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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand

The Stats
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 389
Rating: 4/5

     Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, was a complete shock to me.  I read the message boards claiming it was a "must read" for runners.  What I didn't gather though, was the extent to which it would impact me beyond just running.  Unbroken is about a runner, but it reaches far beyond the track into some of the most personal and heart-breaking moments in life.  It is the in-depth and gut wrenching tale of Louie Zamperini.  
     Zamperini was an Olympic 5,000 meter runner who was extremely driven and coached himself to Olympian status in 1936, shock the world with his speed and tenacity. At 19, Zamperini was the youngest to ever qualify for the 5,000.  He was also a daredevil.  After the Olympics, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.  That is where Zamperini truly became known as a legend.
     Hillenbrand takes the reader along with Louie as he enters the air force and soon faces the fight of his life that starts on a 2 person raft in the middle of the Pacific and ends behind enemy lines in Japan. "If I knew I had to go through those experiences again," Louie once said: "I'd kill myself."
     I was enthralled with the character of Louie.  And as someone who generally steers clear of historical novels, I could not put the book down.  Hillenbrand does not just depict Louie's life, she unveils it in a way that the reader is swept along in his tale of unspeakable horror and ultimate peace and restoration in Christ.  My eyes were opened to the amazing power of forgiveness in a way I have never grasped before.  After reading Unbroken, I have an understanding of the life of a soldier-- and veteran-- that commands respect far beyond what I had ever imagined.  

     So, yes.  Unbroken is a "must read" for runners.  But it is also a must read for the soldier, the adventurer, the fighter and just about anyone who needs a major shift in perspective of the capacity for human survival.  Louie, as I learned, did not only survive.  He overcame.  As a runner, as a soldier and as a man: His story is one worth telling, because it is unlike anything you have ever heard before.
     I also look forward to seeing the movie adaptation as it hits theaters later this year.  With any luck, I'll post a movie review shortly after it's Christmas debut.  Until then, check out the official Olympic preview trailer, read about Louie's encounter with Billy Graham and read this amazing book! 


And don't forget to read my review on Born to Run- another great book for runners!  

Click HERE.

Click HERE for more awesome book reviews on A Grateful Life Lived.


Less Than a Hundred Days from Eugene, Oregon

     To say I'm excited about my upcoming trip to Eugene would be an understatement.  I am ecstatic.  At first, I was super nervous about going all the way to Oregon by myself.  Well, I'm still nervous, but now I am viewing it as a right of passage for the adventurer in me.  I've got a countdown on my phone and my Pinterest "Trip to Eugene!" board is overflowing with ideas on what to do and where to go when I'm not spending every minute I can enjoying the Prefontaine Classic.  So I'm reaching out to the blogging world.  Where would you recommend in the area?  I won't have a car, so I'm looking for the best local places to run, walk, hike, adventure, eat and explore while I'm there.  I'm gonna pack as much in as I can, and I could use the help of my readers!  Please comment if you have any insight or perhaps live in the area.  May is coming soon and I am ready to get planning!

*And I will be blogging all about the trip during and afterwards!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Quick Snacks for the College Health Nut

     Going off to college can be a stressful adjustment, but I have found that having healthy, available snacks is a great way to up my productivity and help me to stay focused and happy as a student and athlete!  During high school, I fought a battle against anorexia and this is still something I must stay wary of in my daily life.  The past few months, I have rededicated my focus to making sure my body is getting quality nutrition.  Heaping plates of vegetables is not healthy when there is little protein or carbs for the body to subsist on.  So what snacks do I always stock up on?  I've previously blogged about my favorite gluten free snacks, but here are a few new ones that are definitely worth a try (all are gluten free as well):

1. Sweet Potatoes
I am in love with the simplicity and health in the sweet potato.  I have a bag of mini and microwavable sweet potatoes in my room that has slowly dwindled to one.  Sweet potatoes are packed with Vitamin A (438% for a medium potato) and are a good source of carbs, Iron, Vitamin C, Fiber and Potassium as well.  Equally important: they are delicious!  You can dress one up with some cheese or sour cream or some other "topping," or (if you're in a dorm room like me) you can just jab it with a fork a few times, wrap it in wet paper towels and stick it in the microwave for 3 minutes.  Wallah: a perfectly delicious and nutritious snack.  And if you've got a little more time, you can always use some sweet potato in some Super Simple Sushi!

