May 3, 2017

Let's do this!

The 2nd annual Love Peru Fun Run & 5K was hosted by First Baptist Church of Canton (my church home) this past Saturday. All the proceeds from the race go to the church's orphanage in Peru: Village of the Children.

Last year, this was a family function. I ran the fun run with the girls, and my hubby did the 5K.

This year, it was just me. I went and ran the 5K. This happened for a couple reasons.

First, back in February, my hubby got a blood clot due to a dissection of his iliac artery. He's been sidelined from running since then, and at a recent doctor's appointment, he was told he wouldn't be running again any time soon. So because of his injury, hubby couldn't run this race, but we still wanted to support the race to support the orphanage. That's why I signed up. And because the medical bills have increased, we opted not to have the girls run this year.

I was on my own with this one. Thinking about my hubby, not able to run. Thinking about many, lost too soon. No longer here to partake of events like these.

These thoughts motivated me as I pushed through this 5K course that I absolutely hate due to its hills (one killer hill in particular comes to mind).

Near the end of the course, I was so exhausted. I didn't want to push forward any more. And that's when I met Brenda.

Brenda. The older lady who, despite the hill from hell we had just navigated, was still determined to finish this race strong even though our lungs and legs were on fire.

Our eyes met as we pressed on, and we both began complaining about the race course - specifically that hill. But Brenda changed the conversation totally when she said, "You know what though, I just think about my friends who aren't able to run or those loved ones I've lost who aren't here to do this, and that's what keeps me moving on - pushing forward." We saw the finish line ahead and she said, "Come on. Let's go. We can do this!"

And thinking of my hurting hubby, and seeing how grateful this grey haired lady was to still be able to run, I found the something within me (gratitude to God?) to sprint onward toward the finish line. Toward a third place finish for my age group.

I surprised myself. I finished with a time of 34:44. It hasn't been since races in 2013 and in 2014 on this course that I had finished with a time like that. The most recent time I ran a race at this location, my time was 42:50. Just goes to show you how powerful a mindset can be.

Charles Swindoll once said, "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it."

In my life, I have found this to be beyond true. Choosing to respond positively in the face of adversity - especially when you know who holds everything in His more than capable hands - can open up possibilities otherwise left undiscovered.

I could have let that course beat me down, but instead of dwelling on how much I hated my current situation (That darned race course!), I decided - with Brenda's help - to remember how grateful I should be for that current situation. I decided to run in to that finish line like I had never run to it before - because there are those that cannot. I embraced it. I owned it. And so, I rocked it!

What do you need to embrace? Is there a bull you need to take by the horns - so to speak? Is there something in your life right now that has the potential to leave you in defeat?

Choose, now, to let that adversity eat your metaphorical dust! "Run" this "race" - dang it! - even if you can't literally run right now. Then crawl! Choose to be the better for whatever is currently trying to grind your face into the dirt. Get up! MOVE!


Because you can. (Philippians 4:13)

Today's forget-me-not: Those lost too soon - Angel, Christian, Diana, Kevin... and too many more to mention.

Let's do this. Do life. For them.

April 5, 2017

5 Years of The Color Run

This race always comes at the right time each year.

Just when the school year has beaten me into a pile of complete exhaustion. Just as spring has sprung and so have my students - who are almost daily out of their seats and their minds. #teacherproblems

Just when I've neglected my children, my husband, my house, and my soul to the point where life has seemed to turn a drab shade of grey...

The color run happens.

And things begin to pink up again. #punintended

This event reminds me to live life. It reminds me to enjoy life. Every aspect of it. Every moment. Life is a gift meant to be received, opened, and savored. And somewhere in all the redundancy of the day to day, I forget to do this - I forget to appreciate life.

So much can change in the blink of an eye, and things or people you've taken for granted are gone. And regrets creep in and try to choke you.

I don't want that. Ever. Regrets. I say no. You're not welcome here. Not in my life.

Join me in that, will you? #noregrets #live

The color run inspires me; it reminds me to do just that - live. No holding back. Just do it! So that's what my bestie Jaimee and I did this past Saturday. We went out and carped that diem! Color run style!!!

pre-run selfie
I guess that's why I keep coming back to this race year after year. This was my fifth color run. And each year has been a blast!

And this year, it was all rainbows and unicorns, just me and my best friend!

I mean, come on people! Unicorns!!!

Unicorns are magical. They inspire us. These mythical beasts represent goodness and purity.

Of course just thinking about them makes us happy!

They are just like chocolate - totally awesome!!!

And because of what Jesus did for me on the cross, I'm all those things too. Now that's a reason to celebrate and live this gift that is life!

