Tis the Season

I must admit that although I love Jesus, I find the holidays to be a bit of a downer. Well, maybe not a bit, a lot might be more like it. How can I possibly be feeling funky at the most wondrous time of the year when my Savior was born? Hmmm. . . I don’t know. I honestly struggle to interpret the emotional roller coaster I’m on at this time of the year.

Life itself continues to be a challenge but things have changed, mostly for good this past year. The relationship that began the year prior blossomed and I’ll be marrying this wonderful man next week.  I did some traveling to Sanibel Island with my parents and children as well as Colorado and Nebraska.  I accomplished many things – 3 half-marathons and a personal best, hiking my first 14’er, moving not once but twice, volunteering in a new section at church  – just to name a few. Challenges? Knee issues running, significant ocular migraines, strep throat, relationship issues, my oldest son moving not only out but out of town, family/friends death and health issues, my youngest son’s back issues from weight lifting . . . But I prefer not to dwell on the negative. Or at least I try not to anyway!So, what does one do when they’re struggling? Although sometimes difficult to let go, God’s got it. Even though I can’t put into words why I’m crying, He’s got me. When I want to sleep and never wake up, He’s holding me in His arms. When social media is too overwhelming, He gives me the strength to focus on what matters. When those that I love make poor decisions and my heart is hurting, He’s there. God is good.

I’ve mentioned before that God speaks to me through music. I was mesmerized by Tenth Avenue North’s song, Control that I heard about a month ago. I can’t seem to get enough of it! Here are some of the lyrics:

I’ve had plans
Shattered and broken
Things I have hoped in
Fall through my hands
You have plans
To redeem and restore me
You’re behind and before me
Oh, help me believe
God You don’t need me
But somehow You want me
Oh, how You love me
Somehow that frees me
To take my hands off of my life
And the way it should go, oh …
I pray that you’re able to give God control of your life. If you’re struggling with the holidays like I am, lean on Him. He cares for you. He wants you. Allow Him to fill the voids in your life. He’s got you.

I Surrender

He did it again. On my way home from a sports chiropractor appointment following work last night I was praying about how some issues in my life weren’t going the way I wanted them to and apologizing for not giving it to Him. I’d been playing Josh Groban’s Closer CD in my classroom prior to the beginning of the school day and the tune of  “Confession” came to mind as I was drifting off to sleep last night. The words themselves, however, escaped me.

This morning as I was climbing into my car to go to work, another song came to mind – Hillsong United’s “I Surrender”. I’ve always wished that God would speak to me with huge neon signs so that I can’t miss what He’s trying to tell me. Between these two songs, He’s encouraging me to surrender it all to Him. The illnesses I’ve struggled with this summer. The fatigue. The worries of my training and inability to run due to my knee issues. Untimely deaths. Family in weather related destruction areas. Raising children worries. Body image. Allergies. Relationships. Rejection that just won’t seem to let me go. Forgiveness. Lack of sleep. Stress from my job. Car problems. The ability to handle certain situations. LET. IT. GO.

Psalm 86:7 I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.

“Confession” lyrics: (partial)

I have been blind//Unwilling//To see the true love//You’re giving//I have ignored//Every blessing//I’m on my knees//Confessing//That I feel myself surrender//Each time I see your face//I am staggered by your beauty//Your unassuming grace//And I feel my heart is turning//Falling into place//I can’t hide it//Now hear my confession//I have been wrong about you//I thought I was strong without you//For so long//Nothing could move me//For so long//Nothing could change me

“I Surrender” lyrics: (partial)

Here I am//Down on my knees again//Surrendering all//Surrendering all//And find me here//Lord as You draw me near//Desperate for you//Desperate for You//I surrender//Drench my soul//As mercy and grace unfold//I hunger and thirst//I hunger and thirst//With arms stretched wide//I know You hear my cry//Speak to me now//Speak to me now//I surrender//

Thank you, Father, for my neon sign through music. I surrender it all to you. May your will be done in my life according to your timing and your purpose. Amen.

