Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Lessons Learned from a Day at Camp

Honestly I never thought that my post would have such an outpouring of love from the community.  I am becoming more and more convinced that one person really can make a difference.  We can't impact everyone, but we can impact someone.  We may not can feed the world every day, but we can feed a family for a night.  One day at a time, Sweet Jesus.

This morning when I pulled up to pick up the children for camp, a very eager boy stood at the door of my bus and talked a mile a minute.  I thought my youngest daughter had the record for the most talking EVER, but no.  This boy beats her any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  The most important thing he said was this, "Guess what I have in this bag I am bringing today?  I found a Bible and I brought it today.  I have decided that I want to be a preacher because I started learning about Jesus yesterday and since I am learning early, I will be ready to be a preacher when I grow up.  When I get on the bus I am going to sit right behind you and if I stop talking to you for a minute on the bus ride, then you know I am reading my Bible a little bit."

Then there were the two girls who stood arm in arm at the door of the bus and literally refused to get on.  I told them to come on up for another fun day at camp, and they just said simply, "We were told we would get a breakfast and drink and not to get on yet."  The other kids pleaded for them to get on, but they wouldn't.  I said, "I will make sure you get your breakfast."  They reluctantly got on and then the miracle happened.  Seemingly from nowhere, literally, a woman showed up with a box of food, breakfast for each and every one of the little ones.  It must have been just like when Jesus fed the 5.000 that day.  There was plenty of breakfast for everyone including drinks.  Extra snacks were available in the afternoon and plenty of lunch, even more if you wanted an extra sandwich.  Ironically, I discovered the woman with the box of food knew my Aunt.  My Aunt passed away on Thanksgiving a few years ago and she was just the type woman who would have given her last loaf of bread to these children.  I was touched that this lady knew my precious Aunt.

Today I met some children who had never had potato chips before.  I met a boy who said he had his shoes for 5 years(I can't imagine that could be possible, but I wouldn't question anything after what I have seen this week).  I have to admit that my idea of what inner city kids look like was a mistake.  I stereotyped what that looked like.  The face of inner city looks just like my children.  They have hopes and dreams like my children.  They have feelings like my children.  Only they don't sit in the seat of privilege like my children.  I was told that the majority of these children will never graduate high school.  The drop out rate is tremendous in this area.

When I found out that Senior Camp this year was going to be different and we were going to offer a free summer camp for inner city kids and use our high school campers as counselors for the kids, I thought to myself, "Our kids won't sign up for camp this year if they don't get to boat, swim, and do the normal camp things they do each year."  I could not be more wrong.  Our high school kids have risen to the occasion and they have had a life altering experience at camp this year.  Our kids look happier when I see them.  They are making a difference.  Jesus came on this earth not to serve himself or to be entertained, He came to seek and save the lost and to serve others.  Our kids have had the chance to be Jesus to someone this week.  To make a difference one child at a time.

We can't feed everyone, but we can feed someone.  We can't feed someone every day, but we can feed them one day.  We can't impact everyone but we can impact someone.  Jesus made a difference one person at a time.  He didn't raise everyone from the dead, but he raised someone from the dead.  May we all be Jesus to someone each day.

The children were happier today when I delivered them back to their place than even yesterday.  They all seem more relaxed and comfortable.  A safe environment with a safe place to be yourself and let your hair down and experience new things is just what the doctor ordered for these children and Jesus is the great physician.

Thank you so much for reading my blog.  Please subscribe to it at the right and updates will be emailed to you!  Have a great night and be Jesus to someone tomorrow.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lessons Learned from a Day at Camp

I got my commercial drivers license for the sole purpose of driving on days like today. I picked up a bus load of inner city kids and drove them to our church camp that was over an hour away from where these kids lived. Then I took them back. I wanted to be a blessing to them but they were a blessing to me. Everyone should have a chance to ride the party bus driven by a rockstar...or maybe everyone should have the opportunity to drive the party bus filled with children who had never been to camp before. Several of the moms tearfully thanked us for providing this opportunity. 

Upon arrival at camp the kids were ooing and ahhing over the woods. I scratched my head and finally accepted that they had never seen woods before.  I rapidly discovered that most of them had never been swimming, never been in a canoe, never been to camp. 

