January 29, 2016

Hot Chocolate 15K/5K

For the third year in a row, I kicked off a new year of running with the Atlanta Hot Chocolate 15k/5k!

One of these years, I will run the 15k and get me that awesome finisher's medal my husband always takes home, but this year, for a variety of reasons I won't bore you with, I chose to run the 5k again.

My husband showing off his finisher's medal.

Close up of the amazing bling!
Now if you take a good look at the above picture of my husband showing off his bling, you will see that he is bundled up as if he is about to take a stroll through a tundra.

Suffice it to say, it was COLD!

But this race is pretty much always cold, so that's nothing new.  People still sign up to run it year after year for two reasons: the race jacket (#swag) and the finisher's mug (which comes complete with a cup of hot chocolate and a banana, a marshmallow, and so much more to dip into some melted chocolate they also provide for you).

This race is worth every penny you pay for it!

This year, hubby and I packed the car full with friends and headed out early to get to the race.

From left to right: My friend, Jordan; me; bestie and running buddy, Jaimee; and new friend, Melinda.
It was a good run/walk for us 5k ladies, and it was exactly what I needed to get motivated and excited about the 2016 5k season.

I even typed out a list of races I'm interested in through May:

February
With or Without You 5k (2-13)
March
Canton Elementary 5k (3-5)
Puppy 5k (3-12)
April
The Color Run (4-2)
Glow it Up for Autism 5k (4-16)
Peru 5k at FBC Canton (4-30)
May
MMRF Race for the Cure (5-15)

It's a lot, but I really want to get back to running as often as I can. I want 2016 to be Jamie's "Year of the 5k!"

And nothing is gonna stop me! Not even the cold!

Hubby and me!
Today's forget-me-not: The Hot Chocolate Race - totally worth it! Do it!





January 2, 2016

What Should A Christian's New Year's Resolution Be?

The new year prompts one to begin a time of introspection, and I believe self-examination to be a worthy endeavor. What harm could be done? Truly, there are only a multitude of benefits to be reaped.

Let's do it!

Take a close look at your life. When I do this, I find I have an abundance to be thankful for. I have a loving husband and two beautiful children. We have jobs that have enabled us to have a roof over our heads and plenty of food on the table. We possess a multitude of the comforts of this life, and, more importantly, we have many dear friends who we consider family.

Suffice it to say, when I count all that I possess in this life, this question comes to my mind: What more could you possibly want?

Perhaps when you take stock of life, you find yourself with a similar question?

So as I contemplate the new year and what resolutions I should make, if any, a better question to ask ourselves comes to my mind:

What more should you want?

I find myself wondering, as 2016 begins, what new year's resolution(s) would Jesus want me to make?

Lately, in answer to this question, the Holy Spirit has put a yearning on my heart for something I think we should all resolve to and strive to attain - more of Him.

1 Peter 5:10 explains, "He called you to share in his glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever."

I believe a Christian's new year's resolution should be to experience more of the glory of Christ that He has called us to share with him.

Often what keeps me from experiencing this is myself. I let the distractions of this life do just that, distract me from spending time with Him. He came so that we might have abundant life (John 10:10), but too often, I settle for less. I make Him one of the items on my to do list when He should be the entirety of the list itself.

He accomplished so much for us with His death on the cross so that we might live, yet how many times in 2015 can you say that you strove to share in His glory? You experienced the abundant life?

It's like Max Lucado said in his book In the Grip of Grace: "He guides us to a pool of mercy and invites us to bathe. Some plunge in, but others just touch the surface."

When was the last time you plunged into God and spent time wading in His pool of mercy, experiencing fully His glory that He desires to share with you?

If you are where I am right now in my walk with the Lord, you need more swim time. Truly, this is what we should want more of in 2016 and what we should resolve to attain: time with Him, receiving all He wants to give us.

Let's make our 2016 new year's resolution to experience more of Jesus.

Now, you may be wondering, practically speaking, how does one go about executing this new goal? To answer this question, let's turn to scripture. I think the book of James, specifically chapter 4, has much wisdom regarding this.

"You do not have because you do not ask God...Submit yourselves, then, to God...Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." (James 4:2,7,10)

So the simple answer to the question of how one can begin to experience more of Jesus is to pray. Ask Jesus for more of Him in your heart and life. Submit your will to His. Get on  your knees (if physically possible), and ask. You shall receive.

