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I read this post on December 31st about the #365grateful project, and I decided I would do exactly that for the next year: Take a photo every day of something that I’m grateful/thankful for. It’s been a really great thing and has already shown me in the past 31 days how many little things I have to be thankful for every day. Little things that I would’ve otherwise probably missed.

Here’s a review of what I was thankful for in January. I highly recommend jumping into the challenge, even if you didn’t start in January!

Jan. 1: Grateful for a whole new calendar for new memories. 2013 was AWESOME, and I have big hopes for 2014.

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Jan. 2. Grateful for the chance to go to my second Packers game ever/my first playoff game. Who cares if my eyeballs freeze permanently! But seriously, I’ve dreamed of this day for so long.2014-01-02_1388704866

Jan. 3. Grateful my car started this morning as it was -2 when I left for work.2014-01-03_1388792932

Jan. 4. It’ll hopefully prevent me from getting frostbite tomorrow.2014-01-04_1388872077

Jan. 5. Thankful for an awesome day (despite a Packers loss) with this lady. I love our friendship. But enough mushy stuff.2014-01-06_1388979245

Jan. 6. I have the best sister in the world–she offered to pack my lunch for work since I didn’t get back from Lambeau until midnight…and slipped in a surprise note!2014-01-06_1389028008

Jan. 7. This photo may be incredibly boring but let’s be real: It’s what we’re all thankful for during this arctic vortex or whatever the cool kids are calling it.2014-01-07_1389138440

Jan. 8. Got a package in the mail from e3 with some prep material for my upcoming mission trip to Costa Rica. Getting excited!2014-01-09_1389234797

Jan. 9. Thankful for wonderful coworkers and our occasional lunch dates. This sandwich is the bomb dot com.2014-01-10_1389313567

Jan. 10. Thankful to have made it safely home through the black ice/rainy commute home. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a hot date with my pajamas and Netflix.2014-01-10_1389397738

Jan. 11. Thankful for a wonderful Saturday of pre-birthday meals with friends. Brunch at Cafe Hollander, dinner at Safe House.2014-01-12_1389498738

Jan. 12. Thankful for group texts so I can “watch” the Golden Globes with my two pop culture enthusiasts from Texas!2014-01-13_1389576074

Jan. 13. Thankful for another year of life, so we celebrated with a delicious dinner.2014-01-14_1389664794

Jan. 14. Thankful for tea to hopefully make the ouchie feeling in my throat go away.2014-01-14_1389743334

Jan. 15. Thankful for my Bible study, the ladies in it, and hot caramel apple cider.2014-01-16_1389835239

Jan. 16: Thankful for the opportunity to renew this bad boy! I haven’t used it since 2005, and I’m excited to travel internationally again this year to Costa Rica for my mission trip. Side note: Apparently you’re not allowed to smile for passport photos anymore?! Must we be angry Americans? I felt so not myself in the photo when the Walgreens guy told me three times I’m not allowed to smile.2014-01-17_1389917930

Jan. 17: Thankful for my sister, AKA the birthday girl today! Over the years we’ve gone from hating the fact that people thought we were twins to spending pretty much all our free time together ON PURPOSE. She’s my BFF by birth AND by choice. Happy 24th, Manda Moo. Xo.2014-01-17_1389962542

Jan. 18. Thankful to be reunited with my old friend! It’s been way too long…2014-01-18_1390077789

Jan. 19. Thankful for this kid. He goes back to college for his final semester tomorrow, but sad face regardless! (Don’t tell him I took a secret creeper photo.)2014-01-19_1390164307

Jan. 20. Thankful for a day off and lunch with my mom. I swear she wasn’t asleep when I took this photo. 😉2014-01-20_1390254644

Jan. 21. Thankful for the crazy thing called the Internet and how it can bring complete strangers together. I’m swapping clothes with girls from all over the US now. It’s awesome.2014-01-22_1390360001

