Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday Inspiration: Pediatric Cancer- Embraced

This morning, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee, a wad of Kleenex and get cozy. Here comes your weekly Wednesday dose of inspiration. My husband and I have volunteered at this AMAZING camp for the past two summers called Starlite Shores.  It is an INCREDIBLE way to volunteer and serve families who have a child facing childhood cancer. The camp is 100% free to retreat families. It is a haven for families to find rest, renewal and to be restored as they go back into the world after a week of being loved on by a volunteer family. It is an absolute privilege to serve these families and an honor to be able to hear their stories. 

Starlite Shores is this amazing place where you walk-in one day, meet volunteers that you don't know and the next day, you're in community. The following day retreat families show up and it's a full out party!  The community that is built in a week is something that can't be manufactured or purchased. It's simply amazing. You have to experience it for yourself to believe it. You will be forever changed. These families are forever part of your family. 
Amazing things happen at Starlite Shores. Things that I can't even put into words. This is the part where you grab those TISSUES!!!  So, I think the best thing for you to do is watch this amazing video about two young ladies; Emma and Annika.  This video shows what happens when two completely different families lives intersect one another and are EMBRACED through a journey of cancer. Grab your tissues and expect to be changed after watching this video. 

The Kala Project did a phenomenal job of telling this beautiful and amazing story of when serving turns into something completely. Remember when I said Starlite Shores builds a community within a week? Emma and Annika's story is definition of community that Starlite Shores builds for a lifetime. 

 A week of rest at camp is nothing compared to the suffering siblings, parents and the child facing cancer deal with on a daily basis. The pokes, chemo, radiation, spinal taps, surgeries, fevers, mouth sores, ER trips, hair loss, missing school, friends, loss of previous relationships and many other challenges are so hard to comprehend if you never walked in their shoes. I know I personally cannot fathom this journey. Not only do they endure all of those challenges, but the  monthly clinic visits, inpatient visits and ER trips are enough to make parents, siblings and relatives feel like the hospital is their second home. They spend a great amount of time at the hospital.
However, I can vouch that Helen Devos Children's Hospital is awesome! They have a fantastic team of doctors, nurses, social workers and a child life team that knows what they are doing. What hospital has (people) super hero's dressed in full out costumes scale from the top of the hospital all the way to the bottom? Amazing! The month of September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month, but let's be honest, it's not a month for these families, it's years! 

If you would like to get involved in Starlite Shores Family Camp, please click the link or if you would like to donate to this amazing organization, directions are also on the website! Thank you for allowing me to share about this awesome organization and about the story of Emma and Annika! 

Q: Do you know what GOLD stands for? 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

No Pain, No Gain?

This past weekend, my training plan called for a 12 mile training run. My alarm went off at 6am, but like any human, I hit the snooze several times, and then eventually dozed off until 10:00 am... Well, we had to be at a wedding around 11AM!!! AHHH!!!

So, I had to ask myself the question that many of us runners ask ourselves on a daily basis "No pain, no gain?" To run or not to run after the wedding? It was the questioning burning in the back of my brain.. I really needed to run and I often ask myself can you achieve greatness without hardship or discipline?  My half marathon can't run the course by its self. You have to put in the mileage to run the race and to run it well.

 As you can tell, the wedding was quite relaxing and peaceful. Who allows a kid to put a Praying Mantis on their head?? This girl!!   So, I could decide great pain or peace for my Saturday.... Would I run or would I embrace the day of love and joy?

I decided NOT to run at all!!!  No long runs.. Will I achieve greatness?? I sure hope so! Will I finish my half-marathon in a month? Yes!  In life to achieve greatness do we need discipline and hardship to get somewhere? I think so. However, the art of REST is also what allows us to go through great hardships coming out strong, feeling more disciplined and ready to move forward.

Q: Is it impossible to attain greatness without considerable hardship? No Pain, No Gain?? What do you think??

Sunday, September 27, 2015

When Your Story Converges

Intersect DVD (Awaken Movement, July 2015)
Follow the journey of five individuals as they tell authentic stories of circumstances that have forced them to examine how God might fit into their lives.
This five-week small group resource helps spark spiritual conversations. Starting spiritual conversations with those outside of the church is a worthy, yet often difficult and intimidating task. Intersect was designed to help overcome those barriers. It is an easy-to-use resource, perfect for sharing with co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family to enter into meaningful conversations.
Each film is accompanied by thought-provoking questions designed to encourage participants to examine the world in which they live and the life they are pursuing, always ending with a conversation on how Jesus intersects the current topic. Allow this powerful new film resource to engage those you are in relationship with and then propel them forward in their next step with Jesus.

