Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Life in Christ got me finished like I crossed the line"

Lenny and Larry's Baked Nutrition

"Life in Christ got me finished like I crossed the line."  -Tedashii, Dum Dum

This track season was crazy and quite a struggle at times, but I learned a lot. God spoke to me so many time in so many ways, and I had some adventures, too!  I wanted to share a lot of this stuff along the way, but didn't have time to go in depth, only sharing some on Instagram, Twitter, and talking to people. Now I want to go back and share some of the highlights that I remember and wrote down!

Sewers lucky to have good weather most of the time this season. This was one of our first meets, and it was hot and sunny, just how I like it!  And this hot chick right behind me is Harper Russell, who I have actually raced against since we were in elementary/middle school. She was only a freshman this year, but seems so much older. I was also used to her competing up in age groups because she's that good. She has multiple age group records at all kinds of races and distances including nationals. You should totally check her out online, Twitter, Instagram, etc, becausee not only is she fast and beautiful, but she is humble and has an awesome testimony for the Lord.
Of course being someone who loves to sleep, my race is second to last, and I have to stay to the end of every meet. By the time I cool down after the race, most people are gone. (The 4x400 is last, but goes by quickly). So unless it's a race that starts midday, I'm usually eating dinner when I'm usually sleeping and I haven't even had a shower yet!
Late race nights at home meets like this are also great nights for leftover dinners...and I LOVE leftovers!  And a great time for some (almost) recovery chocolate milk!  After working hard, your body is craving all the fuel it can get back in it.
My shoes do not match at all, but I had to get new ones for track be issue I let the mud rust and get stuck in the spikes of my other shoes to the point where plied couldn't get the spikes out. Dad tried and they broke. First pair that was not black and pink becomes we couldn't find them online anywhere!  Good thing tracks usually aren't muddy considering that pretty white material.
After races I'm always craving something meaty-fruity-veggie, usually chickfila, and that tends to be where we go. That salad is my favorite. It also works out that since its usually so late, we can go there and it still be open for a few minutes. However, we have had to literally run in restaurant before and get leftovers as they were preparing to close. And when all else fails, I can also get some ice cream, yogurt, and more fruit and granola.
First the joke was that Blaine was wearing a shirt that wasn't "American," but then I loved the Cookie Monster on it and thought it went perfect with my brand I ambassador, Lenny and Larry's!  Just like their chocolate chip protein cookies!  Thanks to Blaine and the boys for modeling and helping me out.
While Dad and I were in Colorado for spring break, it was right in the middle of track season. Skiing out there is a workout in itself, but I wanted to experience it all. Each morning I went down to the fitness room and got in a progression run ending with an all-out sprint, as well as some biking. I couldn't run outside on my own, but that's the plan for one day!  Talk about feeling lightheaded when you stop! However, it was so refreshing!

