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.

A certain level of comfort.

There is something amazing about being welcomed into an environment. Some places you walk in on your first day, but it feels like you have been there for much longer. Other places are familiar, yet never comfortable. Everyone needs that home away from home. The place that takes you as you are and helps you to become better. When you find it, never let it go, and never forget what it was to you in your time of need. If you are lucky, someday you can make it the safe place for someone else when they feel otherwise lost.

I have often joked you can always tell the adults who grew up in the church. There is a certain level of comfort that is easily obtained by children and translate into their adult experience. That is not to say that every church is actually the same, they just have certain similarities. No matter what, I know after communion I help pick up the little plastic cups. Somehow every church has the kitchen set up exactly the same and it is always easy to find what you need. I have always had a certain comfort level the moment I walk into any church.

In my experience, every church has that wonderful lady, or group of ladies that somehow understand what you need to hear and they goes out of their way to see you. I have been blessed to have many of these women in my life, but have not always taken advantage of their knowledge and wisdom. That was a huge mistake. I have decided to take any and all wisdom they are willing to impart on me. After all someday I hope to be one of those wonderful ladies, so I better start learning all I can.

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

Color vs. Colour

Social media can be amazing. It connects people from all over the world. Instagram is a particular favorite of mine, I love having a peak at other peoples adventures and sharing mine with them. Sometimes you come across someone who touches your heart, mind and inspires you. Even better, sometimes you do the same for them.

For me, I have a few Instagram friends that I look forward to seeing the world through their eyes on a daily basis. One in particular is from England. Not only do we like and comment on each other’s posts, but we have also been known to send supportive private messages to each other. Both of us are creative people, so it is fun to share our projects and learn from one another.

It is nice to have a “faceless friend”, someone that you feel like you can relate to and doesn’t judge you. A person that when times are hard, goes out of their way to communicate with you and send words of encouragement, even though they will not see you tomorrow, next week or in the years to come. Unfortunately, I will probably never stand face to face with any of the people behind my favorite accounts. Still, I feel fortunate to call them friend. I hope they feel the same and know how much they mean to me.

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