Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Belgian Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving I made plans to go to Leuven, Belgium to see my sister Mary and her husband David who are studying in the university in Leuven. I made these plans in July and was so excited when the day finally arrived to board a plane headed for Belgium. This trip was exciting because I was able to spend good quality time with Mary and David but also because I was able to turn my phone of for 9 whole days!! My job requires that my phone pretty much be nearby 24/7 so 9 days phone free was a vacation in itself!
So here is a quick trip summary since I didn't post any pics while i was gone:

Saturday, Day 1:

Landed in Brussels and took a train to Leuven where Mary greeted me with the lovely sign in the train station. I somehow managed to not even be the slightest bit jet lagged..
I toured Louven with Mary and then we all saw Hunger Games Mocking Jay Pt 1 with some of their American friends. It was awesome. You have to go early and get your tickets and reserve your seats. Yes, reserve your seats. Which I actually think is a great idea. They also had like a full candy store inside the movie theater. I was pretty much my favorite movie theater ever. 

Sunday, Day 2: Trip to Antwerp!
Sunday we took a train to Antwerp and walked around the city all afternoon. It was so fun. The train station there is ridiculous and I must have taken at least 10 pictures of it.

true love

It was really fun to have David and Mary know where they wanted to go and what to go see. We ended our trip with an amazing Indian food meal. It was so delicious. 

Monday, Day 3: Skool dayz
Mary and David are both in school currently. David has finished one masters in Philosophy and is working toward a second. Mary is working on her masters in education. So they were busy with class during my trip which meant I was able to sit in on a couple of classes. Monday I went with David to one of his classes and got to experience grad school Belgian style. The university they are at is full of international students and it was pretty fun to get to now be able to picture what they tell me about. 

Tuesday: Day 4: Education Conference
Mary had a very cool mini conference on education on Tuesday in Brussels so she took me with her. During the morning we sat through the conference and then after lunch it was time to shop! She took me to this kitchen store that was so adorable. It was called Dille & Kamille and I lived there, all my things would be from that store.. Then we went on a walking tour of the city and got THE best hot chocolate I have ever had (sorry Grove Park Inn). It was literally a chocolate bar melted in a glass of milk. 

Later that evening back in Leuven we went up into the central church bell tower for a twice a month bells concert.  It was really cool! Classical music mixed in with a little Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. 

Wednesday, Day 5: Spa Day
Wednesday was the day that I went and spent for the first time in my life an entire day at a Spa. It was glorious. Let's just say it was very Euro and clothing was optional. I leave it at that..It was so relaxing. I read more there in a day than I think I have in the past year and everything was perfectly relaxing and not that crowded which was a plus. I am so thankful for that day. 

Thursday, Day 6: Not Thanksgiving
So while everyone in America was celebrating Thanksgiving, Mary and David were busy with class and work. We kept making jokes about how at least all the stores were open for shopping! So I spent the morning hanging out and then walking around a bit and just some general hanging out! Mary also introduced me to Belgian Waffles..o my deliciousness. Crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside and so cheap. 

We spent the whole evening skyping with family who were celebrating Thanksgiving. Thank goodness for Skype.

Friday, Day 7: 
On this day I slept in and then went to class with Mary. It was really fun to get to experience a little bit of what her daily life in class is like. The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent hanging out with David and talking about about the last 15 months in Belgium. We also played Pandemic, which is my new favorite board game.

Saturday: Day 8: Feuxgiving
Saturday  was the day we celebrated Thanksgiving! They invited the same American couple that we went to the movies with earlier in the week to come and join us. We went all out! Here is the menu. It was uh-mazing and everything was made from scratch:

I even brought over things to make green bean casserole with. Mary made an apple pie from scratch and we had the best appetizers. We spent the afternoon/evening playing Ticket to Ride: Europe, Pandemic and laughing and telling stories. It was so much fun and I definitely did not want it to end because this meant my trip was coming to an end..

Sunday, Day 9: The Return
Sunday came too soon...I woke up really early, said my goodbyes and made it back to the airport. Thankfully I had a window seat for the 9.5 hr direct flight to Atlanta. I watched so many movies I lost track. But I made it back and then had to drive home to Asheville in the awful Thanksgiving traffic. But I didn't even care because going to Belgium was so great.

I wish I could have spent weeks hanging out with Mary and David. My family is currently living all over the world and that gets tough at times. I miss the days when we were all living under one roof and in the same town. But I am thankful for things like social media and skype that help make the world a little smaller. 

I spent the whole week missing Mary and David and wandering through the streets of Belgium. Can't wait for my next visit!

We finished!!...a month ago

So this post is a long time overdue and somehow I did not take the time to do a final wrap up from the marathon so here it is! Short and sweet:

WE FINISHED! And not only did we finish..but we finished together. Jenn, Leslie and I without knowing all wrote this same goal down together and stuck in on the 'goal' wall in the race expo the day before the race. It was so awesome.

Race day was amazing! It was so cold and windy. But once we got started and headed over the first bridge the excitement pretty much made the cold not even matter. Leslie, Jenn and I kept a great pace and got to enjoy taking in each neighborhood in the city! Here are a few pictures from the race!

Pre race selfie with the NYPD

Verrazano Bridge Selfie!

 Mile 13 feelin fine!

This last photo was taken what we deemed the 'zombie walk' out of Central Park. I ended up in the med tent due to a severe quad cramp in the last few miles but after we met up we still had to walk over a mile to get out of the park. It was more of a shuffle. But we were still super fired up!!! Once the cobwebs cleared my head it was so fun to realize what we had just accomplished! I couldn't have asked for a better team to run with. It has been a month and I miss our Saturday morning early runs and the excuse to get together all the time and talk about running! 

Jenn's husband, Kyle also ran and absolutely killed it! He started and finished far before us so when we finally met up we had plenty of stories to tell each other. 

After the race we took a few days to enjoy NYC. The first day involved a lot of waddling around with sore legs but by the second and third day we were feeling great! It was so much fun to spend some time just exploring the city.

I am so grateful for this experience and all that it brought along! Thanks to all of you for being a part of it with me!

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Can Almost Smell the 50,000 Stinky People

This was taken last Friday upon completion of our 20 mile run. The longest run we have before the big day!! Look at those smiles!

15 DAYS????????

I mean..this is real. In 15 days I will be in New York City waiting to start the New York City Marathon. What a journey it has been. You probably noticed (or not) my severe lack of blog posts on my training and fundraising process. I am sad about that. But here is one that will hopefully encapsulate the last two months in a less than a small paperback.

The last two months have been hard. I don't mean just kind of tough I mean HARD. My job has been super demanding, like 50+ hrs a week demanding. I have been also trying to fundraise and be a Wyldlife leader to the best of my ability. Oh, and I forgot the couple of hundred training miles I have run on top of all of that and the numerous other life responsibilities.

 But as tough as those days have all been I have been reminded each day of families and even friends of mine who have it even tougher. They don't have the ability to even get out of bed most days. They are fighting to stay positive for their families in the face of more pain in diseases than I can even imagine. And this is not meant for me to say I have it better or I should not be hurting or complaining about how busy I have been but for me to be reminded of why those and so many others keep fighting. And that is Jesus and the hope that he offers.

This verse has been constantly in my mind in the last two months and is something I have to remind myself of daily if not hourly when I am not sure how I am going to make it through the day:

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -John 16:33

This is quite possibly one of my top 5 verses. The exclamation mark is my favorite. It gives me chills and gets my blood pumping because I can almost feel Jesus grabbing me by the shoulders, looking me in both my eyes, at the same time (he can do that he is Jesus) and telling me to 'Take Heart!" It is also a gentle reminder, encourager and jumpstart for me on the days when I cannot see through the chaos. I have to stop myself and remember that I know how this all ends! And by remembering that I can set my alarm clock for 5am 4 days a week, lace up my shoes and head out the door to run for the Inheritance of Hope families who need to be reminded of how it all ends amidst their pain and their suffering. And just maybe by remembering how it all ends they can learn to smile and have peace in the middle of it. A peace that is only possible in Jesus. 

So in a nutshell that is what I am so desperately working on in my life and honestly the month of August/September were a huge emotional struggle in this for me. But I am so grateful to be on this journey and to not be in it alone.  

