Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lord, Move or Move Me

"I can't find the words to pray
I'm a little down today
Can you help me?
Can you hold me?
I feel a million miles away
And I don't know what to say
Can ya hear me anyway?
What I need is for you to reach out your hand
You have taught me
No matter what you'd understand


Lord move in the way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and I'll knock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move), or move me.


I've looked every where to find
A simple peace of mind
I can't find nothing on my own
So I got to leave myself behind
Take up this cross of mine
Give away everything I hold onto

Lord I know the only way is through this
Lord I know I need you to help me do this
Lord move in the way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and I'll knock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move), or move me.


Out of this place of complacency
To a place of fellowship with thee
Cause I am weak but Lord you are so strong
And you know it's been way too long (been way too long)
Lord move in the way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and I'll knock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move...or move me!"
-FFH


Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm the Luckiest Girl in the World!!!

In case you haven't heard it from me, Adam, my family, his family, Facebook, or word of mouth.....
ADAM AND I ARE ENGAGED!!!!!!
On July 3rd, I experienced one of the most important days of my life (a day I have been dreaming about since I was a little girl) - the man of my dreams asked me to marry him, and I said YES!!!! I can't wait to tell the wonderful story, but I must preface it by saying it was a COMPLETE surprise! I wasn't expecting it at all, which is exactly how I wanted it.....

Last weekend, I flew down to Maryland to celebrate our 1-year anniversary and the 4th of July with Adam and his family. Adam and I started 'officially' dating on July 5th last summer after we had known each other and been friends for a few months. I flew in around dinnertime Friday night suffering from a lack of sleep and a fried brain I had gotten from taking my 2nd Anatomy test earlier that morning. Adam was also going on little sleep because he had been getting up at 4:00 for work at the Naval Academy every morning, and staying up late at night to plan the special weekend :) We ate dinner Friday night and hung out with the fam for a bit before going to bed fairly early since Adam had to work the next day from 5 am to 5 pm (yes, he was working on Saturday).

When Adam finally got home from work Saturday night, he seemed really tired and didn't want to do much of anything (little did I know this was all part of his plan....). I was a little bummed because I hadn't seen him all day, but I knew he was tired. So, I volunteered to read him a few excerpts from a book on maintaining a God-centered relationship, Going All the Way by Craig Groeschel, Pastor of LifeChurch in Tulsa, OK. I fully expected him to be as enthusiastic about it as I was. I mean, what guy doesn't want his girlfriend to read to him from a book on relationships? Unfortunately, he started to fall asleep while I was reading it (again...all part of his little scheme). I'll admit, I was getting pretty upset at this point. All I wanted to do was spend time with him since I hadn't seen him all day, and all he wanted to do was take a nap! So, I left the room, feeling unimportant, so he could take his nap.

A few minutes later, he comes to his senses and suggests we go to Starbucks to grab some coffee so he could stay awake while we discussed the book I wanted to read to him (again...all a part of his planned ruse to keep me from suspecting anything). As we walk out the door, his mom yells, "stay focused, Adam." I thought that was strange at first, but I just assumed she knew how tired he was and there could have been a possibility of him falling asleep at the wheel. We drive to Starbucks in silence. I was still a little bummed, but I was getting over it. Then, Adam realizes he forgot his wallet, and I hadn't brought mine either. He says he doesn't want to turn around and go back, so we can just sit outside at Starbucks and read the book. I also thought that was a little strange since he was the one who obviously needed the coffee, but I pushed that thought aside and didn't think twice about it.

As we are getting out of the car at Starbucks, he pulls a sack out of the back seat of his car. I was unaware that we were exchanging anniversary gifts early, but he said he was really excited to give me my gift. So, we sat down at this table and I opened my wonderful present!
A brand new camera!!! It's a pretty blue color, it's waterproof and can take video underwater, it's shock resistant (b/c I don't have any problem with dropping and damaging technological devices), and it has really good zoom. I was super excited! As a matter of fact, it didn't even dawn on me that the camera already had a memory card in it, it was fully charged, and the date and time had been set. I just assumed the Panasonic people wanted me to get full use from my camera the minute I took it out of the box.
I'm admiring my new camera and Adam is explaining all the features to me when he suggests we take a picture. So, he extends his long arm and takes our picture.
 (side note: I feel like most girls are dressed nicely and look stunning when they receive their engagement ring....not me. I had been at the pool all day, I had on dirty clothes, chlorine in my hair, and had yet to shower)
So, we take this picture and as Adam is showing me the picture, I get distracted by something I notice: His hands were shaking like crazy, and since my eyes are level with his chest, I realized I could see his heart beating through his shirt. "Wow, he's super excited to give me this camera!" I thought to myself. Again....totally oblivious.
He decides he doesn't like the picture and suggests we take another one. So, I smile, he takes another picture with shaky hands, and I think "it's a good thing he didn't get any coffee. Who knows how bad he would have had the shakes?"
Still oblivious....as always.
He hands me the camera and I look at the screen....it's not a picture of us; it's a picture of a collage of words. I do a double-take and reread the words as Adam is getting down on one knee, "Will you marry me, Laura Beth? I love you."
I was shocked speechless and words were not coming out of my mouth right away. Finally, I screamed "YESSSSSS!!!" and told him I loved him for the first time! It was a complete surprise, and for once, I'm thankful I was oblivious to the little signs. So.....we took another picture! If you look closely, you can see the smile that was stuck on my face for the rest of the evening, and still creeps up every time I think about that moment :)
We spent the rest of the evening celebrating with his family and chocolate cake, spreading the news to everyone we knew, and saying "I love you" to each other. Those 3 words mean so much more when you save them for the moment you know you truly mean them.

I'm currently wearing a "temporary" ring because Adam specifically thought of and sketched a design idea for my real ring, and it's being specially made with unique features that are all symbolic of something. The "temporary" ring is beautiful sterling silver and CZ from Amazon.com, but it is still very special to me. When he described what he had designed for my ring, I bawled like a baby because it was perfect; exactly what I wanted, and we had never even discussed rings! When it's finished, I'll put some pictures up, but below is a good shot of the one he proposed with:
The next day, on the 4th of July, we did one of our favorite things to do together - COOK! Here are some pictures from our all-day cooking fiasco:


And.....the result: the biggest and best meal we have cooked yet! Here's to many more and happily ever after....I LOVE YOU!!!
"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him..."
Psalm 37:3-5

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Alive Again

"I woke up in darkness
Surrounded by silence
Oh where, oh where have I gone?
I woke to reality Losing its grip on me

Oh where, where have I gone?
'Cause I can see the light
Before I see the sunrise
You called and You shouted

Broke through my deafness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again
You shattered my darkness

Washed away my blindness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again
Late have I loved You
You waited for me, I searched for You

What took me so long?
I was looking outside
As if Love would ever want to hide
I'm finding I was wrong

'Cause I feel the wind
Before it hits my skin
'Cause I want You,
Yes I want You I need You, and I'll do

Whatever I have to just to get through
'Cause I love You,
Yeah I love You"

-Matt Maher Alive Again

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Is there life outside of studying for Anatomy?

