Perfectly Imperfect.

**This post is a perfect read for the whys behind your lenten promise this year. Cutting chocolate? Perf. But only as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons.**

***

The summer going into my senior year of high school, I went to a catholic conference in Steubenville, OH. During the conference, there was one block of time labeled “girls session.” You can about imagine how this went: In a society riddled with body image issues and problems with self worth, countless females topped the stage and had some of these moments:

“He may have taken my virginity, but he can not take my self worth”

“People can determine the words they use to describe me, but they can not determine how those make me feel”

“I’m big, and I’m beautiful, damnit.”

….. This post will kind of be like that.

We have a small group of women that I meet with for work biweekly, where we eat delicious food and then talk about Jesus. It’s a great gig. Recently we were talking about the reasons for why we work out. Our why. Is it because you are trying to take care of the sacred gift that God gave you that is your body, or is it because you want to look good?

This had literally never occurred to me, but my mind immediately went to: To look good, of course! I don’t bust my ass at the gym for Jesus!

Well, it looks like I was way off.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

-1 Corinthians 6:19-20

It was a question that literally stopped me in my tracks and has since reformed my thinking (or attempts to), especially when reading the scripture above. So much of my self worth in this life has centered around my body. Until 2 years ago, my success had literally depended on it. As a track athlete, how you cared for your body was a direct reflection of your performance on the track. And for that, I ended up hating the process of keeping it fit. So in the years post-college I have resented running and working out because I was just so over the fight for the perfect body. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve slowly started to fall back in love with taking care of this body, and a big part of that has been JC himself.

When we glorify God in all that we do (((EVEN working out))), you tend to get to the place where you were wanting to go anyway – or – if God willed it, you end up somewhere even better.

As women especially, it is so hard not to put our self worth in the body image that people see. And changing that mindset is one that is going to take me a lot of prayer and determination to keep going. We are human. We are imperfect. And our perfections should not lie in our outward appearance. They should lie in our relationships with Christ, our relationships with others, and the love that we put on this earth.

Now, I am not perfect in the mindset and I struggle daily. But it is so darn refreshing going on a run for no other reason than to take care of this amazing, perfectly-imperfect body that God has given me.

So this lenten season, give up that chocolate. Give up eating past 7. Or commit to the gym. But do it because those things will be good for the body that is this sacred gift from God, not because you need to look a certain way.

Regardless, God will love you either way.

 

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Abounding Mercy

To those Sunday mass-goers, today we were taken to the book of Luke to learn a little lesson on God’s mercy. It resonated with me.

Let’s break this down to speak in current times so we can all relate a little bit to just how far we can dig ourselves in sin and still have a merciful God reach out to us with forgiveness ((even if we ourselves don’t think we deserve it.))

The parable from Luke 15:11-32 pretty much can be summed up as such: A father has two sons. One day one of them just decides to up and leave and take his portion of the family inheritance. Pretty much pointing the middle finger at his family and saying “adios, thanks for raising me now I’m going to take all your money and leave.” The other son stays. The rebellious son spends his money on lust and greed until it’s exhausted – so much so that this ((Jewish)) man works at a pig farm. Jewish. Pork. (This guy is pretty low right now). It takes knocking this son completely down to have him turn to the only option of returning home, expecting an uproar of anger and contempt from his father when he gets there.

However, when he returns home his father runs to him, embracing him in love. He then sweeps him off his feet and throws a party for him. ((I bet you’re all thinking we should run away from home at this point, right??)). ….. On the other hand, faithful son #2 is torn apart. He has been constantly faithful to his father for many years, yet he has had no such party thrown for him. What the actual heck? This makes no sense God.

Well, it actually does. The parable is symbolic of our God’s great love, mercy, and forgiveness. In the parable we can look to the father as God. In terms of the faithful son, God was sharing his wealth all along. What was his was his son’s. As for the unfaithful son who returned home, it is the example that no matter how far we fall in life or however big of a sin we may commit, we can always return home to God’s love. And he will always accept us back with open arms.

God is waiting for us. If you feel like you are hopeless to faith or religion because you are so deep in sin or in the world, look to this parable. Know that God doesn’t only want you at your best. He wants you when you’re down and have been kicked by the world. When you have nowhere else to go or nowhere else to turn, it is then that you can reach to and be lifted up by His ever-extended hand. Only when we receive this kind of mercy that we don’t feel we deserve, it is then where we come to fully appreciate just how great God’s forgiveness really is.

