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Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Finish Line

"I can do all things through Christ who gives strengthens me." ~Philippians 4:13

Today has been one of the most emotional days I can remember, and I can't help but wonder: do other people feel like this when they run their first half marathon or am I a complete mess? Either way, I'm OK with it because it has been an amazingly cathartic experience.

The "Go Commando" race took place in Clarksville, TN, which shares Ft. Campbell with KY. I was born on this Army base and this was where my dad spent the last few years before he retired from service. Maybe that's what started the emotional outpouring. Before the pistol shot to start the madness, some beautiful voice sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." That's when I started trying to hide the tears. What a baby, right? I couldn't help it, though.

So the race starts, and I can't stop crying. There's a physically disabled man who starts ahead of me, and I'm amazed and blessed that he's attempting this (he finished before I did, by the way). As I'm shuffling along, I'm staring at the back of an elderly man. His shirt tells me he's a Vietnam Vet-- it has two crossed rifles on it and it reads "In 1969 this is the only Woodstock I remember." I love it, my dad would've loved it. I'm looking around at the people who are competing in this and I start to feel this beautiful sense of community. I am not one of the "typical" running types who is stick thin and solid muscle. Quite the opposite. And I just started trying this whole running thing a few months ago, but it's OK because anyone can do this and we're all going to finish. Even me.

The crowd starts to thin out pretty soon and I am on my own (mainly because most of the crowd is ahead of me), so I start my conversation with God. All week I've been concentrating on Philippians 4:13, so I started saying it out loud. And I start thinking about all the people who, for whatever reason, cannot do what I am doing right now. God has blessed me with physical strength and health and I have squandered it for too long. I am truly sorry, Lord. What a poor example I have been to my own children, and what a horrible steward of Your gifts. And then? You guessed it-- I cried. I thought of all my attempts over the course of my life to lose weight and "get fit" and they were always for all the wrong reasons, and every time I failed. It was always to glorify myself, never to keep myself healthy so I could carry out the plan He has for me. At that moment, God gave me this: Hebrews 12:1 "So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that just won't let go. And we must run the race that is ahead of us." So I did and I will. I have spent too much of my life doubting myself and not allowing God to work through me, not just in physical terms, but in all aspects of my life. Shameful, yes, but I feel like I ran that out today. It feels good.

My goal for today was to finish before the time limit and I did. It was glorious. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. I got soaked (it rained almost the entire time), I got cold, and at about mile 10 I got tired of running and had to walk for the rest of the way. But I finished. And I got to spend some priceless time with God who taught me some pretty incredible lessons about myself. I am sore and as I'm writing this I am still teary-eyed, but I've honestly never felt better.

My sweet, supportive husband completed his first half marathon today, also.
And these are my super-cute babies sporting their medals for completing the Fun Run.
A good day, a very good day.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Month of Thanks, Part 2

OK, so November is almost over, Thanksgiving has come and gone (unfortunately a few extra pounds have come also), and I want to finish my listing of top things I'm thankful for.

8. I am thankful for... my country. My father spent the majority of his life serving this country in the Army. The first song I can remember learning from him is "America the Beautiful," and it still brings tears to my eyes when I hear it now. He taught me that being an American is a privilege and to respect my country and treasure the rights that it affords me. Those lessons have never left me, and I love passing them to my girls. I am grateful for his service and the service of all other brave men and women who serve this great nation.

9. church. I love being a member of Long Hollow Baptist, and more specifically, a member of the Springfield campus. I am so grateful to be a part of a church that truly is Christ-centered and preaches the Gospel as it is. I have had the privilege of seeing amazing works done and lives changed through its ministry, and I am just thankful to be a small part. 

10. job. I know that it might sound crazy, but I love what I do. I have never felt that teaching is anything less than a calling. Every student I've had for the last 13 years is a part of my life and I love them all (although some might not believe that ;). I am confident that I have gained more knowledge from them than I have given them, and I treasure every bright and dark moment of my career. My job has also given me an awesome schedule for raising children, and I want my girls to learn and know that it is perfectly fine if they choose to work outside of their homes. 