2. Blueberry Flavored Almonds
I received a package of these at Christmas and am sad they are just about out.  Regular almonds are an amazing source of healthy fats, protein and carbs- perfect for a quick snack or post-workout mouthful to tide me over until lunch.  Blueberry coated almonds are all these things....and more!  They are so amazingly delicious I cannot even explain.  Go buy some, and I dare you to eat just one.  That's right: I'm pulling the old Lays catch phrase.  This is for real people- they're delicious.

3. Light and Fit Greek Yogurt
Even without the amazing new flavors that are rolling onto shelves, Light and Fit Greek Yogurt is a daily must-have for me.  I got hooked on the stuff about two years ago and haven't looked back.  Not only is it lower calorie and lower sugar than Chobani, but it's also much less expensive-- a perk for any college student.  I have a hatred for the sugary "fruit on the bottom" gels that many greek yogurts have, so that is another reason I love the Light and Fit Greek Yogurts.  The fruit flavors taste natural and I don't taste grainy, sticky gel in the fruit.  Each 80 calorie yogurt has 12 grams of protein, 150 mg of Potassium and 15% DV of Calcium.  Plus: only 7 grams of sugar.  How does it stack up against Chobani?  Below, I compared each brand of 5.3 oz Pineapple flavored greek yogurt:

Chobani L&F Greek
Calories 140 80
Protein (g) 11 12
Sugar (g) 15 7
Carbs (g) 17 8
Fat (g) 3 0

     And what amazing flavors are available other than Pineapple? Check out the picture to the right:
     My personal favorites are Raspberry Chocolate, Strawberry Banana and Blueberry.  However, a few of the flavors haven't come to my area yet, so I am anxiously awaiting their arrival-- especially Pomegranate Berry!  And if you find these to be delicious, don't pass up frozen yogurt bars.  Click HERE for a review of my favorite brands and flavors of this healthy treat.

4. Turkey Sandwiches
A quick turkey sandwich is no doubt a staple in many households, but the same is true in college.  Whether you get it in the dining hall or have some supplies in your room, don't dismiss this easy and nutritious option.

5. Sugar free JELLO
I'm waiting for my Peach JELLO
to solidify for a snack later :)
Does it have a lot of nutritional value? No.  Is it really a good food to nourish your body with?  Probably not.  And yet, Jello is just so stinking fun to eat!  I love it!  It is a fun snack to munch on when I'm not really hungry but really need a little treat.  And as far as treats go, it is quite harmless-- as long as you get the sugar free kind.  At home, I've experimented and put JELLO in frozen-chocolate cups which was delicious!  At college, I'm content to just eat it out of a container as a nighttime snack.  Can't go wrong with sugar free JELLO, in my opinion.

String cheese is a
staple in my fridge

6. String Cheese
Cheese sticks are another great snack to munch on or tide you over until dinner.  I always buy the low-fat cheese sticks, but brand hope depending on the price.  As the name suggests, string cheese is very fun to eat as well.  I love pulling apart the strings to eat, and the protein kick is a great energy booster.  Each cheese stick has 6-7 grams of protein as well as a good dose of Calcium and fats.

