Category Archives: musings


Be Still

This message has been resounding in my head lately.  And if I’m completely honest, I have been doing my best to ignore it.  Our pastor returned a few weeks ago from a three month sabbatical.  He is rejuvenated and excited.  He started our church 20-some years ago it has grown to have over 2000 members.  He has taken a sabbatical twice in his entire ministry.  So, he came back and immediately started talking about…REST. He talked about intentionally slowing down.  He gave an example of how during the summer, he spent the first TWO hours of the day with God.  He talked about intentionally turning off the electronic devices.

To be brutally honest, that’s when my hackles went up.  My immediate reaction was, “Are you going to babysit every morning?” Two hours of peaceful quiet time is just not going to happen in my current life stage.  I can type this now because my kids are watching Bob the Builder.  That gives me about 23 minutes, if Sean actually chooses to sit still watch the show.

So, two weeks ago, our schedule was really busy.  I knew we should slow down.  That week, I hurt my foot doing some speedwork for the marathon training.  Begrudgingly, I took a week off from my marathon training schedule to let it heal.  Not having to squeeze in a bunch of long runs, (18 miles takes me a good two and half hours of solid running), slowed our schedule down.  (Even though my run plan is only three days a week, it is usually around 6 miles of speedwork, 8-10 miles of tempo work, and an 18+ mile long run.  It’s a definite time commitment when you add it to the 8 workout classes I teach a week.)

The following week was back to normal. Then the week after that, we had our usual stuff, plus a few extra meetings.  The adoption meeting was on a Tuesday.  The purpose was to meet other families in the area adopting from Ethiopia.  Jesse and I were both excited to go.  We had been at the meeting about five minutes when Sean unloaded his stomach contents on Jesse.  Jesse ran to the bathroom with Sean, while I tried to clean up the mess.  I joked with the host that they wouldn’t forget us and then we all headed home.  Throw up slows EVERYTHING down.  Sean got the bug on Tuesday, Trent had it by Thursday, Jesse got it on Saturday.  Thankfully, I somehow managed to avoid it, but we could not GO anywhere. We managed to juggle schedules (and my parents came down to help) so Jesse and I could both work, but the extras all went out the window.  This week, we started at full speed again.

Yesterday, my mother in law volunteered to watch the boys for a few hours.  I taught a class at 8:30am, then had some free time.  I thought about going shopping because I have a gift card to burn, but I felt led to have a Jesus “coffee date.”  Normally, the only realistic time for me to have quiet time is during nap time.  Trent goes to the playroom for quiet time and Sean takes a nap.  I get about an hour before Trent is ready to come out.  When I’m disciplined, I make this happen, but it’s also the easiest time for me to do EVERYTHING else – blog, clean, prep dinner, plan my spin rides, etc.  So, often times, quiet time gets put aside for something else.  As I sat at the coffee shop, I prayed that God would help me listen.  So I opened my Bible to read and it happened to be Psalm 46.  Psalm 46:10 reads,

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

At that point, I felt like saying, “okay, okay, okay.” I hate being intentionally still.  The whole sit and wait on the Lord thing is tough for me.  With the adoption, we are already in a major sit and wait phase.  It’s easier to be in wait mode when I’m busy because then I don’t have to think about the waiting.  I much prefer busy mode to intentional wait mode.  “Intentionally being still” doesn’t equate to laziness.  It just means being intentional in what you do and listening to and aligning your actions with what God wants you to do.  I prayed about it and took away some of the clutter in our schedule yesterday and today.

This morning, I woke up, got my coffee, and checked Facebook.  One of my close friends (not knowing all that has been running through my head these past few weeks), posted this on her wall today:

NACR Daily Meditation

Tuesday 18th of September 2012

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

We need to be reminded that we are not God.

This seems pretty basic. You wouldn’t think it would be hard to remember. But we get so caught up in proving ourselves by performing, achieving and rescuing that we forget that we are humans with real limits. We fill our time so full of frenzied activity that there is no ‘stillness’. And when there is no stillness, it is hard to remember who is God and who is not.

