Saturday, July 27, 2013

Thankful Thursdays...on a Saturday...I KNOW, I know.

  • Cool mornings to run during...reminiscent of fall.
  • Speaking of- the thought of fall and everything that comes with it: football, sweatshirts, beautiful runs on the trails, long walks with Darbs where she isn't panting 789728978932 times a second, bonfires, S'mores, and weekends with friends.
  • Good tunes.
  • Driving with my windows down.
  • Downtown festivals.
  • VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL.  I cannot get enough of these kids and their joy and the whirlwind of energy they bring to the world.
  • Snacks.
  • Running. The ability to do so again.  The stress release that is for me.  The energy boost.  The best start to my day.  The attitude changer.  The focuser.  The perspective fixer.  The mindset decision maker.  The prayer time.
  • Having a God who listens.  A God I can come to directly.  A God of grace and mercy and love and kindness, but also a God of direction and correction.
  • People watching.
  • DARBY'S BIRTHDAY!  And with that the reflection of the past year and everything that's happened.
  • Redefined goals. And with that hopefully a side of motivation :)
  • This life stage.
  • Pouring into other people.
  • Time to slow down and enjoy.
  • Iced coffee. 
  • Pancakes.  With chocolate chips.  To celebrate Darby's birthday of course.
  • Fro Yo toppings.  These are the way to my heart.
  • Down time.  Yup, necessary.
  • Skyping with the parental units.  And the fact that we were all wearing birthday hats for the Darbs.  They are so cute.
  • IM'ing with my co-workers who are in the other offices...secretly...well not so secretly when we accidentally laugh out loud at each others comments.  I can't help it that I'm funny.
  • Trying to do handstands in yoga.  One word: comical.  I mean, the last time I even attempted one of those things was probably 1993 when my strength reached it's peak and I could actually do some pull-ups too.
  • Teddy Grahams.
  • S'mores in the oven.  Okay, so I love the real thing better, but when a s'more craving hits an open fire outside of my apartment is not always (ever) an option. #lakewithdrawals
  • Avocados.  I've read that they're good for brain development and even though I'm not under the age of 3, my brain can always use a little developing.
  •  Completing my longest run in a year.
  • The thought of new running shoes.
  • New running shoes.
  • Caramel apples covered in toppings.
  • House hunting.  In my dreams.  I KNOW, I know.
  • This verse: "Direct me in the path of your ways, for there I find delight."- Psalm 119:35.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'm on the pursuit of happiness (scratch that. joy).

