Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thankful Thursdays {snow day edition}.

  • My first official adult snow day! Filled with sleeping in, baking, present-wrapping, music-listening, movie-watching, reading, resting, cleaning, packing, and homemade pizza-making. I need more of these in my life.  Like maybe once a week?!
  • Finding potential.
  • A 90's Christmas Music Pandora station over the loudspeaker at work. All. Day. Long. Love me some old school N'Sync.
  • Becoming more efficient.
  • Homemade fudge.
  • Exercise endorphins.
  • Sleeping in a dark room.
  • "Buddy the elf, what's your favorite color?!"
  • Finding purpose in the everyday details.
  • The silence of the first real snowfall.
  • This verse: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."- Isaiah 55:8-9.
  • Teaching a really good class that leaves people sore and coming back for more.
  • Thoughtfulness.
  • Fleece blankets.
  • Choosing your attitude on the daily.
  • Waking up without an alarm.
  • Wrapping Christmas presents...okay, okay using bags and tissue paper...
  • The anticipation of someone opening the presents I got them :)
  • THIS of the best things I've implemented in a long time. Seriously. In love.

  • Having something to look forward to.
  • Fridays.
  • Phone convo's with the cuz.
  • Feeling so incredibly loved and surrounded by support.
  • Two words: THE DARBSTER.
  • Santa's nice list.
  • Iowa State gear.
  • Home Alone.
  • Houses that go all out with Christmas lights.

Have a lovely day, kiddo's!  Can't wait to see you all over Christmas :)   In the meantime, let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tying the knot and keeping it that way.

So, call me sheltered, call me naive, but I did not realize how lightly people take the term marriage until I entered The Real World: Corporate America.  Right.  I get it.  My first year in adulthood, but still. I was seriously shocked to slowly discover 1. How many people actually have affairs. 2. How many people don't even try to hide the fact that they're having affairs. 3. How many people have forgotten that marriage is not just some 6th grade "do you like me? check yes or no." game.  4.  How many people dangerously flirt the line of emotional affairs.  I'm about to get serious (doesn't happen often), but marriage is the binding of two people under a vow.  Right?  Marriage is the holding of hands after 50 years going strong.  Marriage is building each other up.  Marriage is seeing your spouse at their worst and best and loving them the same each way.  Marriage is challenging each other to be the best you, you can be.  Marriage is having someone to cry with, laugh with, play with.  Marriage is God-centered and for His glory.  Marriage is having someone to celebrate your successes and help pick you up after your failures.  Marriage is having a road trip partner, someone to critique movies with, and a partner in crime.  Marriage is love.  But most of all marriage is commitment.  I have a hard time understanding how affairs begin or even what insecurities they stem from, but a text here, a flirty conversation there, even thinking about the person outside of your marriage in an inappropriately emotional way?  Really, not okay.  Entertaining these thoughts can lead you down dangerous paths that may start from the simplest of misread actions.  I get that everyone has their vice.  We are all tempted in different ways, but fortunately there is 1 Corinthians 10:13 to remind us- "No temptation has seized you, except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear.  But when we are tempted, He will provide a way out so that we can stand up under it."  So, by all means, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world, and unfortunately it's not the Aladin-magic-carpet-ride kind.  This topic has recently intertwined itself with the myocardial fibers of my heart.  Especially when you're in the pursuit of living the life that God has planned out for you and praying for direction and feeling called to love, these things should lay wary on your mind as they do with mine.  My heart breaks for anyone who has fallen victim to these situations since it not only effects the two people bound together in marriage but their families, children, co-workers, and the lives surrounding them.  Talk about selfish.  So, please respect the sanctity of marriage in a society that doesn't seem to care.  If you can't at least commit to that at the very least, then here's a thought, MAYBE DON'T GET MARRIED? 

Tell your significant other that you love them, leave a thank you note for your spouse with the things you appreciate about them, perform a random act of kindness for someone you love, go on a date night, hold their hand just because, kiss their forehead unexpectedly, plan a trip together, spend time building a stronger foundation, DON'T GET MARRIED UNTIL YOU ARE 100% SURE AND READY, love each other with everything you have, and above all else: keep your relationship God-centered. Because in the end, that's all you really can do.  Lean on each other and hold tight to the promises that He brings.  
In other news for anyone who is about to ask me those ever-popular holiday questions of "SO, where yo boyfrannn at?  You got a boyfrann? Is he tall?  Is he hefty?  Is he getting you refreshments?" (youtube video...hilarious):  I refuse to settle down or even use the term settle down.  Who wants to settle into a marriage?  What a terrible idea.  And who wants to rush the dating phase?  Not a chance.  I want to fall madly in love.  I want to make date night a regular thing.  I want to flirt with my husband when I'm 82 years old.  I want to spend time appreciating each other in all of our weirdness.  I want to put effort and energy into a relationship.  I want to travel together, learn together, and live our lives together.  No secrets.  No strings attached...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thankful Thursdays.

  • Darby sliding across the lineoleum.
  • God's provision.
  • Chocolate covered pretzels.
  • The word "foreva".
  • Pizza and movie nights.
  • Days off.
  • The anticipation of the holidays.
  • Christmas break.
  • The perfect coffee concoction.
  • Neon green.
  • Clues to a scavenger hunt.
  • Girls night over nachos.
  • Successful soccer banquets and the outfits that go with them.
  • The end of a LONG, RIDICULOUS program at work.  And with it, the end of the LONG, RIDICULOUS questions that could have been answered had they just read the initial e-mail...and then re-read it...and then re-read it again.
  • This verse, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12.
  • My Charlie Brown Christmas tree, courtesy of grandma :)
  • Appetizers.
  • Energy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Life on purpose.

Living a life of intention is often something that slips my mind, but what better time to start living on purpose than the present?  So many times I get to the end of the day and wonder where the time has gone or what did I even do with my day or why is my life such a blur or what did I eat for lunch or did I remember to use shampoo...or sometimes I don't even think these things at all. My head hits the pillow, my to-do list for tomorrow runs through my brain, I probably respond to a few texts, a few prayers are sent upstairs, and a few special thoughts slowly rock me to sleep.  But a few recent events have spurred me into letting my mind wander and dream and pray about where I really want to be in this life, what my purpose really is.  I may not know the p's and q's of my future road map, and actually I probably don't even know where my next turn will be, nor will I ever.  But in the meantime, why not live each day like the gift we've been given?  Why not wake up and get out of bed with intention?  Lace up those Nike's and hit the road because we've got some heavenly real estate to share with others and plenty of living on purpose to do.  Each breath is something to cherish, each smile, each phone call, each interaction- unique and precious.  So, stop taking things for granted and start wearing out the things you've been given to use because you've only got one life to live.

"Have I not not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." -Joshua 1:9

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Thankful Thursdays.

  • Dreaming big.
  • Commitment.
  • Skyping with Grandma.
  • Library cards.
  • 50 degrees in December.
  • Early morning, head-clearing, prayer-filled runs.
  • Basically clear tests.
  • Energy.
  • Peppermint bark.
  • The Disney World, magical feeling of renewal and love that only church can bring.
  • Deep breaths.
  • The release of anxiety.
  • Twinkle lights.
  • Kiddo smiles.
  • This verse, "In all your ways follow Him, and He will make your path straight."- Proverbs 3:6
  • Anticipation.
  • Late lunches.
  • Christmas shopping.
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
  • Darby's sleepy puppy face.
  • Moose tracks and movie nights.
  • Bear hugs.
  • The smell of baking bread.
  • Did I mention mint m&ms?
  • Coffee shops where students are studying for finals and I AM NOT AND LOVING EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF IT.  That is all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Things that Baffle me.

