“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now that I have been around Southern for a while now, there is one iconic image that will always linger in the fringes of my memory. The ducks. Why the ducks?
Over the years, during each trip I have made past the duck pond whether that be by car, bike, or foot, I have noticed a certain gumption that those ducks have. The ducks are not afraid to stick out and be different. Countless times I have observed the ducks smack dab in the middle of the road, proclaiming the right to cross to the other side, taking their time, seemingly unaware that the cars zooming by could squash them in an instant. Just this morning as I was driving to work I saw one of the white feathered creatures hanging out on the road, sipping water from a small pothole. The fact that this duck was choosing to drink from a hole in the middle of the busy road instead of from his large pond, which is a far waddle away from the danger of cars, is pretty amazing to me.
After driving far around this particular dehydrated duck to get to work, I got to thinking--What if more Christians or what if I were as bold as this duck? What would happen if instead of sticking by our own ponds, in our secure comfort zones to share the love of Christ, we ventured out to the more treacherous areas to spread the word? The lyrics to one of my favorite camp songs helps remind me that even in times of danger, doubt, and fear God is always there.
Be bold, be strong For the Lord your God is with you Be bold, be strong For the Lord your God is with you I am not afraid I am not dismayed Because I'm walking in faith and victory Come on and walk in faith and victory For the Lord your God is with you
In the end times I believe we as Christians will be placed in situations like the ducks where we will have to choose to either stay in our safe bubbles or be bold and venture out in the world and proclaim the love of God to those who do not know him, even if that means being ridiculed or condemned. In the end being bold for the Lord may come at a cost but the reward received, eternal life, is priceless!
After 4 1/2 years of school and one year of serving as student missionary, my time as an undergraduate student at Southern is finally coming to an end. Hip Hip Hooray?
Since I arrived on campus on that hot and humid July day in 2005 to take Comp 101 from Dr. Byrd (she is awesome, btw), God has blessed me with countless experiences, treasured friends, and memories so rich, so wonderful, so amazing, that walking (or in my case running) away from this place will be oh so bittersweet.
My love of running and being active definitely increased as God was gracious enough to give me endless opportunities to witness for him as I have become a half marathoner, marathoner, ultra marathoner, trail runner, triathlete, not to mention a certified PE teacher! Gotta practice what you preach, right?! Being able to use the abilities God has given me has be truly amazing!
The road to graduation hasn't always been easy. Many "spiritual potholes" have been strewn across my path, challenges of meeting deadlines have been faced. Studying for classes, making strong priorities, and balancing the responsibilities of being a student club leader always found a way to keep me busy. Add in intramurals, hanging out with friends, working at summer camp, and of course having as much fun as possible, and you have a pretty well rounded experience!
During my time at Southern I have been influenced and blessed by many caring and knowledgeable professors who have taught me more then just an extended version of the ABC's, 123's and what it takes to be a good teacher. They have taught and encouraged me to think for myself and to pursue a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God, which is something far more valuable then the excellent education I received here and the slip of paper I will receive in the mail a few weeks from now.
From the very first lecture that muggy summer day in Summerour Hall to the last lesson I student taught this semester I have continued to learn. I've learned about life and most importantly I've learned just how much God truly loves and cares for me!
Thank You Southern and everyone who made my time here awesome!
Well, I am officially an ultra marathoner!! After 7 hours and 5 minutes of kicking rocks (only fell once!) I ran and completed my first ever distance over 26.2 miles! The weather was superb and the race atmosphere was too. Mentally taxing is a simple way to describe what it was like.
RACE RECAP First off words and pictures do not do any justice to how amazing the experience of running 40 miles was. I have tried to explain it to a few people but most people I talk to can't make sense of long distance running and why it is enjoyable to me so I just smile and do my best to justify my "insanity"
The race was a blast! The adventure started off on Saturday afternoon when John, Andrew, Emily, Shama and I drove down to Shama's house in Georgia to stay the night so we would not have to get up nearly as early the next morning. We had a scrumptious carbo loaded supper of pasta, bread, and other yummy stuff when we arrived at the Ellers around 8 pm and then proceeded to bed to sleep like logs (yeah right)after we ate supper in anticipation for a 4:30 am wake up.
The pep and energy was evident as we sat around the breakfast table eating our non communal bowls of oatmeal. We hit the road around 5:15 am and arrived at FDR state park just after 6 am. The park was still asleep except for the excitement brewing in the group shelter, where we picked up our packets. We lounged around in the warmth of the shelter till the race director called us out to the starting line around 7 am. I stood on the road trying to review what little of a game plan i had formulated in my novice ultra marathoning mind. The three of us said a quick prayer and before we knew it the race had begun. Since I didn't really know what I was doing I just followed the diversely dressed group of maniacs through the woods, relying on the bobbing headlamps to further lighten the path, hopping I wasn't running to fast or wouldn't trip and fall over a rock.
The formation of runners eventually thinned out to a steady single file line. I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen in a long time as we trotted along a precarious ridge that overlooked a deep valley. It was stunning! The first aid station came up rather quickly and by that point I felt like I was settled into a good steady pace. I thought I heard that I was in 2nd place for the women but I couldn't really tell since the atmosphere was just so exciting! I continued to run on the flat parts and walk up most of the big hills, copying the techniques of the most veteran looking runners on the trail. The rest of the day was filled with gorgeous views , trees, stream crossings, switchbacks,lots of white tape trail markers,short moments of delusion in which I confused large rocks for houses and aid station tents and colorful trees for people, and of course countless near encounters with the ground.
It wasn't until about halfway through that I even started to think about how long I had been running. I was glad for the times that I had other runners nearby even if it was a silent shuffle of feet. The feeling of another soul around sure was comforting and gave me something else to focus on. The moments that I was running alone were the hardest. I prayed a lot, sang lots of random songs out loud, and thought all sorts of silly random thoughts. I remained in 2nd place more then half the race until just before one of the aid stations. By that time I had caught up to the 1st place girl and we were running along until all of a sudden she took a bad step and fell hard down to the rocky trail. I stopped right away to make sure she was alright since he went down with a mighty "ummph" She was slow to get up which was concerning to me since she said she had hit her head. She insisted that I and the other runner ahead keep going and that she would be fine. I stayed around for a few more moments just to make sure before running ahead to the next aid station telling them to go back and check on her. I expected at any moment for her to catch up but unfortunately in the end she had to drop out.
The aid stations were always a highlight of the race. It was always nice to be greeted by my awesome crew (Emily, Elisa, Shama, Mrs. Eller) ringing cowbells, handing out cookies, hooting and hollering from the tree tops, and always being ready to snap some photos. The race would of been alot harder with out them and a lot less fun.
Eventually I finished the race and in the end time flew by faster then I expected. Finishing this race and then sitting down afterwards was one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced in all my years of running! My good friends Andrew and John also did fantastic! Throughout the whole race, John was always hot on my trail and finished less then a minute behind me. I must admit my deep inner competitiveness was motivated to move a little faster because it. :-) I owe him a lot for planting the seed in my head that it would be a feasible idea to run such a long distance. Andrew was very unique in what he accomplished because he not only ran his first Ultra but his first half marathon and full marathon and in only 8
I was a bit stiff the rest of the day but amazingly I was never really sore afterwards. I am so grateful for the strength, both mental and physical that God provided throughout the day. The verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, stayed with me through each step! Without him it would not of been possible, to HIM be the glory!