax with family this week.  God's got it all under control though!  I had a minor breakdown after church yesterday-- the first of many, I know.  But I am just reassured that regardless of how prepared I am or how smart or successful I could be, It really depends on God.  Thank goodness!
       Have a great Monday!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

God's Healing Power in Action!

     If you read my post yesterday (Click HERE to read!), you are perhaps wondering what the deal is with my quad muscle that I strained.  Well, most likely, you aren't wondering, but humor me while I tell you how awesome my God is!
     Like I said yesterday, God was highlighting the difference between a distraction and an interruption for me during Bible study on Thursday.  Things that we often think are just distractions to "our plan" are divine interruptions or appointments made by God.  I tried to keep that in mind when I was contemplating stopping my run early yesterday.  My quad muscle was not just sore.  It was extremely painful-- to the point that I couldn't run downhill.  All of yesterday, I prayed, but I realized yesterday evening that I was praying with the wrong mindset.  Once again, I was praying with a specific result.  Unless God healed my quad by this morning-- so I could do my long run-- I would be upset.  For us to put God in a box of our expectations is absolutely NOT how it goes!
Clean. I like the colors.

     Here's the cool thing about a relationship with God though.  I was able to just sit down and tell him. I told him I was frustrated that my leg hurt so badly.  I told him that I'd been praying with the mindset that God was my little genie in a bottle, and not the powerful creator of the universe that he is.  In the end, my sinful attitude led to a great time with my heavenly father.  I was able to just confess my sin and open up to him.  His word says that we should be anxious for nothing, but in everything, with thanksgiving: present our requests to him.  At that point, I had gotten the thanksgiving part down.  I was viewing the pain in my leg as something God was going to bless me with and a way I could draw closer to him.  I rebuked my fear and prayed that if it was all the same to him, I would be healed in time to run this morning.  I went to bed with an awesome and strange sense of peace.  No waking up in the middle of the night and flexing my leg to see if it was "healed yet."  I was just trusting that whatever the outcome was, my daddy had it all figured out!
     I woke up at 6:45 to go run, and quickly ran downstairs and slipped on my shoes to see if I needed to text my friend to cancel.  I ran a few strides down the driveway and was a little iffy: I could run on it, but it was still pretty sore.  Speaking to my dad, I said that I was gonna go for it and see how it went.  In my head, I figured that even if I got in some miles, it would be better than nothing (FYI- this is not a healthy and good way to look at an injury, in the future).  "I'm just gonna pray that as I run, it gets less and less sore, rather than the other way around," I announced to my dad.  He agreed with me in  prayer and I headed out the door.
Praise God always!     You know what happened next?  I ran.  I ran 13.06 miles at a 7:07 ave. pace with NO PAIN IN MY LEG.  NOTHING!!!!  Sometimes, I try to explain God.  I try to rationalize that it was only time, or medicine, or a million other things that change a situation I pray about.  This time though, there really was nothing for me to say but praise God.  Yes, in the grand scheme of life, my strained quad is not important.  It's miniscule.  But my God cared enough about that tiny thing in my life.  How much more does he care about the HUGE things?  Yesterday afternoon and evening, I could hardly walk on my left leg.  There was a splitting pain whenever I put pressure on it.  Today, I had no pain AT ALL.  I am amazed at the power of my God.  I am astounded that he chooses to show his love to us.  Lastly, I am in awe that I get to be a part of what he's doing.  I get to experience divine interruptions- and so can you!

Friday, August 9, 2013

What I'm Grateful for on August 9


     Yesterday, after helping out with Vacation Bible School at church, I started feeling pretty sick.  Immediately, I became worried because many of the helpers at VBS were getting sick, and I did NOT want to go through that!  After Bible study ended at 6 p.m., I was feeling so bad that I decided to lie down.  I got a little nap in, but woke up with a headache that was just as bad-- if not worse.  A hot shower didn't help, neither did water.  So, I grabbed a little food and headed to bed.  I couldn't really eat though, my head hurt too badly.  I went to bed around 9-9:30 p.m. and got a good 10-11 hours of sleep.  This morning: no headache!  Praise God!  I am definitely grateful for that healing!
     I am also grateful for God's divine plan.  Yesterday at Bible study, we talked about the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30).  We discussed how there are so many things in life that we consider "distractions" to what WE think should be happening.  We often forget that God has a much better plan, and that these things are actually divine appointments set by him.  So, I've got a strained left quad that hurts like crazy.  It's been sore for three or four days.  Today, it was so bad that I almost didn't finish my run.  I probably shouldn't have, in hindsight, because I have my long run tomorrow.  Although it kept tightening up and I could hardly put pressure on it afterwards, I finished the run.  Now, I'm trying to ice and stretch very diligently, and I'm praying for healing so I can do my long run tomorrow as planned.  I'm reminded that last week, I was worried about my long run because of pain in my foot.  Well, not only did it not hurt during my long run, but God has completely healed it since it last hurt on Friday!  That's something else I'm grateful for!
     Back to my main point though: I know that this quad pain isn't just a distraction or something that I should worry about.  God has something he wants to teach me through this.  Already, I think he is teaching me that I need to be patient and trusting that he has a plan.  His timing is not my timing.  Maybe he will heal it right before tomorrow's run, or maybe he will heal it after the run-- meaning no long run for me.  Either way, I'm determined to see the blessing in this, because God works all things for good.  I believe that God can and will heal this leg, but there's got to be something he is teaching me through it because it is just bizarre to have my left quad so sore for over two weeks!  I love my savior and I know he loves me.  He has a good plan, and this "distraction" is really a divine interruption to teach me something.  For that, I am grateful.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Attention Book-Buying College Students: I Have a Solution!

