Time, Grief, and Somewhat of an Update

Time spent together with family and friends is so precious to me. It truly is a gift and I am always thankful when I get to have a few hours of time with those whom I love dearly. Lately though, I struggle as I navigate life without my brother, Matthew. I am learning that I have to take things one step at a time. Even if I don’t know what that next step will be.

I have to limit myself as to how much time I spend with others. I want to go out to eat with friends and spend as much time as I can with them. Unfortunately, my capacity to spend time with others is at an all time low. I desire to get to a place where I look forward to more lunches/dinners out with friends. I know I will get to that place again. Until then, I am taking things one step at a time.

I’ve been reminded of an anonymous poem, “Do the Next Thing”, that Elisabeth Elliot often quoted:

“At an old English parsonage down by the sea, 
there came in the twilight a message to me. 
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven 
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven. 
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, ‘Do the next thing.’

Many a questioning, many a fear, 
many a doubt hath its quieting here. 
Moment by moment, let down from heaven, 
time, opportunity, guidance are given. 
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King, 
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer, 
do it reliantly, casting all care. 
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand, 
who placed it before thee with earnest command. 
Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing, 
leave all resultings, do the next thing. 

Looking to Jesus, ever serener, 
working or suffering be thy demeanor, 
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm, 
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm. 
Do the next thing.”

I am truly grateful for my friends who have reached out and want me to do things but understand that this is a weird, hard time for me. Saying, “yes” to things isn’t as easy as it used to be.

For those wondering, I will always grieve the loss of my brother. Grief never leaves you. The pain will subside and the tears might not flow as easily, but I will never not grieve the loss of my brother.

I am beyond grateful for the phone calls, zoom calls, texts, and when there is time a lunch or dinner. Time spent together is a GIFT! A gift I do not take for granted.

Fearless and Fear Less

I’ve always wanted to be a small part of the One Word 365 movement but I honestly could not come up with just one word to focus on for a year. I had so many things I wanted to focus on! Just one word felt a little constricting and gave me less options about what I felt I needed to work on for the year. I also like to control things and well using one word meant giving up control on all the other areas of my life I decided needed a bit more work. For years I have been working on trust and grace.

This year is a bit different. After a few situations that have arisen I realized the need for one word and to really focus on what the Lord would show me through that one word. I have a great need and desire for things to change in my life and in order for those changes to take place, I need to be fearless and I need to fear less in my decision making. I want to take risks and know that whether I succeed or fail it’s okay. Taking risks are a small part of the journey that I am on. I don’t want to fear taking those risks anymore.

I’m pretty sure that I am breaking a rule within the One Word 365 movement with taking one word and making it two. If there is someone will let me know about that. 🙂

The photo below was taken years ago and is one that I will look to this year to remind myself to trust God, fear only Him, and let go of the things that cause me to be fearful. It’s time to be brave and fear less. It is time to feel un-stuck with where I am at and enjoy the journey.




My verse for the year:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6 (ESV)

Walking through the hurt

I have had many conversations recently with friends who are going through some painfully, intense situations. There are job losses, accidents, death, and many other things that are causing a great deal of hurt within their lives.

One friend mentioned to me that they just want the hurt to stop and go away. As soon as they said that I thought about the many times I have gone through incredibly painful situations and wanted the hurt to go away. It does eventually go away and I come out on the other side of the situation a lot stronger than before. Unfortunately we are a society that does not want to feel the hurt. We want to mask it and make it go away as fast as we can. This is why we self medicate. We numb the pain with so many things; drugs, alcohol, hobbies, reading, TV, the list goes on with what we can become addicted to that will numb the hurt we feel. There is a great line in the Lady Antebellum song, “Need You Now” that I love, “I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all”. I reflect on this lyric often. Usually when I’m struggling through a situation that I just want to go away. When I feel like I need to crawl in a hole and let things pass I remind myself that hiding, masking and numbing the hurt will prolong the healing that needs to take place in my heart. 

I would definitely rather feel the hurt than feeling numb about a situation. I need to walk through that hurt. There is a reason for what I go through and when I am on the other side of it I will be a lot stronger than I was before. It is OK to feel deeply and feel hurt. Our emotions are God given. It is what we do with them and how we respond to the hurt that will grow our character. 

When praying for my friends who are going through these situations I am always reminded of praying through the Psalms. There is hope! 

Do you try to numb the hurt you are going through? 

Busiest Season Of My Life

The Christmas season has come and gone and of course I now reflect on all that took place in the past year and look forward to all that I can only dream of taking place in the new year.

