Posted in Lessons He Taught Me, Things That Make My Brain Happy

Connected

Something I like about writing is the time I’m able to take, reflecting on my life and processing the ways God has been blessing me. For me, writing is another way I spend time with God. Going on outdoor runs is another way I connect with him.  As I listen to music reminding me of his promises and run through beautiful terrain that has his “fingerprints” all over it, I’m praising him.  I’m keenly aware that he’s with me.  There’s so much evidence in the trees, mountains, the rain and the rainbows, the sun showers that I’ve run through thanking him because he knows how much I love them. He’s smiling down at me as I’m smiling and looking up to Him, praising Him for giving me rest for my soul, filling me with light especially as I do these 2 things.

ARCO IRIS Chuva Sol Natureza Casa Colorido Desktop Backgrounds

In what ways do you feel even more connected to Him than normal? You’ll know what they are when you look forward to it each day.

Posted in Mom Life, Photo Inspiration, Ponderings

The Importance of Fathers

DadMeChris

A long time ago, my father made a commitment to himself that when he got married and had children, he would never break the promise he made to his family. He vowed to my mother and to himself, that he would be the father he grew up wanting to have and he would be the kind of husband to his wife, that his mother deserved.

It chokes me up just thinking about that as I type this.  The weight of pain he felt without his dad in his life and the weight of the pain he saw in his sisters and his mother as they all persevered as best they could without the man who should have had the strength and conviction to carry out his duties, is heavy.  It made my father who he is.  He is strong and determined. He’s always known what his job as a man is and done exactly what needed to be done.  If there were people in his life that may jeopardize the life of his family, he quietly stepped away.  The love he has for his family is evident on his face when he looks at us after we accomplish something he had no idea we could do, when he watches my sister and I as mothers interacting with our children in loving ways and when he proudly shows up for important events in our lives because he wants to celebrate WITH us.  He’s the kind of father who gets teary-eyed with love for us and lets us see that.  He says, “I love you.” every time we get together and at some point during every phone call and he doesn’t say it in a gruff, dismissive way I’ve heard some men use.  His heart is always in it.

Though, there was pain in his life early on, he allowed that pain to mold him into a better person.  He took it in as a lesson on who he wanted to be and who he did not. He learned how he would do things differently and he followed through. It wasn’t just a fleeting thought or great idea that later got tossed out in the trash because it wasn’t convenient.  And my sister & I were not always easy as teenagers.  We were as stubborn and head-strong as him with a strong sense of what’s right & what’s wrong. (laughing)

It was said to me once, about 8 years ago, that if marriage didn’t work out, my daughter should live with me because daughters need their mothers more.  That is the farthest thing from the truth because my father has made a lasting impression on my life.  Good fathers out there are all molding their daughters into great people just as well as their mothers.

Dads who are reading this, you are so valuable in your children’s lives.  Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking you are not.  Do not make excuses by thinking, “I haven’t seen my daughter/son in a long time. Well, I won’t dwell on it because I have no control over that.”  You do have a say in the matter.  There are always things you can do if you don’t allow yourself to get into the habit of ignoring the problem.  You can initiate a visit yourself.  You can call.  Don’t let yourself be overcome by self-pity if you’ve made some mistakes.  God gives you the opportunity to be a new man, a better man everyday and there’s always hope to make things right. It will bless you. It will bless your child or children. It will bless the mother of your child if forgiveness has taken place in her heart and if her child is safe.  It will dissolve that pain of rejection a kid feels when their father walks away and views them like an acquaintance.

Fathers, you are just as important as a mother.  A mother and father’s role in their children’s lives have similarities and differences that are all extremely essential to human development.  Don’t forget how important you are.

Psalm 127:3-5
3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

 

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1 Corinthians 16:13
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

Posted in Mom Life, Things That Make My Brain Happy

Race Day

Well, I’m not quite sure what happened but my last post posted today rather than a couple weeks ago when I wrote it from my mobile phone.  Don’t mean to confuse readers when you all see 2 posts on the same day. One talking about an upcoming race and the second talking about a race that happened yesterday.  Another one of life’s little mysteries, I suppose.

