Thursday, June 27, 2013

YSA Service Project

Somewhere in the middle of our grand adventures, there were other adventures, like this one, for example! We had the YSA service project down in Brunswick for all of the Young Single Adults in the Kingsland Stake. We were hopeful for a large turnout. Instead, there were 6 of us...and 2 leaders. It was still fun though. I learned that I don't play well by other people's rules (sorry, no need for teams when there are only 6 people...though I fear I may have been just a little too abrupt for this group. I'm usually so mild mannered...it was quite unlike me). I also learned that Laura Beth and I may a great team and can outwork the boys without even breaking a sweat.
 
We went to the Marshes of Glynn...it was lovely. It was a beautiful day, there was a cool breeze, and a complete lack of biting insects. In essence, it was perfect!
 
 
Here is Laura Beth sporting the safety vest. We had to have one person in every group wear one and she took one for our team (though we never got near enough to the road to need it...at least I don't think so).

 
We found some really interesting thing...a ginormous rat trap, a shoe, LOTS of vodka bottles, plastic children's toys, and glass bottles that had been in ocean so long they started growing things..

 
We got to cross the big bridge. It was beautiful!!



 
Laura Beth being goofy...2 points for keeping your eyes on the road!! :)

 
By the way, Laura Beth is getting ready to leave on a mission in about 3 weeks. For the record, I'm happy for her and incredibly proud of her, but I'm NOT okay with this. I finally made a friend my age...and she's leaving. She is going to be such a great missionary!! Hopefully by the time she comes home, we'll have a mega group of YSA's and we'll have one truly spectacular service project...or party...when she comes home!

The Power of Prayer

Yesterday was a strange day. As I was getting ready for work that morning, a memory popped in my mind. It was of the time we took a family fishing trip on the beach somewhere. We had gone out early and gotten our spot, but then this family came in behind us, literally, and set up camp! It wasn't long before the woman started yelling at Lori and I (okay, mostly Lori because she was closest), and accused us of getting closer and closer to them and then she threatened to strangle Lori with her fishing line if she didn't move. I heard all of this happening, but I had NO idea what to do...so I did nothing! I was terrified...and I did nothing. I was a terrible sister and no joke, I have felt guilty for standing there and doing nothing to protect my "little" sister ever since. I chuckled a bit at the memory and thought to myself that I needed to write Lori and tell her this thought.

Then, last night, mom got a call from Sister Howes, Lori's mission president's wife. Let's face it, they never call and say "Hey, your daughter is doing great. Just wanted to let you know". That NEVER happens. I was in my room getting dressed for my work out when there is a knock on my door asking if, when Lori has passed out in the past, she had stayed asleep for any length of time. No, I couldn't think of anything...and then it hit. Something is wrong with Lori.

The details of what exactly happened are a little fuzzy after being passed from the doctors and nurses, to Sister Howes and finally to us...and WE have heard directly from Lori, but she has. But from what I understand, Lori went and took a nap yesterday afternoon and when her mission companion went to check on her, she found that she couldn't wake Lori up (poor Sister B...I'm pretty sure I would have panicked...I hope she is okay too) and called an ambulance to come and get Lori. They transported her to the hospital where she still remained asleep. The good news at this point is that her pupils were responsive and her vitals were pretty good...they just couldn't get her to wake up.

As you can imagine we were very concerned. We knelt and prayed as a family for Lori. We certainly couldn't be there with her, but we knew Heavenly Father was watching over her and was caring for her...we just had to trust Him and let Him handle it. As we prayed, one of the worst storms of the summer was rolling through (at least according to me). The thunder literally was shaking the house. As we knelt and prayed with this happening all around us, the scripture in Helaman 5:12 came to mind. It says:

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the arock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
 
I felt as though we were in that mighty storm. But I realized as we were praying, that we were built on the rock, who is Jesus. We were turning to him and though the outcome was uncertain, and the situation was unfavorable, we were not going to fall. We would not be drug down as long as we remain on this steady foundation, regardless of how this situation turned out.
 
About an hour later we received a welcome call from Sister Howes. Lori was awake. They were running tests on her, and she had no other information, but she wanted to let us know.
 
We didn't hear again from her until about 9:30 this morning. Lori had been released  from the hospital, the tests hadn't revealed anything, and other than being tired she was fine and was released to work as she wished. What a miracle!
 
