Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sleep[LESS] [SUN]day


More sun, less sleep is how the entire vacation ended up going, but this was just the beginning. To have gotten the least sleep in a long time after a fun and late night out shopping, I surprisingly felt good on this run! We went out and back for the whole thing, a little farther toward downtown than we ever have. It was fun for me to get to see more and different hotels and shops! I didn't know that there were two places down Ocean Blvd so close to us that have a Starbucks and Ben & Jerry's right next to each other. I wanted to bike there one night, but that is still on my beach list for next year.

The little things make me so happy, including color coordination. I was so excited about this outfit, Mom knew she was going to have to take my picture before I even asked. Sometimes I feel dumb for asking her to take so many pictures, but it's a little thing that makes me happy. This bathing suit is pretty new; I've only worn it a couple times at the end of last summer, a new pair of sunglasses Mom got me for Easter (sporty, but cute with pink lenses), and a new Simply Southern visor! The bow on it even matches the color of my headband and a stripe of my suit. To complete the "head-to-toe," my toenails are pink! Oh, and the coffee cup has a pink lid and pink beach chair.
Oh shoot. I have been meaning to shorten these up, so I can catch up and do the ones for now...

 New cereal! Found on sale in the pharmacy section at Walgreens! Protein Apple Cinnamon. Tastes just like the Apple Cinnamon Cheerios but has a lot of protein added in! It's also National Egg Day, which I celebrate basically every day. My drink of the day was a new one that I saw in the cooler at Starbucks: Teavana meyer lemon with lime peel and lemongrass. I also got a super cute straw in there with pineapple pictures and candy on it! That made up for the unsweetened and added even more flavor (and coordination with my new drink hugger). Another picture today was inspired by Happiness Is.

Would ya look at these comics? They were right next to each other and convey total opposite meanings when you think about it. It was not intended and both were just for humor (I mean, it is the comics), but that's one thing I love about the funnies section. They do make me laugh, but they also make me think. One here is about family and enjoying a great breakfast, noting its importance to each day, while the other points out that not giving yourself enough to eat is frustrating and does not help you go faster! Like Coach Farmer always told me in high school, you can't run on an empty tank! This kind of stuff is seeping into every media outlet now, but it is good. Our culture has ruined us. Another reason that I hope in Jesus and that one day He will come and relieve us of all the pressure of the world. We can' t totally help the influences around us, but we can fix our eyes and hearts on His truth to help ease the struggles.

Building off of tying Jesus into this, today's Bible study was another thing I am finishing up before starting something new. (I have a bad habit of starting lots of things then not finishing them then getting overwhelmed by having too much going on.) This little devotion book is called NOW: Impacting Your World for Christ Right Now. It was pretty elementary, but it is good to get down to the basics sometimes. That's where we find our salvation and everything else in life to build off of.
I was a little over halfway through, so I picked up on a chapter about changes God brings to our lives. I'm not good with change, so it was fitting. The book began with discussing who we are in Christ and that He has a plan for us. It is important that we have a vision for what we see as God's will for us so that we can have a goal to focus on throughout our days. While our vision may be God-inspired, He may still change it. Personal example, my vision in life all through high school was to be a top runner in the state and region and use that platform to show the love and power and joy of Christ to all those who watch me. It happened! I had some great opportunities to share my faith in interviews online and in newspapers and magazines both small and large-scale; I met hundreds of fellow runners and their families. I impacted people who simply saw me and knew there was something different in me. However, as each season started so well, I fell off and never met the expectations that I set myself up for. That wasn't my plan. But through it all, God still had a plan. I could still share His goodness and strength in my shortcomings and weaknesses. Beyond high school, I had a new vision to go into college running and be a leader on my team and competitive in races, but that vision changed the moment I got on campus. But now, I look back and see that my vision was hindered because God knows everything behind the scenes and in others' hearts and minds that I cannot see. While I thought Lipscomb was the perfect place for me to grow in and share my faith and excel in life, God could see things going on there that were not right for me. Yes, my faith grew so much, but in a totally different way than I had pictured. But when I see it now, I really know God was caring for me every step of the way.
I love to make plans. That's one of the key qualities of me. I love to plan, organize, create, invite, share; I find joy in doing. I like to know what's going on. But do I ever really know what's going on? NO. Over the past two years, I have learned so much about letting go of control of my circumstances. It is a struggle because it is part of who I am, but I am much more at peace with uncertainty. The fast pace and sad state of the world leaves me disappointed and longing for something to trust, but that is where I turn to God. It is very freeing, actually. All I have to worry about is the things I know and can do, and I can trust that God is in control of everything, so it is all the way it is supposed to be. Good thing I'm not in control because I would mess it up! 
James 4:13-15 is an awesome passage on this topic. "...You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life...instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'" 
Being too absorbed in my own plans keeps me from being open to the thins that God brings to me. 
While we cannot help most of the change that happens to us, we can control our response. And that is what matters.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Shutting it Down Saturday