My Review:
Starting spiritual conversations can be difficult in this day and age as often people find themselves not wanting to offend others or say the "wrong" thing. However, 'Intersect" begins to start spiritual conversations with our co-workers, doctors, neighbors, dentists, people you meet in the coffee shop or wherever you find yourself talking to people. This DVD series had five short lessons that could be used for a small group. The segments were not very long, but get people engaging in topics on Control, disappointment, rest, expectations and Trust.  I saw five stories of different people and how each person dealt individually dealt with one of these particular topics. This DVD series was  is just starting or asking the questions about faith. If you're looking for a DVD series on something deeper, this isn't the DVD for your group. However, if you're group is beginning out and just starting to ask questions about faith, how can we trust God? How does my story relate to his? This is a perfect small series to do with a group of people. 
Thank you to Kregal Publications for allowing me to review this product. Thank you to Litfuse for providing me this DVD series for review. 

Rob Peabody is the cofounder and international director of Awaken, a nonprofit that exists to resource the church for action. Awaken creates resources that inspire, educate, and equip local churches to live as Kingdom-bringers in their communities. In 2011, Rob and his wife, Medea, along with their two boys left his position as a lead campus pastor at a megachurch in Texas to pioneer and lead a church seeking to engage unreached 20s and 30s in northeast London. He is the author of "Citizen: Your Role in the Alternative Kingdom." Cris Rogers is a writer, pastor, speaker, and church visionary. In 2010, he planted a church in the poorest area of London with a dream for it to be an explosion of joy within the tower block estate in which he works.

The Prince Who was Just Himself

Silke Schnee does something absolutely fantastic in The Prince Who Was Just Himself that makes it a wonderful children's book that gives you goose bumps if you're an adult. The plot is about a royal family looking forward to their third child, Noah. The beauty of this story is that Noah isn't what every is one expects. Instead he is something beautiful. They start to notice that he is different. He is compassionate, he moves at a slower pace, he look at life a little differently than everyone else does and seems to take things in. However, Evil Scarface shows up and Noah saves the Kingdom! 

Prince Noah saves the Kingdom with his kindness and compassion. This book is more than just a book about compassion. It's about a boy who has Down Syndrome and the challenges children face. This sweet story will pull at your heart and will be a complete blessing to you and your family. It is a valuable teaching tool in your home or in the classroom to help aid discussion on Down Syndrome or developmental disabilities. 

Thank you  Plough Publishing for providing me a complimentary
 copy for review. This is my honest review. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Hello, Trader Joe's

Finally, the mitten is catching up with the West and South coast! 
We finally have a Trader Joe's. Many northern folks don't have a clue about this delicious food! It's organic, healthy, reasonably priced, great seasonale items and they have GLUTEN FREE delicious goodies as well! 
Welcome to Grand Rapids, Trader Joe's!!
Notice I was in the bakery aisle? For opening day, it was crowded, but it was just like a normal Saturday at the grocery store, so I wasn't that stressed out.. 
It did start to get crowded as I was leaving because the lunch crew was coming in. Watch out as this store will be busy for the next couple of weeks!

 I only waited in line for 10 minutes, which was nothing compared to when I got there.. Yikes!!
My experience overall was great! They have a variety of food selection, great prices and choices! I do want to see more gluten free items, but I was happy with everything I bought. I wish it was a bit closer with cooler items like meat, but I'll survive.
I give Trader Joe's a thumbs up!! It was a great trip!
Do you notice any theme to my purchases?? 

Happy Friday!!

Q: Have  you ever gone to a store on opening day?? Do you have a Trader Joe's??

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday Inspiration

Another addition of words to inspire! I'm enjoying finding these and reading them every week! I hope you are as well! 

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Question: My favorite was the ten commandments of being a runner! What was yours? 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Shame Stops Here!

As a woman, I can only speak from this perspective, but I can tell you this; I have spent too much precious time and energy worrying about what others think. Let's just start there.......