  • Having to pay to recyle.
  • Girls who put lipstick on right before they go to dinner.
  • Calling 3 running plays up the middle of the field when they didn't work the first 2 times.
  • Why the dentist office is booked between now and my 25th birthday.
  • Why I haven't been to the dentist in 2 years....
  • What the heck happened to crispy m&m's??
  • Candles that smell like poison ivy and mosquito spray.
  • Why I have to choose between getting eaten alive by mosquitoes or having my face eaten off by the cancer in mosquito spray.
  • Why Gatorade didn't stop making flavors after Blue Frost because let's be can never get better than that.
  • Why in the world you cannot get 100 Grand bars anywhere in Des Moines.
  • Why flossing is supposed to be done on the daily...who has time for that nonsense?!
  • Sarah Palin.
  • People who take the elevator up to the 2nd floor of the fitness center to work out.  Umm. Whaaat.
  • People who don't turn right on red.
  • People who use the left lane while they are driving -5 mph.
  • Why Darby feels the need to go to the bathroom in the most public places.  It's so embarassing.
  • Why Darby feels the need to run through the piles of leaves just raked by the lawn guys.  Also embarassing.
  • People who ride bikes without any tension on there.  You look like you're going nowhere, just FYI.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful Thursdays.

  • Creativity.
  • Christmas lights.
  • The second bowl of cereal.
  • Darby's sleepy puppy side.
  • THE FACT THAT MINT M&M'S HAVE RETURNED TO THE SHELVES.  AMPED. Excessive of me to buy 52 bags at a time? No? Okay, good.
  • Heart-to-hearts with my sister-in-law.
  • Christmas shopping.
  • Days off.
  • Smelling like your new favorite coffee shop.
  • Budgeting.
  • My metabolism.
  • The second to last chapter of a book.
  • When the Saints win.  Rare occurrence this year, I know.
  • Wearing shorts on the last day of November.
  • Darby and I getting the trails to ourselves.
  • Neon-colored shoelaces.
  • Excel spreadsheets.
  • The holiday season.
  • My family.
  • Down comforters.
  • Caramel apple suckers.
  • Anticipation.
  • A clean room.
  • This verse: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”- Deuteronomy 31:6
  • Anddddd this face:

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Ultimate Thankful Thursday.

  • Non-stop laughter.
  • Full on family dinners.
  • Eating until you're full. And then some.
  • Gratitude.
  • Road Trips.
  • This verse: "If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your life will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.  I will always show you were to go.  I will give you a full life in the emptiest of places- firm muscles, strong bones."  Isaiah 58:10-11.
  • The fact that there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy.
  • A clean inbox.
  • Down time.
  • Staff Lunches.
  • A good leisure read.
  • Beautiful weather.
  • Short winters.
  • Christmas shopping.
  • Planning vaycays.
  • Introversion.
  • Dinner dates with the girls.
  • Crossing things off on a to-do list.
  • Grandma's cinnamon rolls and orange julius's post-run and probably post-shower for my families sake.
  • Neil.
  • Playing games (the board or card kind not the emotional kind).
  • Baking.
  • Seeing new couples form.
  • Quality family time.
  • Throwing around the pigskin.
  • Thought-provoking runs under the stars at 4:30 am (if you are my mother, feel free to change that 4 to a 6 for your sanity).
  • The anticipation of things to come.
  • Random acts of kindness.
  • Brightening someone else's day.
  • Living my faith out loud.
  • Upsets.
  • Underdogs.
  • Sitting Indian Style.
  • Daddy Daughter Dates.
  • Putting up my out of office e-mail reply.
  • Ice water.
  • Learning to be thankful on days other than just Thanksgiving.
  • Big League Chew (a.k.a. BUBBLE GUM. No, I am not ruining my teeth or my gum line with this.  Speaking of, the dentist has been calling my name for about 2 years now. Gross, unnecessary fact. I know.)
  • The outlet this blog has become.
  • Smiling for no reason.
  • Banana peppers.  Those little things are oddly delicious.
  • New shampoo that will probably last me 9 months (also, probably unnecessary information).
  • Being thankful each and every day because each and every day is a gift from The Big Man Upstairs.
    Enjoy this holiday season and spend time thanking God for each of the blessings He provides, as well as, those closest to you for impacting your life.  Most importantly, go live your life like the gift that each breath is :)  Happy Thanksgiving, kiddo's!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursdays.

  • New opportunities with work.
  • Private jets with entertaining pilots and Indiana Jones humor.
  • The fact that I can eat as much as a 13 year old boy and be okay with it.  Okay, more like I'm thankful that I can eat as much as a 13 year old boy and have friends and parents who do not judge me accordingly...or at least in front of my face.
  • A break from the routine.
  • This verse: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's eyes."- 1 Peter 3:3-4
  • A home-cooked meal waiting on the table when I get home.
  • Not having groceries or the gumption to go buy them and still finding something bomb to make for dinner (thank you, 2 year old pancake mix).
  • My co-workers.
  • My boss and our bonding time? Yeah, what?!  Change in attitude (thanks to the Big Man Upstairs). I know.
  • Sunshiney days.
  • The extension of fall.
  •  Fro yo.  With just about every topping imaginable except for those weird marble-looking things. Not havin' that.
  • Foraging through woods on the trails with the original adventurer (a.k.a. The Darbster).
  • Time well spent over dinner with friends.  Also, the dinner part.
  • Getting lost in a good book.
  •  Laughing until I go silent and can't breathe and think I'm literally going to die, which is not really that funny, but I literally cannot make myself stop (mamacita, you know exactly what story I'm referring to).
  • Accepting myself where I’m at, but always pushing on for more.
  • Enjoying the exact moment I’m in.
  • Never being content or complacent with my faith walk, but happy and always craving more.
  • Finding a new song to put on repeat! Lecrae, you make my day.  Also, Ben Rector, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers. Michael, and Jack. Holla!
  •  Phone convo's with the 8 year old drama queen.  Yes, yes she does have a cell phone now.  Yes, yes she was smart enough to go through her dad's phone in order to get my number.  Yes, yes we do have some very interesting conversations about gummy worms, Monopoly, chalking the sidewalk, her new babysitter and the pranks they play on her, and the boy down the street....her very first crush :)
  • Speaking of...crushes.
  • Not setting an alarm.
  • Snail mail.  
  • Seeing an e-mail pop up in my inbox from the people who make my day that much better!
  • Days where I climb into bed, completely spent of every ounce of energy I was given, big sleepy grin on my face, and fall right to sleep.
  • Grandparent wisdom.
  • Unconditional love.
  • This statement.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Remixes and Recaps.

