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2016: A Reflection

Working on a college campus means that at least once a day I get asked some obscure question. Recently I had two students approach me & ask simply, “What did this year teach you?”. I chuckled it off, told them I’d get back to em’ & sent them on their way.

The thing is…they came back the next day…and then the next.

Eventually, “getting back to em'” was the only way to actually get rid of em’.

So, I found myself really thinking about it & the next time they returned; right before winter term ended, I had my answer–the year taught me to LET GO!

The year was marred by the death of my dad last April. For the rest of my days, that’s what this year will reflect in my eyes–the year I had to let go of my dad. As hard as that was to let go of, there was peace that came knowing that he had also let go–of his pain, of his cancer.

This year I let go of a job that I loved, but which held no further advancement for me. Letting go of that made way for an even greater career opportunity for me.

I also let go of certain relationships in my life; both romantic & friendship. Relationships that were going nowhere & were holding me back negatively. Letting go of the old ones has cleared paths for new people to come into my life in ways I never would have expected. And it has even brought restorations into relationships that I long ago had written off as finished.

I’ve let go of certain dreams, prayers & hopes. Though sad to see some of them go, letting go has left me more grounded & gave me a greater comfort in realizing what it is that I really want out of life. There is sometimes freedom in watching your dreams & desires float away & you can finally rest in the comfort of knowing you gave it the good college try.

This year I’ve cried an ocean of tears, but I have also laughed deeply enough to fill a concert hall. My heart has been broken this year, but has also scarred over & healed from pain I was holding on too. This year found me both angry at God one minute & then on my knees begging for His love & forgiveness the next. I have been weak this year, but also strong. I have taken things for granted, but have also been humbled in true appreciation. I’ve had moments of laziness followed by heavy wear & tear on the hiking boots. I have made many mistakes this year, but have also learned life lessons. I have lost…and I have found.

2016 has taught me, big time, to let go of any preconceived ideas of HOW I think things should work out! So (begrudgingly) I enter 2017 completely clueless. To a type-A planner, like myself, that’s a little terrifying. But I’m left with a sense of peace when looking at a completely clean slate.

Welcome, 2017!!! I have been waiting all year for you!

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2016-a year in pictures!

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I want feet like a deer, reflections from Pslam 18:33

If you read my blog from a couple weeks ago (and I KNOW all you fine readers have, right? but in case you missed it: Ready for a slow down, reflections from Psalm 90) then you’re already aware that I’ve been doing a self-study in the book of Psalm. A book that I’m falling in love with because it’s so musically written & “flowy” (is “flowy” a word??? Who knows? but I dig it!). While studying chapter 18 this scripture leapt out at me…

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places”

-Psalm 18:33-(NKJV)

**By the way** Don’t cha’ totally love my word play??? leapt/deer…get it??? Smooth!

Anyways, (refocus) If I have read this scripture before, I’ve never noticed it. It’s pretty unassuming, but to an animal-studied-nerd, like myself, wow…this is a good one!

Deer feet. No doubt you don’t have to be in student loan debt to realize that, yeah, deer feet are important to deer. But do you know that, hands down, hooves are the MOST IMPORTANT part of deer anatomy??? untitled

Deer are flight animals, meaning they run from perceived danger, they’re lovers not fighters. Those skinny little toothpick legs carry a few hundred pounds gracefully at 40mph; they can leap about 8 feet high & the hooves are designed in such a way that they take the brunt of all that force. Pretty impressive, huh??

Without getting too technical & for the sake of this blog illustration, let’s break the hoof down into two simple parts; we’ll call it the “outer” & the “bottom” (creative, thank you very much). Most people know that deer are cloven hooved animals, meaning they have two toes, not one single toe-like a horse. God in his infinite wisdom designed them that way knowing the wide variety of terrain they’d be covering. That design allows them to cover everything from swimming in deep water, to scaling a mountain. The hard outer wall of the hoof is made of keratin (the same stuff as your fingernails) this helps them claw, paw, dig & fight; bottom part is a soft, spongy material that helps them grip slippery surfaces. Pretty cool that when you see a herd of deer running & leaping, they really don’t know what’s on the other side of those leaps, but rarely do they slip & fall. Flight animals cannot survive without their legs, the hoof is the first line of defense to protecting the legs & in turn, the entire being.

I’m in awe of the responsibility that hooves have.

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places” -Psalm 18:33-

This chapter in Psalm was written by David wrote after the Lord delivered him from his enemies & Saul (who was out for blood!). David was in a tough spot, he had no idea how he was going to get out of the mess he found himself in. He prayed with a ferocity & the Lord saved him, not in a way he was expecting, for the Lord didn’t rescue him from the mess but equipped him with strength & abilities David didn’t know he had…and he conquered & gave the glory back to God. The NET version goes,”He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain”. You may not think you’re equipped to negotiate the rugged terrain in your life & it may look impossible, but the Lord has equipped you to be a conqueror.

So next time you feel overwhelmed, look at your feet & see yourself has having the feet of deer!

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Ready for a slow down…reflections from Psalm 90.

I’m learning to thin my plate. Trust me, this irony is not lost on me as I’ve been changing to a healthier eating lifestyle over the last 2yrs., but in eating & in my personal life…my plate is getting thinner.

I’ve always said that when I have too much time on my hands I tend to make foolish, destructive decisions. That fear has caused me to go 900miles a minute and since I’ve never been really good at relaxing I have a bad habit of taking on too much. A habit I’m trying to break.

During this past summer I could feel myself getting burned out. Between working 3 jobs (sometimes 4), worrying about family health problems, staying active in my church & community, plus the pressure (self-inflicted) that I put on myself to spend so many hours reading, working in the garden & house, writing, hiking, blah blah; my candle was burning up quickly & activities that used to bring me joy began to feel more like a chore. I started to have horrible stomach pains & my suspicions were proven true when, for the second time in less than 10yrs., I was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer. The threat of a possible surgery caused me to examine my lifestyle & how I can de-compress, de-stress, & handle my behavior in a less-destructive way.


I took a 30-day hiatus from all social media, quit one of my jobs, cut back on a busy social calendar, took a vacation (days of drinking, nature & laughs) and got back into reading the Bible regularly. At moments I’ve loved having a thinner plate; I’m reading & writing more, I’ve finished “one day” projects around the house, & I’ve met up with friends for lunch instead of saying, “we should totally get together” via text. At other moments I’ve hated it; extra time = my mind over-thinking & worrying about things that don’t matter, having to re-budget after a loss of income, & guilt over sitting down to watch a movie (I know some of ya’ll can relate). It’s been a roller-coaster of highs & lows.


I’m studying the book of Psalms this year. Even though I’ve read countless verses here & there, I’ve never studied it as a whole. Very fitting that Psalm 90 happens to be the chapter I’ve been studying during this season of my life (isn’t it amazing how God does that?). Psalm 90 is written by Moses; a man chosen by God to lead His people out of slavery & the wilderness to the promised land of milk & honey. After freedom from Egyptian slavery, the Israelites spent the next 40yrs. wandering the desert wondering when the promise of their “promised land” was to happen. Boy, can I relate to that! Psalm 90 is Moses’ prayer for strength, that the anxiety he feels during the “waiting” will be a character builder. That the Lord will teach him to “slow down” & value his days, trusting that the Lord keeps His promises & is re-focusing him to be better equipped for the day that promise comes to pass.

Something that I struggle with, and I have throughout my whole walk with Christ, is I don’t feel like I “hear” from God. Like my prayers fall on deaf ears. I’ve got many journal entries asking God why He’s ignoring me, however, many scriptures throughout the Bible refer to God speaking in a “still small voice”. If you know me personally, then you know that the concept of a “still small voice” is foreign considering I’ve never been quiet about anything! In the past, when God has needed to get my attention, he does it brick-wall style, by something so dramatic that I have no choice but to pay attention. I feel this slow-down phase He’s bringing into my life is so I can become better attuned to his direction & voice (and I just now realized that this very moment while typing out this paragraph).

At some point maybe I will learn that I can cause myself so much less-stress if I just trust in the Lord in the first place.

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Book Report: “WoodSong” by Gary Paulsen

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I love, love, LOVE this book!

I wish I had waited a couple weeks before I wrote the blog on my top 10 favorite, https://chapstickchatter.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/my-top-10-favorite-books-of-all-time/,because this memoir would’ve been on it! No idea how or when this quick read ended up in my bookcase, but I’m disappointed that I took so long to pick it up to read!

Not a big book, less than 150 pages, & I knocked it out in a couple hours on a snowed-in afternoon. WoodSong is one page-turning adventure! It’s the true life, hard-to-believe-it’s-actually-nonfiction memoirs of author Gary Paulsen (Hatchetf, Dogsong, The Winter Room, etc) & his life running a sled-dog team, training for the Iditarod.

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The first half of the book tells how the author first got interested in dog sledding; the trials, hit & misses, ignorance, mistakes that he made as his passion grew. This is one of the best novels I’ve ever read on wildlife conservation & the relationships between pets & their owners. The author wrote with such honesty & rawness over his own misunderstanding at nature & her unforgiving spirit. He also is openly candid at admitting his many failures, mistakes & ignorance at owning a team of intelligent, high-strung working dogs. The regret with which he wrote about at “ruining” some of these dogs over his lack of knowledge is something that, those of us who work & have worked in the animal industry, have seen first hand way to many times.

I was not bored or lost interest on any page of this novel. I laughed outloud in several parts describing his mistakes & how the dogs corrected him, I bawled over the words he wrote on the death of his favorite sled dog, Storm & I found myself saying,”sooooo true” in agreement with him over the ways in which man destroys wildlife & nature.

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The second half of the novel was about his weeks running the Iditarod dog sled race held annually in Alaska. A grueling 1150mile course through unforgiving mountains, backcountry wilderness & heavy waterways. Mushers & dogs work as a team to finish in less than two weeks time. It was fascinating to read behind the scenes on what really happens, the non-televised versions; deaths, hallucinations, sleep & hunger depravity, injuries, & basic survival instincts kicking in for both man & animal. I read with captivity. Truly is a testimony on what the body goes through when pushed to the brink of competition, with others & yourself.

If you’re a nature-freak, survivalist, animal lover, dog obsessed, conservationist or adventure seeker you’ll love this book! It’s a super fast, easy read full of honest & raw, non-exaggerated writing. The author is a natural teacher who simplifies his passion for readers & conveys his love for wildlife & environmental conservation, as well as, animal rights.

If I could rate this higher than 5 stars On Goodreads I would!
*WoodSong book trailor* http://youtu.be/xgIIs5peyLI

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