7. Organic Almond Butter
To be fair, Almond Butter is only a recent addition to my food repertoire.  Teresa bought some for me a while ago but I'd been waiting for the oil to drain to the top after I turned it upside down last week.  I was a little iffy about trying it, but I had some this morning for the first time and it was positively delicious.  As apposed to peanut butter, almond butter has higher protein.  It is also an excellent source of Omega-3s and Iron.  Below, I compared Almond Naturally More Almond Butter with both Jiff Natural Creamy Peanut Butter and Jiff Original Peanut Butter. Check out the stats:

Jiff Natural Jiff Creamy Almond Naturally More
Fat (g)
Sat. Fat (g)
Sodium (mg)
Dietary Fiber (g)
Sugar (g)
Protein (g)
Iron (DV)

The Almond Butter has a lot more Iron and more protein as well as a a healthy amount of fat (lower in saturated fat).  Despite the low sugar content, I also found that the flavor was really good!  I am a peanut butter girl, but Almond Butter is extremely delicious and I might just have a new favorite...

8. Apples and Pears
Every night, without fail, I grab either an apple or a pear- or both if they are the tiny ones from the dining halls- as a delicious snack.  I love apples.  I also love pears.  I would say apples are my favorite, but I've been on a pear kick lately.  Either way, nutritionists have been preaching the benefits of both fruits for years.  I doubt I need to tell you about the healthy benefits of apples and pears.  But perhaps you didn't know that apples can help whiten your teeth, strengthen your memory, help your heart and relieve constipation (Best Health Magazine).  Or maybe you'd be interested to learn that pears strengthen the health and shine of your hair, boost your immune system (Vitamin C), relieve constipation and give you healthy skin (Health Magazine).  Not bad, huh?

9. Gatorade Chews
Gatorade Chews are a quick pre-workout snack that I have found very useful.  They provide a quick burst of energy from sugar and are easy for me to digest and keep down before a race or run.  I enjoy them as well because I can slip them in my backpack and have them readily available with minimal effort- good for those early morning practices.  I also find them less messy than a banana or peanut butter toast, which are other great snacks before practice.  At home, I like a bowl of berries, but on campus, I'm just as happy rolling out of bed and eating Gatorade Chews on the way to practice.  I wrote about them earlier as a perfect stocking stuffer for runners.  Check out some of the other great ideas HERE!

(RELATED: Gear Review- Saucony DriLete Arm Warmers)

10. Tea
Tea doesn't exactly count as a snack, but you wouldn't know that by looking at the bottom drawer of my desk.  I have over 20 different kinds and flavors of tea, and my friends know that if they need a cup: my room is the place to go.  Although tea doesn't give the calories, protein, fats, or carbs that our bodies need, it does provide many other essentials: nutrients.  Depending on the type of tea you choose, you could be reaping various benefits for your body.
     Health experts worldwide tout the wisdom and health advantages to drinking tea.  In addition to being a nice warm drink that is much healthier than a crafted concoction at Starbucks- I'm looking at you Pumpkin Spice Latte- tea is also delicious!  I love Tazo Cocoa Mint Matte, but I've also been enjoying Yogi Soothing Bedtime Caramel and Good Earth Organic Mint Tea.  In the summer, I love the fruity teas like pomegranate and raspberry.  Too many delicious flavors!  Some teas, like bedtime caramel, help relax and rejuvenate the body.  Other, like my beloved Republic of Tea Get Charged tea, are great for giving energy.  While some have caffeine, I usually steer clear of that if I can.  My Get Charged tea, for instance, is a rooibas tea that naturally gives energy without caffeine- or its side effects!  If you need some tea recommendations, I'm your gal.  And if you aren't sure that tea is "your thing," start tasting around.  I would guess that there's a flavor you might just fall in love with.  The world of tea is so varied, there's something for just about everyone.