Today, live it with me. Go carpe that diem!

Today's forget-me-not:

February 18, 2017

The First Race Report of 2017

My fourth Hot Chocolate 5K (I have been running for 4+ years now) was completed last month.  This race remains at the top of my "gotta run this one" racing list for multiple reasons:

First - FRIENDS!

This is a race for girlfriends. Females running together for chocolate equals fun! How could it not?!

Second reason to run this race - CHOCOLATE!

Those who know me know I love chocolate. And if you are a fellow chocolate lover, you MUST participate in this event. Just imagine, after pushing yourself forward 3.1 miles, consuming rich hot chocolate, then enjoying marshmallows, rice crispy treats, and bananas dipped in melted chocolate! It's as close to a utopia as you can possibly get here on earth.

The final reason to run this race - FUN!

This race inspires fun. Silly is your middle name as you run toward your chocolate waiting for you at the finish line.

So I obviously recommend signing up for the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K race whenever it next comes near you. Get a group of friends together, and go enjoy some chocolate!

Today's forget-me-not: You just gotta indulge sometimes. #chocolate

December 31, 2016

God has great plans for you in 2017!

As 2017 approaches, I want to share a post I wrote for Beulah Girl. It's my attempt to answer the question, does your life have a specific purpose?

And, deep down inside, you know the answer. Of course your life has purpose!

Each day in 2017, you can awake with the knowledge that God has "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope a future" (Jer. 29:11).

Please read my most recent post and be encouraged as you enter 2017!

Today's forget-me-not:

Does Your Life Have a Specific Purpose?

December 9, 2016

My Final Race of 2016

My final 5K race for 2016 is "in the books."

This race is organized by our county service league which raises money for children in need. It is another run for a great cause, and this year, it was being held at my favorite park (which has a mostly flat running course)!

Last time I ran this race was in 2013. I had a good time, despite the rain, but the course at the time was filled with too many hills. And they didn't have a shirt for me even though I preregistered. So for those reasons, I wasn't really motivated to run it again any time soon.

However, they changed the course to my favorite place to run, so I couldn't resist. And besides, my running buddy was going to be there with her daughter! I had to go!

I completed the 5K in 33:58. I almost beat my best 5K time for 2016, but evidently, I ran that same course back in June for a time of 33:30. Irregardless, I was happy to end the year with such a good race time.

I have run over forty 5K races since I started running in the fall of 2012! And guess what? It never gets old. I love it! I love the exercise, the fellowship, the memories...

 Come on 2017! Let's run some more!!

Today's forget-me-not: Don't ever stop running!

November 27, 2016

Count Your Many Blessings

As my Thanksgiving break comes to a close, I feel I should take some time to count my blessings.

I'm thankful for so much! My Savior, first and foremost. My family, especially my selfless husband and my beautiful children. My job, I love teaching English and coaching debate. My church, love my Jesus peeps. My blog, love this outlet for my thoughts, my words. My friends, special shout out to my Jaimee! And, of course, running. Sooo thankful for running!

Truly, those last two blessings often go together. My friend Jaimee and my love of running.

Recently, my best running buddy came with me as I ventured to Chatsworth, GA, for the fifth year in a row to participate in "A Walk to Remember and 5K."

Every year, this event provides me an opportunity to remember my Angel and all babies lost too soon.

This year, despite the smoke from all the wild fires in North Georgia, my Jaimee and I ran/walked the 5K.

We both took it easy, not wanting to inhale too much smoke, and I was too tired from having chaperoned a speech and debate overnight trip with teenagers the night before to push myself too hard. Although, none of that really matters cause WE DID IT!

Aside from the 5K, we enjoyed seeing all the vendors at this event to support pregnancy and infant loss awareness - including my friend Kristie at Footprints on the Heart. And, of course, they had their awesome raffle to raise money for the March of Dimes. I usually win something from the raffle, but this year, it was not meant to be. Even though that was a bit of a bummer, knowing the money I put toward the raffle was going to such a great cause made my heart happy.

We left after the raffle concluded, so we missed the candle lighting that ended the event. But Jaimee and I each got to take home a candle. And later that night, she sent me this pic.

She had lit her candle for my Angel.

So, you see, I have much to be thankful for. Events like these. And my Jaimee.

And Angel. Always you, my Angel.

Today's forget-me-not: all my many blessings

November 13, 2016

Why God Prunes His Church

I have a black thumb.

Hello, my name is Jamie, and I kill plants.

Truly, I have tried to grow various types of greenery, but it never ends well. So because of this sad reality, I leave the outdoor work to my husband.

