Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11...10 years later

None of us will ever forget where we were or what we were doing when we heard about The World Trade Centers and the other events on 9/11.

Our school had late arrival that day and I actually had been sleeping when the towers were hit. I didn't know anything had happened until I arrived at the bus stop and my neighbor seemed very contemplative but was usually a bubbly person. I asked her what was wrong out of genuine concern and she said planes hit the World Trade Center. In my ignorance, I had no idea what it was. That changed very quickly. I was a sophomore in high school and knew that sometimes my stepmom traveled to NYC and worked for the FBI and NHMEC so I didn't know where she was and her family lived there too. I knew they were living in DC at the time so I was more concerned about the Pentagon site and wondering if it affected other buildings in the area. Throughout the day, the new televisions in our hallways were continually playing images of the plane crash site, the planes hitting the buildings and my heart sank. I remember nothing other than shock throughout the day and I learned the most important lesson that no education could ever teach me, what was really important in life: faith, family, and friends.

I visited the site a couple years later on my mission trip to NYC. I still could not comprehend the gravity of visiting there and feel as though I want to go back now that I'm older...and hopefully wiser.

I pray that as today marks a decade since our world changed forever, we would not only remember and pray for those directly affected by this tragedy but that we would ask ourselves: how did this change me and what is really important in my life?

9/11: We'll always remember, never forget and continually pray.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Miracle of Life

Started a month and a half ago:

Right now, I am watching a 5 day old baby. Recently, I have really been thinking about the unknown nature of our lives and how much time we have on this earth. It started with a comment/sermon that I recently heard. The comment that really made an impression on me was my pastor did not want to stand at God's throne saying, "but I thought I had so much more time." the rewality is we do not know exactly how much time we really do have. We need to make the most of our time as best we can.

This summer I have been not the best steward of my time and I now have a ton of regret about how I have spent a good portion of my summer. It hit me yesterday as I realized I spent a good portion of the afternoon clearing out my email inbox and not enjoying the best weather we've had in weeks.


Needless to say, I am always amazed at God's creation and the miracle of newborn life!!!!!!!!

Since I wrote the first part, I have really been a lot better about using my time a little more wisely...not that I've had a lot of "free time" to manage but when I do, I've been better. It's a work in progress and I do not want to leave this Earth tomorrow and say, "wait...I didn't get to finish..." Life is meant to be lived to it's fullest. God has a purpose for each and every one of us. Are you living God's purpose for your life? Each new life has a purpose too!

Living and Loving Intentionally

As you listen to the thoughts in your head, are you listening to fear or listening for God's still, small voice? Oftentimes we find ourselves thinking we are hearing God but oftentimes Satan disguises his voice in our fears. We believe the fear comes from within and we use any number of justifications to say it's all a fear because of _____________ (you fill in the blank). Our lives are often so busy we forget to listen for God's voice and assume we can hear it among the busyness and loud nature of our everyday lives. Unfortunately we forget about listening even when the person is right in front of us much less hearing God's voice and we can't even see Him. It requires intentionality. Relationships require intentionality. LOVE requires intentionality. We hear that quality over quantity is the best thing. Why then do we sell ourselves, our friends, our lives short when we don't take the time to dig deep and share ourselves with others and really grasp when others' share the depths of their hearts too? There are many reasons. First, we don't listen because we are far too distracted by the multitude of media and things going on around us. Just last night, while spending time with some of my favorite people, I found myself distracted and texting another good friend that was hundreds of miles away. Too worried about the emotions I was feeling adn talking them through with this friend...I almost missed some opportunities to talk to people I love and one of them, I don't get to talk to often.

Over the years, it always struck me how people would form and keep long-lasting relationships. I felt like even though I tried to keep in contact with people, they wouldn't return the gesture. In the last couple of years, I've found myself lonely and struggling at times because I felt like even the people I loved and the friends around me were so far away. Trying to figure out why these relationships were working and I wasn't developing new ones was beyond my thoughts. I wanted to have those deep last relationships that would traverse thick and thin. Even relationships with family members. Why did I always feel a strain when I know the other person didn't feel it? I felt it because I knew I wasn't upholding my end of the bargain. I was letting them do all the work. I was wrapped up in my own little world and rarely came out to see that there were others around me. In the last year, I had a friend who, even though he moved TOO far away, would call, text, email, FB chat me and always thought of me. Why would he do that? Why would he even care? I'd only known him 8 months before he left. His wife was the one I knew growing up. It's because he cared, it's because we were friends, it's because he realized the importance of loving his friends and being intentional and how it would keep our friendship alive. So, I started thinking, what would my relationships be like if I started doing that. In our media filled world, what if I took the time to call a friend on my way home from work? What if I called my sister, just to talk? What if I actually remembered to call my dad so he wouldn't worry that I'd dropped off the face of the planet? (You know how dads are...) What if I reached out to a new friend at church because I saw they were lonely? What if I invited someone to hang out with my friends and I? So that's what I did. I've found myself, despite fear of inquiring minds thinking things aren't as they are or fear of rejection. This was after much prayer and time spent with the Lord dealing with relationship issues. I'm excited to see where God takes me now. I know that He's preparing me for great things even in the darkest of moments. Are you living intentionally...loving intentionally lives?

