Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More Years Is A Good Thing

As most of you know, I work in radio.   We almost always have a drawing or contest of some sort at our live events.  There is an entry field for age on our contest entry forms.  We actually don't record that information anywhere;  we use it for prize selection and for the types of letters that we send... so that a 52 year old doesn't get a Veggie Tales DVD, etc.  Inevitably, though,  we will have a woman at most events who declares "I'm NOT giving you my age" or some similar comment.   It always strikes me as funny.  What's the big deal?   Isn't it a blessing to gain years?  I mean really, if our age isn't increasing... then we are dead.   Who decided that age was something to be embarrassed or ashamed of?

Getting older hasn't bothered me much.  Maybe it's because most people associate declining health with increased age and I dealt with some serious health issues early on?  Perhaps it's due to the fact that I have gained some confidence and self awareness in the last several years (Thank you Jesus).  Whatever the reason, I keep finding that I actually am enjoying life MORE the older I get.

We have an opportunity to give hope to the next generations by living our lives joyfully at every stage.  Think about your phase of life and the possibilities that lie ahead.    How can you be a good steward with your life and your time?  What impact can you make?  What can you do now that you could not do before?  What can you try?  These are much more worthwhile things to focus on than fretting about wrinkles, gray hair or what you may have missed along the way!  (Disclaimer: In all honesty, I do sometimes fret and ask God why about things that have not happened in my life yet)

When I was little, I spent a decent amount of time around my great grandmother who we affectionately called "Nanny".  Nanny was a "no nonsense" and spunky kind of woman.   (She also made the most delicious dinner rolls that cannot be replicated).   My 92 year old great grandmother had beautiful long silver hair and I remember thinking I wanted to look just like her when I got older and that I would never dye my hair for the sake of coloring over grey.  Well, I'll admit once the wiry little suckers started to appear two by two like the animals entering the ark... I did start to color my hair... but I hope and plan to live with spunk, grace and impact ...  and to age with grace.   I'm happy to report that I'm almost 39.  Next year is 40.  That's something to celebrate... not dread!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Keeping the Scales Balanced

I feel like I often will get a pretty good handle on one thing in my little world but then inevitably I let others slide.

This past year as I have celebrated some milestones in fitness, I have also gotten behind in some other important facets of my life.   I'm trying to regroup and gain ground, but it makes me kinda nervous that as I focus and make some strides I'll lose focus on the areas I'm doing well.  I know that doesn't have to be the case. 

I think that exercise has become enough of a way of life for me that I'll be ok, but fear does creep in. As the Half Marathon draws near and the holidays follow right behind, I really have to stay motivated so I don't lose focus.   I also need to make my other goals just as much a priority as my running and fitness goals.

Time to pray for balance and consistency (again)! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Noticing the Beautiful Bank Teller

There is a certain teller at our bank that greets me with an enthusiastic hello and smile each and every time I come in.  Each and every time.  She listens to WJTL (the radio station that I work at)  and was more than excited when we moved to the area and started coming in to her branch.   I often leave the bank feeling joyfully overwhelmed by her friendliness and sincerity as she asks questions and mentions favorite songs.

Today when I walked into the bank I was being taken care of at another window,  but heard a familiar friendly voice nearby.  There was my friendly teller with a big smile, a brightly colored scarf around her neck and a head topped with beautiful glowing baldness.  How had I missed it.  She had been gone several weeks as she was treated for chemotherapy.  Before I had the chance to say hello first, she asked me about Lisa Landis,  one of my co-workers who has struggled with her own health battle this summer.    I updated her on Lisa and she then shared how the timing coincided with her own journey with Cancer. 

I had to wonder how many times she had served me in the Spring with her friendly smile while dealing with her battle on the inside?  How many weeks was she fighting back tears while I possibly not so patiently waited for her to handle my deposits and banking needs?  As I left the bank,  I teared up a little as I was reminded that we are all fighting our own battles on the inside.   I know there are days that I struggle with my own things that make it a little tougher to smile and be friendly.  Sometimes you want someone to ask and sometimes you just need someone to smile back.

It was another good reminder to love my neighbor, extend extra grace, and give the benefit of the doubt.   I want to walk around with my eyes open and notice when someone needs a little extra.   Those are the moments when God is able to move through us ... when we notice the beautiful bank teller, the clerk at the grocery store, or the tired person walking past on the street.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Getting There: The Journey Explained

Last night I posted this before and after picstitch on Facebook and Instagram.  It was so encouraging to see all the likes and comments.  I have good people in my life who have loved me well along the way.

The before pictures were taken back in 2002/2003 so it's been a good 10 years, about 100 lbs, a large intestine removal,  and half a thyroid removal under the bridge since I was at my heaviest.  :)  Since then,  I roller-coastered on the Atkins diet (losing 100, gaining back probably 50 or 60 of that) and for a while after that continued yo-yo-ing my weight.  I had been on diets/weight loss plans/drag your ass out of bed and go for a walk schemes since I was in grade school. Sixth grade: Weight Watchers.  Nuff said.