There are so many things and people that I could go on listing, but couldn't we all? I have enjoyed reading the daily posts on Facebook this month, but we should probably not limit showing our thankfulness to just one month. I admit that I take too much for granted, but it was nice to sit down and reflect on my blessings. 

Here's a montage to some other blessings that I didn't include in the "top ten" but are no less meaningful to me... (and in no particular order)

(I had to include her-- she was one of my earliest heroes, and that outfit is awesome!)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Month of Thanks

It has been a while since I've done this, and a lot has happened since May. My little family has been pretty busy with softball, school, traveling, and life in general. And it's already November-- how did that happen?! Thanksgiving is just two weeks away and my social media friends have been posting daily about what they're thankful for. I've sat out on this for the last few years, but...

...come on, everybody else is doing it. Well, twist my arm, I guess I'll join in.

1. I am thankful for my salvation, for a God who loves me enough to forgive me. I can't even begin to imagine life without the hope of Jesus Christ. I am eternally grateful.

2. husband, Jeff. I've said it before, but he is the best person I know. He is patient (for the most part :), kind, loving, funny, and pretty hot, too. He is the most wonderful father and husband a girl could ask for, and I'm one blessed chick.

3. ...Katie. Jeff and I waited for a long time for this gift, and God was faithful as always. Katie is one of the most incredible people I know. She's beautiful in every way, funny, smart, caring... but most important, she loves God. I am so excited to see what her future holds.

4. ... Aubrey. She is the most loving child I have known, but you'd better not cross her! Jeff and I joked before she was born that we should have a child that looks like him and acts like me (since Katie is the opposite). And then we were reminded that we should be careful what we ask for! She is such a special little girl and she brings us joy daily.

5. ... Abigail. Oh, where to begin with this one?! Abby was our biggest surprise-- our greatest gift that we didn't know we needed. This is the funniest kid I've ever met. She is always smiling and finding new ways to make us laugh, and she is another reminder that God's plan is always better than mine.

6. ...motherhood. I know I've mentioned all of my girls, but there was a time when I thought that I would not have the privilege of having children of my own. Now I don't remember what life was like before these beautiful little creatures existed. They have taught me more than I could ever teach them and my heart overflows with love and joy at the thought of them.

7. parents-- all of them. My beautiful mother is the epitome of love and loyalty. She taught me to work for what I want and to never settle for less. My father, in the short time he was with me, loved me. That may seem simple, but I know that some people don't ever have that knowledge. He also taught me to take pride in everything I do. My step-dad gave me love and respect when he didn't have to and convinced me that I can overcome anything. And my in-laws are pretty darn special, too. They raised a good man who I am more than proud to call my husband, and they have always treated me like I am one of their own.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Something very strange and surreal happened today. I walked out of my classroom, locked the door, and proceeded to exit the building like I have every school day for the last 6 years at BHS. I realized as I was exiting, though, that I will not go back to my classroom on the first day of school in August. In fact, it's now officially someone else's classroom. I don't have a classroom at all. It just feels weird.

Next year, BHS is beginning the transition to the International Baccalaureate program, and I will be coordinating our school's efforts in doing so. I am very excited about this opportunity and I look forward to the new experience, but part of me is a little sad. I have been teaching for 13 years and I have loved my career. Sure, there have been some rough spots, but I've definitely had more highs than lows. I can still remember what I wore my first day of school as a teacher at TCHS and how nervous and incredibly naive I was. Seven years later, I was a little more experienced but just as nervous when I made the move to BHS.

So, normally on the last day of school, I'm taking a deep breath and thankful that I've got a few weeks to recoup before I stand in front of my next group of students. But today is a little different. I am taking a deep breath and reminding myself that the only constant is change.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

13 Years, 3 Kids, and Millions of Smiles

I am one blessed girl. My life is beautiful-- God has given me much more than I deserve and I am humbled by His grace. I would like to take the time today to thank Him especially for the gift of Jeff.

