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.

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A Refreshing Trip to CO

When the wedding invitation arrived in my beau’s mailbox, I’ll admit I was a little nervous about attending. “Let’s wait and see what the schedule looks like,” I remember saying. I wasn’t looking for excuses really, but something about going to a wedding that involved the family of my beau’s ex was a little nerve-wrecking. Good news was that his ex wasn’t going to be there. Although divorce shouldn’t sever the ties of previous family relationships, my situation, unfortunately, seems to have gone differently. I was genuinely happy that my beau still has relationships with his ex’s family. Once it looked like the trip was going to be a “go”, we planned some activities around the upcoming celebration of love.

Day 1: After many trips to Keystone, I had driven by the shadowed mass on the I-70 of what is Pike’s Peak but don’t recall having actually gone there so the drive toward this particular mountain was incredible. I’ve always wanted to run the Pike’s Peak Ascent but my schedule has never permitted it due to timing of the school year. Some day, perhaps! We arrived after about a 7 hour trip to Colorado Springs and after checking into the motel (great price through booking.com!), we decided to check out Garden of the Gods. This particular location was also listed on my Bucket List board on Pinterest! Inspiring, to say the least! I can’t help but feel closer to God in the mountains, particularly when you see such wondrous sights such as these!

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Day 2: Our morning began early after having purchased tickets weeks ago to ride the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak. We had to be at the depot by 7:30 AM. Of course, I hadn’t planned on having strep throat and still being on antibiotics for this trip either, so although I had wanted to HIKE Pikes Peak, that wasn’t going to happen on this trip.  I wanted to get to the top so the railway was the way to go. Again, the views were spectacular! I was elated that I didn’t get altitude sickness on the way up (I can be prone to that based on my history) and we were both trying to stay hydrated to ward off any potential problems, so much so that Mike couldn’t wait to get to the top and was first in line for the bathroom! The conductor did an excellent job with her commentary on what we were seeing and puns and made the 1+ hour journey up (and back) very enjoyable.

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Day 2 continued: The wedding was also this day so after heading back down the mountain and visiting the gift shop (of course!) we rested before getting ready for the wedding. It was a lovely ceremony and you could just feel the love and contentment between the bride and groom. I felt very accepted and there was no discomfort at all.

Day 3: This was the BIG day! We had planned to hike a 14er (a 14er is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet. See What are 14ers?)and carefully chose Mt. Bierstadt as my beginner mountain. Mike had hiked a couple of 14ers many years ago so this wasn’t new to him but he hadn’t hiked this one yet. We got up at 4:30 AM to drive 2 1/2 hours to the trail head (from Colorado Springs to Georgetown) to ensure that we were down below the tree line prior to any potential storms coming in during the afternoon. I had my Garmin on to see what the mileage would be like but it died at 6.4 miles after several hours on the trail despite having been fully charged prior to departing. The book that we referenced said the trail was a 6 miles round trip hike that should take about 6 hours so I’m curious as to what our actual mileage was since we were beyond that and weren’t even down yet!

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The trail started through willows and then got to boulders. Due to my running, I would consider myself to be quite fit yet my legs were screaming at me to stop because they were so tired of climbing! When we got to the part where we could actually see the summit, it was easier to keep going. A second wind? Perhaps. The end was near! Well, the TOP was! We still had to hike down.

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The view from the top

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Another view from the top. The clouds were starting to gather and you could see lightening off in the distance therefore we didn’t stay on the top as long as we would have liked.

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Tired was an understatement but WOW! what an accomplishment! We hiked a 14er!

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This was the “official” marker of having made it to the top – a cardboard sign! Yep, had to take a picture.

Going down was tough and Mike twisted his ankle more than once. The parking lot seemed a long, long, long way away and we got rained on a couple of times as well as lightly snowed upon. We did pack adequately though, and had plenty of fuel and water to make the trip, for that I was grateful. After spending about 7 hours hiking and getting up predawn, we crashed that night!

Day 4: Since we were in Georgetown , just down the road from where I spent many days in Keystone, I wanted to show Mike the place I love so much so the next day we headed in that direction. After showing him where my parents’ town home used to be, we walked around Lakeside Village and then walked to River Run, sharing stories of my experiences as we went. After shopping at the Silverthorne Outlets following our walk (I took advantage of the savings and did some Christmas shopping!), we headed back to Colorado Springs.

