Monday, September 7, 2015

One Bean of a Team

We have this really funny story about how beans are our new thing on the girls cross country team, but I won't waste the time telling it. You wouldn't think it was funny. It was one of those times that you just had to be there.
But anyways, "Emily Lord is beans!" -Maggie Layer
And that's where it all began. 
If you look at any social media page of one of our runners, it mostly involves running and doing things with other people on the team. You probably think we get sick of each other, but we don't. Not even after camp. We are better than friends, better than family, we are beans. We should be allowed to edit the definition of bean in the dictionary.
Some combination of us are together every day. We get into some of the silliest situations possible, and we don't even know how. There's never a dull moment!  That's what I love about these girls. We have so much fun, and we never have to worry about it being something that can get us in trouble or make us feel guilty. We're always looking out for each other and keeping each other accountable and honest. We can speak the truth to each other without being offended.

I love to do destination runs, so I got up a whole group one evening in July to do a two-a-day to dinner and dessert!  We started and finished at Bonangles, running for 30 minutes wherever we chose. This led to some interesting places...including inside Food City. Don't ask me. That wasn't my group!

We took some silly group selfies before heading out.

After eating a winner of a chicken dinner, we went next door to TCBY for some dessert!  I had a coupon to get 20% off if you come with your team in uniform, so all the girls wore our tye die tanks that we made before camp.
Katlyn and the crew in her car are always jammin, and it spread through the parking lot. I joined the jam and got featured on another girl's snapchat story!
They love my frozen yogurt enthusiasm. It's a special treat, so I make it worth it.

Zails and I love our TCBY.
The girls also find it amusing when I send them a snapchat every time I eat beans. Another thing you would see if you looked at our social media stats, we are all each other's snapchat best friends and some of us have some really long streaks!
Yeah I love my beans as in teammates, but I have also been eating some sort of real bean almost every day. They taste so good, and there are so many varieties!  You can fix beans with basically everything. They are also super healthy. Mom is all for beans, too, considering the protein and iron content. 

Another yearly team thing..the car wash..we dread it and we love it at the same time.  This year I was a little more motivated for it considering the weather was beautiful and I never have to do it again.  We girls always have fun making signs.  This picture was our social media advertisement.
It also helped get me ready to spend most of my day at Advanced Auto thanks to a run with Chantal and Cherie at the park before they left for college the next week followed by a destination run to the car wash with Danny!  We even matched and didn't plan it!
Abby's car wash signs were my favorite.  She's so artistic!
Human car dryers.  At least they were having fun with it!
This isn't beans, but my girls know how amazing my dad's spaghetti is.  Just thought it would be another good thing to share.
Yeah, we ran in that.  It poured, the thunder roared, lightning struck and shook the ground while we were out in the middle of the woods with nowhere to go.  Katlyn, Maggie, Jessica, and I screamed and sprinted at a couple of those instances as adreneline pushed us to run for our lives.   It was quite a run.  Just another crazy thing for most that we consider normal.
This is Julia, one of the freshman on our team this year!  We share a lot of the same loves, like ice cream, barbeque, Sub Debs, the lake, beach, farms, goats, cows, etc.  I drive her to practice about every day, too!  One day, we spent all evening running (literally) back and forth across town!  It started out from school to practice, Buddy's BBQ for dinner, TCBY for dessert, then finally to a friend's house for a sub deb meeting! 
My obsession with color coordination strikes again.
We call this "Double Trouble." 
Two girls, two plates each. 
This year I have become especially close to one of my other seniors and captains, Emily.  We share so many of the same things in life, it is crazy!  We each have our unique struggles, but we relate so much, you know God gave us each other.  We even have almost the exact same class schedule this semester, too.  Both first periods are dual-enrollment, second period peer tutoring an Algebra II class, then we are in the same finite math class with Mr. Hayes, lunch, then yearbook, and obviously cross country.  We also have lots of doctor's appointments and health issues and frustrations, but are on the track to being beastly beans this season!  Most importantly, we share the same God to get us through it all.
The annual Waterville run and picnic was the best one for my senior year!  A huge group of girls came, and we had a blast.
God sent me Ecclesiastes 7:8 the morning of the picnic to remind me that even when these long days come, this is where I am, and this is where He wants me to be.  "The end of a matter is better than the beginning, and patience is better than pride."  Like the tiny inchworm, who takes such small scrunches, we have to make the most of every step to live the life God has called us to.  When we make the focus on finding joy in the journey and in Jesus, we don't even have to focus on finding it; it just comes.
When you have to sign papers in front of an official, but you're in the middle of the mountains, your head becomes a table.
This is a real table, not my head!
Guess what!  We ate beans together this day. We're pretty good at cramming way too many people at one table.
Totally different kind of bean than what we usually refer to, but hey it's a bean!  Lots of the girls love jelly beans. I don't, but I do love pancakes and maple syrup, so this photo was taken in honor of my beans. 
Another thing a couple of us decided to do at camp was create a club.  It's a fun club.  I'm the secretary, so I created our Twitter page.  Feel free to follow for lots of f's including but not limited to:  faith, fun, food, fitness, farts, fails, fruit, and more!
Somehow, this picture from freshman year came to my mind last night when I woke up around 3:00 to go to the bathroom.  
Great things come to me when I sleep.
Little did Emily and I know that these snapchats would come back to be so relevant.  Check out the top right.
 We also like to make puns.  We like having Emily and Jessica with us so we can always say we have the Lord/s with us.  He/They is/are also good, and provide.  Like on this day, poor Katlyn, the walking struggle, had no hairband, but Jessica came to the resuce.
 If you didn't hear about our crazy weekend of the Eye Opener meet, shew you missed it.  We're blessed to be alive.  Basically everything that could've gone wrong did, and we still came out with a 2nd place finish at the race!  Even in the middle of so many stressful things happening, we still sat in Olive Garden for dinner at 8-9 pm laughing until we couldn't breathe and were in tears.
 Emily and Elizabeth are dessert buddies, and now it is pumpkin cheesecake time at the OG!
Megan put this lovely photo of me on her snapchat story.
Oh, there were lots of beans in the minestrone soup.
 Table squads 1 and 2.
 This is our pinata James Marshall Marie.
 After being in an interstate accident, late dinner, lost to the hotel, losing a kid, waking up late, the hotel not having breakfast, getting to the course with 40 minutes before the race, we came out with some hardware.  However, we couldn't have done it without the grace, protection, and provision of the Lord.  We all seemed to have a bit of peace in the midst of it all.  These things were totally out of our control, so they were totally in God's control.  Being there and being strong is our testimony.

 "A friend loves at all times, and a sister was born for adversity."  Proverbs 17:17

The Light at the Lookout

I wanted to "do something" this summer, so at the end of July I got a group of people together to invite any and everyone in the community to come out to Panther Creek Park one morning for a devotion time and bringing items for Food on Foot, a great organization here in East Tennessee that collects and distributes care packages and items to needy kids in the area.  This was the choice for where I wanted to focus some help going into this school year because as my mom works in an elementary school, she knows some home stories and kids who will just melt your heart.  There is such great need for food, faith, love, and simple care right here in Morristown.  Food on Foot is always welcoming donations and volunteers.
This is the logo for the flyer that I got my friend Abby Mitchell to draw!
This was a post from my instagram, showing some of the items that were ideas to donate and the verse that is like a theme verse, Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world...let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
The goal:  Let God's light shine through us into our community
Below is the beautiful view for where we met!
Now I'll go through some points and scriptures from my "message" if you want to hear what it was all about!
This world is full of darkness...sickness, hurting, sadness, murder, stealing, lying, cheating, disrespect, etc, and it makes me so disappointed to see so many lost and struggling people out there, so I want to do something about it!  I know it can be difficult and scary, but together we have others to back each other up.  We can not only keep each other going, but hopefully encourage others by example to get going, too.  I think that John 3:19-21 kind of sum this up.  "This is the verdict:  Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."  In general, the world has turned from the light and doesn't want to admit doing wrong.  God's children are to live full of Christ so that the world sees how great He is through what we do and how we live.
Analogy of God's light to actual light:  sunlight makes things grow, is warm, healthy and refreshing to our bodies.  Same with God!  He helps us grow in faith and character, warms our hearts, and can heal and refresh our body and soul.  Lights are also usually focal points of something, and God should also be the focus of a Christian's life.  Light helps us see things just like God's light helps us ee things like sin, hope, opportunities, reasons that things happen, and purpose for life.
Light overpowers darkness.  Consider a dark room, any size, even an entire gym or stadium.  Not matter how much darkness fills that room, if you light a single candle, it will be seen.  Not amount of darkness can put out a light.
In the world but not of the world is a simple, yet accurate saying about how Christians are called to live.  In John 8:12 Jesus said, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."  Later in 1 John 1:5, John writes along the same lines, "This is the message we have heard and declare to you:  God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all."  Yes, we physically live in a dark world, but spiritually we can always have an eternal glow.
Be bold in actions!  You have God to protect you.  "The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear?"  Psalm 27:1
He will give us anything we need to serve Him.  "Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord."  Psalm 89:15
We all screw up sometimes.  No matter how bad or how many times someone goes astray, God has the power to bring them back.  We're all sinners, but there's always the invitation to turn to Christ.  "But you are a chosen people, a holy priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light."   (1 Peter 2:9)  Once we realize this salvation, we can tell others about how they can posses it, too!  You don't have to be anything special.  "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2)."
God can change anyone.  Consider David.  God called him "a man after My own heart."  David, such an influential man in the Bible, committed adultry with a woman named Bathsheba adn had her husband sent to battle to be killed!  Yet, God still still loved him and chose his family to be Jesus's family years later.  In thanking God for His mercy, Dad said "You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29)."
Though we can't actually see and converse with God, His Word is the guide and light for our lives"The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.  the commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes."  Psalm 19:8
"The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple."  Psalm 119:130
"For these commands are a lamp, this teaching a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life."  Proverbs 6:23
There can always be more to life.  There is always more that we can learn.  God is willing and wanting to show us these things if we are willing to listen.  "For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."  2 Corinthians 4:6  By gaining more of said knowledge of Christ, anybody can change his or her life.  "For You have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life."  Psalm 56:13
Summing up 3 great things that come with life in the light"If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin."  1 John 1:7  We get to have a relationship with God, fellowship with other believers, and salvation from our sins.
It doesn't stop there!  It doesn't end when we get it in our own hearts.  Each of us had to hear about it some way or another, whether at church, school, home, a friend, cookout, the radio...somewhere!  We have to follow the words of the little kid song, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!"  It may keep our souls content, but there are countless people out there looking for something to satisfy them, but they just can't find it.
When good things happen, we love to share about it, right?  Like when you have a good hair day, it must go on your snapchat story.  Or you have this amazing boyfriend, so you have to post a picture of him on Instagram every Monday.  (I'm not insulting you if you have done this; those were just the first examples that came to mind!)  But really, your hair is going to get messed up, and your boyfriend will make you mad, and in most cases, you won't end up marrying him anyways.  That's life, but you're still going to talk about it.  Well guess what.  God is good, and He will never let you down, so why not share that with others, too?  When we're filled with the Lord, it makes the good times that much better.  And for someone who crosses your path who may not have anything going for them, the smallest word or action could make his or her day.  Sometimes we don't even have to say anything.  When we let Christ's light shine through our lives, people will see it.  There are opportunities to shine wherever we go.  "You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden...In the same way, let your light shine before men so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5:14, 16  We don't have to do something big, give a lot of money, or go far away to make a difference.  Right where we are is a great place to start.
This is why I chose Food on Foot as a little project to get myself and those around me involved in.  I want to start this year off service-oriented.  This is also close to my heart, as my mom works in the school system and sees these kids and hears their stories daily.  If you only knew some of their backgrounds, it would break your heart.  Just some things to think about:  We may complain about school food, but some kids live for lunchtime because that's the only meal they'll get for the day.  We may get mad if we have to walk through the grass across the school yard and our shoes get wet or dirty, but at least that's not the only pair we own.  We might have homework some or even every night, but some kids wish they only had pencils and paper at home so they could at least try to do it.  You never know what someone else may be going home to.  Or not going home at all.  We all have opportunities to be a bright spot in someone's day, whether by words, actions, or just the way we live in general.  One final, simple thing we can all do anytime and anyplace is pray.