I got this crafty idea from my old teammate Haylea, since the numbers are so plain, save them and decorate them!
I actually got to steeplechase twice this season!  It is so different than any other racing, obviously, but it works you so hard. Since I'm just a high schooler and I never get to practice, my body is not used to that at all, and the soreness is unreal after a steeple race!  I'm exhausted all week!  But it's such a fun experience. I'm pretty good at it too, considering I never get to practice. I guess it's just from being so adventurous and climbing everything I could throughout my childhood
Around this time, I came across a really cool sermon series on the internet from a pastor out there somewhere that he titled Eating:  How Good It Is!  that related all kinds of scripture to how we can parallel it to our lives both spiritually and physically.  There are all sorts of his messages on the website I linked if you want to check it out!
One of my favorite things I got from it was not necessarily new to me at all, but just makes so much since.  Even if you don't exercise, I'm sure you've heard "garbage in, garbage out," and that's pretty much true for anything.  Like our bodies need good fuel to give us energy and keep us healthy and give us strength to make it through the toughest days and be able to recover, our minds and spirits need the same thing.  There are so many passages about things of God bringing health and peace and joy (Proverbs 17:22, 3:8, "they are life to those who find them, and health to one's whole body" Prov 4:22, and many more).  Take it from one who has been literally sick from stress and anxiety in the past, many times God is the only thing that can keep you going; you just have to give up your own worries and look up to His power!  When you are filled with anger, worry, uncertainty, or any little thing, it will come out in your life.  Others will see the negativity, and you will surely feel it.  Don't let Satan in, and the sins he tempts will be less likely to come out.  Keep Jesus in your mind and heart, and His light will fill you with wonderful feelings and His light will flow out!   Same with your physical body:  sleep enough, eat healthy, be positive, your feelings and performance will correspond.
However, we can't try too hard to do all the right things to make us the best we can be.  Yes, we should try to take in the right fuel, but we also have to balance that with faith.  We are not in control.  Ultimately, God is in control, and if He wanted us to set a world record after 3 nights of no sleep and eating a bunch of pizza, it could happen.  But we have a responsibility to take care of what He has given us so then we can be used to our potential ("guard what has been entrusted to your care"  1 Timothy 6:20).  We can't fret too much, but trust that He will give us all the strength that we need at just the right time.
Selfie by Sarah.
"Do not hold back...your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear...He will satisfy your needs and strengthen your frame...if you honor the Lord's day..you will find your joy in the Lord."  (parts of Isaiah 58)
I love this whole chapter!  If you are down in any way, this is one of the most uplifting passages that I have found.
I love this picture of Rachel and me!  I was so proud of her.  She is one of the hardest workers I know.  She is so determined and will never give up no matter how much pain she is in.  She's been through so many injuries and hard times, but she is always ready to give it her all.  She's got natural ability, and I can't wait to see what all she can really do.  This was her first steeplechase (sorry about these weather conditions), and we were the only two racing, but I was SO PROUD of her for getting out there!
What a day this was. Not really a good race day, but an experience. Yeah, I won two races, but they weren't good times. I was basically on my own, and it was 30 degrees, with over 20 mph winds. Oh AND this was the other race I went to with steeplechase. Can you believe that I-the most cold-natured-did it. Well, I did. And it wasn't that bad.
I love seeing this on the stadium at a public school. Preach it. It also inspired me. I did my best and God blessed the weekend.

Why was the weekend so blessed?  Because I got to race and spend it with my church group!  I hadn't gotten to go to the spring girls retreat the past several years because of track meets far away from Gatlinburg, but this year weather cancelled all the ones in the other direction, so we ended up at the meet in Sevierville, just down the road pretty much!  That was how I knew God for sure wanted me to be able to go on this last girls retreat. I'm so glad I did.
(I'll share more on that later.)
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.  If one falls down, his friend can help him up."  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Through every aspect of my life, since kindergarten, Katlyn has been one of my closest friends.  Her family literally accepts me as another child of their own.  We have made the joke that we are perfect for each other because she keeps me loose, and I keep her from losing things!
I'm going to miss having KH by my side, but we will always have each other in our hearts and prayers!

One thing that I'm kind of known for around town now is planning fun runs with my friends (or just myself when no one can or will go with me), and I started one in previous years with the track team!  We would meet at TCBY after school and run out and back on the road from there to give us some new scenery and of course the frozen yogurt. It also provides a great team activity besides just the track.
Weather was starting to warm up for good, and I took a Sunday afternoon to the park!  I really hadn't been there in what seemed like forever. Maybe just a time or two since the fall. After having lots of not-so-good runs, this afternoon was so refreshing and I felt so rejuvenated!  All the way home I was jamming to my Jesus music in the jeep, so glad that He had blessed me with this afternoon. One thing I've really embraced this year is appreciating the good times all the more in light of the bad ones.
Fear. The root of all stagnation. 
When we (I'm assuming most people can say this) fear, we don't want to change. We don't want to go out of our comfort zone. So we keep things the way they are. Fear holds me back so much, and it hurts my own progress in every way!  Fear also hurts The Lord, because when we fear, we aren't having faith. My goal for this race was to let go of that fear and just RUN!  What had used to be so fun was more often than not a burden, but it shouldn't be that way. We should not let Satan take away our joy. 
"For the Spirit God gave us is not a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
God is love (1 John 4:16), and there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18). 
They say that sports are a huge amount mental, and I totally agree. My best races are those where I am happy, free, excited to be using what God gave me.

