Saturday, July 27, 2013

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

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

Sunday, July 14, 2013

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

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

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

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thankful Thursday {the blessed beyond measure edition}.

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

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

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

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Recipe for Success.

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

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thankful Thursdays.

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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thankful Thursdays {The Mid-Move Edition}.

  • Boys and parents who volunteer to help you move...seriously, you guys are amazingly helpful.
  • Waking up to the smell of coffee.
  • Not needing the caffeine fix but drinking it because you like it.
  • Neon pink.
  • Girl Scout Cookies.
  • Assurance through abiding.
  • The end of a saga.
  • The next chapter starting right around the corner.
  • Walkie Talkies.
  • Down Comforters.
  • The removal of all 20 of my staples. TWENTY.  That felt SO good.  I felt like a voodoo doll actually, and I hope I never have to do that again.
  •  Having my daddio there while the staples were getting removed because I looked at them and almost passed out/had a panic attack/had to find a paper bag to breathe in/started crying. Almost.
  • Childhood.  And really the fact that I'm still a kid at heart.  So much for being a grown up...
  • Lucky Charms...but not the cereal part....just the marshmallows...
  • My Pinterest addiction.  Okay, so maybe I'm not thankful for the addiction part but for the fact that by the time I get this cast off I will have re-decorated my whole house with DIY crafts, planned meals for the next 672 days, found my next puppy, planned my wedding, re-organized my closet, and found 8394789123 different ways to paint my nails.
  • Ice Cream Delivery Trucks.
  • The realization that a regret wasn't actually a regret...this week I almost regretted not going to med school to become a surgeon, but then I realized that no.  Probably not a good idea.  *Refer to the story about the staples*.
  • Nostalgia.
  • Good advice where warranted.
  • Overcoming the urge to order a pizza at 11:30 p.m.  Yes, that 13 year old boy appetite is back in full force.
  • BIRTHDAY WEEKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, yes I do get a full week for the 3rd anniversary of my 21st birthday.  Thank you for asking.  And on that note...
  • Ice Cream Makers (just a birthday idea for any of you out there still trying to find my present...just wanted to give you plenty of time to ship it to me because I'd be so embarrassed for you if it was late :)).
  • This way of life:     

  • This co-worker and all of our interactions, as well as, THE SOLVING OF THIS PROBLEM. Alicia, you are seriously the nicest person on the planet:

  • And a little bit of ISU for good measure because even when you disappoint me 78934783924329 times, how can you stay mad at these faces??  


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Things I've learned while getting hardware implemented into my ankle.

1.  Don't cry over spilled milk. Literally. So what crutches are hard. So what getting your cereal over the table to eat it may cause some spillage. So what I'm 8782348374293 X slower than I used to be.  SO WHAT. The little things do not matter. Do not. 27 more days of a cast, but I still get to keep my leg and I even get to run again? Yup. Can't be mad. Life is short and your patience shouldn't be.

2. Cherish your free time. It's like a vacation from work where people wait on you hand and foot.  I mean okay.  Just throw a little sand and some good tan lines in there pleaseandthankyou.

3. Get lost in a good TV series.  There's nothing like getting lost in the drama of the characters' lives while forgetting your own.

4. Learn  new habits. I've got PLENTY of spare time to fix my priorities and implement new habits into my routine. One habit I probably should drop?  Eating chocolate like it's my job. Glad that appetite is back in full force... 

5. "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear."  Okay, not Christmas cheer, but cheer in general.  And not really singing but just keeping perspective. Being joyful and happy in a time of learning can not only make the experience more bearable on the daily but it makes being around you more enjoyable, as well. Because good thing I've got plenty of time to foster relationships now.  And add new apps to my phone...what? They make communicating easier...and help pass the time :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Some days.

Some days you don't have all of the answers. You don't even have all of the right questions.  Some days the sunshine just doesn't come your way.  You don't even get a dose of vitamin D.  Some days everything seems hard.  You can't even tie your own shoe.  Some days your battles seem impossible.  You don't even get a chance to tackle the war.  Some days are just some days and there's always another some day around the corner.