Jeff and I met 16 years ago and have been together ever since. We had a rough start to our relationship because we lived in different states. I think we broke up about 10 times during that first year, but we just couldn't stay apart. We had a lot of growing up to do (and we still do, truth be known), but we decided we were going to make it work, no matter what. And here we are: married 13 years as of today, with 3 of the most beautiful children God ever created, and we're still smiling and still making it work-- no matter what.

I am so thankful that God gave me Jeff. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to watch him grow as a husband, as a father, and as a man of God. He is truly the best person I know and I love him more today than I ever have. I am so proud to be Mrs. Jeffrey Hall and I am smiling at the thought of  the many, many years to come. Again, I am one blessed girl.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Remembering Dad

"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."
 ~Sir Winston Churchill
Dad and I, 1990

 We all  (hopefully) have a person in our lives who helps us strive to be better people, loves us unconditionally, and understands us more than anyone else. Mine was Tom Killian, my dad.

Dad was actually my step-father, but he grew to be so much more than that. This picture of us was taken near the beginning of our relationship-- when we were both miserable. Those of you who know me well will notice that I do not have my usual toothy smile in this photo. It was intentional.

You see, he became my step-dad when I was 13. My real father died when I was 6, and by this time I had no need for someone else to try to step into that role-- especially not a man who was 50 years older than I was. I spent the better part of 2 years trying and succeeding to make our lives together as difficult as possible. He wanted me to call him "Dad,"  and I refused. Out of respect for his age, he required me to call him "Mr. Killian." I spent so much time trying to convince him that I didn't need or want him, but he just wouldn't stop convincing me how much I truly did need and want him. He was like that-- he always knew what was best for me.  I remember I told him once that he would never be able to take my father's place in my life. His response: "I never want to take your father's place. I would just like to earn my own place in your life." And that's exactly what he did. He's the only person I've ever known who was as stubborn as I am. I am so thankful that he wanted to invest in me.

There's a long story to our relationship, but the most important part is the happy ending. I grew to love this man with all of my heart, and I eventually was more than willing to call him "Dad." As this month comes to a close, I miss him more than ever. Dad died in April of 2010. This past Wednesday would have been his 86th birthday. I turned in my last assignment for my Master's degree today, and he's really the biggest reason I started and finished. I dedicate that degree to him. We never ended a conversation without him telling me he was proud of me, proud of Jeff, and proud of all that we had done. I know that he would be proud of this, too.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Where did April go?

I realize that the month is not yet over, but WOW! It has gone by so fast! I hate to admit it, but I really did hope for this month to pass quickly.
For the last 18 months, I have been working on getting my Master's of Education. I started this process during the summer of 2010 (actually I started way back in 2001, but that's another story entirely), and it was pretty much a breeze to begin with. I could do my classwork while my babies napped or slept at night, and I didn't have a stack of student essays to grade. When the school year started again, it became a little more difficult, but it was manageable. "Manageable" would be a good word to describe the whole experience until this semester.
 When I saw my course requirements for my last two classes in January, I told my husband that I was going to quit. Smart, huh? My last semester of this journey and I was going to quit. It just looked like too much to handle: writing an action research project, tutoring students, teaching full-time, being a mother, having two of my girls playing softball, feeding my family, sleeping, breathing. I was positive that all of that could not take place at the same time. I broke down. I cried. I threw a fit. And then my husband told me what he's always told me, that he would do whatever it took to get me through it. And he has. He has always been the voice of reason to my emotional outbursts. I thank God for him daily.
So here I am, April 23, and I just submitted my last assignment for one of my classes. The final assignment for my other class is due Sunday, my birthday. As sick as it may be, that will be the best birthday present. With all of the activities that have consumed this month, though, I am refuting Eliot's claim that "April is the cruelest month." This month started with my mother's baptism-- how beautiful is that for beginning a month?! We celebrated Easter, Mom's 68th birthday, and Aubrey's 4th birthday along with her first softball hit.
It's been great, April; now bring on May!
Mom's baptism

My girls on Easter

Aubrey's 4th birthday cake

Aubrey's game ball for her 1st hit!