Conference time!  And what a beautiful day it was, in more than one way!  
I like these Saturday meets because I get to sleep in more than normal. My body is also much more ready to go in the afternoons than in the mornings, one thing I prefer over cross country. 
This year conference was at Cherokee. The sun was blazing, quite windy and humid, but I love the heat! (Wind, ha no.) This meet literally took forever. They started almost two hours late. But we made it through and that's what mattered. 
Another awesome thing from this day:  we actually won conference!  It's always a battle between us and Jeff, but this year, it came down to the literal last race, but we pulled it out!
Crazy things happen. We don't understand, but that's how God works. His plans are beyond what we can comprehend. No matter how hard we try, sometimes we just aren't ourselves-way low or way high!  Though I felt shaky before the starts because of the heat and schedule throwing my meals off, God didn't care. He wanted me to have this opportunity to enjoy my last conference meet and get to have an impact for others. I am always amazed at how many strangers talk to me and know me. This is a blessing and opportunity to do what I always want to do, but I can't waste it. Even when I fail on my own, I can say that God lifts me up. This day He gave me the strength to run one of my best 1600s of the year as well as beat my own conference record in the 3200. Ask me before that if I thought I would break my record and I wouldn't have said even close. But God let me fly!  I felt so good and just kept getting faster every lap!  Had I known I would've been able to increase my pace, I would've gone even faster at the start!  Haha!  Even my cool down felt good.

This is Izzy, and he is so cool.  I don't think we even met before this year, but he would always come up to me in the hallway making jokes about how we were going to race sometime.  He's a sprinter and hurdler, so I don't think there's really any comparison!  He always has a smile on his face and is building others up.  I'm so glad we got to know each other this year, and I can't wait to see how he continues to improve his senior year!  (He is also a great football player.)  He went to track state in 3 events this season!  Although he is so good, it's not about him.  He's so humble and has such a heart for the Lord.  I love seeing him encourage others and even received so much encouragement from him myself.  I'm so thankful for all the huge hugs and cheers for me before, during, and after the races...not just to run my best, but to trust God and do it for His glory.
Things just kept coming to me that I was filled and overflowing with joy in the Lord, I just couldn't talk enough!  On that cool down, I thought of the verse 1 Peter 1:6-9, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little time you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith...may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed...you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
I'll let those verses do the explaining for my feelings! 
No matter what is happening now or has happened in the past, have faith; God will never let you down if you wait on Him.
I had also been feeling like things were so falling into place, me finding my joy and purpose in just being happy in Him no matter what was going on around me, and trying to make the most of this last little hoorah of high school.  A couple songs got in my head on that note that day, too.:  Hello My Name Is and Grace Wins (because of the amazing grace that I sing of; no more letting little things get to me, but rising back up!)  Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave also filled my head!  (Life is full of struggles that easily distract us from the good things, but we have to remember to just relax because God has already fought the ultimate battle for us.  We are redeemed and free!)
I also tend to have great thoughts come to me when I'm laying in bed, then I usually write them down or tweet them.  Corresponding to another song I was thinking of, No Longer Slaves, I quoted Paston Dean @preachinfool "Only God can change a slave into a warrior." and Galatians 4:7 where the words to that song came from "You are no longer a slave, but a son..."

We have this little restaurant in Jefferson city called el paraiso, and it's some really good Mexican food!  There isn't much around Cherokee, but mom found this not far down the road, and turns out it is one of the same!  You know I can't turn down post-race Mexican. The signs guiding you to the restrooms cracked me up. Good thing that wasn't true because I also can't turn down post-race bathrooms, and I had already done my miles for the day. Sonic was the dessert stop on the way home!  I was so hungry after that long hot day, and the new flavors for the season had just come out, making my decision too tough to settle on one, so I got two small ones.
Hey look!  More faith over fear!  This verse I chose for the race came to me thanks to a friend from school who posted it on Twitter that morning. 
Habakkuk 3:18-19 "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights."
This is what I really find joy in from racing.  Not so much racing, but the opportunities that I get to share my testimony.  I have found that changing my focus from my performance to His praise changes everything else, too.
Waking up the next morning before church I was also sent a refreshing reminder through my Bible Gateway app verse of the day:  "Lord, You establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us."  Isaiah 26:12
One week until region.  It was a rough week.  Crazy school stuff going on as things wrapped up, practices uncertain each day, too, no details on all those-a whole thing to themself!  But as the week went on, I wore out.  Just knowing that it was all almost over kept me going.
Over my years of running track, the competition has gotten so much better!  I knew that I really wanted to qualify for state of course, but that it's not a given for anyone. 

My verse for this day was 2 Corinthians 8:11-12
"Now finish the work so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it according to your means.  For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have."

And that's what I gave-all I had.  That's all God asks for.  He doesn't judge us on the things that we can't change!  He doesn't compare us to others!  He only looks at how we use what He has given us.  All He wants is for us to want to serve Him.
Though I felt like a failure after the 1600, I did all I could with what I had, so that was alright with God, even though it wasn't satisfying to me.  ***Never be ashamed of an off day if you are giving your best!***
By the 3200, I started out on a PR pace feeling like I had all the energy in the world, but I slowed some, but had enough to hold on to a great finish with some amazing girls.  We're more like teammates than competition.

