Friday, June 12, 2015

Countdown to Forty - #26 - Coaching Memoirs

As a former Physical Educator it only makes sense that I would love sports and also be drawn to coaching!  Coaching was one of my favorite things to do in each of the different communities I have lived over the years.  Your team becomes like a family to you, you get to not only instill physical skills but you also get to impact your athletes on how to do live, how to win and how to lose gracefully.  You also get to teach them about how to work together with others to achieve great things for the team..... and great things may not always be a championship...though that is a lot of fun! Great things could be a PR (personal record) improving your win/loss record, or just working better together as a team.

An a high school and college athlete I learned so much about life and teamwork through sports. There are also some great spiritual analogies that we can learn through sports and other teams.  Though I love sports and I loved coaching, I have also seen over the past 10 years how sports are changing and how the competitive spirit has gone from healthy to insane!  I have seen a dark side of parents who think their child should be number one at whatever sport they do.  I have seen people act as though little league baseball is the National World Series for paid professionals.... it makes me sad that we have somehow taken the joy of play out of sports.

Due to my MS, I haven't coached in several years (it's that whole depth perception thing).... but I have many great memories from over the years in a variety of sports that I have coached.... some of which I had played in high school or college, and some of which I had never played before, but hey some of the best coaches are not always the best athletes at those sports... they just know the game well.  I can't say that the sports I didn't play I knew well.... in fact I didn't know them well and I had to work extra hard to learn the sport as well as coach my team.... Thankfully I wasn't the head coach (at least at first).

In high school - I played Tennis, Basketball, and did Track & Field.  In college, I played Tennis and helped with the Basketball team.  So of all the sports, these are the ones that I know the best! However, my first year of teaching the first two teams that I coached in Clearfield were volleyball and softball..... I just laugh thinking about it.  They were in need of coaches and since I was there new Phys. Ed. teacher they asked me if I would and so I did because they were both JV positions.  It was a bit rough I am not going to lie.... I really knew nothing other than how to teach basic skills and rotations in volleyball (I only coached one year until they found someone who was skilled)  Softball I knew a bit more because I had played baseball when I was younger (10 years before coaching) but as the assistant I was able to learn enough to at least keep them team going when the other coach resigned.  I didn't really love the sport... but I loved the girls and it was fun to be a part of a team that did so well.

At Clearfield I also was an Assistant Basketball Coach to a team of girls that were awesome!  We had so much fun together.  Being the only female coach I was also a team mom.  I did the first aid, helped solve the team drama (which is always there when you coach girls and sometimes boys as well).  I did pre-game chats with the girls in the locker room.... as each game they would sing the Hanukkah Song by Adam Sandler and then ask each other who was going to pray.... and then it was always me that they wanted to do it.  They also quoted Happy Gilmore daily!  I loved working with those girls.  I also had the privilege of being the Head Girls Tennis Coach.  Though their wasn't really any feeder programs the girls did well and I was very proud of their accomplishments.  We had a great time together, laughing and joking....I have so many memories with those girls!

In Lewisburg, though I wasn't a teacher, I still had the great privilege of coaching.  I coached at the Jr. High girls basketball level - of which my girls had so much fun learning new words.... such as atrocious!  Then I also was able to coach at the Varsity Level - once again being part of a team that went to States (don't think it had anything to do with me, we just had hard working talented girls on both teams).  I also had the opportunity to do two coaching firsts for me while in Lewisburg.... I coached Lacrosse (which I knew nothing about - though I was good at braiding their hair, doing agility drills and first aid) and I got to coach Boy's tennis.... (I had never coached a boy's team before) Being able to beat many of them on the courts helped them realize I knew what I was talking about. We had our share of highs and lows but as a whole our team did very well and made several district appearances.  The funny thing is that I remember the things that were not tennis related.... like when a few said boys put a figurine out the bus window thinking they were Napoleon Dynamite.... and a few other things that I won't mention since they have all grown up now.  

Taking time to write about Coaching has filled my heart this morning!  I miss those coaching days, but I miss more the relationships I had with my student athletes, the comradery of the team, and celebrations we shared together.  Thanks for all the great memories!  If you have a fun memories or pictures to share I would love to hear from you.... it would be a great 40th gift to me!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Countdown to 40 - Only 27 days to go....

One of my favorite things to do in the summer time, well I guess also the spring time and the harvest time is gardening.  And for those of you who know me pretty well you will know that I have what I call a middle school pallet.... I am not a huge vegetable person, some of it is because of texture... some no matter how many times I have tried them or tried to make myself like them.... I just can't. But whether I like to eat them or not.... I love to grow them!  I seriously love it.  It must be a trait that runs in our family too, because we always had a garden growing up, and now my sister, Jill has one of the largest and most amazing gardens I have ever seen.  Well it is actually five gardens I think, but it is so well kept and organized.  My sister is my go-to whenever I have a gardening question.... actually I sent her a picture today from Romania to ask whether something was a plant or a weed. We love our gardening.
I really like raised beds, maybe one day I will have some.

To me, gardening is theraputic.  I actually even enjoy weeding most of the time (just because I said that doesn't mean I am volunteering to do everyone else's).  I told Joel one time that I would like to garden even on Sundays.... though some would look down upon that because it is work, I think it is a time for me to Be still and quiet and reflect on God..... but I usually avoid it if at all possible since I know most others would see it as work.