With all honesty I feel I have walked through one of the busiest seasons in my life and having a little vacation over the holidays has caused me to take pause and realize that I needed a break. The two days in a row of taking a three hour nap was my first clue in realizing I was running (no pun intended) on empty.

Over the last year I tried desperately to keep up with my blog and the blogs of my friends. I failed. I love to write but the energy it took to get words on “paper” escaped me on a daily basis. I didn’t even have the energy to read my friends blogs. I  guess I could blame it on working full time, all the running I did, and the class I took through my job. I also failed at returning emails in a timely manner. But I am going to blame it on my poor time management skills. Don’t worry, I am going to get better at that.

Instead of focusing on all that I failed at this past year I wanted to focus more of this post on all the things I DID accomplish this year! I started a new job and really enjoy working for the organization I work for. I had a lot to learn so most days I went home tired from expending so much mental energy. I continued to coach the 5k running group through Run For Your Life until the summer and met a lot of wonderful people. I absolutely love coaching. I ran two half marathons in the spring and even had my best time on the first one! I also completed my first marathon in the fall! This consumed a great deal of my time. I had no idea how much time I would spend running. It was worth it and I’m pretty sure you have figured out that I enjoy running. 🙂

I have completed a college level course through my work called, Beyond Suffering. That was very time consuming. I haven’t done much recreational reading because I did a lot of reading and writing for that class. It was intense but well worth taking. I am looking into taking one class at a time and finish out my degree in the next couple of years. That may take a couple months to get set up in 2014.

I went to my first blogging conference in October and had a wonderful time. I learned a lot and connected with many writers and photographers while there. I do hope I can go back to the Allume conference.

As I look back at all that I accomplished and some of the things I failed at, there is one constant through out it all… my faith. I have relied heavily on my faith this year and prayed many times that the Lord would sustain me and bring me through the struggles and triumphs that 2013 brought and HE did!

I look forward to 2014 with all the new challenges that will come.

Let me know one thing you accomplished this year and what you look forward to in 2014.

I’m A Marathoner

WOW…26.2 miles have been run, the medal is in hand and the soreness abounds.

I couldn’t sleep the night before the race and to be honest it didn’t even seem real that I was going to run a marathon. I’ve been training for months putting in early mornings and long hours for this. Yet, it still felt like a dream. Even today, one day after the marathon it still feels a bit like a dream. Then I try to walk normally and I realize it was not a dream. 🙂

I knew what I was getting into but I had no idea how each mile would be run and what obstacles I would have to overcome.

At the beginning of the race I could not find any of my group to run with. I really wanted to stick with my friend, Rene, because she would keep me at a good pace and we would have a lot of fun out on the course together. Once I got up to the starting line (16 min after the race started) I spotted my friend, Mendy, and we ran the first four miles together. We passed so many people out on the streets cheering, playing music and having a great time. I saw lots of signs that were very entertaining. Here’s a few that made me laugh: “You can do this random stranger”, “May the course be with you”, “This is the worst parade ever” and “Please hurry my arms are really tired”!

It was in those first four miles that I knew I would not find Rene and I made the decision to run my own race. I did my best to keep a slow and steady pace. I had 26.2 miles to run; I did not need to get caught up in passing as many people as possible. So I kept coaching myself to slow down and take it easy. By mile 13 I was feeling really strong and increased my speed a little bit. I slowed it back down around mile 16 knowing I still had 10 more miles to go. One of the things that encouraged me throughout the race were the shirts and signs that all had Philippians 4:13 written out.

By mile 20 I had hit a wall. A major wall. Even in all my half marathons I had never hit a wall like this before. My legs were burning and tired and I really wanted to start walking. But I didn’t, I kept going, pushing through the burn and the pain and mentally encouraging myself to keep going. I had to press on. I had a goal and that goal was to finish this race and finish well.

Mile 24 came and I started to feel nauseous. I slowed down and even walked for a minute to make sure I was not going to throw up on the course. That would not happen. I was even more determined to finish. I saw my friend, Mendy, right at the beginning of mile 25 yelling and encouraging me to finish strong. She was much needed encouragement. The rest of mile 25 was upon me and things really started to crumble. The nausea came back with a vengeance and I started to go to the side to throw up. Again, I didn’t throw up. I kept thinking “I’m less than a mile away from the finish line, I CAN do this.” I started to go very slow, almost a walk and then I saw the finish line. I was going to finish!