    Have you ever stopped to think what someone would find if they googled you? No? Just me? Okay fine.  Well it just so happens that googling (pretty sure that's a verb nowadays??) is one of my specialties.  When it comes to finding out information, stalking someone via facebook, or checking out facts to make sure I'm all set for my Jeopardy debut- I've got it covered.  My co-workers think I was a P.I. before I started working at the Well For Life Center because it's just my thing.  Along with this skill set comes talents of anticipation, psychological analyzing, and guess and check techniques. And along with that comes this notion- the general population is just plain generally unhappy. You can see it through Facebook comments, it manifests itself through cynical captions, and it can be seen on the faces of not only brooding teens but moody adults in our everyday lives.  But that's not where the buck stops...when we live in a country that is so rich with culture, adventure, educational opportunities, career opportunities, activities, and fast food restaurants how is it possible for so many individuals to be suffering from depression and low self-esteem and eating disorders and body dysmorphia and financial troubles and relational issues and....the list could go on for forever, but don't worry I'll spare you by giving you the answer: because happiness cannot be found amidst paychecks and trophy wives.  It cannot be found in the file cabinets of a third story office or the dining room of an extravagant mansion.  Happiness isn't hiding in the crevices of an in ground pool or in the reflection off of a trophy.  It's not a certain number of likes on a picture or getting asked to prom by the perfect date.  And herein lies the problem.  Not only are people looking for happiness in all of the wrong places- they're also looking for the wrong thing: happiness. 
   Happiness is dependent upon current circumstances while joy is something that can stay in steady state if we find joy in The One who makes us who we are.  Happiness is the rise and fall of a roller coaster while joy is the steady speed of autopilot.  When we pursue so hard after worldly happiness, we often tend to forgot not only The Big Man Upstairs who blesses us and brings us happiness, but also the fact that happiness is only temporary.  And by all means, welcome to America: where the quick fix is everyone's saving grace and hard work and perseverance aren't even in the dictionary anymore.  We're so focused on diet pills and how can I lose ten pounds fast and let me just buy this one more thing and it's only 3 easy payments of $19.99 and I've always wanted a six pack and I wish I could just look like her and why won't she give me the time of day and why doesn't he think I'm pretty enough and if I just had a house then it would all be easier and if my boss would just see my potential then my life would be perfect and if I could just get a raise it would take care of these extra bills and if I could just get my kid onto that traveling soccer team and if I could just get a few more minutes of sleep then everything would be okay and if I could just, if I could just, if I could just, if I could just....AND WHAT I NEED TO KNOW IS WHERE DOES THE LIST END?  Sorry for yelling.  But seriously.  Why are we all waiting for our lives to be absolutely perfect and wonderfully in line before we begin to live them?  Why are we putting off being joyful in sorrows and patient in affliction until the scale says what we want it to or the report card is all A's or that girl gives you her phone number or you win the tournament or your marriage is selfishly pleasing to you or your cancer scans come up clean?  Why? Let me let you in on a little secret: even if you were blessed with all of those things or even one of would never be enough.  The list would just get bigger and grander and more extravagant and harder to reach and more outrageous. Because I can promise you one thing- in this world you will have trouble.  But I can also promise you another thing- you can take heart because God will always be there to hold your hand, to lead you to the next step, to show the road map of your life, to give you the secret code to get past the door, to give you more energy than the life brew of coffee could ever provide.  So, stop waiting; stop hesitating.  Your life will never be perfect (thank you very much Adam and Eve), and if that's what you're waiting for then joy and happiness will always be a unicorn of a concept to you- heard of but never seen. 
     So what your life is imperfect, your body is imperfect, your relationships are imperfect, your job is imperfect.  SO WHAT.  God gave you each and every challenge and obstacle you are facing for a reason and you should consider it pure joy that He's giving you these afflictions to help grow you, to make you stronger.  But you know what else?  You are also allowed to keep joy deep within your heart and let it radiate from your pores on the daily. You are allowed to love your life, every second of it.  You are allowed to find happiness in the ordinary, little things. You are allowed to enjoy every single breath you've been blessed with because that can all be taken away in a millisecond.  Each heart beat you have?  That's a gift with your name written on the tag. How are you using your gift?  Is it standing in front of a mirror critiquing what it sees?  Is it hiding in a closet and avoiding the mess that's in this world?  Is it tearfully avoiding coming out of the bedroom in hopes that your work problems will just go away?  Are you wallowing because you don't have your dream job or you can't stand your neighbors or your parents just don't seem to get you?  Or are you out there loving every single second of every single day and thanking God for all of it like you should be. 
    Keep joy as your steady state- your heart beat- strong, and emanating from above and within, but also find happiness in the highs and lows of life- the peaks and valleys- the tears and smiles- the challenging hills and easy rides with the wind at your back.  Be thankful for a good cup of coffee, fall in love with the characters of a novel, appreciate each strong step you take while pounding the pavement, enjoy a sunrise, spend a few extra minutes with your family, allow yourself to light up when you receive a call/text/e-mail from a loved one, relish in your favorite sweater, take 5 minutes to yourself and just breathe- thanking God for each deep breath, write an encouraging note to a co-worker, organize your closet, pay for someone else's coffee, take a sunset walk, fall asleep with a deliberate smile on your face, make an early morning tee-time, tappreciate crawling into a bed with clean sheets, fall in love with the sound of your puppies padded foot steps, catch 20 minutes of Vitamin D, take the stairs, sit back and watch your kids playing outside and thank God for the fact that you have strong and healthy children- then go join them, shoot hoops, plan a weekend away, make a to-do list and start checking things off, feed your body as fuel, tell someone you love them, hang up pictures, memorize verses, make your favorite childhood treat, find something to look forward to, eat some fro yo (that, my friends, can cure lots of problems :)), and do it all with a joyful heartbeat deep within you and a tone of thanksgiving on your tongue.  Because all of these things are given unto you by your Heavenly Father, and none of these things should be taken for granted.  It all can end in a second.  It really can.  Stop waiting for the stars to align or whatever nonsensical idea you have about your life needing to be perfect before you can enjoy it.  Get out there and start living- maybe for the first time in your life.  Really start living and see how it changes your daily perspective.  Okay, okay.  Getting off my soapbox now and leaving you with this:

"I've learned to be quite content whatever my circumstances.  I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little.  I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or empty.  Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." Philippians 4:12-13 {The Message}

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thankful Thursday {the blessed beyond measure edition}.