Jan. 22. Thankful for Starbucks. Because it’s Starbucks.2014-01-22_1390434382

Jan. 23. Thankful that even though it’s starting to feel like winter will never end, it’s now still light outside when I leave work.#mywindshieldisreallydirty2014-01-23_1390520323

Jan. 24. Thankful for a lazy Friday at home watching TLC shows with my mom and sister.2014-01-25_1390611832

Jan. 25. Thankful for a relaxing Saturday at home with Starbucks, a bagel with cream cheese and, of course, the Dowager Countess.2014-01-25_1390684311

Jan. 26. Thankful for the opportunity to serve in children’s ministry at my church every week…even if it does end in me being covered in toothpaste this week. 😉 But the kids loved it!2014-01-26_1390762060

Jan. 27. Thankful that this AMAZING sweater came in the mail from Allison today, just in time to keep me warm during -35 wind chills tomorrow!2014-01-28_1390869853

Jan. 28. Thankful for warm clothes, coats, hats and scarves today. The end.2014-01-28_1390952512

Jan. 29. Thankful for a home-cooked dinner every Wednesday when I visit my parents. Because I think we all know I barely know how to cook.2014-01-30_1391041065

Jan. 30. It’s kind of weird, but thankful oil changes only happen every few months. It’s one of my least favorite things to do for some odd reason.2014-01-30_1391125770

Jan. 31. Thankful for good German fish fry nights with apple strudel for dessert. Mmmm…Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 9.58.24 PM

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#365grateful: January

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Dedication, Soul-bearing

Davion wants to play football, but there’s no one to drive him to practice. He wants to use the bathroom without having to ask someone to unlock the door.

More than anything, he wants someone to tell him he matters. To understand when he begs to leave the light on.

Earlier today I read the story of Davion Only, a 15-year-old boy who went to a church in Florida and stated his case to the congregation, asking that someone adopt him.

I’m not one to often get emotional, but Davion’s story tore me apart. I felt like my heart was actually breaking when I read this quote from him:

”I’ll take anyone. Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be.”

Just read that again is making me tear up all over.

Guys, this is a boy who just wants to be loved. He’s been alone since he was BORN. His mom was in prison and he held out hope for years that she would come for him—until he found out this year that she had died.

And he went to a church and asked for someone, ANYONE, to adopt him. And while two families came forward to inquire, nothing’s been done yet. He’s still without a family. Which is all he wants right now.

*

Ever since I was probably 16 or so, I’ve known that I wanted to adopt children, someday. I don’t know when, but I truly believe that’s what God has for me in the future.

I still vividly remember the turning point for me: I was watching a 20/20 on adoption and foster children, and it broke my heart. Broke it. And it’s never been the same since.

While plenty of people have their own children (which is wonderful and I am in no way discrediting that), I’ve never felt like that was for me. Now, granted, this could change, but I’ve felt that way for years now.

Because here’s the thing. There are so, so many beautiful, wonderful children in the world right now without a home or a family. They bounce from foster home to foster home, longing, waiting for the day for someone to call their own.  But so many, too many, never get to know what it feels like to have a popcorn and movie night in the living room, to get invited to the neighbor kid’s pool party, or even what it’s like to have someone who loves them as their own tuck them in at night.

Someday, I want to be that person.

*

The bottom of the news article I referenced above contains the following information regarding Davion: (At publication time, two couples had asked about Davion, but no one had come forward to adopt him. If you want more information about Davion — or any of the 120 foster children in Pinellas and Pasco counties who are waiting for families, call Eckerd at (866) 233-0790. If you can’t adopt but want to donate time or money, call Eckerd at (727) 456-0600.

Let’s spread the word about Davion (and the thousands of others just like him). He needs a home.

Davion Only needs a home

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Healthy

Confession: Runners scare me.

They’re like the cool kids in school. They’re scary and big and just way better at everything, but you just so desperately want to be like them. Or at least I do.