Hope everyone is doing well! I took the day off from work because I can’t put weight on my left leg. Despite that, I’m in great spirits! Yesterday, was a great day!  I woke up at 5:30 in the morning pumped and ready to run my first half-marathon.  I was especially happy because the night before I felt some pain behind and alongside my left leg, near the knee, but when I woke up it was almost entirely gone.  My boyfriend and I had prayed for healing the night before and he also gave me a leg massage to loosen things up a bit.  That combination of things worked well because I was feeling great and so, so relieved that all my training and efforts weren’t sabotaged by stubborn hamstrings.

As I got ready for the race, I listened to praise & worship music by Charity Gayle, Hillsong and a few others.  All I wanted to do was praise my God for healing me and hearing my prayer.  My worries about not being able to get through the race were dissipated.  There’s nothing better than having your hope renewed, right?

Once we arrived to the race site, it was so good to see everyone in my group, all stoked and ready to get their run on!  We planned on doing the 2018 New Paltz Challenge in part to support a woman from church who was recently diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s Disease. It would be her first 5k.  Our pastor had t-shirts made that read, “Team Sabrina Parkinson’s Awareness” with 2 people running in the background and a large tulip overtop, which is the symbol for PD. Our running together was a message to Sabrina and all of us, that we’re in this together.  We do life together, fighting the good fight and running the race faithfully, until completion. (literally & figuratively)

Hebrews 12:1 New International Version (NIV)
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

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We looked pretty excited, did we not? In our group, though not everyone arrived in time for this particular picture, we had 9 people running the 5k and 3 of us ran the half-marathon.  Pastor Scott, his wife and I started our race at 7:30 AM.  Now, can I just mention how happy I am that races this long, start so early before it gets extremely hot outside?!  We couldn’t ask for a better morning to run.  It was nice and cool out. No humidity. Breathing was not a challenge.  We were almost taken out by a senile, old man trying to exit his apartment complex, however.  He slowly drove the front end of his car right towards 600 runners heading for the starting line, but luckily a few volunteers stepped out, insisting that he turn around and exit another way.  It was sort of an interesting way to start out.  I was silently worried about him, wondering if he should really be driving anymore.

Anyhow, the half-marathon went well! The course was definitely more challenging than expected but I kept my pace (something I worked hard on during the last couple months of training) and didn’t let the hills scare me.  I developed a new strategy I call “looking down at the ground while running uphill” so I wouldn’t focus on how far I still had to run uphill and just focused on keeping pace.  It worked! That and thinking about the movie Finding Nemo, reminding myself to “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” My strategies were very technical.

When I finally completed 13.1 miles, I was just so relieved to cross that finish line and hear the DJ (is that what I should call him?) announce, “Angela Phillips finishes the race at 2:21:5! Great job!” I saw my boyfriend, my daughter and my friend Heather standing on a hill smiling and waving at me. I mustered up an exhausted smile and walked over to a volunteer who handed me a bottle of water (oh, thank, God!) and my first medal for running.  I tried to keep walking so that I could cool down properly like I normally do, but I felt a little strange.  I tried to fight it and push through but my legs were weak. a I was also light-headed.  Cooling down was not going to happen. Standing was good enough as Makayla walked over and gave me a loving hug.  Then, Drew was there and we were laughing, “I made it…” And he said, “I know, I can’t believe you did it!” He looked so proud and happy for me.  Then, my father was standing next to me, “Ange! I can’t believe you did it either!” More laughter from all of us, mostly because we were relieved and the look on their faces really meant so much to me.

So, I should probably end this post with the paragraph above but that’s not quite how the race ended. (I’m laughing, just so you know.)  After the race, I was so tired, all I wanted to do was sit down to stretch, drink some water and use my first GU energy gel. I was in serious need of electrolytes and amino acids.  My leg muscles were tight and I was afraid I might faint.  Thanking God again, for something else–GU energy gel. It came to the rescue like nobody’s business.

