#ISentLoveInAnEnvelope

I have a small collection of packages to send out tomorrow. Just a few things heading off to new adventures. In this day of instant email and text messages it can be fun to send things in the mail. The worst part of the process is going to the post office and standing in line. I’m a little torn over what the best part is. Hearing how the receiver feels about what you sent is always great, but it is also a lot of fun collecting and packaging up the goodies to send.

Lately, I have made a point of adding the hashtag #ISentLoveInAnEnvelope to each package. I think it is nice for all the hands that the package will go through to know that whatever is inside is special. I can not take credit for this wonderful concept or hash tag. I picked it up from Grace & Salt ink. This initiative was started to help show your friends that they are valued, bring a smile to their face and to help encourage them. The sentiment is simply beautiful, it makes me want to send out packages all the time. Afterall, getting an unexpected (or expected) package from a friend always turns a bad day to wonderful.

1 Thess’ 5:1 (ESV)
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.

 


 

Read all about Grace & Salt ink’s I sent love in an envelope challenge here!

140.6 miles.

Over the last year I have watched an amazing woman prepare for a huge challenge. She has swam, biked and run mile after mile in preparation for the Lake Placid Ironman. Sunday morning she will put all her training and preparation to the test. It has been inspirational to watch her journey and an honor to lifeguard for her early morning swims.

Training for such a grueling event means a lot of sacrifice. So much of your time and energy is poured into overcoming each challenge. With the support of her family she has handled everything with an amazing amount of grace. Through weather, injury and everything in between she pushed through and made it to the starting line.

I am looking forward to following her throughout the day as she completes her 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run. She has a group of family and friends that will be there wearing “Team Luckiest” t-shirts in bright green to provide her with encouragement every step of the way. Although I will be home I too will be sending supportive prayers and well wishes as she completes the goal she has worked so hard to achieve.


Here is a link to her blog post 13 days out from the race:
http://www.ourtripod.com/2017/07/ironman-lake-placid-in-13-days-pass-me.html

I never knew.

A friend asked me to do a project for her, I am very excited and honored that she asked. Today I started some of the initial gathering of information before I dive in head first. I wrote down some verses that bring comfort, strength and courage. Many of the verses spoke to me, but a few stood out.

Psalm 119:25
I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word

Sometimes I am in disbelief over what this year has turned into. There are some things you only expect to happen in movies, so when it happens to you it takes a while for it to become real. I wish I could understand more about exactly where everything went wrong, but I think to trace it back would be pointless, after all, I would still be where I am. It is amazing how broken down I was compared to how strong and confident I am becoming.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians has played a huge roll in my recovery. I have found much comfort in its words. From day one it has been amazing the blanket of comfort I have received. Even more shocking to me is how I was able to help others so soon after facing my own troubles. God works in mysterious ways and I can not wait to see what he has in store for me next.

Psalm 119: 50
My comfort in my suffering is this: your promises preserves my life.

No where are we promised an easy life, there will be unknown struggles and pain. What we are promised is that God will be by our side no matter what. He will carry us through the hard times and celebrate alongside us in happy ones.

Everyday I am amazed of the small lessons I learn and the wisdom I gain. It is unfortunate that in order to get where I am going I had to lay low in the dust, but am becoming something much more than I ever imagined. Daily I am working to remember that it takes time to bring out the strength He is giving me, but someday I will have a new confidence that I never knew I could have.

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.

Faith to dream. 

Let me get this out of the way, the main speaker at camp sounds like James Earl Jones and he has an incredible amount of energy. 

This morning he preached about redemption and how God can turn our vices into fruits of the spirit. He ended by reminding us that we need to continue to fill ourselves up with the Holy Spirit because we constantly pour it out of ourselves and into others. Over all a very powerful message. 

The evening service was an emotional roller coaster for me. I have said before that I know God is working in my life and has a plan for me, but in order to get there I had to get stronger. Apparently God wanted to really drive that idea home for me today. The main topic was having faith to dream and follow through on the plans God has for us. 

Throughout the Bible God talks to the faithful in the form of dreams. Noah, Abraham and Joseph all learned about the plan God had for them in dreams. For the past few months God has begun to place things in my heart. I honestly can’t tell you where I am being lead, but I know a plan has been set in motion. Now it is up to me to continue to be steadfast and courageous. 

The speaker closed the message with an altar call for those who have a dream that has been laid on their hearts. I went up. I have a dream, but unfortunately it is too raw for me to put into words. In Gods time he will show me where he needs me, and will get me through each struggle along the way. 

I cried a lot today. Sometimes it is simply too hard to hold in all the emotions and it becomes overwhelming. But I am resilient, strong and courageous and with God on my side, unstoppable. 

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday. 

Camp. 

Being at camp as an adult is a little weird. The kids who are now teenagers were little when I last knew them. Now they have taken over where previous teens left off. It is strange to think how far down that line me and my friends are. It has been almost 12 years since I spent a significant amount of time roaming the campground. Somehow nothing seems to have change but the faces. I guess we all take on the rolls left behind by others. 

People that I grew up with are now the parents of kids playing in the creek. Yet here I am still somewhere in between. Most days I’m still not exactly sure where I am, but I know in time life will work its way to the next step. No matter what is coming up I know I can handle it. 

Camp has always had a wonderful way of helping me process things. There is something peaceful and calming here. Unfortunately, I won’t be here for long, but I have faith I will walk away feeling more confident. 

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday. 

