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Trusting God in the Gray Area

Many of you may have read my blog post a couple of weeks ago when I shared that my brother was trekking in Nepal and was not heard from for a few days following the devastating April earthquake. My brother is safely on American soil and we celebrated with him last weekend as he graduated from college. 

Though it was only a couple of days that my brother was in Nepal, it felt like a lot longer, In the midst of it, I must say I surprised myself with the fear that I didn't have. Fear has always been my biggest struggle, but over the past few years, I have really been working on overcoming it. In this instance, I was surprised to see how much my faith had grown in this area. 

I understood that, though I didn't know where my brother was, God had him in the palm of His hand. It (finally) made sense in my mind that panicking would do no one any good, and that worrying and anxiety would not bring my brother back sooner or safer. The situation was very black and white- meaning I knew there was nothing I could do and the best thing I could do was trust God. 

I would say that my faith seemed to come easier in this situation. And by easy, I really mean less hard (see this Instagram post). But the purpose of this post is not to show off my incredible faith (you guys know me better than that). You see, about a week later, I found myself crying in my bedroom with utter lack of faith in God regarding a different situation. 

This situation was a lot less black and white. This situation was in the gray area- meaning, there weren't necessarily two outcomes (i.e. my brother is safe or he was not). This situation required the action of another person- I was praying for this person and the choices that they would make and I felt myself frustrated with God. Why was He giving this person free will? Why did my endless prayers not seem to be getting answered? 

How much of life is trusting God in the gray areas? There are so many instances when our faith is not regarding a black and white choice. It may be the salvation of a loved one when it requires an action on their part. It may be trusting in God that He will work to restore your marriage when you know that you can't control the actions of your spouse. It is trusting Him to heal a friendship or a relationship when you realize that you have done your part and it is between God and the other person. 

And so many other different situations- new jobs, pregnancies, adoptions, and moves where the outcome can be vague. Where you don't really know what will happen, and can't (and won't) fully know what to even expect. 

I would argue that most of life is a gray area and this the area in which it's harder to trust God. In the moment where I sat in my bedroom weeping about my "gray area" situation, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit about the faith I had with my brother and the Nepal. 

"Sarah, your brother is safe and you knew then that the situation was 100% in my hands. This situation is no different- yes there is another person and a certain decision that is involved; it's a decision you can't make and a person you can't control, yet the situation is still completely in my hands."  

My faith was so strong in the black and white situation, yet it easily faltered in the gray area. Trusting God in the gray areas of life is where faith gets messy. It is where belief gets hard and we are tested. Yet it is also where our faith grows, and we are challenged to completely and fully give our situation over to the Lord.  

What gray area are you facing today? It may involve another person, a very unknown outcome, or certain factors that you haven't even thought about. I pray that today you are encouraged- God has every part of the situation in the palm of his hand. He intimately knows the other people involved, the circumstances you aren't aware of, and the decisions that you can't make. His power is over it all, and our job is to release our need for control and let him take over. 
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How to Run Without Getting Hurt- Part 2

how to run without getting injured

Last week in the first part of How to Run Without Getting Hurt, we talked about the importance of good shoes, starting slow, and not over training. These next three tips are just as important as the first three so let's get right to it.

This is cliche, I know, but the importance of stretching cannot be overlooked. When I was 16 I tore my ACL in a tennis match, landed up having major knee surgery, and was out of sports for 8 months. I believe a huge part of why I got hurt was because I hadn't made a habit of stretching before my matches.

Every time you're tempted to skip stretching, don'tYou'll regret it if you get hurt later. Before my runs I jog for a couple of minutes and do about two minutes of stretches. I know a lot of people would recommend more of a warm-up than this but, let's face it, I'm kind of impatient and don't want to add another 20 minutes onto my already hour long run.

Though my pre-run warm-up is brief, I'm diligent about stretching thoroughly after a run. I'm also a huge fan of crab-legging (not sure if this is the technical term but it's what I call it- see picture below). According to one of my track coaches, doing this for a few minutes after you run (I do it until my legs feel tingly), helps all the lactic acid drain from your legs, preventing soreness the next day. I'm hardly ever sore after my runs, even my longer 6+ mile runs and I think it's because of crab legging. If I don't have time to crab-leg after a run, I notice a huge difference in how sore I am. Take the time to stretch, it's so important. 