I bet you are craving a trip to the grocery store to stock up your own house or dorm room.  I know I'm getting hungry!  By choosing healthy snacks, you will definitely reap the benefits both now and in the future.  Hopefully, I've given you some ideas to either get started or mix-up your usual routine.  Are these some of your favorites, or would you add some others to the list?  Comment below!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Presence Filled 2014: February 19



     Today brought a hint of Spring and much needed sunshine here in Indy.  Heck: I even ran without gloves this morning!  The warmth also allowed me to press into God with thankfulness, because I've noticed this past week: I've been very self-centered.
     Aside from the amazing experiences I have at the school I'm volunteering at, I noticed today that my prayers have been very "me me me" the past few days.  I was stressing out about a Spanish presentation today and lots of homework on my plate, and I let that turn me inward.  Yet, God's grace is here for the taking and I'm so thankful I was able to start anew today.  The bright sunshine and (slowly) melting piles of snow were a great reminder of that.
     I also listened to a great teaching by Christine Caine-- one of my new favorite authors-- that was really great and discussed the need to address the sin and the shame in our lives "today."  Have you ever thought about that: Why did Pharaoh tell Moses to get rid of the plague of the frogs "tomorrow."
     Christine referenced the story of the captives of Egypt and I was struck by this verse I'd never quite seen before:

{Moses said to Pharaoh, "The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?" Then he said, "Tomorrow." So he said, "May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. }

     Rather than asking for the removal of the frogs that very moment, Pharaoh opted to spend another night with the disgusting creatures in his bed, on his clothes and all over his house.  Why?  Perhaps he thought that maybe they would just go away after one more night.  Maybe, he thought, one more evening will do it and they will just disappear.
     I don't know about you, but I do that very often in my own life.  God is willing and able to address something in my life and I choose to delay the action and go one more day without his freedom.  I decide that tomorrow I will address it, because I rationalize I might "feel like it" then.  Let me tell you from experience: That doesn't exactly work-- or make sense.
     I encourage you to join me in getting rid of the frogs TODAY.  We have been rescued by Christ for a reason.  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1).  I am ready to do something about this procrastination and take a stand for freedom in Christ.  I hope you will inspect those hidden areas in your life and join me!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jamaican Bobsledding

Cool Runnings makes me smile every time! One of my FAVORITE movies!
     So, who else was really hoping the Jamaican Bobsled team would be more of a force in Sochi.  A little disappointing, but it brings me back to the days of watching Cool Runnings with my brother and idolizing the quirky Olympians.  I am now fully convinced that if I almost make the Olympics as a track runner, but tragically fall short of my dreams: I will go for the bobsled.
     How about you?  What Olympic sport would you try?!  Comment below!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A-Z of Me: Letter "E"

What are my three essential items?

1. My Bible
Yes, I am aware that people go without their Bible in extreme situations (ex. captured martyrs, ect.)  But if it's all the same to you, I'd like to keep mine please.  Not only is it vital to my well-being in so many ways, but if I were to live with only three possessions: You'd better believe I would need this one.  Besides being the guidebook for my life, my Bible has so many notes written in it about where I've been and how far I've come.  The highlighted spots and scribbled messages are markers of different periods in my walk of faith.

2. A pen and (giant) notebook
If pens and notebooks can be bought in a bundle, I think it qualifies as one item.  I'm doing the list so I figure I can stretch the rules a bit.  Anyway.... I love to write.  Love it.  It is one of the chief ways I express myself, and I would go crazy if I could not write down how I feel, my experiences, what God is showing me, stories and anything else that flies through my head.  I've come to find that writing is cathartic for me, and while I may not always produce "worthy" pieces, my writing serves to remind me of my past, much like my Bible.  I can look and see what was important in my life, how I was growing or struggling and the extent to which I've grown.

3. Indestructible running shoes
To preface this point, I have to remind you that running shoes become worn out after only a few months of use.  For that reason, these "magical" shoes would have to have indestructible soles that didn't wear down-- causing injury.  In the same way that writing is cathartic, running has a way of clearing my brain and bringing me back to the simple joy of letting go.  I know I could very well survive-- and thrive-- without running in my life.  But I also know that I feel God's joy when I run and I have a sense of freedom that can elude me in other areas of life.  I think running shoes are a must, if I wanted to be able to continue running without some terrible injury.


