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?!