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Day 5: That night we stayed at the Air Force Academy (cheap lodging!) and toured the chapels in the morning. They were absolutely incredible! The larger chapel was Protestant with a humongous organ in the balcony. Below that was a Catholic chapel and Buddhist and Jewish chapels. What an amazing place!

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I only had a week left before I headed back to the classroom for meetings and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up my summer. I accomplished things I hadn’t done before, admiring God’s incredible works and spent precious quality time with the one I love. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was very glad that I went!

It’s been quite a year . . .

I had such plans for my blog this year. I had great thoughts of what I was going to write about, how life was going to go, and then things started to spiral in all sorts of directions. Hmmm. . . I guess that’s how life works, isn’t it?

plans

A run-down:

January: After nearly 14 years of living in the same home, it was time to move. There were too many not-so-good memories in that house and I wanted to downsize. I met with a realtor, determined a time-line in which to get her recommended improvements done, and started the work.

February:  The goal was to have the house on the market by the end of February. I had to repaint the entire ceiling (kitchen/dining/living room/hall/entry way) due to changing out the light fixture in the kitchen.  It took 6 GALLONS of paint and a lot of time & energy. I didn’t meet the deadline. I wasn’t even going to even start looking at other homes yet as I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case my own home didn’t sell in a timely manner. My teenage son didn’t help matters any when the hallway had to be patched, as well as his bedroom wall, and the bedroom door replaced. Ugh.

March: House finally hit the market after spring break and a lot of sweat equity!

April: Let me tell you that trying to have a house ready for viewing with 3 kids, 2 dogs, 3 guinea pigs and working full time was just crazy.  However, on our 3rd last minute showing, the house sold —  in only 4 days!! Uh-oh, now I have to find somewhere else to live AND pack! I had already started purging things left and right and even managed a yard sale in an attempt to earn some $ instead of just giving it all away. That was a nice surprise as I earned about $300 for one day! Then there was CraigsList and Facebook Marketplace to help get rid of some of the other stuff. . .

May: I ran the Spring Prairie Fire Half Marathon and, amazingly, somehow managed a PR in spite of all of the craziness! I finished in 186th place, 4th in my age group out of 67 women with a time of 1:53:49. Soon after, my nephew graduated from high school. We found somewhere else to live but the home inspection came back with horrible issues so we backed out of that deal and luckily didn’t lose my earnest money. In the meantime, my teenage son got angry in the bathroom and punched a hole in the bathtub. Another costly repair. Closing on my existing home was scheduled for May 15 and I didn’t have anywhere to live!  The rush was on to find another home! This entire time I’m praying for God’s guidance and his direction on all of the plans. After all, He’s got this under control, right?! My stress levels were off the charts . . .

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trust in god

May continued . . . I found another home but they couldn’t close in time with mine so we moved all of our house into a storage unit and moved in with my parents. A week after closing, school finished up for the year and we headed to Sanibel Island, FL for a week with my parents. Perfect timing for a break, that’s for sure! I ran miles on the beach, biked across the island, relaxed poolside, and enjoyed time with my parents and children. I also got to see my aunt and uncle that I hadn’t seen in ten years! The very next day that we returned from FL, my oldest son moved to Lawrence, KS. Well, he IS 20, but nothing can prepare you for your children leaving home.  And it’s not like he was just around the corner — it’s a little over 2 hours away!!

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Bikes and beaches. Ahhhh . . .

 

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I loved running on the beach!

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My beautiful children at various locations on Sanibel. But then again, I’m biased!

June: My mortgage company was giving me issues and dropped the ball on the purchase of my new home, delaying the closing date to mid-June. Praise God, though, as the sellers were willing to let me move in on our original closing date! If that hadn’t have happened, I would have had NO help to move all of our belongings AGAIN, this time from the storage unit to the new house. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in my mortgage company.  What makes it even worse is it’s the same company that carried my previous loan! Crazy. In the meantime, my younger brother and his family were planning a move out of state. They had put their house on the market and my sister-in-law had already moved to FL. We settled nicely into our new home and it didn’t take me hardly any time at all to unpack. I still have work to do with it (the previous owners REALLY liked the color gray and couldn’t paint worth a darn) but it was mine with fresh memories ready to be made in it. Refreshing, I tell you! I also managed a quick weekend trip to my parents’ lake house. A change of scenery can do one good, that’s for sure, especially with someone you love!

