Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: July 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I Got Hit By a Car

     My, that sounds pretty dramatic doesn't it!  "I got hit by a car" is open to so many interpretations.  Was I driving?  Was I running?  Most importantly: What the heck was I thinking?
     I'm fine honest, and I chuckle to think I got hit by a car yesterday, but yes: It did happen.  I was riding my bike back from the gym and the driver of a lawn care company truck didn't see me.  I was literally around the corner from my house when I saw the truck coming super close and frantically tried to get as close to the curb as I could.  In an instant, I realized that he didn't see me.  I also realized that there was a trailer on the back of the truck.  But by the time I registered that I should jump from the bike to the grass, I was already struck and laying on the road.
     For a minute, I really though it would run over my head and that would be the end of me.  It was pretty freaky!  Then, I thought I would break a bone.  But, as the trailer cleared and I began to scream, I realized that as bloody as I was, I was ok.  God's protection was all around.  Though I landed on my shoulder and ripped a whole in the back of my jacket, I didn't hit my head.  Even though my knees were dripping blood all down my legs, I could move everything just fine.  I took a few seconds to childishly scream "ow! ow! ow!"  Then I realized I should probably tell the panicked driver standing over me that I was ok.  "I'm fine," I sobbed to him.  "I'm ok."
     It's not too exciting of a story after that.  Some extremely kind neighbors came over and sat with me while we waiting on the medics. A police officer came and took a report, citing the driver with a ticket and giving me information so I can get my bike fixed.  They checked my vital signs and asked me all the standard concussion questions, although I assured them I didn't hit my head.
     After I profusely thanked the neighbors, medics and police officer, I walked over to the driver.  I told him the truth: I know that mistakes happen and it could've been anyone.  "God was protecting me, and He was watching over me," I told the man, who had tears in his eyes.  After my incident hitting a mailbox two years ago, I know how freaky it is to hit something or someone and realize it was all your fault.  I remember wishing with every fiber of my being that I could rewind time.  But I couldn't then, and the driver who hit me could either.  So I let him know that he didn't have to.  I was ok, God was (and is) good, and all was forgiven.
     Once the police officer gave me the ok to leave, I grabbed my wounded bike and walked it up the hill to my house.  "Um...I just got hit by a car," I texted my older brother, knowing it was the perfect leverage to get him to come over and hang with me :)
     So yes, I got hit by a car.  But I was just a little bit sore this morning and had no problem going for my run.  Ya, I could do without the pain and fear that went along with the crash, but it is a pretty cool story and I do have some pretty sweet "battle wounds."  Besides, I got a nice evening with my brother.

The First Glimpse of St. John

     On July 13, our family packed up and headed to the airport to begin our grand adventure on St. John, USVI.  St. John is located below Puerto Rico and in the Caribbean.  Thus, it was my perfect island escape, and a real chance to rest and relax for the week (RELATED: Island Rest)!

     Because of ticket-booking confusion, the five of us kids flew separately from my dad and Teresa, my stepmom. Our flight was originally at nine a.m., but got bumped back to 10ish.  There was a real possibility we wouldn't make our connecting flight in Charlotte, but we pulled a "Home Alone" and sprinted through the airport, receiving annoyed glances from our fellow passengers when we finally found our seats.  The plane was seriously being held just for us!  Rather than receive their scowls, I chose to lavish in the special treatment and widely grinned as I found seat 21 (RELATED: My Journey to Eugene).  Perhaps, I reasoned, I could sign autographs while we taxied to the runway.  But something told me the line would be pretty short...

     Anyway, the island of St. John does not have an airport, so we flew in to St. Thomas and were greeted by my dad and Teresa-- who were extremely grateful we made the flight!  The small airport was basically open air, and I immediately tossed my sweatshirt in my bag and pulled out my sunglasses: It was beautiful!  I soaked in the much needed sunlight and sea breeze as we taxied to the marina where we would catch the five thirty ferry to St. John.  It was only four though, so we grabbed some drinks and found a spot at Tickles Dockside Pub to watch the ill-timed (for our family) Fifa World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina.  The family ordered some food to tide us over until dinner, but I grabbed the turkey sandwich I'd packed that morning.  I figured the lunch meat wouldn't be good much longer anyway, and I'm all about instant gratification when it comes to hunger!  I also bopped over to the small grocery store next to Tickles to grab another snack, where I was formally introduced to one of the greatest crimes in the Carribean: The food prices!  Oh my goodness: a jar of peanut butter is literally $10 and forget about finding a deal on fresh fruit and vegetables.  I purchased a small cucumber that just happened to be $2.  It was a good thing we had packed a giant suitcase full of snack bars, cereal and other non-perishable goods that we'd bought at home.  That saved us quite a bit of money, but I will warn you, fellow travelers: allot a good chunk of cash for food expenses when visiting the Carribean.  Be prepared to spend $25 on your shrimp salad that would be $8 in the states.  Believe me, and be all the wiser.