"From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I." -Psalm 61:2.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thankful Thursdays {the casted up edition}.

  • The feeling after a hot shower.  That feeling is also called "socially acceptable".
  • New cell phones that don't die in the middle of every 2 minute conversation ever.
  • A change in the routine.
  • Being at complete peace with a situation.
  • Not working out for 7 weeks and not even being mad about it.
  • QT with The Darbster.
  • Snow storms when you don't even have to leave your house because you can't even drive anywhere so where would you even go?  Yup.  Right back to the couch.
  • Netflix.  I don't even have to wait another week to find out what's going to happen in these characters' dramatic lives because let's be honest, the suspense of waiting 8 days for a new episode of Parenthood?  Would kill me.
  • Learning to pray unselfishly.
  • Not wearing makeup or even caring about what you look like for 6 weeks straight.  Okay, so maybe I care a little because let's be real: I look like death, and there's really no fixing that.
  • On that note- having a family, friends, and co-workers who love me regardless of what I look like. Or if I'm clean.
  • Black clothes. No, I am not gothic, but while you are on crutches: Always wear black. Always. Black does not show stains. So, when you spill whichever food you have chosen to eat (type doesn't even matter because it will take you at least 12 minutes to get it from the kitchen to the table and they all have the capabilities of staining), it will at least be less noticeable on the outfit that took
    you 17 whole minutes and a strained hamstring to put on so you don't even have to change.
  • A full night of sleep.  Not saying I got one, just saying I will no longer take those for granted.
  • My Florida Georgia Line Pandora station.  So. Ready. For Summer.
  • On that note- the fact that it's not summer yet.  Because I would be A LITTLE UPSET if I had to miss out on my 2nd favorite season and the lake and wearing a swimsuit and skiing and boarding and tubing and bonfires and the smell of sunscreen and the driving range and sand volleyball and soccer and ultimate frisbee and early morning runs on the trails and playing outside with Darbs and sleeping with my window open and laying by the pool and the sound of crickets and bomb pops and driving with my windows down and DRIVING and getting tan lines and falling in love with summer sunsets.  I guess God knew what He was doing with this whole timing thing? Weird.
  • The pattern on my parents ceiling.
  • Ibuprofen.
  • Home cooked meals.
  • Having an appetite back.
  • Anticipation.
  • Getting smart.  Not in a weird, stuffy, cubicle, jeopardy watching way, but just realizing: you are not invincible.  You are not.  Not even if you put on a red cape.  And in order to avoid expensive doctor or casket bills, it's probably a good idea to start making mature decisions.  Like using a treadmill or taking your cell phone on every run ever or not eating like a 13 year old boy or slowing down and enjoying the scenery or not trying to fill your every second of every day or not being a workout freak (NEWSFLASH: the world will not end if you go a day or two a week without running) or making the decision to rest and not kill yourself by trying to go to work or realizing that as tight as money is- IT DOES NOT MATTER.  God will provide so, take a breather for goodness sake.  
  • Loving your life.  Every minute of it.  Even when you're learning a lesson.
  • Job.  And its 42 chapters.  The exact number of days I'm going to be in a cast.  Probably not a coincidence.  Probably not just probably.  Also- if you ever need to feel like your life is pretty awesome, check that book out.  I'm 11 chapters deep, and I already feel like I won the lottery compared to the anguish with which he writes.  PERSPECTIVE CHANGER.  Challenge accepted.
  • Psalms.  I had 42 chapters left in my reading of Psalms.  42 days in a cast.  You get the picture.  
  • Green Bean Casserole.
  • Podcasts.
  • Iowa State winning on the road. GO STATE!
  • Waking up to texts.
  • Co-worker love.
  • Strawberry lemonade.
  • Lunch hour with the parental units.
  • God-ordained situations.  Okay, so really that's every situation, but the ones that kind of take your breath away.
  • Being hooked on a really good book.
  • Learning a lesson the first time around.
  • Hearing the words, "I love you."
  • The fact that even in David's deepest lament, God can still draw a Hallelujah from his lips.
  • This verse, "It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone."- Ephesians 1:11-12
  • And some Fred for good measure:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Neon green casts and ADHD minus the HD.