A year in review.  Lemme tell ya.  It's been real.  Most people like to do their reflecting when they're ringing in the New Year, but I prefer to make sure mine coincides with my annual review for my job??  Not sure.  Anyway, I guess I've been an official un-grown-up adult for a year now so, I figured it was time for a "Stay tuned for scenes from next week's episode..." moment.  I promise I'll only give you the important John Madden highlights because there are WAY too many boring details in 365 days. I mean you probably don't want to hear what I had for dinner these past couple weeks.  Cereal.  Salad.  Popcorn.  Candy.  You name it. Just practicing what I preach ;) 
I suppose you could say a lot has happened within the past year.  I also suppose you could say God decided it was time for Extreme Makeover: Life Edition.  After graduating college and finishing up an internship out in Colorado, which was a huge(LY AWESOME) step in itself, I ended up with 2 job offers (1 job lasting about 3 weeks...oops...).  I accepted what I saw as my dream post-college job.  After applying to everywhere under the sun except for Iowa, I ended up moving to Des Moines and started living by myself for the first time in my life, and let me tell you I LOVE IT.  Someone is going to have to do some serious convincing to get me to like them enough to want to marry them, let alone give up my own space.  This career move has been a huge growing and learning experience for me.  I am so thankful for this job (even having a job at all, let alone with a salary and benefits...although with the current political "change", it appears as though probably I could get paid more to do nothing...also, I'd have free health care..but let's leave the politics out of it...) each and every day.  I get to rock Nike's to work, I get the chance to try to brighten people's days through corny jokes and hilarious Darby stories while I take them through a workout, I get to teach classes, track numbers, make spreadsheets and flyers and powerpoints.  I get to play Wii's Just Dance with the higher-ups in the corporate world (and we all can laugh at our dance moves...personally, I'm a "freestyle it" girl).  I get to have water balloon fights with the CEO of Wellmark during employee appreciation week.  I get to fly to our Sioux Falls and Sioux City sites to see what kind of knowledge and inspiration I can pass along there.  I get to perform health assessments and see some pretty outrageous numbers.  I get to greet people with a smile and a "Good Morning" at 5:00 in the am, and let's be serious....those are the weirdest kind of morning people you will ever meet.  Although, please tell me that does not make me one of them.  I get to track numbers and submit reports.  I get to come up with incentive programs for employees to earn money back on their benefits, as well as, get them motivated to live a well-rounded healthy lifestyle (You've already heard my rantings on body stereotypes...).  I get to give Lunch and Learn presentations in huge conference rooms containing banquet tables filled with healthy and unhealthy snacks and attempt to convince them to pick the former.  I get to set the group exercise class schedule, track the numbers, watch the trends, listen to member complaints, change all of the names, throw in my creativity, and schedule our staff in.  Anyway, there are plenty of things that go into my daily routine, and as much as I've enjoyed the daily tasks, I've probably learned the most from personal interactions.  The people I train, my co-workers, my boss, my boss's boss.  I've learned that everyone looks at life differently, and I can't expect that to change.  I've also learned that everyone has a different percentage of optimism and often times, that percentage can change within a matter of 20 minutes (I blame a lot of that on the pregnancy hormones from my me, you don't want to drink the water around here...BABY FEVER. Don't worry, mine will always fall into the PUPPY FEVER category.).  I've also learned how important being a witness can be and HOW EASY it can be when everyone around you can be easily influenced.  My co-workers and I usually get along swimmingly and we enjoy talking about way more than work...everything from dogs to babies to families to holidays to college memories to breast cancer to death to life to eating habits (Those 3 bowls of cinnamon toast crunch I had after dinner last night?  Great conversation starter.) to job searching to venting to sleeping habits to things we like to do for fun to them living vicariously through me and my dating life.  We've become incredibly close over the past year, seeing as we've been through a lot.  I honestly feel like they are a second family, which makes my faith, my words, and keeping a positive outlook all much more imperative.  Each day as I pull into the parking ramp, I turn my static-y radio off and say a quick prayer for the day and for my witness because we all know I can use a little help in taming my sarcasm and snarkiness.  It's a big part of my personality; however, sometimes it can overshadow God's words and my inspirational outlook. 
Another big step in my "adult" life has been doing the long distance dating thing and then deciding not to do the long distance dating thing.  Ever again.  At least, I hope not.  And then deciding not to do the dating thing at all.  Welp, that lasted a couple of months.  I honestly haven't talked a lot about this to anyone (unless your name is mamacita, daddio, or Olivia). If you had only been around me within the past year (November-November) you would probably not even want to be my friend.  Let's be honest, I wasn't even my fun self.  Even my loving, yet honest mother will tell you that I had lost my spark.  Looking back, I was a miserable person for the most part (I can hide it well sometimes.).  So, I should definitely throw some apologies out to those of you this affected.  I was on an emotional roller coaster and had a tough time climbing up from the depths of sadness.  And please. Look at my life.  Do I honestly have any reason to be sad ever?!  Not a chance.  There are so many beautiful reasons to be happy. I have been incredibly blessed and have done nothing to deserve it.  I can honestly say I'm slightly mad at myself for wasting that time.  Okay, more than slightly.  I would cry for no reason. I was moody.  I couldn't figure out if I had a purpose anymore.  Then all of the sudden one day (okay, it wasn't quite that kind of an epiphanal moment), I woke up, looked in the mirror and said to myself, "Janel.  Ya look like a mess.  You are a beautiful 23 year old girl with a beautiful family who lives in a beautiful area who has been blessed with so many beautiful things who needs to be enjoying all of the beautiful opportunities that are available to you.  Get your act together.".  And that was that. I couldn't even pull myself together to get ready for the upcoming conversation, but I tried.  I bawled my eyes out at the impending task, and I don't even think it was because I was sad, just ready to be myself again. I went to church. I bawled my eyes out. I pulled it together in the car.  Then bawled my eyes out.  Then made the call and felt an immediate sense of relief, and still bawled my eyes out.  I know, I know. That's super cliche but so true.  My sense of joy made its way back into the depths of my soul.  I started enjoying life again, especially the little things.  I went back to being independent and confident.  I began dreaming big and making plans.  I started to ADORE not being tied down.  I went out and made new friends.  I spent time with the old ones.  I started coaching soccer and learning things.  I started taking chances.  I started feeling.  I stopped over-thinking.  I started pouring into others and choosing the less-selfish route.  I started sleeping full nights.  I began making a list of the little things that make me happy (see last post) on the daily.  Most importantly, I put God and our relationship back at priority numero uno, and I pray each and every day (multiple times a day) that He continues to hold the spot with the grip strength of the jaws of life. Forever and ever.  Because there is no "til death due us part" in this one and for that I am eternally thankful.  Without God at the center of my life, there is no such thing as living. It's as simple as that.  I love where I'm at, and I love having that fire re-lit in my heart.  I love making dates to spend time with my Heavenly Father (and I don't even have to wear make-up or real clothes).  Obviously faith is always a journey, but I can't say I'm mad about the adventure God has me on.  I'm loving this spot on my road map, and I'm loving the boldness and confidence I find in Him along with the glow of living life.  Will I always be on a straight, flat road with beautiful scenery, skipping along with a smile and some Jack Johnson on repeat?  Absolutely not.  God can use the curvy, weed-ridden, dark, rainy paths to teach me.  A lot.  But it's never more than I can handle.  Am I seriously enjoying learning these lessons in the peaches and cream?  You betcha :) It's good to be back!
Another big life-happening in this past year (also, not talked about to anyone really), was the discovery of a lump.  Crazy, I know.  I'm 23 years old, but before you go getting all worried and not sleeping at night- I AM 100% FINE.  Please, allow me to repeat that- I AM GRAND AND UNLESS I GET HIT BY A CAR WHILE RUNNING OR ATTACKED BY A MOUNTAIN LION TODAY, I WILL LIVE.  Having said that, I've run the gamut of emotions during this experience.  I went into my normal annual physical, which has been forced upon me because we all know I don't even go to the doctor when I'm about 7 days into strep throat and it's already at stage four and my fever is high and I feel like I'm going to pass out at Easter dinner.  Not that that's ever happened or anything.  I had had some soreness that I asked my Doctor to check out in an area that is already a part of the physical.  You do the math.  Anyway, she felt a lump there, just as I had feared.  She said not to worry because it could just be some extra tissue (lots of women have this) and not an actual cyst or tumor.  She suggested I come back in 2 months to see if the shape had changed in shape or size.  I'm sure my jaw about hit the floor.  We sat in silence for probably 120 really uncomfortable seconds before my mind stopped racing.  I mean, WHAAATTT??!  I left the office and immediately started praying.  No, I did not pray that it wouldn't be a cyst or a tumor or that I wouldn't have breast cancer.  I prayed that regardless of what God had in mind for this situation that He would take my hand, lead me, put my mind at peace, and use me.  If I truly was meant to have breast cancer at such a young age, how could I not take that opportunity to use it as a faith platform.  Having said this, I did stress out a little, I was a little uneasy, and of course I was in that crazy emotional stage so, I cried.  Probably ate some ice cream, too.  Also, made lots of jokes because that's one way I cope.  I went back to the doctor after 8 weeks, and she said she thought that it was better to be safe than sorry and recommended I get an ultra sound done so, the results could be sent to the radiologist.  3 minutes, 1 awkward encounter, and ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN DOLLARS LATER, the radiologist told me he didn't think there was any abnormal cell growth, just some extra cell-age (technical term) bunched up in that area to form the lump.  He recommended that I see the breast specialist in Des Moines.  Once again, better safe than sorry.  I'm feeling like there's a theme here.  So, I went to see the breast specialist in Des Moines, whatever that means, who by the way, missed her calling to become either a pediatrician or a birthday party clown because no I am not 7 years old and yes, I do know what breast cancer means, and actually I have taken college level anatomy, thank you very much.  However, she did do a great job of putting me at ease and letting me know that the ultrasound showed nothing to worry about, but with a history of breast cancer in my family, she asked that I come back again in 3 months to make sure everything was A-Okay.  I got a lollipop and left the office on cloud nine with that anvil on my shoulders sitting somewhere between the Better Homes and Garden and Sports Illustrated magazines.  That madness should all end by the end of this month, and I'll be ready to move on.
The latest and greatest in this yearly recap?  I have a puppy of my very own :)  She is such a joy to come home to, a great playmate outside, and even wears me out, which my friends and class participants will tell you is often nearly impossible.  Darby is also a dude magnet.  Hasn't gotten old yet ;)  What else has happened this year?  I've learned to love who I am and the Creator who made me.  I've (re-)learned to be bold.  I'm having fun, soaking up every aspect of life, and not counting out a single day...okay, maybe just until Thanksgiving when I get to see the brosef.  I'm making time for other people.  I'm going on fun dates.  I'm learning more about myself.  I'm memorizing scripture.  I'm reading The Ultimate Story.  I love my family, I love my friends, I love my dog, I love the fall, I love being 23, I love new opportunities and old friendships.  Most of all, I love seeing God in the details and feeling his thumbprint on my every circumstance.  And that my friends, is the rest of the story...
"I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now 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 hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles." Philippians 4:10-14 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thankful Thursdays....on Sunday...sorry, not sorry!