"I should defintely be studying right now," is what I kept telling myself while I was perusing Facebook, but somehow, I found myself writing this LONG OVERDUE blog post.......So, what's new with me? Well, pretty much everything! I still feel like I'm on vacation, even though it has been an entire month since I moved to Charleston, SC. OT school reminds me of the reality of why I'm here, but the beach (conveniently 5 minutes from my apt) sends me into a sweet serenity! That is, until the serenity is carried away with the powerful gust of wind which also carries all my notes away with it! Thankfully, there were enough people on the beach to help me by running after my papers. Strangely, though, I get distracted while running after my papers because I begin rattling off the Anatomy terms for the movements my legs were making and the names of the muscles allowing me to sprint after my flying notes....
Anatomy has taken over my life! I have learned more in the short weeks since I began classes than I learned in an entire semester of undergrad. Here are a few signs to watch for if you worry that Anatomy has taken over your life:

1) You sleep with your Anatomy textbook
2) You try to enjoy a relaxing weekend on the lake after your first anatomy test, but while you're wakeboarding, the only thoughts running through your head are the names of the muscles which are contracting and which nerves are innervating those muscles and giving them a burning sensation.
3) You are taking a walk along the beach and almost trip over a child because the flashcards in your hand were obstructing your view.
4) You are not bothered by the putrid smell of Formaldehyde, and you are intrigued by the insides of the person who donated his/her body to further the education of human anatomy by Med students, PAs, PTs, and OTs. (thankfully, we don't do the actual dissecting; we just observe)
5) You wake up in the middle of the night shouting the different mnemonics for the names of the many nerve, artery, and vein branches running throughout our body: "Randy Travis Drinks Cold Beer!" (that was one for the brachial plexus)
6) You study EVERY free second have; not because you want to get a good grade, but because you're passionate about what you're learning.

Despite my passion for anatomy and OT, there are times when I get discouraged and doubt if I can actually make it through this class. However, God has a way of reminding me that I'm exactly where He wants me and He won't let me fail. I'm also thankful for such a patient and encouraging boyfriend! He pushes me to keep studying when I'd rather just talk to him all night. 


Speaking of.....I had all intentions of writing about my amazing experience at his graduation from the Naval Academy last month, but I think it would have been waaaaay to long. I had so much fun, and I'm so proud of his many accomplishments! Here are a few of the pictures that captured the experience. Enjoy!
James is Adam's best friend and his room mate this past year. Please pray for him as he begins SEAL training. Tory kept me sane on the many weekend road trips we took to Annapolis - driving 14 hrs round-trip to see our men for less than 24 - totally worth it! We will miss hanging out with you guys!

 
Adam received the Naval Academy Athletic Association "Top Male Athlete Award" for the class of 2010! He got an awesome sword w/his name engraved on it! So proud of him!

His brother, Mark (continuing the Meyer legacy at the Naval Academy), got the honor of being the first to salute Adam officially as an Officer!

                            
And of course, I got the honor of being the first to kiss him as an official Officer of the Navy;)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Christ's Consistent Confirmation

Wow! The past few weeks have been a blur. I have had so much on my mind and so much to do to get ready for my last week of work at SWIMMAC Carolina, to prepare for finals for the A&P II class I took this semester, to find a place to live in Charleston, to pack up and move, and of course, all the important things I have to do to start school in 2 weeks!!!!! It has been by the grace of God that I have been able to keep up with all I have to do and maintain my sanity at the same time. Despite all the changes that are going on in my life right now, one thing has been consistent - God's confirmation that I'm headed in the direction of His will! Let me give you some examples, and I'm going to use pictures to describe some of them because I feel like my blog consists mainly of words...

1) The first confirmation happened the week Adam was visiting me, and it was actually that week that I made my decision to go to MUSC. I was so thankful for Adam's guidance in my decision and for everyone's prayers that God would lead me in the direction He wanted me to go. However, long before I decided where I was being led to go to school, I had been worrying and wondering if my computer would work well enough to carry me through 7 semesters of papers, projects, and a giant thesis. It was the computer I used in college, but it would constantly malfunction and, despite taking to a computer guy, no one could really find the source of the problem. Also, I'm technologically dumb, so I really had no idea what was going on each time my computer would act up. In short, I was worried that I was going to have to buy another computer at some point with money I did NOT have, but I trusted that God would provide. So, one night while Adam was here, I came home from work and he told me he had a surprise for me. Now, Adam is a pro at surprises and if you know me, I LOVE surprises, but this was the king of surprises! So, he leaves the room and comes back with a box from the Apple store, an excited smile on his face, and he says, "I got you this for getting into grad school"...

A MacBookPro!!!! I was literally speechless and I had no idea how to use a Mac, but my computer worries would be solved. I thanked God right then and there and embraced my boyfriend, but I know that words will never be enough to describe how giving, caring, and amazing Adam is!

2) Some of you may know this already, but I have had a lot of trouble meeting Christian girls while I have been in Charlotte. So, as soon as I decided I was going back to school and that I would be moving to a place again where I knew no one, I began to pray for God to bring some wonderful Christian girlfriends into my life wherever He was sending me to OT school. Since I waited until the last possible minute to decide to go to MUSC, most of the girls in my program had already found roommates, but I met a few girls via e-mail and phone who had roommates but genuinely wanted to help me find one. These girls are Believers and it looks like there will be a handful of them in my program! I am so thankful and excited to actually meet them in 2 weeks. God used that situation to both answer my prayers and confirm that I was going to be where He wants me to be! (I don't really have a picture for this one)

3) As I was getting down to the wire (less than a month before I would have to be in Charleston for orientation), I felt like everyone had a roommate except for me. It felt like the every time an opportunity would arise, it would fall through, even though the girls in my program were being really helpful. I was beginning to get really discouraged, and stressed, of course! I kept praying and praying that God would bring a Christian roommate as well, but as I felt like I was running out of time, I decided I would be okay if a God wanted a homeless person to live with me, as long as I had a roommate. Well, little did I know what He had planned for me: Confirmation #3....
Back in Feb, my mom and I traveled to Mobile, AL for me to do an interview at the University of S Alabama for entrance into their OT program. While I was in my interview, my mom introduced herself to a cute girl who had just finished her interview (my mom would talk to a squirrel if it would talk back....). So, when I came out, I saw my mom chatting away w/this random girl and her brother who had apparently taken the road trip w/her. Ironically, Alicia was also applying to MUSC! What were the odds? She was from Ohio. So, we talked for about an hour and I found out she was a Believer! We decided that if we both got accepted to S Alabama that we would have to be roomies! We exchanged contact information and spoke a few times on Facebook. A month later, she told me she had been waitlisted at MUSC and would be going to S Alabama. I told her I was going to MUSC, we told each other good luck, and lost touch for a while, until a week ago......The same day I called my mom in tears wondering why I could not find a roommate despite my consistent prayer, I got a phone call from Alicia- "Laura Beth, MUSC called me a while ago and told me a spot had opened for me but I turned it down because I thought God wanted me to go to S Alabama. I woke up last night and I felt like God was leading me to call MUSC and ask if that  spot was still open. What should I do?" I told her to call them. The worst that could happen would be that the spot would no longer be available, and when she called, that happened to be the case. However, we kept praying about it because it was just too crazy that we had met and connected so easily...there are no coincidences; just God :) After 3 days of consistent prayer from both of us, MUSC called Alicia and told her a spot had opened up! In 2 weeks, I will be rooming with an amazing Christian girl and I am so thankful for that HUGE confirmation that I'm where He wants me to be. (I don't have a picture for this one either, but as soon as Alicia and I get to Charleston, I'll take a pic and post it!)

I'm sure there have been many other confirmations from God that I haven't realized, but the ones that have been obvious have also reminded me to always remain patient and trust His will and the path to reach it. I'll add one more picture, just to keep my post from being too boring. This handsome 6'2" hunk is my constant confirmation that God's plan is best and far better than we can imagine ;)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lead not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Listening to the "Voice of Truth"

"Oh,what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in and onto the crashing waves.
To step out of my comfort zone into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is, And he's holding out his hand.

