More Adventures In My 37th Year of Life!

So, if you aren’t in the know, I decided last April to participate in  37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life!  It has been a fabulous journey thus far, and the adventures continue…

#24 – Have Some Fun at The Mall of America/Nickelodeon Universe®IMG_2639IMG_2656

So, I fly in to St. Paul/Minneapolis often when I go to visit family, but rarely do I make an effort to go and visit the mall just for fun. So, that was exactly my plan on my latest trip home. My family and I spent the day at Nickelodeon Universe® which is an indoor theme park that features seven acres of unique attractions and entertainment. We were definitely entertained.  My oldest niece, who is seven, wasn’t scared at all, and rode on every ride with us.  Her favorite was this “skateboard” ride otherwise known as Avatar Airbender. I liked the FAIRLY ODD COASTER, Ghost Blasters, and  Pepsi Orange Streak, the best! I love rides!  The only thing I wish I had done was get a photo with Sponge Bob.  I chickened out –  LOL!

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#25 – Go to a Restaurant I Have Never Been To: Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company

So, I have always wanted to go to Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and finally made it happen. My family and I were pleased with the food, service and atmosphere, and we had a grand time!  I especially loved the Forest Gump Trivia Time with the waitstaff!

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#27 – Eat at the The Nook

The Nook is one of the recommendations made by Food Network Star, Guy Ferrari.  In fact this restaurant has, according to Guy, the #3 Best Burger of all time: Guys Big Bite!  This burger was worth the extra-special trip!!!!  It is a pepperjack, stuffed burger with bacon  topped with roast beef and cheddar.  I am salivating just thinking about it. The cheese was just oozing out! While my other family members weren’t “that” impressed (FYI: they didn’t have this exact burger), I was blown away!!!!  You must go and try THIS burger!  An extra bonus to this trip, was that The Nook is very near my Alma Mater!  How cool is that!July 2014 396

#28 – Eat Tofu

Confession:  I ate tofu and I liked it! Yes, indeed, I loved this tofu!   To the average Joe, tofu, is not something one craves, but since my first encounter with Spicy Baked Marinated Tofu with Vibrant Cabbage Stir Fry, I can’t stop thinking about it. My dad and I regularly talk about this unfathomably fantastic recipe! Kudos to my sister-in-law who is the best cook in all the world and made us this dish!! Seriously! As a family of carnivores, we usually cannot fathom a meal without meat. In fact, we were trying to figure out what we would do “if” we didn’t like it, but no one needed to do that because it was SENSATONAL! Now, we cannot fathom a week without this dish.  YUMMY!tofu

#29 – Learn to make my own salad dressing

I am trying to be more healthy these days, so ranch or Caesar dressing just doesn’t cut it anymore.  My faves have too many calories and too much fat and sugar.  So, I decided to take a crack at making my own salad dressing.  After many, many, MANY failed attempts, I have finally found the best dressing recipe (for me).

1/4 cup of white vinegar

3 TBL water

2 TBL Wildtree Italian Salad Dressing mix

1/2 cup of natural grapeseed oil

If you are curious about this recipe, you can purchase the product or others like it from the following link: http://www.mywildtree.com/shop/catalog.aspx – My friend Stephanie will gladly help you and their products are fabulous!!

#30 – (impromptu) Girls Night at the  Dueling Piano Bar in Houston

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If you know me at all, I don’t do impromptu well.  But on a whim, I got dolled up and drove to Houston to meet two of my girlfriends for a Girls Night Out!! It was truly one of my most exciting, personal, just for fun, nights I have ever experienced!  The Dueling Piano bar is the bombdiggity!  I could have stayed there all night long and I hope to return again soon!!!  It was so pleasing! From my requests one of the pianists said, “do you like oldies?”  Why yes I do, how did you guess?!  Could it have been that my list included “Brown-Eyed Girl,” “Teenager in Love,” “Sittin’ On Top of the Bay,” “Hello, Mary Lou,” “Elvira,” etc.