The other thing I've always struggled with is my consistency in my daily devotions. Well, you guessed it, intentionality is required. Throughout this process, it's caused me to learn self-discipline and self-control. I think I've always had it but it's pushing me farther, it's causing me to want to be in the Word. God keeps allowing my circumstances to be such that I have no other choice but to draw near to Him. The reason I learned to love and life intentionally is because God intentionally loved my friend and he, in turn, loved the people in his life intentionally and I was fortunate to be one of those people. God taught me what it meant to live and love intentionally through one of His own children. I'm grateful everyday for this friend and the way he's walked life with me and even when I seemed like a knuckle-head, he stuck in it...he loved intentionally.

PADS: Putting myself in their "shoes"

Today I had the opportunity to support PADS of DuPage County. They hosted their annual PADS 5K in downtown Wheaton. It's one I've done every year since I started running again in 2009 thanks to the Schuberts and Antho. (For that story, read here or ask me...that's probably easier.) Earlier this week, I biked 5 miles or so with my brother and got up the next morning to walk/run 10 miles (really had only planned to do 3 but we were just enjoying the day). That is a lot of mileage so I took it easy this week and didn't really train because I knew I had the race this morning. I had many moments of pain throughout the week but it seem to pretty much subside and I was able to do my normal daily activities. This morning, when I woke up, my leg was killing me. All week, it had been feeling good in the morning because it had a chance to rest and repair itself overnight. I, being as strong-willed and stubborn as I can be sometimes, decided that 1) I'd already paid for it and 2)..most of all...I felt like I needed to push through it. These people have pain, physical and emotional, 365 days a year 24/7. They don't have a support system like I've been blessed with and they usually don't have access to good health care to help repair an injury they may sustain on the streets or wherever they are living. Needless to say, my pride...yep...I have it too...said you have to finish this or you are just giving up and giving in. As I began the race, I knew it would feel like the longest 5K I'd ever run...just 100 yards in, I was ready to quit. I kept going. I pushed through and 'ran' the first 2 miles, including the gigantic hill over the tracks in downtown locals know what I'm talking about. As soon as I passed the 2 mile marker and was at 27 minutes or so, I started feeling a lot of pain so I gave in and walked...more like limped...the guys on the bikes even stopped to make sure I was ok..."Did I really look that bad?" I thought to myself. Surely I was limping...who cares?!?! Clearly they were concerned. my last 1.2 miles was spent walking, running and toughing it out. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I did not want to walk one more step. I pushed through to get some food...since I was starving...and some water.

I'm going in Monday to get it looked at and we'll see what they say. Could be bad news. Today, I've barely been able to walk and stairs just about kill me...glad Monday is not tomorrow or I'd be taking a day off from work I'm pretty sure. I'm praying for a speedy recovery but today I learned a lesson...there's always someone who has worse circumstances...and this was for them. Well worth it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

This weekend was a great weekend and not just because it was a 3-day weekend, although that helped it's rating. Friday night, I knew that if I didn't dig in, I would be sitting here tonight...right about now, going...I don't wanna grade all those papers tonight so I just sat down with my fun pens, my water, a little HGTV in the background and got to work. I was able to grade all but one stack of large packets...tomorrow night's project. I need to record the scores but that's easy. That started my weekend off great! [You are probably thinking..."She's nuts...who wants to grade on Friday night?"] If I had been in your place, I might have said the same but feeling so productive and knowing it freed me up mentally and physically for the weekend was indescribable made it the best thing to do. I love my job and since grading is my least favorite part...I just gotta do it.

On Saturday, I was able to just sleep in and have a lazy day. I got to talk on the phone with a friend for about an hour and then went with a bunch of friends from my "old church" to see Lincoln Brewster lead worship at Willow Creek. It was a really fun night and I love getting to worship with thousands of people...just makes the hairs stand up on my arms! God does amazing things...ALL THE TIME! You just have to look for it. I had a friend comment on one of my FB posts and said, "Danielle, you just find joy in the little things, don't you?" Yes, I do. It's what life is made of. If we expect God to only do big things, we are going to be sorely disappointly because He works in the little things...and in the big things.

Sunday was a great time of leading worship with and for my FCCC peeps. After church I got to eat lunch on the go, in the car, with my one of my best friends...Katie and her two girls...sometimes easier to talk that way. Much needed girl time for sure! I used the afternoon to take a little snooze with the cool breeze blowing in the window. My brother, Austin, and I then met up and were able to take a long bike ride around Herrick Lake. I was able to shoot this amazing picture there with my new phone!

Then I went to my family's house and ate dinner then topped my day off with my sister sleeping over!

Today, I dragged my sister out of bed 8:30am...which for me is now "late" and her it's still "early". I knew once I got her going, we'd be fine. We set out to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve for a short walk/run. Well, that's where the short part ended. We decided to head out on the trail and once we got going, we'd gone so far, we decided to finish the 9.6 mile loop...which including our little detours took us to the 10 mile mark. We didn't run the whole thing but we sure did some serious walking/running. It was a great time where we both had our MP3 players and were enjoying the scenery. Next time, we probably won't do the whole trail but we know how it goes so we know what to expect and where to turn around! Then we grabbed Qdoba...last day for double points and came home. We were pooped to say the least. So this afternoon, I finally gave into another wonderful nap in the breeze. After I got up, my friend had posted that she had peaches and wanted some things to make with them...I had already had a craving for peach cobbler earlier in the week so I went ahead and found a recipe using ingredients I had on hand and made it...turned out quite just have to ask my mom and my grandma...although my mom and I had eaten almost 1/2 the pan by the time grandma got any! :)

It was a great weekend to de-stress and get moving...the fall-like weather certainly helped a ton too! :)