Life has been a whirlwind per usual, but here are just a few of the VERY MANY THINGS I'VE BEEN BLESSED WITH THIS WEEK:

  • 78 degrees, long runs, and summer dresses IN THE MIDDLE OF NOVEMBER.
  • Breakfast for dinner.
  • Working through issues as adults.
  • Financial blessings.
  • The first ISU men's basketball game of the year (and a free ticket at that).
  • Quality girl time where we talk about more than just feelings.
  • Darby breath on my face during a Saturday afternoon nap.
  • Solved frustrations.
  • A glowing annual review at work with plenty of positive feedback.
  • This verse: "If you are generous with the hungry and start giving to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.  I will always show you were to go.  I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places- firm muscles, strong bones."-Isaiah 58:10-11.
  • Peppermint Mocha's are baaaaaacckkkkk!
  • Answered prayers for opportunities to be bold in my faith.
  • 15 lovely years sharing my ups and downs with my favorite childhood dog.
  • Random meet-ups with the parental units.
  • The trust fall straight into my Creator's arms.
  • Late night bowls of cereal.
  • Smiling for no reason.
  • Oversized sweatshirts.
  • God's plan being bigger than my dreams.
  • Sleeping through the night and waking up feeling like you just left a coma.
  • Daydreams of Heaven.
  • The humility that comes from this statement:
  • The uncontrollable giggles.
  • Quality prayer time.
  • Newspapers.
  • Football on a Sunday afternoon.
I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend filled with lots of happiness and relaxation!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hindsight 20/20.

Dear Younger Me,
You will probably not find "the one" while you are at Marshalltown High School, nor will you know what you want at that age.  Give it time.
Don’t give in. Don’t give up.
Read more books – and not just the ones you’re required to for class.
Trust God.
Appreciate the small stuff. 
Look for role models in Christ, love, faith, and life.
Be open to the beautiful, wonderful and magical opportunities every day brings.
Talk to your grandparents at least once a week.
It's okay to be independent and not be concerned about marriage or planning your wedding or even wanting to have kids.
Cherish family time because often times friends will come and go.
Puppy lovin' can cure 97.9% of problems.
Don’t forget to say thank you to the people who have made a positive contribution in your life.
Don’t let your age define you.
Learn to pray unselfishly.
Open your bible on the daily. Make it a habit.
Be kind to everyone. Go out of your way to introduce yourself and be friends with as many people as possible.
Listen to mom and dad’s advice. They really are a lot wiser than you think.
Work hard.
Popcorn and m&m's make the world go around.
Instead of flipping coins, pray a little more.
Strive to be the best person you can be.
Be open to possibilities.
Wear whatever you want.
Get adequate sleep because you will quickly learn that you are extra snarky without it.
Stop caring so much about what other people think of you.
Say yes.  But when necessary say no.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t determine your worth by your body size, GPA, relationship status.
Learn to laugh at yourself.
Cultivate your relationship with your brother.
Perform random acts of kindness.
Put down the tweezers.
Enjoy sport practices- they keep you in shape the easy way!
Don't settle.  And don't settle down. Learn to hate the word settle.
It's okay to be a little weird and speak your mind.
Laugh. Loudly.
Keep you standards high and hold your head up even higher.
Quit overanalyzing.
Those verses you learned in Awana? Yeah. Commit those to memory because they will be worthwhile someday.
Write down your favorite memories – you’ll want to remember them later.
Limit yourself on the dining hall food....and trips to various ice cream joints...
Embrace your flaws.
Don’t put up with people who bring you down.
Friendships aren't about numbers but nostalgia.
Stop beating yourself up. Everyone makes mistakes – you will make plenty more. Dust yourself off, learn your lesson and move on living a better life.
Take time to remember at least five things you’re thankful for every day.
With freedom comes responsibility. 
Tell your parents thank you. Often.
People are rooting for you. Learn to root for yourself.
Think before you speak {always tell the truth}.
Surround yourself with people who build you up, encourage you, love you.
Be quick to forgive.
Always, always, always (did I mention ALWAYS?) trust God.  
Don't break hearts.
Check with God to see what His plans are for you first.
Make your bed; do the dishes. You never know who might show up.
Makeup is not a necessity.
A big butt and strong legs will actually be an asset one day (and look pretty great in skinny jeans).
Love what you love and don't apologize. Love. yourself.
Life is beyond what you imagine. It’s so much better.


Still learning and growing 23-year-old me.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy.