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Pushin’ Through the Pain

So, I wasn’t intending to inflict pain upon myself, but it inevitably happens (or shall I say “happened”) when you try and push yourself when you aren’t exactly in the best of shape.  About a month ago I started getting serious about working out again!  The three months previous, I still hadn’t recovered 100% from and “unknown” illness,  was super busy, and I just didn’t commit to exercising.  Now, I have a dualthon to train for!  It will be a 3.1 mile run, followed by an 18 mile bike, followed by another 3.1 mile run, and I can’t do this “cold turkey” or I will be the turkey.  Sadly, I continue to gain weight, due to my poor eating habits, which is seriously unhealthy and is frankly dangerous, hence my need for exercise.  Also, there are risks in exercising and training, especially when running and/or biking where there is traffic and/or you are in unfamiliar territory, which I have proven to do on many occasions. But I must take the lesser of two evils and keep pushin’ through the pain because I MUST get healthy.

Running on the treadmill hurts.

Getting up in the early morning to run the bridge hurts.

Pushing yourself to surpass your mph average on your bike hurts.

Sit-ups hurt.

Flutterkicks hurt.

It all hurts, but it must be done to get healthy.

Just over three weeks ago, I decided to go “head to head” with a train track, and unfortunately the train track won. Unbeknownst to me, the train track ahead had an “ever so slight curve” that became parallel, not perpendicular to the road.

Are you gettin’ what I’m puttin’ down? 

So, unavoidably, my tiny road tires fell in between the tracks, while all 185 pounds of me, that was traveling approximately 15 miles per hour, was suddenly catapulted through the air only to land and hauntingly slide over the tracks and onward across the pavement. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “where the rubber meets the road.”   My elbow hit first, followed by my shoulder and then my knee.  Thankfully there wasn’t a train coming, however, I was truly a “train wreck” after that and the pain was beyond excruciating.

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Believe me when I tell you that road rash  is not something I would wish on my worst enemy.

I know it is probably not “cool” (literally or figuratively) to wear leather from top to bottom while riding a road bike (especially in this Texas heat), but I am strongly considering it.  That fall inflicted the most agonizing pain I have ever experienced.  With that said, I fell in the middle of the ride, some five miles away from home, so my only option was to dust myself off, and push through the pain.

God’s word is so true!!!

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)

Yeah, I was in pain.   I’m not sure if it could have really been avoided, since I was unfamiliar with the road, but I fell, and  I was in a great deal of pain.  I wanted to just curl up in a fetal position and call it a night, but I couldn’t do that. I HAD to keep going!  I find myself in situations like this time and time again.  Don’t you?  I fall off my bike, I injure my knee, I say something stupid, I hurt someone I love.  “Why Lord, why,” I lament.  Yet God encourages us through His word to keep on keepin’ on!  While it may be excruciatingly painful for a time, God will, as promised, get us through.  He doesn’t promise that we will be “happy as a lark” our whole life through.  No sirree, that is not true.  Fortunately, He does promise that when we go through those pain-filled times (and they will come), He will come to our rescue in HIS time, because He is our loving, Savior!

Oh, yes, lest I forget, I have had some great “first” experiences while exercising! This is my A.D.D. kickin’ in.  On my last vacation with my family we all went on a “family walk/run.”  This has NEVER happened before.  I mean, we are the family who drives around Walmart for an hour to find the closest and ONLY the closest parking spot. We are the family that entertains ourselves in front of the TV, watching movies while entering into a Coca-Cola and popcorn (dripping with butter) coma.  But not this time.  Every member of my family strapped on his/her running shoes and went for a run or walk!  I was so proud of our family!

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 Here is my niece and I on the run!

 She chose this fashionable tutu as her running attire! Isn’t she cute!  I also discovered that she is going to be a world class runner!! She is soooooo fast, and she needs to be my permanent running buddy! I literally got “smoked” by a four year old :) See, she’s keeping the pace!

Familyreunion 076My mom and my youngest niece even joined us on our walk/run!

We celebrated our run by jumping in to the lake – literally!  

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Clearly I am the heaviest one of the bunch as I am miles ahead of them in meeting the water.

One more reason to keep pushin’ through the pain!

Notice my niece (the running machine) is having no part of our fun (see above).  

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Here is our after shot! It felt so good to jump in that cool lake!

A month ago I also started running “the bridge” with two of my friends!  We don’t have hills in these here parts, so any chance I can get to run “up hill” is great training! I am getting stronger and stronger!

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Finally, my last few bricks (1 mile run, 20-minute bike, 1 mile run) have also shown improvement, so I am encouraged!

Can’t you see the pain in my face from today’s brick!?!?!

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God is Good, All the Time! All the Time, God is Good!

Shooting For the Stars!