Parakaleo

I could not have asked for a better sermon this morning. There were a few points the pastor made that were exactly what I needed to hear. He spoke about the Body of the Church and the way it connects all Christians. In the Old Testament, God choose a nation to fulfill his calling, but in the New Testament He chose individuals from all nations who came together as the Universal Church. It was incredible to hear how eloquently the pastor described the love, care and encouragement we, as the Church should bring to each other. As a Christian, we never struggle alone.

Parakaleo, is the Greek word for encouragement, directly translated it means to come along side. For me, this is the perfect way to describe what has happened during my healing process. Since February I have been in the greatest struggle of my life, but not even for a minute have I felt alone. There has been a stream of encouragement and love that continues to pour into me from so many. People continue to come along side of me giving me exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. It is truly incredible what the Body of Christ can do and the healing it can bring about.

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.

Keeping secrets.

Keeping secrets from my dad is close to impossible, he always seems to figure it out. I remember being disappointed many Christmases when he would guess what his wrapped present was long before opening it. At some point my brother and I started to hide his present until Christmas morning.

For approximately the past six months my mom, brother and I have been attempting to keep a big secret. I honestly do not know how we managed to do it, but we did. Some how my mom and I gathered information and pictures with out my dad knowing. The three of us created a telephone version of communication that no information was on my mom’s phone, and my brother made the six-hour trip home. It was all worth it.

For the past 34 years my dad has been a history teacher at Hornell High School, most of his career has been spent teaching junior high. This year, much to his surprise the year book was dedicated to him. I would have loved to see the look on his face when he figured out who they were describing before they said his name. What I will always remember is him standing on the stage staring at the yearbook speechless. My dad is never speachless.

The final result was worth all the frustration of keeping it from him. It was wonderful to spend time as a family celebrating my dad and his many years of teaching and coaching. I hope the students at Hornell know how much this dedication means to him, as a junior high teacher you are often forgotten as the studients get older, being remembered and recognized is a wonderful feeling.


Here is what my dad’s page in the 2016-2017 year book looks like:

Mr. Walter's page

Why.

It seems impossible to hold myself together today. It has been such a long time since I felt so helpless. Somehow I managed to hold back the tears for most of the afternoon, but as soon as I got to my car I let them come. I do my best to block out the pain and to hold back the negative emotions, to only see the potential that the future holds, but some days it is simply too much.

Why does it all still hurt so badly? I try to convince myself that every day it gets easier, but lately things that were easy before seem impossible now. Hopefully tomorrow really will be easier, and I really will be stronger. I wish I had more answers, a way to put myself in a better frame of mind but there is no genie in a bottle or star to wish on that holds my answers. It has been a very stressful, exhausting few weeks, I am hoping that is the root of my issue. Maybe once I am back on track I will be able to manage my pain better and feel like I am moving forward again.

I am very thankful for the little ways that I found support today. There was a post on Instagram that picked up my spirits when I was barely holding it together. An unexpected compliment that my short hair looks better on me than long. The perfect song on the radio at the perfect time, and a lost file that was found. It never ceases to amaze me how God works in our lives and always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.

 

Life of a lifeguard.

I was not looking forward to this weekend. However, I have been pleasantly surprised how much fun I have had. The entire weekend has been spent in the cement box of the pool, while outside the sun has been shining with nothing but blue skies. I will probably smell like chlorine for the next month, but it is worth it because as the end of it all I will be one step closer to becoming a Lifeguard Instructor.

When I first got my lifeguarding 15 years ago I never thought I would be here. Over the years I have become a strong lifeguard and comfortable with my skills. It is a little scary and exciting to take it to the next level. The thing I can rely on is the fact I know the skills, muscle memory is on my side. I need to get stronger at articulating how to perform each lifesaving rescue, but as with most things, time and practice is the best cure.

From day one to the end of day two I can say proudly that I am more confident and excited to take on future teaching opportunities. Tomorrow is the true test to see how well the lifeguard candidates have been instructed, I have high hopes for many successes. Lifeguarding is one of my passions and I am proud to pass it on to future generations of lifeguards.

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.

Awfully short to be a high jumper.

Today my high school is hosting its biggest track meet of the year, the Hornell Invitational. When I was in school is was much larger than it is now. Every time I walk out on the track I see it for what it used to be. Schools from all over came to run on what used to be the fastest track around.

I was a high jumper, I say that with a laugh because I am shorter than your average high jumper. This fact was pointed out to me at the Invitational my senior year by an opposing coach. His exact words were ” you’re awful short to be a high jumper.” At this point of the competition there were only three jumpers left, I am sure he was trying to psych me out. Let me tell you, the eight words he said had every impact he wanted. I missed at that height and his athlete got second.

Not only did those words throw me off-balance for that meet, but for the rest of the season and into college. When I started college I had not planned on continuing in athletics, but I am thankful I did. I will never forget one of the first few weeks of my freshman year sitting in the office of the my future coach while he convinced me to join the team. How could I have known then he would help me prove to myself that I was not too short to jump high.

My first track meet in college did not go much better than my last few in high school, but I did not give up and for some reason neither did my coach. By the end of my first indoor season I was stronger and more constant than ever. At the end of the season I got second place at the NCCAA track meet earning my first of three All Americans. I was still “awfully short to be a high jumper”, but somehow the sting of those words was lost. Many times in meets I was looked down on (literally) by other jumpers, than they saw me fly.

Words are dangerous things, we often take their meaning for granted and forget how others will interpret them. That coach did not say anything I did not already know, but hearing it said out loud and in that way was painful. On this end of the story I can say with pride “I was awfully short to be a high jumper” because now I can add to the end “but look at all I did inspite of it”.

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.