Despite the nausea, the soreness and the tiredness I felt at that moment, I was going to finish my first marathon! I started to get very emotional and could not hold back the tears for over an hour after my finish. I had accomplished a huge goal and I wanted to soak it in. After crossing the finish line I thought I was going to throw up, again! I tried to get out of the fray going on around me but it took me a while to wind my way through the photos and volunteers making sure I had water.

I finally found my mom through the crowd of people and wandered with her to a park bench. I think I was in shock that I actually finished a marathon. I was exhausted.

I’m so glad I started running four years ago and that I found the running group that I’m a part of! I would not be where I am today with my running without the group that I run with. God knew what he was doing when he orchestrated this part of my life. Through many early mornings, injuries, friendships made and a genuine running family, I have seen God prove faithful to me and my faith has grown deeper through this journey of running.

Thank you all for your encouragement! I am one blessed young lady!


Allume Headshots and My Marathon

I found out earlier today that the head shots I took at the Allume Conference were up. I couldn’t wait to see how my they turned out. I decided to post a few that I love and see which one you all like best. 🙂

First, I want to let you all know I LOVED the Allume Conference. It was a breath of fresh air in the midst of what seems to be the busiest season of my life. Even though I left exhausted and mentally worn out, I also left refreshed in spirit. I made so many new friends and am looking forward to connecting you with as many of them as possible.

Second, I run my first full marathon this Saturday in Savannah!!! I am very much excited but also nervous as well. AH I’m running 26.2 miles!!! I’ve trained for this and feel as prepared as I can be for this challenge. I am also excited that I get to run this race with a lot of wonderful running friends. If you think about it, please pray for me, my parents (who are running the half) and all my running friends starting now and through Saturday morning. Thanks!

So here are four of the head shots:

Photo 1

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 4

Now it’s time to vote! Which photo do you like best? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Allume, Marathon and School

In three weeks I will be heading to the Allume conference with my friend, Amy! I am very excited about going and learning as much as I can about the blogging world. I’m praying I will be able to really enjoy my time and not worry about everything else taking place in the next month.

I’m on a count down: Five weeks from today I will have completed my first marathon! I am running the Savannah Rock and Roll marathon and my parents are running the half marathon. I love that I will not be running this race alone. I have a lot of running friends from Charlotte that will be running it with me! Yes, we are all different paces but it will be wonderful to have them there.

In the midst of those things I am taking a college level course through the organization I work for. It is called Beyond Suffering: A Christian View on Disability Ministry. I am really enjoying the class and am learning so much more than I expected. It is tough and challenging and I now want to go back to school to finish my degree.  🙂

To be honest this is the first time I’ve had a moment to blog in several weeks. I’m a little bit overwhelmed with all that is taking place. My friend, Amy, joked with me earlier about reading something in my spare time. We both laughed because I don’t have much spare time to do any extra reading. Oh how I wish I did!  My email has been neglected and will be neglected (unless it is urgent) for at least another few days. I’m hoping to be caught up on that this week.

All that to say… I have a lot going on and I am grateful for all these wonderful opportunities!

What If

The other day I had a conversation with my brother about working. He’s been home almost a year and has not looked for a job. Before you freak out about him not working, it is something that my family discusses quite a lot and I push the issue more than anyone in my family. I’m a great little sister. 😉

I asked Matthew why he wouldn’t go look for a job right now and he said, “I might move back to Texas soon. I don’t want to work for 3 weeks and then move.”. I shot that down quickly with finding a job at a place that he could transfer to a location in Houston. He kept coming at me with all the “what ifs” he could find. What if I do find a job here and they are not hiring in Houston? What if they don’t want to hire me? What if, what if, what if? UGH!

I got tired of his continual “what ifs” and said “Matthew, you have got to stop living in the world of “what if!”.  I’m not sure if it made an impact on him but I sure took what I said to heart. For years I have lived in that world. A world marked with indecision and a constant fear that if I step out to do something then I will miss out on another opportunity. It has been a life long process and I am sure I will deal with this for many years but I am learning to take my “what ifs”, make a decision and live with that decision whether it is right or wrong at the time. The “what if” world can keep me in constant fear of making a bad decision and worry about the outcome of that decision so that I don’t step out in faith. I then have a false sense of control.

One of the biggest ways to rob myself of time is to live in that world. Whether it be for a job, a relationship, a letter to write, or a person I feel would like to hear from me via a phone call, or a blog post that I feel should be written, I know I need to be more intentional in stepping out of the “what if” world.

I was reminded of the scripture below:

Matthew 6:25-27  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Do you live in a “what if” world?