While the GU helped with the lightheadedness, it didn’t help with my legs.  When I tried to stand up, my left leg was suddenly in so much pain, I almost collapsed! My father and Drew caught me.  My hamstrings were so tight I couldn’t straighten out my leg while putting weight on it.  Has this ever happened to you? If so, what do you do for it?  I’ve been icing that leg for 20 minutes on and off, resting, doing light leg exercises in my sister’s pool and laughing at myself as I crawl from room to room.  Despite the pain, we all had a great Father’s Day with family.  It actually made the rest of our day pretty hilarious!

 

img_20180617_105540_499-506224250441429640.jpg                                  This is a picture of my daughter & I before my near collapse.

img_20180617_113312_491-1-1770915349.jpgAnd, this is the sweet, nurturing guy who went to get his car and move it as close to me as possible while my awesome father and daughter helped me slowly hop over on the good leg.

It was all good! God answered my prayers for healing so I could run the whole race I had set out to do months ago AND he provided many opportunities for laughter and bonding afterwards.  God Bless!

 

 

Posted in Things That Make My Brain Happy, Uncategorized

Running a Half-Marathon

I’ve been slacking with my writing for the last month or so. Today, I’m commuting to work by train and thought I would work on a post. For the last five months, I’ve been training for my first half-marathon. It’s happening in less than 2 weeks so most of my focus has been on running when I’m not working or helping my daughter with homework. I’m stoked for this next challenge in my life!

A pastor at my church, who is also a runner, has given me some good advice for training and the actual day of the race. He recommended using GU, an energy gel packed with amino acids, 20 mg of caffeine and electrolytes. It works great! I had never heard of it before and did most of my runs without it. The first time I tried it I felt a big difference in my run. My legs felt stronger and capable of running longer. Amazing! There’s also another energy gel for athletes that I’ve tried by Clif. Loved that one, too! I’m planning on stuffing a couple GUs in my flip belt on race day. I’ll take one with water before the race and the second after 8 miles. They help so much as you’re sweating so much and need to replenish your electrolytes. The amino acids help with recovery after the race and of course, the caffeine helps with energy to keep you moving all the way to the finish line. Such a blessing that he told me about that!

I started watching videos on YouTube on tips for running, other forms of energy for your body on a long run and found some other great ideas as well. You know, those long, skinny tubes of honey people use in their tea? That’s another option and fits well in a flip belt. Saltine crackers was another idea and dried fruit. There’s so much great information there that I hadn’t thought of looking up until Pastor Scott told me about the GUs. I was just following the half-marathon training plan I signed up for on Runtopia.

For breakfast before the race, I’ve heard a couple pieces of toast with peanut butter and honey is a good option. What do you do if you have a gluten intolerance? I was thinking maybe celery with peanut butter & honey but that’s going to be a lot of celery! (Laughing) Do you have any other ideas for me for dinner the night before and breakfast the day of the race?

I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say in the comments section.

Posted in Lessons He Taught Me

A Change In Plans

It has been a very long time since I have written a blog post. I can hardly believe how long I’ve gone since sitting down to write. According to WordPress, the last day I posted something was on April 15th. Wow!
Today, is another rainy day in NY and I am finding it very soothing and peaceful. After a long stressful week at work, I am enjoying this time to recuperate in solitude. It is so, so nice. I don’t know about you, but I love listening to the rain as I write. I had to open my kitchen window before making myself comfortable on the couch so I could hear that cathartic sound. It makes me so aware of God and nature close by that my body just naturally relaxes. If you would have asked me at eighteen, if I’d one day get up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning to enjoy some time to myself, I would have said, “Heck no!” In those days, I’d sleep in until eleven. It’s interesting how we all end up doing a lot of the things we believed we’d never do, but, hey, we weren’t parents yet. How could we know how nice it is to do things without so many distractions? To just sit and be quiet in our thoughts? Priceless!