Today, as I was running and listening to music at a nearby park, I did just that. Francesca Battistelli's song "Be Born in Me" started playing, and I used the words to that song as a way to cry out to Jesus and ask for more of Him. Although this song was meant to be sung from Mary's perspective and with that context in mind, I found the lyrics were very close to my heart's cry for 2016. Let me leave you with those words. Perhaps you too can use them to begin your new year's resolution?

Today's forget-me-not: Ask God to share in His glory, daily.


Everything inside me cries for order
Everything inside me wants to hide
Is this shadow an angel or a warrior?
If God is pleased with me, why am I so terrified?
Someone tell me I am only dreaming
Somehow help me see with Heaven's eyes
And before my head agrees, my heart is on its knees
Holy is He; blessed am I.

Be born in me, be born in me
Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me
I'll hold You in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart Your Bethlehem
Be born in me

All this time we've waited for the promise
All this time You've waited for my arms
Did You wrap yourself inside the unexpected
So we might know that Love would go that far?

Be born in me, be born in me
Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me
I'll hold You in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart Your Bethlehem
Be born in me

I am not brave
I'll never be
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy
I'm just a girl
Nothing more
But I am willing, I am Yours

Be born in me, be born in me
I'll hold You in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart Your Bethlehem
Be born in me


December 11, 2015

#OneWordAdvent PEACE

Today, I'm linking up with Bonnie Gray at Faith Barista. She is doing a #OneWordAdvent link up: "OneWordAdvent is my invitation this month to do a Thursday weekly one word writing prompt challenge for you for Advent using the words hope, peace, joy love."

This week, the word to reflect on is peace.

http://www.faithbarista.com/

Peace: freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, or an obsession.

It is tranquility, harmony, and serenity.

At certain times in my life, peace is hard to come by. I'm sure it's the same with you, right? Everyone gets busy, gets overwhelmed, gets frustrated at various points throughout their days. And just like that, like a thief in the night, peace is stolen and seems impossible to regain.

It is at times like those when I have to force myself to be still, to breathe, and to let go. I have to coerce myself into canceling engagements and removing things from my to do list. I have to lower my unrealistic expectations and remind myself that it's okay to just be in this day the Lord hath made. When I lose sight of the fact that the day is God's and He is in control, Peace is easily lost.

Thankfully, Mary and Joseph provide an excellent example of how to attain peace in a seemingly unpeaceful time.

There they were in Bethlehem, searching for a room and not able to find one. They had come to take part in the census, as was required. And now, Mary was in labor. The baby was coming.

As they journeyed through the busy city, the couple must have felt so overwhelmed. When they realized there were no rooms to be found for lodging, they must have been terribly frustrated.

But Mary and Joseph did not let their circumstances steal their peace.

The only place available for them to stay was in a stable. And the only place to lay their newborn son was in a manger. And even after unknown shepherds seemingly interrupted their limited space with an impromptu visit, Mary did not have a nervous breakdown or go off on anyone.  She, instead, "treasured up all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). 

In that scenario, Mary exhibits peace amidst chaos.  She remained calm; she released all her expectations and allowed herself to live in that moment - a moment orchestrated by the Almighty Himself.

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room available for them" (Luke 2:6-7).

And then she released herself to treasure up the moments at hand.

That's where we find peace - in the release.

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:11-13).

We can do this. We can find the peace Mary had that turbulent night our Savior was born. We just have to release our appointments, our expectations, ourselves. Let's live in the moments afforded us - and treasure them. Treasure Him.

Wishing you a peace filled Christmas season!

Today's forget-me-not: Treasure up this season's moments in your heart!

December 4, 2015

A Glimpse of Heaven

This past month, I attended two funerals. The first was for a little boy who was only five years of age. The second was for a woman who was a wife, mother, and grandmother.

Click below to read more of the post I wrote for Beulah Girl.

Today's forget-me-not:

November 20, 2015

A great reason to visit Chatsworth, GA

Every year in either October or November, a beautiful group of ladies residing in Chatsworth, GA, put together an event called "Remembering our Babies: A Walk to Remember." It is sponsored by the local AOG-Assoicates in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

This 5K fun run and 2 mile walk is for pregnancy and infant loss awareness and to raise money for the March of Dimes. If you live within driving distance, let me encourage you to put this on your agenda for next year!  It is a perfect way to remember/honor babies lost too soon, celebrate their lives, and enjoy time with family and friends. In addition to the 5K and the walk, attendees have a chance to experience a great raffle for tons of awesome prizes, shop multiple vendors and delicious concessions (They had funnel cakes!), and participate in a balloon release.