But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me;
Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed.
The waves they keep on telling me time and time again,
"You'll never win..."


Once again, all too soon it seems, another chapter of my life is coming to a close, and a new, undoubtedly more challenging, chapter is going to be played out. Around the 3rd weekend in May, I will be moving to Charleston, SC to start my Masters in Occupational Therapy at the Medical University of SC - a school I honestly wasn't expecting to get into. However, after a month and a half of consistent prayer, I knew that's where God wanted me out of the 3 programs into which I was accepted. Even though the decision was hard, I couldn't be more ecstatic that God is taking me there! Charleston is absolutely beautiful, and right on the beach, of course!

God is bringing me out of my comfort zone again to a new place with all new people and a new way of life to get used to. However, this time around, I will be a little more comfortable and a LOT more trusting of God's plan. When I moved to Charlotte 2 years ago, I was still learning the importance of being outside of my comfort zone - God was showing me that the place we are most vulnerable to His plans and His voice is one that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. As soon as I started getting used to living in Charlotte and being able to accept the hardships of the career world, God reached out and said, "It's time to go, Laura Beth. It's time to begin a new chapter. I have another purpose for you elsewhere and if you're comfortable, you won't experience it as I want you to."

As soon as I accepted my invitation to the MUSC OT program, I began to feel a little uncomfortable and the questions came flooding in - where will I live? Who will I live with? How will I afford school? Will I be able to obtain a part-time job and still have time to study? Do I remember how to study? Will the program be too hard? Is this what I really want to do? Will I find another church? Will I find a group of Christian friends (a vital part of my life that was missing while living in Charlotte)? When will the Navy stop taking their sweet time and let Adam know if he will be allowed to train in Charlotte for the 2012 Olympic Trials and defer from Flight School? (I had to throw that random one in there because we're still waiting for that answer; who knows? Someone from the Navy could stumble across my blog. People in Russia read my blog for goodness sake!). These unanswered questions made me feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable so I found myself praying more intently and digging a little deeper into the Word. Huh...funny how that works: Life feels a little too overwhelming, we open our hearts more to God as we pray for answers, and, as a result draw closer to Him. No wonder He loves to place us out of comfort zones....

The majority of the questions above have not been answered, and it's getting closer and closer to orientation/first day of classes on May 26th. A lot of things are up in the air and unclear, but I try to remind myself daily of the words from The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns. God has it all under control; All I need to do is trust Him and the purpose He has for me during my next 2 years in Charleston. By just being still and listening for His voice, life can seem much less stressful and overwhelming. I'm so excited about moving to Charleston, and I know the last few weeks I have in Charlotte are going to fly by. It will be hard to leave my friends, my church, my cute little apartment, and most of all - my kids. The 2 years I spent in Charlotte brought stress, pain, hardship, and struggles, but in the midst of all that, God sent me 2 reminders of His purpose while I was here: 1)A unique group of kids who I'm certain taught me much more than I taught them, and 2) a Godly and amazing man who is everything and more I want in my mate when I was certain someone like that just didn't exist.

"But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth"

-Casting Crowns

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Praying for the Confidence to be a Godly Leader

I have been feeling a little discouraged lately because the confidence I had in the fact that God was molding me into a Godly leader has been shaken. I know God placed me in my current work environment because the majority of my co-workers are searching for something more. I'm not referring to a better job, even though a few are searching for that too; I'm talking about an inherent happiness and a belief in something(someone) greater. Unfortunately, I have never been in an environment where I have felt so discouraged and unsure of my ability to share my Faith. I have been here with SWIMMAC for almost two years, I'm about to move away, and I don't feel like I've come anywhere close to fulfilling the purpose God had for bringing me here.

Four years ago if you had asked me if I felt like God had chosen me to fulfill His purpose of Godly leadership, I would have laughed nervously and solemnly declared that I was incapable of being molded into a Godly leader because of all the mistakes I had made and the countless times I had strayed from the path I was supposed to be following in my walk with God. However, near the end of my junior year of college, God was bound and determined to reveal His plans of reshaping my identity. It all started with the huge leap of faith I took when I told my rowing coach I was quitting because I wanted to focus on my relationship with God, and he informed me I would have to stand in front of the team and explain my reasoning to 45 college girls. I was literally "shaking in my boots" as I told my crew team that I was giving up rowing to grow closer to my Savior. Despite my immense fear and anxiety, God was right beside me during that process, and He held my hand for the next year and a half as He lead me through experience after experience where my faith and trust in Him were tested to the max. It was during this time that He was molding me into a Godly leader, but I kicked and screamed through the process because I was convinced there had to be some other person who was more qualified for the job. After all, I had recently spent an entire year of college rebelling against my almost non-existent faith because I had no idea who I was. Why in the world would God choose me after such a drastic rebellion? Of course, He answered that it was for that very reason He had chosen me.

My last year and a half of college, God placed me in situations where I began to gain the confidence and knowledge of what it means to be a Godly leader. Despite the peace He was trying to give me to assure me I was on the right track, I continued to question my ability to thrive in a summer-long discipleship program, but He lead me through that summer in Breckenridge and taught me how to share my faith on campus and lead a small group Bible study; I questioned my ability to start a Bible study for the girls on the crew team I was no longer a part of, but I did and He revealed Himself in a new way to each girl in that group; I questioned my ability to co-lead a group of 13 college students on a 3-month mission trip to Africa, but His hedge of protection encompassed us and countless Africans were introduced to His love while we were there; I didn't think I was ready to move to a place where I knew no one and live on my own, but God knew this was the next big step I needed to take in order to become a stronger person; I was convinced it wasn't the right timing for me to start a Bible study for the 11-12 year old girls I coach because my faith had been stagnant for several months, but I currently study the Word every Sunday afternoon with 14 of the 16 girls I coach. Who knew it could take something as simple as the faith of a 12-year-old to help me get back on track in my walk? God knew.

The reason I'm sharing all this is because I think a lot of us, as Believers, have trouble allowing God to mold us into His leaders because we are convinced there is someone out there who is more qualified for the position. I have caught myself questioning why God didn't want to pick the more qualified ministers, missionaries, Sunday school teachers, etc. for the leadership role He was asking me to fulfill. Now, if you think about it, that is a ridiculously dumb question; how do you think those ministers, missionaries, Sunday school teachers, etc. got into those positions of Godly leadership? Ultimately, they put their trust and confidence in Christ and believed He could mold them into leaders. I think we allow the fear of failure and the possibility of defeat creep in and fuel our disbelief in the abilities God has given us. I'll be the first to admit that as much as I try to fully place my trust in God, I still have trouble handing over complete control of my life to give Him free reign. Unfortunately, I always seem to forget that the only times I have experienced failure have been the times I controlled the outcome instead of allowing God to. What can we do to allow ourselves to become completely vulnerable to God's will and build confidence in the abilities He has given us?