I am also known for finding and picking up money, and this one was special!  Though the day really stressed me out, I felt God at work. I had said that if He wanted me to race the 1600 it would happen, and if not, so be it. However, I also began to doubt my chances in the 3200. But I was surrounded by such great encouragement both in the race and the stands. It was a heck of a race. Not my best, but pretty good!  I was also happy for the girls who beat me and ran new prs!  That's a great feeling. The top four finishers get to go on to state, and 4th is what I got. And I was thrilled. No, it wasn't like my region totaled and records, but it was enough to get me to state. 
I promised God, praying so hard, that if He carried me through, I would do everything I could to make myself as ready as I could be for whatever comes my way!
That night a little rhyme came to me:
Not my best race, but I qualified by God's grace.
And that is my testimony.  That is why God gives us grace-so we can share it with the world.

This was the biggest group we have ever taken to the state track meet!  Region was a great day for so many qualifying in multiple events!
Anther schedule change this year was that the state meet didn't fall the day after we got out of school, so we didn't get to miss any days. However, we did get to make more of a trip out of it, going down another day early so we could hang out.

My roommates for the trip were Tiffany and McKenna, a freshman and a sophomore both on their first trip to the state meet. It was so much fun being in a room with them!  They were excited and nervous, but it was a blessing for me to get to share this time with them. I'm really glad I got to know Tiffany better (McKenna was also on the cross country team), and realize that she has an amazing growing faith and heart for the Lord, too!
This hotel left mint patties and an elephant waiting to welcome us when we got there the first night!
On the extra time that we had, we had fun, that's for sure. Katlyn, Emily, and I were just so giddy to be almost done with all things high school. Though it's tough racing at state, it was so much more exciting knowing it was our last race and trip as teammates. 
I also got to make friends with some of the shorter distance people that we don't see as much because our training is so different!  I got Jade to braid my hair one afternoon. (Can't wait till college and I'll have people to braid my hair all the time!). Just going to say that Jade is one of the most beautiful girls I have met and needs no makeup or dressing up to make her that way!  She is just filled with the Lord and it shines out. Her talent is also so impressive for her age and experience, and I can't wait to see how far she can go. (***Find out more at the bottom of this post-she took it all the way down under, Australia, that is.)
After breakfast the first morning, we took a trip to Siegel High School to shake out on the track, practice handoffs, hurdles, etc. It actually came a bit of a downpour, our luck, but we were okay. At least it wasn't cold, and it wasn't race day!
This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip!
Lunch time made me so happy. Not just because it was food with friends, but Panera Bread!  I love that place, and my parents can't stand it, so I never get to go. I like cute cafe-like places, and they do not at all. Mmm was that salad and soup tasty!  
*But what made the meal was my drink. I. Love. Flavored. Tea. 
When I ordered I didn't know that they had all these, so I just got water. But then when I saw all tha was at the drink table, I went up to the "finished food" counter and asked if I could pay them for a drink since I had already placed my order. While they were about to help me, a manager gave me a cup and said not to worry about it; just get one!  Made my day!  It's the little things that people do. It impacts and inspires.
Dinner that night also made me happy because it was a place on my bucket list!  Sanders asked the senior girls for dinner suggestions, and Pollo Tropical was mine!  It's kind of like all those Tex-Mex/Americanized Mexican places that I group as my favorite, but has a bit different menu. You can get the Mexican stuff, but they also have chicken dinners, different sides, and stuff like that. It was also decorated so beachy inside!  Very tropical..fitting. They also have the salsa-yourself station like at Moe's which gives it a level-up in my opinion. I was also a fan of their own hot sauce, 'tropical heat.'  The picture of our table, Katlyn, Jessica, and me is another one of my trip-toppers. 
After dinner was a struggle trying to convince the coaches that walking around Target for 20 minutes would not ruin our lives, but actually help us stay loose and give us some entertainment and snacks, too. We finally ended up at Target for some quick shopping!
Now this one is my favorite. We had a party for our last night. All the girls went up to one room to hang out and snack. It was silly yet emotional at the same time. We goofed off, but also talked about how we were sad that this was our last time staying the night as teammates before a race!  We really love each other and all the experiences we have been through together. Though we hate the pain, we've been there for each other, and we have grown!  That's what counts!  I'll never forget my B times 3!
That night and the next morning got intense. It was the day. My last race. Excitement, nerves, and so much filled my mind!  I'd been through 4 years and changed and learned so much!  I've come to see that there is SO much more to running for me than just running. God has sent me every trial, success, and failure to teach me things so that I can come to know Him better as well as help others learn from my experiences. This song kind of sums that up. I have made so many mistakes and wasted so many opportunities, but I realize that. I've tried to do things on my own, and that doesn't work. But without all the crap, I wouldn't really know Christ. Now I know, and I'm ready to put it all together and use it better. 