  • Long summer days. And the sunrises and sunsets that book end them.
  • Fully-stocked fridges. Grocery shopping is a rare occasion for this girl...
  • Afternoons by the pool. And a little SPF action.
  • Iowa State gear.
  • Chicago mix popcorn.  Also- Chicago.
  • Getting along with your boss.  Yeah, yeah...the attitude change took long enough, I KNOW.  I know.
  • The Darbster getting back to her normal self: pretty much hyper and lovable.
  • My co-workers.
  • THE LAKEEEEE.  Take me back.
  • Planning future vacations.
  • Faith in a God that is bigger than me and my dreams.
  • Speaking of, dreams for the future...ready to put into action.
  • Summer dresses.
  • I Cubs games.
  • Answered prayers.
  • Bomb pops.
  • Positive attitudes.
  • Road trip music.
  • Funversation.
  • Work days that fly by.
  • Loving my life with ease.
  • Beach towels.
  • S'mores. I think I maybe have mentioned this one before? I mean probably only once.  Twice tops.
  • Quality family time.
  • Card games.
  • Mini golf...even if my short game is TERRIBLE.
  • Children's books.
  • My fancy new bike.  Yup, I'm pretty fast now. Probably Tour De France ready ;)
  • New kicks.
  • Long hugs.
  • The uncontrollable giggles.
  • VITAMIN D. Kind of an obvious one, but still...thankful.
  • Home cooked meals.
  • Sarcasm.Can I get paid for that stuff?
  • Open doors.
  • The difference between mercy and grace and the intangible and tangible appearance of these on the daily.
  • My family.  Seriously cannot say this one enough.
  • Thunderstorms.
  • Weekends.
  • Exciting news.
  • Afternoon naps.
  • Feeling beautiful sans make-up.
  • Teaching a killer class and having people complain about soreness 3 days later.
  • Trust.
  • Pouring into another generation.
  • Pancakes for dinner. French toast for dinner.  Okay, any breakfast food item any time of the day...
  • Skype dates.
  • Fro yo. Yeah, alright...mainly the toppings.
  • Learning to love like Jesus with reckless abandon.
  • Giving up's a beautiful thing.
  • God's will, and walking in it.
  • Coffee mugs. Full ones.
  • World maps.
  • High heels. Okay, okay.  Actually Nikes.
  • This verse:  "He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong." -2 Corinthians 12:9-10
  •  And this sunny day for good measure:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yup, this is a post about cookie butter...

So, cookie butter.  That's a real thing.  In case you've been deprived of this magical product for 24 years of your life like I had, I need to tell you how amazing this invention is.  If you love peanut butter you will adore cookie butter because it not only packs less calories but has a low amount of carbs.  Nope, this is not an infomercial, and you cannot order any with 2 easy payments of $14.99.  But I mean, I'm not going to reject you if you want to send me 2 easy payments of $14.99...  My co-worker introduced me to this magical spread and ever since then, I have not been able to stop telling people about it.  P.S. Trader Joe's carries it, in case you were worried about being able to fill your addiction :) 
Could this entire post really be about cookie butter? Okay, no...well it could be, but I'll spare you. It does have a comparison to my every day life.  I got to thinking yesterday about how many people I've talked to with reckless abandon about cookie butter.  Yup.  A lot. Everyone from clients to friends to my boss to my co-workers to people at the dog park (it makes for a great small talk starter if you're looking for one :)).  And then I got to thinking how sometimes I get nervous to bring up Jesus in every day coversation. This brought on the thought of the fact that I never even had a second thought about blurting out to people about this great new product...its reputation can take care of itself.  I never once thought people would be annoyed by me telling them about cookie butter or even worse, having them reject cookie butter.  I trusted my own thoughts about it, my deep love for it, and most importantly I trusted the product.  So, why is it so hard to do the same with Jesus in the corporate world?  Why would I even have a subconscious thought that Jesus and his ministry wouldn't be able to uphold their reputation.  I mean, He is the only constant I have in this world.  The only consistent, unconditional love known to man. The only one who knows where I will be tomorrow, which people I will interact with, and the decisions I will make given each fork in the road.  The only omnipotent being.  The only One who is completely unselfish. If you can openly trust something that's manmade and confined to a jar more so than The Big Man Upstairs, we've got ourselves a problem.  And all problems can be resolved with focus and a challenge.  So, this next week...who will you interact with?  Who will you be able to share with?  Choose your conversation wisely and ask God to bring this problem to never know how you might transition cookie butter small talk into a witness for the Big Man Upstairs...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Recipe for Success.