My biggest challenge with my garden though is the summer heat..... my MS and heat don't go well together so I have to be creative about when I can work and when I can't.  I also have to be creative about keeping pests out.... I have found marigolds work great!  Now to get those nasty bugs from eating my green beans without having to use Seven is my next goal.  

So you may wonder what I like to grow in my garden.... well... I will start from the house and work down.... Sunflowers, pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, lettuce (several kinds), spinach, green beans, roma tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Now you may wonder which of those things I actually like.... the carrots and the lettuce :)  Haha - though I am not a huge fan of many of the things I plant - I just love to grow them just so I can share them.  Also my family likes them and I have found creative ways to use all those things in my garden so even I can eat them.  Canning is another thing I enjoy doing with my produce from the garden.

So what about you.... are you a gardener?  If so I would love to hear what you like to plant, and why you like to garden.  Happy Growing to you and your garden!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Countdown to Forty - #28 - Crazy Drivers! Nervous Passenger

Today is for sure a confession - I AM A NERVOUS PASSENGER - there I said and now it is out in the open!  I never used to be this way until I lost my vision and my depth perception, but now it is almost a constant mental battle every time I get in the car with someone else who is driving.
Yup.... that's exactly what I look like 
It's not an issue for me if I am driving.  I give myself extra time and extra space and I don't spend a lot of time driving in the rain or the dark if I don't have to.  Joel has learned to cope with my imaginary brake that I have left an indentation on the floor from pressing my imaginary brake so hard.   I also have the handle above my seat that has molded very nicely to my hand..... and then their is the dashboard that has a hand print in the dust from my third imaginary source of braking.

I know it is my issue and I wish I didn't have to deal with it, but the fact is that it is a real struggle for me.  To the point that their are some people I just can't ride with because of their agressive style of driving.  Others I have decided that I just have to sit and the back and not watch the road.  While others I just pray - and pray a lot!  So please know that it is my issue, I have worked with a really good counselor (me) that I know and I use all my counseling techniques to overcome my anxiety, but my imagination runs wild sometimes and I still can picture accidents happening in my mind just by watching the cars around me.

It has been even more interesting here in Romania as people drive very aggresively and at high rates of speed.  It is good for the prayer life and I have worked really hard to not have issues, but I must say I will be thankful to be back home in my big Mini Van that I can drive at a safe speed on roads that I understand the rules.  

I guess it's true I am getting older!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Countdown to Forty - #29 - Outgoing Introvert

I am fascinated with personality tests... and how different personalities interact with other personalities... I guess that is why I got my Masters in Human Relations in Counseling....  Yesterday I posted about my Type A personality.  Today I want to write about my newest confession... I am actually introverted after all these years.

You may just laugh at that statement as my husband did for the first few years we were married until he began to realize that it was actually true.  And it wasn't until a few months ago that I saw someone post about being an Outgoing Introvert and I immediate said - YES!  That is me!! I never had a term to describe it until this spring. 

Although my Myers Briggs Tests Calls me actually was right in the middle.  Please don't get me wrong, I am social, I enjoy being with people, but I am actually shy and I definately recharge by having alone time (which is actually how you define the difference between introverts and extroverts.... its by how they recharge - some need alone time to recharge and some need people to recharge)  I definately need alone time to recharge!  

I don't do well in large crowds unless I am on the stage or in the way back.  People all around me is overwhelming.  I also am very shy when I first get to a place.  I remember one time that I wouldn't get out of the car at an event that I was the main speaker... because I didn't see the person that was in charge.  I seriously waited in the car by the door for at least 15 minutes waiting because I was nervous about meeting people.... I mean seriously - I am a speaker - A counselor - I talk to people for a living but still.... though many wouldn't believe it - I am extremely shy until someone talks to me, though I can stand on a stage with a hundred people staring at me and that doesn't phase me.  I am weird I know, but at least after almost forty years I am finally understanding how I tick.  

Monday, June 08, 2015

Countdown to Forty - #30 Type A personality

Often times when I describe Joel's and my relationship I say that I am type A and Joel is B through Z.... but hey opposites attract right?!  Anyway - I have often been refered to or refered to myself as type A.  As I think about type A personalities - they like structure, lists and order.  They are often rule followers and they appreciate timeliness/hate wasting time.  In their minds - life would be best if it could fit nicely inside a box with all sides of the box being straight and even because we also value semetry and balance.   They tend to be always moving, always thinking, more task oriented in general than people oriented.  

So I guess.... It's true I am type A for the most part... Okay how about Type AB.... here's what I have learned about myself..... I am not a hard and fast Type A personality.... and here's why, this is what professionals say qualifies as TYPE A.... my personal analysis is in purple.