Fortunately, God does not forget who is God and who is not. God invites us to quiet ourselves, to slow ourselves down. God invites us to be still long enough to regain perspective. “Be still”, God says, “and know that I am God.”In the stillness we can see again that there is a difference between our frenzy and God’s kingdom. It is God’s work to provide and protect and rescue. It is not our work. We can do our part. But our part needs to be respectful of our human limits. Our part needs to actively acknowledge our dependence on God. God is God, and we are not.Help me to slow down, Lord. Help me to be quiet. Help me to be still long enough to remember that you are God. Help me to remember who is creature and who is Creator. Let this truth free me, Lord, to accept my limits, Amen.Copyright 2012 Dale and Juanita Ryan

Sound familiar? I think there’s a recurrent theme going on in our house this month.  What do you think?


Worldview Bigger Than College Football

I love this time of year.  The weather is cooler, the leaves start to change. The windows stay open. But, nothing says fall to me like the start of college football.  I love watching football games on Saturdays.  First viewing choice is my beloved Auburn Tigers, but any SEC game will do.  Smile.  The one downside of football in the south is all the trash talk.

I was at lunch the other day with some friends and one of the gals said, “Y’all suck this year!”  It was in reference to Auburn losing its first two football games.  She is an Alabama fan.  The arch rival of the Auburn Tigers is the Crimson Tide at the University of Alabama.  Years ago, that statement would have bothered me.  I would have been annoyed or said something snarky back.  I still love to see Auburn win, but it doesn’t ruin my day if they lose.  Years ago, an Auburn loss would have put me in a bad mood.

It is not that I love my team any less than I did a decade ago.  I will forever and always be proud of my alma mater.  It does not matter if they lose every game or win a national championship.  Auburn will always be a special place to me because of the four years I spent there. But, this world is so much bigger than college football.

My brother in law currently works for Children of the Nations.  He lives in Sierra Leone.  People are dying from Cholera and diarrhea.  45% of the country does not have access to an improved water source.  Only 13% of the country has adequate sanitation.  28% defecate in the open.  5.9 million people live in Sierra Leone. That means over 1.65 million people poop in public because they lack access to a toilet.  It’s hard to fathom.

We are adopting a baby from Ethiopia.  75% of the people in Ethiopia live on less than a $1 per day.  I cringe when I spend $4 on a Starbucks coffee.  Or goodness, the amount of money it takes me to fill the gas tank in my minivan.

My sister works with Aborigine youth in Alice Springs, Australia.  Many children come from homes of domestic violence and alcohol abuse.  Many of the kids have suffered more pain in their short lives than most of us have in a lifetime.

As Americans, we are incredibly blessed.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in the small inconveniences of American life.  Our favorite team losing a football game or how much money is going to our 401K.  My family is spread all over the world so it forces me to think outside of my convenient little bubble.  You have to plan for skype dates when there’s a 14.5 hour time difference. People are always surprised when they hear where my siblings live.  The sibling closest in proximity lives in Minnesota, which is still a long way from Birmingham!

It’s easy to put money in the offering plate and trust that the church will put the money to a good cause.  But, how much better would this world be if everyone showed more love in action?  So many opportunities exist to reach out to those less fortunate.  None of us had any control over where we were born.  Some folks are just a little more fortunate.

It makes me to think about where and how I can help those around me.  We get one shot here on earth.  How do I wish to be remembered? What do I want my tiny little imprint to be?








I Choose Joy


A while back, I took the boys to the city park.  There were several other moms there.  One of them had a tattoo on her wrist.  I am always intrigued by tattoos.  Some people get a tattoo simply because they like the design, but most people have put considerable thought into what they’re going to get before they actually ink their body.  The tattoo said, “Every day is a gift, not a given right.”  Her daughter was really ill when she was born and they didn’t know if she would live.  Thankfully, she survived.  She was playing on the playground with the boys.  I don’t know that I would get Nickelback lyrics tattooed on my wrist, but the mom has a valid point.

Attitude is everything.  Each day we choose joy or choose negativity.  Our attitude and not our circumstances define us.  Our attitudes in the tough times are walking, talking testimonies to others. What kind of message do I want to be sending?  What am I believing?