     As a soon-to-be college freshman with too much time on my hands, I spent a good week researching the best way to buy college textbooks. I've heard so many horror stories of money flying out the door when it comes to these textbooks!
     That is how I came across SlugBooks.  This website is genius!  It takes all the websites that students usually use to buy books-- Amazon, Ebay, Chugg, and even your campus bookstore-- and compares their book prices side by side, both for purchase and rent.  For many universities, including my own, you can even plug your classes in on the site and be told what book you need.  The ones the SlugBooks brought up matched exactly with those that my school says I need!  Instead of scouring the internet for hours, I was able to quickly find the least expensive websites for books.  However,  I would also recommend googling for promo codes on the independent websites before you actually purchase the books. You might find free shipping.  I know that Amazon also has free shipping for college students, so take advantage of that (I bought 4 books off of Amazon). was so helpful.  One of my books was priced at $146 retail and I got it for only $28.00.  Plus, I'll be able to resell it after I use it!  Think about that as you contemplate an evening dedicated to your laptop and some Google Shopping.  I was too impressed with this website not to share!
     If this was helpful, check out some of my other college tips!  Plus, prepare for the academic rigor of college by purchasing some of these good, nutritious snacks for students.

RELATED: Crazy College Busyness

Adventures in Babysitting: Lemonade and Popcorn Stand

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     Last week, I decided that it was high time for a lemonade stand with the kids I babysit.  It was something we didn't get to last summer, and something they hadn't done before!  I was amazed at how well it went.  First, we had to make signs for the stand.  We were in luck because the family had just purchased a new kitchen table, which meant giant cardboard signs to be imagined.  We spent an hour or so doing that, and then got to work on making the stand-- fashioned out of crates and covered with a double layer of cardboard-- and making the lemonade and popcorn.  See, after years of doing lemonade stands myself, I realized that popcorn might be a good seller.  I was right.  Popcorns where the money's at kids: especially if you make two kinds like we did last week.  Customers were crazy for both the Kettle Corn and Regular Popcorn.  The kids enjoyed making the popcorn baggies and being taste testers for our lemonade.

(RELATED: Adventures in Babysitting: Boat Making)

     Around noon, we officially opened shop.  I put out a message on Facebook, to see if we could get a few people to come out.  It was an overcast day, so I was a little worried that the idea would be short lived.  In the first five minutes, a woman stopped to buy lemonade.  But after that, we just stood with our signs for the rest of the hour.  Then, business began to pick up.  A couple of my friends stopped by.  One even brought the children she nannies, and they helped with the sign holding for a while.  Then, three of the neighborhood kids came to help out as well.  Before we knew it, it was 3:30 and we'd made...wait for it: $45!  Isn't that crazy?
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     I think the key was letting the kids decide how they wanted to be involved.  Most days, they fight quite a bit, but on that day: not once!  Both of them were in their element.  They were dancing to get cars to stop, acting like little business-people, and taking turns handling the money and running the lemonade and/or popcorn to people in cars.  I could not imagine a more successful day!  Not only did they learn about teamwork, but they also learned about how business works, how to address adults and customers, and how to come up with creative marketing!  I love how they just kept telling me, "I love this!"  I'm so glad they had fun, and I did too!
     After doling out half the money to the Humane Society, we had the other half to give to our "workers for the day."  We told them they can either take their money or join us for a bike ride for ice cream in the near future.  All in all, it was an adventure in babysitting that I'm proud to say, was absolutely awesome!

