100 Fall Frolics and Finds Challenge

I’m going to try the 2nd Annual 100 Fall Frolics and Finds Dog Walking Challenge. The goal is to try to find the following 100 items in between the start of fall on Friday, September 22, 2017, and the first day of Winter on Thursday, December 21, 2017. You can replace 10 items with your own personal selection (I already substituted tunnel with geocache because I can’t think of any tunnels near here).

You also log your miles and while the goal is to get 100 miles, I don’t think I will probably get quite that many.  But my goal is to get out with Maigee and Luie and take pictures, enjoy the fall, and find some fun stuff!  Fall can be a tough time with shorter days, especially with depression, so I’m hoping this will help with that.

  1. Tree
  2. Tree stump
  3. Tree roots
  4. Hole in tree
  5. Fallen tree
  6. Bark
  7. Large red leaf
  8. Small yellow leaf
  9. Dry brown leaf
  10. Jagged edge orange leaf
  11. Leaf more than one color
  12. A tree with no leaves
  13. Pile of leaves
  14. Fallen pine needles
  15. Pinecone
  16. Acorn
  17. Fruit
  18. Vegetable
  19. Spiderweb
  20. Pumpkin/Jack-o-lantern
  21. Zombie or ghost
  22. Scarecrow
  23. Witch
  24. Broom
  25. Rake
  26. Straw/hay
  27. Tombstone
  28. Something spooky
  29. Dew or raindrops
  30. Wind
  31. Frost
  32. First snow
  33. Yellow snow
  34. Snowman
  35. Christmas decoration
  36. Decorative lights
  37. Sled
  38. Wreath
  39. Body of water
  40. Bridge
  41. Fence
  42. Railroad tracks
  43. Tall grass
  44. A rock
  45. Stick that looks like letter Y
  46. Feather
  47. Squirrel
  48. Bird
  49. Flowers
  50. Geocache
  51. Any animal (other than your dog)
  52. Animal hole in the ground
  53. Animal tracks (other than your own dog)
  54. Human footprints (other than your own)
  55. Dog shaped cloud
  56. A shadow
  57. Road sign
  58. Fire hydrant
  59. Utility pole
  60. Steps/stairs
  61. Playground item (i.e. swing, slide)
  62. Trash/litter
  63. Money/coin
  64. Mailbox
  65. A flag
  66. Hiking trail
  67. Mud
  68. Puddle
  69. A reflection in water
  70. Sunrise or sunset
  71. Something white
  72. Something black
  73. Something red
  74. Something orange
  75. Something yellow
  76. Something green
  77. Something blue
  78. Something purple
  79. Something tall
  80. Something small
  81. Something fluffy
  82. Something fuzzy
  83. Something soft
  84. Something smooth
  85. Something pointy
  86. Something fragile
  87. Something man-made
  88. Something alive
  89. Something round
  90. Something square
  91. Something triangular
  92. Something rectangular
  93. Something heart-shaped
  94. Something oval
  95. Something twisted
  96. Something with a hole in it
  97. Something beautiful
  98. Something scented
  99. Something you found interesting
  100. Something your dog found interesting

When Good Plans Go Bad

It can be frustrating when you have ideas for your life that just don’t work out how you planned.  As part of academic advising, I had things all planned out, I knew what classes I was going to take when.  In spring of 2013, I would graduate with a Bachelor degree in Neuroscience.  Everything looked so nice and neat on paper.

The past few weeks have been a real struggle.  Between going to Cleveland Clinic to evaluate a possible genetic condition, the development of a seemingly invincible urinary tract infection, and some other health issues, class has taken a back seat to my health.  After talking with my professors, I had everything planned out how I was going to make up work and catch up this past week.  Everything again looked great on paper.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go quite so smoothly as it looks on paper.  A bit of bad timing of a stomach flu knocked me out this entire past week, destroying my plans for make-up work.  As a result, I now have to make-up the missed make-up work as well as the regular work from last week.  This combined with everything else was causing more stress and anxiety regarding trying to catch up and keep my grades up.  Unfortunately, stress causes more pain and a vicious cycle begins.

Last week, I was determined to stick it out throughout the semester, regardless of the circumstances.  Careful consideration and prayers brought me to the point that I was able to decide that it was time for me to take a medical leave of absence from college and go home in an attempt to break the cycle.

Someone mentioned to me that if they were in my situation, they would be asking God why He had “ruined” everything.  But the thing is, I have discovered that this does nothing.  There is nothing wrong with asking why and I certainly do my share of it, but at this point in my life, I’ve learned that trusting Him is easier than asking “why?!”

Looking back, the times I asked God why make more sense now than they did in the circumstance.  I suspect that the same will be true of this situation.  In the meantime, I’ve been making a list of things I can look forward to now.  This list includes getting a rabbit, spending some time in a friend’s horse barn, hanging out with friends, and doing some graphic design work.  I find that looking at the positive helps put the negative in a better light.