 Then we went canoeing. An adorable child reluctantly got in the canoe with me. He had never been in one or even on the lake before so was apprehensive. I couldn't convince him to turn around and face forward so he rode facing me. I also couldn't convince him to paddle the correct way so he was paddling backwards and I was paddling forward trying to get somewhere like that :) We had some great conversation in that canoe when one of the counselors decided we would canoe race. My little date thought that sounded good. I thought to myself well we won't be getting anywhere fast with him paddling backwards. Ready set GO!  I paddled as hard as I could to his squeals of delight. Rapidly I realized I was in the canoe with a slow leak and my end was taking on water but it didn't matter. My little friend was having too much fun!  When we got back to the dock, my son said, "Mom!  Your phone is ruined!"  It was swimming in the water that was in the canoe. I grabbed it and knew it wouldn't work. But God was there. I already decided it didn't matter if I had to spend money for a new phone because it was worth the happiness of the little friend. Guess what?!  I am blogging on my phone right now. How did my phone survive?  Because God was there. Apparently I was paddling so hard that my phone worked out of my pocket. God protected my phone because I was doing His work.

The counselors were having as much fun as the children. I saw them talking to the children individually and the children were captivated by the attention they were being given. I overheard a conversation. 
Counselor: What is your favorite thing to do?
Camper:  I watch tv and eat. I am not allowed to go outside and my mom works so I just sit on the couch and watch tv and eat.

This photo was made AFTER my phone went for a swim ;)

And then there were the ones who looked at the ground most of the time even when spoken to. Maybe abused. Maybe never talked to or listened to. 

The ones who mindlessly chattered all the time. Or talked really loud, almost in a shout. Maybe their home is so loud they must shout to try to be heard. 

Things I heard the children say:

"I want to play soccer but my mom doesn't have enough money."

"I don't know what I am going to eat tonight because my mom lost her job."

"I have to take care of my younger brothers and sisters while my mom works."
And then there was the boy with the lunchbox. He never put it down. He had it in the canoe with him, he had it in the craft house, he had it in the woods, he had it on the sports field. I wondered why he had it because lunch was provided. I finally asked him and his reply brought me to my knees. He said, "I thought if there was anything leftover from lunch I could bring it home for my dinner."
See the lunchbox sitting in front of the boy?

By the end of the day you couldn't have wiped the smiles off their faces with a washcloth. They were excited, they were happy, they were grateful. Some came down the hill on the backs of counselors and I am not sure who grinned bigger, the camper or the counselor. When we try to give we almost always end up receiving. 

My bus was much quieter on the trip home. Many fell asleep. I wanted to keep driving them around until they woke up because they may not have a peaceful place to sleep at night. The little friend that was in my canoe with me fell asleep and we almost never woke him when we got him back to his place. Peaceful dreams, sweet friend, I pray that God bless you and every one of your little friends. I will see you all in the morning :)

Thank you so much for reading my blog! Please share and subscribe to the right so you can receive email updates when I write a new post. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Surviving a Holiday without Gaining Weight OR Surviving ANY Day Without Gaining Weight

This past weekend was, of course, a holiday weekend.  I had the BEST weekend ever.  Our closest friends came over and played cards with us, we had hamburgers, our family came over, I volunteered at a race, I exercised, spent some time at the pool, just an all around great time.  We all know that holiday weekends, holiday days, and holiday months are difficult when there is food 'o plenty laying out to be grazed on and it all looks SO good.  My fat cells get happy when I pass by food because they are licking their chops hoping to expand a bit.  Well, I am totally against my fat cells expanding.  I work too hard to let them expand again.  So the question is "How do we survive events when the food is plenty and looks amazingly good and everyone around us is stuffing themselves like Thanksgiving turkeys?"  Well I wish I had all the answers, but I can tell you how I survive and don't gain weight.

First and foremost, always plan ahead.  Never leave home without a package of peanut butter and crackers or a protein bar in your car or your purse.  Being unprepared will add approximately 7-10 pounds per year. It leads to a quick run through the drive thru.  If you do go to a fast food joint, then always order a kids meal.  1/3 of the calories of an adult meal and you still get the feeling of not being deprived.

Let me give you the example of my day yesterday.  I knew my mom was making chocolate chip cookies and we were making homemade ice cream for the Memorial Day festivities.  I knew I wanted to eat a hamburger, potato salad, baked beans, and of course chocolate chip cookies and homemade ice cream.  I planned my breakfast and lunch accordingly.  For breakfast I had some strawberries and blueberries.  For lunch I had a protein bar.  For dinner I had a hamburger, some potato salad, baked beans, 3 cookies and two bowls of homemade ice cream.  The homemade ice cream I dipped less than I normally would have in a bowl so that I could feel like I had two bowls of ice cream.  So in essence, it was one bowl of ice cream but I divided it into two bowls so I felt really indulged.  I enjoyed my dinner so much and all day when I wanted to eat or have a sweet, I told myself, "remember the cookies and the ice cream you are going to get later."