“In a spiritual sense, comparing your path to another’s is comparing apples and oranges. Why? Your life is explicitly designed for your own growth. Every person you meet, every situation you encounter, challenges you to become a stronger, more loving, and confident person. Try to appreciate the grace of both the hurdles and the joys you’ve been given. This is life’s legacy to you. Self-esteem comes from embracing this, working with what each day brings. How you spend your time here is up to you.”
via Huffington Post

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursdays.

Having one of those beautiful Thursdays that feels like a Friday just because it's so awesome.  Feeling incredibly blessed lately, but we all know I speak better in lists sooo...some of the random things I've been thankful for recently?
  • 60 degrees on November 1st.
  • Carving Pumpkins.
  • Strawberry banana smoothies.
  • Being on time.
  • My furry love.
  • Butterflies in my stomach.
  • Morning runs on quiet streets.
  • Daylight savings time.
  • Sleeping 10.5 hours in a night without waking up.
  • Bear hugs.
  • Clean sheets.
  • Halloween cards from my Grandma.  Okay, let's be honest- any cards from my grandma.
  • Clothes out of the dryer.
  • The feeling of my joints decompressing as I lay down in my bed at night.
  • Compliments from strangers.
  • Getting the giggles.
  • Watermelon Suckers.
  • The music they play in the stairways at Wellmark.
  • A break from the routine.
  • Sinking into my pillow at night.
  • The scent of laundry.
  • Skype dates with my family.
  • A good cup of coffee.
  • Embracing messy hair.
  • Finding a group exercise CD with the classics from my lifetime (a.k.a. bring on the Nelly from high school mixed to 130 beats per minutes!).
  • This verse: "Do everything readily and cheerfully- no bickering, no second guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squallid and polluted society.  Provide people with a glimpse of the good living and The Living God." Philippians 2:14-15.
  • My co-workers and all of our antics.
  • Puppy hiccups.
  • Unplanned naps.
  • Days where I love my job.

So, what are you waiting for? Go live your life with the true joy that only The Big Man Upstairs can bring.  Live your life.  And while you're at it, live your life on purpose.

Novel idea, huh?!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cartwheels and Sidewalk Chalk.

If you’re anything like me, it can be easy to get lost in the receipts, bills, to-do lists, calendars, and the everyday monotony. It’s also equally easy to find yourself over analyzing and stressing yourself out over what may or may not happen in the future. No?  Just me?  Okay, well my transition into adulthood became a routine cycle of get up, go for a run, go to work, come home, make dinner, go to bed. Rinse. Repeat.  


I get that responsibilities and obligations happen.  And yes, they are necessary to survive (don't worry daddio, I am still earning a paycheck and contributing to my 401K), but you know what else is necessary in the everyday?  Having fun.  Staying sane.  Having a legitimate convo with The Big Man Upstairs. Doing things you love.  Getting active.  Taking deep breaths.  Smiling.  Soaking up some Vitamin D.  Performing a random act of kindness.  Telling someone you love them.  Choosing not to sweat the small stuff.  Drinking lots of H2O.  Remembering why you're thankful.  Reflecting.  Cranking some tunes.  Listening in the silence.  Reading.  Transforming.  Living.

Lately this has included:
Praying just to pray.  Going for long walks on silent trails with the Darbster.  Laughing until I can't breathe.  Trying to brighten just one person's day.  Living in the moment.  Dinner with friends.  Doing cartwheels just to see if I still got what I learned in Tumblebugs at the YMCA.  Memorizing verses (yes, this is also work for me).  Skateboarding in the park.  Date nights with my savior (and no, I don't have to wear makeup or dress up for these because He is my artist...and let's be honest, I've gotten really good at going au naturale).  Using sidewalk chalk.  Appreciating the everyday.  Writing birthday cards.  Eating lots of fro yo because I can.  Listening to music like my life needs a theme song.  Quality time with quality people.  Trying new recipes.  Playing cards.  Laughing at my own jokes because yes, I tend to think I'm like, seriously hilarious.  Living in the here and now.  Keeping a list of things for which I'm thankful.  Wearing neon green nail polish and my favorite Nikes.  

Life is not just a collection of rules and dirty dishes left in the sink.  God has given us a gift in each breath, and it's our job to enjoy every single one with which we are blessed.  Use them up and wear them out because this lifetime will be gone in the blink of an eye, which is pretty much okay with me (especially with the recent influx of political ads and the impending election...).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thankful Thursdays.

Things I have been loving recently (aside from my life...minus when the Darbster gets sick.  Yup, that's right.  Feeling like a real mom now...):

My Little One.

 Living in the moment.

Fast-paced, perfectly-silent, morning runs.
 Forgiveness. I am not perfect. Neither is anyone else.

 A lesson in contentment.

 S'mores. S'mores popcorn. S'mores flavored coffee creamer. Let's be honest...this is  a year-round craving.

 Patience is a virtue.  Faithfulness is a witness.

 Finding passions. Truth.

 Forever and ever.  There is no "til death due us part", and for that I am eternally thankful.

 Okay, maybe not the world.  Maybe just Portland and New Zealand and California and London and Australia and anywhere with a beach...

This season. The grand old midwest. The outdoors. Creation. God's thumbprint. The details. Nuff said.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Dare I say it?  I mean I guess I don't believe in jinxes so, I might as well.  I'll let you in on a little secret....I am the happiest I've ever been.  Wait, did you catch that?  I AM THE HAPPIEST I'VE EVER BEEN!  No, I didn't win the lottery, but I feel like I won the life jackpot.  I feel so incredibly blessed, and I've done nothing to deserve it.  As one of my good friends says, "It's just a gift, and it's crazy that we get to unwrap it every day."  I feel completely settled.  I'm content.  I love being 23.  My dog is great.  My family is even better.  I'm loving my job and finally feeling challenged again.  Coaching has been a huge blessing in my life!  I'm pouring into those girls and loving the happiness and the smiles and the thank you cards and the e-mails that I get back in return.  My apartment feels like home.  I love my church.  I'm sleeping better.  My face is practically zit-less.  I'm on a coffee kick (which could explain this the themeless-ness of this post).  I've been enjoying the beautifully-breath-taking fall season in the Midwest.  I'm spending more time outside.  I can't remember the last time I cried for no reason (actually, I can't remember the last time I cried, which is a good sign).  I'm taking risks.  I'm breathing deep.  I'm enjoying life.  I'm trying new things.  I'm writing love letters to my Savior.  I'm painting my nails crazy colors (okay, so that's not so new).  I'm listening to good music.  I'm speaking my own language (at least according to my co-workers and some examples include: "My phone is on the fritz.", "Bee-Tee-Dubs" (short for BTW, which is short for by the way), and "Amped").  I'm running farther and faster.  I'm enjoying the scenery.  I'm learning to be flexible.  I'm spending time with friends.  I'm busy again, and it's no secret that I love this about my life.  I'm getting to know the streets of Des Moines by heart.  I'm keeping a schedule while being spontaneous? I don't get it either.  I'm thinking in statuses.  I'm writing thank you notes.  I'm gaining a heart for Corporate America and the sadness that's hidden inside of those cubicles.  I'm finding my purpose.  I'm asking God to give me ways to share my faith daily.  I'm reading good books.  I'm staying organized.  I'm planning and dreaming big.  I have that inexplicable joy back that has been missing for so long.  More than anything.... I feel like myself again.  This, I'm sure, can be attributed to many things, but they all stem back to my Creator.  He knows every fiber of my being, and I think this life phase has been a long time coming (at least it seems so in my mind).  I can't wait to see where all of this takes me.  I guess I only have one word to leave you all with: AMPED.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hustle and bustle.