Jenn, Leslie and I have put in the work, we have run the miles, iced sore legs, listened to way too many podcasts and Usher songs and downed so many gallons of energy drink. But I know for a fact it is all worth it.

The donation deadline for giving to my sponsor page for Inheritance of Hope is Oct 29th. Won't you consider giving today?? Like right now? This very second?

And may you remember how this all ends. It ends with the victory of Jesus. It has ALL been done. We get the opportunity to share that with people. May we share it with Joy! And not forget it ourselves. maybe a small novel and not a paperback but hopefully you read it!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Training Update- 100 miles!

I officially hit 100 miles in my training plan this weekend!!! Jenn and I ran a 12 mile course on Saturday through the streets of Asheville. Some of those past 100 miles have been easy, some have been hard but I have run them all gladly. Almost all of them have been run in the early morning hours.


I am 100% a morning runner. There has always been something for me about getting up before the sun, slipping on a pair of running shoes and running for miles before most everyone else even wakes up. The air is fresh and the day holds so much possibility. I do some of my best thinking in these early morning runs and also some of my best praying.

During the workweek in this past month I have done all of my runs by myself but 'by myself' usually includes a little help from Spotify. This weeks playlist was Best of the 2000's. So many gems in that one. And sometimes you just need a little Nelly and Usher to get you moving. Some days I run without music but I have to say, I LOVE running with music. I also love running with people and I am so glad that Jenn, Leslie and I are doing this together. So much easier to get through 10+ miles when you are telling random stories to each other, ok, while I tell them random stories. But they help check off the miles so they deal with it.

I am so glad to be running as part of the Inheritance of Hope team this year. I've mentioned before that this will be my first charity run. It's a pretty cool feeling to walk out the door for every training run knowing that there is a greater purpose for what you are doing than just checking off some miles or trying to stay in shape. I am so glad that I said yes to this Team and this race.

I can't wait to see where I am after another 100 miles! The days are getting shorter but the miles are getting longer. Bring it on.

Also, I am currently sitting at $980 towards my $3,000 fundraising goal. Won't you please join me in this journey and help me reach this goal? Any amount you can give is greatly appreciated! Click the link below to give:

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why am I Here?

We are now in week 3 of marathon training. I am starting to get into a rhythm of early morning runs again, something I have missed.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to explain a bit on why I am running for Inheritance of Hope.

 Last year, my good friend Leslie Sloan announced she was going to run the NYC marathon and she was going to do it by running for a charity called Inheritance of Hope, an organization I had not heard of before. Throughout her training I was able to get a first hand glimpse at this amazing organization and what they have and currently do for families with a parent(s) who is battling a life threatening illness. I got to watch her work really hard to not only get the training done for the marathon but also to raise money for Inheritance of Hope. I attending several of her fundraising events and watched as each week she seemed to be so full of life even after a grueling 16 or 18 mile run. I watched her selflessly complete grueling training runs, solicit people on facebook, set up events, write letters and make phone calls so that she could reach her fundraising goal. I also watched her surpass her fundraising goal and continue to raise money even though she wasn't required to go above the minimum. I watched her passion for running, people, Jesus and her family grow with each day. It was an incredible journey to witness.

This year, Leslie approached me and our friend Jenn Murphy about joining her on the Inheritance of Hope NYC marathon team. My first reaction was one of hesitation. I had just gotten a very highly demanding job, had plans to move out of the Blue Barn and also become a Wyldlife leader (hanging out with sweet wild and crazy middle school kids). I had been training for a few races here and there but not at all thinking about marathons let alone running a marathon for other people. So when she first asked, I hesitated. I hesitated because I didn't want to be stretched to thin, I wanted time for myself, I didn't want to be too tired, I didn't want to have to fundraise, I was worried about fitting in the training. The list goes on. And it was all about me.