And on this week's episode of Grey's Anatomy, a 23 year old firecracker goes under the knife for the addition of some new hardware.  8 neon green and pink screws and a plate later, she wakes up with a blood pressure of 162/102, a loudly beeping monitor, and nurses surrounding her bed telling her to take deep breaths from the oxygen mask while they administer some pain meds to her convulsing body.  Her first thought, "Why have those not been in my IV for about an hour and counting? Is this your first day on the job?"  Stay tuned for scenes from next week's dramatic episode where she learns to become graceful on crutches in order to avoid further injury. 

Alright.  So, my life is not that exciting right now.  It's definitely not reality-TV-worthy, but with God's sense of humor I'd say I've got a pretty good shot at reeling in a sitcom.  My life for the next six weeks will include learning to sit still and be 100% okay with it.  Actually better than okay, happy with it.  This is definitely one of the most expensive, challenging, and painful lessons I've had to learn, but with God by my side I'm ready to tackle it (my co-worker made this joke to me the other day...I did not find it as hilarious as he obviously did because he spent the next 3 minutes chuckling to himself and repeating it).  I'm still in awe on the daily at how fitting my devotions are and how perfect God's timing can be.  Here is today's passage: 

"Thank Me for the conditions that are requiring you to be still.  Do not spoil these quiet hours by wishing them away, waiting impatiently to be active again.  Some of the greatest works in My kingdom have been done from sick beds and prison cells.  Instead of resenting the limitations of the weakened body, search for My way in the midst of these very circumstances.  Limitations can be liberating when your strongest desire is living close to Me.
   Quietness and trust enhance your awareness of My Presence with you.  Do not despise these simple ways of serving Me.  Although you feel cut off from the activity of the world, your quiet trust makes a powerful statement in spiritual realms.  My Strength and Power show themselves most effective in weakness."

2 Corinthians 12:10 {The Message}- "I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size - abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks.  I just let Christ take over!  And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."
Isaiah 30:15 {The Message}- "Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.  Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on Me- the very thing you've been unwilling to do."

Ummmm yup.  I'd say that about sums it up with a necessary slap in the face.  God knows our weaknesses and begs us to lean on Him in not only these times but the times where we feel strong, as well.  We need to stay 100% dependent on God, which is not an easy task, I know.  So, resist the urge to hit the ground running as soon as your alarm goes off.  Make a little extra time in the morning to start your day with The One who made you who you are.  Sit still and listen.  Just listen.  Ask Him to show you His ways and rid you of yourself.  And take a few deep breaths as you find your focus for the day.  I now have plenty of time to start building these habits since I will not be setting my alarm before the rooster crows to lace up my Nikes and start pounding the pavement.  Instead, this season of my life will include plenty of quietness, even more stillness, and hopefully an eternal change my priorities.  So, try your best not to get caught up in the everyday things.  The receipts, what you eat for dinner, the time spent watching TV, the bills you pay, the taxes you have to pay back (Neat.  Thanks, Obama.), the doctor appointments, the price of gas, the trips to the dentist...none of these things will matter in the long run.  Find an eternal focus, try your best to extend heavenly real estate with your words and actions each day, and get caught up in the very act of living life the way God intended you to.  Each day, each breath, each journey is a gift.  A gift designed to make us mature and complete, not lacking in anything.  And that goes back to the very root of it: "Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on Me." Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thankful Thursdays on Tuesday because this week has gone entirely too slow to not already be THURSDAY. That is all.