     There you have it.  If I were trapped on some island, with only three things: I think these would be my essential items.  Perhaps I'm missing some glaringly obvious item, but these three things jumped out at me.  Aside from the practical things like water filtration or a working GPS, I'd say my three essential items would very much aid in my survival-- but probably in the emotional and spiritual sense more than the physical.
     Want to read more in my "A-Z of Me" series?  Read last week's entry HERE.  Don't forget to check out the first few entries as well:


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Speeding Up: What I've Been Up to Lately

     With school and life being so busy lately, I have all but neglected to post normal updates and be a "good blogger."  I just published a post on how God has been working in my life this past week, so check out A Presence Filled 2014: February 8.  But here's the thing:  That is only the tip of the iceberg.  As life has sped up, the amount of blessings has only magnified!  Finally, I'm taking the time to sit down and share them with you (and myself!):

1. So....Am I running?!
     Yes, I've failed at giving the scoop on where I'm at with running, but I'm happy to report: God has healed and is restoring.  Interested?!  Please read about what God's been doing in my running HERE.
Here's a super-blurry picture of me wearing
my flats for 1st time since the second day of xc practice!

2. My Birthday!
     In all honesty, I was kind of dreading my birthday a few weeks ago (Jan. 29).  I had never had that sensation before, but I was worried that it would be extremely hard and lonely since it was my first birthday away from home.  These worries were only compounded when my older brother's birthday (five days before mine) came and I found myself crying because I couldn't be there like I have always been.
     I secretly prayed to God that He would cause someone at school to remember, but also that I would rest my value and my joy in Him.  After all, I always say that birthdays are a time to celebrate all God has done in someone's life.  I didn't need people celebrating me to do that.
     Yet, I was amazed at God's grace.  Not only did a lot of my friends remember, but my family lavished me with love.  Each and every one of the many packages I received over the course of three days was so perfect for me.  My grandma bought me a devotional of Hebrews that I told her I wanted....last summer! (I didn't even remember voicing how much I wanted it!!!)  Each gift was truly from the heart and that was what made it so special.  I knew that my family had not just gone out and grabbed something typical that I would enjoy.  There was so much love in it that I was overwhelmed.  For the first time in my life, I didn't know how to respond.

{I couldn't repay my family for the gifts they had given, 
and yet: I still had those gifts.  In the same way, I can 
never ever pay for God's grace and forgiveness.  
And yet: He still freely gives.}

What girl doesn't love birthday flowers :)
     I am so used to spilling over with "Thank You's" and lots of excited emotion, but I knew: it wasn't enough.  It served as a glaring example of God's love.  In a tangible way, I could see there was no way I could ever say thank you enough.  I couldn't repay my family for the gifts they had given, and yet: I still had those gifts.  In the same way, I can never ever pay for God's grace and forgiveness.  And yet: He still freely gives.  He even knows that there is nothing He will get in return!  That, friends, just BLEW MY MIND.
     In the end, I did miss giving my mom a hug and seeing the joy in my daddy's eyes when I received the gifts, but I am amazed at God's goodness.  This was one of the most special and unique birthdays I have ever had.  And I have never, ever felt so incredibly loved!

3. Volunteering
     In the midst of all this craziness, I also felt God tugging on my heart to reach out more.  Since serving Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter in November, I have been desiring to be more of a blessing to others and give back more.  I began to practice an "outward focus--" let me tell you: It will be a lifetime of practice-- and simply help my friends and those I didn't know.
     This was when God showed me the reality of His agape love.  See, I wasn't too happy when people didn't say thank you after I went out of my way for them.  I was downright upset when they ignored my kind gestures or cards.  God set me straight though.  He reminded me that there are hundreds of times every single day that I choose to ignore His gift of being nailed-- bloody and naked-- onto a cross for me.  I quickly realized that true love doesn't require a response.  It isn't given in order to receive a specific reaction.  That isn't the love He has for me, and that's not the love I wanted to have for others.  FYI-- it's still a work in progress!
     After this was in my brain, I miraculously received an email about a group on campus looking for members to volunteer at a school for the blind and visually impaired once a week.  "Yes!  God, this is what I've been praying for," I whispered as I clicked "REPLY."  I'm sure He was chuckling: "Uh...ya.  I know, I kind of did it this way on purpose!"
     Anyway, I started that this past week and cannot wait to go back!  It blessed me so much to see the simple joy on these kids faces.  They have been through a lot-- many even live at the school-- and yet, they were so full of hope.  I absolutely adored getting to know them and looking for ways to assist them, rather than focusing on myself.  God is so good!