  • Time Urgency and Impatience, as demonstrated by people who, among other things, get frustrated while waiting in line, interrupt others often, walk or talk at a rapid pace, and are always painfully aware of the time and how little of it they have to spare.  This is probably more  true about me than I would like to admit.  I will definately admit I am impatient which makes parenting a toddler challenging.  I have improved in this area but I have a long way to go.  I value timeliness for sure.  It is very stretching being in other countries that don't value timeliness in the same way.  But that also has been a good stretch for me.  I actually at many times truly enjoy having no idea what time it is.... that's progress if you ask my camp friends.
  • Free-Floating Hostility or Aggressiveness, which shows up as impatience, rudeness, being easily upset over small things, or ‘having a short fuse’, for example.  This probably slightly true but most of the time just with my family (sorry Joel and Ella)
    Additionally, Type A behavior often includes:
    • Competitiveness - True - but much less now that I have MS - I have a new perspective
    • Strong Achievement-Orientation - True
    • Certain Physical Characteristics That Result From Stress and Type A Behavior Over Years
    Physical Characteristics: I don't really think any of these are true about me
    The following physical characteristics often accompany TAB:
    • Facial Tension (Tight Lips, Clenched Jaw, Etc.) - 
    • Tongue Clicking or Teeth Grinding
    • Dark Circles Under Eyes
    • Facial Sweating (On Forehead or Upper Lip)
    Negative Effects of Type A Behavior:
    Over the years, the type of extra stress that most “Type A” people experience takes a toll on one’s health and lifestyle. The following are some of the negative effects that are common among those exhibiting TAB: 
    • Hyptertension: High blood pressure is common among “Type A” personalities, and has been documented by research to be as much as 84% more of a risk among those with Type A characteristics.. - Nope
    • Heart Disease: Some experts predict that, for those exhibiting TAB, heart disease by age 65 is a virtual certainty. Not that I know of
    • Job Stress: “Type A” people usually find themselves in stressful, demanding jobs (and sometimes the jobs create the Type A behavior!), which lead to metabolic syndrome and other health problems. Mothering is probably the hardest job I have ever had... otherwise I would say my other jobs are lower stress in nature.  
    • Social Isolation: Those with TAB often alienate others, or spend too much time on work and focus too little on relationships, putting them at risk for social isolation and the increased stress that comes with it. - I would say this can be true when I have a lot of stuff to do I become task oriented.  
    I used to be such a list person - I had lists everywhere.  I am not sure if I have just grown out of making lists or what.... I mean I really love making lists, I just go through phases of using them consistently.  As far as being a perfectionist - I am not.  I just want to do a good job and be done with it.  I am far from a neat freak.... my house has its share of messes and piles.... my thing is everything needs a system and I can't put it away until it has it's place.  

    So.... those that know me.... what are your thoughts... you would think that after close to 40 years I would know my personality.... and I think I do but sometimes others have a better perspective, so you tell me.....

    Sunday, June 07, 2015

    Countdown to Forty - #31 - Long Distance Friends for Life

    #31 - Throughout life we are all blessed with friendships.  Some of those friends come and go, some last while you are doing life together, but then fade when you move or your life changes - seasonal friendships is what I call those.  Some are the surface friends that you say hello to but you don't really do life together.  

    I have to admit I have been blessed throughout the years with all kinds of friendships, and I am so grateful for those, because I couldn't do life without them.... but I must say there are a few friendships that stand out to me.... and those are my long distance friends who I rarely see, but when I do we can talk for hours without missing a beat.  Some of these women stood by my side at my wedding, some are camp friends who made it a point to love on me when I struggled to deal with my diagnosis.... though each story is different, each one is a gift from the Lord.  

    Christie Hubner - One of my very first friends at college, though we met because of strange roommates, we learned very quickly that we had so much in common - including the Indigo Girls! Living on the top floor of Hess dorm gave us a fun comradery that I am not sure others would ever understand.   After our first year we lived in separate dorms at times but then were roommates during the summer time as well as senior year and the summer after we graduated.  We have lots of fun memories that we have shared together.  I love that Christie and her husband have made adoption part of their lives and to hear their story is amazing.  I am grateful for your willingness to come and help me pack for Romania - I don't think we forgot anything that I was planning to pack.... thanks for being there when it felt like my life was falling apart.  I can be real with you and for that I am so grateful.... let's get together soon - maybe we can meet half way! 

    Kristin Wriglesworth was my best friend from Clearfield - whenever I head in that direction I must stop and spend as much time with her as possible.  Life has through her and I both curveballs and there are times we have gone months, almost a year without talking but yet.... it is like we had seen each other every day in between when we finally got to meet together in State College and talk for several hours.  I love visiting with her family - her boys are growing so much.  I still think that I get the credit for allowing her and Clair the joy of doing my dishes when I was sick on time as that is how they met.  Anyway - Kristin - you are a gift to me and I can't imagine life without you in it.  Let's get together soon as I miss you dearly!!!  Thanks for being my friend! 

    Jacki Rearick - I am thankful that you live half way between our house and Florida and I am also thankful that you live near Liberty University as well as near Charlotte NC.... it is a great excuse to stop and take a break.  It is hard to believe that the two of us met the day before we were leading a group of teenagers on a week long trip on the Greenbrier River.  Wow - the memories from that trip will never leave me... mystery noises in the woods, slippery rope, flipping the canoe, officer Dan... was that really 17 years ago.... oh my.  Thank you for being that friend who was persistent on loving me when I was struggling with my MS diagnosis... your trip to see me and my comfy blanket (which I still have and love to use) made an impact on me that you will never begin to know.  I love you and your family!  Thanks for the gift of friendship you have given to me.