Recipe for the perfect (weekday)morning:
  • Waking up 2 minutes before my alarm.
  • A mind-clearing, focusing, sunrise run.
  • Some good tunes.
  • Jesus Calling.
  • Prayer time. Constantly.  Necessary.
  • Darby's sleepy face.
  • A good cup of coffee. Make it a grande.
  • An already packed bag and lunch. You know what's helpful for this? Having groceries.
  • A "good morning" text. :)
  • A smile and a positive outlook.  Challenge accepted.
  • Planning for the future...which usually leads to daydreaming, maps, and making plans that God is probably laughing at...
Recipe for the perfect (week)day:
  • A good attitude. Yup, it's a choice.
  • A few surprises.
  • Living my faith out loud.
  • My outlook calendar. Organization is key.
  • Post-it notes.
  • Protein Shakes.
  • More good tunes.
  • Productivity.
  • My co-workers.
  • Direction from The Big Man Upstairs.
  • A night to look forward to.
  • A bike ride.
  • Smoothies.
  • My to do list.
  • A walk with the Darbster.
  • The dog park.
  • Vitamin D.
  • The driving range.
  • Pre-packed snacks that make an on-the-go life easy.
  • My soccer girls. Their giggles, random comments, love for copying my every move, and questions about boys and life itself.
  • Apples and peanut butter.
  • Random texts and e-mails from the boy.
  • Nap time. As an adult. Real thing.
  • Trying to love everyone like Jesus.  Challenge accepted.
  • Prayers for direction in every decision, for faith in every situation, for patience in every instance, and love and comfort in every second.
Recipe for the perfect (week)night:
  • Dinner in the crockpot.
  • Playing cards or games.
  • Reading a good book.
  • Having free time.
  • Outdoor activities.
  • Spending time with the boy.
  • Popcorn and M&M's.
  • Playing catch.
  • Phone convo's with people I love.
  • Pinterest.
  • Going for a walk on the trails.
  • Wind down time.
  • Ice Cream Dates.
  • Outdoor Concerts.
  • I Cubs games.
  • The feeling of crawling into a bed and letting my joints decompress.
  • Clean Sheets.
  • Prayers of thanks.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thankful Thursdays.

Wow.  So, it's been a while.  My lovely sister-in-law reminded me of this thing while we were on the phone this week, and I decided what better time to begin blogging again than Thankful Thursday...welcome to my specialty:
  • My 5:30 a.m. morning run ritual.  Yup, I said run.
  • Sunrises. Sunrises. Sunrises. Sunrises. Sunrises. Sunrises.
  • Pictures.
  • Hair Bows.
  • The first (and hopefully only) sunburn of the summer.  Yes, I used SPF. 3 times. THREE. Learned my lesson, mom, don't worry.  I'm 24.  I got this.
  • The grand realization that you cannot control anyone else's actions.  Just your own.
  • Guacamole.  Seriously cannot get enough of this stuff.
  • "Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In that response lies our growth and our freedom."  Viktor E. Frankl
  • Photography.
  • Random ice cream dates on summer nights.
  • Those days were everything goes right and you fall more in love with your life by the second.
  • Coffee dates that you can bring your dog to.
  • Hitting the pillow with a smile on my face.
  • Finding joy in the ordinary.
  • Chalkboard paint.
  • Refrigerator magnets.
  • Slow pitch softball on warm summer nights.
  • My first free weekend in 12737891237128937812 weekends.
  • My Anthem CD on repeat.
  • Photo Booths.
  • Learning to love like Jesus.
  • Driving with the windows down.
  • Challenges.
  • MY RUNNING COMEBACK.  Missed it. So much.
  • A good cup of coffee.
  • The smell of guys' cologne.
  • The Darbster making friends at the dog park.
  • Plans for the future.
  • New ideas.
  • Puppy paws.
  • Maturing in the mind, staying a kid at heart, and all this taking place in a 24 year old body.  Which I love very much.
  • Walks around gray's lake.
  • Learning to appreciate time spent with people I love.
  • Days that fly by.  Moments when you want to stop time.
  • Suitcases.
  • Seconds where I remember to stop and fall in love with the little things.
  • My accoustic Pandora station.
  • Ceiling fans.
  • My life. Yup, pretty amazingly blessed.
  • Bonfires.
  • Bubble gum.
  • S'mores.
  • S'more flavored anything.
  • Loose fitting tank tops.
  • A good book.
  • Summer tanlines.
  • Barefeet.
  • Dinner time.
  • Being unplugged.
  • The fact that the lake is T-minus 1 week and 1 day awayyyyyyyyyy!
  • Greek salads.
  • Hallmark.  Not the channel.  The cards.
  • Caramel apple suckers.
  • Snow cones.
  • Having your own style and not caring what anyone in the world thinks.  Not even a little bit.
  • MY NEW BIKE.  It is awesome.  I am fast.  I wear a helment.  No need to ask.
  • My blogging comeback.  SORRY.  I've been enjoying real, non-cast, driving, being active, walking, playing with Darbs, being able to make myself food life.
  • This passage: