Mid May 2018

I graduated! I am now an official alumni of Liberty University!

I actually earned an A in the last class that I was struggling in, so my ending GPA is 3.36. Considering I work full time, volunteer part time, and was going to school on top of everything else in life, I’m pretty happy with that GPA, even if it’s not honors. I graduated high school in 1997, so this Bachelor degree was 21 years in the making, whew! Now I get 2 months off and then start the Master’s program on July 23rd.

So, what am I going to do for 2 months, with no school and no church outreaches on Wednesday nights? Well, for right now I am on vacation. I’m with my brother in Virginia at a resort relaxing. It’s so pretty here and we have a few deer in our backyard 🙂 After vacation, back to my full time job, of course. I am also going to work out with my trainer 3 times a week instead of 2. I’m going to take advantage of this down time to take care of myself. I’m also taking “appointments” with friends for girls’ nights out, since I won’t really be available for 2 years during grad school.

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll go for a Doctorate. Seeing some people in Doctorate regalia this weekend was kind of inspiring though! But first Masters, then we’ll decide! Can’t really worry about any of that just yet.

My brother went with me to my graduation, which was super nice of him. We flew in to DCA and drove to Lynchburg/Bedford, VA. On the route the GPS took us through a twisty road through the mountains, which I got the unfortunate task of driving. Did you know it’s rained pretty heavily in VA recently? That causes fallen rock, fallen tree limbs, mud, and, scariest of all, running water on the roads! I thought we were going to die! I’ve probably never been that stressed while driving in my life. Obviously we made it through OK, but my neck and shoulders are still soar from being so tense. Good thing I have a massage scheduled on Tuesday! Oh, and come to find out, if we would’ve just gone down the highway a little longer, we could’ve just taken another highway which would’ve been a lot straighter and safer!! Ugh.

There were over 20,000 people in my graduating class, over 8,000 attended graduation and somewhere around 30-40,000 people were on campus for commencement. After the ceremony we all divided up into our respective colleges and had degree presentations/walked across the stage. There were a lot in my college of Religion and we didn’t stay for the whole thing. I’ll receive my diploma in a few weeks, which will get framed and hung on the wall, of course! Now, what to do with the regalia? Shadow box? Not sure yet.

Below is a picture that some photographer-friends took of me, Pres. Jimmy Carter addressing the graduates, and part of the sea of graduates on the field.

IMG_2894-2.jpgIMG_5779IMG_5782

Advertisements

Beginning of May 2018 – The King’s Table

You are poor. You don’t wear the best clothes or have the trendiest haircut. You moved into a new kingdom some time ago because you had heard about the King being kind and loving, but hadn’t really had the chance to get to know Him yet. One day you receive an invitation in the mail for a banquet with the King. You triple check the address just to make sure it was supposed to be in your mailbox. Surely someone had made a mistake, but it has your name on it as clear as day. You find your nicest clothes, the outfit with the least amount of stains. Wash up and comb your hair. After a day working in the fields, you hope you don’t smell too bad.

You arrive at the palace. The servants usher you into the banquet room, so the invitation wasn’t a mistake at least. You figure you better sit at the far end of the table, wouldn’t want to offend any of the “upper-class” people. You get a glimpse of the King. He’s majestic and surrounded by servants and people who probably own the field you were working in all day. The servant asks you what you want to eat and you simply answer that you’ll have bread and water. Better to not make a fuss, even though the other guests’ food smells amazing. The servant looks at you quizzingly, but shrugs and goes to fill your order. Meanwhile you look around the room, it is beautiful and pristine. Are they sure you should be there? The servant brought you bread and water like you asked. The bread was the best you had ever had, and the water had a slight sparkle to it. It was the best “meal” you’ve had in a long time.  