It was Spring.
But it was Summer I wanted,
The warm days,
And the great outdoors.

It was summer.
But it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves,
And the cool, dry air.

It was Fall.
But it was Winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow,
And the joy of the holiday season.

It was Winter.
But it was Spring I wanted,
The warmth,
And the blossoming of nature.

I was a child.
But it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom,
And the respect.

I was twenty.
But it was thirty I wanted,
To be mature,
And sophisticated.

I was middle-aged.
But it was twenty I wanted,
The youth,
And the free spirit.

I was retired.
But it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind,
Without limitations.

My life was over.

But I never got what I wanted.

“Present Tense” by Jason Lehman

I will never forget these words falling off the lips of Luci Swindoll in October of 2010. Still to this day, I do not ever recall being so aware of God’s presence as I did at that moment, nor have I ever been so overcome by emotion in a public venue, but there I was in the middle of the Alamodome hunched over, weeping. “My life was over. But I never got what I wanted.”  THAT was going to be me and the reality leveled me.  Have you ever felt this defeated?

One week later, my sister asked me to participate in the Chicago Triathlon with her and my brother (who at the time, was serving in Iraq). This couch potato and anything but an athlete,  said, “yes!” My journey to train for the triathlon also turned into my organizing a support group for families of soldiers overseas called “Walkin’ While We Wait.” It was a way to encourage healthy living and trusting God, so rather than “weeping, whining or worrying – we walked!” It is amazing how God’s hand was at work and  the dominoes began to fall. Had I never attended the Women of Faith 2010 gathering and heard those words, I know with certainty that I would never have said “yes” to my sister’s request, I would have never had the courage to start this organization and I would never have begun a journey to healthy living.  The domino effect continued as I soon became the proud mama of two amazing schnauzers.  I had always wanted to have two dogs, but never allowed myself the satisfaction, and so I  finally got my Chip and Charleigh Anne! That year I also  made it a priority to travel to see my family (who live 1500 miles away from me) returning home four separate times. Sticking with the family theme, these transforming words, along with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit gave me confidence to step out in faith and sponsor three children from Africa through Compassion International, something I had always wanted to do.  This one phrase, “My life was over but I never got what I wanted” had shaken me to the core and moved me to do more in that one year and the years following than I had done in all my previous 30 years combined.

Tonight, “Present Tense” stopped me cold again.  I began to wonder what Mukademari Beatrice, Uwineza Jacqueline and Blessing Muthoni dream about becoming? I wondered what my nieces and nephews and all of my precious students long to be?  I wondered if  they are shooting for the stars or if they regularly feel defeated like I had for most of my life?

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As a little girl I rarely remember feeling strong and courageous.  Oh, who am I kidding?  As a grown woman I feel very much the same way.  It is a struggle to live in the present. Unfortunately too many of us, children included, sit in the past and wallow in our fears and self-pity.  I heard a mother share that in the midst of yet another faux pas, her six year old son shouted in exasperation, “Mom, I messed up again…I just want to die.” How can a child be so riddled with defeat and hopelessness that he doesn’t want to live? My heart aches beyond understanding, and my lips pray for the precious children in this world. They need permission to shoot for the stars, and encouragement when they fall short.   Ladies and gentlemen, we have a responsibility to rally together and supply them with that blessing!

As I visited with students today after school (our first week of school for the year is complete)  most students were already counting down the days until Thanksgiving Break.  I wonder if my girls in Africa have ever felt the same way?  From their letters,  I surely pray this isn’t the case.

“We are doing exams that end the school year. I am always grateful for the love you show me. Keep praying for me to perform well.” – Mukademari

“My schooling is going well and I am preparing for second term exams” - Uwineza

“At school it is going good. I am in primary 4. I did well in term 1. I request you to continue to pray for me to study well.”  -Mukademari

“Someday I would like to be a Pastor and preach the Gospel” – Uwineza

Because of Compassion International and my sponsorship, my girls are able to freely attend school which “provides them with Bible teaching, health screening, hygiene and nutrition education, physical exercises, field trips, games, opportunities for community service, scholastic materials, tutoring and school and home visitations” (compassion.com) Each time they write they talk about school and what they learn. Their words encourage me! I pray that they would know what beauties they are and that they are dripping with potential.  Unfortunately, the statistics are stacked against them, and billions of others.

Did You Know?