Am I right or am I right? — God is good.

 

9 Reasons You Want To Grow Up in Smalltown, OH

I grew up in a small, small town. Population 1500 (bigger now, but I still say this for the dramatic effect). Graduating class of 60. Knew every kid in my grade from kindergarten to senior year and I also knew their mother, brother, cousin, and grandma. I still remember who pissed their pants on the bus in 1st grade. People don’t forget.

Welcome to Smalltown, OH. A town of two stoplights, a Main Street, a dairy king, a huge Catholic church, and am impressive sports layout given our circumference. When I graduated HS I packed my bags for the college city. People would ask where I was from and I would say the consistent, “You’ve never heard of it ((unless you like country music))” .. They’d give a pompous “try me,” and would be left with a “yeah, you’re right, never heard of it”. The conversation would then end with, “I bet you’re glad you went to the big city to spread your wings a little bit, yeah?”

church

fort loramie

Well, yes, stranger. But also no. Because let me just tell you why everyone should grow up in Smalltown, OH:

  1. Combatting Childhood Obesity: I grew up with a clan that most people around our town called the “Rat Pack.” A group of approximately 6 guys and 6 girls on a barrage of bikes. Our stops included my friend’s backyard for wiffle ball games or the crick behind to school to wrassle them snakes. *The Lord only knows now how I did that*. There was no fear for strangers snatching us up and so we were free to roam. No phones, no video games, just our imagination and a lot of weird times. I would like to argue that this smalltown combated any chance of childhood obesity for us kiddos. (Except for the time we tied my friend to a chair and forced him to eat Twinkies. I’m still sorry Nick.) … We need more “Rat Packs” these days, less video games, and less TV.
  2.  Sports: Now, if you aren’t good at sports let me just tell you that is totally fine. We should not only praise people for being good at sports, but also for the other hidden talents in this small town — just a disclaimer. However, we here in Smalltown, OH looooove our sports, and some of my fondest memories have stemmed from them. You talk about a community who supports their teams, you come here. We made it to state in basketball my junior and senior year of high school. We played a small prep school. I’m gonna guess our crowd had a 5 to 1 ratio to theirs. It was amazing. (It was not amazing how we lost our lead of 18 points, essentially losing the state championship. Unfortunately people don’t forget that either.) God bless growing up a Redskin.
  3. Limited Resources: We’ve got all you need, but nothing more. You lookin for some McDonalds? Nope. Shopping? Good try. Chipotle? Go drive 30 minutes. … We can get all the necessities and live a pretty simple life. I like that. Now, we aren’t all hillbillies and such. I like to commend the population for the classiness and dress code. However, we did have to drive 60 minutes to get it.
  4. Country Concert: 3 days of good music, dehydration, random strangers washing themselves in our town car wash, and lots of fun.
  5. Traffic: There is none.
  6. The Watering Hole: AKA Wagners. Where we all migrate to at some point in the week as a stop for essentials that we probably forgot at Kroger or Walmart. You go here looking like you got slapped with the ugly stick and no bra because you’re just going to “run in quick,” and you come out 30 minutes later because you just ran into about 7 people that you knew. And then you get a donut.
  7. Bars: We’ve only got 1 grocery store, but by golly if you’re thirsty we’ve got either Al’s, Bruckens, the Legion, or Scudzy’s and the Keyhole down the street where you could get a drink. I mean, everybody’s gotta have somethin to do on the weekends, right?
  8. History: If you were wondering – the Greenville Treaty Line just happens to run right through our town and it is tastefully painted on our Main Street. And we had a History Club presentation once where we were told that the French and Indian War may or may not have started in this Smalltown, OH (statistics only slightly fudged). I’m a believer.
  9.  Having Help In Times of Need: Last but not least – this is the biggest one. My goodness my town is amazing. If there is a family that needs help in sad times or times where a member of the community is sick, let me tell you Smalltown, OH beats yours. Whether it’s a Miracle Minute at a basketball game raising $8,000 or the countless meals and letters that enter your home in the hardest of times. An impromptu  prayer mass for someone ends up yielding a packed church. The lyrics to the song could not be more true, “Everybody dies famous in a small town.” … Knowing everyone and their families in the town makes every tragedy personal. We’ve got each other’s backs and community support for everything is resounding. I love this community.