Sometimes I'm just in awe.  In awe of the way our lives are so intricately woven together.  The way creation's tiny little cells work together and pulse with one heartbeat.  The way that God's thumbprints are all over our everyday lives.  It's incredible.  I could elaborate on and on, but I will just name a few.  I started a list a couple of weeks ago of things that make me happy.  The first day I was already up to number 183.  Then each night, I keep the notebook beside my bed and scrawl a few items down that make my everyday life extraordinary.  I started doing this as my form of journaling (because we all know I'm too antsy and can't consistently seem to sit down and just write everyday, but lists? Those are my forte.).  As the numbers of my list and words on the page begin to fill the white spaces, I send little prayers up to God in thanks for all of these things.  They range from beautiful morning runs with Fall scenery and temperatures to thank you e-mails from the parents of the girls I coach for doing a great job with their children to seeing Darby's goofy face when I walk through my door to 16 minute phone conversations with my long-distance brosef to making the perfect salad combination at dinner to getting a congratulations e-mail from the CEO of our company for finishing all 4 clinical progressions within a year to making the perfect smoothie concoction to time spent at home with family to finding caramel apples to running a race for the glory of God and having Him bless me for it.  I could go on and on because the list ranges from everyday things that I had forgotten I loved until I wrote them down (climbing into a warm bed and sleeping with the windows open or getting a Grandma E-mail) to the intricate things that are surprises in my everyday life (being the first female to finish a 10K or getting chosen to fly to our Sioux Falls site on a private jet).  While Darby is a huge joyful peak on the EKG of my life (and I've only had her a week), she's also taught me a variety of lessons.  I am twenty-three, and it's time for me to work on being less selfish.  While she may only be a dog, it's a good idea for me to start focusing on others and seeing what they can teach me in return about myself, my faith, and my attitude toward life itself (I know she's just a dog, but the soccer girls have shown me this, as well).  She's also a great conversation starter with people who see me out with her.  I've also recently been thankful for analogies that line up with my everyday life.  We're going through a series called "The Story" at my church, which is a 31 week study where we read a chapter a week.  The stories are taken straight from the bible, but rearranged in novel form so, it's much easier for me to learn from!  This past week the pastor used the quote, "If you are an idle Christian, you will rot."  Basically if we're not growing, we're dying.  That one hit home.  I'm trying to make God my number one priority each and every day, and IT ISN'T EASY.  I get that.  Life gets in the way, even sometimes the blessings He gives us can get in the way.  We get consumed and forget to thank Him for what is truly His.  Another way I can tell God is working is through finances, not to go into specifics, but Darby was a fairly expensive purchase (on my income) and all of my other bills add up, as well.  However, there was no need to stress because God provided (as He always does) with a whopping check from coaching soccer.  I forgot this was coming so, it was a nice surprise!  He's got me covered.  Sometimes when I'm busy living life I forget that He's right by my side holding my hand in one of His and my road map in the other.  He knows what's coming and will always be there for me.  The most recent thing I am thankful for is the fall season in the good ol' Midwest.  God's creation is seriously beautiful, and if there's one thing other than discipline that my morning runs have taught me, it is that He is a better painter than Bob Ross and Picasso and Van Gogh. Combined.  The leaves changing, the perfect sweatshirt temperatures, the fog rolling off of the rivers and lakes.  Incredible.  I couldn't help but take my camera with me on my run yesterday morning just to capture some of these Kodak scenes.  They will definitely be making it on the happiness list tonight.  I read a study recently that people who write down the things that make them happy or successes they've accomplished are happier 60% longer than those who didn't journal them.  So, I'm testing the theory.  I'm guessing if the study had pushed it one step further, they would have discovered that people who send a thank you note to God each time they appreciate one of His blessings stay happier 99% longer than those who didn't.... :)  On that note:  HAPPY SATURDAY!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New opportunities are on the horizon.

So, crack a smile...even if it feels like a facade.  Studies show that even the act of grinning can improve your mood, which can turn your day from a downhill slide to an uphill climb... :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thanksgiving in July.

   In today's day and age containing a generation who seems to be so well-versed in complaining and texting, the ancient art of gratitude appears to be a lost one.  I'm not saying I'm blaming it on parenting styles or the onset of the technology era that we've all embraced, but I'm not saying I'm not blaming it on that either.  Maybe I stand alone on this issue, but there's not a single cell in my body that doesn't believe our world would be so much better off if we could all just be a little more thankful. 
     I love the saying "The happiest people don't have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything" because it's so true. Recession Shmeshmession. It's not about what we have, it's about who we are, the way we act, what we do, how we serve, and the relationships we foster.  God has promised us multiple times throughout the bible that He would provide. We've seen Him keep His promises through thick and thin.  Yet, somehow we're all so caught up in ourselves and our letters to Santa to that we forget that He's given us all we need to lead a happy and healthy life.  People mistake His promises of provision for promises of being wealthy or surrounded by the best of the best; however, 99% of the time those "deluxe packages" on Monopoly's Boardwalk space are not what He has placed on His roadmap for us.  Often, it's easier to lead a more fulfilling life with less than what your neighbors have.  Keeping up with the Joneses may be a popular lifestyle but not one that is easily maintainable.  Think of the happiness you can bring by focusing on anything else aside from money and your posessions!  Smile and say 'thank you' to the cashier when you get groceries (thank God for the $ to buy food at your leisure and the patience He's given someone to be a cashier); give a little of your excess money to a charitable cause (thank God for the person who did the footwork to create this charity); volunteer your time for a community or church event (thank God for the people who still have good intentions); donate some of the extra non-perishable food that's been sitting in your cupboard for months (maybe years) to the food bank (come on, we all know you have some long, lost sketchy boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese behind those cake mixes-thank God for the abundance of food you have to easily keep your cupboards full.); wave 'hello' to the friendly, retired couple on their morning walk (thank God for the sacred union of marriage the way He intended it to be and thank God for the couples who are still madly in love after all of these years- not because marriage is easy but because they choose to work at it and not give up!); give pedestrians the right of way (we appreciate it :)- thank God for the ability to walk and be active without pain); choose to let go of something that's been bothering you (thank God for His ability to change your heart); let someone cut in front of you in line (thank God for the time you've been given on this earth and the ability to stop and smell the roses or...tabloids and packs of gum?); forgive someone and let go of the tight grip on that grudge (thank God for His willingness to send His son to die for us in allowance for all of the forgiveness we also need); start each day with a new perspective (thank God for the transformational process of the clay on The Potter's wheel); pay for the coffee of the person behind you (thank God for coffee!); make a list of things for which you are thankful (pray about them); smile at the gorgeous sunrise because God painted it with each carefully chosen, vibrant shade of beauty (thank God for putting His thumbprint on every cell of His creation and giving you the eyes to recognize that); enjoy the giggles from the children behind you in church (thank God for other peoples' happiness and the promise of a new generation); cherish the memories of times spent with family (thank God for each and every one of them and what unique qualities they bring to the table); relish in the warm summer sun (thank God for our seasons); memorize a bible verse that brings a smile to your face (meditate on it); listen to your favorite song with the windows down, hair blowing in the breeze (thank God for the musical talents of that artist, the lovely warm breeze, and the fact that you have a car to drive); be thankful for the thunderstorm that brings water to maintain the earth; get caught up in your favorite hobby and forget where the time goes (thank God for the talents He has given you and ask Him to help you find more ways in which to serve); help a friend move (thank God for the ability to lift boxes. And keep a friend :) ); learn to say yes, but also learn to say no when its necessary (thank God for giving us the freedom of choice and ask Him to help us use it to bring glory to Him); savor the first piece of watermelon of the summer, the first caramel apple of the fall, the first hot chocolate of the winter, and the first fresh nectarine of the spring (thank God for the many tasty, nutritious foods that He has provided and for the fact that we don't have to sustain ourselves with quail and manna). 
         There are so many things with which God has blessed us that we really shouldn't even have the time to be ungrateful.  Life is not all about having money, becoming a stuffy CEO or the ever-popular model/athlete/housewife that we're so expected to be.  It's about serving others, being the hands and feet of Jesus, and finding ways to be thankful each and every day.  It's not about becoming a prom queen or ignoring your conscience.  It's about being real and connecting with the people around you.  It's not about climbing the corporate ladder, wearing the best suit, or walking the red carpet at Gala-like events.  It's about being the best dad or mom you can be, spending precious time with your kids, and seeing all of their firsts.  It's not about sucking it in and walking around looking like a skeleton's got your tongue.  It's about becoming healthy at any size and learning to be comfortable with the way God created you in your own skin. 
       And I get it. I get that these are hard values to hold tight to in this day and age. I get that.  But it's all about a choice. It's about making the choice to NOT conform to society's views. It's about making the choice to truly and freely FEEL blessed.  It's about making the choice to thank God for everything you do have instead of asking for all of the things you don't.  It's about making the choice to try a new perspective on for size.  It's about making the choice to enjoy everything and everyone with which you are surrounded.  It's about making the choice to savor every breath you are given because at any second those breaths could stop.  It's about making the choice to be happy. Because after all is said and done being thankful and being happy are choices.  So on this day, I'm making my choice.  I choose to be grateful because I'm so incredibly blessed, and I choose to be happy because well...why not?!