  This was one of my phone app verses of the day race morning. It's always so much pressure on me to make my parents proud, and this verse was just that-go make em proud!  Continental breakfasts can be simple, yet so satisfying. The muscle milk was my addition, but the fresh fruit, coffee, and fruit loops were theirs. I even used the protein shake as my creamer and milk, and it was way better than milk. 
I love our 4x800 girls!  They are so funny!  On the way there, they decided to all split one banana as a symbol of their togetherness!
The state meet is always part of the Spring Fling at MTSU and surrounding venues, and Murfreesboro is crazy. Basically every spring sport has their championships all at one time in one place. For track, there is basically this one restaurant close to the track, literally across the parking lot, so you can imagine that this is their biggest few days of the entire year. Think about it:  we are runners and it is Subway.
Ever since I started running in high school, this has been my overarching, go-to scripture. It sums up all I want to do with my ability. It was also so fitting for my very last race. I was so ready to finish..in multiple ways. 
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, but only that I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace."  Acts 20:24
And that is my story. Grace. I've had some really great races and been given some huge honors and attention. I had potential to be a national contender. I made mistakes and I learned lessons. I won races when I probably shouldn't have and I lost when I should've won. But I've learned. All in all, God doesn't care what place we got; He cares if we are using what He puts in our lives. 
When you waste what He gives or try to take credit yourself, He humbles you. When you are humble, you see more light. It's simple. Yet we try to make things so complicated. I didn't reach all my dreams in my high school career, but I am thankful. I have a testimony of how God carried me through so much. I just can't stop talking about it!  I have failed a lot, but I have come so far in my faith the past few years, I can "boast in my weaknesses, because when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9). I just can't stop talking about how He has worked in my life!  (Acts 4:20)
So I'm sorry if I get on your nerves, but it is just SO COMPELLING (2 Corinthians 5:14). Even if it doesn't reach you, it might reach someone.
First event is the 4x800!  It was a hot, humid, beautiful day to race!  I was so happy for my fellow seniors to get out there one last time!  Also happy that they were first and then we're done. Lucky them.
GO KATLYN. My best friend since kindergarten making her final laps of her high school career.
It's a little awful having basically the last event and waiting all day long.  The sun had gone down, but it was still so hot and humid.  I had been nervous and excited all day, but my legs felt swollen all day.  Sometimes that happens, just unexplained and random.  Time passed so quickly, though!  I began to feel better and better as the race time approached.  My nerves were a little crazy, too, making me super hungry!  I was so happy to get to talk to one of my best running friends from a competing school, Lydia, who I have mentioned before.  Before heading out to the track, I asked if we could circle up and pray.  Everyone was so excited, and it felt so good to get some extra peace.

My friend from Knox West, Megan Murray, lead from the very start, but I led the next pack most of the race.  Closer to the end, a couple others passed me, but I held on to fourth place!  It wasn't my best, race, but it felt relatively good and was so much fun!  I kept feeling better and better and finished fast!  I got all state, which was my goal.  It was such a relief to finally finish my high school career!  A wave of joy rushed over me as I crossed the line.  Lydia was behind me, and we gave each other a huge hug and were so happy for each other.  We knew how ready we both were to be looking forward to the next big step in college and a summer of fun before that.
It was a pleasant surprise to see our school's old athletic director, Mr. Reed, there, too!  I had forgotten that he is on the state board, so he gets to be kind of in charge at all the big high school sports events.
These are some speedy youngsters!  They're not in my division, but I enjoyed getting to watch them throughout XC and track. Niki is just a freshman, but is already doing so well!  Niamh is a junior and I believe will be a national contender next season. Watch out for her!  I'm also thankful for their friendship and encouragement, as well as joining me on cool downs!
Surprise bucket list check!  I really didn't care what we did after the race because I was just so happy and relieved, actually kinda craving Cracker Barrel or Chili's, but I hopped in the Yukon and Mom says, "Hey, that Culver's place is less than two miles from here. Wanna go?" So there we went!  It was pretty good, but I don't think I'll go back. But I got the experience and that's what I wanted!  I actually think mom and dad enjoyed it more than I did!  See, sometimes I have really good ideas!  It was not at all expensive, was quick and fresh, and I got a tasty, big dessert without spending much either. Culver's is custard instead of my usual preferences, but I got chocolate and vanilla swirled with Heath, Kit Kat, and butterfinger!