So there you have it, folks. The 9 reasons why you should grow up in Smalltown, OH.

A Homeless State of Mind

Good morning all from a long time away from blogging. However, I had a recent experience that I must share.

I am currently stationed in Columbus, OH, where I work and go to school. I was called off work this morning and so I went to Panera bright and early to do schoolwork since I was already up. I was having a productive morning until a homeless man, about 25 I would guess, approached me. I was immediately defensive and said I didn’t have anything to give. However, the man sat down and started talking so I figured I could at least give him my time. Initially as he was talking, I wasn’t listening. I was judging, diagnosing a mental illness, and evaluating if he was on drugs. When finally my daily inspiration from Jesus Calling warranted me to just sit, not judge, and listen.

He went through his life story. Father imprisoned, mother died of a heroin overdose. Jumped throughout foster care homes his whole life. When 18 hit he set out on his own with no family and found himself a girlfriend who broke up with him because he was trying to keep out of drugs and she was an addict. He mentioned at this point a couple of times how he loved to play the guitar. He said he found a group of men that he train hopped with around the country. He was a part of their group for awhile when one morning he woke up and discovered that they had stolen his few possessions – including his guitar.

He said he then train hopped by himself for the first time to Columbus. He told me things I’ve heard before but never truly grasped. He told me that it’s so cold that the homeless shelters are on a wait list and he couldn’t get in. He told me that last night he was kicked out of taco bell and McDonalds because he was sleeping. He told me a police officer searched him last night because he was sleeping on a bench and was a black male. He told me that nobody looks at him like he is a person. He told me he couldn’t understand how college kids walk around campus with lives that set them up for success when he was doomed for failure. He told me we are all so absorbed in our phones we don’t really see the world around us. He told me his guitar was what kept him going. He could play for people and they could give him money because they wanted, not because he asked. He told me he was depressed. He told me he hated his life. He told me he thought about suicide.

For the first time in a long time, I listened. Gave no advice and just listened, in which he said meant more to him than any money I could give. When conversation ceased on his end I eventually said, “I have a guitar at home that you can have. Just promise me this: You go to church. You find Jesus, because I promise he has all the answers for you. You keep out of drugs and bring music to people. And know that even though you feel so low, good things do happen.”

I walked home and drove my car back to Panera with my guitar in tow. I went inside where he was waiting, bought him breakfast, and gave him my guitar. The $89 guitar that often sat in my room collecting dust but had the capability of changing his life.

We shook hands (about 10 times), he got the door for me, and said, “I won’t let you down.”

Thank you for changing me, stranger. For making me realize how much I have in a world that is always telling you that you always need more.

As always: God is good.

Getting Nursing Right

Now, I’m not sure if during anyone’s undergraduate nursing career there was the term “reality shock” whispered about, but I’m pretty sure it should be loudly shouted as opposed to lightly whispered. Nursing is hard. And stressful. And often times it really sucks. You have a phone constantly ringing, 5 patients who all need meds passed at the same time, doctor’s putting in impossible orders, patients going to tests, someone needing help to the bathroom, someone who just puked on the floor, an IV that infiltrated, a blood pressure in the 200’s, and all of this needing to be charted about 2 hours ago… all at the same time.

So, yeah. Reality shock is real. And when you are walking home after a 12 (but really 14 hour) shift, you are left wondering why in God’s creation I chose this profession. Why nursing then?

There has been one experience so far during my new nursing career that makes me think, “Okay, so I really do have the power to influence some lives here” … Ya know, the whole reason why I came into nursing in the first place; not just to check off a list of to do’s for my patient. We had a patient on our unit who was ill – I mean really sick. She was dying. We all knew it but I don’t think her family quite grasped the extent of it, so often times she was left alone in her bed just letting the hour glass slowly run out. I had had this patient multiple times over the past several weeks and she was the patient that makes a med surge nurse with 4-5 other patients go running for the door. Immobile, frequent positioning, tube feeds, dialysis, lots of meds through a clogging peg tube, dressing changes up the wah-zoo, pressure ulcers, incontinence, etc. So I would sigh, “grin and bear it,” and care for this patient. But I wasn’t really caring for her, I was just checking off a list of tasks for her. When we nurses went into her room we barely even talked to her. She was so numb to life that you just accepted it and carried on your tasks around her on her body that slowly became not even her own. She became the “That patient in room number xyz.”