It is the fourth year in a row I have traveled an hour to attend this event. Every year, it grows in attendance and in activities. This year, I brought my entire family with me. My girls, ages four and eight, had a great time in the bounce houses, and my youngest had her face painted for free!


One of my favorite things about this event is the raffle. Every year I have come, I have taken home a prize, and this year, I took home three prizes!!! I won a bag of Disney princess toys for my girls, and I got some great new Christmas decor.

My friend Tricia, whose husband and youngest son joined us this year, also won a prize - a beautiful Christmas wreath!

Tricia is holding her wreath next to her hubby Keith. My hubby, Michael, is on the right.
Tricia and Keith joined me this year to remember their five year old son, Christian, who they lost just last month. This was their first opportunity to attend a remembrance event for Christian.

While I usually run the 5K in honor of our Angel (lost to an early miscarriage), I opted to participate in the 2 mile walk with Tricia and our kids in memory of both Christian and Angel.

Me and Tricia
Our husbands ran the 5K (a wonderful, mostly flat course), and I'm happy to report that Keith finished first overall with Michael finishing third overall! Their outstanding performances honored both our children, and I was especially overjoyed that Keith was able to win a race for Christian - something he had been wanting to do since the loss of his precious son. 

Following the race and the walk, everyone gathered together for the balloon release. What made this moment extra special was the balloons themselves. After pressing a button on the top, the balloons lit up! This made for a uniquely beautiful balloon release.


It was a night to remember in Chatsworth, GA, and I can hardly wait to do it again next year! The drive there amidst the beautiful fall colored trees and the festivities at the event are totally worth the time! And if you are privileged to be able to attend next year, let me recommend the Chatsworth restaurant Open Range Steakhouse. Best post race dinner EVER!

Today's forget-me-not: This great event in Chatsworth, GA, remembering Christian, Angel, and all babies lost too soon!


November 6, 2015

the stress of life

Lately, I have been experiencing countless moments where, by the end of the day, the stress of life so debilitates me that doing simple tasks is like trying to run up a steep hill — with the force of gravity beating me backwards every second...

Please read my latest post at Beulah Girl.

Today's forget-me-not:


October 30, 2015

the conclusion of Capture Your Grief

Here is my final blog post journeying through Carly Marie's, fellow baby loss momma, topics about grief. I've enjoyed reflecting on these subjects as a way to continue the discussion about pregnancy and infant loss. I'm so thankful I have this blog to use as a platform for worthy causes such as this.


The sixteenth subject was CREATIVE GRIEF. 

The question asked with this topic was, " Have you done anything in memory of your child? Maybe it is something you created for them."  My response to this is, yes. I did create something for Angel - this blog. I started this blog as a way to work through my grief via writing, but it quickly became something I could use to remember her and honor her. For those reasons and others, my blog makes me happy.

The seventeenth subject was SECONDARY LOSSES.

Here is how Carly Marie describes this: "When your child dies, there are a series of secondary losses that follow. They are different for everyone. The loss of relationships, the loss of innocence, the loss of employment etc.  Share about something else that you lost when your child died. This is the perfect way for us to shine a light on the grief experience."

For me, I lost my naivety surrounding pregnancy. My pregnancy before I lost Angel - my pregnancy with Beth - was pure bliss. I never worried a single second about her. I never doubted for a moment after seeing the positive pregnancy test that I would bring home a healthy baby after nine months. However, my pregnancy after losing Angel - my pregnancy with Hannah - I struggled with worry and fear from the moment I saw the positive pregnancy test. Those nine months I spent pregnant with Hannah hardly enjoyable because I finally understood how fragile life on this earth really is. And it scared me. Even after she was born. I worried. And even now, I worry. Loss makes it hard to enjoy the present because of the memory of what has past.

The eighteenth subject was SEASONS AND SYMBOLS. 

Back to school season always reminds me of when I lost Angel. My miscarriage began while I was teaching. It was the first week of school, so that season makes me sad. Now the fall season, specifically October, brings me a solemn joy because I know that during this time, baby loss mommas everywhere strive to honor their babies memories due to pregnancy and infant loss awareness month and the wave of light on October 15th. As for symbols that remind me of Angel - and this won't surprise you - angels remind me of her. I know you can't guess why ;-)

The nineteenth subject was MUSIC.

This is the song I consider Angel's song: "Still" by Gerrit Hofsink.




The twentieth subject was FORGIVENESS AND HUMANITY.

"When you forgive another person, you are not condoning their actions; you are just accepting their humanity and releasing yourself from them."