    Jeanne Geise - My BFF from Lewisburg.  God has a sense of humor for sure as he brought our group of friends together - all of single and most all of us getting married so close to each other to people outside of our group.  If only we had known that at the time it would have saved us all some heart ache for sure.  I am grateful for you and all the heart to heart talks that we have shared, and the tough girl tears that we have cried together.  Though I shouldn't probably call you a long distance friend... because being in Northumberland probably doesn't constitute as long distance... but our life schedules don't always allow for us to get together as much as I would like - you will always be a great friend to me that I will cherish forever.  I can't wait to get home and meet that new little bundle of joy!  

    Abby Stewart - Though you are one of my kids - you are very special to me.  I am excited to see how God is stretching you and growing you!  I know that we had a rocky start as I had to call you out and some stuff and you weren't really too excited about it.... so much that you lined drived me with a softball to a point that I couldn't walk.... you took what I said to heart and you made some great changes... I love that love people.... I love that you have a heart for people who have special needs. You are a gift to me and so many others.  I can't wait to see how God is going to continue to use you. Can't wait for our next beach trip Flabbyfeo.... Your favorite Cheetah burger and Chicken nugget can't wait to see you!  

    There are so many others that have made big impact on my life.... I am could list so many.... from the Non-desperate Pastor's Wives Club (Nikki & Sarah & others), to my RFF Stephanie, to my MC co-horts, my IT3ers, my tough girl friends and their husbands (Jessica and Dan) my Ninevites Wives Club (Deborah & Christianna).... I love you all and thanks for being a huge part of my life!  

    Saturday, June 06, 2015

    Countdown to 40 - #32 - Tennis, Anyone?

    #32 - One of the best decisions that I ever made was to participate in sports at the collegiate level.  As I look back I am so thankful for all the time and energy that I put into being an NCAA Division III Tennis player.  
    My roomate Dawn and I at our last match, so thankful she posted this the other day as I don't have many pictures with me here in Romania.  

    Though it was almost 22 years ago.... I remember the first day of my college career as if it was just last year.  I had to go to school two weeks early for pre-season.  Once we moved in we were greeted and welcomed by the Upper-Classmen who were on the team.  They showed us around campus, they took us under their wings and they loved on us and mentored us.  Those girls were a huge God-send to me as I began my college years at Messiah College.  

    As an athlete at a Division 3 school you don't get the perks and the special treatment that you may get at other levels, you can't receive athletic scholarships at this level so it is pretty clear that they aren't there for the money or the lime-light - they are there for the love of the game and the team.  And though Tennis is an individual sport, the team is very important and you need the whole team in order to win the match.  

    I made some great friendships through my experience as an athlete, and not just in tennis, but with other athletes on other teams at our school.  As an athlete that experienced some major injuries I spent quality time in the training room with many other athletes.  Rehab was also a time to chat and build relationships with the other athletes and the trainers!  I also got to know tennis players from other schools... some I really enjoyed playing because you knew that it was going to be a hard fought honest match.... and then there were others who didn't value honesty in a sport without officials... the honor system is very important.  

    Injuries aren't fun and I definately had my share - my junior year I tore my shoulder muscle.... they weren't sure if I would ever be able to play again.... that was life changing for me because not only was my sport important to me, it was also my career - I was a Health and Physical Education major.... so shoulder muscles are important :)  After a lot of hard work that summer doing aquatic therapy - I was able to rehab my shoulder and continue the sport that I loved.  

    Though getting to play the number one singles position and number two doubles during my time on the team was a huge honor, the greatest honor for me was to be chosen as captain by my teammates, three years in a row.  

    While I was thankful for my tennis career at Messiah - I did regret not trying out for the basketball team though my schedule probably wouldn't have allowed me to play all four years.  I was able to be a manager for them and play some extremely competitive Inter-murals while on campus!  Flag football and co-ed basketball were two of my favorites.  

    Though due to my vision issues with my Multiple Sclerosis I won't be able to play this sport I love again, but I am so grateful for the years that I was able to play and the fun memories that we had hitting balls into the Creek from the old courts.... So thank you 1993-1997 Messiah College Women's Team for the great memories and fun times we shared with each other.  

    Friday, June 05, 2015

    Countdown to 40 - #33 Confessions, Life Lessons, Memory Sessions

    #33 - Memory Session/Life Lessons (and maybe a confession or two) There aren't many dull moments when Growing up in a large family.  
    Our wedding day 6 years ago

    The first Christmas with all 5 Grant Kids.
    You see my parent's always wanted to have children but were told that medically it wasn't going to work out for them.... so they pursued adoption.  They first adopted my older brother Doug in 1972, they got him in December (I just remember seeing a picture of him in a santa suit).  Then they wanted a girl.... so they adopted me :) Though I was born in July - they did not get me until September 23rd.  I call it my A day - though many are now calling them Gottcha Days.... that was in 1975.  Little did they know, they actually could have children after all and then.... in June of 1977 came Dan - their surprise miracle baby, then in June of 1978 their next surprise miracle baby Dave was born and finally one more surprise miracle baby was born in July of 1979, a little girl Jill.  So in less than 8 years - they went from empty nesters, to bursting at the seems with children.  Good thing seat belt and car seat laws were different back then, there is no way we would have fit in the car.  My mom used to put Doug and I up front with her and the other three in car seats in the back of the Grant Grocery Getter as we used to call it.... the Station Wagon!  
    The Grant Grocery Getter!  
    We had a nice big yard growing up in Potter County so we spent a lot of time outside.  My brothers would play in the dirt piles out in front of our house.  We would play wiffle ball in the back yard, and we really loved playing "killer croquet" that we set up in a miniture golf type course.  We enjoyed playing.   All five of us played little league when we were old enough.  