At one point I was in her room (not talking, of course), and suddenly my surroundings hit me and I got really angry. This lady was dying and nobody was here to see her. And here I am not even talking. She’s just laying. No autonomy. Dying. Is that how you would want to go?

So I stopped what I was doing and said, “You know what. We need to wash your hair.” She sort of looked at me sideways, but I continued and told her about the spa treatment coming her way. She was reluctant at first, but eventually agreed. I microwaved a shampoo cap, placed it on her head, and began to massage. And massaged and massaged. And talked and massaged. Laughed and massaged. As I combed her hair, it fell out with each swipe but I told her she looked beautiful anyway.

Right then is when she looked up to me and said, “This is the first time I’ve felt human since I’ve been here.”

That was the one moment I got nursing right.

….

A week passed and I came into work one day to find the room occupied by someone else. I had had countless opportunities in the weeks leading up to her death to make her final days count, but I can honestly say that only one of those days I put my selfishness aside of how much it sucked to check off all the boxes of tasks for this patient, and instead got nursing just a little bit right.

….

Now, I’m not trying to make this a Johnson and Johnson commercial of nursing. We don’t always just “care” and expect our patients to survive in the meantime. We are constantly using our knowledge, assessments, and interventions to keep these patients going. But it’s tiresome and often it feels like there is no reward, or at least it is hard to see the impact we’re making.

So yeah, nursing is hard. Nursing is a lot of things and often times it’s not what we want it to be. But the things that get me through the weeks and the long shifts are the moments, while sometimes rare, where I finally feel like I surpass checking off the tasks for the day, let a little bit of God work through me, and instead get nursing just a little bit right.

What Ohio State Athletics Have Given Me

As 4 years come to a close and I’ve stepped off the track and out of my spikes one last time, I’m becoming even more reflective as I look back on just what it is that I’ve gained from running in the scarlet and gray. Let me tell ya folks, it’s more than I deserve.

It’s hard to sum up 4 years in one post, but I’ll give it a shot. Below, you’ll find a list of all the reasons why I will forever be grateful to OSU. Whenever you feel that you aren’t getting enough as a student athlete, refer to this list because chances are good that you most definitely are and in turn you should probably stop complaining. SO! – Here are all off the reasons why I am so very, very thankful:

  1. Teammates
    1. I’m pretty sure I took this one for granted coming into college (and still probably do). As an athlete, I already had a designated set of best forever friends just automatically thrown at me. In a university containing an upwards of 50-thousand some people, this was a beautiful thing. And not only was I given teammates, I was given a group of girls so eclectic and different, that I had no choice but to learn and grow from them in my time here at OSU. It’s a beautiful thing when a bunch of really different people come together for a common purpose. For example things I’ve learned: A surplus about weaves from my girl SoSo to more than I ever thought plausible about Jesus from my freshman year roomie Katie Betts. Weaves and Jesus. Go Bucks.

Team

  1. Coaches
    1. Now, I know there are some programs and teams out there who might not have the best things to say about their coach. I am not one of those people. I’ve been given a head coach who is a feisty, strong women who has done wonders for our program at OSU. She taught me many things; one being never to walk outside of my house with hot curlers in my hair if I ever felt the need to do so. Thank you Coach Karen. In addition to this, we had a coach come along who has completely transformed our distance program, and I am so happy to say that my class of seniors have pioneered this movement with her. OSU distance went from being something nobody wanted to be a part of, to a team of girls who love and support each other, and for once, are also successful. Not only does this coach want us to be successful on the track, but she stresses the life part too. As distance runners ever so eager to hop on the crazy train, this is one of the most absolutely essential things that makes this coach awesome. She’s also often pretty inappropriate too, which is really cool. Thank you thank you thank you Coach Vergote.