Turkey Trottin’ 2016

Last year when I ran this race I called it The Longest 10 Mile Race EVER and swore I’d never run it again. It wasn’t even an option this summer either, when I was comparing races with my new running buddies until I heard that they had changed the location and the route and since it was during yet another one of my training cycles, I thought, “Why not?” And if I was one of the first 2,000 runners registered, I’d get a free turkey. And who couldn’t use a turkey? (Okay, so maybe that’s not the best reason since my daughter is a vegetarian! Oh, and I still have last year’s in the freezer.) I’m glad I did.

So, prefacing the race was more family/teenage drama. I woke up the morning of the race sick to my stomach, with a thought racing through my head that I hadn’t in the slightest entertained.  I mean, I TRUSTED my daughter, yet why would this thought not go away? Something wasn’t right. Hmm, before the race I confirmed what I knew to already be true.  After the race, I double-confirmed it. Great thoughts to run on, trust me. Grrrr. . . .

We were all lined up in the chute for a good 20 minutes before they told us that we could go back inside due to a delay. Well, I’ll tell you that the real feel temperature was 25 degrees that morning, and standing around waiting for the horn to go off for that long wasn’t the most pleasant. It took a while for my toes to thaw out for I’m sure those guys in tank tops and shorts were feeling it much worse than I was!  Turned out there was a high risk situation somewhere in the area that may  have impeded our safety. Thanks to the race directors for keeping us all safe!

Going into a race there’s always many variables that you usually don’t have any control over.  Weather is one of them, particularly the Kansas wind.  Fortunately, even though the past few days had been gale force winds, it had died down significantly for the race. Yes, it was cold, but at least the sun was supposed to come out. I had a goal for this race knowing that my past two races were 1:32 and 1:31 so I was hoping for around 1:30.  I’d been training well and as long as my IT band didn’t act up again, I felt confident that I would meet it. Due to shuffling back inside and out to the starting line, I lost my fellow runner buddies but I figured I’d meet them on the course somewhere (I only saw them in passing in the last mile:(). All the waiting and the cold even made my MP3 player die before I hit the first mile.  I don’t always run with music, though, so I knew I would overcome yet another challenge this morning. One of these days I should record all of the thoughts that go through my head when I’m running a race.  It’s actually quite comical!

It was a beautiful course with nicely placed water stations that I took of advantage of. I managed to maintain a fairly consistent pace and crossed the finish line with a time of 1:27:18, nearly a 4 minute PR! Yep, I was a happy camper!

Now I’ll need a new goal if I run it again next year.  I haven’t signed up for any other races yet, either, so I’ll need to figure out what’s next! I find having a race on the calendar definitely holds me accountable, as well as running with my group.  I’m going to have to up my mileage a little, too, if I’m wanting to finish 2016 with my goal of 1,000 miles!


Why do all of my race pictures make me look like I’m dying?  Maybe the photographer should hold up a sign saying “Smile!” as I wasn’t expecting pictures!

A Long Day and Failure

It had been a long 12 hour day of teaching restless students with an early release day due to parent/teacher conferences on top of emotional conversations with parents. When I finally walked through my door, my fur babies greeted me enthusiastically, yet my first gaze fell upon the dirty dishes all over the counters and the ½ full gallon of milk – now warm – left out. *sigh* Really? And what was that smell?

My daughter was at work. My oldest son was MIA. Apparently telling your mother where you are when you’re 19 is optional. I only knew that he didn’t work that day. My youngest son was laying on his bed with bloodshot eyes playing Xbox.

I exhaled and tried to convince myself that it’s okay. But it sure didn’t feel that way. I felt like a failure again.