You are so engrossed in the room and the other foods that you don’t notice someone walk up behind you. The stranger puts His hand on your shoulder and you jump a little. As you turn to see who it is, you notice how strong yet soft the hand is, then the strong arms covered in a white robe. Then you see His face. It’s the King! Oh no! Certainly, you must not be there, He’s come to escort you out, you think. Yet His eyes are kind and He gives you a simple smile. “Welcome to my banquet,” He says, “Have you had plenty to eat?” You fumble over your words and offer a quick nod. Don’t want to seem needy, right? He says to you, “I noticed you when you walked in.” Oh no! You think to yourself, fearing the worst. “Please, Lord, I received an invitation in the mail. I cleaned up best I could and didn’t eat much. I’m sorry if I offended You,” you shake as you explain yourself, dropping your eyes to your feet.

He puts His finger under your chin and lifts your head so that you must look at Him. “My child, please do not apologize. I noticed you and watched you from afar for a while. You are humble and I appreciate that.” You listen in disbelief. “I am going to have my servants get you new clothes and bring you whatever you want to eat!” You start to tear up. “I love you, child, come sit next to me and talk with me. I want to hear all about you and your life!”

His warmth and love seems to radiate from His body and words. You follow Him up to the front of the table, sit down to the best foods and drinks. He summons the servants, who bring Him a basin of water and towels. He proceeds to wash your feet. The servants take you away to change your clothes. They give you extra to take home too!

You come back to the table and talk with the King for what seems like forever. He explains that He loves all those in His Kingdom and desires for them all to come to His table. To feast off His goodness and let Him refresh their souls. Being in His Kingdom doesn’t just mean His calls you His own, but He wants to be friends with all His citizens as well! All those “upper-class” people you noticed when you walked in? They were all like you. Beggars, dirty, smelly, only thinking they were worth bread and water. Until they accepted the King’s goodness, feasted at His table, and became His friends.

So… what’s your relationship like with the King? He invites you to His table, not as a servant or beggar, but as a friend. To dine with Him and to have a relationship with Him. He loves you, dearest, and wants to clothe you in His righteousness. Come to His table!

PS – this was not based on the song below on purpose, it just fits

End of April 2018

Another month has come and gone already. So much has happened this month too!

I finished that 5k I mentioned in the last entry. Almost dead last, but I did finish it. I wasn’t feeling well that morning and it was freezing, but I pushed through and got my first walk of 2018 on the books. Next one is in June, so I’m already training again for that. I signed up for a 3 race challenge, which would earn me an extra medal and a jacket. Unfortunately I’m not going to make it to the 3rd race though 😦 I’m going on a mission trip instead! The mission trip in the long run means more, but I am a little bummed about missing the end of the challenge. Any one want to race for me? 😉

Less than 3 weeks until graduation! Let me tell you, this last class has been a struggle! The work isn’t hard and there’s not a ton of it, it’s just that most of the work is weighty. Just preparing me for the Masters program, right?!?

Which, by the way, I was officially accepted into!! Received my acceptance letter last Monday! So I’ve booked my flights and car for the 1-week residency requirement in July in Denver, and have arrangements to stay with my aunt. So I get to see her and maybe some other family as a bonus! It’s ironic I guess. I am so ready to be finished with school for my undergrad but I’m so ready to start the Grad program. I am totally looking forward to have 2 months off this summer though!!

On a heavier note, a friend of mine passed away a little over a week ago 😦 He was only 36! Apparent cardiac arrest although he was seemingly in good health beforehand. His wife of 10 years is expecting their 3rd son in October. So sad, so tragic! But this we know… he is with Jesus in eternity now and we will see him again. We also still believe God is good and He is in control and He will take care of the family. My friend leaves an amazing legacy of faith and fun for his boys along with the rest of his family and friends. He will be sorely missed. If you are so inclined, there’s a Go Fund Me page set up for the family: https://www.gofundme.com/jon-renaud-memorial-fund 

Do you have the peace that you know where you’ll be in eternity? Jesus really did what the Bible says He did: He was God in the flesh, he lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, then rose from the grave, ascended to Heaven and sent His Holy Spirit to live with us. The Holy Spirit is speaking to you now, do you know His voice? Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, trust Him with your heart, He’ll help you with the rest. If you have questions, let me know. I’d love to talk with you more about the loving, living God I serve and call my Friend. 