coach

  1. Travel
    1. Up until college, the list of places that I had traveled to were few and far between. Thanks to track, I have been taken to NYC, Florida, Arizona, Nebraska, Iowa, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Virginia, etc, etc. I look back on all of the plane tickets provided to me and all the money this university has spent just on me. It’s hard, but for future athletes, just try to imagine buying your own ticket every time you travel to a meet! OSU truly does fork out a lot of money for you.
  2. Food
    1. I’m not sure if the reader right now has ever heard of the magical place called the “Fuel Zone.” Well, it’s another thing that OSU has given their student athletes. It’s a place where you can go before and after practice and get sushi, milk, granola bars, sandwiches, and more to “fuel” you for the rest of the day. There’s no fuel zone in real life, people. This is a goldmine. And I’m a hoarder who loves free food. This was the best thing that happened to me since I stopped wearing corduroy skirts in 7th grade.
  3. Gear
    1. I want to let you all in on a bit of advice here: never, EVER complain about the gear that you did or did not receive. It amazes me on gear pick up day when I hear someone complain about the amount of FREE clothes that they got, wishing it were more, or that it were a little bit different. We work hard as student athletes, and we do deserve the gear we get. But the equipment room does not however deserve our complaints, so be grateful for the clothes this university puts on your back. I promise that by the time you are a senior you’ll be swimming in all of the gear. Example: Janel freshman year: “I wish I had a backpack!! Ugh. We have gotten 5 t-shirts, the least they could do is take one of those away and give us a backpack.” …… I am now leaving college with 4 backpacks. Case in point: Be grateful. Nobody will hand you a surplus of free clothes in real life.
  4. SASSO
    1. Free printing, free tutoring, a place to study, computers to use, a place to gather with your teammates to study, athletic advisors….. should I continue? I could. SASSO ensures that we did in fact come here to play school. I probably killed a small forest with all of the papers I printed in my 4 years. Couple that with Rachel Weber printing full-page slides for all of her notes, and we single handedly have melted a large chunk of the polar ice caps.
  5. Career Advancement
    1. This is semi in connection with SASSO, but I felt the need to address it differently. This comes in the form of career fairs for student athletes, resume workshops, personal resume tutors, the Varsity O foundation, Bucks Go Pro, and even SASSO providing me a surplus of resume paper within the past month when I printed 20 resumes to then realize there was a spelling mistake….. What I’m trying to say is this: This University looks out for us. They want us to succeed and when you stop to look at all of these resources for a hot second, it’s pretty amaze-balls. (This term is deemed professional when speaking in context of career connections…)
  6. Being a part of something bigger
    1. AKA – Thank you Ohio State football. We would walk through the airport while traveling to and from meets, and would be stopped every few steps with an “O-H!” beckoning our “I-O” in return. Or, a kind person would come up and say, “Congrats on your national championship!” …. While maybe the best response would have been to explain that I run track and field and am in no way, shape, or form affiliated with the football team, it was a lot more fun to respond with, “Awww well thank you! This is truly an exciting time for us.” haha. Maybe inappropriate (coupled with the fact that I’m a woman and last time I checked our ovaries forbid football-playing). …. But really, aren’t we all one big, happy family whether we play sports and school or just school?? I like to think so.
  7. Community
    1. Last but not least, I’ve gained a sisterhood. Whenever you play any sport, you see people at their very most highs and their lowest of lows, especially with the brutal sport of running. I’ve seen my teammates wheezing through the rain at 6 in the morning, pushing through the last 200 of a Big Girl F’in Workout, run off the side of the Olentangy to take an urgent crap in the bushes, and then go and gather together on the weekends for random fun because hours of practice just aren’t enough. It takes a lot of grit to enter into practice knowing you’re going to push your body to one of three limits: 1. You pee yourself 2. You nearly pass out (or do) 3. Secretions become irrelevant and that spit that didn’t hit the ground and is stuck to your cheek is acceptable because you’re too tired to wipe it off. …. . . . . These are my sisters.

community

community 2

So in summation. Thank you Ohio State. Thank you for people, thank you for opportunities, and thank you for tradition. As always:  #GoBucks

((P.S. The numbering is off in the post because I have absolutely no idea how to fix it. xoxo. Go Bucks.))

HealthCARE: A Challenge to providers.