What really touched me through this is the outpouring of love, concern, prayers, etc. from friends and family all over. I put something on Facebook notifying everyone of what was happening and asked for prayers from all who were willing. Prayer is truly an amazing thing. I know I've been on the receiving end of prayers many times in life, especially as I have gone through some medical things, but I was just blind enough (or maybe drugged enough) not to pay attention to the power the prayers of others has. Last night as we prayed, and as we asked for the prayers of others, there was an incredible outpouring of peace. Comments poured in, phone calls and texts came in, all letting us know that people were praying for her...and for us. For that, I will ever be grateful! Words truly cannot express how amazing and wonderful that is.
 
Timing is everything. I saw a sign yesterday that said "Today's trial is tomorrow's testimony". That is so true! When I saw that sign, I didn't know how yesterday was going to play out, but I'm grateful for trials in my life. I'm grateful that this trial was brief, and that Lori is okay (we're still working on her getting back to "great" status...hopefully a quick recovery). Today, my testimony in the power of prayer is strengthened more than I could ever have understood. Today, my prayers are in gratitude for Lori's health, for our family (scattered all over this place as we may be), and for incredible friends and family who reach out, and upward, for us. My love and appreciation to all of you, wherever you are! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Operation: "Suprirse Dad"

Last year when my sister-in-law's parents came to town, she and my brother, her parents, and my parents went out on a boat for a fishing trip. They had a lot of fun and I think they all dreamed of doing it again.
 
Fast forward to last week (so that almost seems like I should say rewind). RJ's parents are in town again and she texts me and tells me that they are trying to arrange a trip back out on the boat and wanted to know if we would be interested. Without much hesitation, I agreed for the three of us. With a little buy-in from mom, we agreed to make it a total surprise for dad.
 
You have to understand...this was a CRAZY busy week for me. It was one of the long ones where I reach my 40 hours before I leave on Thursday afternoon. Then on Thursday mom and dad had a WHOLE LOT of corn to do, so it was another late night (shout out to the sister missionaries who so willingly came over and helped us!!). I had already told mom and dad that I had my hours in and was taking Friday off, but I told them I wanted to play. So here we are, almost midnight on Thursday night, and I'm trying to be all chipper and excited and "begging" dad to take me to the beach bright and early Friday. I told him I thought we should leave the house at 6 AM (see, anyone who knows me knows that's not believable...it's also the reason mom had to be in the know...there was NO way I could have convinced them both that I wanted to do this!!) so we could get home before it got too hot and that way dad could still get some things done that he wanted to do.
 
It's now 5:30 Friday morning. Somehow I managed to wake up and pretend like I was ready to go. Don't get me wrong, I was really excited to go fishing, but the early thing just wasn't jiving for me. I could hear dad in the other room, moaning/talking to himself (I think) and saying that he didn't feel like going to the beach. Inside I smirked...and hoped that this feeling would change.
 
We knew we had to leave at 6:15 AM at the latest to make sure we could get there in time. We watched the time going by...6:05, 6:10, 6:20!!! Work with me, people!! Finally we are all ready, in the car and driving down the road.
 
Then we need to stop for breakfast and drinks. At this point I'm sitting in the car alone (at 6:30 mind you...still in Waycross) and call RJ and let her know what's going on. It's going to be a fast and furious ride. The only trouble about stopping anywhere in town is that you are almost ALWAYS guaranteed to see someone you know. And the trouble with early morning stops is it's more than likely a friend from childhood and it won't be super short (not that we know anything about that).
 
We made pretty good time, and I'd like to go on record and say I did quite well at following the speed limit. We made one quick stop for a bathroom break because we didn't know what kind of facilities were on the "beach". Turns out I selected the worlds busiest McDonald's ever...there was a line for the men's room!! Crazy! Unheard of!
 
I call RJ again...it's not looking good. We are about 20 minutes out, and we are supposed to be there in 15 minutes. Panic! Finally, we are back on the road again and I put it in high gear (at this point I can't vouch for my adherence to the speed limit...I was sort of on a mission). As we drove over the bridge to get to Jekyll Island, we were admiring the boats. I finally found my in..."let's go look at the boats".
 
We made it (barely). Spence, RJ, and her parents were standing there. Spence ducked out of the way, but she stood there. You know how when you see someone you know, but you're not expecting them, so you think it's someone who looks like the person you know (did you follow that??)? Well, that's exactly what happened. Dad thought this lady looked like RJ...and then as he got closer he saw Spence. Poor guy then thought that we had come up on them getting ready to leave on the boat and worried we were going to make them feel bad for not inviting us (or something like that). While they said their hello's, I slipped off and made final arrangements. As I was walking back, the pieces all finally came together. The man who didn't want to go to the beach was STOKED to be going fishing.
 
