Sunday, August 28, 2011

Actions Speak Louder than Words - Let's ACT

Actions speak louder than words...

Words are very important because many times we speak of that which our heart is full, but that isn't the case all the time.  I can be told I'm loved a million times, but if I don't see the love, I won't believe it.

Over the last few years I have learned what living a "christian" life is all about.  It's not about what church you go to, how many years you've gone to church, how many bible verses you know, or how many hours per day you spend in "prayer".  Being a christian is being Christ-like.  I'll be the first to admit that I have spent some time bitter at the modern church for it's lack of love and compassion for our neighbors, but have come to realize that no fruit comes of such feelings.  I must ACT and do something to show Christs love and sacrifice. 

Recently, a horrible, sick, and disturbing tragedy happened to someone I know.  On top of the sadness I felt for this person, I also felt helpless.  I wish I could have done something...and I did.  I know it probably didn't take the pain away, but God knows my heart.  That very Sunday, the church I am attending started a series called "STOP".  This series is to bring awareness of the modern day slavery.  Yes, that's right. still exists.  I couldn't stop thinking about the little girl I knew that had just lost her life, and although her tragedy was not related to slavery I vowed that I would start acting out against slavery and sex trafficking in honor of her.  Again, although that tragedy was not related to slavery in any way, I would do this in her honor and memory.  I wanted to save little helpless girls who could not fight for themselves.  It may be an indirect help, but it's what I'm going to do for that precious girl who is now with my Father.

Below is an excerpt form the book "The Slave Next Door" and I'm hoping that this story moves someone to also take action again kidnapping, human trafficking, sex trade, and all other forms of slavery. 

Meet Sandra Bearden.  Sandra was a twenty-seven-year-old home-maker in a comfortable suburb of Laredo, Texas - a neighborhood of solid brick homes and manicured lawn.  married, the mother of a four-year-old son, she lived a perfectly normal middle-class existence.  By all accounts, Sandra was a pleasant woman, the sort you'd chat with at the mall or supermarket...the sort who might live next door.  Yet she is currently serving a life sentence, convicted of multiple offenses, including human trafficking and slavery.
It started innocently enough.  At first, all Sandra wanted was a maid - someone to do the housework and help with her small son- but she didn't want to pay a lot.  So she drove across the border to a small, dirt-poor village near Vera Cruz, Mexico, where she was introduced to Maria and her parents.  Maria was only twelve when she met Sandra Bearden.  She had very little schooling and dreamed of getting an education- a dream that her parents encouraged by could do nothing to achieve.  Over coffee in their small kitchen, Bearden offered Maria a job, as well as the chance to attend school, learn English, and taste the rich life of "el Norte."The work, as Bearden described it, was much like what Maria was already doing at home, and, with the promise of education and opportunity, Sandra's offer made a very enticing package.  The fact that Sandra herself was Mexican born helped Maria's parents feel they could trust her, and they gave their permission.  Sandra smuggled Maria across border in their extensive car and drove her to her home in Laredo.
On arrival, maria was dragged into hell.  Sandra Bearden used violence and terror to squeeze work and obedience from the child.  From early morning till mid afternoon, Maria cooked, cleaned, scrubbed, and polished.  If Maria dozed off from exhaustion, or when Sandra decided she wasn't working fast enough, Sandra would blast pepper spray into Maria's eyes.  A broom was broken over the girl's back and a few days later, a bottle against her head.  At one point, Bearden tortured the twelve-year-old by jamming a garden tool up her vagina.  That was maria's workday; her "time off" was worse. 
When Maria wasn't working, Sandra would chain her to a pole in the backyard without food or water.  An eight-foot concrete fence kept her hidden from neighbors.  After chaining her, Sandra would sometimes force Maria to eat dog feces.  Then Maria would be left alone, her arms chained behind her with a padlock, her legs chained and locked together till the next morning, when the work and torture would begin again.  Through the long afternoon and night Maria would fade in and out of consciousness from dehydration, and in her hunger she would sometimes scoop dirt into her mouth.  Like most slaves in America, Maria was in shock, disoriented, isolated, and dependent.  To maintain control, Bearden kept Maria hungry and in pain.
About one-third of slaves freed in the United States each year come to liberty because of an average person sees something that he or she just can't ignore.  Luckily, one of the Beardens' neighbors had to do some work on his roof, and that probably saved Maria's life.  Looking down over the high concrete wall into the Breaden's backyard, the neighbor saw a small girl chained up and whimpering; he called 911.
The police found Maria chained hand and foot, covered in cuts and bruises, and suffering from dehydration and exposure.  She was too weak to walk and had to be carried to freedom on a stretcher.  Her skin was badly burned from days in the sun.  Photos taken at the time show one of her eyes bloodied and infected and thick welts and scars on her skin where the chains had cut into her.  She hadn't eaten in four days.  The district attorney said, "This is the worst case I've ever seen, worse than any murder.  It's tragic all the way around." Later, at Bearden's trial, the policeman who found maria wept.  "She was shaking and crying and had a scared look in her eyes.  She was in severe pain, " Officer Jay Reece testified.  he explained that he had tried to remove the chains from Maria's arms with bolt cutters but couldn't.  As he tried to move her arm to cut the chains, she twisted and whimpered because she was in so much pain.  "I've never seen anything like it before," Reese said, and sitting in the witness box, this policeman began to cry...
We all ask, "How could someone so abuse a child-to stake her in the sun, feed her excrement, beat her bloody...Surely, only a monster could do this." yet Sandra Bearden's treatment of Maria is not unusual.  How a seemingly normal person can descent into a spiral of violent control and abuse of another is one of the mysteries of slave holding..."
-"The Slave Next Door" by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter

This story is not a fictional story or one found in a move.  It's reality.  A factual horrid story that happened right here in our country.  Where so many live free, this girl, many other girls, boys, women, and men are held as slaved in so many different ways. It's a similar story to that of Jaycee Dougard...just a different type of slavery.  It happens all the time, but we just don't see it.  We don't know exactly how to identify it.  We pretend like it's not real.  But it is real...very real.  It's time we did something because the wise thing to do is to learn from other's mistakes.  I don't want to wait for this to happen to someone I know. 

I encourage everyone read this book.  This book is filled with factual events and statistics.  It makes recommendations on what we can do to help stop this horrid crime.  Prayer is great and effective in so many way, but it's time to ACT.  Jesus didn't just speak, HE acted.  It's time we started to do what we were called to do.  Save the lost and free the more ways than one.

With lots of love,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The other day I saw a quote on Facebook that said "Your kids may not always do what you tell them to, but they will do what you do." - Anthony Fleming, Pastor at The Good Shepherd Church in Rutherford, NJ

That quote has been stuck in my head since I read it because it is so true.  Sometimes I look at my oldest daughter and the first thing that comes to mind is "mini-me"...she is literally a little me.  I know that there are things that will come naturally to her because she has my genes, but there are things she will be taught...whether I teach it to her intentionally or not.

I love to help people, motivate people, and inspire people.  I love seeing people grow and become better.  That is one of the reasons that I always try to post positive messages on social networking sites.  There are people who tend to be so negative and are always complaining.  There are times I read posts that are on the negative side and it can really be a downer.  I don't want people to feel that way when reading things I write.  I want people to be encouraged and have something to take away to help them grow...and at a minimum, I want them to feel happy when they read something I write.  If we were all to understand the impact that a simple post of facebook can make, we would all be a little wiser with what we post.  But, that's enough with my rant on that.

Back to my point.  Alisha, my youngest, always seems to turn things into competition; even when no one knows that there is a competition going on.  As we were leaving the house, walking down the steps, Alisha sits on the bottom step and starts crying.  I knew she didn't fall so I asked Ana to go and get Alisha.  Since Alisha wanted nothing to do with Ana, I went over and asked her why she was crying.  She answered "Ana beat me." I started laughing because we had no clue that a race was going on.  I proceeded to tell her that it's ok that Ana beat her.  She has to learn how to lose.  Some days we win and some days we lose.  Ana then looks at Alisha and says "yea, Alisha.  On the days you lose, you just pick yourself back up and try again.  Try and try again."

I was so excited with her response that I had her give me a high five and told her how right she was.  Ana needs to take her own advice sometimes, but don't we all.  What really impressed me is how she was trying to motivate Alisha to be better and to realize that just because you lost this time doesn't mean you'll lose the next time.  You just have to keep on trying.  I never trained Ana to think like that nor have I coached her on how to motivate people.  She just sees me to do it.  So, I end this blog entry with the same quote I started with because it really speaks for itself.