    "I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess...Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now 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 hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."- Phillipians 4:11-12 {The Message}

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Twenty-three and plenty of places to be.

Welp. That was quite the blogging hiatus...kudo's to you, if you stuck around!

Summer is always a busy time and a time I'd rather be spending outdoors than in, but since it is 9 p.m. I figured what better way to get ready for bed then re-starting my blog by restating my purpose.  I know many of you who read my blog are married with children. Or not. But either way, I feel as though there can be take-aways from this list by everyone in all walks of life. So, without further ado....(drumroll please)....Here are the Twenty-Three Reasons I Love Being Twenty-Three (and unmarried and childless):

1.  I've graduated from teenage angst and acne right into the care-free and conscious stage. I’m not in menopause, I have no reason to be moody, and I do not have to be concerned with things I once was or will be in the future.  I don't have to wear make-up if I don't feel like, and my job involves wearing workout clothes to work. I could not be in a better spot.
2.  There is so much amazing wonder, right around the corner waiting for me, pleading with me to notice it.  God’s creation is truly an amazing splendor, and the more time I spend outside the deeper my enticement.
3.  I get the bed all to myself- no one else kicking and thrashing like the sheets are on fire or snoring like a lumberjack or crying because there are thunderstorms or the boogey man is in their closet.  I can sleep a solid 8 hours without having to get up to go to the bathroom.  Yes, I am counting this as a blessing.
4.  Every limit of my comfort zone is being stretched like a neon, spandex leotard on an 80's aerobic stepper.
          a.  Yes. This is a good thing.  While caught in this kind of awkwardly, beautiful life phase like a fish on a hook, there are a lot of things I can learn.
5.  I am a grown-up, but I don't always have to act like one.  At what other age in your life can you still enjoy being a kid while living on your own?  No curfew? Yes, please; however, have I learned through experience that getting plenty of sleep makes me less like that one dwarf (Slumpy? Frumpy? What was his name…?)?  Absolutely.  It’s all about finding that balance. If I'm sad, I can cry without warrant.  If I'm happy, I can jump and click my heels and smile for no reason.
6.  I can dream big without reality setting me back.  This year I had 23 birthday candles on my cake. Twenty-three.  That’s not 3 or 103. I do not have the wisdom of a 53 year old, but I do, however, have more life-shaping experiences under my belt than a 13 year old. I’ve got plenty of years to live (God-willing), and I plan on living each of those with a large dream bubble above my head that cannot be popped by the society needle.  I may not always see the curveballs coming, but I know I’ve got the tools needed to swing away.  The hurdles will come, but I’m off and running the race that was set out for me. Just try and stop me.
7.  I do not have to have patience with anyone else's schedule. I do not have children to drop off at soccer practice or a husband to take to the mechanic to pick up his car after an oil change. It's strictly my own calendar that falls under my realm of worry. I have my routine down to a science- I can get up, go for a run, and get ready for work in just a few short minutes. I can come and go as I please.
8.  I have the option to move where I want and travel where I want. The map is my playground (even though the job market my determine where my global pinpoint is located).
9.  I can practice living in the here and now.  I can love every season, and wear it out like my favorite pair of jeans.  I can enjoy the sun-kissed, lazy afternoon haze of the summer; the first auburn-colored leaf floating down from the large oak, cutting through the brisk autumn air; being the first set of footprints to run through the quiet snowfall on Christmas morning; and the first rain signifying that the grass will once again be green.  I can enjoy the little things on the daily. I can be happy with the scent of a good cup of coffee, smile at the thought of my favorite book, snuggle up in a fleece blanket at a football game, and enjoy going for a walk around Gray's Lake just as a reminder of my favorite place on the planet.
10.  I don't have to get permission. Ever.
11.  My hips, knees, and back don't hurt when I get out of bed.  This does not mean that I am bounding out of bed everyday, amped to get my run in as many of my co-workers so blatantly seem to think, but it does mean that I can still participate in activities without pain (most days).
12.  My metabolism and activity level still allow me to eat chocolate daily.  Yes, I am very thankful for this fact seeing as my willpower is not quite up to a mature adult’s standard yet…
13.  I can have crushes on pro-athletes and not even have to speak in hushed tones about the fact that I'm secretly, unrealistically planning our lives together in my head. Tim Tebow doesn't seem to know that we're even in a relationship yet, but whatever gets me through my Wednesday… :)
14.  I can work on my relationship with God daily and spend plenty of time learning and pursuing hard after Him without a toddlers hands grasping at my shirttail, a 5th grader needing help with their math homework, or a husband tapping my shoulder for attention. Instead, when I come home, I’m greeted by the silence of an unquenched thirst for learning and the unrelenting ringing of the Holy Spirit’s phone call (and trust me, if you avoid the ringing for too long- He picks a more agitating ringtone).
15.  While everyone else is busy getting married or having babies, I'm just getting more awesome.
16.  There's still the excitement of learning what I really do want in a relationship and the chance to see God preparing both him and I until we're ready.  Just knowing that God has THE one picked out for me is enough to put my anxiety to rest.  Plus I can pin engagement rings, wedding d├ęcor, and bridesmaid dresses on Pinterest with no pressure…just in case…
17.  I don't have to like chick flicks or Ke$ha or purple eyeliner or Katy Perry or Crocs or Survivor or Toms or MTV or care what other people think of me. I traded in that prom-queen-people-pleasing mindset back in high school for an independent, sport-loving, active tomboy who loves Jesus and isn't afraid to proclaim it.
18.  I can play fantasy football, wear sports jersey's, wake up early to run, paint my nails fluorescent green, read the Iowa State sports blog on the daily, wear my hair up in a mess, kick up my Nike's on the coffee table, refuse to make my bed, read real books (not magazines), pursue life dreams, try a new recipe, and shop for puppies anytime I please.
19.  When I put a cup by the sink and wake up the next morning...that cup is still exactly where I left it. There are not 7 other cups there or dishes left all around my apartment. I don't have to clean up anybody else’s messes but my own.
20.  I can focus on being second- not to a husband or a boyfriend or a child or a friend or my own selfish desires, but to God.
21.  I may be flying solo to weddings, company Christmas parties, and family holidays (which leads me to number 22....), but I will look good doing it, smile because I like the people I’m with, and you better believe I’ll be hitting the dance floor with my moves or the game table with my competitive edge.
22.  I don't have to share my holidays or split them like the product of a divorced marriage- I can spend every waking second with my own family and my family alone (because let's be honest, we all know that they're going to be tough to beat).
23.  I don't want my life to be just a collection of budget sheets, banana peels, pay stubs, half-finished books, and unlived dreams.  I want to be taken up to spend eternity with my savior while caught up in the very act of life- enjoying the gift He so graciously gave me by laying down His life.  I don’t want my dreams to be buried with my body; I want them to be imprinted on my soul as memories, not unfulfilled wishes that disappear as the wisps of smoke from extinguished birthday candles.  I want to be laughing until my abs hurt and I eventually fall silent with tears rolling down my cheeks, grinning and baring those straight, white chompers (brought to you by Dr. Hermanson’s braces and Crest White Strips), and living every second with an unexplainable joy.  And since I could technically go at any time (we all could), I had better get to it...