    Our Annual Christmas picture with matching PJs

    And don't forget about the matching monogramed sweaters

    At Halloween my mom would always make us great costumes (some of which our kids have worn now as well)  We were Ragedy Ann and Andy, the three little kittens who lost their mittens, Kermit and Miss Piggy (2 of each - yes one of my brothers was a Miss Piggy - I won't mention any names to protect the victim) and then all sorts of individual costumes as well.  My mom was so good at that type of thing.

    This is the same costume I wore as a two year old.... can you believe it lasted all those years.
    As we got older - we were all pretty busy playing sports and participating in different activities.  We would have to eat in shifts during basketball season because the girls would practice and then the boys.... it was a little crazy.  Eating was always entertaining as well... the girls sat on one side of the table and the boys on the other.... one day Doug was complaining that he had to sit between Dan and Dave and pass food to them and that was the only reason Mom and Dad got him.... so the boys picked him up in his chair and put him on the front lawn.  
    My Dad's retirement dinner
    Having a Dad as a principal and a Mom as a teacher had its perks - they could give us money if we forgot it.... but it also had it's downfalls.... I won't list them - just imagine if your Dad was the principal.  
    From Left to Right: Dan, Doug, Jana, Dave, and Jill 

    I loved having a big family growing up!  Though it was filled with its challenges I wouldn't trade it for the world.  Thanks for everything Mom and Dad!  I not sure how you did it - I know we were a handful (okay I know as a toddler I was a handful, but look how good I turned out, wink wink)

    And the other great part.... lots of wonderful nieces and nephews to love on!  

    Lily, Kamryn, Ella, Paige, Livy, Matthew, Hayes

    Thursday, June 04, 2015

    Countdown to 40 - #34

    Now that I am caught up on my countdown, I will be posting just one a day (hopefully!) between now and July 8th.  I must admit it has been pretty fun to sit and think about all the lessons, confessions, and memories from the past forty years.  I hope you will also be encouraged to take some time to look back over your life to see what you have learned and the great memories you have made.

    #34 - Lesson Learned - I am not a Tom Boy - I am a tough girl....  growing up I always loved hanging out the the guys, playing in the dirt, enjoying the great outdoors, and I loved sports - so as you could imagine I was told many times that I was a Tom Boy.... the funny part about that if you think about that is it really doesn't make sense - a Tom boy would to me be a boy - if it was a girl that acted like a boy shouldn't it be called a Jane Boy or something like that?  An
    Fun dressing up three days in a row, make-up, hair-dos, and high heels!  

    My tough girl side 

    yway - as much as I loved to play and enjoy the outside, and maybe was a bit more agressive than some of the other girls, I still loved being girlie!  I wanted to have a few pretty dresses in my closet for those occasions I could dress up. Though I am very low maintenance and  rarely wear make-up I still love the times that I can dress up and spend some time putting on make-up and having my hair done.  I am a girl!  God made me that way and I so thankful!
    Created to be daughter's of the King

    I may not love the color pink - though I must confess that it is growing on me have a little girl who loves it and looks super cute in it..... but that doesn't make me less of a girl.  I don't spend hours getting ready to leave the house.... I am happy with five minutes to get ready.  It is doesn't make me a Tom Boy or less of a girl!  I just would rather spend my time doing other things.  I am a tough girl!  I always have been.... maybe that's what happens when you grow up with three brothers, or maybe it is growing up as a Potter County girl!  Anyway you look at it.... God made me a woman of worth, and though I may be a tough on the exterior I am still fragile and delicate on the inside just as God created me.  So I guess for me... I am not a fan of the term "Tom Boy" but I will thrive with the description Tough Girl - and that is my hope for my little girl.... that she can run around playing in the dirt while wearing her crown and her Tutu!  All girl with a bit of tough to go along with it!
    Daddy's little princess

    My little tough girl!