Here is another scenario:  You eat lunch at Chuy's.   By the way, did you know that a Chuy's taco salad only has 389 calories?  Yep, go guiltless there but don't load up on the chips or you will not be guiltless.  Back to the subject, you eat lunch at Chuy's which is great, but don't plan to eat a big dinner.  Eat a smoothie for dinner made up of a cup of orange juice, a half a banana, and some frozen berries.  Or, eat a protein bar for dinner.

Surviving life without gaining weight is all about balance.  If you splurge, then cut back at the next meal. Skip the vicious cycle of guilt.  When you mess up and eat too much, start over right that moment.  Each bite you leave on the plate is calories you skipped.  I have even been known to want a cookie so bad that I put it in my mouth, chewed it up and enjoyed it, then spit it in the trash.  It never made it to my stomach, and all I wanted was the taste anyway, so chew it then spit it out.  May sound gross, but I am totally anti diet.  They don't work so we have to go with what does work. :)

If I eat too much or decide to indulge in an ice cream then I figure up before I eat it how long I have to run to work it off.  If I eat a 400 calorie dessert then I know I have to run 4 miles to run it off.  Then I ask myself if it is worth the 4 miles to eat it.  Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.  It is all about planning ahead.

Thanks so much for reading my blog!  Go to the right and subscribe to it so you receive emails when I update and you will never miss a post!  Have a fabulous night!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Party Decorations on a Budget

I definitely love a party.  I love the frosting the best but what is a party without a few decorations?  The graduation party I just threw for my daughter for graduation was no exception and I was very concerned about being on a budget.  I wanted the perfect party with the perfect food and perfect decorations with a perfect pricetag.  Mission accomplished!  My last post had the party foods and recipes.  I hope you enjoyed that one.  Today we are going to talk about decorating on a dime. And here are a few things I picked up at the Dollar Tree that I used to decorate.

I got most of my decorations at the Dollar Tree.  Everything there is a dollar.  And if you don't know it already, so are their mylar balloons.  Anywhere else they are triple the price.  Seriously, mylar balloons with an anchor weight and everything for a dollar.  You can't beat that with a stick.  They have them for every occasion from birthday to Valentines Day to Mother's Day.  No excuse to not pick up a festive balloon or 12 anymore.

At the Dollar Tree, I bought two packages of balloons and made a cute balloon decoration.  I threaded a long needle with quilting thread and did not cut the end of the thread off.  I just left it on the spool so I could judge the length after I threaded the balloons.  I threaded one color then the other color and back and forth until I had used all the balloons I had.  You could make this longer or shorter.  It would even be cute to hang from a chandelier in short version.  These things at the party store are super expensive.  I have always admired them but never willing to pay the price for them.  SO, I created my own.  For the low cost of $2.  Two packages of balloons at $1 each and used thread I had at home to string them.  After I strung the balloons I decided how long I wanted them to dangle then tied the thread off at the bottom.  Then I hung them after I spread the balloons in a pleasing appearance.  It really made a nice decoration and a nice backdrop for pictures in her school colors.

Also at the Dollar Tree they had school colored small star shaped balloons.  I picked up some silver icicle things in the giftwrap aisle and stuffed it into a crystal vase I had at home.  Then I stuck the balloons down in it after I snipped the ends at varying lengths to add interest.  The Class of 2013 things in the arrangement came from the dollar aisle at Joann Fabrics.  I always like to look in the dollar aisle at Target, Joann Fabrics or definitely Dollar Tree.  For around $7 I had a nice table arrangement and I can save the balloons and icicles for when my son graduates.  Those balloons on a stick last forever.  Although this is not a picture of JUST the arrangement, you can get an idea of what it looked like :)

I made a memory board to display some old and new pictures of my guest of honor.  I bought one of those tri fold display boards at Walmart.  Then I covered it with dollar fabric at Walmart.  If they didn't have something in the dollar fabric I wanted then I didn't need fabric.  That was what I said to myself when I started looking.  Bingo!  Found some animal print I liked and got 2 yards to cover the board.  Covering it was easier than I thought.  I just stapled the fabric neatly around the edge and trimmed the excess.  I used E-6000 glue to stick the letters on that I cut out on a press.  If you don't have a press, then you could use purchased letters they have at Walmart.  The pictures I was a bit more picky about.  I wanted them back not damaged and not attached to the huge board.  So I used double sided tape, again purchased at the Dollar Tree.  The tape stuck the pictures very well but not permanently.  I printed some little captions explaining a few major life events and E-6000 them to the board.