  • The Big Man Upstairs- His grace on the daily, His mercy on the secondly, and His timing on the earthly.
  • My co-workers.
  • Leftovers.
  • Gladiator.
  • Curiosity.
  • Elevators.
  • Get well cards.
  • The kindness of others (thank you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU ALL. Seriously.).
  • Kodak moments.
  • Spiral staircases.
  • Burnt marshmallows.
  • The shower that I will be taking in 7 weeks...probably not any of them up until that point.
  • A good night's sleep, which is feeling far and few between these days.
  • Modern medicine a.k.a. a good old morphine drip.
  • Trust.
  • Jersey day at work.
  • Late-night-uncontrollable-goofiness.
  • Waking up before my alarm and feeling rested.
  • The honesty of 11 year olds.
  • Typewriter font.
  • Driving.
  • March Madness on the horizon.
  • Answered prayer.
  • Smoothly shaven legs...also few and far between for the next 7's the little things.
  • Ice cream sundaes with homemade brownies.
  • Naps on the couch.
  • Driving.
  • Sermons that hit the spot.
  • The adventures to come.
  • Weekends.
  • Mumford and Sons on repeat.
  • Driving. Have I mentioned driving? No? Okay. Driving.
  • Underdog stories.
  • Summer dresses.
  • Re-prioritizing.
  • Completed hail mary's.
  • Girl talk.
  • Smiles exchanged with strangers.
  • Big League Chew.
  • Mike Housholder...if that's his real name...ironic to me.
  • The Darbster's disposition. MAN, I MISS THAT PUP.
  • The giggles.
  • Puppy Chow.
  • Short car rides that lead to good conversations.
  • Deep breaths.
  • Quality prayer time.
  • The changing of seasons.
  • Top knots.
  • Being hooked on a new book.
  • Reassurance.
  • Late lunches.
  • Game changers.
  • This verse, "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man." Proverbs 3:3-4.
Knowing ^ I will get there...

You bet.
And finally this quote, “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” — G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Breakingly Beautiful.

So, life. Yeah, that happened.  In the midst of running and paying bills (okay, mostly running), chasing Darby and making workouts, cooking dinner and watching basketball, apartment shopping and coaching soccer, mentoring and grabbing coffee, reading and catching up on life happenings- I snapped back to reality, oh, there goes gravity...anyone name that song? Anyone?  Bueller?  Anyway...running broke my heart and my first bone.  My first thought?  Umm ouch.  My second thought?  Umm oops.  My third thought?  Where is the Darbster?!  As soon as I fell and felt it snap, I immediately knew my ankle was broken, but surprisingly did not have the feeling of dread that my life was broken like I thought I would.  Not only did God send 2 angels in the form of 2 60 year old ladies out running errands, but He also made the place and the timing absolutely 100% perfect, per usual.  

The things that cause the whirlwind life of Janel to slow down for a brief second: deaths, others needing help, a hot date with ice cream, and anything involving my family, co-workers, or The Darbster.  That's really about it.  The things that cause Janel to refocus as proven by history: deaths, motivational stories, break-ups, and heart-wrenching situations.  Yeah, I know it.  I've got problems.  Just writing that out makes me sound super selfish.  Why does it always take something life-changing to get my attention?  Two words: routine freak.  Running used to be the one thing I would do every single day aside from prayer.  Would not even consider missing a day.  I would get up at 4 am to fit one in or skip lunch to grab a quick session pounding the pavement.  Running is not a bad thing.  I will say this again for all of you who do not believe me or have said post-fibular-and-tibia-break "This is why I don't run" (Yes, you. Those snarky know who I'm talking about... :))- RUNNING IS NOT A BAD THING.  BUT when running can become a bad thing is when running takes the precedence over everything else in my life and becomes an obsession.   Before this incident, I would have told you the following, "Running is my de-stress time. It's my time where I can get away, zone out to music, and pray.  It sets the precedence for my day.   It helps me focus and get my mind right."  And while all of these things are true, here are the things that I would not have said, "Yes, I will skip my run to help you with something you need.  Yes, I can easily not run today and be okay with it. Yes, running every day regardless of the circumstances or my health is fine.  Yes, running is an idol.  Yes, running sometimes does take precedence over God or other things that it shouldn't."  OKAY. I get it, God.  I get it.  This was for sure a necessary incident.  And do you know my first feeling when this break happened (welllll minus the initial pain, howamigonnagettothehospital, howamigonnastillwork, whydidinotwearmyyaktracks, whatintheworldiswrongwithme, whendiditgetsoicy, whyamianidiot, thankyoudearGodforsendingtheseladies, Ishouldhavebeenrunningwithmyphone, I'vegottaletthedarbsterout, ijustwantmydadormom), okay after I was hopped up on morphine laying in the hospital bed?  Relief.  Yup.  I said it.  100% relief.  The stress of fitting in a run each and every day just to say that I ran that day was something that had gone undetected on my radar until this incident.  But there can be beauty in the breakdown and that is something that I have learned pretty quickly this time around.  That and I'm an idiot.  But mostly that God always has a lesson to teach me.  Each and every day.  And when I'm too busy trying to fit a workout in or obsessing over a run to serve others or share my apple with a homeless guy or see the beauty in the world around me or try to brighten someone else's day or to focus on seeing God's fingerprint in the details or to sit back and just LISTEN for once in my life (my family and friends will attest to the fact that sometimes this is not my strong point...I'm a serial skimmer when it comes to reading directions and listening to them) then I'm missing out on the point of life itself- BRINGING GLORY TO GOD.  Yes, I am yelling this so the all caps were necessary.  