This is going to be my first big-girl post within “Win the Day,” addressing professional topics within healthcare that I personally deem really super important. ((as exemplified by super big-girl words…))

At this very moment, I am at the bottom of the healthcare totem pole. I would say it goes doctors – nurse practitioners – nurses – clinical instructors – professors – medical dieticians – other providers – a random person off the side of the street – and then nursing students. It’s humbling to be surrounded by providers with a much higher status than my own both in the forms of knowledge and a badge with a bunch of letters behind their name. These people are immersed in their field, gaining expertise with each and every day. How absolutely blessed I have been to work with some of the most educated health care workers at one of the best universities. (Very is your answer).

So what issue can a nursing student at the bottom of the totem possibly raise in relation to healthcare? Simplicity, I argue.

The older and more researched science and medicine become, the more intricate and complicated new medicines, procedures, and treatment plans also become. Most often this is fantastic. The only way we keep moving forward is if we keep growing. However, I believe that in our efforts to continuously improve in medicine, we are missing a vital part that should be at the core of it all: caring.

It sounds cliché, but stick with me here.

In all of the best experiences that I have had as a nursing aid and a student nurse, I have made the most progress with my patients when I go into their room to do patient education with them. But, I have found that the improvements they achieve aren’t due to the information I provide, but rather simply the time I have spent with them. An aspect that I get as a student nurse that is different from the higher ranking people in healthcare is this: time. I have the time to sit with my patient for extended periods of time to answer their questions, provide empathy, go over their treatment plan, and simply listen. Ten out of ten times that I do this, there is a positive response on the patient’s end.

So how can we reform healthcare into more caring and less shuffling of people in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices ASAP?

I don’t know. I know that at this very moment I am lucky. But soon, I’m going to graduate and slowly start moving up this totem pole, where I will be conflicted with the time requirements placed on me from my position and the desire to give patients the time and care I believe necessary for a road of recovery.

If you don’t believe me that this is a huge issue, here’s an article from the Harvard Business Review about the time limits on Physicians who are seeing patients. The nephrologist in the article argues that he could increase the outcomes for his patients on dialysis and decrease costs from infection and complications if only he had more TIME to counsel them. https://hbr.org/2014/12/delivering-higher-value-care-means-spending-more-time-with-patients

Clearly we know some of the answers to improving healthcare in the US. (which, by the way is ranked LAST in comparison to these other 10 countries as noted by Forbes – http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/06/16/u-s-healthcare-ranked-dead-last-compared-to-10-other-countries/). The answers are genuinely showing care for our patients and giving them more time.

Now, the real question is how. Well for me, in my last few months of nursing school, I can simply utilize this gift that I have at the bottom of this healthcare totem pole. The gift of time. In practicing and utilizing this gift now, I can only hope that as I slowly climb my way up the healthcare ladder in the years to come, that I can be a part of revolutionary healthcare in terms of more time spent with patients, more cost effectiveness in relation to less adverse health outcomes, higher rankings for healthcare in the United States, more knowledgeable patients on their treatment plans, and an overall more caring environment.

I know these are high expectations, but hey a girl can dream.

AND WITH THAT, I step down from my soapbox 🙂

Life Being Obvious

Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the Lord his God…” But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more when all he said to you was “Wash and be clean.”

2 Kings 5:10-13

Cracking open my little devotional booklet this morning, I saw that it brought me to the old testament and immediately I sighed a little.

**I’m going to understand nothing** my mind said, but without further ado I turned to the 2nd book of Kings because I thought maybe – just maybe – something about Noah and the Arc would be there so I wouldn’t feel completely clueless. No Noah, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The story that unfolded was from a man named Naaman, who was a leper. He sent word to the King to ask Elisha if he could call upon God so that his leprosy might be cured. Eventually, Elisha called Naaman to wash in the river 7 times so that he would be cured.

Naaman’s initial thought: This man of God, capable of the most grand, flashy acts, literally wants me to go jump in a crappy river. Awesome. ((heavy sarcasm))

But, Naaman’s friends and family ((like so many of ours)), provided him with a voice of reason: Elisha and God could have asked so much of Naaman, when they just simply utilized the every day act of washing in the river to cure his ills. What a gift.

SOOOO – How does this story relate to my life?

Good question .. Keep reading.

How many times in life do we pray to God for some huge, colossal vision or divine inspiration of some sort? We walk outside in the morning looking for some huge explosion of angels in the sky shouting at us:

“Don’t take the job!!”