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Here we go again! Between moving from 1 house to the storage unit, Taylor moving out, then moving all of this out again into a new home, I was sick of moving!

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In the outdoor gardens at Crystal Bridges. We couldn’t resist having our picture taken by the LOVE art!

July: Even though I was feeling less stress than I had all year, my ocular migraines returned. I have been suffering with these migraines for more than 6 years and they’re actually quite strange.  They come on suddenly, rolling in behind my right eye, feeling like a knife is piercing me. I had already had an MRI in the past and tried medication, to no avail. After more than a week of excruciating and debilitating pain, I opted for daith piercings.  My niece also suffers from migraines and she said they really helped her. Once I got through the pain of the actual piercing and the healing of the cartilage, I am pleased to say that they have most definitely helped. I would highly recommend them! By July 7th, my brother and his family left for their new home in FL. In the meantime, I’m supposed to be training for 2 more half marathons and a 10-miler so my training has been suffering.

Still July:  I spent two days taking a class working for graduate credit in order to renew my teaching license by January. Next up? Homework! Then I went to my parents’ lake house and enjoyed time with my younger two children as well as my boyfriend and his children. The water was lovely and floating around in the hot sun was refreshing!

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Still July: Fast forward a week and I awoke with a sore throat. No big deal, right? Except for it got progressively worse. And worse. And worse. The Dr. visit said mono or strep, yet all of the strep tests came back negative! The white sores in my mouth told me otherwise, however, so after waiting too long on test results, I finally got a prescription for an antibiotic. Let the healing begin! Once again my training was derailed and I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. Argh!

So, what do you do during all of these types of fiascos? Dare I say that I’m actually glad that it’s now August and I’ll soon be back at work? Well, maybe I’m not THAT desperate. Cling tightly to His hand. I do believe in what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! God always has a plan. . .

A Verse to Live By

I received this daily Word on the Way on December 31, 2016 through WAY-FM and this one really made an impact on me. I’ve been relying on God’s strength for so long that I was holding my breath in the hopes that things were starting to turn around.  This Word on the Way has been wonderful encouragement for me. I printed it and put on my lamp on my desk at work as a constant reminder that God has the best intentions for me and my life. 2017 is going to be a great year!  I look back on the past nearly five months and I am in awe with all of the new things that have happened. He is indeed making a pathway through the wilderness!

Fellow Pavement Pounders

Remember how I told you that when I trained for my last marathon that I wouldn’t go through that training solo again?  I wrote about it here.

I can’t tell you how incredibly excited I am about my new running group.  SERIOUSLY. I look forward to Tuesday Night Track, Thursday Night Fun Runs with the Joggers and Lagers, and, of course, my M2 S2F (Start to Finish) fellow long-run partners on Saturday mornings. This group provides motivation, accountability, and absolutely unbelievable support.  I even rejoined Facebook, but only to be a member of this group!

This group high-5’s you even if your hands are sweaty from a run. They don’t mind how bad you smell from running in 90+ degrees weather on a hot July evening and then sitting down for a drink at a local brewhouse. They don’t care if your running clothes don’t match or if your shorts look like you’ve wet your pants from sweating.  This group praises your abilities (or sometimes inabilities, depending on the day!) of just getting out there and running and doing your best. They wonder where you are if you don’t show up to training. If you drop back to take pictures or are having hydration issues, they drop back with you to be sure that you’re okay and safe. We’re training together for a common goal, to complete the Prairie Fire Marathon in October. We are growing stronger with each run, not only with our bodies, but building relationships with fellow pavement pounders who are just as crazy about running.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  

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Day 1 Time Trial Marathon Group – June 11. Photo by Karlee from Fleet Feet Wichita

A Late Night God Moment

train up a childParenting is HARD.  Teenage parenting is even harder.  Single teenage parenting is even harder still.  *sigh* What’s a mother to do?

Last month I was having issues with my eldest son, AGAIN.  It’s upsetting when I feel like I’ve lost connections/relationships as my son has gotten older. He has his own agenda now and doesn’t feel like he needs to share anything with anyone, including me, regardless that he lives under my roof and I provide for him.  Tough, I tell you, really tough. So I had gone downstairs and mentioned something in passing to my son who was doing something I have previously asked him not to do in the house.  I was just reminding him, honestly, and tried to keep my tone non-accusatory.  Of course it backfired, and he retorted with a statement with some expletives in it. I prided myself in not retaliating with what I really wanted to say, instead I just said, “Don’t even start that with me” and went back upstairs.