To give you another example other than myself (and, I'm totally going out on a limb here because I know Adam's going to read this), let me share with you a little about my boyfriend...I want to preface what I'm going to say by reminding you that I believe God creates leaders by placing them in leadership roles without their knowledge. If you aren't aware that God has given you leadership capabilities, how can you strengthen them and gain confidence? The hardest part comes when you realize you've been placed into a position of leadership, and you have to make a choice: Utilize your Spiritual Gifts of leadership and lead by your trust in Him, or back down from the position because you allowed fear to creep in. Ok, back to Adam...I fully believe that God has amazing plans for him. Currently (and he may not realize this), God has placed him in several leadership roles: He's in his last year at the Naval Academy and has been accepted to Navy Flight School, he is the fastest swimmer on the Navy Men's Swim team (as a matter of fact, his coach's son wants to change his name to "Adam Meyer" when he grows up), he has competed in the Olympic Trials and World Champ Trials, he is currently ranked nationally in the Top 10 in his best events for collegiate swimming, he is the oldest of 4 kids, and if you ask anyone who knows Adam what they think of him, I'm certain they would express the great respect and admiration they have for him. I would say the same, plus more! I think Adam is one of those quiet leaders whom God has chosen to lead mostly by actions, not necessarily words. I don't think he is aware of how many lives he has touched through the positions in which God has placed him, and without knowing God has given you the ability to be a Spiritual leader, you can't gain the confidence you need to become one. There have been a handful of people God has placed in my life who helped me believe in the leadership abilities I had been given. If it had not been for those people and the power of prayer, the still-growing confidence I have in the gifts God has given me might be non-existent.

If God has put you in a leadership position and you're like me, you have trouble believing He has chosen the right person, pray for confidence and pray for God to bring someone in your life at just the right time to provide encouragement and open your eyes to the role that has been bestowed upon you.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Well, it's about time....

OK...you know by now that I go through Blog phases, and obviously I just got out of a Blog drought. Now that I'm done filling out and paying an arm/leg for grad school apps, I'm hoping I'll have more time to update my blog. To be completely honest, I am constantly updating my blog in my head, but for some reason every time I sit down to put those thoughts to words, I get distracted doing something else. I'm going to have to be more disciplined.

If you were unaware or just didn't read the paragraph above, I'M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!!! Yay! Well, I'm technically in school right now taking my last prerequisite at a local community college, but I just recently applied to 3 grad schools for Occupational Therapy! I'm so excited to go back to school, study, and gain the knowledge I need to do the occupation I'm truly passionate about: Occupational Therapy with Special Needs kids. It would have been nice to start directly after I graduated, but God had different plans, and I thought I did too. However, He knew that I would need to be in Charlotte, living on my own, and coaching at SWIMMAC for two years before I would be ready to go back to school. There was a lot I needed to learn, and I needed to gain some independence. Most recently, He wanted me to realize that the work environment can be extremely flawed: not all of your co-workers will share the positive, optimistic outlook on life that you possess; your boss may be intimidating, unhappy, and a workaholic, and you may be quite non-confrontational, but you CANNOT allow him/her to walk all over you - you need to have the confidence to tactfully stand up for yourself and what you believe; the behind the scenes aspect of the company may be incredibly chaotic and unorganized, but you MUST put on the facade that everything is "just peachy" :)

I'm praying that my work environment will be a little different and slightly better when I become an OT, but I have a feeling God wouldn't have exposed me to my current situation if I weren't going to encounter it again sometime down the road. Oh well...you live and you learn, right? So, now, I wait until March to find out whether or not I made it into any of the OT schools to which I applied. If you know me, you know waiting is VERY hard for me, but that is the #1 lesson God has been consistently trying to teach me. It has taken God 25 years so far (wow, that's the first time I've actually said my current age since my bday was last week; it sounds so old...) to teach me to wait, and ironically, I'm still waiting to learn that lesson.

Over the next few months, I will be making some HUGE decisions (de ja vue - senior year of college?) I have to move because there are no OT programs in Charlotte. So, I will be moving 1 of 3 places, and it will be a repeat of two years ago when I moved to Charlotte right after I returned from Africa and I knew no one. Thank you, God, for already bringing me through the process of moving to a brand new place and not knowing anyone. At least now I kind of know what to expect. So, where will it be? Charleston, SC; Richmond, VA; or Mobile, AL? Only God knows...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Love Song for a Savior

"In open fields of wild flowers
She breathes, the air flies away.
She thanks her Jesus for the daisies and the roses,
In no simple language;
Someday she'll understand the meaning of it all...

He's more than the laughter,
Or the stars in the heavens.
As close as a heartbeat,
Or a song on her lips.
Someday she'll trust him,
And learn how to see him.
Someday he'll call her,
And she will come running;
Fall in his arms, the tears will fall down
And she'll pray...

I want to fall in love with you

Sitting silent wearing sunday best.
The sermon echoes through the walls-
A great salvation through it calls to the people
who stare into nowhere,
Can't feel the chains on their souls...

He's more than the laughter,
Or the stars in the heavens.
As close as a heartbeat,
Or a song on our lips.
Someday we'll trust him,
And learn how to see him.
Someday he'll call us,
And we will come running;
Fall in his arms;
The tears will fall down and we'll pray...

I want to fall in love with you

Seems to easy to call you savior.
Not close enough to call you a god.
So as I sit and think of
Words I can mention to show my devotion...

I want to fall in love with you"


-Jars of Clay

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Marathon Training Journal

If you know me well, you know I LOVE to run. I have run countless 5Ks and 2 half-marathons. I always said I would never race a distance longer than 13.1 miles, but deep down inside, I made it a goal of mine to run a full marathon - 26.2 miles! When my good friend Aaron, USNA Grad & Marine Pilot, passed away in May, I decided I wanted to pursue training for the Marine Corp Marathon (Washington, D.C.) in his honor. I was a little worried because since my last half-marathon (Dec. 2006), I had been through one knee surgery, 2 shoulder surgeries, and a 3-month stint in Africa where I tried to keep up with my running but when you go from healthy American food to beans, rice, and crepes for every meal, it's hard to keep up any endurance. Needless to say, since I had gotten back to Africa and moved to Charlotte I had been trying to get back into running...let's just say, I was doing well if I could run 3 miles. However, once I signed up and paid for the Marine Corp Marathon, I was bound and determined to run and finish it. I started training in June to rebuild my endurance. Then, in July, I started a 16-week training regimen that would lead me to the day of the race on Oct. 25th. I ran 3 days a week, cross-trained the other 3, and took a day off. My runs each week consisted of one sprint workout, one mid-distance tempo workout, and a long run. Below is a brief synopsis of my training (I'm using the MasterCard theme):

*Registration fee for the 2009 Marine Corp Marathon: $85
*Amount of time from day registration opened to when it filled up: 3 weeks
*Amount of runners signed up for 2009 MCM: 30,000 (3rd largest marathon)
*Amount of time put into training: 4.5 months
*Number of miles run in training: 460
*Pairs of shoes purchased throughout training: 2
*Number of runs done with a partner: 2
*Places I ran during training: Cornelius, NC; Davidson, NC; Huntersville, NC; Cary, NC; Huntington Beach, CA; Annapolis, MD; Miami, FL; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; the treadmill
*Number of times I got sick during training: 2
*Number of snakes I saw (dead or alive) during runs: 6-8
*Number of deer I saw during runs: 6
*Number of times I ran in the pouring rain: 5
*Number of IBS flare-ups I had during a run: 4
*Number of times a bee flew in my mouth and stung me on my lip during a run: 1
*Number of times I almost got run over by a car during a run: 3
*Longest run pre-marathon: 20 miles (twice)
*Areas chaffed during running: inner thighs, collar bone, face
*Number of toenails lost during training: 1, and counting.....
*People who supported me during training and during the marathon: God, family, Adam, friends, the parents of the kids I coach
*Amount of time it took me to run 26.2 miles on the most beautiful day in Washington, D.C.: 3 hours, 57 minutes
*Number of friends I made in line for the port-a-potty before the race: 2
*Memories I made during those 3 hrs, 57 min: countless
*Lessons I learned from the marathon: will be included in future blog post

***WHAT I FELT AS I CROSSED THE FINISH LINE AS TEARS STREAMED DOWN MY FACE: PRICELESS





For everyone who supported me through my training and through the race - THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!!!