Kids won't always do what you tell them to, but they will do what you do.

With lots of love,

Monday, August 15, 2011

East Coast to West Coast

I am in the middle of a move associated with a Permanent Change of Station (PCS).  I have was born and raised in NJ, have been up and down the eastern coast, and been in NC for the last 6 months, but moving to Ft. Lewis, Washington is definitely a scary move for me.  Not only will I be farther away from all my family and friends, the weather there doesn't call for a lot of sunshine.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love heat, sunshine, and the beach.  I will have the beach there, but heat and sunshine will not be available as often as I would like.  The one good thing is that I won't have to deal with bitter cold weather like we go through in NJ.  I also can't forget that having great running conditions all year long is totally awesome and I can't wait for that.

 I wrote a blog called "Surviving as a Military Wife" where I essentially talked about how as a military wife you need to learn to accept and embrace change because if you don't, you really will never be happy.  You will always be stuck living in the past instead of enjoying the present.  When I write or speak of something, it's usually because it's something I struggled with and learned.  I may seem like a positive person and for the most part I am, but I do struggle and have internal battles.  I, like everyone else that needs to deal with change, also have my reservations, fears, and frustrations.  I just choose to not dwell on the negative.  Note, I said dwell.  I think of the negative, I may complain about the negative, but I don't dwell on it.  I quickly move on to thinking about the positive side of the situation and what I need to get me over the hurdle.

Going through such a long distance move with a full time job, 2 young children, and a husband that has a report date very soon is frustrating.  I won't lie about that.  I had my bad days filled with stress and internal frustration about the whole thing.  I even considered not moving until my husband is back from deployment.  But, I learned from an experienced Army wife that I will only be holding myself back.  I took a step back, thought about the whole situation, and made a let God's will be done. 

I am a control freak.  I don't deny it and don't even try to hide it.  I have a plan for everything.  It's in my nature.  I'm actually blessed enough to have a job where I get to plan and execute projects.  Totally suits me.  BUT, that trait can sometimes lead to disaster.  It's a trait God gave me and comes in use a lot, but at times I need to learn to reel myself in and let God do HIS thing. 

So...the question I always get is.  How are you doing?  How do you deal with that type of life?  I could never do it.  My answer is, under normal circumstances I could never do it.  I am a planner.  I think of everything and every possible option before making a decision.  Going through change isn't an issue with me.  I love change...I embrace it.  What bothers me is the not knowing all the details.  You have to wait, wait, wait.  But somehow, I have adapted and have learned.  In reality, there is one thing, and one thing alone that helps me deal with my personal frustrations, stresses, and fears - knowing that God is in control, that He is Soverign and knows what is best for me and my family.   It's that faith that gets me through.  I am blessed enough to truly believe it with my heart and not just say it with my mouth.

This morning in church, the pastor spoke about how we need to awaken to the reality that the presence of God is always with us.  Whether you realize it or not, whether you believe you deserve it or not, it doesn't change the fact that God is with us ALL the time.  The only thing that changes is whether you are aware of it.  As the pastor spoke about having passion for God, he took us to the book of Exodus where he used a story from the life of Moses to illustrate such passion for God's presence.  The Holy Spirit spoke to me through this passage and as I read it I would substitute Moses' name with mine.  I am including the whole passage below and hope that it speaks to someone's heart and much as it did mine.

Exodus 33:12-21
12 Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

 14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
 17 And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
 18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
 19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
 21 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

In verse 14, God not only tells Moses that His presence will go with him, He also tells him that He will give him rest.  Leading all those people is not really a mission where you will be able to rest, but God isn't speaking of physical rest.  He's talking about a heart and soul at rest.  When you let God do His thing and you have faith and trust in Him, no matter how busy or chaotic things may be, your heart will always be at peace.

I thank God for using a preacher to speak to me, yet once again.  Not to tell me something new, but to confirm what was already in my heart and spirit.  I did recognize that this move was His will and I did and do feel peace, but through that passage he confirmed that I am on the right path.  Having a relationship with God is not hard...actually it's one of the easiest relationships you will ever have.  I'm not talking about religion, I'm talking about a relationship with God.  I'm not talking about a relationship filled with "don't do's", I'm talking about one where there is an abundance of love, respect, and freedom.  I am free to do whatever I want because God gave me that freedom, but I love Him so much I will always do my best not to hurt Him.