It's been the past few years where I have re-lost the weight and found a steady-ish pace of healthy weight loss and maintenance.  I am actually, finally proud of myself when I look in the mirror.  I had been too embarrassed to show the worst of my before pictures for quite a long while.  Then I came to the point where I carried them around with me for reference to show how far I've come... then pulled them out to show people here and there and now posting for all to see.    I admit that there is still that part of me that fears that when people who "didn't know me when" will judge me when they see them.  But again, I was also on prednisone and struggling with Ulcerative Colitis at it's worst when I was at my heaviest weight.  (but also eating junk food like it was my job).

I am a small framed person, and I realize that I still have a good amount of weight to lose to be at a totally healthy size for me.  But, I'm actually getting there!  In the past couple of months it has been especially encouraging to have a few people who struggle with their own weight actually ask ME how I did it.  Weird but awesome.

First of all... God.  Hours and tears and prayer and comfort and whispers from the Holy Spirit are the most important thing that I have in every aspect of my life.  It is possible (for many reasons) that I would not be alive if it weren't for God's strength both in my health and emotions. He gets the glory for this and for everything. 

Also, I found activities that I enjoy and they led me to finding other activities that I enjoy and so on.  Then it went from fun to wanting to challenge myself.    I started swing dancing and blues dancing very regularly.  Then,  my friend Erica introduced me to my favorite work out ever:  Les Mills Body Jam at  Universal Athletic.  LOVE IT.    There are 3 instructors in particular (Kate, Sarah, Sheldon) that make that class especially fun and motivating for me.  I started adding in Body Pump and trying out other classes.  Then, 2 years ago I went through the Couch 2 5K running program.  I NEVER HAD RUN!   I decided I was done with the word can't and figured I'd try it out and even signed up for a 5K to work toward.  I have now run tons of 5ks, 5 milers, some 10ks and am training for my 2nd half marathon in November and even looking ahead at challenging myself to running a full marathon, hopefully before turning 40 in December 2014.

So, I guess I am posting this for a few reasons... to acknowledge where I've come from.  I'm proud of myself.   Grandma might think that this was inappropriate to say out loud.  :D  But I think this kind of pride is ok once in a while.    Also,  I hope this encourages or inspires someone to have fun on the journey... get active and eat healthy but enjoy it!!!  Then challenge yourself beyond what you think you can do ...  and heck yes there are lots of days where you just have to go do the hard thing... but it's so worth it when you realize you are actually doing it and getting there!!!

Swing Dancing at The Quarter in Harrisburg 2009

Kate teaching Body Jam at Universal
My first ever 5K:  Race Against Racism 2010

Finishing OBX Half Marathon 2012

Playing a silly game at a family reunion summer 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

10 x 40

"Goals are Dreams with Deadlines"

December 23, 2014 I turn 40.  I have a year and 4(+) months... almost a year and a half.   I've made 10 attainable but decent sized goals to shoot for by 40. 

1.  Sky Dive :  Have had opportunities but not the cash.  (need to save $): DONE:  AMAZING

2.  Get up on water skis, finally... I have tried numerous times in years past... didn't have an opportunity to try yet this year... but Im' hopeful since Ive been doing more strength training that this could become easier.  Tried:  will try again

3.  Run a marathon

4.  pay off school loan (that is getting closer)

5.  learn to drive stick... had a lesson once YEARS ago'  UPDATE:  HAD ONE TRY AT IT.  STILL NEEDS WORK

6.  Travel somewhere new

7.  Learn/Try surfing

8.  Do push ups on my toes

9.  Hike a decent mountain.  Of course I've hiked but it's been a while since I've REALLY hiked...

10.  Run a 10 minute mile 5k

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Radical Optimism

I have always been a glass half full kind of girl.  I generally trust people and see the good in them until proven otherwise rather than being skeptical.  Maybe some would say to the point of naivete in some situations... but I have always liked this quality in myself.

The other night I joined a bunch of ladies to hear from my friend Ashlea as she shared God’s intention for women and our role as influencers.  I took so many good notes and can’t stop thinking about various aspects of what she shared.  We have a power that can be used for good or for very bad in this role... but that’s for another blog.

One thing that she shared that I have been thinking a lot about is “having a culture of radical optimism”.   That’s typically right up my alley... but admittedly as life on this earth scuffs me up and bangs me and the people I love around; it can be easy to fall into the role of doubter/pessimist or what some would say “realist”.   Are they who they say they are?  Shouldn’t I prepare myself for the worst? 

Why is it ok and even right for me to be radically optimistic?  Well, since I base my life upon the truth of scripture one place I can turn to is 1 Corinthians 13:7 where it says “ Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  The Message version says “always looks for the best”.