In the running world, it's easy to do. Let me give you some examples that might sound familiar.
  • If I only registered for {Insert your dream race here} race and acquire that amazing medal.
  • Missed my PR again, I'm a horrible runner.
  • Another failed race, had to drop out mid-race.
  • I'm injured, AGAIN! 
  • My pace is a 11 minute mile, but hers is a 7 minute mile, why do I bother?
  • Yep, I got another 20 POUNDS to lose.
  • Another failed diet.
  • How come they don't make compression socks large enough for my calves?
  • Seriously, how come you don't make those cute tank tops for my size? 
  • The scale is broken, I can't weigh that MUCH!!! 
  • I can only run 4 miles, she runs two half-marathons a month!
  • How come she is a size 5 and I am 14? 
  • She gets sponsored by {Insert favorite running brand}

Do any of these things sound familiar? Can you identify with self- criticism or feelings of inadequacy? If you nodded or even don't want to admit it, please know I'm right there with you, dear sister. Crab a cup of coffee or tea, put your feet up and sit back as we unpack my OLD friend SHAME! 
For a long time, I have strived for perfection in everything I do, but the reality is, perfection is exhausting. Since I was in High-school, I had huge self-esteem issues because I had been basing my self-worth on weight. I was always ashamed of the arm flab, the way clothes fit and I hated looking in the mirror. FORGET IT! 

In college, my weight continued to increase and I continued to hate myself. It's such a sad thing to think about, but I was telling myself such negative statements. I would have never thought about running.. It wasn't in my genes or JEANS... 

Then one fall when I returned to college after running a couple of miles in the summer because my clothes were not fitting, I decided to train for a 5k with my dad. 

When I look back on pictures from this race, I don't even see that person anymore. The outside has changed just as much as the inside. 

Fast forward to marriage:

I married the best person ever. He loved me in High-school when I was going through self-hate, college and he loves me now! We were married for less than 4 months, I started having seizures and than a year later, I was given the diagnosis of Epilepsy. 
      Epilepsy gave me another reason to start shaming myself. It made me believe I did something to deserve it! I criticized myself for a while, tried to find a reason for it, but ultimately, I felt like a failure to everyone around me.

Failure on weight.
Poor Self-Esteem
Seizure Diagnosis

 I decided I was going to beat it and I was going to take the medication, but it wasn't going to define me.. Life can either paralyze you or you can choose to dive right in and pick yourself up. I choose the latter because I wasn't going to let this thing take me out.. So what did I do?? Well, I decided I was going to sign us up for a Marathon... You got it! 
A PWE(Person with Epilepsy)running a marathon!! 

If I get fired up enough or passionate about something, I go full force after something. Running the Walt Disney World 20th Marathon was a huge accomplishment because I never dreamed of running 26.2 miles. However, it wasn't enough. The negative self talk in my brain gave me a list of reasons why I wasn't good enough, especially when having conversations with others it and it kept feeding me a lie "I'm not enough as a runner."
                                   [Not fast]
                                   [You only ran 1 Marathon] 
                                   [ You only have one really cool medal ]
                                   [ You don't belong here]
                                   [ Why didn't I run Goofy?]
                                   [Take yourself home]
                                   [Your story sucks]

Perfection, shame and self-doubt will make you do weird things. It will make you go after more and more, until you hit rock bottom, leaving you broken like shattered glass on the carpet. We ran Dumbo out in California, which was a blast. Eventually, I bottomed out with running due to the criticism of others. I couldn't keep it up because I wasn't ENOUGH. 

I had developed and still have plantar fasciitis severely. 
Physical therapy 
Stretches daily 
Custom Orthotics 
KT Tape 
Rubz Ball
Night Splinters Nightly
Zero Drop Shoes

 I took some time off from running because I was serious about healing, but it lead to major inner healing. About a good year from long runs and just running to enjoy myself, working on speed training, while learning to love myself, which led to serious weight loss. I stopped shaming myself about what I wasn't and learned to love myself for who I was. I discovered someone beautiful on the inside and outside. This year allowed me to drop 40-45 pounds depending on the current week. I went from a 12/10 to a 2/4.

I discovered a woman who is strong, beautiful, kind, generous, loving, worthy of going after any dream. She is not defined by others opinions, negative self-talk, social media standards, the latest fashion, the thoughts of perfection, PR times, jean sizes, miles per week on the pavement, checking off the latest race on her bucket list, best running gear (although I won't turn it down) food cravings, anxiety, instant gratification or the amount of medals earned on wall.