I framed a few special items with frames I had around the house, like her scholarship award, a few special photos, her letter she got in band, and her acceptance certificate to college.  I also bought a small box from the Dollar Tree that I put index cards and a pen beside so that folks could write a piece of advice or a well wish on.   You could also use this idea for a wedding or even a birthday party.

Lastly, I got some streamer, you guessed it, at the Dollar Tree and twisted it up and taped a few balloons to the chandelier just to be festive.  Then I stuck a yard sign in the front yard that also cost a dollar and called the whole thing a party!

I hope you got some party decorating ideas from my blog today.  I am a girl who loves a bargain.  Thank you so much for reading my blog and please subscribe on the right.  Share me with all your friends!  Have a great day!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Creating the Perfect Celebration!

My oldest daughter just graduated from high school and it was one of my proudest moments.  Since she is my first, I went all out on the celebration.  By the time my third child graduates, I will probably just throw a cupcake at her and have a get together at Chuck E Cheese's.  But the first, well, I went overboard.  I will share with you how I created what ultimately was the perfect celebration.

I made the decision early on that I was going to make all the food.  So I immediately started channeling my inner Martha Stewart.  By the time I was finished, my inner Martha Stewart mojo was depleted.

First, I made a cheese ball.  My youngest daughter thought the cheeseball was so good that she ate cheeseball for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a day and a half after the party because she said it was "so good".  Here is the recipe I used:

 Celebration Cheeseball

2 boxes cream cheese
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 jar Old English Cheddar
1TBSP Lemon juice
1TBSP mayonaise
1TBSP Parmesan cheese
Pecans or Walnuts

Let cream cheese and cheddar warm to room temperature.  Mix all ingredients except pecans with a mixer.  Refrigerate mixture until it will hold shape, about 2 hours or more if you have time.  Form into a ball in your hands then roll in crushed pecans or walnuts.  Serve with crackers.

Next on the list of party foods is fruit dip.  I served the fruit dip with strawberries, blueberries, fresh pineapple, and apples.

Fabulous Fruit Dip

1 tub of Cool Whip(small)
1 block of cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Beat room temperature cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until smooth.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  May be a tiny bit lumpy but that is ok.  

Now we move on to mini cupcakes.  I got some mini cupcake papers at Walmart with a grey toile design.  I made a bunch of them.  Better to have too many than not enough.  
I made the cupcake part according to package directions on Duncan Hines Premium Cake Mix French Vanilla flavor.

After the cupcakes cooled I made the frosting and decided that just making a little flower on top of each one looked more dainty that making a big iced top(as much as I love frosting, I was going for looks rather than what I wanted on this occasion)

Buttercream Frosting

1 stick salted butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb powdered sugar
2 TBSP milk

Beat all ingredients together until fluffy.  Double the recipe for a two layer cake.

I added a small amount of Wilton paste coloring to make the frosting a light lavender.  Then I tinted a small amount of frosting yellow for the center.  I used a cake decorating tip to make the flower.  Then just a writing  tip to make the yellow center.

Next, I had to prepare my punch.  Everyone loved the punch.  I froze some in a jello mold to make a floating punch ring for the punch bowl.
To get the punch ring out of the jello mold just run some warm water over the back and it will slide right out.  

Celebration Punch

1 gallon of Hawaiian Punch, Fruit Juicy Red
46 oz. Pineapple Juice
2 liter Canada Dry Ginger Ale

Chill, mix and serve.

I also had planned to have cookie press cookies.  I love power tools, but apparently not in the kitchen. 
 I threw the cookie press out the window and abandoned the idea of cookie press cookies for the party.  My mom rode in on her white horse and saved the day as she volunteered to make chocolate chip cookies for the party since she clearly recognized I was out of Martha Stewart mojo and out of time.  I also served Deli Roll Ups from Sam's Club.

And last but not least, I made some homemade butter mints.  Omgoodness, they were to die for.  I got the recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Skip to My Lou.  Here is the web address for her blog and the recipe for the Cream Cheese mints I made.

Our party food was a huge success.  If anyone didn't like the food they sure didn't say so as well they shouldn't have ;)  Tomorrow I will share how I decorated for this party.  Thanks so much for reading my blog!  Please share the website with your friends and be sure to subscribe to this on the right.  Have a wonderful evening!!