Now, the funny part. How do you prepare someone to get on a boat when it's a surprise? I thought the beach would be the perfect cover. You know, bring your shorts and flip flops, sunscreen and shades. Yeah, no. That didn't happen in this case. The only thing I could say to him was, I tried.
 
Thanks to Spence and RJ, we were able to scrounge up a pair of sunglasses for him and he did bring his sneakers. And then, just like that, we were ready to go!!
 
Our good looking crew before we boarded the boat!

Flag blowing in the breeze.

Every Friday morning should start like this...

...and this.

We created quite the wake!

Coming in along Driftwood Beach!


It was such a fun day! We didn't catch much in the way of keepers, but we made memories that we will never forget. Next time...off shore fishing!! And no surprises!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

St. Mary's

Life is, as you all know from your own experience, CRAZY busy! Every time I think it's going to slow down, something else pops out of nowhere and I start all over...and I wouldn't have it any other way (though I'm not going to lie...I would like to have a nap every once in a while...).

About two weeks ago the Elders and Sisters had P-day on a Tuesday, and Dillon had off, so the 6 of us took off to explore St. Mary's. We stopped to find a place for lunch. I went and asked they guy who ran the Army Surplus store his suggestion of a local favorite. We ended up at a cute little Italian restaurant called Pauly's. AMAZING!! Of course, after the meal, whether due to the antibiotics I was on (from that little nail in the foot), the tetanus shot (same reason), or the spicy marinara, I had a meltdown...literally!! I was so hot!! Luckily, I have great friends who took great care of me and fanned me so I didn't die, pass out, or melt completely.

After lunch, we were off to the submarine museum. When we arrived, it was swarming with men in uniform. I'm sorry, but you have to admit there is something wonderful about that. We all enjoyed looking around at everything, but I'm pretty sure the highlight was goofing off in the display model/simulator (can someone please give me the correct word there???). See??



 
 
Our group of submariners!! Such a fun day!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My New Favorite Number

I just have to toot my own horn today. I've been on this incredible journey this year in terms of fitness, health, spiritual well being...the whole nine yards. Today, I reached a milestone I have not only been dreaming of, but working really hard for!! I got on the scale for my weekly weigh in and there it was!! The 2nd major milestone I've been working toward! 30 pounds down.
30 pounds!!
I feel so proud of myself. I've never been good at setting goals, and I certainly have not been good at accomplishing them...until 2013. This truly is the year of my becoming. And I'm not just talking in terms of numbers, or looks, or anything like that. I'm becoming the woman I have always wanted to be. Someone who has incredible goals and aspirations. Someone who does instead of someone who hopes. I still have some crazy goals for the rest of this year and on through the next several. This accomplishment has just proven to me that I can!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tractor Girl

I had a terribly lazy weekend planned for myself. I felt like I was getting sick and knew I haven't been sleeping like I need. I tell people I just get cranky when I don't get enough sleep, which is true, but I also get sick. Some days I just have to cancel all my plans and do nothing but sleep, and that was the plan for Saturday. I dragged my lazy bones out of bed after 13 hours of sleep at 10 AM. I went and found my parents outside working (up since before the crack of dawn, of course). Mom suggested that we go grocery shopping before it got any later.
 
Dad said that while we were gone he was going to cut the grass. I asked him not to do that as I like to do that, and we were trying to convice him that it would be a good time for him to take a short break and cool off.
 
We let him for about an hour and when we retunred, he was putting chain in the back of the truck. I asked him if he was okay and he said he wasn't. He said he got his tractor stuck in the field and was trying to get it out. Now, silly me is thinking that if he's just taking a couple of chains and the truck, it will come right out. But that wasn't the situation.
 
We all piled in, I in my capris and flip flops, ready to simply drive the truck with him on the tractor. Easy, peasy. NOT!
 
After a couple of hours of placing poles, hooking chain, trudging through mud (now barefoot because I lost my flip flops in the mud and broke them in an attempt to get them back), and finally hooking up to the neighbors backhoe, we were able to get this baby out!
 
When I woke up I put my John Deere Tractor Girl shirt on. Turns out it was the perfect outfit for the day.
 
Check out those mud covered, nasty legs!!
 

 
As a side note, and not surprisingly, I stepped on a nail that was in one of the poles as I was jumping on it in an attempt to wedge it in front of the tire. This week I got a tetanus shot, just in case, a hefty dose of antibiotics, and a lot of concerned looks. I came to work Monday and was previously scheduled to have Tuesday off. I came back today and everyone was panicked that I had come down with a crazy infection of lock jaw. I couldn't have planned that one any better for all of the concern.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Food

Someone asked me what I have been eating in my efforts to lose weight and be healthier. Well, let's take a look and see, shall we?
 