If you are in a situation where you are frustrated, confused, and stressed, take a step back and think about the whole picture.  God gave you the capacity to think through situations and make a decision on what's best for you.  Let God do His thing and I guarantee that you will get through rest.

I sure did write a lot, but if you read this far, I pray for you at this moment, because God knows who YOU are.  I pray that God grant you more wisdom and peace than He has given me these past couple of weeks.  I pray He may guide your steps and that you may be awakened to the fact that He is with you always, until the end of the age.  May every step you take prosper and may you always encourage others to faith in Jesus Christ, our Savior.  In the name of the Almighty and Sovereign, Jesus. Amen.
With lots of love,

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ranger Wife Creed


Recognizing that I accept the life of a Ranger's Wife, fully knowing the hardships ahead of me, I will always strive to uphold the honor, the loyalty, and the trust of my husband, the Ranger!

Acknowledging that a Ranger Wife is a more elite wife who stands behind her Ranger, wherever he may be, I accept the fact that as a Ranger Wife, my husband expects me to encourage and stand behind him always!

Never shall I fail my Ranger. I will always keep myself strong, brave, and faithful. I will shoulder more than my share of the responsibility, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some!

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected woman. My courtesy to my husband, neatness of appearance, and care of our family shall set the example for future wives to follow!

Energetically will I meet the demands of my Ranger. I shall stand by my man in peacetime and in war, knowing HE IS THE SUPERIOR SOLDIER. Never will I leave my Ranger for another, and under NO circumstances will I embarrass him!

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to let my Ranger go, knowing he may never return to me– his Ranger Wife!!

Willingly will I let him go, not knowing where or for how long he will be gone, always hoping, praying and believing for his safe return and the safe return of his comrades!

Intensely will I wait for his return, anticipating the gallantry and honor– my Ranger, a hero, standing beside with pride and passion!

Forgoing all others needs except for those of my Ranger, knowing one day he will forgo all others for me– his Wife!

Enthusiastically will I carry on my daily routine, even when he's away, never forgetting he left behind his strength, his honor, his heart, his Ranger Wife!
Andrea Dornelas, Ranger Wife
PS.  Trying my best to live by the creed.  Not easy, but possible.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Surviving as a Military Wife

In general, I am a very positive person who sees the cup half full and can always pinpoint the postive side to any situation.  However, that doesn't mean I don't have my meltdowns, doubts, insecurities, and fears.  What helps me in my moments of negative thinkings and feelings, is the fact that I strongly believe that God is soverign, is in control of every aspect of my life, wants to see my happy, and knows exactly what I need in my life.

A few weeks ago I bought a book called "Wife of a Soldier, a Journey of Faith".  This extraordinary woman has been an army wife for 22 years and also had 5 years experience as an active army aviator...for sure she has something to share that I could learn from.  I usually read before going to bed and started reading the book as soon as I bought it, but then due to a few trips I lost the habit of reading before bed. 

Facing my first PCS (Permanent Change of Station) soon, even though I don't know when or where, is exciting.  But, that excitement sometimes comes along with fear of the unknown.  To add to that fear, knowing that a deployment is in the near future doesn't help.  I can either choose to let those fears and anxieties take over and control me, or I can look on the brightside of it all.  While I was taking a bath one day, for some reason, I decided to read my book, instead of one of my fitness or running magazines.  I believe that was one little nudge from God because everything I will be facing in my near future was what was being discussed in the book.  There were a few decisions I made premised on the fact that God is in control of all things, and reading the book only confirmed what I was thinking about for the last couple weeks.  Here is an excerpt from the book:

"...Home is where we live together and decide to plant ourselves and invest our lives.  Home is where I have purpose in my heart to live as if it were permanent, instead of living as if it were temporary, just waiting for the next move.
    Yet living in the past can be just as counterproductive.  I realized that I have a chouce to make each time we move.  Am I willing to put my whole heart into our new home, nowing God has chosen it for our family, or will I continue to live in the past?  Will I long for the life we had at our precious duty station or will I allow God to fill me with excitement for what he has planned for us as we move and put down roots again?  When God wants to bless me I have found that i is often my attitude that keeps me from experienced the full measure of what the Lord has for me."