Check out my other adventures in Babysitting:

The Best Family Games

     About five years ago, I thought I'd hit the jackpot when my dad said he thought it might be good to play some games during dinner.  Someone he knew at work did that with their family, and I was all for not having to just sit their and eat.  Playing a game sounded fun!  What followed is now known as our tradition.  Though we don't play games every night at dinner, we have become self-pronounced connoisseurs of family board/card/ect. games (RELATED: My Favorite Apps.) and from that esteemed position, I'm here to tell you the must have family games of this era.  If you are a semi normal family....or less than averagely normal-- like my own clan-- I promise you will thoroughly enjoy "womping" on each other in the following games:
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Snorta- There's no better way to embarrass company and get to know someone than by making barnyard animal noises in quick succession.  This game is good for kids 6+, and combines a sort of go-fish concept with farm animal noises.  You pick an animal (there are actual animal pawns), pick it's "noise," and repeat the noise to the group.  Then, you hide your animal in its mini barn and listen to the other players as they announce their noise.  As the game begins, you are watching to see if someone lays down the same card that you just laid down.  If they do, you must make their animal noise before they make their own.  If you do, they get all the cards you had laid down.  The winner is the one who gets rid of all their cards first, and is an expert at quick thinking!

The Awkward Family Photo Game
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The Awkward Family Photo Game- Ever seen those awkward family photos of mom, dad and the kids all dressed in denim?  How about the one where one child is looking like a soon-to-be ax murderer?  If you haven't, you clearly need to!  From the people who exploited these photos-gone-wrong, comes the board game that makes them even funnier!  You have to put captions on the awkward photos, tell what must have been happening before the picture was taken, and lots of other hilarious explanations.  You get points for having the funniest response.  The person with six points first wins, but honestly: we just kept playing till we were laughing to hard to continue!

Uno- This game is a classic.  It is what started our family game nights and dinner games.  We became quick experts at bluffing, cheating, and other wholesome aspects of competition....ok, that sounds pretty bad, doesn't it?!  No, we really did enjoy Uno.  Our family played it just about every night, and it's a simple enough game that younger children can either participate or team up with an older sibling.  This is a definite must have!

Scattergories- This is my personal favorite.  Although The Awkard Family Photo Game is a close second, I'm a sucker for creative thinking games like Scattergories.  I first played it at a friend's house, and laughed at her older sister for practically forcing us to play.  "She doesn't want to play anything else,"  my friend revealed, "We have to play it all the time!"  After a game, I realized why my friend's sister was so addicted to Scattergories: it is amazing!  It's pretty simple too; you roll the die filled with the alphabet.  Say you land on "B," then you pick a sheet that has plenty of categories (like: pop star, fruit, vacation spot, school supply, ect).  Everyone has 90 seconds-- or less if you want to set the timer to 60 seconds for a challenge-- to write down answers to the categories.  The catch?  Everything has to start with "B."  There are three rounds, and you change the letter and the category sheet every time.  The one with the most points at the end wins.  Oh, and FYI: I hate to lose at this one!  Everyone in my social circle knows that my brain is built for Scattergories, so I can't be inferior and lose :)

Wits and Wagers
Wits and Wagers- Wits and Wagers is a numbers trivia game that goes to the extreme by letting you "bet" chips, and win more chips by either, A.) getting closest to the answer, or B.) guessing the correct answer.  There's nothing more family friendly than teaching your kids to gamble, right?  I truly never thought of it that way, but I can understand now why people go crazy over betting.  Wits and Wagers is so nerve wracking!  There are seven questions asked (like: How many starring movie roles did Johnny Depp have before he was 30?), but it always comes down to the last round for us.  Nobody wants to stash their chips and be called cowardly.  We all know the winner is going to bet almost everything on the last answer, making Wits and Wagers and very dynamic game for the underdog!

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Bananagrams- I'm sure I am not as good at this game as I think I am, but for someone who just discovered it last week, I think I have a pretty good concept of Bananagrams.  It's a fairly simple spin off of Scrabble-- which I love, but is WAY too slow moving.  I love words, so I enjoy spelling them out with my letters as fast as I can.  It is so much faster paced than scrabble, which I love, and it really works your brain!  I have yet to challenge me if you dare!
Apples to Apples- By now, I'm sure just about everyone has heard of this game.  You take turns judging while the other players try to best match the label card that was laid down.  These can be anything from "Old Fashioned" to "Gross."  The person who laid down the most fitting-- or, often, the funniest-- card, wins the round.  If you haven't tried it though, it is even more hilarious to do try to find the card that worst describes the judging card.  In fact, there are many variations on the game, some of which are written out on the game box.  If you have a larger group of people, this is sure to entertain the  masses for a long time!
Apples to Apples
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     And of course... some games aren't available to be purchased in a game store.  My creative aunt came up with this idea for our last family Christmas.  Sometimes, a homemade game is the must fun of all!  For the Great Marshmellow Conflict, our family split up into teams, each team making their own castle.  We couldn't use tape or glue to hold the castles together, and we had to make a marshmellow shooter at the same time.  When everyone's castle and shooter were completed, we declared war and began pelting each other with marshmellows.  It was too funny!  Some castles were built for beauty, and quickly met their demise.  Others were borderline unbreakable!  By the end, we were all cracking up laughing and trying to pick the smeared marshmellows up off the floor and off our bodies.  Come up with your own creative family game, or get in touch with my aunt!