“DO NOT marry that man!”

“The answer is going to be C. Always C.”

No, unfortunately that is just not how life works. But, what we do see from Naaman, is that God is providing us with so much simply in everyday life. We just aren’t seeing it.

What if, instead of looking into the sky for an angel shouting our name, we look beside us to see the stranger who might offer a word of wisdom? Or we smile and feel the sun on our shoulders when the very thing we needed most was some vitamin D ((aka about all of Ohio right now because Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing. It’s called SAD for a reason. Take your vitamin D pills.  xoxoxox Janel, (soon to be ) RN)).

Another digression.

BUT –  our purpose is not to summon God’s grace in life, it’s simply about recognizing it in daily actions, small gifts, and people. Then, like Naaman, we stop hoping for grandeur acts of inspiration and instead realize God’s grace that is already in our face.

We just have take the time to look for it.

What I learned from the sideline

I packed my bags in the fall of 2011 for Buckeye country with dreams of “Being a Big Ten Champion” (in the hopes of getting a nursing degree along the way). In terms of running, freshman year was where our generous sprint coach took me under her wing, and with patience, allowed me to train with some of the best sprinters in the nation. I didn’t catch success freshman year, but I sure was surrounded by it.

big tens

Cue sophomore year. New distance coach, yet Janel is stuck in the hopes of fighting past genetics to make a name for herself as a 400m runner on the Division I level.

Bless your heart, but no way in hell JLO.

God gave me the capability of a 54 split on a 4×4 but asking these legs the turn over at the rate of 51 seconds would take nothing short of a miracle..

So, I sighed, realized I was not Sanya Richards, and embraced the fact that it was time for a new coach to take me under his wing.

Cue distance running. Cue wheezing. Cue self doubt. Cue overcoming that. Cue believing.

Sophomore year was filled with lots of success. Never had I believed in a vision so fervently and submerged myself into doing whatever it took to keep knocking seconds off my 800 time. 2:14, 2:13, 2:12, 2:07. Boom. Did that really just happen? There’s no limit that I can do!

pose

I ended my sophomore year just missing nationals in the 800, and knowing that if I worked hard over the summer the next year would hold high expectations of a 2:05, 2:04. I could do this. I was invincible.

Cue injury.

My junior year was quite a different story. Bursitis in my Achilles led to tendonitis which led to tendonosis which led to peroneal tendon problems which led to half ass depression. Running was therefore replaced with a crepitus-filled ankle. I sounded like a door hinge. Or you know those really old shorts that your mom has and when you pull them out of a box and pull the old elastic it like crunches. That was my ankle.

Solution?? Let’s try Celebrex! Neproxen! Injections?! Boots! Hours of cross training! Doctors! Therapists! More cross training! More meds!! I was willing to do anything ((besides rest)) that would keep me on track for running that 2:04 that had been sitting on my nightstand for the past year. Go Bucks.

Except none of this worked and for once I could not control my circumstances.

And so it was inevitable…. Cue rest.

I was miserable. I thought that without running and success I was a worthless piece of crap. A failure. A burden to the trainers and my coaches and no longer a leader to my team. It felt like all the happiness was sucked right out of my life and I’m pretty sure my pillow had a salty taste from all the dramatic tears that fell upon it.

Life was never going to get better, right? Wrong. Let me now tell you all about just what I learned in that year sitting on the sideline. The year where I had the most personal growth I’ve ever experienced and I was blessed to see life from  a whole new perspective.