WHO WANTS TO RUN THE NEXT ONE WITH ME???? I'M READY FOR ANOTHER ONE!!! BRING IT ON!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Oh the Places You'll Go..." & what God will teach you!

In case you didn't catch it in my previous blogs, I'm in a long-distance relationship right now. This is a first for me, so God has taken the opportunity to teach me a TON recently! For those of you who know what it's like to be in a long-distance relationship, you will be able to empathize with me; for those of you who have never shared the experience - it's not easy, but I believe long-distance relationships build character and create a special bond between two individuals. I also believe that God uses those types of relationships to bring His children closer to Him through the process. It has taken me a while to get used to being 7 hours away from Adam, but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it; at least, I think so...Here are some things I feel like we have learned through the process of developing a strong, God-centered, incredibly unique relationship while living 430 miles apart:

1) You have to have a large amount of monthly minutes and unlimited texts on your cell phone or you end up with a very PRICEY phone bill

2) You may be in the middle of a long-winded, incredibly wordy, but super good story when your phone rings in your ear and you realize your significant other had a dropped call, and you had been talking to nothing but silence for the past 5 minutes

3) Skype video chatting is only fun if you have a webcam with a good microphone. Otherwise, sudden, loud static interrupts your conversation every 3 minutes and 30 sec and you have to hang up and call back. There are also those video calls where the other person freezes up momentarily in a weird position...


4)You don't have the luxury of seeing the person every day. As a matter of fact, depending upon our schedules, we are lucky to see each other once a month

5) The positive side to not seeing the person very often, is that it's virtually impossible to become too dependent upon the other person

6) Communicating through snail mail or FedEx is no longer a thing of the past

7) You think of creative ways to have fun while being miles apart (i.e. online scrabble, the chicken dice game, battleship, muting the microphone and watching online TV shows while video chatting, playing "Guess what animal I am" while making a random animal face...remember the picture of Adam above?)

8) On the nights where you may be too busy to talk at all, a simple text that says, "Goodnight. I miss you!" speaks volumes

9) You realize that driving for a total of 14 hours (or 18 if you get lost....) just to see the person for less than 24 hours is better than not seeing them at all

And, the best thing I've learned thus far through my long-distance relationship with Adam....
10) When we do finally get to see each other, every minute we're together is a chance for us to grow closer together - an idea I feel gets too often taken for granted in non long-distance relationships

Monday, September 14, 2009

East Coast to West Coast to East Coast

TO THE WEST...
A few weeks ago, I went on my desperately-needed vacation from work. I got a week and a half of time to do whatever I wanted. So, the first part of my time off, I went to Newport Beach, CA to visit my best friend! It was the best week I had had in a long time. The weather was amazing, and the beach was beautiful! I had so much fun meeting Matt, Jessica's boyfriend, and getting to know him. I'm so happy she has found such a great guy. God knows both of us have battled through thick and thin in our past relationships. I pray for them all the time, and I know God will bless their relationship immensely. My favorite part about the trip was spending quality time with Jessica and being able to share pieces of our hearts with each other. We go through these phases where we both get really busy and since we are both terrible at calling each other, we'll often go weeks or longer without contact. However, I know she is a genuine friend because we never have any problems picking up right where we left off when we do finally connect. The only drawback is that we always share with each other the latest dilemmas or struggles we have been facing, realizing halfway through our stories that we had been struggling with the same things at roughly the same time; it just took us so long to contact each other that we realize our similar dilemmas after the fact. However, it is still incredibly comforting to know that someone is going through the same struggles I am, and because of that fact, we don't feel so alone. I am so blessed to have Jessica in my life. She is one of the most beautiful women I know, and her heart for God and people speaks volumes about the incredible woman of God that she is. Even if we do live on completely different sides of the US, we know that we are just a phone call or text away (most of the time) from providing encouragement for each other. We have both grown so much as people the past couple of years and I cherish her Godly insight and advice, especially because I can always trust that we are most likely going through the same thing! I love you Jessica!!!

OH LA!

MATT AND JESSICA

TINY SURFERS AT SURF SCHOOL...SO CUTE!

AFTER DINNER IN DOWNTOWN DISNEYLAND



BACK TO THE EAST
The latter part of my vacation, I headed back east to what I think is one of the cutest towns ever - Annapolis, MD - which is also where the US Naval Academy is located on one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever seen.
THE VIEW FROM CAMPUS

I went to visit Adam for a few days in Annapolis, then we headed to his parents' house in Bethesda. He gave me the most amazing tour of campus! I love listening to Adam talk about the Naval Academy because he is so passionate about it. I think it is such an honor to attend a service academy, and I have no doubt that each graduate develops strong character, perseverance, great leadership skills, courage, and an unsurpassable respect for his country. Well, I know at least one person who possesses those qualities ;) as well as my friend, Aaron (USNA '05), who passed away back in May, doing what he was most passionate about - flying in the Navy.

While I was in MD, I also took my first trip to Washington, D.C. I didn't get very many pictures of the city and historic landmarks because it was pouring the rain while we were there. We ran in the rain from the subway station, to the Smithsonian Museum, and then, to the National Air and Space Museum. We had no umbrella, and it was so fun! I hope it will be sunny and nice when I go back to D.C. for my marathon at the end of October. I'll see plenty of the city's sights on that day...26.2 miles of it! I can't wait!
WET WITH RAINDROPS

Our time together was short, but we packed in a lot of activities. He also took me to Covenant Life Church where Joshua Harris preaches!! That was so cool, and he gave an awesome message, which I mentioned in a previous blog. The last day I was there, Adam took me to a beautiful park on the Potomac River. Words cannot describe it, so check out the pictures:
THE RAPIDS

HARDCORE WHITEWATER KAYAKERS

I had the most amazing vacation and did so many exciting things. It's too bad we can't be on vacation all the time; but...sooner or later, you have to come back to reality. However, I'm thankful for the time Adam and Jessica took out of their schedules to allow me to visit! MISS YOU!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Want More Details?!!! :)

Well, I figured I couldn't publish the post below without giving a few more details about the guy God brought into my life when I was least expecting it! Don't worry, I got Adam's permission to talk about him (I did ask you didn't I, Adam?)