Monday, May 20, 2013

God: 1 Boy: 0 I Like That Score

I have had more mixed emotions in the past 5 days than I can ever remember having.  In the midst of the wonderful excitement of my oldest daughter's graduation tragedy struck.  We still had a perfect celebration and things went great with that and my next blog post will be about how to create the perfect celebration.  I got a gutwrenching call from one of my friends about some police activity at a home that she wanted me to confirm who lived there.  As I grabbed my stomach and heart from the floor, I jumped in the car to go to the house of my best friend.  She was away on a vacation with her husband and her grown children were at home going to their jobs and going about life.  LOTS of police cars, crime scene unit, and an ambulance pulled away as I drove up.  I ran to the scene as I was dialing my friend praying all the way.  No way all this activity could be good.

Fast forward, I sat on the curb praying all the while the investigators went about their work.  My friend's son was rushed to the hospital with a gunshot wound.  We all prayed that it was an accident.  As of this moment it does not appear to be accidental but self inflicted.  My mind wanders.  HOW can a person decide this but live to tell about it?  What is God doing here?  My friends son said, "No, I'm done."  God said, "No, you are not done."  It is another modern day miracle I have witnessed.  My cup runneth over with praise for the almighty God and that He is ON HIS THRONE.  Wow, God, I can't wait to see what you are doing in this one.  This is better than any movie a talented producer could dream up!

This young man will be hope for the hopeless, help for the helpless, dreams for the dreamless, faith for the faithless, he will be a witness of God's great love, the power of prayer, and the fact that our plan is not always God's plan and only God's plan is perfect.  This young man is building my faith even though he doesn't even realize it.  It is those who truly can say "I have been there." that can validate and help those who feel like life is not worth living.  God has big plans for this young man.  I am thrilled to have a front row seat to watch God's show.  Praise HIM!

I had the honor of sitting with his sister at the hospital yesterday and she made some comments that won't ever leave me.  She said in paraphrase, "I understand the power of prayer.  Look at this burn on my finger I got last Monday.  It is not any better than it was when I got it and look at my brother.  All these people praying for him and he is making daily strides toward recovery that even baffle the doctors.  I believe in the power of prayer.  It works."  Her faith is increasing.  Maybe in ways it wouldn't have if not tested in this tragic way.

He must have felt alone that day.  And yet, a Facebook site set up to keep folks informed has hundreds of likes already.  A boy that is loved.  People giving hugs and support to the family.  A boy that is loved.  God plucking him out of his own despair.  A boy that is loved.  Parents that rushed home and sit bedside 24/7 praying fervently.  A boy that is loved.  A sister who showed strength that surpassed understanding.  A boy that is loved.

The boy said "I can't".  God said "With me, you can".  He saved the boys life last Wednesday.  All glory to the one and only, all powerful, living God.  Keep your eyes peeled.  This boy is going to do great things in God's Kingdom.

Current Score-  God:1
I like that score :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Screen Screen Screen and Slough

Sitting on the deck letting the sun shine on me and soaking my feet in a natural footbath is one of the most relaxing ways to treat myself that I can think of here on the second day of Women's Health Week.   Did you go online and look at my guest blog post on Swiftwick Sock's website?  I am so proud of that opportunity to be featured on their site. To view it, go to then click on Blog at the top of the page. 

Here is the recipe for the footsoak I am using. It is supposed to remove all the dead skin from your feet and make them summer-ready!  

1 cup blue listerine
1 cup vinegar
3 cups warm water

Soak 10 minutes then rub feet dry with a towel. 
I don't know about you but I am ready for summer. I love all the seasons. I think that is why God made seasons-we are ready for fall when it is time and ready for spring when it is time. Kind of like children-when they are born we are young and ready for the undertaking of being up at night and chasing after toddlers. Then as they get ready to graduate you are tired and old and ready for a new phase of life. I love how God's timing and design is perfect for us. You go, God!  You are a rock star!

Mother's Day has just passed and thanks to monthly self exams, I was able to celebrate this day with my mother. 40 years ago, when I was 3 years old, my mother found a lump during her own self exam. She had a double mastectomy and not only did she live to see me grow up, but she will be attending my oldest daughter's high school graduation on Friday.  One of my friends, who is 32, found a lump, had a double mastectomy three weeks ago, and will live to watch her children grow up due to early detection. It scares me to death to go get a mammogram because I hate the procedure, and I am afraid of what they might find. I overcome these fears each year to get one anyway. No one likes yearly checkups, but Pap smears and mammograms are life saving. My friend caught hers so early she isn't going to have to have chemo and neither did my mother. Screen screen screen. 

Thanks so much for reading my blog!  Upcoming is a blog post on my wedding day so stay tuned for another hilarious installment from the life of Jennifer!  My 10 minute soak is done now so I am going to slough my dead skin 😉
Have a fantastic day!!