The Little Things

Today is just one of those days where you wake up and realize that not too much is going to happen because you just don’t have the energy. Last night, I had a friend spend the night and probably stayed up too late, but changing my meds probably doesn’t help much, I don’t think either.

Mom mentioned something this morning about my goals for the day which had been to work on a workbook and reformat my hard drive. I hadn’t done either, but started to list what I had done: got out of bed, got dressed, laid on the couch, slid off onto the floor, etc. By the time I was done, I had quite a list of little things I had done and I realized that sometimes it is the little thing that matters more than accomplishing one big project.

For example, today, my accomplishment is making a loaf of bread, because that seems to be the only thing I did. But if you look at the little things I did today: getting out of bed, getting dressed, making breakfast, eating breakfast, brushing my teeth, and the list goes on…even the simplest task I completed becomes a miniature goal and accomplishment in itself.

If only we would remember to look at these small things as accomplishments, rather than mudane, requirements, perhaps we could all go to bed feeling we’ve accomplished something. An accomplishment doesn’t have to be big. Now if only I could remember this…

Anti-Christmas

I’ve not been around much, and I suppose there are excuses for it, but I’m not going to go into them in depth here (maybe later). This post is to talk about this crazy holiday we are celebrating.

Recently, I’ve become rather anti-Christmas. The last few years, it was mostly just the commercialism of Christmas – trees, presents, decorations, that sort of thing. This year, whether it is because of my depression or because of my pain or because of my relationship with God, I have become anti-Christmas to the point that most manger scenes annoy me. When people talk about the real reason for the season, but it is only about happy nativities and that sort of thing, it seems to me they don’t go beyond the surface level. It is more than about the nativity, it was more even than the cross. There is a whole book about God, not just the two sections we pull out and remember every year.

Christianity has a whole lot more depth than just the birth and death of Christ. There is a whole book about creation and our likeness to God, a whole history of how God chose His people and guided them, how they went through leaders and judges and kings who were both good and bad, they were given rules and went through battles and captivity and rebuilding, there are stories of what happened to Christ between His birth and His death, it is recorded how the gift was extended to those beyond that group of people to everyone, then it tells how the truth began to spread throughout the world, including instruction and commands for each of us, and then finished with information about the future.

There is a whole lot more to the Bible than just Christmas (or Easter). I’m sick of people saying “remember the reason for the season” while looking at beautiful, peaceful nativities. I don’t think that is how it was at that first Christmas at all.

First of all, it wasn’t necessarily winter and even if it was it doesn’t snow in Israel. We don’t even know if it was a clear night, it could have been cloudy. We do know that the inn was full – so the stable (which was actually more of a cave) was most likely full of all of the traveler’s animals. It was most likely crowded with donkeys, cattle, camels, and horses. All those animals probably made the place rather fragrant and crowded. Mary was young, perhaps even as young at 13 or 14, and was not blonde haired and blue eyed. I highly doubt that she had the instant, painless birth that we so often see in skits. I imagine her lying exhausted and sweaty on a musty stack of straw in a corner of a crowded barn. After hours of labor, the child arrives, and screams for the first time. I don’t think he didn’t make a sound – he was God, but was also fully man! Joseph, nervously watched over his bride (or possibly wasn’t even present for the birth, I think I read somewhere that men couldn’t be present at the birthing of a child at that time). He was mostly likely older than Mary, possibly by quite a bit.

So, I may have ruined some of your ideas of a nice, happy nativity scene, but again, there is more to the story than just the happy nativity. A lot more. This Christmas, though I’m frustrated at decorations, annoyed at carols, and flustered at nativities, I find myself drawing nearer to God and allowing Him to take over more of my life. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t given everything to Him and I still struggle daily to even remember to make Him a part of my day, but I want to encourage you to examine your life this Christmas, and try to discover where God fits in – all three of His persons – Father and Spirit, in addition to the Son. Remember the real reason for the season (and I don’t mean the pagan background either).

Hope

“He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…in this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
1 Peter 1:3 and 6

In our growth group, we are reading through 1 Peter and that stood out to me. We all have trials and grief, but even through all of our suffering, we can still hold hope because He has given us HOPE. It is that hope that gets us through the long days (and nights) and through the long trials. We can keep our hope because of our faith in what He has done for us. It doesn’t mean life is going to be easy, we are going to have to suffer grief, but He will give us the hope to press on through the tough times.

Comfort from a Storm

One thing that I’ve been questioning recently is how God could have allowed all this pain to happen to me when so many people were praying for my surgery to go well and cure the pain.  A few days ago, God revealed a comforting analogy to me through nature that helped me understand a little bit of why.
Some days, the sun is hidden by many clouds.  Sometimes the rain pounds the earth, while thunder shakes the earth and lightning streaks across the sky.  This is not what we expected, not what we wanted, yet God remains in control.  The rain that drenches the ground also softens the seed coats to allow growth.  Without it, the seeds could not grow.  My life has seemed like a thunderstorm the past few months.   I often struggle to see how it is the answer to my prayers, but sometimes we need the stormy times for growth.  I pray that my heart would continue to be softened to hear His words and to grow closer to Him.