Every year, in late winter, hubby takes up the task of pruning our Crape Myrtles. The website Fine Gardening explains, “Correct pruning [of Crape Myrtles] yields gracefully shaped trees with more blooms that are held upright on strong stems. Also, flowers arrive earlier than do those on unpruned or mispruned plants.” And to these truths, I can verily testify! My hubby’s pruning efforts never go to waste as each year we are met with an abundance of gorgeous blooms come summer time.

I was reminded of my spouse’s shearing of those Crape Myrtles after reading John chapter 15 during my quiet time. In that text, Jesus explains to his disciples at the last supper, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

When I first read this, I was a bit confused. Why remove (prune) good, healthy and fruitful branches? How could that possibly yield more fruit?

Now remember, I have a black thumb, and this is accompanied by a good deal of ignorance in the laws of gardening. So in order to understand what Jesus was trying to say in John 15, I did a little research, and this is what I found.

Pruning is necessary to promote growth in plants. And evidently, as Jesus was trying to point out, it is also necessary in the life of the church.

Reasons God Prunes His Church

1. He prunes us to stir growth.

Pruning involves cutting away fruitful branches in order to facilitate new growth. Growth that will end up being even more healthy and abundant. I have seen the spiritual side of this principle at work in my own church.

When my husband and I first joined the church we continue to attend today (17 years ago), we were both actively involved in children’s missions programs on Wednesday night. However, the attendance in these programs, although good, was stagnate. Additionally, children were learning about the Lord and missionaries, but the curriculum was lacking an emphasis on bible study and scripture memorization. So while these programs were good, there was clearly room for improvement.

After looking closely at our options, the decision was made to cut those events and search for something new. And while my husband and I had our reservations about removing these activities that were producing fruit in the lives of those in attendance, we knew more could be done to attract a greater amount of children and pour out a greater investment in those lives. So while it was painful to let go of these programs, the cuts were made, and God used a new children’s curriculum to double the amount of young lives our church was pouring into for His kingdom.

It’s hard to let go of good things, but it’s the only way to make room for greater things.

2. He prunes us to inspire productivity.

In the course of my research on pruning, I discovered how vineyards grow top notch grapes. They cut half of the grapes from their vine and throw them away. Yes, you read that right; they toss out half of the crop!

Evidently, grapes are lazy, and in order to get them to produce better grapes, it is necessary to cut half of them away from the vine. This, in time, will force the remaining grapes to work harder and pull more nutrients from the soil creating the finest wine ever tasted.

I believe our church is in the midst of learning how God at times employs this technique of cultivation. Sadly, of late, we are seeing many good, fruit producing, children of the Lord leaving our church family. Each person that chooses to depart is a tremendous loss! However, as grape growers can attest, the loss of some amazing grapes can force the improved production of the remaining grapes, and I have begun to see that principle play out in our church. Those that remain in our body of believers are producing more for the Lord than before our time of pruning. Although we are no longer great in numbers, I see greater things being done for the Lord. It’s the principle behind John 3:30 at work: “He must become greater; I must become less.” Less is more, and I am excited to see the continued results of this pruning time in our congregation!

3. He prunes us to make us stronger.

Pruning is a very interesting topic! On the Vintage Tree Care website, I found this additional information about the subject: “Pruning a tree can influence in what way the tree grows. With proper pruning, a tree can be made to grow into a certain configuration of limbs and branches that is more ideal for the structural integrity of the tree.”

Proper pruning improves that which is pruned, and this reality should make every church currently going through a season of change hopeful. Perhaps God is working to improve the “structural integrity” of your church? Remember, He knows what storms are coming that you will have to withstand.  Or perhaps, as is the case at my church right now, He’s attempting to repair damage done by a storm that has already swept through?

Whatever the reason, it may not make sense to us, but the tearing away of fruitful foliage can produce a greater amount of quality fruit. As long as we leave everything in the hands of the master gardener, there is nothing to fear. He can work all things together for the good of those that love Him. (Romans 8:28)

As I sat outside today, I noticed the foliage donning new colors. I watched as some of it began to fall from the trees. It was snowing, leaves.  In that moment, I was reminded that soon enough it would be time again to prune back the Crape Myrtles.

Ecclesiastes chapter three reminds us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

If today, you find your church going through a season of transition, be encouraged. He is at work! As I leave my Crape Myrtles in the more capable hands of my husband, trust God with your church. He knows exactly how to get those “gracefully shaped trees with more blooms that are held upright on strong stems.” Joyfully yield yourself to His pruning.
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