Saturday, June 2nd
Second day and going strong! I got up a little earlier, and we went all day long! The run was good, but the wind was strong, slowing Mom and me both down some.

PS, Mom is now addicted to Starbucks Triple Mocha Frappuccino. So if you want to get her anything, this would be the winner. You could also call this a "hack" I guess, not to be trendy, I hate that, but she would get them in the morning and freeze them until afternoon! When I went up to get some food from the room I would bring it down and it was like eating ice cream! For my afternoon treats, I tried lots of new drinks I had bought over time. I need to hydrate, especially running and tanning in the heat and humidity all day every day, so flavor helps me! Today was a Neuro.

My Bible Study for today was tying up some loose ends of an old daily devotion and a Daniel Plan that I had gotten in my email. The last day of the month was the best one and so encouraging to my place in life.
"Keep Improving"
"No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:27.
Not that I haven't heard and read this verse many times, but it means something different in different situations. That's why you can never get enough of the Bible, because God is always at work.
I admit that I am way too hard on myself both physically and mentally. But why do I push myself so hard? Rather than get caught up in the moment, I need to think about the future. Will this small mistake I made (that no one even notices but myself) matter tomorrow? I might spend "5 more minutes" on something, then "5 more" and so on because it's never good enough, but who cares!? I could be missing things or draining energy and motivation for things that God has in store for me here and in the future. If I wear myself out being a perfectionist, I won't have the focus or energy to give to other works, family, friends, and fun. I have a difficult time doing what I need to do now so I can do what I want to do later, but that is something God is teaching me to discipline myself in.

Second was a Daniel Plan devotion titled "Real Life" with the verse in John 10:10 where Jesus says that He has come so that we can have full life. LIFE is found in Him, not in my daily pursuits. I find that when I struggle emotionally, I have gotten caught up in trying to do more than be satisfied in what Jesus has already done. Even before we left for vacation, I had a hard time thinking things like, "What if it rains? What if I can't run as much as I want? What if we don't get to go shop here or there?" I had to remind myself that my joy does not depend on this beach trip. It will be over and done before I can feel like I've been there. Then we will be back home. That was a depressing thought. Not getting to go to the beach last year has made this a huge anticipation in my mom's and my mind, but it is just a thing that will come and go. I will always have Jesus. He has an ongoing plan for my life, and everything else is just details!

For the day on the beach, I read some comics and a part of a book and some word searches. It was a great day on the beach, and by the time we got to the big Coastal Grand Mall and sat for dinner, we were much quieter than we had been. We laughed at ourselves being so tired! We also joke about how "fancy" we eat at the beach; we use gift cards from over the year, and we go cheap! But that's how we enjoy it. We enjoy the beach and simply being there, so we don't have to spend so much money eating out at the places like Margaritaville. Tonight was Chick-fil-a! We hadn't been there in a long time, and it was very satisfying.
Mom and I split up to shop since the mall closed at 9, so that way we could do more faster. I looked around more than I bought (which is kind of a good thing!), but I did get some good stuff at GNC! I had a rebate for Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites, which look really good, so I got a few flavors as well as a carrot cake No Cow Bar. (PS, if you are interested in the rebate app I use, I can send you my referral link so we can both get extra points! I love it and currently have around $100 stored up) I also had an American Eagle giftcard from a return from my birthday I think, and I have not been able to get rid of it! I am highly disappointed in the quality of clothes over time. Prices go up, and quality goes down. Not just quality, but also coverage. Why should I pay so much money for clothes that look like they came out of the trash, are paper thin and/or have holes, paint splatter, whatever!? They're ugly. I could go on, but I'll stop. Finally I found some jeggings on the clearance rack to take care of one of the items on my "wish list" and a decent and cute shirt also on sale at Aerie! Before we knew it, the doors were starting to close all around us, and we had to head out. I can't believe how time flies. I used to think we shopped for hours and would run out of places to look. Well, tonight we shut the place down, literally!