You may not know this about the swim team I coach for, but even though we are an age-group team, we also have an Elite program where Olympic-bound swimmers can train with one of the best coaches in the world - Coach David Marsh (he's my boss). You can learn more about it by visiting our website at www.swimmaccarolina.org (good PR, right?)Well, Adam swims for the Naval Academy and he decided to come to Charlotte this past summer and train with Coach Marsh. The first time I saw him on the pool deck, I thought he was pretty cute!!! Another coach introduced me to him, but I don't even know if he remembers that because I'm pretty sure he came straight to practice after waking up from a nap. A week or so later, I went out to eat at Cabo Fish Taco with another coach and one of the other Elite swimmers who had invited Adam. For those of you who know me well, you know i'm obsessed with chips and salsa, and I especially LOVE salsa on salads as dressing! Wow, my mouth is definitely watering as I'm typing this...Anyway, Adam was going to be late and he had already eaten, so we went ahead and ordered from our waiter, who looked exactly like an overweight version of Johnny Depp. At Cabo Fish Taco, they have this fresh corn, bean, and chunky tomato salsa, but they're kind of stingy with their refills. Well, Johnny Depp had to refill ours several times because we were devouring it. Then, I asked him for an extra bowl of it to use as dressing on my salad. From the way he acted, you would have thought I had asked him to donate me one of his kidneys! Thankfully, he brought me an extra bowl despite his hesitancy. Well, I excused myself from the table to go to the restroom and while I was there, Adam showed up. As I was walking back to the table, I realized Adam had sat down in the seat across from me, and was DIPPING A CHIP IN MY EXTRA BOWL OF SALSA, which was specifically for my salad! I sit down, Johnny Depp (the waiter) walks up with our food, notices Adam eating my salad salsa, and let me tell you...he was NOT happy! He straight up asked me why Adam was eating my salad salsa...I didn't know what to say; I just looked at Adam holding the salsa-laden chip in midair and started laughing! And, it just so turns out, that Adam is as obsessed with chips and salsa as I am!

The experience at Cabo Fish Taco was what started our friendship as we continued to hang out. We got to know each other better through...
*Going to church together
*Going to the NASCAR race together (even though I was the 5th person he called) *Watching movies on the big screen TVs at the various houses I housesat for this summer
*Taking a spontaneous road trip through the backwoods (no offense, Allie) of Mathews County, VA to visit one of my best friends and on to MD to surprise his dad for Father's day

*Watching Harper's Island w/Greg and Emily

*Wakeboarding or jet skiing on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis
*Cheering him on as he kicked butt at the swimming World Championship Trials with a 10th place finish in the 200 Fly and 7th overall in the 200 IM (do NOT read any further until you click on the link above to watch the amazing video!! Lane 3 from the bottom of the screen is the lane to watch!!)
*Sharing how God had brought us closer to Him through similar struggles we had faced in the past couple of years, and realizing we were both scared to death about starting a relationship because of said experiences;
*Taking a leap of faith to pursue a relationship with each other, and trusting God to guide it and strengthen us, despite living 7 hours apart and not knowing God's plans for our rapidly emerging individual futures.
*Being OK with the unknown because of God's promise in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Yes, I Know It's Been a While...

SO, here is a run down of what's been going on in my life since...May (wow, 3 months since my last post); Time sure flies when you're having fun! I had an incredible summer, but I definitely wasn't looking for things to do: between coaching twice a day, training for my marathon in October, babysitting, housesitting, and wakeboarding, I stayed pretty busy. Despite running around like crazy from one thing to another, God still managed to teach me several things. For me at least, I think He teaches me the most when I least expect it...

**I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I felt God was leading me to begin thinking about going to grad school for Occupational Therapy...well, I'm most certain of that now, I'm just a little unsure where He wants me. There are no OT schools in Charlotte, so inevitably I have to move. One of the biggest things I learned in Africa last summer was that I needed to relinquish all control of my life to God. I still struggle with that daily, but I'm becoming more and more cognizant of when I begin to make a decision without fully consulting God. So, I'm applying to several different OT schools around the US and praying that God will open or shut doors into the programs as I receive my acceptance or rejection letters. I honestly don't have a preference where I go to school, so I actually feel comfortable handing that decision over to God. I mean, I wouldn't really want to move to North Dakota or Nebraska or somewhere like that, but if God wants me where the winters are freezing cold, then I'll just have to accept that and hopefully get over my Seasonal Affective Disorder. Either way, I'm genuinely trying to be open to whatever path God sends me down, because I realize how much easier it is to follow His will when I allow Him to take the lead. I will update more on this when I start the whole application process within the next month or so.

**After a year and a half of waiting, wondering, and denying God's gentle voice that it wasn't in His plans to last forever, I accepted the fact that the relationship I had with Matthew was just a period of immense spiritual and emotional growth for me, and realized it was time to continue on with my life. It was a hard decision, but as soon as I made it, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Until that point, my life had been almost stagnant, even after my move to Charlotte. Part of me wanted to get on with my life, but there was a bigger part that just couldn't stop denying the fact that things were over. I have said this before, and I will continue to say it for the rest of my life: I wouldn't trade the time Matthew and I were together for anything. Part of who I am today is a direct result of the things God taught me through that relationship. It all made perfect sense to me last weekend when I visited Joshua Harris' church. He said that God puts us through trials, tribulations, and suffering to show us how much He loves us. It is in those tough times that our hearts are most vulnerable and moldable because we fall to our knees and cry out to God for help and comfort. He brings us closer to Him and teaches us the most during these times, even though we may not realize how much we have learned until He brings us out of the pit. We should definitely praise God for His blessings, but we should be even more gracious for the things He teaches us through our pain and tears!

**God answers our prayers when we are least expecting it....much like how you can stare at the night sky for hours in hopes of seeing a shooting star, but are unsuccessful until a random evening you happen to glance up at the sky at just the right moment to catch a glimpse of the thing you had watched for and anticipated for countless hours...Back in May, God brought the most amazing person into my life. At this point I definitely wasn't looking for a relationship, and it took a while of developing a friendship with him before I realized I was attracted to this guy. Prior to meeting him, I had given up hope of finding anyone in Charlotte who met/exceeded my standards, and I decided to just stop worrying about it and let God do His thing. Well, He did just that... After trying to ignore my feelings for Adam a few times early on in our friendship and talking to God about it, I finally allowed myself to accept the cliche that there was "another fish in the sea" (which was something it took me a year and a half to believe), and God brought him right to me! We have been officially together for almost 2 months after developing a friendship that began in May. Not one day goes by where I don't thank God for Adam and thank Him for giving me the assurance that His timing is perfect!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A TRUE HERO....In So Many Ways To Me, To Others, To Our Country


On May 5th, I lost a good friend, role model, and hero. 1st LT. Aaron David Cox died in a tragic helicopter accident during a nighttime training exercise. Aaron graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2005 and went on to pursue pilot training. How did I know him? I went to high school with Aaron, we swam together, we went to youth group together, and he drove me from school to swim practice everyday of high school until I had my own car. Aaron touched my life in so many ways. He could make me laugh no matter what situation we were in or what kind of mood I was in. He had the craziest facial expressions and little sayings. He had such an infectious laugh and a smile that could light up a whole neighborhood! Aaron was such an encouragement in swimming, in academics, and how he never ceased to give 110% in everything he did. He taught me the true meaning of the word, 'HARDCORE.' I remember every time our coach would tell us our main set at swim practice, we would all groan and complain, but Aaron never did. He would say things like, "We are HARDCORE!" or "Let's be HARDCORE!" or "They can't hurt us!" with a huge smile on his face. I'm pretty sure he taught me that it always feels good after you swim through the pain, and that it is OK to work so hard that you almost throw up. As most of you know, I am obsessed with country music. Well, it hasn't always been a favorite of mine. I actually hated country music until I began carpooling with Aaron and I was forced to listen to it. He would go through periods of several weeks/months where we would listen to one type of music and the same CD in that genre of music. In Aaron's car, I listened to music such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Hank Williams, Kirk Franklin, Nirvana, Brittney Spears, 2-Pac, Dave Matthews, Johnny Cash, and the list goes on and on. I went through a period when I had a little crush on Aaron, but that quickly changed as he became more of a big brother to me. He was so protective and always made sure I wasn't hanging out with any sketchy guys. From the first time I met Aaron, he always wanted to go to the Naval Academy. He would always do crazy physical training movements and assure us he was just being a 'Navy SEAL.' I truly believe Aaron achieved more in his 26 years of life than most people do in a lifetime! I got to fly home to attend his funeral, and without sounding to morbid, it was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. First of all, we had a huge swim team reunion party where we celebrated Aaron's life and told all of our funny stories about him. None of us dressed up very much for his funeral, nor did we wear all black, because Aaron had always said that he hoped no one would wear a tie to his funeral. So, his parents asked all the men not to wear a tie. That was how Aaron always was...he loved life and made every situation a celebration! Lastly, we had a ceremony outside after his funeral. Many Marines and his friends from USNA came dressed in their uniforms. They did a 21-gun salute along with the usual pomp and circumstance of a military funeral, but the most moving part (and I lost it at this point) was while they were folding the American flag to give to Mrs. Cox - it was completely silent until a rumbling in the distance began to get louder as 3 military planes flew directly over us. I was told later that it is normally 4, but they just flew 3 because Aaron represented the 4th one. His life and accomplishments were highly honored at his funeral, and I find comfort in the fact that he's partying right now in Heaven....