This is something a Christian should excel at given how much we have been forgiven by Jesus. I've had to forgive others, and it's easier to do so when you consider our fallible humanity. My prayer is that my family and friends forgive me when I err - which I often do. Most especially, I pray that those who experienced a loss before I experienced mine, forgive me for my insensitive remarks upon their losses and for not doing more then to ease their pain. I'm sorry. I wish I had stopped a moment to really consider what you were going through and what I should do to help. If I haven't asked you before, I ask you now. Please forgive me for my words and my inaction.

The twenty-first subject was SACRED PLACE.

The question here was, "Do you have a special place that you visit to 'be' with your children?" I don't have an out of home location, but in our bedroom, I do have a memory box that contains Angel's ultrasound picture and a few other mementos. Her special candle that I light every August 5th and October 15th is right beside it along with a few other treasured objects that were given to me in memory of her.


The twenty-second day was DREAMS AND RITUALS.

I don't really dream about Angel, but I do have some things I do annually in honor of her and in remembrance of her. I've already talked about how I light her candle on the day of her loss and during the international wave of light, but the other thing that has become a ritual for me is to participate in a 5K in honor of her and babies lost too soon. I truly look forward to running for her and others.

The twenty-third day was LOVE LETTER.
This subject reminded me of the letter I wrote to Angel this past August. Check it out: a letter to the daughter I never met face to face

The twenty-fourth day was CHOOSING YOUR BREATH.

"Conscious grief work is so important if you want to create a beautiful life after loss. Have you ever sat down and really thought about where you are in your grief journey?"

It has been five years since my miscarriage, and I'm in a good place on my grief journey. There are some who may think I am not because I continue to talk about the baby I lost, but they would be very wrong in their assumption that someone who strives to remember her baby by talking about that child is having difficulty with her grief. To begin with, you never stop grieving the loss of a child, so you can stop waiting for that to happen. And secondly, don't expect a mom to just "get it over it" and "move on" by silencing herself.  Not talking about her child is the worst thing a momma who has lost her child could do. We have to talk about our babies. We must. I think it's a sign of being in a good place on the journey that is grief from loss of a child when a momma can talk about that child.

The twenty-fifth day was EARTH REMEMBRANCE.

For this subject, Carly Marie urged us to plant something to remember our child. Now, I do have an area in my backyard where I have planted two azalea bushes which represent Beth and Hannah. Those bushes were given to me by my speech team at the previous high school I worked at. I've tossed around an idea to plant one for Angel, but I think I found a better idea. I want to get one of these:


I found these memorial stones on the october15th.com website store. I want to get one that has Angel's name and place it between the two azalea bushes representing my other girls. This plan makes me happy.

The twenty-sixth day was GRATITUDE. 

Having an attitude of gratitude really does help to improve your mood and sends your overall quality of life on the upward path.  For that reason, I highly suggest taking the time to count your "blessings." So, here it goes... I'm thankful for many things. I'm thankful for being not only Beth's and Hannah's momma but also Angel's. I'm thankful for an understanding husband. I'm thankful Jesus is our Lord and Savior. I'm thankful for the life of relative ease we live and the jobs that afford us that ease. My glass is more than half full. How about yours?


The twenty-seventh day was SELF-PORTRAIT.

After losing Angel, it took awhile to get comfortable with my new reality. But I can finally say after five years, I am not ashamed of who I am.


The twenty-eighth day was REACH OUT.

It brings me great joy to help mommas do something to remember their children lost too soon. I'm working on doing that now with a friend. More on that next month. :-)

The twenty-ninth day was WHAT HEALS YOU?

I have many answers to this question; it just depends on the day. First and foremost, Jesus heals me. And He uses many things to help me heal: hot chocolate, writing, friends, running, sleep, and chocolate (did I say that already ;-). The point is that I am healing. And my complete healing will come when I am with my savior and my Angel again one day.

The thirtieth day was REFLECTION.

Carly Marie's Capture Your Grief project has been a great vehicle for reflection. So much has happened in the last five years since Angel's loss. Finally, I can see how God can work all things together for the good of those that love Him. I can celebrate what Angel's short life has meant to me and how it has shaped me. I can take pride in the things I have done since then to honor her and remember her. I'm in a good place. I pray you find this good place eventually in your journey of grief.

And tomorrow is the thirty-first day. The subject is SUNSET.

I went ahead and took my picture of the sun setting tonight because I wanted to get this post done and shared now. As I said before, I have enjoyed participating in the project, and I would encourage you to journey through it as well if you have experienced a loss. God bless!

Today's forget-me-not: the Capture Your Grief  journey


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