Daily life can be stressful enough, but we’ve had major medical concerns in our family in the past year. My grandfather’s health rapidly went down hill and he passed away, my cousin was in a horrible motorcycle accident, my mother in law is fighting colon cancer, and just last month, we found out that my father has prostate cancer.  If we choose to dwell on the what ifs, it can be overwhelming.

When things are hard, our theology is SO important.  God promises us many great things!  It has given me a daily sense of joy that can only come from Him. (Nehemiah 8:10) I can’t explain it.  I’m just thankful for it. He promises to carry us through situations.  (Hebrews 13:5-6) He wants us to walk through life with Him.  (Matthew 11:29) He wants to take our burdens.  (I Peter 5:7) He promises to make good out of everything.  (Revelations 21:5) He delights in us. (Zephaniah 3:17)  He lavishes his love on us. (I John 3:1)  He cares about every.single.detail. (Psalm 37:23-24)

Today, I choose joy.









Time Tested Beauty Tips

Love this!

Time-Tested Beauty Tips
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!
–Sam Levenson

Hope, Trust, and Faith

Wow. It has been over a week since I last blogged. Time escapes me sometimes. I was out of town last weekend for an annual girls beach trip. Every year, I go with some of my friends from the Y. This was our fifth year. Each woman is so unique in their background, opinions, and values. If you were to meet us each individually, you’d be surprised at the glue that holds this group together. But, there is such a sense of loyalty, trust and respect among the group. We were supposed to have six gals this year, but two had stuff come up at the last minute so we were down to four. As always, it was a blast!

I taught every day this week. Trent had swim lessons every day this week. Summer is just craziness. All the time. It doesn’t seem to slow down. Our church has a “drop in” bible study in the summer time. I haven’t been able to go all summer. This week, I forced it. I just felt like I needed to be there. I was so glad I went.

We’ve had storms all week, but this rainbow showed up the first day. It was such a beautiful reminder that God is present in the storms of life. It was much prettier than my cell phone picture.

Trust, hope, and faith were recurring themes this week. A friend of mine is an agnostic and we often get into discussions about faith. Then, the bible study on Tuesday was on faith and trust and in our daily lives, we’re dealing with issues that require a lot of faith and trust.

One of the verses they quoted in the study was Hebrews 11:13. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” The passage before the verse talks about Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Noah, Isaac and Jacob.

Each person is born with their own story, their own purpose. God has a plan for each of us. Trust is looking at, believing in and trusting God. It’s an emotional response. It requires something from us. I loved the way it was described on Tuesday. “Trust is the decisive yielding to the glory of God.” Faith is our standing position on the word. Hope is daring to believe that God might do something. There is pain associated with hope because God might not move.

The bible study leader gave 5 ways to help us when it’s hard to trust.

1. Recalibrate our understanding of trouble
We sometimes forget that life is a long distance race, not a sprint. Think of trouble as a training tool. Guard your heart from bitterness.

2. Set our eyes on Jesus
How can I discover Christ in the current situation? Remember Christ’s faithfulness at other times in your life. Be honest with God. He can handle it when we gripe and He already knows how we’re feeling.

3. Cherish your inheritance
Dwell on the promise of heaven, the beauty of nature. There are always blessings to be found. Sometimes we just have to focus on looking for them.

4. Dwell on the Promises of God
The Bible is full of them and each of them is true for you and me.

5. Know God
Knowing that Jesus trusted his father helps us to trust in Him too. Often times, we feel closest to God in times of trouble.

And, I just figured out how to post this from my phone. Very cool!

Why We Eat Real Food

View Larger Image Here

Some people make food a platform for legalism.  I really hope that I don’t sound like I’m on a soapbox.  If I do, please know that I am sorry.  That is not my intention.  Like everything else, it is a personal decision that you have to make for your family.  Our way of eating is definitely not always convenient, but it’s what we choose for our family.   The way we eat is not a quick fix diet.  It’s a lifestyle change that we chose to make.  It’s not for everyone.  But since it peaks curiosity, it’s worth explaining.  We eat this way for a variety of reasons, but the main three are out of love, to prevent cancer and to keep our energy levels up.