Another excerpt form the book:

"As always, it involves a choise we have to make.  Are we going to keep ourselves at each new assignment so it does not hurt as much when we PCS again?  Or are we going to allow God to use us and teach us at each new duty assignment?  Are we willing ot move with our husbands even if it is only for a year?  Are we willing to move to the next assignment knowing a deployment is already planned and required?"

Whether your husband joined the military before or after your wedding, a decision was made...a decision that you would be a military spouse.  If your spouse joined before getting married, the decision was made the day you exchanged wedding vows.  If your spouse joined after the I do's, as a unit (wife & husband) you jointly made the decision to enter into a military life.  With that decision comes an acceptance of frequent moves (possibly internationaly), deployments, CQ (overnight security detail), trainings, and possible unaccomplied tours.  These are most of the downsides to military life and are guarenteed unknows. 

Yes, military life is not easy, especially if you have kids.  But, it is possible to live a military life full of love, joy, and happiness.  If women before us did it so gracefully, we should be able to do it as well.  Why live a life full of complaining and frustration, when you can embrace it and live a life full of adventure. 

As I mentioned, I have a PCS coming up and a deployment in the near future.  At first, I was faced with my fears and started thinking I would wait for my husband to come home from deployment  to move.  I didn't want to move to a place where I didn't know anyone, be far away from family, and soon after would have to see my husband off to a deployment.  But, after some prayer and thought, my mind began to change.  Believing in a soverign God, how the Army works, and human nature, I decided I would move along with my husband as soon as He received his orders.  I believe God confirmed my decision though the book.

I have been living in a new apartment since January and have never hung up my pictures.  I knew that I would be moving soon, therefore, I never "finished" setting up our place.  My husband as been away at different Army schools, so it just didn't "feel" right to create a home if he wasn't here.  I've been waiting to find out where we are going so that we could move in and I could finally set up our home the way I would like.  Reading this book made me see that I have been missing out.  I have been missing out on feeling "at home." No one made me feel that way ... I made myself feel that way by my mentality. 

There is a lot of military life that I know and am a very positive person naturally, but this book, rather, Diana Juergens, the author of the book, taught me so much.  The reason I am writing this entry is because I know that there are military spouses that hate where they live, they would go back to where they lived in a heart beat.  They hate that their husband is deployed or is away at training, or occassionally has to work 24 hours shifts.  I know it isn't easy, but life would be so much better if you changed your outlook on it all and focused on the positive things.  You will live miserably if you are stuck in the past and keep on wishing you could go back to that life.  The fact is, if you don't leave your spouse and move out, that life is gone.  So, you can either live a miserable life (which your kids will feel as well) or you can decide to embrace your new life and make the most of it?

God doesn't want you to be miserable and hate your life.  I am a strong believer that God wants us to be more than happy.  But as the author said as I referenced above, sometimes it's our attitude that blocks us from experiences God blessings. 

Lastly, I leave you with this last excerpt from the book:

"When our heart is to trust God and believe that He has decided the location, duration, and the circumstances of each assignment, it is impossible to move with a bad attitude and to be unthankful when we finally get there."

No one can take away your happiness...only you.  God has control over your life and you have control over your emotions.  Embrace where God has lead you at this moment and figure out why God wants you there, whether it's to bless or be blessed. 

I wish you all the joy and success in the world,

Friday, May 6, 2011

12 Mile Trail Run - How I Fell in Love With Running...Again

Yesterday morning, at 5am, while it was still very much dark, I headed out for a long run.  It was the most fun and exciting run I have ever been on.  Let me explain...

In June, I will be running my first trail marathon at The North Face Challenge in Washington DC.  I am very excited about this race, not only because it's my first trail race, but because I will be able to meet Dean Karnazes.  He is the first professional runner I learned of when I started running and I have read every book he has written.  There aren't many people in the world I want to meet, but he is one of the few on my list and I'm so happy I will get to place a check mark next to his name in June. 