 So I told her I'd think about it. And boy did I think about it. Took me over a month to make a decision but when I finally sat down and thought about it I thought about what we would be running for. I thought about the countless families that l would get to run for. I thought about how it would be a sacrifice for me but that I was ready for it! Because ultimately it wasn't about me. The last marathon I ran was totally about me. Could I make it? How fast could I run? This time around it would be different. I would be doing all of it (training, eating, sleeping, raising money) for others. And it was then that I had my decision. It was an overwhelming YES! I am in. That lasted for a few days and then the doubts crept back in. I had committed but was struggling with thinking about all of the what ifs, could I do it? and so on. But then I remembered I could absolutely do all of it and that I feel pulled to do all of it. I was also reminded of Hebrews 6:17-19

"So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,  so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain"

This hope is the hope of Jesus and it is a hope that I hold fast and firm to. It as a hope that is offered to these families and a hope that has carried me and my family through some pretty dark days. It is ultimately this hope that motivates me to pester people for money, go for long runs in the dark and carry arounds a snack bag at all hours of the day. It is a hope I want to share with as many people as I possibly can. 

So here I am in the first 3 weeks of training. I have to admit, I am tired, I am hungry all of the time and my body is adjusting to mileage but yet it has been a fantastic three weeks! I have raised $320 dollars so far but have a long way to go to reach my goal. Won't you please join me in this journey? Click below to go to my personal sponsor page.

Want to know more about Inheritance of Hope? Click here to go to their webesite

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chacos for the Win

Ever since I opened the box on my first pair of chacos about 10 years ago as a freshman in highschool I knew it would be my favorite shoe. It was so practical and I could wear it with anything, yes anything. Chacos are literally the best. And living here in Asheville they can be classified as a hiking shoe, river shoe, casual shoe, and yes..dare i say it..a 'dress' shoe. This last one has been important to me in the last week.

Two weeks ago I started feeling what I have deemed to be the possible onset of plantar fasciitis. Basically I switched running shoes for two weeks and it was horrible so now I am dealing with some acute heel pain. This is where Chacos come to my rescue. They provide the support I need to let my foot heel. I am now wearing them all day at work (ugggh) and at night in my house. I also stretch like a crazy person and ice/golf ball roll my foot like crazy. And you know what, it is working. And I am literally giving the credit to my Chacos. Now, this pain will probably continue through my training so stay tuned for that one but I will do everything in my power to not let it slow me down!

And so far so good. Week 1 of training is in the books. Leslie, Jenn and I all completed our first long run of the training plan this weekend. Leslie is in Colorado running at high elevation so Jenn and I are holding down the fort here at more manageable oxygen levels. Completing this first long run means one week closer to the start line in NYC! This also means we are one more week into our fundraising and I am a little closer to my $3,000 mark. Won't you join with me in this journey? Click the link below to donate today! Keep checking back here for updates.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Here We Go!

Yes. Over two years and lots of crazy awesome life changes I am back at the blogging. I came back from Spain in the summer of 2012, finished up my Spanish degree at UNC Asheville and spent a year as a nanny for two of the greatest families in the universe and then was recently gifted a job as the Director of Training for a software company here in Asheville called iStream Technologies that has created an application for Anesthesiologists and CRNAs to do electronic charting. I am currently in charge training about 200+ individuals on this technology. It has been such a sweet gift from the Lord that has also challenged every single part of me. I am extremely grateful for it. I also recently moved out of the Big Blue Barn and into an apartment with a girl named Carolyn who is here doing a dietetic internship. She is great and we are getting along well! I also just recently became a Wyldlife leader. Wyldlife is the middle school version of Young Life. I am so excited to be part of the Valley Springs middle school team here in south Asheville. I recently went to camp in Florida with 11  middle school girls. It was a fantastic week of laughter, no sleep, way too much sugar and a whole lot of Jesus!

I real reason I have resurrected this blog is to document my journey to the New York City Marathon on November 2, 2014. I will be running it this year with my two very good friends Jenn Murphy and Leslie Sloan. Leslie ran the NYC marathon with Inheritance of Hope last year and encouraged both Jenn and I to run with her this year. I have not run the New York City marathon before and I am very excited for the opportunity to run it for Inheritance of Hope. The link below will take you to my sponsor page and an explanation of this charity I have chosen to run for. My personal fundraising goal is $3,000. I invite you to team up with me in this experience.  You can donate at the link below and feel free to share with others! I can't do this without all of you and your wonderful support. 

Thank you!