I probably should have gone for a run or done some yoga. Mistake #1. Instead I looked up grades on my phone and about had a heart attack when I saw that not only did my daughter have 4 D’s, she had 2 of them that were less than 1% from F’s. (We’re working through some issues at the moment and she’s working hard at getting them better.) Mistake #2. Refer back to Mistake #1. So I started working on upcoming paperwork for my attorney because due to budget cuts within the school district it’s affected my health insurance and, therefore, my paycheck. My ex is ignoring my emails. Panic mode set in filling in the numbers and realized that there wasn’t anything on vision listed on the plan. Now I had to hold off and look for more information. Mistake #3. And on and on it went. I went to bed in an attempt to relax but couldn’t stop the tears. Refer back to Mistake #1.


Needless to say, it was a rough night. My first thought when I awoke was “Oh, no, here we go again”. A song popped into my head, “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.

Yes, God is constantly giving me reminders that He is with me and that I don’t have to do this thing called LIFE alone. On my drive to work this morning, another long day of conferences, I not only heard “Eye of the Storm” again, but “Fix My Eyes” by King and Country and “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. One thing I miss about being married is physical touch. After a long day of work it’s nice to be listened to, someone to brew a cup of tea for me, and hold me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that affection. I think last night would have gone much smoother if God could have physically held me. I don’t need a man, though, just God. Even as I’m typing this post WAY-FM is playing “In My Arms” by Plumb. Just what I needed. Thank you, WAY-FM and thank you, God.

God is big enough to handle our disappointments, even when we feel like it is Him who disappointed us.:

God is good.:

Only God can fill an empty heart. Psalm 4:

Illuminations and an Old Tradition

I think they used to call it The Festival of Lights but it’s evolved over the years from brown bags with plain white candles in an eerie silence to hundreds, if not thousands, of all kinds of  lights, a big screen, Santa, and lights choreographed to music. It used to be a tradition of ours but over the past couple of years,  it had been dropped. Why not try it again this year? Besides, I LOVE Christmas lights!


On the first evening of my Winter Break (because I think ours was the only district in the entire state of Kansas that still had school this week!) and an evening off for my eldest son, we did something as a family with dinner out (Chick-Fil-A) and then came here, to Illuminations, with what seemed like the rest of the entire city. Crowded was a major understatement.


After paying 4 – yes, 4! – adult tickets even though I was there with my 3 children (okay, okay, so they’re 18, 16 and 13), we joined the lines of people viewing the lights. The weather wasn’t bad but there were plenty of cranky people, that’s for sure. You could easily overlook that, though, when you could hear the sweet voice of a little girl singing Let It Go when they saw the Frozen characters  on this humongous screen, small children on the shoulders of their Dads, little babes fast asleep in strollers, and the squeals of delight from wee ones from sheer amazement of what they were seeing.  And we’ll try to forget the area that smelled like an extremely bad case of B.O. although we thought we had identified the individual and avoided him like the plague. Turns out it wasn’t him after all. Whoops! Sorry, Dude!


The hot chocolate in the Children’s Farm area was reasonable ($1 a cup) and absolutely delicious. My youngest was, however, getting annoyed that I kept getting the camera out to take pictures. But even though I’m not the best photographer, I like to take them.


Spazzy look! Daughter wanted us to wear the Santa hats. The eldest son refused. And I’m well aware that my red and green scarf I got from the Santa Run didn’t match the faux leopard Santa hat.


Eyes half closed? Who cares!


My oldest son said that was the worst lighting with the worst background to take a picture. I took it anyway. 🙂 Besides, their red eyes match the red tree and lights. 😉


This area, on the grass by the tables there are some steps by the person wearing red (left side of pic), was where my husband and I exchanged our wedding vows in 1992. It makes me sad to see it now.


Reflections on the water

I had a good time last night seeing the lights, even if it was crowded. I didn’t let my son’s cranky attitude ruin my night. We were all together and doing something as a family. That has to count for something, right? And we can restart or make new traditions on our own as we see fit. Or not. But enjoy life? ABSOLUTELY.