On the way out, we heard some thunder and saw lightning off in the distance, but little did we know of the rain that was coming! I got drenched in the parking lot, even though I only had to walk two steps from under the awning... In the hotel, I had seen a brochure paper for a new ice cream and candy shop that was between the mall and the hotel, so Mom took me by! I got some great chocolates from the do-it-yourself section and tried lots of new flavors! For the chocolates, I got dark chocolate covered pretzels, espresso beans, and pomegranates, chocolate coconut almonds! I love the places that aren't so generic. These flavors I got were banana pudding, salted caramel cheesecake, rum raisin, maple nut, white chocolate raspberry truffle, heath yogurt, and peanut butter pretzel! Their to-go containers were so good! The styrofoam kept it cold already, but when I got back to the hotel and opened it, there were Yeti brand paper things on top! All that goodness and care for packaging, and it still wasn't expensive.

Friday, June 8, 2018

National Donut Day and Again with Dad!


Great discovery that I've had in the past year: I love warm, moist, decorative doughnuts. (Yes, that is also how it is spelled.) Myrtle Beach also has a Krispy Kreme and a Peace, Love, and Little Donuts that I would love to try, but they are farther away, so I'll have to find another time for that.

There were several options around to get free donuts on National Donut Day, but there is a Dunkin just 4 blocks from our hotel, so that is where I went! It was such a simple little thing, but there is something about riding a bike that is so refreshing for me. In a 1 mile, 6 or so minute ride, I had so much fun! I put on a new top from VS Pink and new donut headband from Sweatybands and rode to DD! Adventure activities like this are my favorite.

The donut I got was the "Royal" one, limited time for the royal wedding. It was jelly-filled with chocolate and strawberry icing. Delicious!

Another little thing that made me happy inside was my new-ish (got it in the fall, have maybe worn it once) pineapple shirt! It was my goal to get a picture wearing it with a real pineapple. Two missions accomplished in one day!

Later that night, Mom and I ate dinner at Cracker Barrel with a giftcard she had, so basically for free. We love their fish! Since we were at the beach, I couldn't pass up an opportunity for fish anyways.

After dinner, we went to Marshall's and shopped around way longer than we thought! I got myself some shorts and a couple presents for Father's Day. The last stop was Mom's favorite ice cream spot, Cold Stone. This cup was new flavors for me: mint, chocolate caramel, and peanut butter cookie batter. Cold Stone has all plain flavors with a lot of mix in options, so you can make any creation right there on the spot! I was taking it to go, so I mixed stuff in at the hotel. Day 1 was a success for sure!

For Dad's first day with us, we decided to stay in for dinner to give us all more time on the beach and be ready for the next game of the NBA finals at 8. We usually go out to Ultimate California Pizza at Barefoot Landing one night, but it takes a while. However, they also deliver, so I had the idea that we order it for one of the nights we stay in. After Dad had spent so much time sitting in the car driving here (although he drives pretty fast to get here), he felt the need to loosen up, and I had the craving for some more donuts! Solution! Bike to Dunkin! This was not only a solution for both of us, but it was also a fun way to spend a little time together and pass the time waiting on the dinner delivery. When I was younger, we used to do Dunkin runs/bikes/trips more often, leaving from my house and finishing at DD. Then Mom or someone would come pick us up. While it only took about 3-5 minutes to get there, it was still fun. I got some jelly-filled munchkins this time since they didn't have the chocolate strawberry ones anymore. Dad got a cookie and a brownie.