Let me back up. Today I read a column that really got under my skin for multiple reasons. The tone and the thought process behind it just didn’t sit right with me. So I polled a few friends and asked them what they thought (granted, all these friends are around the same age as me). But each one had the same reaction I did; one friend put it best when she said it “really burned (her) biscuits.”

This is the column, titled “The Slowest Generation” (yes, it’s really called that), on WSJ.com I’m referring to. It discusses, from the perspective of a Baby Boomer, the decline of serious young runners in America. It also touches on how running events are not what they used to be, saying they’re more of a “parade” (his actual word) than a serious competition.

This reminded me of the editor’s letter I read in the June 2013 issue of Runner’s World. Now, given the fact I am a novice runner at best at this point (nevermind, let’s be honest: I run like a turtle through molasses), I had never really noticed that particular publication on the newsstands before. But I had just recently signed up for my first 5K, which happened to be The Color Run. I was pumped! And the cover featured a happy gal who looked like she was in a color run, so I thought, “This is the publication for me!” It offered me tips on training for a 5K, so I bought it.
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Once I started reading the articles inside, though, I felt intimidated. “Whoa, these people are SERIOUS” was my first reaction. The editor’s letter was a mixed bag for me. On one hand, he acknowledged me, a new reader, when he wrote, “As you’ve no doubt noticed, we evoke this curious trend on this month’s cover. If you’re a new or casual runner, you probably love it. It may have compelled you to open this magazine for the first time. (If so, welcome!)” This part made me feel happy and included.

But the next sentence said, “If you’re a decades-long subscriber who trains seriously and chases PRs, you may be a little turned off. I get it.”

And just like that, I felt like the cool kids were pushing me out already.

Because I will probably never be an awesome runner. I will probably never run a marathon (though I’d like to shoot for a half at some point). I’m still going to eat and drink what I want most of the time. I’m going to be more focused on fun than being at the front of the pack at races.

But so what? As long as I’m doing SOMETHING, that’s the most important thing, is it not?

Because guess what? I started trying to run because of The Color Run. I saw the photos and thought, “That looks FUN.” So I went to a running store for the first time and plopped $100 down for my first pair of real running shoes. But my feet hurt after a few months of owning them, so I went to another running store. Another $100 pair of shoes, only slightly less pain.

So, because I had The Color Run coming up, I wanted to get to the root of the problem. So I went to an actual foot doctor. They X-rayed my feet, watched me walk, and made molds of my feet. I’ve always attributed my foot pain to having no arch whatsoever, but the foot doctor said it was much more than that. Turns out the bones in my feet all grew slightly crooked. And my hips are a bit turned in. Surprise!

So, because of The Color Run and how excited I was to run it, I paid for a rather expensive set of orthopedic inserts. I have an arch for the first time in my life! But, more important, I can run for more than a few seconds without feeling like my feet are going to snap.

I’ve spent a lot of time and money in the pursuit of running. Because I was pulled into the fun, silly side of running. I’ve joked around and said I would only do a 5K if it was slightly gimmicky. That’s not far from the truth, though.

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My first 5K ever, which was in July, was the Milwaukee Brewers Sausage 5K. For those not aware, the Milwaukee Brewers have five sausage mascots that race during every 7th inning stretch at Miller Park. They’re a thing of legend around here. So the chance to race with them?! AWESOME. But I was a bit intimidated that morning. Sure, lots of the people there were families/friends just there for a good time (I walked/ran it with my dad, mom, and sister), but a good chunk of the participants meant BUSINESS. They were stretching when we showed up. They didn’t really seem to make eye contact with anyone else. They were focused.

Now, I’m not knocking them, really. Because it’s awesome that they were out there probably going for personal bests. But, to a little first timer like me, it was overwhelming. I just wanted to have fun!

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The Color Run was a completely different experience. EVERYONE was there for the fun of it. Yes, people were running, but most of them were chatting with their teammates as they ran, shrieking whenever they hit a color zone. I heard people behind us in the starting chute joking, “We’ll finish last. But it’s OK!”