 So, I'm not saying running was an idol...okay, yes that is what I'm saying.  And what I'm also saying is when you realize that you have an idol (doesn't have to be a golden statue or trophy although those are kind of neat) and you still refuse to give it up, God WILL break you.  This is not a joke.  It may not be a literal break like mine, but His will shall be done. Forever and always. Wow, that sounded super ominous, and it is.  And you will be a better, more-rounded individual by letting Him take that from you while helping you to choose to put Him back at numero uno.  In other news: there are things you can start doing today to make sure that He is priority number one...PRAY.  Kind of a big deal.  But an even bigger deal is step two: LISTEN.  I know these sound simple, but do you know how many sermons I heard on idols and how many times I prayed for God to release me of these idols and allow me to solely follow Him?  78772374893207432974782478435923489013489023 times probably.  Do you know how many times I didn't listen? 78772374893207432974782478435923489013489022.  Yes, listening is key.  It took a painful break and 7 weeks of inactivity for me to shut my mouth and let God do His thing.  Why?  Because I am stubborn and often bad at prioritizing and living in the here and now (yes, this was one of my resolutions...well, goals.  I don't actually believe in resolutions). 

 Also- before you get to your breaking point there will be clues and hints along the way so, PAY ATTENTION.  Yup, that means you.  Open your eyes and be aware of your surroundings.  They will start out as gentle nudges...a sermon here, a comment from a wise mentor there.  Then they will become a little less gentle...Achilles tendonitis, a crazy busy day where it almost kills you to fit in a run but you're going to do it regardless. Then when you're still living with ear plugs in your ears and blinders on your face, God will completely throw gentle out the window and rock your world.  I am not joking.  This is real life.  And sometimes that's exactly what it takes.  That's what it took in my position because I am s-t-u-b-b-o-r-n to the max sometimes.  Yes, I know this, parentalunitswhohaveputupwithmefor23yearsandcounting.  And I've learned my lesson this time around, but here's the deal.  There will always be lessons to learn.  This will not be the last one.  Because I am not dead.  Nope, not even a little bit. BUT here's the positive thing: I get a chance to respond to the gentle nudges next time.  I get a chance to learn a lesson before it escalates to WWIII inside my head.  I get a chance to give it all up to God, raising my hands in surrender and learning exactly what He wants to teach me on the road map that He's fashioned while living in His will and enjoying His blessings.  Just. For. Me.  