When I woke up this morning and read that a couple of events I was planning to participate in were canceled, I was initially a little disappointed. I had plans to go hiking with the women’s group from church and I’m just so happy to have some new people to go hiking with. I love meeting new people and I love hiking in new places. There are so many beautiful places to explore. God definitely gave me the heart of an outdoorsy person who thrives on adventure and exploring the wonders of what he’s created. And it is so much fun to do with other people who are equally in awe. I guess, it will just have to wait for another time. I’m seeing the beauty in being lead in another direction for this day. Time to rest is a good thing. This Saturday is a true blessing from God.

Psalm 29: 10,11 “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”

Posted in Lessons He Taught Me, Palpating Poetry

“I Am From” Poem

I am poem

For the template I used to write this poem, go to freeology.com. It will give you prompts to write certain things you remember about your childhood, details about your family history, smells, things you heard your family say over & over again in your growing up years. When you finish with that, you click on the create button and read your poem. I wrote it in my sketch pad & added some pictures that make me think of my Italian family. The lemon, slice of orange and a hard boiled egg (though in the picture it’s a fried egg–thought that would be easier to make out.) are a tradition my Great-Grandmother, Angelica, brought to America with her after she and her sister came to America as teenagers. My father keeps it going every year on Easter as a way to remember them and to acknowledge that in life, there’s sourness and sweetness. We all go through it. And then, God brings forth new beginnings.

Posted in Lessons He Taught Me, Mom Life

Complete

via Complete

I wasn’t going to write tonight, after spending a lot of time editing another post, but then I decided to search up posts about cancer–having a lot on my mind–and I found this title below:

“Cancer Is Completing My Life, Making It Whole”: The Blogging Journey of Julie Yip-Williams”

I started reading an excerpt from her blog and felt like someone’s hand was tightly squeezing my heart and throat. I thought I might break down in tears but the feeling just froze in place like I was holding my breath. I kept reading like a voracious animal that hadn’t eaten in days, wanting to understand her full journey from her perspective, hoping that it would help me to understand my own.

Just the title alone, I could relate to. Finding out you have cancer, whether it is the non-aggressive kind that I have which is said to move at a snail’s pace for most or the aggressive stage 4 colon cancer that this person had, really does complete your life in a way that would make most people wonder. It’s not exactly what people would shout joyously from the rooftops if cancer was a person. “You complete me!” is reserved for unrealistic romance movies not true life lessons.
Well, it completes your life like this. You never know if the cancer will be conquered by intense medical treatment, powerful prayer & the provision of God or if God will allow it to take it’s course teaching you a lot along the way and preparing you to meet Him face to face. It completes you because you do so much soul searching and leaning into God. You don’t put off things that God has been telling you to do anymore. You make time to do it because you understand that life is but a vapor. You could literally be here one day and not the next. You think about what kind of legacy you want to leave behind; how you want people to remember you. You want people to know that you love them and that you’re happy for their happiness; that you didn’t forget them. It completes you because you start to appreciate things differently instead of constantly rushing passed and somehow through that, you live fully. You take the time to smell the roses. And, I take the time to thank God for everything like the mountains after an energizing hike and a waterfall that mysteriously woke me up with it’s beauty and the way my daughter’s face lit up when she saw her completed birthday cake saying softly, “Wow, that’s really cool, Mom..”

Even though I don’t always feel good, in a lot of ways I live life more completely than people who criticize so much around them because I’m busy filling up my life with serving God and working on accomplishing things that will teach my daughter how important it is to do your best with fervor. To show her how important it is to fight your hardest out of love for your luvs. God gives me the drive to push when I’m tired but also reminds me to rest when it’s time to rest. Depending on Him so much, completes me. When I’m chasing love, I can learn the lessons God wants to teach me because I’m searching with everything in me.