    Wednesday, June 03, 2015

    Countdown to Forty - #38 & #37 & #36 & #35

    #38 -  Learned Lesson  - Quiet Times are always better when sitting in the woods on the edge of a stream.... when I was single I often found myself taking hikes or walks in the woods along with my Bible and my journal just to sit and Be Still.... don't get the wrong idea in thinking that I did that as often as I liked or that I mastered the art of being still because I have yet to master that... I think that may take a long while.  Anyway... the stream of flowing water with its bubbles and trickles and movement reminded me so vividly of the idea of Living Water throughout scripture.  It was and still is a place that I find a peace like it hard to compare.  Life is so full and so busy, but in the woods there is a quiet, and a calm that can't be fabricated in our society.... there is a connection with God for me that I struggle to find in other places.  So after all these years, there are days that I still long to sit in the woods on the edge of the stream with my Bible, my pen, and my journal and just BE!
    "Be Still, and know that I am God"
    #37 - Confession - I am not as adventurous as I used to be!  It's true - I am getting old.... and when I think about all the things I did in my 20s I sometimes get anxious just thinking about it.  Just a few that I can think of off the top of my head - white water rafting the Nile, Racing Mountain Bikes, helping to build and facilitate High Ropes courses.... I did those things, really!  I actually get a bit of a panic feeling just thinking about it.  I also hitchhiked in Africa - oh my!  I still can't believe I did that one (thought it was out of necessity!)  I was a bit crazy!  I loved tackle football and Basketball with the guys - I guess I was a bit of  tough girl!  Backpacking in the middle of winter with two other girls... yeah that too was pretty crazy - especially since our map was outdated and we had no idea where were!  We went kayaking on a flooded river.... crazy!!!  Oh the list could go on but I will stop there - it is pretty amazing to think of all the fun things I was able to do as a type A rule follower - so many of these were way out of my box so to speak.  Do I miss them.... of course I miss the idea of them.... but I think I can confidently say that I don't think I will be doing any of them any time soon!

    Not me, but fun to pretend that was me passing a guy in a race :)

    #36 -  Learned Lesson - Marriage is about a commitment to love, not just the feeling of love!  I remember when we were doing our marriage counseling and we were told that we would feel like we loved each other about 25% of the time but the rest of the time we would need to pursue our commitment to love even when the ushy gushy feelings weren't there.  I am not sure if the percent is 100% accurate but the concept and the theory are absolutely true..... I confess I don't always feel like loving my husband when forgets to take out the trash, or takes a call as soon as he walks in the door from work.... he doesn't always feel like loving me when I think irrationally about something little that was said, but I have blown up in my mind, or when I use five pots and 10 rubber spatulas to make one meal :)  But it is about a commitment.... I commit to loving him even when I don't feel like it.  He commits to loving me even when I am not very lovable (hard to believe I know!) We love, because God first loved us, so we can then love each other with a commitment for better or worse... richer or poorer, in sickness or in health..... it is a commitment!  And next to my commitment to Christ, it was the best decision I have ever made!
    Christmas 2014

    # 35 - Confession - Teenagers are my favorite age group to work with!  I know that teens are looked down upon sometimes for their behavior and their reputation sometimes, however are at such a great formative stage in their life.  Yes they rebel and yes they can be challenging, but they are testing the waters, they are struggle to break out of the cocoon of childhood to spread their wings and gain independence.... if they didn't struggle they wouldn't have the strength and the ability to make adult decisions, yet they are still like clay... they want to be molded and shaped, they want to gain knowledge... they want to know the whys and the hows so they understand the whole process and not just the solution!  They want so desperately to be loved that they sometimes seek it out in the wrong places when those that should be loving them in a healthy way are absent or abusive..... they want love, they need love, and though there will be those love/hate moments, they are so worth it when you see them later in life seeking to change the world and the lives of others!  Some of my greatest joys as a former youth leader are seeing my former students living lives that are seeking after God and leading others to him through the way they live their life's and their ministries!  Any former students that are reading this - please know that I love you and I love seeing how God is using you to change the world!
    One of my girls, Samantha came to visit me while in Romania (she is studying in Turkey)

    Tuesday, June 02, 2015

    Countdown to 40 - Confessions, Life Lessons, and Memory Sessions #40 & #39

    The idea came to my head yesterday, as I was thinking - wow - I am soon going to be 40 years old.... have I really had that many birthdays?  I was thinking back to different places I have been when I have celebrated my birthday.... and it got me thinking... how life changes and how I have learned so much through these years.  

    Though it is really only 37 days to go... this gets the point across :)

    One of my favorite quotes is from Beth Moore "She says you can't have your destiny without your history" - I love that and it is so true so the next 37 days will be a reflection on my history.... which has molded and shaped me for my destiny.  Since I didn't get this started forty days before my birthday, I am having to do larger posts  the next few days to catch up and stay on track to get all my posts in before my 40th Birthday!  

    #40 - Confession - Parenting is the Hardest Job I have ever had!  But it is my favorite!  It is hard to believe how much I have learned over the past three years as a parent.  It has definitely opened my eyes to understand better God's love for me (though my finite mind, will never fully understand His infinite love!).  There are so many expert opinions coming at you daily about how to raise your child, and it is easy to feel as though you are failing, however I have learned that sometimes you have to do what you have to do just to get by.  All those things that you say you will never do as a parent, yet in desperation you find yourself doing just that thing as you just need to survive.... like let your child sleep in your bed.  (As I am typing this my child has crawled up my lap and is wiggling in pure Ella fashion and I am trying to not get frustrated, and now she is crying because Daddy came home without a prize for her, but he got a "prize" for himself aka a diet Pepsi). Discipline is hard!  So hard! But in the midst of all the hard, it is so fun!  I love to see her smile when she is just enjoying life!  I love seeing her covered in dirt (yes its true!) because it means she played hard and enjoyed being outside!  She is the best gift we have ever been given!  I can't imagine our lives without her!
    Me and my Bean!