I know this has been kind of long, but everyone who I've talked to since Christmas should know how much I'm in love with this devotional I've been reading each day: Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  If you haven't seen it I AM TELLING YOU TO GET ON IT RIGHT NOW.  This book has been so perfect for me.  Each day has literally resonated with exactly how I'm feeling.  I know.  God's pretty awesome and pretty much in every detail ever.  I just want to share a part of each of these passages with you:
  • The day of the break, "Come to me and rest.  I am all about you, to bless and restore.  Breathe Me in with each breath.  The way just ahead of you is very steep.  Slow down and cling tightly to My hand (probably to avoid slipping on ice is what He meant ;)). I am teaching you a difficult lesson, learned only by hardship."  Yup, should have listened on this day probably.
  • Day 1 after the break, "Come to me for rest and refreshment.  The journey has been too much for you, and you are BONE-WEARY (yeah, a break in the fibula and tibia?  A tad bit bone weary).  Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion (this is a big one for me. I tend to think I'm invincible and will keep going like the energizer bunny until I'm completely worn out.).  Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life (Carrie Underwood said it best..."Jesus take the wheel!")".  Seriously. How fitting.
  • Day 2 after the break, "I am above all things: your problems, your pain, and the swirling events in this ever-changing world.  When you behold My face, you rise above circumstances and rest with Me in heavenly realms,  This is the way of Peace, living in the Light of My Presence.  I guarantee you will always have problems in this life, but they must not become your focus."        Along with this passage, I was reminded of the verses in Matthew 14: 28-32  "Peter suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water."  He said, "Come ahead."  Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.  But when he looked at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink.  He cried, "Master, save me."  JESUS DID NOT HESITATE."  Nor will He ever.  Whether that's a broken bone that's going to heal, a broken heart that may take longer, or a broken life that feels like it will take an eternity.  He'll be there through thick and thin and will get you to listen regardless of the circumstance or lesson He has in mind.
My suggestion?  Open up those ears and keep a positive attitude before you're rocking some surgical scars and a lime green cast for a month and a half having to rely on others for help (this is also a big lesson for me).  Although, a month and a half without running and extra time to sleep; put clothes on because let's be honest, that takes about 17 minutes I turning into a real girl?? Whaaaat?; help others as much as I can; focus and rely on God solely; listen...there's that word again; keep a positive attitude and be a witness; and serve others as much as I possibly can?  Can't say I'm mad about this relaxing, priority-changing phase in my life to come...anddd hereeee we goooo (said in The Joker's tone of voice)!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Let go and let God (cliche, but I'm stealing it).

How much do you hate it when you forget a lesson you already learned and have to re-learn it the painful way?

A. As much as Obamacare.
B. As much as the dice on the rearview mirror trend.
C. As much as Lebron James' ego.
D. All of the above X 100.

The answer is D, ladies and gentlemen.  Will I ever forget how to spell the word "puppy"?  No, no.  No. No. Absolutely not.  No. And when did I learn that lesson? Second grade?  So, why in the world can I not remember a lesson that I have learned 82347893274893274897428934 times over my lifetime?  Yeah, don't worry.  God is chillin' in Heaven probably wondering the same thing.  What is this critical lesson you ask?  Okay, so probably you couldn't care less, but don't care.  This is my blog.  Lesson numero 72: if you are still stressed/anxious/worried/insomniatic over an issue or life or a question then guess what?  Slap yourself in the forehead after you say for the third time that you've "already given it up to God" because you are a liar.  If you have truly given that burden to God then you truly should feel a huge sense of relief in giving up control.  You shouldn't be up late at night worrying about the things to come.  You shouldn't feel burnt out.  You should be making God priority numero uno.  You should have energy to serve others.  You shouldn't be eating your body weight in M&M's.  Although, I don't even know who would ever do such a thing.  Right.  So, here's the deal.  Why do I still not have faith that He is in control of where I'm going to live, what my next move is,   how to get my dream job, where I'm going to be in a year, who I'm going to impact tomorrow, the words I'm going to choose today, the foods I'm going to eat for dinner?  Because being truthful with yourself is the first step.  Spending quality time in conversation with my Main Man?  Also, key.  And giving up control, my friends, can be a very beautiful thing.  So, before you speak the words: "I've already given it to God" or "I've already been praying about it".  Take some time to search your heart.  Have you really released your grip?  Are you really living by this verse, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" {Matthew 6:25-27}.