Monday, May 13, 2013

National Women's Health Week

This week if National Women's Health Week.  There are many things that both men and women need to do to keep up with our health.  We can't be the hands and feet of Jesus if we don't keep our health in order.  When you fly on an airplane we all chuckle to ourselves as the flight attendants proceed to go through the motions of the safety features of the aircraft as well as how to react if the plane is in trouble.  The interesting part of that is when they talk about the oxygen masks dropping from the ceiling and they ultimately tell us that  we need to place the mask on ourselves BEFORE we place them on anyone else, even our children.  This is simply because we can't help others if we can't breathe ourselves.  The same is true of our health.  We can't help others or carry on our everyday lives or take care of our family if we are out of shape, tired, or lethargic.  

We don't have to run.  We all can walk.  Start small, with what you have, and do what you can.  Start walking.  Walk the neighborhood.  Then do it again tomorrow.  You will be a better person for it.  If you don't have time, then park in the back of the lot at Walmart.  Walk at a swift pace to the entrance.  Eat less, move more.  It will make a difference.

The folks at Swiftwick socks are giving some awesome tips and testimonials this week in celebration of Women's Health Week.  Check out their blog for lots of tips and encouraging words from working moms, 60+ folks, stay at home moms, and many others genres of people who work hard to stay fit and how they do it.  I have had the honor of being one of their guest bloggers this week.  So keep watch at for my guest blog post as well as other encouraging words from women who work to stay fit and eat right.  There is also a link to Swiftwick's blog at the bottom of my blog page to take you directly to it.

Stay tuned here at for more encouragement to eat less and move more this week in honor of Women's Health Week.  I kicked off my week by registering for the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 12, 2014.  I am super excited about it.  If you read my earlier blog about my journey to 26.2, you know that I said I was a one hit wonder on the marathon.  Well, the truth is that I am a one hit wonder unless I had a group to train with and to run the marathon with.  I have all of that.  My Hendersonville Running Club family has a group going down to run this race and we will all be training together.  Sounds like a plan to me.  
I believe this with every thread of my being.  Find a friend and drag them off the couch and move.  You can do it!!

Thank you so much for reading my blog.  God is opening up so many opportunities for me through my blog.  One of which the the opportunity to be a guest blogger on Swiftwick's website.  I am so honored by that.  Go to the right and subscribe to my blog!  You will receive updates as to when the blog has a new post.  Have a fabulous day!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Barefoot Running-A New Endeavor and Consumer Report

I remember when I was about 11 I heard the melodious sound of the ice cream man on the streets behind where I grew up.  Living on the main road, the ice cream man did not go down my street so I had to go behind the house and through the neighbor's yards to get to him.  Most times I did not catch him because it was too much trouble and my mother was so good about keeping plenty of treats in our freezer.  This day I decided to chase down that man who brings zombie eyes to any child who hears his tune in the area.  What is it about the ice cream man's music??  It is ages old and children have reacted to it the same way for a century if he has been around that long.  I was barefooted in the backyard when I heard his music and ran to stick my head in the door to shout that I was chasing the ice cream man and off I went.  I still remember how free I felt running like a crazy child chasing after the sound of music to buy a refreshment.

I never have had much use for shoes.  I love being barefoot.  You will be hard pressed to find me with shoes on from April to October unless I am somewhere that requires them.  My feet are tough and I can even walk in gravel and aggregate with no shoes. I started running 4 years ago and of course, run in shoes.  Then I read this book called Born to Run about indians running barefoot or in sandals and all the stories about how our bodies are designed to run and all the padding, etc of running shoes are just man's creation when we were all Born to Run.  Thus the birth of my desire to run barefooted was born from that book.  Luckily, barefoot running was becoming a fad so there were many choices to "transition" from shoes to bare feet.  However, being on a budget and already having running shoes it was hard for me to decide that I would spend more money on minimalist shoes or 5 finger shoes.  My philosophy in life is go big or go home so I just decided, after a LOT of research, that I would just run completely barefooted.  I LOVED it.  This was a year ago.  I ran about a half a mile barefooted after a 4 mile run in my shoes.  My feet were very sore and I was really nervous about hitting a rock or something that would cut my foot open.  I have children to raise so I am always concerned about my safety and injuring myself.  Also through research I realized that I would be starting over when I started running barefoot so the fact that I was training for a half marathon seemed not the smartest time to start barefoot running.  Idea axed, shoes back on, thought moved to the back of my head.