     I think that is about it for now, but now that I've dug through the "archives" of the past month, I will make sure to do more regular updates.  I pray that this blesses you.  I love keeping friends and family updated, and it is a great tool for me to go back and see how God has worked in my life and what I've been up to.  If you want to read more, click over to my main page HERE or check out my "A-Z About Me" blog series by clicking HERE!

Back from Injury and Ready to Go!

Romans 8:31 Who can be against us??     Yes, I've failed at giving the scoop on where I'm at with running, but I'm happy to report: God has healed and is restoring.  Interested in what else God has been doing in my life lately?  Click HERE            Basically, my stress fracture has been healed up for a while, but I couldn't start doing hard, speed workouts until my ferritin went up.  It was at 12, which is super low for a runner-- coach wants me up in the 60s.  For a  month or so, I prayed and took iron supplements and ate lots of iron rich foods.  Although I was doing all that, it was still a little nerve-wracking to go and test my blood during the first week of the semester.  My running for indoor and outdoor basically depended on that level going up to at least 30.  I had been feeling MUCH better though, so I was very hopeful it had gone up.  It was just a question of how much, and would it be high enough?  My head was flooded with worries: Would I get to race indoor at all?  What if my iron actually went down?  What if this period of waiting never ends like I believed?  What if God isn't for me?  
Here's a super-blurry picture of me wearing
my flats to do strides.  Haven't worn them since
the second day of xc practice!  It felt so good
to slip them on! 

     I've never been depressed but I've heard depression described as a slow slide into deep sadness.  I would compare that to having low iron.  My iron had been low for so long, that I didn't remember what it felt like to have energy.  All I knew was running was no fun and I was constantly worried during runs that I would just konk out.  Sometimes, in the fall, I would just be running and suddenly stop because my body had absolutely nothing left.
     So I was already praising God that I felt like a completely different person.  And then: He surprised me even more.  My ferretin level went up to 36.8!  Praise the Lord!
     So where does that leave me now?  I am enjoying running-- thrilled with it-- for the first time in a year.  I am running better than I have and feeling better than I have in almost two years.  I was able to start doing moderately-hard workouts two weeks ago and have felt great and confident.  It is so fun to get some speed-work under my belt and let my legs fly again.  Granted, I've lost a the quick turnover that comes from doing hard workouts, but God has granted me so much grace in that I have not only maintained, but improved my aerobic fitness.  I am doing recovery runs faster than ever and with less effort.  In the words of Grant Taylor from Facing the Giants: "Tell me: What is impossible with God?"
     To that, I would tell you: Nothing.  Nothing is impossible with God.  Perhaps you think that is a bit presumptuous because I'm not racing yet and my iron still needs to go up and I still have a lot of work to do.  But I would say it is not presumptuous in the least.  When I look at all God has done in my life and all He has brought me from, that answer does not even seem to suffice.
     I am excited for all His promises to come, excited to be living freely and using the talent He has given me and I'm excited to keep growing closer and closer to Him.
     What Satan intended for evil, God has used (and is using) for good.  So tell me: What is impossible with God?


     Read more about what God has been doing in my life the past few weeks by clicking HERE!

Francis Chan PASSION 2014: Let Your Life Be Worthy

I saw this amazing video from PASSION 2014 a few days ago.  This is definitely a message worth tuning in to.  It is based on Phillipians 1:28, and really provoked me to examine how my life is falling short in representing Christ.  So how about you, are you living worthy of the calling?  To view more of what God has been doing in my life lately, check out my running update HERE and see what else has been up by clicking HERE!