REST IN PEACE AARON - I LOVE YOU AND I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU!
**The Station Wagon**The broken clutch**Hot pockets**Prayer and a Biscuit**St. James Youth**Pine Cove**Your turd in the lake at Pine Cove**Nick's RV party at Maumelle Park**The Tick**Navy SEALS**Hardcoreness**GrapeNut Os**I'm sorry, Baby**Cheekbone dimples**LR Central High State Champs**LRAC Lasers Swim Team**Latin III and IV**Mrs. Ligon**Bell Bowl**Ummmm yeeeah**The spoiled milk, mustard, mayonaise, ketchup, chicken, beef, yogurt, coke, and real-life loogey mixed suicide drink someone dared you to drink**(and many more memories)......

Oh Yes! You guessed it...That is Mr. Ryan Lochte in all his handsomeness


Ever since I started coaching for SWIMMAC, I have been looking forward to this one swim meet - the Charlotte UltraSwim Meet. We have hosted this meet for the past few years, it's a very fast meet, swimmers have to have qualifying times for UltraSwim, and a ton of Olympians compete in it every year. Well, this year it was HUGE because of what swimming brought to the Olympics in 2008. The most coveted tickets to the meet were the Gold Medal Seating tickets at Finals, and those tickets sold for $450 a piece! Of course, as SWIMMAC coaches, we received a coach's pass and could pretty much roam wherever we wanted to. So, I got to stand directly over the lanes as I watched some of the best athletes in the sport of swimming such as, Michael Phelps, Aaron Piersol, Cullen Jones, Mark Gangloff, Freddy Busquet (and many more), and of course, my favorite swimmer of all - Ryan Lochte (see above)...
Luckily, I was able to get a picture with him, but not before making a blubbering idiot out of myself. The president of USA Swimming offered to introduce me to Ryan Lochte, so naturally, I accepted his generous offer! As we approached Ryan, he introduced me by saying, "Ryan-I want you to meet Laura Beth Minnich. She coaches 12&U with SWIMMAC." We shook hands. He introduced himself. Then I introduced myself by repeating verbatim what the USA Swimming president had already said. As if that wasn't bad enough, I was sweating profusely and the redness was slowly creeping up my neck to my face. Then, I said the most ridiculously thing ever...."Nice to meet you. I'm really sorry, but can I get a picture with you? My kids would love it!" He replies, "Of course. Why are you apologizing?" I reply, "Ummm, uhhh, hmmmm, ummm, ya, I'm just really embarassed!" I think to myself after turning beat red, "WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I JUST SAY AND WHERE THE HEC DID THAT COME FROM? WHO SAYS THAT?" Needless to say, I got my picture and got out of that situation FAST! Unfortunately, he walked by me again 20 minutes later, looked straight at me and started laughing. Gosh! What an idiot I am! Oh, well, it was all worth it for that picture! Words can't describe what an awesome experience I had at that meet - watching the fastest swimmers in the world compete was amazing! I am blessed to have been given that opportunity!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ahhh...Memories!



Two weekends ago, I had 3 amazing young women come to visit me here in Charlotte. These 3 girls were on my Ghana team this past summer and we became very close. Camden is from Asheville and is my age; and Trish and Margaret are from Illinois and are still in college. We had such an awesome time! They got here on Friday and we spend the evening laughing and reminiscing about all the crazy things that happened while we were in Africa. We hadn't seen each other since last August, but it's like we just picked up where we had left off. I had been cooking dinner in my crockpot all day. That was my second meal to make in the crokpot, and it turned out to be pretty good! The first dish I made in the crockpot was a different story, however. That night I took them around downtown Charlotte and the temperature was perfect. Thankfully, my practices had been cancelled for that Saturday, so I took them to the National Whitewater Center in South Charlotte (if you've never heard of it, look it up www.usnwc.org - it's where all the Olympic whitewater kayakers train and it's amazing!) We couldn't afford to go whitewater rafting, do the climbing wall, ride the forever long zipline, or even eat at the delicious restaurant there, so we just hiked the beautiful mountain biking trails there....and of course, the best part, watch all the kayakers and rafters fall out of their vessels on the rapids! We were exhausted that evening, so we rented The Grizzly Man and laughed our heads off at Timothy Tredwell, but then we got sad at the end as we realized that's actually a very sad story. Sunday, they went to church with me, then drove back. It was such a blessing to have them stay for the weekend! We had brunch after church on Sunday and prayed for each other and shared how drastically God had changed each of our lives since we had been back from Africa. His timing is so perfect because I had been having a couple of rough weeks leading up to the weekend my friends came, but being around them and realizing He had been testing their faith just as much as He had been mine was exactly what I needed! I hope I can continue to keep in touch with these girls and always look to them for encouragement and prayer! Below is a picture of us in Africa. Look back at the pic at the top of this post and just compare the two....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Hope Now"

This is a song that just recently came out, and the first time I heard it, I almost cried because the lyrics represent exactly what I'm dealing with now. It's funny how God places songs like these on your heart in order to speak to you (#51 on my playlist)...

"If everything comes down to love,
Then just what am I afraid of?
When I call out Your name,
Something inside awakes in my soul.
How quickly I forget I'm Yours...

I'm not my own;
I've been carried by You,
All my life...

Everything rides on hope now.
Everything rides on faith somehow.
When the world has broken me down,
Your love sets me free!


When my life is like a storm,
Rising waters - all I want is the shore.
You say I'll be ok, and
Make it through the rain.
You are my shelter from the storm...

Everything rides on hope now.
Everything rides on faith somehow.
When the world has broken me down,
Your love sets me free!


I am not my own.
I've been carried by you all my life...

Everything rides on hope now.
Everything rides on faith somehow.
When the world has broken me down,
Your love sets me free!


You've become my hearts desire.
I will sing Your praises higher,
'Cause Your love sets me free.
Your love sets me free.
Your love sets me free...

-Addison Road

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Long Awaited Spring Vacation

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got a much needed break from work. Ever since I moved here, I have been desperately missing all my friends at TU and actually, just Tulsa in general. So, the first part of the week, I went to Tulsa. I also decided to go to Arizona to visit the Jones family because I missed them greatly and I had never been to AZ before. So, the second half of my week off, I went to Phoenix. Below are some pictures from my trip and a few of my highlights:

FIRST STOP: TULSA - GO TU!!