**DISCLAIMER: It may sound as though I am anti-having-a-marital status or being a parent.  The exact opposite is actually true (well at least for the former).  I think marriage is a wonderful thing when God is at the center, and it is truly what he wants for you.  And children can be such wonderful blessings to their parental units (e.g. me…) when they are ready to bring them into this world.  It’s just not my time.  I’m in this beautiful life phase, and it’s the only time in my life that I’ll ever be in this exact moment, which is why I'm choosing to step out from behind the camera and start living in the Kodak moments to come.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Age is all the rage.

Ever wondered what all of the stress you put on your body on the daily does to its real age?  Or maybe you make a majority of your choices in the healthy zone.  Here's a way to find out your body's real age (If you really want to know...of course I would find something like this fascinating!):

Follow that link, and if you're not already a member of the bluezones project, which I would encourage you to do anyway, make a username and password.  Then complete the quick, multiple choice questionnaire in order to see your true age! I love this stuff (then again I am abnormal) and hope you do, too! It's a great way to see where some of your daily habits may be tearing you down or building you up!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Days away and times to play.

Ahhhhh. Finally an enjoyable day off (not that I didn't work for it), but after a 12 hour day earlier this week and being scheduled for tomorrow, it was nice to have some time off just to sleep in, go for a long run, clean up my apartment, lift weights, bake some oatmeal chocolate chip muffins, catch up on some reading, catch up on peoples' lives, fix my wireless internet, do some dishes, finish some laundry, check out dogs at the animal rescue league (and by league I mean leagueS), and just relax (yes, yes that did happen also).  I needed today. Recently, I've been randomly hop-skipping my way through the bible by flipping coins, picking books, and working my way through them.  I just finished Philippians (one of my ABSOLUTE favorite books, one that's been revisited many a-time, and one that has fantastic memory verses if you're ever looking for some you want to recall for aid in every day situations).  Today, I decided Acts would be a good place to turn.  I read through Acts 1 and just about stopped at verses 7 and 8 because I immedietly knew they were the X-marks-the-spot of what He wanted me to read because if He's anything, He's definitely omniscient.  I did end up foraging on through the next couple chapters, and while these verses may not apply to you and your life-phase, they happened to lead me to a state of those inexplicable goosebumps and a non-stop, inner-cognitive smile. 

"He told them, "You don't get to know the time. Timing is the Father's business. What you'll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world." - Acts 1:7-8 (The Message).

Did you hear that? Father Time has it all under control.  Actually, quite frankly, we're probably better off not knowing the timing of certain life events let alone, having the crystal ball to the future.  There are days where I pray for a road map, as well as, direction; however, The Omnipotent One often sends back one of those figure-eight looking sand holders that apparently tells time. Trying to read one of those is about as confusing as the curriculum for Physics 303.  But that is completely fine.  Just remembering that His timing is perfect, and He will work all things together for our good is enough to elicit a sigh of relief.  Along with that sigh of relief comes one of the best gifts we could ever wish to receive: The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is like our little internal compass on the road map with which God has provided.  He is more than Pinocchio's Jiminy Cricket because He's more than just a conscience.  He's our guidance counselor, our morality gauge, the comfort of our favorite blanket, the joy we receive from the first swig of that summertime lemonade on June 21st, the beauty of the sunset over Gull Lake in mid-August, the first auburn-colored leaf dropping from a tree, and the Santa of the spiritual world.  The Holy Spirit is the giver of our spiritual gifts and the instruction manual that comes with them.  This verse almost hit me like a slap in the face...who am I to take the spiritual gifts that I have been given and stick them on a shelf to collect dust behind the clothes that are out of season?  How ridiculous is it to forget such an imperative blessing?  This is where we find purpose: using our gifts to the best of our ability with the aid of their giver, helping others, a smile here, a piece of advice there.  This will allow God to seep in through the cracks of our every day lives like red paint on white shutters until finally He's bursting out of every seam like the buttons on my jeans after Thanksgiving dinner.  I want God to not only be a part of my every action and word but to be proud of my every action and word.  I want my very life to be the act of leaning forward into the finishline tape at the end of the race, pushing onward toward the goal of reaching the Father and extending some Heavenly real-estate.  I want to get to the end and hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant, you have fought the good fight, and finished the race...". 

So, what does this have to do with anything?  Pull those spiritual gifts out of the boxes labeled "To Be Used in the Future", dust them off, and put them to work!  What exactly are you waiting for?  The attainment of the perfect job, the purchase of your dream house, the last 10 pounds to come off, the collection of that diploma, the earthly definition of success to come knocking at your door, the white picket fence and 2.5 children, approval from a significant person in your life?  I hate to break it to you, but if that's the case, your tombstone may read, "Died with their feet stuck in quicksand but a heart full of good intention". But what good is good intention if the intention is never carried out?!  Life is about living in the here and now (don't worry, daddio, I am still contributing to my 401K and savings account).  This doesn't necessarily mean "Don't think about the future", but it does mean "You can make all of the plans you want, and ultimately God's plan will win out sooooo, why bother?".  Enjoy the beauty in every minute of every day.  The smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, the endorphins after exercise, a fresh coat of paint in a bold new hue in your living room, the way your Bible pages make that crinkly sound after you've turned them umpteen times, the way the crisp air nips at your face as the fall football season begins, the sweetness and ease of peel of a ripe cutie, the way your joints de-stress and lengthen as you lay down in bed at night, the smell of burgers grilling as an indication of summer being on its way, the feeling of the sun warming your face as you relax in a hammock, the enjoyment of finishing an amazing book and finding out there's a sequel, a simple and heartfelt "Thank You" for finishing a task, checking something off of your to-do list.  Life is a beautiful gift not meant to be benched.  The best advice I can give is to stop waiting.  Put on that armor and start living your faith outloud. 

Most of all: enjoy it. Not doing so would be...well...a sin.