 After we got back, I showered and finished up just as the delivery guy got to the door! Mom and Dad split a pizza and I got some mango habanero wings! Mom is addicted to Little Caesar's at home, but she admits that Ultimate California is way better. I also agree. I like getting to make my own pizza there, but tonight I went for wings! They were also the best of any place I've ordered wings. What made it even better was that I could get them boneless. Less mess, more meat. We enjoyed our dinner while watching Big Bang Theory, then we had our dessert during the game. Warriors are heading for a sweep! (At least we hope).

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

First Day at the Beach!


I just can't express how good it feels to finally be at the beach! It's been around two years, and it's been the roughest two years of our lives. We have needed this more than anyone can know!

Mom and I headed out the door just after 8 to bike and run. She used to follow in the Yukon, but that only lasted a few times several years ago. I knew it wasn't a good idea, but she had to try. Now she bikes alongside me, and she loves it. I love it for her. It makes me so happy to see her getting to spend time outside and exercising and enjoying the beach even more. This year is a bit harder for her because she is having some major arm issues and is having surgery after we get home, but she is a trooper and enjoying the ride for both of us. On this route we get to see a little bit of hotels, but then go back into the Dunes Club and see some nice houses and part of the golf club. Out and back twice today.

I was excited to try a new breakfast after this run, and it was one of the best I have done! I wish I could do it again, but I only had one sweet potato left at home to bring so it wouldn't go bad. This breakfast bowl was sweet potato, cinnamon pops, dried kiwi, honey, egg, almond, and cashew milk.

Mom and I got to sit and talk for a while, just having a great time relaxing and laughing! I read a little and did some Bible study before making a smoothie for lunch. What is the beach without a couple smoothies? This series of devotions was titled "Don't be a Sluggard." Now, I know most people would say that this is irrelevant for me; I'm always going-going-going and working hard. In a way, this is true. But at the same time, I go so much sometimes that I don't have energy or focus to do fun/social/other things. These things are hugely important to the life of a believer! God wants us to have energy, fellowship, and opportunities to connect with others and share life with them. He wants us to have a full life, not just a life full of busy-ness. When I have too much on my plate, I get tired, and yes, lazy. I don't do simple things like clean my room or go to some kind of social or youth group thing just because I'm tired and want to sit at home. This is selfish in a way, and I can be lazy just like anyone else. When I fill my days with work of various sorts, I get lazy with other things. I also tend to put off change. That's laziness, too. I have good intentions to do new things, but I always put it off until "later" or "tomorrow." Then it's always too late or not a good time. When God calls us to action, He wants us to act! When I am sluggish in my responsibilities, it impacts others. When I leave a mess at home, it is harder on Mom. If I don't bring over the bag of flour and fill the containers when I have a slow morning at work, it makes it harder on the next shift. When I stay at home rather than go to the park with some kids from church, I could be missing out on the fun and fellowship and encounters to share Christ. Sluggishness shows up in more ways than you think! Even the most hard-core of us have our own ways of being lazy. I admit it. What is it for you?

Another thing that I have been trying to do is use things that I've bought and to do things for myself! I don't like to do things alone or just for my benefit. But as this trip is going along, I am really enjoying it. A couple of those things I already got started on today: used some new dry shampoo--the bottle and name and smell all just make me so happy (Plump For Joy); wore my hair in a bun and tied a ribbon in it; used my Ben & Jerry's glass. These are such small things, but they make a big difference!
6-1 is National Nail Polish Day! And National Donut Day, much more well-known.
More on this to come!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Working my Way into Vacation


A day delayed but still passed just as quickly, it is finally the day to leave for the beach! Technically it will be around 3 a.m. tomorrow, but I consider that today. It's a long day ahead, but I know that it will pass quickly...hopefully not too quickly because I still have a lot I need to do!

The run wasn't too bad; I was so thankful for good weather yet again! It was super humid, and rain came hard later in the day. It also really helped me through the run knowing that vacation was up next! I told myself that I wouldn't have to run those hills for two more weeks, but then that was maybe not such a good thing...coming back to them would be just as killer.