(www.crin.org, http://www.unicef.org, http://www.childinfo.org)

  • Worldwide, nearly 80 percent of primary-school-age children attend school. In least developed countries, this figure is around 66 percent.
  • The largest out-of-school population is in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 45.5 million children of primary school age are out of school.
  • Of the 67 million primary-school-age children who do not attend school, 53 percent are girls.
  • Worldwide, only 49 percent of children of secondary school age actually attend secondary school.
  • Of the 49 percent of secondary age students who do not attend school, 52 percent are girls. The world’s functional illiterates include more than 130 million children who do not attend school, 73 million of them girls.

I don’t want my girls or any children to succumb to the false reality that they are worthless. I don’t want them to reach the end of their lives saying, “my life was over, but I never got what I wanted” (Lehman, Jason).  I want them all to finish school, and be who God created them to be!!!! I want them to live in the present and  shoot for the stars without fear!

I pray, also, that you and I can live in the present and take full advantage of the opportunities set before us!  Furthermore, when we falter or fail, may we love each other enough to pick each other up, offer forgiveness and keep movin’ toward those stars!

Join with me and pray for my girls.  Better yet, won’t you consider sponsoring a child (by clicking on the previous link) so you can save one more child from being a statistic and change the end of his or her story from “My life was over and I  never got what I wanted” to “my life was over and I DID everything that God wanted!”

 Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

Soooooo, seriously, ladies and gents.  Why on earth do we put ourselves through cruel and usual punishment?  Like for REAL?  This last week was my first serious week of regular exercise.  Of course I should be eating right too, but that is, and always will be my arch nemesis.  I attempt to both, “eat well” and “exercise,” but it is a continuous, exhausting, struggle.  With that said, just seven months ago I had completed training for a dualthon in Austin, and I was running my mile in about 8:44 and was averaging almost 4 1/2 miles in 20 minutes during my brick.  For those of you not in the know, a brick is an essential part of triathlon and dualthon training which, according to beginnnertriathlete.com, “refers to training on two disciplines during the same workout, one after the other, with minimal or no interruption in between, just as you would do in a race.” The brick I did today was one mile run, followed by a 20-minute bike followed by yet another mile.  The last time I did a brick was in January.

Fast forward to August of 2014, I have gained approximately six pounds in that time, and due to illness have been refraining from exercise, until this week. Today proved it. The excruciating pain in my lungs and my legs this afternoon was indeed, cruel and unusual punishment.  Had I JUST stayed the course and continued to exercise regularly and eat well, I would have probably lost about ten pounds, would be rockin’ a 8 1/2 minute mile, and my lungs would not have felt as if they were the size of a dried up prune.  But NOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!  A 10:14 mile run, 4.1 mile bike, and 10:37 mile run. I just can’t keep it together.  My body hurt so badly, I literally thought I was having a heart attack.

So, now, I find myself training for two dualthons, one in October and another in December and I am back to where I started?  It frustrates me, beyond measure, that I do this to myself.   “So why do you pay money to put yourself through such strenuous exercise,” you might pose?  “Well, because racing seems to be the only approach that keeps me committed to exercising regularly.”  If I miss a day, or number of days or God-forbid, a week of exercise (when training for a race), I lament, “Kristy, for Pete’s sake, you paid money for this upcoming race.  Are you just going to throw it away?” Then, the thought of throwing money in the trash races through my mind, and I get off my derriere to workout.   Regretfully, if I am completely honest, I battle with self-worth, and simply declaring, “I’m worth it,” doesn’t push me enough.  Maybe you can identify?

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As frustrating as today was, I am determined to stay the course and compete in both races, lose ten pounds (or shall I say, “get rid of ten pounds,” because, by golly, I DO NOT want those ten pounds to find me again) and get healthy!  Why don’t you set a goal for yourself too?

On a completely separate note (this is my ADD kicking in), today I had the blessing of attending a Women’s Ministry event!  Amazing author, and speaker, Donna Pyle, was our guest! You neeeeeeeed to sit at her feet and soak in her words because Jesus is there!