I Didn’t Know

I didn’t know that I would hear “I feel normal” so much in one place from so many different people. Yet, I heard it over and over again at Family Retreat. In our culture everyone is wanting to be normal. What is normal to you is definitely not normal to me. Then out of the blue while at Family Retreat I heard myself say “I feel normal here” in a conversation.

Why did I feel so normal there? What was it that I experienced that made those two weeks seem normal? I’ve been trying to process through these questions and more since my return home. I know one answer is that I was surrounded by families that experienced the same things my family has experienced. We were all bonded by the fact that some one in our family is affected by a disability. This is “normal” to us. I saw the tension in so many of the siblings and parents eyes that I have lived with for many years; that tension of how do I experience things my sibling or child really is not able to experience as fully as I am able to and still be okay with that? As the weeks flew by I also saw that living in that tension is our normal. I have found that living in that tension there can still be joy. A joy to move beyond what I see as normal and know that God understands where I am at.

Here are a couple highlights of both weeks:

I will never forget the dad who watched his daughter who has a severe case of Cerebral Palsy be hoisted on top of a horse and be led on a ride around a field. I saw him a bit later on in the day and he was still beaming from ear to ear showing his wife the photos he took of their daughter riding a horse for the first time. This young lady’s mom was able to see her ride again the following day! There was so much joy in that family!

At the first week’s Ho Down I had the pleasure of dancing with Jesse. Jesse has Cerebral Palsy and is wheelchair bound. Thanks to his buddy, Ryan, Jesse and I got to square dance! The smile on Jesse’s face during our dance was priceless.

Even though there are many more questions to process and the tears are still on the brink of spilling over, I know that God started a work in my heart and it will continue for a life time.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

Family Retreat

The last two weeks I have been in Flat Rock, NC at the Bonclarken Conference Center for the Joni and Friends Charlotte Family Retreat. Each week is filled with at least 40 families and over 130 short term missionaries (volunteers). No matter how much planning and preparation took place before hand I did not realize how much Family Retreat would impact me. Last night at church I tried to write out all that I could about how the retreats did impact me. The words I came up with don’t seem quite adequate enough.

So I thought I would share a few pictures with stories to go along with them.

Me and Justin Howard

Me and Justin Howard


Michael and Justin

Justin Howard and his family come every year to the first week of Family Retreat. Justin and his dad, Dr. Howard, have run a marathon and a couple half marathons together. When Dr. Howard found out that I’m a runner he said, “You will be running with Justin soon!”. Dr. Howard has injured himself and is not able to run for a few months. I gladly accepted that challenge and look forward to the day Justin and I can run a race together. I really enjoyed getting to know the Howard family.

The picture of Justin with Michael is one of my favorites from the first week. Michael has been Justin’s buddy two years in a row and they have a blast together! Michael taught Justin how to make a bird and a bear sound during their time at retreat this year. In the picture above they were making the bird sound for me.

Karaoke and Game night (Last night of the first week)

Karaoke and Game night (Last night of the first week).

Talent show... Preston H. was showcasing his basketball skills!

Talent show… Preston H. was showcasing his basketball skills!


Hanging out with friends on the last night of retreat.

Hanging out with friends on the last night of retreat.

Thursday nights are reserved for the Talent Show and Karaoke/Game time after the show. Each Talent show is filled with the many families showcasing their own special talent. A couple of young kids in wheel chairs showcased their basketball skills on stage. We had several sing songs and some others share poetry.

Jenifer and Annie at the Ho Down.

Jenifer and Annie at the Ho Down.


Chris, his buddy Kyle, and his caregiver, Roxanne doing the Hokey Pokey at the Ho Down.

Kyle, Chris and Chris’ caregiver, Roxanne doing the Hokey Pokey at the Ho Down.

Each Tuesday evening we had a Ho Down. We had a “caller” each week calling dances for everyone. We had the Hokey Pokey, lots of square dances, and even the Chicken Dance! If I was not taking pictures, I was dancing. I loved both of those nights.

One of the biggest things for me at Family Retreat is all the new family that I adopted or they adopted me! 🙂

The Crosby Family (Texas) and the Vonesh Family (Florida).

The Crosby Family (Texas) and the Vonesh Family (Florida).

I met many incredible families that not only love the Lord but have a huge heart for those with disabilities and serve those that came to Retreat. The Crosby family and the Vonesh Family are two families that have huge hearts to serve those affected by disabilities.

I truly loved every exhausting moment of Family Retreat. I’m doing my best to rest today and get prepared to go back into the office.

If you are reading this and went to Retreat, I would love to hear what your favorite moment(s) was during the week you were there.