God bless and Happy Spring!

Beginning April 2018

Hello!!

Good news to report! I had an MRI of my brain and c-spine last month and there were no changes! My last one before that was 2 years ago and if I recall correctly there hadn’t been any changes on that one either… so about 4 years and no changes!! Yeah!! The MS isn’t progressing 🙂

All glory to God, of course, I have no real control over any of that. Managing stress and taking care of myself help, but I haven’t been the best at either of those lately, so I’m just going to give honor to God!

5k this weekend! Ready as I’m going to be, I guess. Been training, but not nearly as much as I had planned. A few dumpy days and a hurt back didn’t help. Neither did the weather. Nor the new blister I have on the bottom of my left big toe. But, hey, I’m not going to let any of that stop me. Just don’t expect much from me Saturday evening, I’ll be resting and recuperating!

6 1/2 weeks of school left! You can tell I’m ready for this part to be over, I’m already behind in an assignment! Ugh. Hope to catch up tomorrow night.

Planning a mission trip for late October 🙂 Lord willing, going back to Costa Rica!

Beside all that, not much going on. Well, a lot going on, just not much more to talk about!

Talk to you all again soon, the countdown to graduation continues, and I’ll let you know when I finish that 5k!

Mid-March 2018

I should probably be headed to sleep about now, it is a work night. But I’m in the mood to write and haven’t in a while, so here I am.

I’ve spent the majority of the past 2 months in pain. Physical pain that is. I messed up my back at the gym in January and it has caused or highlighted some other issues back there. Plus I spent most of the last week with a migraine. Yuck.

At the gym I deadlifted 170 pounds, but that didn’t cause the pain. I was putting away a 25 pound weight and picked it up and twisted wrong and could hardly move after. That pain mostly went away, but the pain in my lower back and hips has intensified. I drive a manual transmission car and every time I push in the clutch, pain would shoot down my leg. I can hardly sit at work for very long and have to get up to relieve some pressure. I started seeing a Physical Therapist and things are getting a lot better now. I just have to get on the ball and do the stretching exercises at home!

Not sure if the migraine was brought on by environmental or hormonal triggers or stress. Probably a combination of all the above. This time of year between Winter and Spring can be harsh on sinuses and headaches. My stress isn’t too bad lately, just was dealing with finals.

On Spring Break now. Off this week and then start my last undergraduate class on the 26th. A little nervous about this class, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. I received an approval for my RSVP to the graduation, so all I have to do is pass this class. 2 months left! Then 2 months off, then 2 years of the Masters program. Then I don’t know 🙂

Spiritual lesson of the day… I realized during worship this morning at church that I have been looking for validation from all the wrong places. Be it from my pastor, friends, boss, other leaders I admire, I’ve been stressing about making them proud of me and approve of me that I’ve lost sight of the One that really matters. And I already have His approval and am totally validated by Him through Christ. God is so merciful and loving, yet it’s like I take advantage of His love. People have their own lives to worry about, making me feel good about myself isn’t their job. My value and worth comes from the One who made me and died for me. Yes, being validated by people feels good, don’t get me wrong, but not being validated by them shouldn’t be detrimental.

Then I worry I’m not pleasing to God. Did I pray enough? Read my Bible enough? Give enough money? What about time? Could I have done xyz better? Did I completely mess it up? Oh my goodness! Stop it! God doesn’t have a sticker chart with our names on it, grading us on how well we did everyday!! Oops, she didn’t pray for 30 minutes, only 10, red X for today! Ugh! The Father sees us through the blood of the Lamb and that blood has made us perfect in His sight. Does He want us to do our best? Yes, but it doesn’t make Him love us any more or any less!! Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, believing He died and rose again, and confessing Him to others – that is what matters! Everything we do from there is motivated by Love, not fear that He is going to strike us down.