The damage, however, was done. My heart was crushed, again, and I felt defeated in my attempts to do what is right.  I felt helpless and out of control. What did I do wrong? It was a long night of crying, praying, tossing and turning and more praying.  I had work the next morning, which certainly didn’t help matters and only stressed me out more. And then came the anger and stress of having to deal with this alone with his father having left.

My phone signaled an incoming email.  I don’t usually check it in the middle of the night (or wee early hours of the morning) but in this case, I rolled over and checked it.  I get daily emails from Proverbs 31 Ministries and that was what had arrived at that moment. It was entitled  “Three Things Every Mom Should Know” by Lysa TerKeurst. My interest piqued, I opened it and began to read.

It began like this:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)

LYSA TERKEURST

“Being a mom is tough.

I think one of the hardest things about motherhood for me has been my tendency to blame myself for the wrong choices my kids sometimes make.

The second hardest thing is trying to figure out how to fix their issues. Especially when you are hyper aware the situation your child is in will carry great consequences.

Deep is the sorrow of a mother who feels helpless.

Thankfully, God knows what it’s like to deal with wayward children. He feels our pain. He knows our sorrow. And He knows exactly how to encourage us through His Word.” (click on the title for the link that will let you read the entire devotional post)

I started crying all over again, big, heaving sobs that shook my entire body. I had been crying out for help in prayer and God provided answers by way of a single tone on my cell phone. I had been heard. God sent the encouragement that I needed to get me through this situation. What a friend I have in Jesus!

Psalm 145:18-19 “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.”

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A Little Ink

When I was in high school, I had a friend that had this small, red heart tattoo on her ankle. I never asked her about it, whether it had any significance or why she wanted it, but I do remember that I was in awe of it and that it would be something I would like to have.

Fast forward 30+ years. I continued to admire others’ ink so about a year ago I started a new category on my Pinterest account and called it “Hmmmm”.  My ex didn’t like tattoos so I hadn’t ever done anything about wanting one.  After visiting a tattoo shop with my daughter while she was getting a piercing, I realized that it wasn’t as scary as I thought.  I am my own person and I wanted something that would represent my strength, regardless of what life has dealt me.  Does that mean it would be a constant reminder of what happened in my life?  No, as it depends on the perspective of the situation. Was I doing it out of spite?  Absolutely not. This was 100% for me. I started small and a few tattoos that focused on strength caught my eye.

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And then I saw this one.

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I did some research and found the Story of the Lotus where it explained that the lotus flower begins to sprout underwater, surrounded by mud, muck, fish, insects . . . you know, basically a dirty and rough environment.  But despite its living conditions, it pushes to the surface and, as the article says, “rises from adversity.”  It goes on to talk about Buddhism and says this:  “… the bud of the lotus symbolizes potential. The lotus flower represents an awakening, spiritual growth, and enlightenment. Just as the lotus flower emerges from the water clean, the lotus also represents purity of body, speech, and mind. The lotus could be thought of as an awakened mind, which grows naturally toward the warmth and light of truth, love and compassion. The lotus may appear fragile on the surface, but it is flexible and strong, securely anchored under the surface of the water.”   Cool.

Then I found this article on Lotus Flower Meanings.  I love this part:  “Let’s face it. Poop happens. It’s what we make of a poopy situation that counts. Sure… we can crawl under our misery, never lifting our heads to the light that beckons us. That’s always an option. Or, we can be like the lotus. We can make the best of our crummy environment and rise above. Lotus flower meanings are all about aspiring to express, to live, to share beauty.”  Wow — I had plenty to hide my head about and the rejection I had experienced certainly made me want to never lift my head again.  I am embarrassed that my marriage failed, but marriage takes a partnership and that didn’t exist anymore in mine (not by choice, I might add).  I have decided that I wasn’t going to let that situation in which I had no say define who I am or what’s going to happen for the rest of my life.  I can relate to what this beautiful flower represents and I wanted this symbol permanently etched upon myself.  So, on March 7, 2015, I walked into that tattoo parlor and in about 15 minutes, it was complete.

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My lotus flower – 3/27/2016

It’s been over a year and I still love my flower.  In fact, I’m going to get another tattoo on my wrist but I’m going to let the artist design it using the elements I want.  We’ll see how that turns out!

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A picture of a lotus flower, taken by someone’s OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA.