Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thoughts on Tiredness, Thanksgiving, and Rest

I saw this quote some time ago on Instagram, and as I approach Thanksgiving break, it seems more and more apropos. I like what I do for work, but to be honest, I am tired. The weight of the pains and tragedies of life has grown heavy over the past few weeks and I am in need of a break. My body is in agreement with me, too, as I have faced stomach pains and upsetness over the past two weeks of work and life. I am pretty sure it is due to too much stress, too little sleep, and a whole ton of rushing.

What about you, friends? Are you, too, in need of rest? We live in a hustle and bustle society, and it's easy to rush and do, do, do, even on, and sometimes especially on holidays. But holidays are an opportunity to rest, to re-evaluate our values, to focus on those nearest and dearest to us.

For those of you who are Christ-followers, the idea of resting on holidays is biblical. Look at Esther 9:17-19, for example. In that setting, the Jews feasted on food and drink and took a rest from their labors. In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus calls people to cast their burdens on him in order to rest. Rest is something we need to do, and I would argue especially so this holiday.

The Lord knows I struggle with rest, but that's my hope for you, and for me this upcoming holiday. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. I am about to, Lord willing, head off on another adventure, so I am posting this holiday greeting early. Follow me on Instagram to see more about what I'm doing for the holiday, that is, if I remember to post.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veteran's Day Weekend

Thank you to all the veterans of the armed services, I enjoyed the freedom to have a great Veteran's Day weekend!

Friday started with going in for my yearly blood work and delivering the crisis phone from work to the next recipient. But then I had a nice slow breakfast and wrote this happy list:

@717jr got me started on this habit, and it's a great way to end the week, especially when I'm tired.

Packing for my weekend trip, yoga, and a trip to the doctor (no botox this time since I requested another EMG-we'll see if that shows anything different than the last test). Then I was on my way to Phoenix!

I stayed at Drury Inn in Tempe. Work training introduced me to this hotel, but I'd go back again and again. It's clean, has comfy beds, and complimentary breakfast and dinner. Win, win!

I laid down for a quick nap when I got there, but woke up feeling stir crazy. So I took myself for a little walk over to IKEA to do some shopping.

I ended up with some family gifts as well as these cute ceramic cacti for my best friend:

I mapped my walk through IKEA and figured out that the market itself is over half a mile. I added onto that with my walk over to the restaurant and then a stop at Panera to pick up some wholesome dinner. The hotel food is okay, but I wanted the freshness of Panera.

The night was beautiful. I am not a big fan of Phoenix's traffic and air pollution, but the warm fall temperatures are amazing. I also enjoy the palm trees that the warmer temperatures allow to grow.

I went with the ancient grain, arugula, and chicken salad and a pumpkin muffin for dinner.

I intended to save the muffin for snack, but felt hungry enough to eat it with dinner.

I have struggled with stomach discomfort all week and unfortunately it returned after eating, so all I did for the rest of the time was finish the pictured crossword and surf social media. 

I ate a Kashi Honey Almond Flax granola bar and hit the hay at 9 pm, praying to feel better in the morning.

I didn't feel great when I woke up, but I made it out to The Butterfly Run anyway. I probably arrived earlier than needed, but I got a cool grab bag:

This race was the first of several of its kind. I really wanted to run in this race because it supports research for children's behavioral health, something about which I am very passionate. The statistics about children's mental health are staggering. For example one out of five children is diagnosed with a mental illness before the age of 12. I work in behavioral health and the numbers of suffering children still make me want to cry. What was cool about this race was the partnership of Big Lots in supporting it. The CEO of Big Lots, David Campisi was there in person from Columbus, Ohio. Big Lots employees from all over the US came, too, as well as Dr. Steve Allen of Nationwide Children's Hospital. I find it really encouraging to see companies and healthcare organizations partnering together like this.

The race itself started at Kiwanis Park and went around the lake. The course was well-marked, but somehow my directions got off and I had only run two miles when I got to the three mile banner. So I walked my RunKeeper and tried to keep up. I ended at 3.08 miles, a little less than the 3.114 needed for 5K, but I had to let it go.

After the race, I met my Arkansas best friend for breakfast at The Broken Yolk. I went for a simple two eggs breakfast with rye toast and home fries. I expected something like seasoned breakfast potatoes with the home fries, but they turned out more like scalloped potatoes without the cheese. Whatever. At least the potatoes were real and with a little added ketchup and cholula sauce, they tasted great.

My friend and I headed to Arizona Mills for shopping after that. This is one of the nicest malls I've been to, with a full mile indoor circuit of stores. We hit up Marshall's, Ross Dress for Less, and a variety of other smaller stores. We mostly made Christmas gift purchases, but we did stop into a photo booth to document our adventures.

Post shopping, we parted ways, she to the event she came to Phoenix for, and I to my home. It was a good weekend.

Happy Veteran's Day, and thanks again to all who served!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Marriage Isn't...

I'm a sucker for personality tests of all kinds: empirical, researched, real tests, as well as the silly and mundane, Disney character variety. When a test about the age at which you're supposed to get married popped up, I decided to take it. According to the test, here's that age at which I'll marry, as well as my biggest deal breaker:

Clearly, the test is invalid, since I've passed the ripe old age of 25 and I am still not married. (The part about irresponsibility being a deal breaker for me, well maybe that's true.)

I've been thinking about marriage this weekend, and more specifically about what marriage isn't:

Marriage isn't a reward for good behavior. When believers accept Christ as Savior and the payment for their sins, they're guaranteed the indwelling Holy Spirit and heaven, but not marriage. Paul never married, and I think it's clear that the Holy Spirit lived in him.

Marriage isn't required to please God. I've had people had me articles that say the true calling of a Christian woman is to get married and populate the world with Christ-loving children. I don't believe that's the only way to serve Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:10 says we are God's workmanship created to do good works. I would argue that those good works include working hard at one's job (Col 3:23), speaking wholesome words (Eph 4:29), caring for the widows and orphans (James 1:27), and probably a host of other things.

Marriage isn't a guarantee. I recently had a doctor tell me, "When you get married..." My calling is to follow Jesus. Whether or not I get married is up to him and in his control. The most I could do to "control" my ability to get married would me to ask a guy out, or even ask him to marry me, and I'm not willing to do that because it doesn't set me up for the kind of marriage I see indicated in Scripture as God-honoring.

Marriage won't fix all my problems. My dad likes to remind me that marriage isn't any easier than singleness. I'm a sinner as a single, and I'd be a sinner in marriage, too. That's not to say that I shouldn't continue to work towards holiness and a Christ-honoring life now and in the future, but an acknowledgement that no relationships on earth will ever be perfect because they consist of imperfect people.

Why am I writing this?

...For those who've been told they're "less than" because they're not married.
...For my amazing friends who long to be married, but aren't, and don't understand why.
...For those who are working hard at their marriages, because I admire the way that they seek to image Christ and His church.
...For myself, to remind myself that my "be all, end all," isn't to get married, but to glorify God.

Do I still want to get married? Most days, yes. But if marriage isn't for me, I pray that I'll still be faithful and true to my eternal bridegroom, Jesus Christ (Eph 5:21-33).

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Pumpkin Recipe Round-Up

It's fall. It's pumpkin season. And you know what that means? Time to do a pumpkin recipe round-up. This isn't a new idea, but I thought it would be fun. In the beginning, I intended to do a photo dump of all the pumpkin recipes I have ever made and photographed, but I quickly realized that was too much. So here are the pumpkin recipes dated 2017. (Yes, it's still a lot!)

2 minute flourless pumpkin English muffin (A cooking and photo flop, but it tasted good! A Big Man's World)

Fat-free pumpkin raisin granola (Oatrageous Oatmeals)

Pumpkin oat breakfast cake (Oatrageous Oatmeals)

And don't forget to check the recipe index for all the pumpkin recipes I've created and posted!

So what are you going to do with that can of pumpkin in your cupboard. (And if you don't have a can, for goodness' sake, go buy one!)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Songs for Motivation

Having some trouble getting motivated, I used my phone to listen to one of my favorite songs as I drove to work. Scouting out the parking lot and seeing no one, I listened to the song up to the door of work. And then I shut it off.

I've continued my "fight song" habit most days since then. I even put a special CD in my car to listen to on the hard days. You know what? It works. Music doesn't fix my day, but it's a way to reorient myself, to build in a small meditative, self-care practice during the day.

In case this practice interests you, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite motivational songs:

1) "Fix My Eyes" by For King and Country

2) "Brave" by Moriah Peters

3) "Unfinished" by Mandisa

4) "Not Over Yet" by For King and Country

What are you favorite motivational songs? Please share in the comments section.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Janis Best Memorial Run

I ran another 5K today, the Janis Best Memorial Run. I've run on the Peavine Trail but I wanted to find a nice, flat, racing trail to offer to a friend. (She wanted to run up a hill, but I wimped out and this was my consolation offer.)

Here we are before the race. It was a bit chilly out, 47 degrees, but since we're in Arizona and the predicted high is 74 degrees, I decided to run in short sleeves. Therefore my race bib is concealed in this photo.

The race wasn't fancy. It was clock and not chip-timed, but that's okay. I'm not "in it to win it" (though some were). I just wanted to beat my own time.

I came in at 27:29 on my watch, but the board said 27:30 per my ever-supportive mom who came to watch me. I had trouble starting my watch, so 27:30 sounds about right.

To be honest, I've felt a little crappy about myself and my body lately, so I pushed myself in this race. I wanted to prove that I could still do this. That's not the best motivation ever, nor a rationale I'd recommend to other people, but I used it. The only problem now is that my new time to beat is even faster. I'm a perfectionist and I know that at some point, I'll tap out on how fast my body can actually run.

But for now, here's a fun post-race shot, and the t-shirt I got:

I'm thankful and grateful and I hope that I can keep working on my total health (mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational). I enjoy running and races and getting faster, but I need to learn to be okay with myself with and without those things.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Thank God for Junkyards (And Dads Who Know How to Use Them)

My dad might be "blue collar," and without a four year college degree, but he is one of the smartest and hardest working men I know. When his truck broke down this weekend, he could have gotten angry and depressed and decided his business was out of commission. Instead, he got creative in finding ways to fix the truck. 

Dad made not one, but three trips to Phoenix (two plus hours away) this weekend to try to find parts at the truck dealer. He tore apart and rebuilt his truck multiple times in between. No luck. He remained positive he would find a way to fix his truck and serve his customers, however.

This morning, Dad figured out a way to serve his customers with a smaller truck, and he did it. Then he went to Phoenix this afternoon. In a junkyard, he found a part that *might* fix his big truck. He tore apart his big truck again this evening to install the part. Then he took the truck for a test drive. Praise the Lord, the truck runs and drives again!

People look down on "rednecks," and they might think my dad is one. I mean, he just fixed his truck with a junkyard part. But you know what? It worked. It saved his business money. It got his truck ready to service customers again tomorrow. It was a creative solution, better even than the part the dealership could have offered.

I thank God for junkyards tonight. I thank God for my dad. I thank God "redneck" ideas. They work!

Friday, October 20, 2017


I recently posted this photo of a 5K medal I received on Instagram. I almost didn't. I didn't want to boast. I didn't want to seem arrogant or proud or stuck-up. I was just thankful, and happy, and I guess proud of myself for what my body accomplished, but not in an, "I'm better than you" way.

(This is the medal I received in the mail from September's Patriot Run.)

I consulted with my mom before posting, and she said she thought it was okay. I put a lot of stock in what Mom says, so I posted. But I mulled over the issue of pride all night.

When is it appropriate to be proud? When is pride a sin? The Bible doesn't seem clear, calling pride a sin in some situations, but then using it to describe belief and self-confidence in other situations. Take a look at the verses below:

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 11:2 
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Romans 12:16
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

2 Corinthians 7:4 
I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

Galatians 6:4 
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.

Is pride just bad when it preoccupies a person? When it begins to put self above others and God? When is it okay to be proud? Billy Graham's website says, "the kind of pride the Bible condemns is a pride that puts ourselves first, and leaves God out of the picture." Maybe that's why I tagged my Instagram post #thankful.

I struggle with extremes, as noted in my many posts about perfectionism. I think this is another area of it. I want to be a perfect Christian, to not come near sin. But in the process, I often demean myself. I don't give God gratitude for things He allows me to accomplish, like winning a medal in this 5K. And when I obsess about trying to be a perfect Christian by avoiding any possibility of sin, I feed into the lie that I can be good enough to earn my salvation. That says Christ's sinless sacrifice wasn't good enough to cover my sin. I don't even want to go there.

Where am I settling on pride? I am settling on the idea that it is okay to be proud of accomplishments, to give God glory for the ability to get things done on this earth. It's wrong to be proud and stuff things in the faces of others, to demean God's created beings by pretending I'm better than them. But it's also wrong, and prideful, to not share God's goodness, to hide His gifts and pretend like that makes me holy. It doesn't. It makes me stingy and ungrateful and lacking in confidence to do what God wants me to do.

So friends, where are you? What has God allowed you to accomplish? Celebrate it. Talk about it. But just don't forget to remember the God that got you there.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Comfort Objects

Some of you may have noticed the shark in my last afghan post, so I thought I'd tell his story. I selected sharkie from a collection of objects at a work training. I got to the table late, and there wasn't much left, so I took him. I figured there would be some "object lesson"attached to the object, so I tried to think of one that would go with him. To be honest, I didn't like his gray color, or his big eyes, or his teeth. I didn't like that fact that he belonged to a group of animals thought of as predators.

But as the day went on, and the training got long, I held onto sharkie. I squeezed him and petted his soft fur and played with his tag. At some point, there were questions about our objects, but I don't really remember them. I just know that by the time I got home, sharkie had become a comfort object.

What's a comfort object? It's an object that has emotional value, a transitional object that eases security. How items become comfort objects is unknown, different for every person, but they work. Children have them, and guess what? Adults do, too.

Sharkie became a comfort object because he soothed my anxiety during a long work training in which I needed to be still and quiet, but wanted to be anything but. When I got home, I left Sharkie out on my desk in the open, because I wanted to remember the calm he brought me. Sharkie is still here and every time I think about moving him, I decide not to do so. I may be an adult, but I still gain comfort from inanimate objects.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Taking a Day Off

Those of you who know me in real life know that I'm a chronic "doer." Over the past few weeks, though, I've pretty much done myself in. So when the opportunity came to clear my schedule and take a vacation day yesterday, I did. Sure, I felt a little guilty. Yes, I wondered if I could have made it another day. But when I woke up at 7:25 am instead of rolling over to turn off the 5 am alarm, I was glad I decided to take a break.

What have I done today? A whole lot of nothing. Well, I did change the sheets on my bed and do two loads of laundry. I did my physical therapy exercises. But those are things that needed to be done. Besides that, I fixed myself a nice breakfast and just allowed myself to sit.

I scrolled Instagram and watched a few YouTube videos. This one about Cole LaBrant's vows to his adopted daughter at the wedding to her mom is pretty sweet.

I did a little computer work (writing this blog, prayer verses, etc.). I wrote my family an e-mail.

I watched an Amazon Prime movie: Pitching Love and Catching Faith. (It was a mostly clean movie, but struck out on the faith aspect. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I stayed in my pjs through lunch, more social media, and a nap. Then I finally changed into "real" clothes to go for a jog. Albeit at a slow place, I made it through three miles. This was my first jog in over a week. And I felt like I finally had some energy!

After jogging, I stretched and spent some time in my happy place. My best friend bought me that floor pillow, and it's awesome. There's something about sitting on the floor that makes me feel calm. My 25 cent library magazine and crochet were welcome companions for my quiet retreat.

Next came Thai food with middle school friends.

And then a wrap up of this blog post on the computer, nightly snack, and bed.

I like to be productive. I like to justify my days and my life. And yesterday was justifiable. Just not in the traditional sense. It was a needed break and a needed rest. I didn't get a lot done, but that's not what rest days are about.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Afghan 55

Another month, another afghan. I made it part of my self-care practice to try to crochet three rows a day in September. I achieved my goal most days. The problem was that this afghan was supposed to take only four hours. 

Instead the blanket took the month to made. Admittedly, neither the pattern nor the color are my favorite. The blanket is very imperfect, and I fear too big for more newborns.

The blanket is done now, though, and I can move on.

I am moving on in other areas, too, like with my dystonia. I have started physical therapy and though I am not sure it is helping yet, I am trying it. The last injection of botox did not really seem to have an effect, and I notice that it is harder to type and that I find my hand clenching more. It is a sure thing that I have lost strength in my right hand, as the physical therapy tests show that my right hand is 50% weaker than my left hand, and it should be about 10% stronger, as it is my dominant hand. So I'm working with hand putty and exercises daily, therapy twice a week, and continued inquiry into what is really going on. (Both hand therapists think I may have more nerve issues.)

I am thankful that I can crochet some for now, and I hope that this blanket will be a blessing to some baby in the future.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Walking with the Spirit

This verse hit me in a new way recently. I am a striver, a perfectionist, someone who always senses a need to hustle for worthiness. (As Brene Brown says, "You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.) Lately, I have felt like I am not striving after God's laws enough, not putting enough effort into spiritual disciplines, not sharing my testimony enough. But when I read this verse, following God suddenly became so simple: "Walk by the Spirit." The Spirit indwells believers at the moment of salvation, so I do not even have to chase after something outside myself (Eph 1:13). Rather, I have to fix my eyes on Jesus, walk with Him, and let Him do the work (Heb 12:2).

I am not suggesting that because of the Holy Spirit I have sinless perfection. I am not saying that I cannot sin when I walk with the Spirit, or that I cannot sear my conscience by repeatedly ignoring the Spirit's conviction about sin (1 Tim 4:2). What I am saying is that I think I have been trying to hard, trying to make the fruits of the Spirit a product of my effort instead of a result of me seeking Christ (Gal 5:22). The Christian life is not about striving, but about submitting. I need to do more of the latter and less of the former.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

On Mistakes, Growing, and Moving On

I messed up. The error felt epically huge. And I didn't know what to do other than to own my mistake. But I wanted to fix it, to undo it, to not feel SO terrible about the problem I created. Brene Brown writes that, "When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the annoying back seat driver." I am a perfectionist, a recovering one, I think, yet I keep finding my perfectionism keeps cropping up in new places. And in this situation, it was definitely present because I was definitely afraid, so much that I dreamed about consequences of my mistake for most of the night.

After the night of difficult dreams and haunting reiterations of my mistake, I woke up and read these passages from Sarah Young's Jesus Always:

"I can smooth out all the tangled up places, including those in your mind and heart."

"Be willing to take responsibility for your own mistakes and sin without feeling responsible for the sinful failures of others."

"I am here to help you untangle your complex problems and find the best way to go forward."

"Beware of getting stuck in introspection or obsessing about how to fix things. Instead keep turning to Me, seeking My face and My will."

"Wait with Me, trusting in My timing for unscrambling things and making your way clear."

"Be willing to live with unresolved problems, but don't let them be your focus."

As I read, the Holy Spirit convicted me that my perfectionism was present, even in my shame. I wanted to fix everything...perfectly. I wanted to take all the blame for the problem so that I could find a perfect fix for the issue. I wanted a perfectly pretty resolution. The Spirit clearly showed me that I am not in control. I can only own up to my part of the issue. I cannot take responsibility for the way others respond. The issue at hand might not resolve, or it might not resolve like I want it to resolve. God is in control, not me. He's the only perfect one. I have to let go, admit my imperfection, and let God clean up the rest of the mess. Easier said than done.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Afghan 54

Pinterest is a great place to find baby blanket patterns. (Find my Projects board here.) The book of patterns my friend game me has been wonderful, but something I just want to search for something new. That is how this afghan came to be.

The pattern is baby bean by Left in Knots. The stitch is a variation of cluster and is repeated row after row. (I completed about 108 rows before edging in a single crochet stitch.) For the afghan, I used most of a Super Saver Jumbo skein of petal pink from Red Heart. The finished product measured 22 by 33 inches.

As for my hand, it lets me do about three rows of crochet a day, which is better than nothing when it comes to stress relief. The last shot of botox did not hurt much, but did not seem to help with the clenching and discomfort. The next step is hand therapy with a physical therapist. We'll see how that goes. This focal dystonia might just be something I have to live with.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Perfectionism, Rejection, and Authentic Living

I waited over a year for this opportunity. I attended multiple trainings, underwent a background check, and even sat through an interview process in order to get accepted. And now, after just a few times of serving, I asked to be taken off the list. I felt so shameful in doing so.

I wrote a few months ago about the rejection of children's church service and the pain of growing. And now here I am again. I don't know if children's ministry is not for me, or if this is just not the season. But for now, after receiving a, "Yes" to service from the church, the answer to my availability is, "No."

I wanted to justify myself today when I asked to be taken off the church ministry schedule. I wanted to give a reason for my request that would make sense. But I realized that the children's minister didn't need my explanation. She needed honesty and forthrightness and that was all.

But I didn't fully understand my own decision. I couldn't figure out why I felt so terrible and ashamed of myself for "resigning." God graciously brought me into the book Uninvited by Lysa Tykeurst this afternoon, however, and specifically to these sentences:

"This rejection doesn't mean I'm [whatever negative label or shame-filled feeling you are having], it makes this [opportunity] [person] [desire] a wrong fit for me right now. Instead of letting the feelings label me, I'm going to focus on God and His promises for good things." (p. 132).

All of a sudden, I had this realization that the shame I feel is a product of rejection, not the rejection of the church, but rejection that stems from perfectionism. The perfectionist side of me says that I have to be all things to all people. The perfectionist side of me asks why I can work with kids at my job five days a week and not add on a day of service at church. The perfectionist side of me condemns me for my lack of endless energy. The perfectionist side of me creates guilt and shame when I rest.

But guess what? I'm human. I'm not the Energizer Bunny. I can't be perfect, and I need to be honest about that, instead of ashamed of it. This is the real me, the me who needs to say, "No," right now. The me who needs to do less in order to focus on GOD, and what He sets before me to do. The me I need to learn to accept, instead of reject.

This is raw. This is real. This is hard. But this is authentic living.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Patriot Run 2017

I remember the day, June 30, 2013 that I heard the news: The Yarnell Hill Fire had overrun and killed 19 of Arizona's best firefighters. I felt sick. I wanted to do something to help. I wanted to go home. But I was in Arkansas and going to graduate school, so I couldn't.

Four years later, here I am, back at home, working in my hometown community (not necessarily with these families, but with other families like theirs), having the opportunity to give back. I am so thankful.

One of the ways I give back is by running the Patriot Run each year. This run commemorates the lives of the victims of September 11, as well as honoring the Granite Mountain 19.The race starts and ends at the Prescott Valley Healing Field which contains an American flag for each September 11th victim, and a black and purple flag for each firefighter. Each flag contains a card giving the name and background of each person. Walking through the field is powerful. Reading the tags can be excruciatingly painful.

After the healing fields, the race course wraps around the civic center and goes through the town plaza. There a bagpiper plays. The course is a little confusing, but at least this time they had good traffic control so that I wasn't stuck waiting for lights to change in order to cross the street.

Last year, I ran the Patriot Run thanks to an invitation from my mom. I ran that race, my first back in Arizona, in 29:08 minutes. This year, I've been running slower, so I didn't expect to finish as well. (I also didn't get enough sleep last night.) But lo and behold, I finished in 28:17. I'm so excited! And thanks to my wonderfully supportive parents, I had cheerleaders and photographers on hand for the event. 

Here are a few of the photos from the race:

And I have to admit, this t-shirt logo is pretty cool:

Tell me: How do you commemorate important events in your community's history? What fun activities have you been up to lately?

Please share below.