As exciting as it will be to meet Dean, I actually need to train for this race.  This challenge includes a 5K, 10K, half, marathon relay, marathon, 50K, and 50 miler.  I've learned that I am a sucker for pain when it comes to running so I signed up for the marathon.  I mean, if I'm going to meet the guy that ran across the country, pretty much twice, then I can challenge myself a bit. 

I am very fortunate that there are plenty of places for me to train on trails.  It is different from road racing and your body needs to get use to it.  I have been training on trails for months now, but it has always been shorter distances.  Yesterday, that all changed.  As I was planning my long run, I mixed trails and road because where I am at the moment allows me to do that.  For the first time, I would be doing more than 3 miles on a trail.

Preparing for a long run, is important because it will help you prepare for a race as well.  This is how you learn what works for you.  You should never try anything new during a race.  I spent the day before my long run preparing.  Preparing should include not only your gear, but also your nutrition and hydration.  I made sure I drank plenty of water and ate sufficient amount of carbs.  I prepared my Camelbak (hydration pack) and packed everything in it I would need.  Then I checked the weather for the morning and layed out my clothes.  At 9:30pm I set my alarm clock for 4:45am and went to bed.  All of these measures were important and would dictate my success.

I woke up at 4am and couldn't go back to sleep because I was so anxious to get on with this run.  I ate a banana and drank water as I read my Runner's World magazine.  Then I began to get ready.  Before I put on my socks, I taped my foot because I was having some arch pain.  I put on my hydration pack and wrapped a reflective belt around my waste.  Lastly, I put on my garmin watch and I was ready.

I walked a bit less than a quarter mile to warm up.  I had on long sleeves and was freezing...actually, it was so bad my lips were shaking.  I think it was a little of nerves to.  It was still dark and when I started running I actually thought of Dean because after watching his movies and reading his books it's quite obvious he runs a lot at night.  I quickly learned that there is something I didn't have and NEED to have...a head lamp.  There I was running on a trail at the side of the road...a few cars would pass providing me light, but at times I could barely see. 

The first few miles of the run were the most exhilarating time I had ever had running.  I really wished I had a headlamp, but running in the dark at that moment was just so much fun.  I almost fell on my face a few times, but it was so exciting.  I was running at a slow and steady include for almost a mile and didn't even feel it that much because of how much fun I was having.  I had on the reflective belt so I wasn't worried about the cars, but I was worried about what could come out from the trees and eat or bite me...I actually think it helped me run faster...I just wanted to get past that point.  The funny thing is that once I made it out of the trails and onto the road, the sun started rising.  Running on pavement in the dark is definitely now as fun as on a trail.  Needless to say, I will be purchasing a headlamp this weekend.

As soon as I arrived home, I ate a spoon of almond butter to get in protein as quickly as I could.  Protein helps muscle recovery.  I then made 2 hard boiled eggs and my normal morning routine began.  During breakfast, I usually eat Oatmeal, but because I wanted to make sure I ate enough protein to recover properly, I made an egg salad with my 2 hard boiled eggs. 

During lunch, my legs were feeling a bit heavy and I was having a bit of a dull pain on my right knee, so I stretched, iced, and massaged my legs:  a routine i usually follow after a race.  I wanted to make sure I rested because rest is essential for recovery...and to become stronger, so I made sure I went to bed early.  This morning I woke up and felt not one ache in my body.  SUCCESS.

My preparation and post race habits really work.  I have been running for over 2 years and just as any thing is, it's all about trial and error.  I have had good races and bad races.  With each of them I learned more about me and what my body needs.  What works and what doesn't.  Every runner is different so you have to try different things. 

Each day I feel more like a runner.  I am learning more and more about this sport.  I'm falling in love with it each and every week.  Why?  Because there is always a new challenge.  Once you pass one hurdle, there will be another.  There is always room for improvement.  I find such a thrill in reaching the next challenge because I have learned that I can do it.  If I train and stay focused, my body can do it. 

This week's long run was a turning point.  I realized why I love this sport.  This sport is for anyone...anyone who decides they can do anything.  You start off with baby steps and you just keep learning and growing.  Each week you get better, each month you go farther, each year you go faster.  It's amazing!  I'm ready for my trail marathon.  I've fallen in love with running all over again!

If you know people who run and you ask, why? how?  I challenge you to try it.  It's not for everyone, but give it a try.  You don't have to start running 3 miles, but just start.  Start with 1 block, the next week go 2 blocks... eventually you'll find yourself running 1 mile worth of blocks.  The feeling of accomplishment amazing.