  • 1. GOD HAS A PLAN FOR ME
    • So I was injured for a year. Okay, this happened. But what if being able to empathize with other injured athletes is a gift God thought more valuable to me than success on the track. I had to set aside what I thought was my destiny and instead embrace the trials God sent my way, knowing that He is polishing me up for the unknown plans he has for me.
  • 2. RELATIONSHIPS ARE EVERYTHING
    • This is single handedly the biggest thing I learned and the absolutely POSITIVELY most important. When things were going well on the track, I sacrificed relationships in return. I sidelined my boyfriend, and besides my girlfriends back home, Columbus was filled with potential rivals (teammates), not friends. This year of injury allowed me to let people in, and along the way I can now say that so much love has entered my life in return. My teammates are now some of my best friends and some of the most beautiful souls I know.laughing
  • 3. PEOPLE FORGET SUCCESS
    • This is one that I’m especially learning now as I am making my comeback. Will it really matter 1, 2, or 5 years from now how fast I run? Nope. People have short-term memories with running and just when someone runs a 2:04, there is always going to be someone who will come back and run faster. What am I going to cherish more when I leave college… having run a 2:04 or having girlfriends that I can call and catch up with? The latter, obvi 🙂
  • 4. WHO WILL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU
    • This was hard. Some people who I thought would help pick me up in my lowest times, didn’t. But, it showed me all of the people I do have that are so absolutely amazing. There is something to say for someone who sees you at your lowest moments, reaches out their hand to you, and helps to lift you up. I’ve got some kick-ass people in my life.
  • RUNNERS COMPARE
    • I learned that I just had to do me. As runners, we infiltrate social media. Searching runner’s instagrams to see the gourmet meal they posted because if we “eat that” or “look that skinny” by golly we are gonna run that fast too. Nope. Doesn’t work that way. The moment we compare ourselves to others is when we stop believing in the person we are. Often times the people who look like they have all their shit together are falling apart inside ((aka me 95% of the time during Year Injury.)).. and sometimes now, too

SOOO.

Last year taught me a whole hell of a lot. And I can say that I will be forever grateful for it.

But what about senior year? Well, it’s the comeback. It’s the tricky process of combining what I have learned in Year Injury to the steps I took sophomore year to gain success (but without jumping on the crazy train). It’s taking the person I am now to achieve my goals without looking at the person I was 2 years ago. I am hungrier than ever to be back on the track. So much so that I am forcing the process and letting frustration consume me. I’m starting to feel worthless again as I am (so far) unsuccessfully chasing my dreams.

But then, I remember:

I’ve got my girls. I’ve got my passion. And I’ve got my God who wants to take control of how this track season plays out, anyway.

So, with that being said — Cue believing.

beleive

Happy Hearts

There are some things in life that make my heart blissfully and one hundred percent happy. Because there’s nobody out there knowing this blog even exists, I will let you all in on the joys of my life:

  1. Reading the bible
    1. Not until I went to college did I realize how much this could fulfill me. The Lord truly is the way to a happy heart, and I realize this every time I sit down to read the bible.
  2. Spending time with people I love
    1. When you wholly, truly love someone, time with them is time that is best spent. I didn’t know it was possible to love someone so greatly until I finally let someone else 100% into my heart. So if you get the opportunity to let someone in, give it a chance. Love can enter your life and change it for the better, when you didn’t even know it was bad to begin with.
  3. Drinking coffee and reflecting over how beautiful life is
    1. I have yet to decide if this peace comes from the endorphins that coffee makes my brain release or not. Either way, coffee is fan-freaking-tastic and so is life.
  4. Coming home
    1. I always heard the phrase “never forget where you come from” as I grew up. Not until I went away to college did I fully appreciate this. When I get the chance to break away from school, I come home and am able to appreciate everyone in their raw form. Sure my town and family have flaws, but who would want it perfect? I have a town and family that would drop anything for me in a heartbeat, and that alone makes me blessed beyond measure.
  5. Music
    1. In any form, really. From that country track about corn and whiskey to the most beautiful song of praise that we sing in church. Music hits my soul, and it’s the universal song that everyone can sing. Don’t be afraid to sing out. As I am getting older I am learning to find my voice. I care less about other people, and more about singing loud and proud for the Man above.
  6. Laughter
    1. A good belly laugh needs to be something a doctor can prescribe.
  7. Sunsets
    1. Have you ever looked at a setting sun or a spot in nature and just thought to yourself, “God is some artist, huh?” I went to Europe over the past summer, and the beauty that my eyes saw will never be forgotten.  I remember being sad as I took an island boat tour around Capri, Italy, because my greatest wish was for everyone else to be able to see the beauty that God has created in the world that is awaiting our discovery. Sorrento sunset
  8. Making God smile
    1. This can come in a couple forms, but what this entails is doing that which would make God smile because we’re glorifying him through works. Putting a couple dollars in the collection basket, helping volunteer, random acts of kindness, footing the bill for someone, apologizing, calling a friend, or absolutely anything that would make the Big Man look down on me and say, “That’s my girl”, with a smirk wiping across His face.