It’s a way for me to show my family that I love them.  I want the boys to grow into independent men who can take care of themselves.  Proper nutrition falls under being able to properly take care of yourself.  I want them to realize you can eat healthy and not break the bank.  I want them to know the plethora of flavors that exist in all the different varieties of food.  I want to grow old with my husband.  Eating healthy gives him a better chance of longevity.

Jesse’s side of the family has a history of cancer.  No one knows  what will happen in the future, but several ways to reduce the chances of cancer are by eating a nutritional diet (abundance of fruits and veggies, low fat), maintaining a healthy body weight and regularly exercising.  I can’t prevent my family from getting cancer but I do want to give them a good chance.

Busy lives need energy to keep up!  If you read this blog regularly, you are aware of the number of athletic, outdoor adventures that our family does for fun.  Natural foods are a great source of energy.  God knew what he was doing when he created so many varieties of food with so many different nutritional benefits.  He gave us intricate bodies that know how to consume, digest and transform the food to our benefit.  If you stop to think about the details of it all, it’s pretty incredible!

 I’m not a nutritionist or a dietician.  But, I am passionate about health and fitness.  Jesse can attest to the fact that I get questions about diet and exercise everywhere I go.  It is not uncommon for me to hear, “What do you eat?”  “What do you think of this (enter name of a diet)?”  We don’t count calories or follow a diet at our house.  I’ve mentioned them before, but here are the simple guidelines that we follow.

1.  The 80/20 rule – we eat healthy 80% of the time, so when we do splurge on a Dunkin Donut or go out for mexican, it’s no big deal.

2.  Eat at Home – By eating at home, we save money and know exactly what goes in our food, and ultimately our bodies.  This actually helps in portion control too.  If I have to actually make the cookies, then chances are they won’t be around our house as frequently as if I were to buy them at the store.

3.  Small Portions – Myself included, most people feel like they need to eat every bit of food on their plate.  If that’s the case, intentionally take a smaller portion than you think you want.  You can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry, but if you take too much food, you won’t feel obligated to suffer through the pile on your plate after you feel satisfied.

3.  Know the ingredients – We avoid boxed/processed foods.  We buy grains, beans, and meat in bulk.  We eat a ton of fruits and vegetables.  Most foods we eat don’t need an ingredient label.  If there’s a questionable ingredient in an item that sounds like it was made in lab, I don’t buy the item.  Most people don’t gain a bunch of weight by eating too much real oatmeal (not the sugary instant kind) or carrots, though you may turn orange!  And if junk food is not accessible at home, you’ll have to snack on healthy foods!

4.  Selective Beverages – The main beverages in our house are milk and water.  We don’t buy juice.  The nutritional value from the fruit itself trumps what you get from the juice (and has far less sugar).  We make iced tea in the summer time and have hot tea and coffee on hand year round.  Plus, some fun drinks for the grownups after the boys go down.  :)

Happy Mother’s Day!

“She came tonight as I sat alone, the girl I used to be…
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye and questioned reproachfully;

Have you forgotten the many plans and hopes that I had for you?
The career, the splendid fame, and all the wonderful things to do?
Where is the mansion of stately height with all of its gardens rare?
The silken robes that I dreamed for you and the jewels in your hair?

And as she spoke, I was very sad for I wanted her please with me…
This slender girl from the shadowy past the girl that I used to be
So gently rising, I took her hand, and guided her up the stair
Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay innocent, sweet, and fair.

And I told her that these are my only gems, and precious they are to me;
That silken robe is my motherhood of costly simplicity.
And my mansion of stately height is love, and the only career I know
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls for the dear ones who come and go.

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest, she smiled through her tears at me.
And I saw that the woman that I am now, pleased the girl I used to be.

– Author Unknown


Day 12 of Photo a Day

Today’s topic is “Something That Makes Me Happy.”  Seriously.  How do I pick just one?  Some of my favorite little things that bring me joy are:

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Early Mornings
Trail runs
Medium Rare Hamburgers
Fruit Crisps/Crumbles
Bike Rides
Random Acts of Kindness
Pretty Views