Miles, Moose & Memories

I think my Honda Odyssey knows the route to Keystone, CO, where I love to spend as much time as I’m able.  I saw the weather forecast for our fair city and thought, uh-oh, I can’t be stuck for a miserable sleet/ice-y long weekend! I made it out before the weather came in and back in as it was over. Perfect! Food was prepacked so our only expense is gas and hot coffee while traveling. (Yummy Mighty Mocha Latte from QuikTrip set the trip off to a great start!)  Oh, and Adele’s new CD – 25.

So we left early - 6 am - but still ran into a bit of funky fog. But all of a sudden, poof! It was gone! Weird KS weather!

So we left early – 6 am – but still ran into a bit of funky fog. But all of a sudden, poof! It was gone! Weird KS weather!

So, there’s no back yard where we are when we’re in Keystone which means when the dogs need to potty, we have to take them out on leashes.  I was up early Thanksgiving Day, maybe due to the time change, maybe due to the fabulous silence of being in the mountains or not wanting to waste a moment being inside in Colorful Colorado and God’s gorgeous mountains. I leashed up Buddy and Cooper and headed out.  I was walking through the parking lot when a large shape caught my eye by the tennis courts. By golly, there were 2 HUGE moose meandering up the walk!  I fumbled for my phone in an attempt to get evidence but alas, for such large animals, they move quite quickly. I went in search of them to be sure my eyes had not deceived me and saw them again by the townhouses before they likely headed back up the mountain as a loud bus taking skiiers to the slopes rounded the corner.  WOW.  Majestic moose were the words that came to mind as I marveled at their sheer size.  And the fact that I’ve been coming here for YEARS and only just saw this by the homes!

No, REALLY! There were 2 moose by the tennis courts!

No, REALLY! There were 2 moose by the tennis courts! (center of the pic kind of by the brown house)

Our first full day there consisted of a Turkey Day Fun Run in Frisco, supposedly a 5K.  My Garmin measured it at 2.68 miles. No timing, just for fun (really!). I ran with my daughter. We did it for the first time last year.  Fortunately there wasn’t anywhere near as much snow as there was last year (knee high and mushy. Think mashed potatoes!) and only some ice. We enjoyed watching all of the dogs dressed up and running with their owners. Dogs are so accepted everywhere there.  LOVE.

By the "start" line. Me & my fellow runner/daughter.

By the “start” line. Me & my fellow runner/daughter.

The Finish Line banner - perfect for Turkey Day!

The Finish Line banner – perfect for Turkey Day!

Got a pic like this last year with just my daughter. Had to get one with both of us this year.

Got a pic like this last year with just my daughter. Had to get one with both of us this year.

Our "official" finish picture. Yes, I grabbed my daughter's hand so we could finish together. I know, too sweet.

Our “official” finish picture. Yes, I grabbed my daughter’s hand so we could finish together. I know, too sweet.

My parents walked it. Not too strenuously as my mother had just had her 2nd cataract surgery 3 days earlier!

My parents walked it. Not too strenuously as my mother had just had her 2nd cataract surgery 3 days earlier!

A Thanksgiving tradition we've been doing since 2008, a balloon launch in memory of my sweet nephew,Weston, who went home to be with the Lord at the young age of 22 months.

A Thanksgiving tradition we’ve been doing since 2008, a balloon launch in memory of my sweet nephew,Weston, who went home to be with the Lord at the young age of 22 months.

Always loved, never forgotten. We write messages on the balloons.

Always loved, never forgotten. We write messages on the balloons.

A glorious sunset during an evening hike up what we call the "Back Mountain".

A glorious sunset during an evening hike up what we call the “Back Mountain”.