But...I never gave up the desire to barefoot run.  Every pair of shoes I buy I think to myself, "I have to buy the least padded, hardest soled running shoe in the store or my legs get sore from too much padding.  So WHY do I buy shoes to run in??"  And eternally, I look at the Vibram 5 finger shoes.  Then I look away because I am afraid to waste my money on something I may not like or be able to use and wouldn't they rub blisters between your toes???  Fast forward to this past weekend when I was at the tent sale at Sports Seasons.  Vibram 5 Fingers on sale plus an extra 20% off.  Sold to the rock star with spiky hair.  I skipped away like the leper who had been dipped in the River Jordan!  So excited!!

So I took these puppies out for a spin on Monday for the first time.  I was super pumped.  Decided I would walk some then run until I was uncomfortable and start there with breaking them in.  Well, I never got uncomfortable, my toes never rubbed, I just felt free as a bird like I was chasing the ice cream man and was LOVING it!!  These shoes are as close to barefoot as possible without actually having your skin on the pavement.  So it eased my fears of stepping on something and cutting my foot open or something like that.  They seriously feel like I am totally barefoot.  

Consumer Report on Vibram 5 Finger Running Shoes

I would recommend these shoes for running if a consumer generally likes to go barefoot for normal activity or out in the yard, has moderately tough feet, and wears stability running shoes which generally have firm padding in them.

They are very comfortable, I found there to be no break in time needed as I was able to run almost 5 miles with no problems what so ever the very first time I put them on my feet.  I am unusual with the "no break in" time needed.  Most have to start with very minimal mileage and work up.  I have not experienced that.  They do have 5 finger toe socks to wear with them but I wore them barefooted.

I am going to be a complete convert to 5 Finger shoes.  I want to wear them all the time.  Best.Shoes.Ever.

Thank you so much for reading my blog.  Go to the column on the right and subscribe to receive updates when I have a new post.  Enjoy your day and get out and run!  I know I am!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Free at Last

Today is quite a momentous day for me as a mother.  I am certain that my oldest is quite excited about this day as well, but maybe not in the same way that I am.  Today I am going for the official dismissal from the Special Education program, which she never needed in the first place, for my beautiful daughter.  Two weeks from tomorrow she will graduate from high school.  Does it matter that her dismissal comes just before she graduates?  Does it matter that she was in the program for years and received services and was called names because of it and yet she will receive official dismissal when it really won't matter at this point?  Yes.  Yes it does.  It matters to me and it matters to her.  I made sure this official dismissal took place.  I have some things to say today to whom it may concern.  I could have just let this go and let her graduate and forget about this with a new start in college.  I like new starts, God gives us a new day, a new moment.  I am seizing this moment and clearing my daughter's name and records from the bondage of misdiagnosis and mistreatment.  So yes, it matters.  She will get a new start in college in August but by george she will get a new start today with 6 days of school left for her.

If you need background on what I am talking about today, please go to blog archives and read "Witnessing a Modern Day Miracle".

Every year I have had to go to an IEP meeting.  I loathe IEP meetings because they eternally are talking about "disabilities" and "abnormalities" and those who conduct these meetings seem to forget they are talking about my beautiful daughter that is perfect in my eyes and is smart, and funny, and precious and kind, and compassionate, and most importantly is a child of the King.  I have spent many years wanting to bang my fist on the table and yell, "Did you notice how she was a friend to someone less fortunate?  Did you notice how she is always about something that is good and wholesome and right?  Did you notice how hard she works to get what she does?  Did you forget that I squeezed her out of my bottom and I can show you all kinds of crazy if you don't say something good about my girl?  Is what she can show you on a piece of paper ALL that matters to you?  Have you looked at her heart?"  Each year I warn my best friend that I am about to go to my meeting.  She mobilizes and knows that I am going to call her madder than a wet hen because of how they talk in the meeting.  Well not today.  I have a few things to say.  Heaven help them while I speak my peace.  I will bring up how in second grade they wanted to have her repeat that grade.  I will bring up how in 6th grade they wanted to have her repeat that grade.  I would not let them.  I wouldn't because I was listening to God and what He thought was best and not what the educational system thought was best.  I firmly believe that had I given in to what "they" thought was best for my girl that I would have a different story to tell today.  I believe that she quite possibly could have given up and dropped out of school.  If I had let them repeat her twice then she would be 18 years old and a sophomore.  Did "they" think what that would do to a girl's self esteem?  I couldn't blame her for wanting to give up and I am not a quitter.  Are they really "disabilities" or do we just all have different abilities and the system tries to put us all into a mold when we don't all fit into that mold?  If God wanted us to fit a mold then wouldn't He have made us all exactly alike and look exactly the same?