I LOVE THESE GIRLS!



Even though Meaghan graduated in December, we planned to come back to TU at the same time, so it was reunion of "THE UNIT"! I realized the moment we were all back together again how much I truly love each of those girls and what a blessing they have been in my life. We went to dinner the first night we were together and then we had a sleepover at Nicole's. For those of you that don't know - Allie snores. I didn't really get any sleep, but I was OK with that because I was having the time of my life! It was just like we had never been apart - we laughed until we cried (well, Lindsey snorted instead of laughing)! It reminded me of how important girlfriends are and I hope we can continue to have an annual "UNIT" reunion each year, no matter where we all scatter off to.

I have to put a picture of Jackson because he has gotten so big and so cute. I'm very proud of Lindsey for balancing raising a child, studying, rowing, and graduating all at one time. I know I couldn't do that right now - that's for sure!


SECOND STOP: ARIZONA - Amazingly Beautiful!


I had such an awesome time visiting the Jones' and Lichtenberger's. It was my first time to AZ, so I didn't know what to expect, but it was more beautiful than I had imagined. I was so thankful that they allowed me to hop on a plane and spend several days with them. It was sunny and somewhat warm the whole time, and there were so many things to see and do. I got to see Jerome, Sedona, Flagstaff, and best of all-the Grand Canyon! Besides realizing that my next big trip will be a week long camping/hiking excursion to the bottom of the canyon and back, with a little white water rafting thrown in there, I also think God had a couple of things to show me while I was there:

#1. I was so excited when Jessica told me she was going to be able to come the same time I was there! It was so good to see her - she's like a sister to me! Even though we've talked a lot over the phone this year, when we got to hang out together and talk a little more about the things God is teaching us currently, something finally hit home with me: We are going through the same exact things, we are in the same stage of life, and God is teaching us pretty much the same things! It is such a relief to know that I am not alone in the things I'm dealing with right now. So, whenever I start to feel alone, I always think of Jessica because it's comforting to know that we are struggling through this period of our lives together, and we are able to pray for and encourage each other!


#2. Well, I already knew this one, but I LOVE THESE KIDS!
Shelby and I climbin a tree at the Grand Canyon...

Jesse and I makin scary faces...

I could never quite get Lucy to look at the camera while I was holding her, so I just got a sweet one of her by herself...


#4. God WILL save you from falling off the edge of the Grand Canyon if it's not your time to go.... Yes, I know - I'm clumsy. And, yes, I did slip and fall only inches from the very edge of the deep abyss of the Grand Canyon. I fell flat on my butt and almost had a heart attack, while scaring the hec out of Mr. Jeff, Jessica, and Shelby. Thankfully, God was holding my hand and I obviously wasn't meant to go to Heaven that day. However the mules walk that close to the edge with people on their backs...how do they not slip and fall? Guess they aren't meant to die that way either...




#5. I went on several runs while I was there, and I took that time to really open my heart and my mind to anything God wanted to whisper to me. Sometimes it takes being out of your element and in the middle of God's beautiful creation to be still and listen to Him with no distractions. Through these moments of just stopping to listen and through a lot of prayer, I feel like God's leading me to pursue Physical Therapy and apply to PT school. It has always been my dream, but I didn't know if it was part of His plan for my life. I've been struggling with this decision for quite some time now, but I don't think the timing has been His until now. I am still praying about where to apply and when exactly I would start, but I know that's where He's leading me right now! I am very excited about it, but I know these next several months are going to be tough as I continue to seek His will with this next phase of my life...

I had such an awesome trip and it was so good to see everyone. I love each of you with all my heart - thank you so much for being a part of my life and allowing me to come visit! I hope to come back in the near future!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I LOVE MY KIDS!!


I definitely have my moments with my job where I don't like it or look forward to it at all. Some of those moments turn into several days or weeks in a row, but then God brings me a little moment to cherish where He reminds me, through my kids, why He has me coaching swimming to 7-12 yr olds at this point in my life. So, here are some examples of those little things which become constant reminders that my job is more than something that 'barely' pays the bills, it's a chance to forever leave an impact on a child's life...

1) Before each practice, I get my kids together for 15-30 minutes to do "Drylands." Now, if you have never been a swimmer, you probably don't know exactly what that word means. Well, for younger swimmers, it means warming up out of the water through running, calisthenics, abs, etc. But, the majority of the time, I just play games with my groups. So, one evening, I was taking my older group outside for dryland, and it was one of those crazy Charlotte weather days that starts warm and sunny, but ends cold and snowy (yes, that really happens here). We were playing basketball and the temperature had to drop at least 30 degrees in the course of 20 min, but the worst part was that it began to snow. Well, I told my kids we needed to go inside because, quite frankly, I was freezing! Of course they answered with whines and objections to ending their basketball game before it was time to. Despite all my efforts to stand firm, I just couldn't, and here's why - after I admitted to them that I wanted to go in because I was cold, all 20 or so of them ran and formed a circle around me, wrapped their arms around me and said, "Keep her warm! Keep her warm! Coach Laura Beth, if we warm you up, can we please stay out and play?" At that point, I didn't even care that I was surrounded by 25 sweaty, smelly kids; I was so caught up in the moment and they just melted my heart!

2) On a different occasion, I was outside with my younger group (7-10). This group has dryland after practice because of lack of lane space. So, back when it was really warm, I took them outside while they still had their suits on. Well, not long after we started playing, one of my little girls came to me and asked if she could go to the bathroom. We only had a few minutes left, so I asked her if she could hold it, and she said yes. We finished our dryland and I sent the kids back inside to get their stuff. As everyone got I up, I realized the little girl that had asked to used the bathroom was still sitting on the concrete. She looked up at me and said, "Um, Coach Laura Beth....I accidently went." She slowly stood up and where she had been sitting was a large wet spot. Ooops! I felt so bad, but I have to admit, it was pretty funny!

3) Just the other day, one of my kids returned to practice after being gone for a few weeks. His mom had informed me that he would be missing practice due to a minor surgery he was having. So, the day he came back to practice, he walked up to me and said very seriously, "Coach Laura Beth, I couldn't practice for a couple of weeks because I had my asteroids taken out." I paused for a minute and wondered if I had misunderstood him, but then I realized he had meant his "adenoids"! Kids say the darnest things!

4)I have been told on far too many occasions that I don't look much older than my kids. I know it's considered a compliment when someone thinks you are younger than you really are, but it's actually an insult when people can't pick me a part from kids who are no older than 12. And, it doesn't help when half of the 12 yr old boys in my group are the same height or taller than I am. One day at practice, I was talking to one of my girls and she said, "You know Coach Laura Beth - you don't even look like your 21...you look 17 or 18, but I'm saying that as a compliment!" I know she was trying to be sweet, but I said,"Well, thanks, but I'm actually not 21; I'm 24." And, of course, she didn't believe me...

5)At our end-of-the-season state champ meet last month, I wrote each of my kids a note of encouragement with a quote or Bible verse that I felt fit perfectly for the type of person they are. Little did I know, I would be getting a note of encouragement from one of my swimmers...it made my whole year. One of my older girls got me a thank you card that said, "I just wanted to thank you for helping me become a better swimmer and a stronger person. You are the best coach I have ever had because you make it a point to connect with each one of us; you push us to become faster, but you still let us have fun; you are my coach and my friend at the same time; and, the best part of all is that you are younger than all the other coaches!"

Little did I know that the same kids God placed in my life for me to impact would end up leaving a bigger impact on me...