You should read what Julie Yip-Williams had to say. She said it much better, being in the thick of it. https://julieyipwilliams.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/complete/

My own journey is really different than hers, of course.  I’m in stage 1A of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma and the majority of people diagnosed with CTCL live just as long as anyone else. I’m basically living with a chronic disease like other people that don’t have the word lymphoma in the name of their ailment. The word scares me and I’d like to give it away to a trash can but at the same time it’s forced me to make better choices and to lean into God even more. Experiencing His presence and that closeness is living life to the fullest.
The exhaustion is hard and so are the nights when the itchy skin is unbearable. I wish I could shed my skin & grow new healthy skin along with a healthy lymphatic system. I hate going to work so lethargic and not remembering things as quickly as I want to. I can get moody and sometimes I just want to be alone so people won’t think I’m an airhead or a grump. I am learning perseverance on a deeper level & trusting God to get me through, though. I know God is with me even when I’m too tired to smile and I don’t feel like I’m radiating his light like I want to. I’m more whole because I’m not neglecting my soul for things that don’t give me everlasting life.

I hope this blog post helps someone to feel a little less alone and to realize that even when a family member or friend is going through the biggest trial of their life, they can also be moving through the best parts of their life because God is completing them and if they’re a believer, they are likely feeling a connection with God that is quite beautiful & reassuring beyond words.

 

 

Posted in Happy Little Photos, Mom Life, Photo Inspiration

Cake Decorating Saturday

via Daily Prompt: Frigid

Last Saturday morning, I woke up and went straight to the coffee maker to make a fresh pot of coffee.  As I waited on my French Roast to finish brewing, I stood against the kitchen counter in a stupor, looking over at the heart-shaped cake I had wrapped in tinfoil. I was planning to make my daughter’s Easter themed birthday cake all in one night but as usual I started too late and ran out of stamina.  I waited for the cake to completely cool, wrapped it up and set it aside to do in the morning.

Morning came and I was ready to try my hand at making this cool cake I saw online that was designed to look like an Easter basket. I ignored the fact that it looked beautiful outside and that I normally reserved baking for frigid weather, not days like that one.  More great, hiking-worthy days would come but that Saturday I had a lot to do in preparation for Easter and my daughter’s 11th birthday. And, truth be told, I was more in the mood to sip some coffee and decorate a cake while slowly–slothfully–waking up.

So, the first step I took in decorating Makayla’s cake was applying the double chocolate frosting she picked at Target.

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And as you can see, the second step involved cutting the individual KitKats to the correct size & placing them around the cake, generously adding more frosting to the candy to serve as “edible glue”.  It turned out to be a little more work than I expected because as I’d cut the individual KitKats, they’d sometimes break, making the KitKat way too short to match up with the length of the others.  It took a little trial and error before getting everything evened out. The scraps made a great snack for later so no complaints there.

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Next, I added the grass which was made out of shredded coconut mixed with green food coloring.

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I used these chocolate covered almonds with pastel Easter colors to represent Easter eggs.

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And here is my finished Easter themed birthday cake! Makayla loved it! The look on her face blessed me more than words can say.

It’s funny how doing something as simple as making an Easter/birthday cake lead me to sit and read Matthew 28: 1-10. I read it over and over, meditating on the day Jesus rose from the grave, imagining myself in the shoes of the women who found the tomb empty and later ran to the disciples with a message to go to Galilee to meet with Jesus. What an exciting day it was for them to see their Savior alive again and to share their joy with each other! This simple cake turned into my alone time with God, worshipping and thanking Him for who He is. I love days like this particular Saturday, where love for my daughter lead me back to the love my Savior has for me.

 

Posted in Happy Little Photos, Miss Sassypants, Mom Life, Photo Inspiration, Ponderings, Uncategorized

Is She Eleven Already?

 

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“Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.” -Psalm 127:3-4

My daughter’s birthday was last week.  Every year, we celebrate for three days.  We celebrate on the day of her birthday at home & at school by bringing in cupcakes or buying “birthday cookies”, she has a friends party and a family birthday party.