If I can do it, you can too.  JUST DO IT -Nike

Monday, April 25, 2011

Selfless Love

This past weekend was Easter weekend.  A weekend where we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In the midst of all the bunnies, eggs, and chocolate we still celebrate the fact that our God is alive...just as much as He has always been. 

This morning (Monday morning), I woke up extremely early (3:30am) and began thinking about all the lessons that we can learn from Jesus during His life here on earth.  He was, is, and forever will be a perfect man, but never did He "throw that in our faces".  He was so humble.  A man who had every reason to be self-righteous, never was.  He ALWAYS recognized that what He had came from His Father.  He truly was a man of love.  People until today are drawn to Him because of the selfless love.  It's such an amazing know that a perfect man could love you no matter what. 

As my mind wondered thinking about Jesus' attributes and all the things we could learn from Him, I was so amazed at how much more we would enjoy life if we were to just follow His example.  Many times we take a verse that convenient for us and throw it around like a sword to force people to act a certain way, but we forget about the verses we should use to better our own lives...and ultimately the verses that shield us.  To be on the offensive all the time is exhausting...and will ultimately lead to frustration and defeat.  If we were to focus on building our shield...on the attributes that will protect us for the circumstances of this life and the attacts from the enemy, we would be so exhausted and wounded when we must attack.

There are so many attributes of Jesus I could talk about, but His selflessness is the one that intruiges me the most.  This man would do things for people and expect nothing in return.  It was all out of love...selfless love.  Many of those who know me, know that I get very upset when I see people do "favors" for people and expect things in return.  It hurts me to see how selfish the world has gotten.  Don't get me wrong, I have my fare share of selfish moments, but when I do something for someone I do not expect to get anything back. 

I know that I get taken advantage of a lot...I get hurt and upset because people "know" they can step on me, but I just can't and won't become someone who does things for people because of what the return as for me.  The bible says "Give and you shall receive", but it doesn't mean that you should impose the will just come your way.  And sometimes just the act of giving will be all the receiving that you need...when you can see the joy and gratitude in someone.  Today, I don't suffer the leven of disappointment I use to feel because with time you become wise.  You learn when and to whom to give to.  You also cannot always expect people to be grateful...but that's all a part of being selfless.  At times it's painful.

Jesus in His most selfless act, died.  He died simply because He had to in order to give us life.  In those hours of suffering, At a point, the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain was so great He didn't want to be there anymore, BUT His goal was to make sure His Father's will was fulfilled.  That day, He gave us a gift and He knew that many wouldn't appreciate it.  Many would put it away and never look at it.  Many would spit on it or throw it in the garbage, but He still did it.  Not because of what He would get in return but because He loves us.  Would you buy a gift for something if you KNEW it would be thrown away??  If you would, I'm sure you would buy the most inexpensive gift possible.  and that is the difference.  Jesus gave us a priceless that is so expensive you can't even put a price on it.  He knew that people would throw it away...but he did it anyway.  That is a man that we can look to as an example of how to live.

There are people who go to church multiple times a week:  they many be preachers, church leaders, members of the worship team, sunday school teachers, seminary teachers, or just someone who serves in every area of the church as much as they can, but they still don't KNOW Christ.  Jesus is someone they know about, someone they've been taught about, and in many cases someone they teach about...BUT Jesus should be someone you live about, someone you act about, and someone you love about.  You can and must speak of Jesus, but we must live Jesus.  Jesus lived...and lives.  So let's follow His more, talk less. 

If you look around and find you are alone and people want nothing to do with you...or you find that everyone is so flawed that you want nothing to do with most people you know...I think it's time you start talking and thinking less and start living more.  If people are drawn to you as they were to Jesus, than we must stop, think, and figure out what it is that we need to change in our lives.  I encourage us all, incuding myself, to take some time after reading this and take a look at the Fruit of the Spirit.  I truly believe we will all come to a realization after doing so, again, including myself.

If you read this far, thank you.  Thank you for listening to me ramble on with my thoughts.  I don't blog a lot, but when i do, it's because I feel led to.  May you be blessed.

With lots of love in my heart for all you readers, whether I know you or not,