In other news: I mean, what in the world is the difference between apple juice and apple cider?  They both say 100% apple juice for their ingredients.  Is one aged or something?  I'm just completely confounded by this so, feel free to enlighten  me.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thankful Thursdays {post-holiday edition}.

So, the holidays.  That happened.  Life was outside of its normal realm, routine was nowhere to be found, and I loved every single second of it.  That must mean I was probably too busy downing bags of mint M&M's and watching football to even be bothered by typing something out.  So, here I am catching up on the thankful things I missed, which are especially bountiful (good word choice, right?) this time of year.  Never fear, ladies and gentlemen, here's a double dose!  Enjoy:
  • A clean slate.
  • Hilarity.
  • Surprises.
  • Quality fam time. Until you've experienced a Bagnall/Shanks holiday complete with football, fun in the snow, skype dates, a smorgasbord (yeah, I looked that one up because I like that word) of food including everything plus the roast beast, sharing secrets, sitting close to one another, tickle-fests, card games, prayers, and lots and lots of side-splitting laughter.
  • More sleep.
  • More music...more reading.
  • More time.
  • More reflection.
  • More pancakes.
  • More naps.
  • More hugs.
  • More close talks.
  • More love.
  • More effort.
  • More Darbster shenanigans.  That one is on a roll.
  • More joining this century with an actual flat screen TV (yup, never thought I'd see the day) and a Kindle...already finished 3 books on this sucker and am loving it.
  • Definity.  Is that even a word? No, not divinity, definity meaning definite-esque.  Not sure, but looks like I'll be writing a letter to Webster if not.
  • Breaking the norm and not caring about resolutions or the scale or maintaining or gaining or eating that extra cookie because guess what it's Christmas and Jesus loved German Chocolate Cake so, why the heck not?!
  • THE CANDLELIGHT SERVIES AT HOPE LUTHERAN CHURCH. Honestly, one of the best experiences of my life. I am not joking.  Hilarious, serious, renewing, refreshing, incredible, captivating.  I don't even have words for it...except those...where are you when I need you, Webster?
  • Making goals each and every day, not just January first.
  • Starting each day with intention.
  • This verse, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • Unplugging from technology.
  • Practicality with a twist of spontaneaity.
  • Investing in relationships.
  • Wise advice.
  • A good sense of humor.
  • Oatmeal with Nutella mixed in. So illegal, but do not care.
  • A solid body image.  Weird, I know.  And yes, I am a girl...definitley not a normal one.  Feeling beautiful and confident in the One who makes me who I am...from the inside to the outside, but let's be honest...both need a LITTLE work most days, and I say that with complete and total humility.
  • Giving up the reins to the One who's a WAY better driver than me.  And I'm not just saying that because I'm a female.
  • Having the energy to do my own workout and the free time in which to do it, which leads me to....
  • The Mtown Y.  What a gem.  The people watching?  Primetime.  The meat heads with terrible form, loud grunts, and expensive gear?  Priceless.
  • Grandma's recipe book.
  • Passionate people. Passionate about something, anything.
  • The uncertainty of the future, but the complete certainty that God's got it under control and will hold my hand the entire way while making sure I am a semi-functional adult as long as I follow His path for me.  Wow, that was a mouthful.
  • New babies that are actually cute.  Yes, I am talking about Leo.  And yes, I am one of those terrible humans that does not think that all babies are even cute.  Probably not even 75% of them.
  • "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.  I'm about 7 days deep and it's seriously THE BEST devotional I've ever read.  Every single day applies to me and it is 100% always exactly what I needed to hear. Weird.  It's like God knows me or something?! ;)
  • Optimism.

    Here's to another year. Bring it on, 2013.  So far we've survived lots of wars, Y2K, some terrible presidents, that whole Kardashian trend thing, and we've outlived the Mayan calendar.  I'd say our chances are looking pretty good...