This year we celebrated a little differently.  For the day of her actual birthday, we went shopping for a fun outfit she could wear for the celebration with friends and then I ended up buying her a new purse, trendy sunglasses with blue tinted lens and a charcoal mask to try out together. When we got home, I made her tacos because it’s one of her favorite dinners while she made some cool cupcakes that were completely her own invention to bring to a church potluck.  While everything cooked, we took 20 minutes to lay on the living room floor, allowing our masks to dry and taking some time to meditate on the beauty of being still. Ahhh, why don’t we do that more often?

On birthday celebration #2, my boyfriend & I took her to the city with 2 of her close friends.  We knew every step of the way these animated–loud– kids would be bouncing all over the place, unable to contain their excitement. We were so right! We started out the day by taking them to our favorite deli to pick up breakfast for eating on the train.  As we predicted, just going to the deli was super fun for them–they were so silly, I couldn’t get one picture without contorted faces.  It was not possible for them to calm down and pose pretty.  I really couldn’t blame them.  I’d been looking forward to all of our fun plans all long week, too.

Once we made it to the train station, the girls linked arms and practically skipped to the ticket machines. The train ride was fun but we could have done without the foul-mouthed teenagers sitting in front of the kids.  On the flip side, we also ran into Makayla’s friend from school and her grandmother who I’m friends with.  Something about running into great people I know on the train just makes me happy.

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So, while we were in NYC, we walked out to The Highline that runs from Chelsea, Manhattan to the Meatpacking District. The walk was only 34 minutes from Grand Central and we enjoyed the walk, checking out cool stuff along the way, taking pictures, making videos and the gorgeous weather we were blessed with.  Makayla’s favorite part about the Highline was the fun playground they have on the Chelsea side.  It’s made out of recycled beams from the former freight train trestle and covered in some sort of people-friendly rubber that looks and feels pretty cool under your feet. The playground also had some cool tunnels that led to this contraption below.

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After we walked and played for awhile, the five of us were pretty hungry so Drew googled some restaurants that were nearby and we ended up eating at New York Burger Co.  The food was REALLY good. We will definitely go there again.  I had this really delicious grilled chicken sandwich the came with some kind of vegan sauce–tasted really good and it was nice to not have to worry about getting sick from any sort of dairy products, corn syrup or rice anything.  And their Idaho Fries where also pretty darn good!

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Just thinking about our time in the city makes me want to go back again very soon!  The Highline is now one of my favorite places to go in the city.  When I go back, I think I want to try the food at either Sugar Factory or The Green Room which is nestled in the heart of the Chelsea Market. I have a feeling I will probably go with The Green Room. The food is organic.

Anyhow, I’m going off topic..it’s getting late and I’m still here at my kitchen table typing to you all as if I don’t have to wake up early tomorrow morning.  I will end with saying that on the third day of my daughter’s birthday celebration, we celebrated Easter & had a small family party for her. My favorite parts of that day where seeing her and my nephews run around my parent’s back yard looking for colorful, plastic Easter eggs and drinking my father’s first bottle of homemade wine with all of the “big people”.  Who knew my father could make such amazing wine?! There was a lot of laughter and great memories made last Sunday.  I feel blessed to have so many great people in my life to celebrate my daughter with.  Children really are a heritage from the Lord and a wonderful reward from Him!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Palpating Poetry, Word Wonder

Invisible Ramblings

I don’t know what to say.

I’m speechless.

This happens to me sometimes.

And I wish my ideas of things to say would flow from my mouth like my fingers on a keyboard.

And that my conversation would be as interesting to you as it is to me when I’m writing–

But I’m stuck.

It’s the opposite of writer’s block.

So many thoughts spinning around.

I’m deep in thought.

And it’s strange to even me that I can’t think of a thing to say out loud–

That would be of interest to you.

It all seems so socially unacceptable

And I’m not in the mood to meet your expectations while

Ignoring

Mine.