She listened to heart above all other voices and ran ahead where there were no paths. 

Ladies, it's time to start taking the power back! We aren't going to be subjected to the crap of size, PR's, comparison, the amount of medals we have on the wall, the races we sign up for on a monthly basis, the amount of miles we run weekly, scale numbers, the image the mirror reflects, food choices or anything else that makes us feel exhausted. Running is fun, but if I'm being real, I've been shamed and I imagine on some level, you've felt the pressure of being a woman in this world, whether running or otherwise.

                             It's real.
                             It's exhausting.
                             It's time to change.

Women's Running Magazine got it right in their August edition when they featured this beautiful woman on their cover, something I have never seen on any other running magazine before! It was the best cover ever! They now have me as a LIFER. They are promoting change, strong and health. It's not defined by a number, mileage, medals or anything else. As someone who has been shamed by weight and the running community for the poor images I have seen on magazines and other places, I commend them for getting it right! BRAVO! 

Q: Have you ever struggled with feelings of inadequacy, perfectionism or shame? What do you think of this cover??? 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fixing the Runner's Leaky Gut

This post may contain information regarding bodily functions that happen with upset stomachs. 

As a runner, you're always working to improve speed, well with this past month I haven't been working on speed at ALL. In fact, I have been working to increase my long runs. Every single Saturday, I come home practically in tears because I can't get past 6 miles without.. Here comes the warning:   Cramps, Diarrhea and the inability to eat for 3 hours after a run. It's awful. You feel like a complete failure, especially when you're training for a half marathon and you KNOW you're supposed to be WAY farther in your training... 

This caused me to really look at my gut. Our stomachs have a way of telling us if we are eating the right things or if something isn't quite right. I have noticed since going Gluten Free (GF) my digestive system works so much better. When I eat gluten I have pain, discomfort, irregularity, rashes, brain fog and I just feel awful. Health begins in our colon and I knew that if I was going to figure this thing out, I was going to need to experiment  with my stomach, eating differently, watching my hormonal balance and checking to see if I had any, other flare ups with foods. 

Food can either be healing for our bodies or it can straight up ruin the healthy bacteria in our bellies! 
+ I noticed I was taking in more sugar than normal, so I immediately eliminated sugar. I don't eat much of it, but I made sure to get rid of. 
+I also started taking note to the amount of water I was drinking and pledged to drink more.
+ I began managing my seizure medication differently.
+ I made sure I was taking adequate Vitamin C. 
+ I watched my dairy intake and reduced all with the exception of salad dressings.
+ Finally, I watched for Soy and Xatham Gum in GF products, which I don't recommend, but sometimes they get sneaky and stick that garbage in there.. READ LABELS!  


It helped me feel better. It helped my digestive system, but it did not contribute to my success in fixing my LEAKY GUT! Maybe it has contributed to the overall healthy of my gut, but that did not fix it.. 

My FRUSTRATION grew.... 

Honestly, I knew if I couldn't ramp up my mileage, past six miles, I would never make a half marathon distance without needing to hit a bathroom after six miles.. When you're running internationally, you can't figure out where all those stops are going to be... You can't chance it.. So, I was thinking about PULLING out for the first TIME ever... 

When all hope was lost, I facebooked friends, I asked for prayer, I asked for help and then with no answers turned up, I turned to my local running store in desperation.. Knowing my luck, I would get a GUY to talk to talk about this with..... POOR guy.... Wanna hear about my GI ISSUES??? 

Honestly, he was like "we love these kind of questions."  {I'm dying on the inside} He proceeded to ask me a series of questions.. I gave him lots of answers and then he provided me his thoughts..

His solutions:

+ Eat a half of a Cliff bar before running
+ Drink a small cup of water before running.
+ Get up early to run

Saturday's Long Run report:

I bumped my mileage up 3 miles! I felt strong all the way up till 8.5 miles. The theory he and I tossed around was the fact that I was dehydrated to begin and then dehydrating my body out before I even had a shot.. STINK! So, getting up early to run, meant that the sun wasn't out and it wasn't as hot.. Which if that theory is correct, by the time I was at 8.5 miles, it was 11:30 am in the morning. The other theory was that I my stomach needed something in it in the morning before taking shots.. Honestly, I NEVER eat breakfast before running.. In the past it has made me sick, but with going GF, and medication, we tossed that my body 
had changed and might have required something in it......  We also tossed another theory and said no more GU and go with only Nuun for electrolytes... So, all of his ideas, proved to be on POINT! 