I’m preaching to my self and as much as to you, BTW.

Through Jesus and only through Him, do we find love, acceptance, and validation that truly matters.

Alright, now I think I might be able to sleep, maybe? hopefully!?!?

Good night! ♥

Mid January 2018

Happy New Year!!

Hard to believe my birthday is coming up! Harder to believe I’m going to be 39! 40 is sneaking up quick. I’ve got some ‘I want to (blank) before I turn 40’ things to accomplish this year. Get healthier, graduate, pay off some stuff. Not that 40 is a deadline or anything, just a milestone.

I stepped out in faith today and applied for a masters program. I know, I know, I said I was going to take some time off or not even go for a masters. I don’t know if it’s just fear of having to pay my student loans at the end of the year, but I keep coming back to wanting to further my education and selfishly want a masters and initials after my name! Maybe I’m crazy or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment and stress. We’re just at the application stage at this time though, not registering for classes or anything like that yet. Oh, it’s a MA in Global Studies.

My Bachelors graduation is in 4 months! Actually 4 months from today I’ll be headed to VA 🙂 We start the 2nd to last class on Monday, and it happens to be Intro to Global Studies. Guess we’ll see how this class goes in determining further studies in this field. I don’t need a Master’s degree to be a missionary, but this might set me up to work for an organization that does mission work.

Also, it’s only a 36 credit hour degree, not 60+, so I’ll graduate faster, will owe a lot less, and I promise to not take out any extra personal loans. I’m starting to just argue with and justify myself now.

Just be praying for me for wisdom if you are so inclined. Thanks!

End of December 2017

It’s not that nothing’s going on, I just haven’t been in the writing mood. But school is out and work is slow, so I thought I’d check in.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

I’m on break from school! Out until Jan 22, whew! Not doing anything exciting while I’m out, mostly just reading for fun and possibly some art. The next class should be super easy as I’ve already went through the material in another venue, so most of the work is already done. The capstone after that has me a little nervous, but we’ll worry about that in 3 months when I actually take the class. I might take the opportunity to read ahead since the other class will be easy. Oh, and I earned an A in the class that just ended 🙂 My GPA is now 3.31.

My brother and I booked our vacation for May! I’m going to ‘walk’ for my degree graduation and he’s going to support me. We’re spending the next week just hanging out in the Blue Ridge Mts and relaxing. We’ll take a day trip into DC too, but we’re not planning to many other adventures.

Also looking forward to going on a mission trip somewhere next year. Maybe Costa Rica, maybe Nicaragua, maybe Austria, not sure. Leaning towards going back to Costa Rica, but we’ll see. Maybe somewhere else entirely, wherever God leads.

Started see a therapist. I really like her, she seems to get me. We’ve had 3 or 4 sessions so far and I think I’m feeling better. That and the adjustment to my antidepressant was a month ago, so it’s had time to kick in. The depression is still there a little, but things don’t feeling like I’m walking through mud so much.

Looking forward to 2018. I’m going to have a lot going on, as usual. I’ve set some goals because I don’t do resolutions. One of them is to walk a 5k faster than I have before (last one was 1 hour, 15 min and my best time is 57 min). I hope to read 6 books for fun, get to my goal weight, read through the Bible… among others. At least they are measurable goals, not just generic things. I’ve done this over the past few years, I didn’t get much accomplished on my goals for 2017, but that’s what the new year is for, right?

For Christmas I got some camera stuff from my brother. Excited to play with all that soon. He also gave me a book for dummies for my camera model. I realized I bought myself an expensive fun toy that I really have no idea what all it can do. Anxious to start learning more soon!

Things are still going well with my trainer. I’ve deadlifted 175 and squatted 160?, I think. Definitely my favorite love-hate relationship! I had to put my scale in the back of my car. I started focusing on that number again too much and putting it in the closet was deterrent enough. My therapist mentioned giving it to a friend and I could go that far.

Well, that’s about it, I think. Talk to you all again soon!