    #39 - Confession - Once a teacher, always a teacher!  I can't get it out of my blood.... though it has been several years (more than I want to admit) since I have had my own classroom.... I still have those teacher tendencies in the way I work with students, and even sometimes adults.  I like details and I like to have things organized, especially events.  My students used to say I had a look.... I would get three lines on my forehead when I gave them that look and they knew that I was not joking around!  I think I still get that look at times with my child or group of students when necessary!  I miss teaching - I miss those relationships, but I am so thankful that I am still able to substitute teach and have a temporary classroom which I love!  Some of my type A qualities come directly from my years of teaching and my need for structure.... it is my blessing and my curse I would say.  
    Since we are in Romania I don't have my computer with all my pictures... but would love to try to find some pictures for my Clearfield teaching days! 

    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    I am enough because HE is enough!

    It's not even one of those days..... though it is..... it's not even one of those weeks.... though it is.  I am struggling!  Though at times I feel full.... excited, ready to face the day.... I still feel empty, lonely, and disconnected.  It's not just one thing.... it is everything, and of course it all hits like a ton of emotional bricks, two days before I have to speak about Joy!  I am guessing this is all part of the enemies plan to rob my joy!  It also all happens while my husband is 13 hours away for several days while we are in another country.  I can't pinpoint one thing that has caused me to feel stuck in this place of wandering.... but I am here, so there must be a reason.  Have you been in the desert?  I think if we are all honest we have all been there sometimes for reasons we can't even put into words.

    It is difficult to share this because no one likes to admit when their life feels void, when you feel like you have a weight in your heart that doesn't seem to want to go away.... when you feel like you aren't enough......

    Today I share this in hopes that maybe my struggles may help you to know you aren't alone. To encourage you to know that you are enough.... because he is enough!

    We have been away from our home for two months now, and today we begin our third and final month of our journey to Romania.  It has been hard (especially with me being so sick at first), It has been amazing, challenging, stretching..... but it has been at times lonely.... knowing that life is still going on at home.... changes are being made while we are gone.... feeling lost.... feeling disconnected.  I imagine that is one of the challenges of being a missionary.... it's hard... but it's a hard length of time to be gone as well.... you are gone long enough that you stretched but not long enough to completely emerse yourself because you know that soon you must begin the process of going home, and from what I have read on several missionary and travel abroad sites, that is the biggest challenge.   I would be lying if I said that I am fearful to return because I am not sure what my place is.... not sure if I can go back to seven random jobs.... not sure what I am supposed to be doing, or how I am supposed to be serving.... though I have had time to pray and ponder that..... I still struggle to feel as though I am not enough.... though I know in God's word he says, we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do a good work.... I just wish I knew what that work was to be..... but today I cling to the statement.... I am enough BECAUSE HE IS ENOUGH!!!

    I am struggling as a parent.  I have spent almost every hour with my child since we have been here.... even at night I don't always get a break due to the nightmares, or fears of being in a new place.... I love her dearly, she is the best gift God has ever given to us, but it is hard!  She is a threenager as my friend calls it.  Constant training and correcting, encouraging and supporting.... I am not complaining because I love being a mom, I love being her mom, I am just tired and feel like I am not doing a good job.... I don't feel like I am enough..... I yell when I want to be calm, I am impatient when I want to be patient, my frustrations radiate on my face, when I want to gently correct.  Urghhhh - fealing again that I am not enough!  I am reminded in Esther - that God called her to do an amazing work - to save her people, and he called her "For such a time as this!"  For such a time as this, God you have called me to teach, train, and encourage this young little girl..... help me to know that I am enough only BECAUSE YOU ARE ENOUGH!

    I struggle with what my ministry should look like.... I feel a call to be speaking and teaching... my husband encourages me to do that and says that God made me for that.  I love it and know that is part of His plan... but how does that work... how do I balance, how do I pursue that and not let comments of others discourage me when I have to go away for a few days.  I know that following you and what you have asked us to do doesn't always make sense, but it is hard..... there are times I think maybe I just need to get a "real job" because my student loans are so high, so I have to work, but I was told by my doctor not to work full time.... oh I feel torn!  I need direction.... I want to do what God has called me to do and be faithful!  I want to make a difference in people's lives!  I want to share Joy!  I am enough BECAUSE HE IS ENOUGH!

    I struggle with my friendships..... being a pastor's wife can be a lonely place.... being a counselor can be a lonely place.  I feel like I go out of my way to invest and encourage but then feel as though I am alone as I pour out into others, but feel empty myself..... it makes me think of that old SNL sketch with Stuart Smalley.... "I am good enough, strong enough, and gosh darn it people like me"  I just feel as though I am alone.... although I know that I am not.... because Jesus said, I will NEVER leave you, nor forsake you...... I am enough BECAUSE HE IS ENOUGH!

    The list of struggles could go on and on.... but I will stop there..... my daughter if finally napping, and I have stopped my tears over the fact that I spilled my drink while we were having a picnic lunch and my daughter melted down because it got all over Romania Raccoon.... my emotions are raw, but I will cling to the promise today that I am enough.....because He is enough!  

    When I go though these times in my life, I have songs that play over and over in my head.... today I alternate between More Than Enough, and Place in this World (yes, an oldie but a goodie!)  So enjoy a little music as I bid farewell and spend some time just being still.