     Around 5:15, we boarded the ferry and waited as our luggage was loaded.  We snapped some pics and we found our seats.  All the while, we stared at Tickles in silent agony, hearing the cheers and boos from the World Cup fans at Tickles.  Suddenly, we heard a tremendous amount of yelling.  The restaurant went wild!  I impatiently tried to load the internet on my phone, desperately trying to figure out who scored.  It was Mario Götze, of Germany.  I had wanted Argentina to win the game, but realized that by that time, when we'd actually loaded the score, their were less than five minutes left and it looked hopeless for Argentina.
     Upon arrival at the Westin, our concierge confirmed the fact first thing: Germany had won.  I suffered a momentary blow, but can't say I was too invested in an Argentinian victory.  After all, my bracket was done for long before the final, and I was far too busy looking around the resort to really care about the game then.
     The Westin St. John Resort is one of two resorts on the island-- the other being Caneel Bay-- and it definitely lives up to its stellar reputation.  We were greeted with a white sandy beach and tropical lemonade.  The staff offered to take us to the room on a golf cart-- which were all over the place on the resort-- but a couple of us opted to walk to the room, in order to check out the resort.  The pool area was complete with ample chairs and umbrellas, free books to check out, a poolside bar and a restaurant area overlooking the bay.  The landscape was pristine, and the lounging iguanas made it all the better.

 We passed the large and well-equipped resort gym before we made it to our villa that was tucked back amidst the palm trees.  We were so blessed: It was an amazing place to stay for the week.  We had 3 bedrooms and a pull out couch in the living room.  The atmosphere was so relaxed and the size of the villa allowed for us to have our own space, but be close enough that we really bonded and had a lot of fun together.  Plus-- the biggest perk of the villa-- we had a private pool, hot tub and grill area in our gated courtyard!

     By that point, it was pretty late, so I headed to workout before the facilities closed and then we took a quick trip to the grocery to get some pizza for a quick dinner.  After a full day of travel, we were all exhausted, not too concerned about missing a night of the "island-fare" at that point.  Although, I did get frozen tilapia rather than pizza.  What can I say?  I do LOVE seafood (RELATED: My Favorite Foods).  We had a great dinner together, planning and discussing the next day's events.  But we all crashed pretty early and I for one was extremely grateful for the heavenly bed with six pillows and soft, light bedsheets.  Before lights out, I told God one more time just how thankful I was for the chance for such an amazing adventure.  "Help me rest in you God," I whispered, "I really want to get all I can out of this week, so open my eyes to what your doing.  Help me trust you."  With that, I dozed off to sleep, ready to begin the awesome week that was ahead!
(RELATED: Photo Recap of My Vacation to St. John)
(RELATED: Visiting Indianapolis)
(RELATED: Hiking to the Base of Engineer Mountain)

Stay tuned as I journey through my vacation to St. John and share my pictures, reviews, stories and adventures from the trip.  It was definitely an unforgettable trip and I can't wait to share it with all my readers!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Photo Recap of My St. John Adventures

     In depth posts, reviews and awesome stories are in the works.  Until then, take a look at my favorite photos from my family vacation to St. John USVI last week:

 We went to St. Thomas last Tuesday to experience the island and take a trip to Blackbeard's Castle.  Here's a view from the castle grounds.

 These were the kayaks we used for our EcoTour on St. John.  It was an awesome experience that involved kayaking, snorkeling and hiking.  Stay tuned to hear all about it in my next blog post!

 One of my favorite memories of the trip was hiking up Ram's Head, a favorite trail of my late uncle who passed away from cancer a couple years ago.  It was an awesome opportunity and a chance to remember and honor Him.  