“Perhaps you’re experiencing a detour through a spiritual desert right now…Keep walking.  We all experience desert seasons.  Maybe you’re right in the middle of one of those seasons, or you have just emerged from one. Perhaps you see the dry, crackled ground ahead.  Are you ready to give up?  If that describes you, take heart. Jesus offers something better.  He shows you the path to streams of living water that will quench your soul’s thirst.  He cannot bear watching you shrivel up without hope.”  (Donna Pyle, Quenched, 2014)

Indeed my body is out of shape and in need of an overhaul, as I expressed above, but heaven forbid we forget our souls?  Certainly, I was in need of water during my brick today. According to my doctor, I drink more water than any person he has ever seen (at least I can say I’ve finally won an award – LOL), but I am achingly in need of  “living water” that only our Savior can give.  Maybe you find yourself suffering in your relationship with God and/or simply need to be fed spiritually?  Dive into God’s Word, the Bible.  And if that is just too overwhelming for you right now, I would  suggest you check out Donna Pyle’s latest book, Quenched: Christ’s Living Water for a Thirsty Soul, and/or any of her amazing Bible studies from her website: http://www.artesianministries.org/ 

Blessed be the journey!

No CARDIO = No Party-YO :(

Due to my super busy schedule, at work, I have not made the effort to do my regular cardio workouts (ie: biking and running). In fact, I cannot tell you the last time I actually went for a run. On second thought, yes I can.  It was the Biggest Loser 5K. However, that was sadly, in MAY! I mean, I should be shouting, “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY!”  Yikes! That is insane! After all of the hard work I put in to compete in the dualthon in December, and completing the Standard Process 21-Day Cleanse in April, I am back up to 184 pounds and returning to my “comfortable,” old eating habits.

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I HATE IT!

 It makes me sad, and frustrated, and makes me long to be that girl that can just eat anything she wants, but doesn’t gain a single pound. Unfortunately, that is not who God made me to be, and I have to accept that.

Tonight, I had to nip it in the bud! After getting home from work at 9:20pm, I simply put on my workout sneakers, changed into my workout clothes (for I am not a woman who can just wear “whatever” when I work out. Believe me, it would not be a pretty sight, and I would probably score a couple black eyes) and made no excuses. I turned on the treadmill and walked, with a 4 incline, for one hour.  Side note: over a month ago, I canceled my gym membership and was basically gifted a friend’s treadmill. It was a minimal cost for the greatness of this machine, but as is the case in most homes, it was starting to collect some dust and some dirty clothes.

Fortunately, tonight I got her workin’ again!

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After my workout I felt unbelievably energized!!!  

Oh my goodness have I missed cardio!  In fact I learned a hard lesson: “No cardio equals no party, YO!” I’m not kidding.  I have missed my cardio workouts. I miss my bike. I miss running with my running buddy.  I know that life happens, and work happens, and often there are times when I just can’t do it, but I have got to find a way to stop setting my workouts aside and reaching for food during busy, stressful times.  I am not in the partying mood right now. I am sad because I sabotage myself.  I move forward and then at the first onset of stress, I move ten miles in the other direction.  It is pitiful really, and it is something I have GOT to figure out before I have a heart attack or get diabetes.  Nine days ago I joined a free online exercise accountability group.  We do a challenge a day and share our goals,  joys, sorrows and failures with each other on Facebook.  I have sadly missed a few challenges, however, this group reminds me of the importance of having people to exercise with.  You need people to hold you accountable.  These thirty men and women are doing that for me. Yes, I have failed to fulfill the challenges on a few days, but thankfully, I have continued to press on, because I know they want me to.   My personality is one that needs that extra encouragement and push from others. I am not going to apologize for it, but simply accept it, and realize that being surrounded by people who will encourage me to be healthy is essential to my success. It has been proven time and time again throughout my life.

I don’t know where you are at, my friends?  But, I hope that you will join me in kicking those bad, unhealthy habits for good. We all need to stay on track and commit to healthy living!

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

Genesis 1:27

The Adventures Continue…

As I have embarked on 37 Adventures For My 37th Year of Life I have discovered that the best ones are those unplanned, those done on a whim, simply to live life to the fullest! And that is exactly what I have been doing since my 37th birthday! To learn more about my 37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life, you can click on the above link to read my blog!

So, the adventures continue…

#16 – Visit a Farmer’s Market (on side of the road)

Truth be told, when I travel, I am almost always traveling with my youth group and I don’t have the opportunity to stop and visit any specialty stores along the way.  So, on one of my last trips to Houston I decided to stop and check out a farmer’s market on the side of the road.  I have seen it hundreds of times and finally took the time to stop.  Below are some of the photos.