    Wednesday, April 01, 2015

    April 1st Anniversaries

    Don't get me wrong, I love a good joke, and playing a harmless prank can be fun and brings joy (most of the time).  However, April fool's day for the last 8 years has had a bit of a different feel to it for me, it was this day 8 years ago that I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.... it was a Maundy Thursday actually that year.... I remember it so well.  It is a memory that just doesn't go away.... I was shocked, devistated, confused, the list of emotions goes on and on.  I wrestled with it, I came to grips with it, and then wrestled with it again with each new flare up.

    If I had been writing this post two weeks ago, I would have been able to focus on how well I was managing my disease, how I have felt so good, been exercising a bit, and even played on a ladies indoor soccer team (which was so fun, and just what I needed to feel like an athlete again).  I felt great!  I was losing weight, becoming fit, and managing this disease.

    But true to form with MS, you never know when your life will hit a turn in the road, over the last month, my body has endured stress, that though I felt I was managing well, my body was taking the brunt of it.... so one day after arriving in Hungary, I came down with intense vertigo that didn't allow me to leave my bed.... I thought it was jet lag (maybe foolish thinking) but with all my exercises I was trying and the meds that I added in later there was no relieve.... and as we arrived in Romania I found myself in the hospital getting tests and ultimately beginning a round of IV steroids to treat my newest flare up.

    In the midst of this disease, I must admit that it has changed me over the past 8 years, whether feeling great (relatively) or laying here in bed recoving from feeling not good at all.....I am a better person today because of this.  Each day I must make a choice, to celebrating the good days, and look for the Hope in the bad.  As much as I hate the disease, I hate how I feel especially the last 10 days, I wouldn't trade it because it has drawn me closer to God, it has made me a better more compassionate person, and it has slowed me down when I need to rest.

    In the title you may have noticed it said Anniversaries -plural - Today also marks 5 years since we lost our first little miracle to a miscarriage... 5 years, it seems like so long ago, but then other days it seems like yesterday..... as I look back and remember that day and that month - it was probably one of the hardest things I have had to deal with - I never realized how much it would hurt, but I also hav learned how much God will heal because of it.  How he will bring people to love and encourage you, when you just want to quit, how he will give you comfort when you just want to curl up and cry.  It was hard, very hard, but I have also seen how God has used this part of my story to ministry to so many other women who have journeyed the same road, and how many have done just the same for me.

    So my dear little child who is in heaven with Jesus, I love you!  We miss you, but we know that God's plan is perfect.  And each year on this day, we remember you with orange tulips - they remind me of the sunrise, new life, new mercies.... you are a gift that will never be forgotten, and when Ella talks about her big brother and sister.... I just have to smile knowing that she does have one in heaven and for you we are thankful.

    So thank you my dear husband for remembering!  And searching the streets of Romania to find me the only bunch of Orange Tulips available... they mean the world to me!  

    I close with my life verse.... "Be joyful in Hope, Patient in Affliction, and Faithful in prayer!" Romans 12:12

    Sunday, March 15, 2015

    A Hug From Heaven

    The last week and half has been more difficult that I would have ever imagined could be possible.  As you all know we are scheduled to leave for our 3 month mission trip on Thursday, but what I didn't plan for was week of saying goodbye to loved ones, many trips to the hospital as well as a trip to see my parents.  In a two week time period my dad fell and broke 5 ribs and punctured a lung, a great man of faith Guy Temple, who went on almost every trip I did with my students in Lewisburg,  went to sit at the feet of Jesus as his health unexpected deteriorated very quickly.  Then the biggest hurdle of my life time up to this point was saying goodbye to my dear friend Kolleen, she was only 35 years old and a wonderful mother to 4 young children, and a wife to Kevin.  She was one of the hardest working women I have ever known.  She loved Jesus and I was blessed to know her.  What we thought was a bad case of the stomach flu at the movies, turned into the most difficult of situations as she was rushed to the hospital with a brain aneurism that burst, but had not warning signs.... she hung on for several days and fought hard (as she always did).  We prayed and prayed for miracles and we saw many during those days, but we prayed for complete healing and we believed it would happen.... and it did, it just wasn't the earthly healing that we so desperately wanted, it was a heavenly healing! She is with Jesus, she is whole, she is healed!  Though I miss her so much, I know the hardest part is knowing that Kevin and the kids are without a wife and a mom.

    My heart hurts for them as they begin this new journey as a family, it hurts me that I won't be around the next few months, so I wanted to do something for them to remind them how much their mommy loved them.... so with a little help from my mom and her fabulous stash of fabrics I was able to make a big heart shaped pillow for each of the kids with soft flannel fabric,  The heart wide and long so as they lean in it will feel like a hug from heaven.  It is so hard for them to understand, but I know and I trust that God will take care of them and daily remind them of his love and their mother's love. Making these was also very theraputic for me and as I walked into the sewing room, the radio was playing the song.... You are not alone.  Below is a picture of the hearts and one with Ella as she wanted to give each one a hug from her as well.  I am also putting a link to the you are not alone song as well.

    If for some reason the video below doesn't play, just click on this link.  May you be blessed, with a hug from heaven.