 This was me, on the last full day. Me and my tan little feet did not want to budge from the beach!

I had an amazing time bonding, laughing and exploring St. John with my awesome family.   They are truly a blessing and I loved every bit of the past week with them!

Blissful Island Relaxation

     I'm beginning to think that I will never grow out of post-vacation-depression.  Ever sense I was little, I've had that great feeling of mourning when the good times come to an end and I have to pack up and head home.  Although I no longer stand sobbing at the beach or lying on my floor crying, I can say I've mastered the art of silently crying while keeping a straight face.  Sunglasses really help out too.
     This vacation was no different  I had an amazing time in St. John.  The sun, the beach, the time with my family and God: It was all wonderful and much needed.  I grew closer with my step-siblings, got to hike on my late uncle's favorite trail and had a blast with my family.  I ran, hiked, snorkeled, kayaked, swam and paddle boarded all over that island.
     But right now, in this post, I'm not here to tell you about all the ways I adventured and explored during my vacation.  That will come soon enough.  I want to explain the most important, most special thing I experienced while I was gone last week:


     I have never been good at it.  I've never been able to sit still and just "BE."  Growing up, I tried just about every sport I could sign up for: soccer, basketball, swim team, ice skating, tennis and-- of course-- running (with my parents).  While I eventually stuck with running, my restlessness became a pathway into anorexia as I dealt with my parents divorce and lots of death in the family.  Since then, resting has been not only minimal, but nonexistent in my life.  I saw it as a sign of weakness, another way that others could see into my brokenness and hurt me.  I didn't want to be vulnerable anymore, so I kept going at a million miles an hour in an effort to become, or at least appear, stronger.
     That's not to say I don't genuinely love running, because I Do.  I LOVE it.  But I also have loved tiring my body to exhaustion and feeling better than the gym goer next to me who is idly surfing the web on the elliptical.
     Recently though, as I've recommitted to surrendering ALL of me to God, I realized just how important rest is.  After all, God rested on the seventh day. He didn't need rest, but He wanted to set an example for us.  He wanted us to see that it is important to rest so that we can be more effective and be full of His peace.  He wants us to trust Him.
     Lately, God has been showing me the concept of rest in so many ways.  I've seen verse after verse, song after song.  I've seen numerous deer resting in the woods while I'm out walking (rather than allowing myself to rest and relax).
     Going to St. John last week was a moving extension of that lesson.  I know that delaying obedience to God is disobedience, and I know He has been calling me to rest.  While I'm still working diligently on obedience in plenty of areas, His spirit finally broke through to me regarding rest.  I was amazed at the relief I felt when I told myself I didn't need to go on a long walk or refuse to sit still in the car.  I could, and can, be still in Him and trust that my body is His temple and He will care for it.
     It is still a huge battle for me, and I know it will always be a weakness.  But God is in me and I know that He has granted us rest for a specific reason.  Taking a nap is a blessing, sitting out in the sun is a chance to see more of His beauty.

     I frequently see God's majesty on morning runs and while walking in nature.  But now, I'm learning to see Him in still moments in my room or a still body at the dinner table.
     While on vacation, I let myself rest and read.  I allowed God to dictate more of my day.  Each and every day I let a little more of Him in and listened a little less to the nasty voice of satan in my ear.
     That is why I'm so excited to share this journey with you, because I am in awe of the hope God has given me through it and the way He has used this past week to move in me and draw me nearer to Him.       I hope that as you look through the upcoming photographs and stories of my awesome Caribbean adventure, you will remember this post and recall  the true beauty that God provided me during this vacation: His presence and His rest.  Now that I'm back home, it is super hard to establish those habits here and allow myself to rest.  But I do know that the freedom I experienced on St. John doesn't have to stay back on the island.
     As children of God, we can have joy in every moment.  We can choose freedom and peace and joy in Christ.  We can also choose to rest in Him, not leaning on our own understanding or trying to work our way up the totem pole.  Let me tell you from experience, when you get to the point of utter exhaustion from trying to "manage" and "do" it all-- because you will get to that point-- God is right there.  Daddy is waiting with His arms wide open for you to come and collapse into.  I think that is the point I am finally at, and it feels good.  Really good :)