Today brought me turkey pepperoni, light string cheese (if you're going to go light, stick with Sargento...trust me, it's worth whatever price difference!), carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, blueberries, and cherries. I also enjoy greek yogurt every other day or so.
 
I've done a really good job at avoiding junk food and desserts...that is until this week, of course. I made cannoli dip for a church gathering (unfortunately nobody here knows the wonder that is cannoli, so that meant more for me) and then this sinfully good cake. Aesthetics were not the name of the game as I made it in a bit of a hurry, but this is a combo Better Than S...Anthing...cake and a Kit Kat Cake. If I do say so myself, it was delicious.

Now that I have that out of my system, back on the healthy food wagon. :)

Placing Blame & Progressing

I finally did something this week that I have needed to do for months, and in some situations, years. I am notorious for blaming myself for things that happen in my relationships; roommates, family, dating…all of them. And let’s face it; there is PLENTY of blame to throw my way. I am not na├»ve to think that I am an easy person to get along with, at least not all the time. I know that I can be moody and irrational, stuck in my way of thinking, somewhat self-absorbed, and at times my communication skills leave something to be desired. I get all of that and I own those facts and more. Those are things I’m actively working on correcting in my life…some days just go better than others.

Ever since I went away to college the first semester and had conflicts with roommates, I was certain that I must really be a terrible person to live with. I mean, what else would explain the shunning (no joke) and harmless, yet hurtful pranks? In all of these relationships, it was easier for me to say that it was my fault, that I must have done something (or not done something), that my expectations were off, and that I was being unfair in the situation, that there were things happening in their lives that I wasn’t being sensitive to that caused these conflicts.  I replay moments and situations and tell myself that it's all my fault, that somehow I deserve what I got. And to be fair, there probably were, and I probably did, to one extent or another.

Turns out I do the exact same thing when I’m dating…or more correctly, when it’s over. And family is no different (though in all honesty I’m probably worse to my family than to any other person or group – that MUST change immediately…and the problems legitimately are my fault!).

This week, I did something that was very hard for me, but it turned out to be the MOST freeing thing in the world. I put the “blame” – not sure on what word should go there - on someone else. Please don’t misunderstand, I STILL take most of the “blame” and am highly aware that I am accountable for all of my choices and actions within all of these relationships, but here is the key, the piece I have been missing for all of these years. I wasn’t the only one there. There was ALWAYS at least one other person…every.single.time. Even though there is much work I need to do on myself, coming to grips with the fact that taking responsibility for every trouble, conflict, and unhappy ending isn’t helping me in any way has lifted this burden. It has given me some peace, some hope, some confidence in the future. It has given me an even surface to jump from. In my quest to be accountable, I see now that being honest in my "blame" is an integral part of that process.

I am not a perfect person, but I am trying. I’m doing the best I know how today, but I’m hoping that through my experiences I exceed that level tomorrow and the next day, and that I continue taking progressive steps to becoming the person I’m fighting so hard to become.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Monthly Recap - May

I'll spare you the standard state of shock I find myself in that another month has come and gone. Here is how this month played out.

Read the standard works cover to cover: The Old Testament is really kicking my trash! It is so long, but I am learning a lot. I have to admit that in setting a goal to read it so quickly, I'm not doing a very in depth study, but I'm covering the material and that's sort of a first. I'm hoping to regain some focus so I can learn more. My handy chart suggests that I should be on Ezekial 18 for the end of May. It took a lot of work, but I made it!

Walk 500 miles: Another one that took a little extra effort this month. I was doing well until I came home from vacation and started getting busy with the missionaries, institute, and other evening activities. I'm going to have to redirect some attention here so it's not quite so hard to get the miles in. With a last minute push and an eight mile walk, I was able to reach my goal of 42 miles this month!

Grow my hair out and donate it: I'm still hangning in there. My mom put a french braid in my hair for the first time in about 15 years!! And all of the hair went in it!! It was very momentous.

Ride in a taxi cab: I'm not going to lie, I was a little nervous about this. I've watched a few too many movies and TV shows where women get in a taxi cab alone and they either don't get out, or don't get out in good shape. But I got over my fear, hailed my first taxi cab (which was a little bit of a let down - he was already waiting), and loved it!! Such a fun thing to cross off my list.