A Presence Filled 2014: February 8

     Life has been flying by lately, but I have been really amazed lately by God's grace.  This past week was a blur of classes, running practices, extracurriculars and homework.  Sandwiched in there was a much appreciated snow day!  Regardless, I seem to keep messing up and falling short.  That's why God's grace has been so prevalent in my life this week.
     I am constantly in awe that the creator of the universe is so much in love with me, that He takes me back time after time when I choose something else over Him.  Because, that's what sin really is: choosing something else over God.  Whether it's worry or control or jealousy or bitterness, those things take God's primary place in life if we let them.
     I have been meditating on Hosea 10:12 lately, and this verse has been such a motivation in seeking the Lord in freedom:

{Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you}

     It is such a good reminder for me, and all of us, that if we seek God: we are going to get Him!  I'm reading a book right now about spiritual warfare, and one of the points that stuck out to me this week was the concept of the belt of truth, and how righteousness is the best defense against the devil's schemes.  If I choose to follow after Christ and Christ alone, I leave little for Satan to accuse.
     At first, that caused me to feel anxious.  I know I will never live free from sin in this life, and I also tend to get sucked into a perfectionist cycle that ends in condemnation and self-hatred.
     Yet, this verse doesn't condone condemnation.  In fact, it speaks to freedom.  Freely, I can seek after Christ.  I can't sow righteousness by myself; it's only possible with God right at my side.
     Today, in this moment: we are free.  All your sins are wiped clean with Christ's blood and you stand in righteousness in this very moment.  Doesn't that lift such a weight off your shoulders?  I know it does for me.
     I often see myself as a timeline of sin that extends far back and far ahead of current time.  But according to scripture, I am free and righteous.  In this very moment, I am free and blameless in Christ.  I can use this moment of freedom to sow righteousness and seek God or I can fall into sin and seek something other than God.
     I challenge you the same way I challenge myself: Take this liberty Christ offers.  Accept the freedom that has been given right now and leave the sin and condemnation in the past.  Let us reach forward toward Christ, because once He comes and rains righteousness upon us, we are going to love and desire more and more of Him.  It's part of the continuous separation from our fleshly selves and the continuous journey to being filled with more joy in the Lord.
     Woohoo!  Get excited: it only gets better from here!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The A-Z of Me: Letter "D"

All about my dog

     Although I am very biased, I am certain that I have the best dog in the world.  After years of dragging around a stuffed bear to show my responsibility, we finally adopted two year-old Lily when I was in middle school.  It was around the same time my parents split up, and I gratefully clung to Lily as my confident and playmate when everything else was out of control.  
     Lily, a chocolate lab, is a petite 50 lbs.  But don't let that fool you.  She never fails to find a Clif Bar that is left out or-- in one instance-- an entire 6-pack of blueberry bagels.  
Mom dressed her up for my birthday this past week :)
     I take Lily walking, running and swimming-- as she enjoys all three.  She is also the object of affection for the two children I nanny during the summer.  They constantly ask when they can see Lily again and how Lily is doing.
     Although she is a bundle of energy and great with kids, Lily has also been known to comfort elderly residents at senior living centers, where she somehow calms down and takes on the role of "therapy dog extraordinaire."
     She hates vacuums (and the deceptively similar Swiffer), lettuce, spinach, dog clothing and loud beeping (reminiscent of her collar).
      Lily loves sprinting up and down the hill at the dam near our house, making friends, eating Clif Bars and greek yogurt and bananas, snuggling, watching Animal Planet and chasing snowballs.   
     She is special to me in so many ways and I'm missing my little girl like crazy while at college!

She is alert, looking for her toy

And then...she found the toy

Look at that cute smile!!!

Check out my previous posts in my "A-Z of Me" series by reading about letters C, B and A!  There's plenty of wacky and interesting stuff about your favorite Christian-collegiate runner-blogger :)