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Rule #1 – bring cash!  Sadly, the beautifully displayed fruits and vegetables couldn’t be purchased by ME that day because “no cash, no buy.” Regretfully, I got into my car and drove home without any yummy veggies or fruits to eat. I was so disappointed. This was about the only time I have ever regretted not carrying cash.

#17 – Meet Sam Houston

As one who rarely has taken road trips, I decided to take the opportunity this year to do more of them. So, a few months ago, I had the opportunity to go and visit some friends in Huntsville, Texas!  I knew this would be a great adventure and I had always wanted to stop and meet Sam Houston! I finally did!  I was also able to visit the Campus of Sam Houston State University and reminisce with one of my college roommates and her husband. This trip made me wonder why it has taken me so long to make impromptu road trips! It was wonderful!


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#18 – Eat Pie at Royer’s Pie Haven

Hmmm, I guess I had forgotten how many road trips I have taken in my 37th year of life?  It seems it is more than the last 36 years combined!  Okay, so maybe not, but pretty close.   About a month ago I took the opportunity to go to Austin to visit some friends.  There was no doubt that my first stop on the trip was to eat pie at Royer’s Pie Haven.  I love pie! June 2014 076Pie is one my most favorite things, and so when I learned of this pie place, I just had to stop and kick up my feet, literally.

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The decor and ambiance was fabulous and I stayed there for more than a few hours, just relaxing and eating their awesome pie!  To learn more about Royer’s Pie Haven you can go to their website at: http://royerspiehaven.com/

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#19 – Trip to the Largest Whole Foods Store I Have Ever Seen

Due to my recent health kick, I was beyond excited to visit one of the largest Whole Foods store I have ever seen.  I’m not sure that it is “truly” the largest, but it was the size of a mall.  I mean, it had its own parking GARAGE.  I entered like a tourist, happily snapping photos and surely annoying all the regular shoppers.  Each aisle I perused contained at least one and usually dozens of  strange and unique items.  If I was rich, I would have spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars trying out their amazing selections. These are just a few of the shots I took. I have dozens of others!

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This particular Whole Foods even had a full service bar, along with a Fresh Seafood bar and numerous buffets.  I have never seen anything like it.  At 5pm this Whole Foods store was the “Happening Place” to meet for a fine dinner and delicious drinks.  I will most certainly go back there to experience it again!

#20 – Go Fishing From a Boat

Though I have gone fishing a couple times in my life, I have never actually fished from a boat.  Over the 4th of July, I finally had the opportunity to do so, and I caught a fish!  It was a black crappie, and I am not ashamed to admit that I was over the moon about it. I could have fished all day and truly believe I have found my new hobby! Anyone want to go fishing with me?

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#21 – Watch a Sunrise and Sunset in the Same Day

I am not an early riser, in the least bit, however, someone suggested that this be one of my great adventures and I just had to do it.  I got up at 6am this morning and was able to observe the beautiful sunrise over the lake.  I had never actually sat in silence that long and watched the sun inch its way upward. It was mesmerizing!

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About fourteen hours later, I was blessed to witness that very same sun setting on the horizon!  I wasn’t at the lake, but the sunset was still amazing and this was a fabulous adventure that I hope to participate in many more times!  God is such an amazing artist!

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#22 – Make Homemade Ice Cream

I love ice cream, especially Blue Bell.  Unfortunately, I have never made homemade ice cream, until now! With the help of a great team of friends, I was able to be a part of making homemade ice cream by using a delicious recipe passed on from generation to generation!

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#23 – Go Star Gazing

Where I live, the evening sky is orange and you can barely see the twinkling stars. That is one thing I really miss about where I grew up. We used get on our roof and watch the stars for hours.  Unfortunately, I haven’t made the time to star gaze… until this weekend! In the darkness of the night, as the locust chirped and frogs croaked, I reminisced about the traveling Planetarium that used to come to our school. That was my favorite day of the school year!  At thirty-seven years old, I plopped myself on the floor of the pontoon boat with two of my students and anxiously observed the beautiful stars that God created!!  To top it off, we were greatly blessed to observe three shooting stars! AMAZING!  We all made a wish three times over!!

#23 – Ride Big Bertha

I have never had the joy of being pulled behind a boat on a tube, but I can finally say that I have!  It was so much fun to ride Big Bertha (that’s the name of the tube)! Bring on the waves!