Ever since we somehow got to stay in the Embassy Suites my sophomore year at state, my mom fell in love...mostly with the breakfast bar, but if you could experience it, you probably would too. It's one of those huge ones with fruit, oatmeal, toppings, biscuits, gravy, potatoes, cereal, toasts, pastries, scrambled eggs, yogurt, granola, waffles, any drink you could think to go with breakfast AND a made to order bar with ore pancakes, sausage, bacon, ham, and huge omelettes!  Even better?  It's no extra charge. So since that first year, that's where mom booked their hotel no matter where anyone else stayed. Lucky for me, being the basically last event, there's no way we were driving home that night, so I got to stay there for a night too!
It's become a bit of a family thing that we have dessert in hotels before bed while watching tv, usually Big Bang Theory or basketball. This night was no exception.
The next morning, I was so uplifted yet again by God showing me assurance!  The verse of the day was he verse I had written the day before!  Moments like these are what fill me with joy and light me on fire for the Lord.  He never fails to give me His assurance.
So here's the continental line

It is a bittersweet time when one season ends.  It's good to know that the pressure of competition is gone for a while, but at the same time the anticipation to move to the next phase of training gets me chomping at the bit.  However, we have to embrace our rest times, as I have learned the hard way.  There are so many other things that we can do when we take a little break from such intensity.  Then when the time comes, we can go full force with a refreshed mind and body.  The time will pass much faster than expected anyways.
To help myself get some mental peace with the next week or so, I brought back some restful scriptures.
"For anyone who enters into God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His.  Let us, therefore make every effort to enter that rest so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience."  Hebrews 4:10-11
We must never forget that God rested after His work!  After creation of the earth, God rested.  When we go to God completely, He will totally give us peace and rest, but we can't hang on to our own habits.  Going to Him takes us away from the stress of the world.

My plate!  So delicious!  This was the first hotel where I had seen coconut on the oatmeal/grits toppings, so I had to get some of that.
These chefs are good. They don't write a thing down, cook for about 6 people at one time, and get them exactly right every time.

The plans for the day were to get in some great shopping!  This area is full of outlets and shopping centers everywhere you go!  And I mean everywhere!  Of course we had to go to Dick's Sporting Goods.
After we finished shopping, we drove into Nashville where we had plans to meet up with my admissions counselor from school, Vanessa Medina, who wanted to have dinner with us!  Nothing official, but a great chance to meet someone I had and would continue to be dealing with with Lipscomb stuff. We had a great meal at one of our and all of Nashville's favorites, Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint!  Over the meal we talked about everything from fun, family, friends, to sports and school. The real thing will be here before we know it!
Last stop before going back to the real world of Morristown was an ice cream shop that is known as one of the best chains in America. There are just a few around, but there are two in Nashville!  Jeni's is fancy and pricy, but it's a great experience!  Just listen to the names of the flavors I tried if you need a little more proof:  Savannah Buttermint, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Pistachio & Honey, Intelligenstia Black Cat Espresso, and Salty Caramel.  My next visit will be in the fall when they get in the seasonal flavors, then again once in the winter for those..saving money just for one experience each.

Before I wrap this up, I want to brag on a couple teammates.  They are both sprinters, and great ones at that!  I was so proud to see them perform so well at state this year, especially being so young.  Keyon will be a senior and Jade a junior, both already looking at college options.  Keyon is also an outstanding football player, so that helps his opportunities, as well.  This summer, they chose to go to Australia to compete in the Down Under games, where they both did very well!  What an experience that would be to compete and vacation at the same time.  More than their athletic abilities, I respect their expression of faith for the Lord.  If you would like to read an article about them, their trip, and their faith, our newspaper did a feature on Jade and Keyon!
Long story short, this is life as God intends. Not that we triumph and always succeed and have happiness and everything easy and goes our way, but that we take whatever He gives us and use it to show others His love and glory.