And why wouldn’t it be? They were there. They were smiling and laughing and having a grand ol’ time. They had gotten their butts out of bed on a Sunday morning to something fun, which also just happened to be a form of exercise. Plus, if the whole going-3ish-miles wasn’t your exact cup of tea, the after party was a blast. When else do you get to rave with complete strangers after just finishing your first 5K (many of the people in the crowd cheered when our emcee asked if it was anyone’s first 5K) while simultaneously being dosed in color dye?

So while I’m not trying to discount running as a serious sport, I’m just asking the serious ones remember us newbies. We may have different ideas of fun, but I think we can all be friends.

I’ll be participating in my third 5K on November 10. It’s a 5K called The Mo Run. I signed up with a friend because it looked FUN. But I’m also hoping to be able to run more of it than I could during The Color Run. But no matter what, I’ll be enjoying life while exercising. And isn’t that the most important thing of all?

5Ks, “The Slowest Generation” & why runners scare me

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Soul-bearing

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for awhile, but haven’t. Fought in my soul. Fought my fingers from writing it. Because it hurt too much to put down, I thought. To admit it out loud. To share these things that well up within me but I fight away, as if it makes them less of thoughts.

But then I read this wonderful, amazing, beautiful, etc. blog post  and I realized I could, even though she basically already said so many things so perfectly that I may just end up repeating things in a less graceful way.

See, there’s this thing that happens all the time, but seem to intensify leaps and bounds during this magical time of year. And by that, I mean: CHRISTMAS.

I love the holidays. Thanksgiving through New Year’s = my favorite stretch of the year. I would live it 365 if possible. I love the music, the spirit, the shopping (mostly), the parties, the food…you get the idea. But there’s an underbelly to the holidays that I hate that I get sucked up into.

It’s the desire for someone special to share the holidays with.

When it became a thing feel like poo at Christmas because you have no one to kiss under the mistletoe, I don’t know. I blame those “Every Kiss Begins with Kay” commercials. But I get sucked up into it every stinkin’ year. I resist for awhile and tell myself, “This year, I’ll be juuusssttt fine.” And then the first holiday party happens (you know, the one where everyone else has a significant other except you) and I find myself not just fine and eating a bowl of peppermint ice cream (for the holidays, ya know?).

It already happened to me this year before I went to a party. I was thinking about an annual get-together my family has with dear friends and remembered that every year I think to myself, “This time next year, I’ll be bringing a boyfriend.” I tell myself that to get me through the current year. It makes it seem OK for the moment.

But it’s not. It’s not OK that I tell myself that just to make it through. Because that is not what my life is all about.

What will I miss along the year if I am just constantly telling myself soothing things that’ll change eventually? Because what if it doesn’t and I’ve wasted time saying “Eventually” instead of “I’ll devote myself to other things instead and be myself and happy and full of life all the time.”

Because I have Someone who understands. And there’s a divine, beautiful reason I am where I am in life. It’s not that He’s forgotten about me while He was busy setting all my dear friends up with their other half. I tell myself that that’s the case sometimes, but that’s a lie. A straight-up lie.

He gave me a purpose just as much as He’s given them. My opportunities are basically limitless at this point–I could do so many things, make such a difference in the world. But I hold myself back because I keep repeating the “well, next year things will be different” argument. And maybe it will be different next year and I’ll have a boyfriend, but I cannot put my life on hold because of the “next year” thought.

I need to follow Him. See what He has for me NOW in this season of my life, not the next or the one after that. I’ve been delaying following for so long. Too scared to give up and feel like it’d be abandoning something. But all the time the only thing I was abandoning was His purpose for me in the here-and-now.

So here I go. I’ll keep you all posted. Because there’s more out there for me, and I’m about to find out what it could be. I’ll leave with this beautiful thought from CS Lewis (AKA my favorite writer, no questions asked). Oh, and Merry Christmas. 🙂

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Thoughts from this single lady (& confessions & resolutions)

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