I know that the character of God is to be good.  I know that He is Love.  I know that He can be trusted.  I know that we are to Love God and our neighbor... therefore, I must continue to believe for the best in every situation and understand that in my limited understanding the best may not be what I imagine it to be.  I do not mean that I forsake discernment or that I will be unwise... in fact I have key people in my life that I turn to to help me find balance in this area ... but may my first reaction be to believe for the best from God and from others. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Veggies At OUR Office?

This week,  I determined to watch what I'm spending; specifically in the area of food.  Since I'm single and social I eat on the go a lot.  I do a lot of absent minded spending (and eating).   (Yes, I need to sit down and make a budget!)   I'm also going away next week and so it was the perfect time to concentrate on eating the things that I have on hand.  Most of the time, I'm trying to eat healthy... so daily dosages of peanut butter and fluff is probably not the best way to go either... or that teaspoon of nutella that I had before bed last night... but I digress.

Well, this may seem small... but at my office there was actually an extra VEGGIE tray and hummus available to round out lunches.  (there are often free goodies, ie the donuts that were here when I arrived today... but produce?? sweet! )  At Gateway House of Prayer there were free bananas and delicious apples available left over from the race this past weekend and pretzels to snack on from a meeting over the weekend.  SCORE.   Best yet, I've actually really enjoyed eating some of the typically ignored items in my cupboard.  I am well aware that my shelves would look like a supermarket to most people in the world.   Still,  this is a movement in the right direction for me and evidence of God hearing my prayers for help in this area of self discipline,  and I am thankful.  

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Wealth in the Form of Skin

We used to sing this song at a church I attended that said "When I think of His goodness and what He's done for me; when I think of His goodness and how He set me free I could dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance dance all night"  (Then insert shout, praise, clap, etc etc). 

I was just thinking about God's goodness in my life... there are SO many facets to His goodness that it's overwhelming.  (creation, salvation, provision, health, breath, love, etc etc etc)  Today, I am focused on His goodness to me represented by the people and places that me... a girl from rural VT ... has had the privilege to experience.  SERIOUSLY?!  

I'm only 38...  and feel like I have already received a lifetime worth of relationships through some pretty unlikely connections along the way. 

May I never lose this wonder and excitement for knowing people.   Though there have been some excruciating emotional bumps and bruises along the way;  I am so glad that God in His mercy and faithfulness toward me has made it possible for me to keep my heart so wide open.   I think I'm learning that even some of the aspects of my life that I have hated... have been for my good in this area... allowing me more of these kinds of opportunities that otherwise I would have missed. 

If you were to measure my wealth by looking at my bank account... it would be laughable... and in fact you might have some questions regarding my wisdom :).   But today I feel very rich because of the lives I am already so blessed to have rubbed up against and those that are yet to come.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Heart Stretched

I'm restless.

After returning from a whirlwind trip to Ethiopia with Compassion International  (see my blogs at my wjtl blog) I am now in that strange place where it feels like my heart is stretched between continents.

With this being my second trip to Ethiopia,  it was no longer the shock and awe feeling of visiting Africa for the first time like it was in 2010.  I was not nervous.  I had a certain understanding of what to expect.  There was a level of familiarity,  friends to reconnect with and a job to do.  I was there to report about the ministry of Compassion International and to encourage our radio listeners to get involved, sponsor a child, pray, and come on a future trip.  I found myself very focused on my purpose... with a heightened level of responsibility to do an excellent and comprehensive job of reporting,  while also also trying to soak in the time with the kids and my friends there.  I felt so alive and in my element.   From what friends and family are saying to me, that is evident in photo's and live reports, too.  I agree with them.  I had trouble sleeping at night... I think beyond the jet lag it was also a subconscious attempt at not wasting any of my time there.  (though sleep really would have been helpful).

Once we got to the last day or so of the trip I felt the dread of the end coming too soon.   "What!  No, I'm not ready to board that plane!!!"   Thankfully we had very busy days, so I had little time to focus on those feelings, but they were present and became increasingly more painful as Friday progressed.   Since I do have a return trip planned for August this year... I tried not to dwell too much...and I tried to avoid an over dramatic goodbye as I loaded my luggage onto the cart and wheeled up the ramp to the airport with the rest of the team.  But, ouch.

Now here I am back home.  I'm trying to share my experiences with others... trying to communicate the beauty of this culture alongside expressing the great need and opportunity for people to be a help and an encouragement.  I'm preparing for our on air campaign in February, anxiously hoping to reach our goals of getting these kids sponsored ...  and counting the days to August.
I'll soon begin to slide back into my life and schedule here ... but I'm also feeling a tugging in my heart... a wondering about what else God has in store for me and for these connections I am forming with this place, these people, this culture.   There is more to this story.

I'm also trying to take the core values of child advocacy and live them out now... loving kids, telling them about Jesus, being an encouragement to families, praying!

God help me to make the most of these experiences.   God help me to lay all of this at your feet and say thy will be done.  God help me to remain open-hearted and open handed... and to never take for granted these experiences or these people that are holding my heart on the other side of the world.