I will bring up the fact that if I had laid down as a mother and not advocated for my child and not told them what I would allow them to do with her then she would not be graduating this year, would not have received the Hope Scholarship for academic excellence, would not be wearing an honors banner on her graduation gown for exceptional grades in high school, would not have been accepted to college where she will begin attending in the fall, would not have made straight A's for 3 of 4 grading periods?  Because I bucked the system she IS.  She IS graduating, made straight A's on the world's scale, got the Hope Scholarship, will wear an honors banner, and IS going to college.  She never needed special education in the first place, she simply could not hear.  Well now she CAN.
Now by no stretch of the imagination am I suggesting that the educational system stinks, or that this is all the school's fault.  I don't believe that for one moment.  I believe this is not our story, this is God's story and what He writes is perfect.  My daughter would not be the hard working princess she is today if not for the hardships she has endured through the years.  I would not change a thing that has occurred in these past 18 years.  It has made us all what we are today.  We were being molded into who we are today.  What I am saying is be an advocate for your children.  Don't just take what doctor's or educators say about your child.  Take what God says about them.  Do what is best for them.  Go with your gut.  My gut said different than the system all these years and now, just a few short weeks ago we all learned that my gut was right.  And look at the results that have come from it.

We are having a graduation party for my girl in two weeks.  I could certainly be wrong but I feel like my girl graduating is a bigger deal than maybe some other kids. Probably even a bigger deal than my other two kids when they graduate.  There is a huge story behind her graduating, not just a career of lollipops and rainbows.  It is a graduation of perseverance, of not backing down, of not giving up.  Each person invited to the party has had a significant role in getting my girl where she is today.  I wish I had time to tell each person the role they played.  They may not even know the role they played.  Rest assured, if you received an invitation, you played a huge role.  This isn't about graduation gifts.  This is about the greater good of a child.  Of seeing past the outside and seeing straight to the heart. 

Today I am going to that meeting.  I am going to witness them writing dismissal papers from the Special Education program that she did not need in the first place.  She just needed hearing aids.  She needs official dismissal so she can kick the dust of this town off her feet and fly.  Do I wonder what she may have been able to accomplish if she had not been misdiagnosed?  Sometimes, in my darkest hour.  But I push that thinking down and let the cream rise to the top.  This is God's story, not mine.  I am just proud I have it to tell.  It is not a story I would have chosen to have to tell, but it is all mine and I am proud of it because God chose me to be a character in it.  My faith has made me whole.

Thank you so much for reading my blog.  I am so grateful for the opportunities this has brought to me and gives me a medium to share my thoughts.  I hope my story helps just one person.
You are NOT alone.  I felt alone for many years and kept all of this to myself.  Alone is not a good place to be.  May God bless each and every one of you and May God bless those people who are in the meeting today.  I have a word or two to speak ;)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

No Score

There are a lot of things that a score is important.  A baseball game is insignificant if there is no score.  A tennis match is the same.  A football game would not be as exciting without a posted score as would a hockey game.  Some even comment that they need to "even" the score with a positive OR negative connotation.  Today I would like to suggest that there is one aspect of life where there should be no score.

I suppose this is a pet peeve of mine.  I do something for someone and they say, "I owe you one."  Heaven help us if when someone does something for me they think in their head "She owes me one" because let me clue you in on something about me, it ain't happening.  I don't think to myself  "_____ did something for me now I have to even the score and I have to do something for them."  It takes the joy from the giver if the giver feels like you feel obligated to even the score and return a favor.  In turn, it takes the joy out of receiving something if you feel guilty and immediately in your head think that you need to repay them.  

The Bible talks about God loving a cheerful giver.  I am suggesting that if you expect something in return for your giving, whether it be giving of time, talent, or money, then you are not ultimately a cheerful giver.  Give with the intention of making someone happy or their life easier without expecting anything in return.  If you are expecting something in return or the score to be evened at some point, then you are taking the joy away from the recipient.  The recipient should be able to accept without worry that you are expecting something in return.

On the same token, if you are the recipient, be a gracious recipient without feeling obligated to return the favor.  If you feel a sense of obligation then you are taking the joy away from the giver.  They gave to you to make your life easier or to make you happy.  Be happy and skip the guilt.  Guilt is a terrible thing.  It can rule your life.  It can undermine your efforts.

I am much more of a fan of paying it forward.  After all, what goes around always comes around and you reap what you sow.  So if we all are paying it forward then we all experience the joy of giving and receiving without the mental anguish of obligation and guilt.  It makes my head hurt to think of all the people I would "owe" one to for helping me or my family.  Let's just all do what we can, when we can to who we can and we will all be reaping the harvest of good people doing good things in a good world.

Now that is a point to ponder.

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