I spent basically all day packing. I was a busy bee for sure. No nap, no Bible study, no laptop, just packing and cooking. I made myself breakfast, lunch, and dinner all at once so I knew I had everything done to sustain me into the closing shift at work. I could stay up later and pack if I needed to, but thankfully, I got it all done beforehand!

Work wasn't too busy as it was a week night, but it was still a pretty good flow. The shifts before me were not as OCD as I am about working through a mess and cleaning later, so I walked into a mess and spent most of my shift cleaning rather than baking.'s easier on you and everyone else if you are careful with food/drinks/ingredients and clean as you go...also, oil makes a mess. It doesn't mix with water. It is not easily cleaned. It makes everything slick. The longer dirty dishes sit uncleaned, the harder it is to get stuff off of them. If you leave batter on the outside of cups and squirters, gelato on scooper handles, it then gets on your hands and therefore on everything you touch thereafter...I digress.

Once back home, I ate some leftover poppyseed chicken casserole before getting ready for bed. That was short-lived. Bed around 12:45, awake again to go to the bathroom at 2:15, then didn't get to sleep too much longer before having to get up again to load the car. Sweet Dad was awake with us; he and Phoebe wished us farewell as we pulled out of the garage around 4 a.m. Needless to say I didn't sleep too well  or too much on the ride, but we ran into a traffic jam when a semi-truck had caught on fire somewhere between our Spartanburg bathroom break and our Camden breakfast stop (both McDonald's that we dare not go anywhere else...creature of habit). I had a blanket, pillow, and stuffed animal to cover me and support my head, substituting for the comfort of my bed and darkness of my room. I was half-sleeping, often woken up by Mom's huffing and puffing at other drivers and the occasional (yet restrained-volumed) road rage. I also appreciated her playing KLove instead of classic rock, even though she previously said she needed something to keep her more awake. You will see later in the week just how much this woman does for me.

At the McDonald's/gas station we go to for breakfast, I have started choosing to treat myself to a gas station coffee instead of McD because I can get much better flavors! And how often do I do that!? Maybe a couple times a year when we are traveling. Gas stations are always so temping for me to buy all the snacks!

Cool Bible study connection from the ride over! One of the daily devotions I read was on the same topic that we had just done in Sunday School the weekend before. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord.” This can give us great peace when we accept that there are things that we simply do not have the answers to. No matter how hard we try, there are things we will never understand, at least not on our time and efforts. God knows all the ins and outs of everything, and He keeps it that way. When He wants to reveal something to us, He will. We don’t have to worry in uncertainty but can have peace because He is in control. Personally, I am glad that I don’t have insight into everything. I screw things up often enough with what I do have responsibility in, so it is good that there are things God has such control over!

When we got to the hotel around 1 p.m., we walked into an entirely remodeled lobby! Unfortunately, the weather wasn't great, but it was much better than if we had come the day before! We sat on the beach for just a little bit then went back upstairs to finish unpacking and get ready to go out for dinner and groceries.

Fuddrucker's! I am not a burger person, but I will eat the one's at Fudd's. I especially like the buffalo burger. It's more expensive, but bison meat is so tasty and lean, and it is something I rarely to never get. It is the highest-iron meat, too, and I really need that. To make it better, they also have really good wheat buns and the Fudd-famous topping and sauce bar. I can load that sucker up with whatever and how much I want.

Ever since I was little, I loved going to Walmart that first night to get all the snacks and essential items for the week. It is just more anticipation for the big trip in the coming days. I was also excited to try some new foods and products that I got there. (To be featured soon, including but not limited to: Breyer's 2-in-1 ice cream blasts, Not Your Mother's Plumpfor Joy dry shampoo, and the best coconut conditioner on planet earth.)