We took the dogs out several times a day to run and we hiked the “Back Mountain” several times as well, almost getting caught in the dark once! Cooper scared me on one of these hikes as he came toward me, crying, then trying to bury himself in the snow.  Great, I thought. He’s having a stroke of some kind and I’m going to lose him. Not to mention we’re over a mile up the mountain! Fortunately, he had a drink from my water bottle, cooled down in the snow, and then took off like nothing had happened. Geesh. Now to calm my beating heart.

Salmon for Thanksgiving dinner since 3 out of 4 of us are vegetarians!

Salmon for Thanksgiving dinner since 3 out of 4 of us are vegetarians!

My dogs love Colorado and playing in the snow! They particularly enjoy running without their leashes.

My dogs love Colorado and playing in the snow! They particularly enjoy running without their leashes.

We left to go home very early Sunday morning as not only did I have to go back to teaching and the kids to school, my two sons were back home. My youngest hates the long drive so we compromised this trip.  I can’t help but feel sad each time I leave there. I feel so at peace and more in-tune with my body, feelings and spirituality. Maybe some day this will be my home. In the meantime, I’ll visit as often as I can.

On a Roll – My 3rd Prairie Fire 1/2 Marathon!

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy biiiiiirrrrtttthhhhhday, dear Deb, happy birthday to me!

Yes, I decided in January that for my birthday gift I would treat myself to the race fees for the Spring Prairie Fire half marathon. Crazy, huh?! But really, why not? I’d trained for 3 others but only ran 2, thanks to a slip on the stairs as well as running my 1st full marathon in October so why not a little motivation to keep myself in shape as I celebrated my 44th year?

The weeks leading up to the race were tough. Work issues with school state testing, parenting issues and not sleeping well were rampant.  I was up in the wee hours of the morning and no, it wasn’t because I was excited and/or nervous! I approached the morning of the race with an attitude of “I’ve done the best that I can with what I’ve been given and I’ll run the best that I can this morning.” Oh, and lots and lots of prayer.

I left later than intended that morning. Great. Got stuck in traffic and had to park on a side road a long, long way from the starting line.  Good thing I knew where the hidden bathrooms were so I didn’t have to wait in the humongous line for the porta-potties with the other racers. I made it to the starting line with a few minutes to spare as I scanned the crowd, looking for my pacer.  (My goal was a sub 2 hour race but due to circumstances, I thought I’d try the 2:15 and see how my body handled it.)

To make a long story short, my body kicked it in. I made my way up to the 2 hour pacers after the gun/horn went off but my body felt like it could go faster.  I hung back for quite some time so as not to burn out too fast, then pulled ahead.  My 1/2 way point time was excellent and I was amazed that I could potentially make my goal.   In actuality, I BEAT my goal.  Even though the last mile was into the wind (20 mph, gusting to 27 mph), slightly uphill, and took every last ounce of energy from my body, I came in with my unofficial time of 1:57:07 with my Garmin showing 13.21 miles (not 13.1).  To say I was elated was a major understatement! I had beaten my personal record by a full 6 minutes! Woo hoo! I was SO PROUD of myself 🙂  and so were my parents, who were waiting for me at the finish line.


My race bib, medal, and evidence of my PR!

My race bib, medal, and evidence of my PR!

For those of you liking stats: Mile 1) 8:50 2) 9:07  3) 8:49  4) 8:50  5) 8:37  6) 8:46  7) 8:44  8) 8:53  9) 8:56  10) 8:51  11) 8:57  12) 9:03  13) 8:01  I did walk through 2 water stations . . . can you tell which ones?

I placed 316 out of 1576 with their official time of 1:57:10 (3 seconds off my Garmin).

Not sure where I am on the course here. Not too bad of an agonizing look on my face!

Not sure where I am on the course here. Not too bad of an agonizing look on my face!

I'm done with a PR! Woo hoo! Where's that Gatorade?!

I’m done with a PR! Woo hoo! Where’s that Gatorade?!


Next race? The Run for the Rockies 1/2 marathon in June!