Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Blessed with the Best


My friends are amazing.  They know me so well; it shocks me sometimes.

One of my favorite cross country races ever since middle school is Trailblazer in mid-October. It is also where the high school region meet for us is, so I got to race there twice each season!  It is a really fun course (in my opinion), but it's tough. You literally start at the lowest possible point and finish at the highest possible. At Daniel Boone High School, they have a big area in the back dedicated to their agriculture classes where they have all kinds of cows, donkeys, and goats!  I love to run past them. Farm animals are my favorite.
I've made it tradition now to always go back there after the race and pet on them and take pictures. This year I had several friends go with me!

Katlyn also wanted to be in a selfie with the donkey. 

They're so pretty.
Now how many friends would do this?
I've started a trend!  I'm curious to see if this time next year I'll be receiving texts and snapchats of farm animal pictures from the girls who are still in high school. 

I'm so thankful to have friends who know my weird favorite things, but totally accept it.
A pumpkin pinata.  I could totally make this right up my alley with some custom fillings...marshmallows and dark chocolate maybe?  Fruit?  Popcorn?
Abbey also had a fun day with me on my birthday!  We went to the heritage festival at Panther Creek, where they had all sorts of autumn and local activities.
She also got me a Chick-fil-a giftcard!  A wonderful surprise that will be put to good use.
Sometimes I do some crazy things. But I'm glad I have friends to go along with me. Abbey wasn't sure about this, but I had my heart set on roasting marshmallows. When we got there, they were all out of marshmallows. Considering we were in a campground, I thought surely someone in there had some marshmallows!  So I led us around asking people at their campfires if they had marshmallows, and we found some who were happy to help us!  They even had some of my favorite dogs, so I got to let them--even more than I had expected--marshmallows and puppies!
What is fall without at least one campfire and roasting session?
These were also the biggest marshmallows that I'd seen in my life.

Now this is an awesome friend. Not only did she give up her Saturday to go to the park with me, but she also came to visit my grandmother who has a birthday the day before me!  
BUT--that's not all!
She even goes to visit her on her own like she is family. That's such a special blessing to Granannie. I'm so thankful for Abbey's heart for others.
Mom gives me good gifts too!  She got me not one, but a whole set of Snoopy Christmas mugs for my birthday so that I can share them with my friends who come over during the winter!
She also got me this cute new shirt!
Abby and I have been buddies ever since we were in Wee School together at First Baptist. In 5th grade that's where my family started going to church, and the two of use have grown closer ever since!  What's even cooler is that we share a birthday!  So we're nt just sisters in Christ, we're almost like real sisters!  I'm blessed to have her there to pray for and encourage me through all that life throws.
Grace, I'm glad you think I'm so blazing.  That is a great adjective.  This tweet made me giggle.
Caroline, I'm glad that I got to be a senior for you as a freshman on the team!  Unfortunately, this was our only year together, but you are definitely in the family.

My Mighty Mite.  We are a force to be reckoned with.  Thanks for being small with me, Jessica!  Even though you're a lot taller than me now, you're still little.

Megan-Right back at ya!  Minus the birthday part...but you are sweet and a blessing to me as well.

Erika, I've missed you!  I really appreciate that you took the time to tell me happy birthday even though you're living it up at UT!

My other big sister, also gone to college.  Even though we don't get to see each other much any more, I am also so glad that you are in my life!  Without you, there would be some really boring years.  I mean, do you remember those beach and basketball trips?  Were we on drugs?  Drunk?  Delirious?  No, I don't think we ever did anything illegal, but that's the best kind of fun.  Thank you for being there to remind me how to be a crazy kid! 
These birthday tweets were so sweet!  They made my day. Just saying happy birthday is one thing, but these girls added a personal touch. I can't explain how thankful I am to have this family of runners. We go through basically every day together and know each other's best, worst, struggles, and successes. We pray together, feast together, and can talk about literally anything. Thank you all for becoming so special to me this past year!
Danny is an awesome dude, too!  Since Chantal and Cherie went to college last year, I've had to do a lot more running on my own. Luckily, Danny came to the rescue!
He also surprised me with a little birthday gift, too!  The best part of it-fancy Mexican dark chocolate!
Ever since a race in September when he came on a cool down with me, we made the plan to do a morning run and make breakfast one morning over fall break. And that's what we did!
The twins would come down sometimes since they live in my neighborhood, and then we would run and make breakfast. Danny lives in my neighborhood, too, so he could do the same thing!  I was so glad to have a new bRUNch buddy!
I'm also so glad for all the encouragement he has given me this season. It was great to get to talk to him and encourage him, too!  He also even beat me to posting my hashtag.

These were flavored with my new PB Lean, amaretto caramel chocolate hazelnut! is one of the coolest sites that I've used to order food from thanks to Vanessa, a running and faith friend!  She is always there praying for me and sharing information and encouragement to me and so many people around her.
My friends know that I like to be creative with my cooking, hence #KenziesCreations, but I love for them to be able to share it with me!
More family photos!  This time, it was celebrating Emily's birthday which is just a few days before mine. Of course, we did something involving food!
And how lucky are we to have Miss Bailiff to join our team this season as an assistant coach. She is tons of fun, great encouragement, and just great to have around as another girl!
And frozen yogurt!  We runners tend to share the same loves.
Also since the twins are gone, I usually don't have anyone to do my breakfast runs with. However, I can sometimes find others to meet me!
By the way, Java Garden has some amazing coffee. Any flavor or combination you could imagine!  Just tell them what you want and however you want it, and they'll do it. This is a gingerbread coffee with whipped cream.
The Saturday morning of my birthday party, Kayla and Brooke met me at the Java Garden!  It was so much fun eating and talking with them!  And thank goodness Kayla drove me back home!
At my parties, we Just Dance while we wait on everyone to arrive. It takes special people to Just Dance in front of without being embarrassed. They don't just watch; they join me.
We also love to "put [our] hands together *clap* and pray to The Lord!  HUH!"
I've also had an annual cross country birthday party because they really are most if who I would invite to a birthday party anyways. Each year I've done a different food. First spaghetti, then chili, last year finger foods them TCBY, and this year grilled chicken salad bar!
We pull out the fancy table cloth and candles even though we eat on paper plates.
Obey the napkin.  Give thanks.
Traditional smiling picture.
Traditional eating picture.
Ice cream buffet!
Two of my favorite things: chicken salad and ice cream. We had all kinds!  Vanilla, chocolate, tcby's white chocolate mousse and Andes mint pie, pumpkin pie, an ice cream cake that Rachel brought, cool whip, and toppings!

Action shots of everyone digging in and making their own creations
I had to get some of everything.
Jessica tried to roast her marshmallows over a candle.
Miss Bailiff put me on her snapchat story. Definitely not the first or the last time this has or will happen!  I'm used to it by now.
After eating we headed downstairs to turn on the tv (as background noise basically) while I opened presents then we played a game!
I can't even say how perfect my gifts were. Pretty much everything can fall into these categories: food, faith, and running. Or a combination. 
Here are some examples:
Peppermint chocolate Luna bars
Granola and cereal
Flavored popcorn
pumpkin flavored stuff
Nike spandex
A devotion book
Snoopy coloring book
Homemade cards
A Bible verse coloring book
Nike running hat
Running belt to carry things in on my fun runs
Homemade snacks
Pretty journals for all my writing

Grace is original. And that's why we love her.
>>Now on to the Christmas gifts that make my heart smile!   
The first gift of this year came from the teacher of the class I peer tutor, which was a total surprise!  Chocolate truffles. Yum. 
Julia, my little sister in sub debs and the girl I got to drive to practice every afternoon, caught on to my love for Christmas and socks!
Emily got me several great things that fit my tastes, literally and figuratively, but this one is perfect.
More journals!  And this one is so beautiful!  I love just looking at it!  This and some new colorful pens are from my secret sister, who is still unknown to me right now. Thank you so much if you are reading this!
Chantal and Cherie have always been about the best gift-givers of all my friends. This isn't all they got me, but these two things are the core!  Combine Christmas, pugs, Peanuts, and you have my heart right there. 
Another winning combo they included: coffee chocolate. (And some other yummy snacks)
Grace is so creative with her gifts, too!  I mean, check out what she made for me last year for my birthday!
Christmas joy is, well, Christmas joy!
This one was a total surprise!  It came in the mail from a friend I have made through running just in the past year. Niamh is going to be a superstar!  She still has another year in high school, so I can't wait to see how she does. I'm so thankful for her friendship, prayers, and encouragement. Even in the short time that we've known each other, she got me a winner: dark chocolate and scripture!
I also have the best neighbors.  They've been there ever since my dad bought the house before he even met my mom, and they are like family to me.  I literally consider them my grandparents.  They've always gotten me birthday and Christmas gifts, and great ones, too!  Just today I was surprised with a giftcard.  They've always taken care of me!

The friends that I've made through running hold a special place into heart. We can understand things that other people just can't. We can talk about things that are just awkward for others but totally normal and amusing for us. God has really worked in my heart over the past year, and I've become really sentimental!  I have developed a deeper love and appreciation for my friends/family and all the times we have. This has been the best year of my life, and I just want to keep all these memories forever!  God has blessed me with more than I could ever imagine, and I definitely do not deserve it. But that's grace. God's gracious gifts are everywhere. I'm so glad that He has opened my mind and heart to see more and more of how He is working in my life each and every day. Each person in my life is there for a reason, and I'm so glad that each one is here. There is still a few months left in Morristown with these folks before I'm off to college, but these bonds will outlast the distance.