We ended the day in my favorite beach way: dessert and watching NBA! Sadly, it is the finals already, but our evenings will usually be filled with things to do whether or not there is a game on. The past couple beach trips, Mom and I have had a fun time at night with a sweet treat and NBA or Big Bang Theory.
Unfortunately, this was also the beginning of even later nights…I guess I am a teenager/young adult in more ways than I thought.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Third Time's the Charm


Third Time's the Charm
9:10 AM on Tuesday, May 29th

This morning did not start off too well...I was late getting started to head to the old house to run, but then I realized I forgot my watch (which I had also done a day a couple weeks before). It was also raining. The weather forecast was wrong, as usual, but I don't like running in the rain. (At least it wasn't cold, I told myself) I hadn't gotten too far, so I turned around and ran upstairs and back out. Then after making it a little farther down the road, my windshield wiper flew off. Why? I don't know; it wasn't even raining hard. They were brand new wipers! Just a couple weeks old! So there I was, still driving down the road, called Mom to ask her what to do, and she told me to come back home because I can't be driving around in the rain with no windshield wipers (but I thought later now a legit reason to say that I couldn't go into work at moment's notice). Frustrated with circumstances but pleasantly surprised by Mom's encouragement, I headed out the door for a third time. This time I ran and made it the whole way with no disasters. The rain wasn't even bothersome.

Following this run, I was most excited to try a new egg scramble that I thought up. For some reason, I've been craving avocado lately. I didn't even like avocado until like two weeks ago. I think it's my mind and body trying to tell me something. So this bowl was scrambled egg (which I do in the microwave--so fluffy and fast!), avocado, and onion. And coffee, always (unless it's tea). "Life is crazy good" even though today life started out just crazy. I'm thankful to have been safe, healthy, and able to run.

After taking one last day to do a deep conditioner and face mask, I worked on some clean up and packing tasks around the house then laid down for a nap. When I'm having a hard time, this is something that I have come to cherish to get me through a day. My sleep has not been acceptable the past few months, so I'm trying to make up for it where I can. It was a great nap, too.

Lesson learned, I can get blood drawn and shots no problem, but stick something through my ear, and it tears me up. I'm personally fine with it; there is just something about the afterthought of there being a hole punched through my cartilage that makes me sick when something goes wrong. Long story short, I tried to change my stud to a hoop, and it was a curved post that I could not get in the right angle. I finally did, but then I couldn't latch the back, asked for Mom's help, and that was even worse than just trying to get it through my ear. I almost passed out/threw up twice and ended up leaving it until the next day not even latched in the back.

Next up was another new wonderful waffle! I really like carrot cake, and I discovered that using leftover canned carrots from previous dinners is one of the tastiest things...I've started using it in both oatmeal and waffles! I'm also in that point before vacation where you throw together random leftovers, so in this batter was also some peas, white beans, and pineapple juice. For the carrot cake affect the batter also had almonds and raisins, which is more normal. The topping was peas, carrots, honey, juice, and maple peanut butter.

Another habit that we have gotten into is eating dinner really late. So this night Mom and I actually sat down around 7! That was early! So I took a break between dinner and dessert to do my devotion for the day.
I have all kinds of Bible study things I would love to get to, but I have come to really believe in quality over quantity. Some days I may only get through a few verses or one small page in a devotional, but it can still speak to my heart more than much lengthier things sometimes. All it takes is a little work of the Spirit. The last in a series of 4 about seeking to glorify God, this was focused on trials. In Philippians 1:29, we are told to remember that with believing in Him includes suffering for Him. But we can find peace when we suffer in living for Christ because then we are doing something right. If life was easy in this world, if the world accepted us, we would not be living the life Christ has called us to. What really stood out to me here was the direction of prayers. It is natural to want to pray for relief from a circumstance (even Jesus asked if the Father could save the world any other way), but the way we should turn our hearts is to change our attitude. The challenges we face are great opportunities to grow personally and to share with others. “Tests lead to testimony.” I can surely attest to that. No, I don’t like all the things I have been through, but I am thankful for them. I may have failed, but I have received grace, mercy, and strength to come back and be able to try again, and more importantly, to share the encouragement that I have received with others.

Speaking of encouragement...Beth Moore is a good one, and I am glad to see that she seems to support the Warriors! GSW FTW.

And it was national paperclip day. Small, but so handy! Papers, picking out things, poking things, unlocking doors...