Completed 9 miles! BAM!!! Thank you BRENT!! Shout out to Striders for having ROCK STAR employee's!!! 

Q: What has been your hardest running challenge?????? What you overcome???? 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Words to Inspire

Here is another round of inspiring quotes to get you through the middle of your work week! Hope this lifts your spirit and gives you encouragement! Let me know what your favorite quote is!!!

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Remember the feeling

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Running is the greatest metaphor for life

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Peter Snell

Which was your favorite quote today? Happy Wednesday!!! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

15 Confessions for this 15th day of September

On this September 15, 2015, I have 15 recent confessions about life..

I am absolutely dreading colder weather. I love being warm and the idea of another winter in the mitten puts me on edge.

Confession: I tend to have this OCD tendency when it comes to bathrooms and yeah, I just don't enjoy other people's bathrooms... It's a thing..

Image result for germs in bathrooms

Confession: I drink way to much raspberry sweet tea. It's addicting and I can drink the whole bottle in one sitting if I really wanted to, but I have to hold myself back from all the sugar. 

Confession: I love the show Girl Meets World. I downloaded the sound track and I start dancing like a crazy person when the shows main them song starts.. I know, whateve.

Image result for girl meets world

Confession: I'm addicted to Young Living Oils! It's true. They are saving my hormones, my water and my stomach. 

Confession: I thought people who were gluten free were crazy(not literally, just weird) and didn't enjoy food, until.. I started getting sick from food and realized that Gluten and Dairy were contributing to my personal stomach issues. I was suffering from a wheat stomach.. When I eat junk, it makes me feel like a bloated cow the next day. Did I mention it stinks and other things happen too, but I'll spare you the details.  I'm glad I can be GF with all you cool kids now!  This is one of my favorite GF books!
Confession: I miss Disney World. Why are we trying to do the adult thing and save again? I want to go on some fun trips and race around the world of fun again... sigh... 

Confession: I feel like I am the real living Dory. She is my favorite Disney character and I relate a lot to her. My husband says if my head wasn't glued on, we'd be in trouble. It's true, I forget things so much. Does it get better with age? This is hanging on the wall in my bathroom!

Confession: Do you have a favorite type of shampoo? Are you partial to one type or do you like many different kinds? One of my new favorite brands is Not Your Mother's. I love how this shampoo and conditioner makes my hair feel, especially after a long run. This stuff is free from all those harsh chemicals and will make your hair feel lighter. I love it! I highly recommend this brand! 

Confession: I love pumpkin everything. Yes, I am a pumpkin a-cholic! I will try all things pumpkin!  I love the instant Pumpkin Spice Latte mix from Starbucks! It's like having your own Latte immediately bright and early in the morning. I also love the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Spice scent from Bath and Body Works. It just helps me get into the fall spirit. 

Confession: I thing pigs are so cute! I want a pig of my own. Yes, that's right! I want to own my very own little tea-cup pig someday. I think they are darling little things. I don't know when the fascination with pigs began, but it did and I just love them. I collect pigs, but cute ones, not UGLY ones. Some are just downright SCARY! You won't see me with a scary pig!! Nope, nope, nope! 

Confession: I have big faith for a project that I am working on and I hope you will have big faith for me too... 

Confession: When you go to the grocery store do you immediately look at the magazines? Are you easily persuaded at the check out line? I know I am glutton for magazines! I adore them! Please tell me I am not alone in my love for buying magazines and reading them. I have a huge stack and my husband likes to tease me about them. As the holiday seasons approach, my stack will get larger and larger.. I love it!  Do you like magazines??? 

Confession: I'm a total addict when it comes to Big Brother season 17 and I want Johnny Mac to take it for the win! If you haven't watched, I highly recommend.. It is an amazing social experiment. 
Image result for big brother cbs

Confession: I have a huge love for kids. I'm sure you're not shocked there. I love everyone's kids! Kids are so great! Their smiles are the window to heaven on earth. 

Question: What are your confessions?