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 Stay tuned to my blog for more of my 37 great adventures,

and I want to encourage you and yours to get out there and live life to the fullest. Participate in as many adventures as you can! It will fill your life with so much joy!

 

Withered. Fruitless. Broken.

So, if “a picture is worth a thousands words,” then this is going to be a really long blog post! LOL!

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In my quest to eat healthy I decided to try my hand at gardening and planted a few tomato plants.  I strutted down to the local grocer, bought the 5-gallon buckets, drilled a few holes for drainage, purchased organic soil and committed to taking care of these plants so I could reap a harvest.  Almost since day one my plants have struggled.  Clearly I do not have a green thumb.  If you want even further proof, just stop by and check out the garden in my front yard: pitiful!

It is quite frustrating to have invested in these plants, in hopes of reaping a harvest.  Thus far, the plants have only produced three (3)  tomatoes, and though I am not a rocket scientist, by the looks of it, there may NOT be a prolonged harvest.  Nurturing and caring for your plants is essential.  If you don’t know what you are doing in the gardening realm  (ie: haven’t done your research), and/or you don’t feed your plants (ie: water ) they will die.

I confess, I have no idea how to garden, nor have I taken the time to study up.  I have also, admittedly, went a few days (ah hem, a week) without watering my plants. “Ignorance is NOT bliss” in this case.  Oh yes, I could wave the flag and claim ignorance, but that is still not going to bring my plants back to fruitfulness.  Nothing will bring them back except a lot of tender, loving care, quite a bit of further research, and a miracle from up above!  Without those things, my tomato plant will most certainly die. What a revelation that this is also true for our faith!

The grace-filled, seed of faith is planted in our hearts on the day of our baptism!

(Side note: if you haven’t yet been baptized and are curious, please  send me a message so we can discuss it in more detail)

We receive the beautiful, undeserved, gift of salvation from our sins, and our relationship with God begins.  The Holy Spirit  lives in us to guide, direct and encourage us, but, without the regular study of His Word (ie: The Bible) and participation in the Sacraments (ie: Baptism and Lord’s Supper) that seed of faith is going to wither and fade.  Life happens, and while most of the time it is not intentional, our relationship with God takes the backseat. Forget the backseat, our faith often gets shoved in the deep, dark, trunk.  Out of sight out of mind, right?  That is, until one day, you return to find it looking much like my pitiful plant.

 Withered. Fruitless. Broken.

Is it too late? Never!  You see, God comes to us in our Baptism!  He is chooses us!

“I want a  deep, authentic, real, relationship with you,” God pleads!

“It’s not always going to be easy.  Sometimes you are going to pull away.  Sometimes you are going to disappoint.  Sometimes you are going to fail, but I will never, ever stop pursuing you.”

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39

” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:3-7

God sincerely wants our relationship with Him to grow!  

He wants to see the fruits of the spirit in our lives. “The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23), but similar to my pitiful tomato plant, it won’t produce if we don’t tend to it.

Maybe you have pulled away from God? There is simply too much going on in your life right now to digest or think about any more? You have absolutely zero time for anything other than your mundane routine?  I am there right with you!  I am beyond busy, and I have failed to take the time to be in God’s presence and let Him speak to me through His Word.  My faith, sadly looks similar to this dying plant.  So what do you do, if that is you too?

Martin Luther, the Reformer, not the Pastor, once said,

“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
― Martin Luther

Though our time is short, we must take moments to be in the Word and in prayer.  Certainly it is not realistic to go to Luther’s extreme, but taking any amount of time, is incredibly important.  Just one week without nourishment and my tomato plant nearly died. It needed life-giving water, and that is what God’s Word gives to us!

“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”
― Martin Luther

Like any relationship, our relationship with God is a journey. You don’t suddenly have a connection with God, and have the ability to dig your heels into that mountain top. There are hills and there are valleys in our faith journey.  There are deserts and there are streams.

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Our faith and relationship with Christ, will not grow without a lot of tender, loving care, further study of His Word, and a miracle from up above! As you take time to satisfy and nurture that seed of faith, fruit will grow.  Often it will be difficult, but don’t give up. “There is a time for everything,” but I pray that as you persevere, you will come to know our amazing God more intimately and I pray you will discover His perfect, unending love! Your sacrifices will be worth it, for they are nothing compared to the ultimate sacrifice our Savior, Jesus, made for all…you and me!

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