{This is what I call crab legging... anyone know the technical term??}

This may seem like an odd tip, but I think it's crucial to a successful training plan and running without injury. Muscle tissue is made up of about 75% water. If you're dehydrated, your muscles will fatigue quicker leading to an increased risk of injury. Also, if you've ever experienced a side cramp or "stitch" (either in your shoulder or right under your rib cage), chances are that it's (at least partially) because you're dehydrated.

I aim to drink a full 32 oz of water before a run. I try to finish this amount of water at least 15 minutes before I head out so that I don't have a ton of water sloshing in my stomach when I start my run. If I don't drink this much before a run I can always tell because I tire quicker and/or I get a bunch of side cramps (no fun!)

If I'm running over 6 miles, I'll carry a water bottle with me, plant a water bottle along my route, or have my husband meet me with some water. My form starts to suffer if I'm tired, and all of these things combined make it a lot more likely that I'll suffer an injury while running.

After a run, I try to drink another 32 oz within 1-2 hours of finishing my run. When I ran my marathon I was a lot more exact in how I hydrated after my runs (especially my long ones). I had a digital scale and weighed myself before and after my runs- whatever the difference was, I would convert this to ounces and drink that many ounces of water over the next couple hours.

If you don't feel like being that precise (I'm definitely not that precise anymore!), an easier way is just to shoot for 24-36 oz within a couple of hours of finishing your run. This amount varies depending on your BMI, hydration status before your run, distance of your run, and how much you sweat.

***TMI WARNING*** Your urine color is (almost) always directly correlated to your hydration status. We pay a ton of attention to urine color in the hospital and often make treatment decisions based off of urine color and amount. Your pee should be light yellow or even clear. Most of the times after a run, my pee will be dark yellow or even amber colored- this is a sure sign that I need more water. I drink until the color is back to a light yellow color. Paying attention to my urine color throughout the day is the main way I tell if I'm drinking enough water. {Side note: Different medications, foods, and vitamins can affect the color of your urine so this is not a hard and fast rule, but for the most part paying attention to the color of your urine can really clue you into how hydrated you are}. ***TMI SECTION OVER***

It's easy to forget about hydrating, especially when it takes more effort to make sure you're getting enough water before, during, and after your run. I promise you that my best and fastest runs have been when I'm staying adequately hydrated- it's worth the extra effort!

I would be the first to say that I don't have the best running form but I try to work at it. I learned some form tips from my track days, and if you've never gotten tips on your form I would strongly encourage you to get some pointers.

Many running stores offer classes on running form, or at the very least, check out some tutorials on Youtube! I had a friend suffering from shin splints during her training for a half marathon. She attended a running form class at a local running store, implemented the tips, and her shin splints disappeared.

If you're following the tips all the tips we've covered and are still suffering from shin splints or notice that one leg is a lot more sore than the other, you may need to fix your form. I can always tell when my form is getting lazy because my shins start to hurt, my right leg is a lot more sore than my left, and my ankle gets bloody because in my lazy form my foot kicks the inside of my ankle (don't ask me why or how).

Working on your form is totally worth the time because it will help prevent you from injury.

Any more tips from you runners? What do you feel like is the most important thing to do to prevent injury while running? 

{I am not a medical doctor, and this should not be considered medical advice. As always, please consult your physician prior to beginning any new exercise routine}.

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Project 12: April

{Our Easter pic... check out those springy colors!}

It's practically the second week of May and I'm just now posting my April recap... I don't know what happens to the days y'all, I really don't. If you're just jumping into things, Project 12 is a fun way to recap the month. I talk about dates, books, movies, things I discovered, important events, and basically anything else I found important that month. You're also supposed to take a picture on the first day of the month- I've decided that if I get a picture within the first week of the month, I'm going to call it good. Because of mine and my husband's work schedules, I didn't even see him April 1st. So without further introduction.... 

1. Lest you think we go out on dates all the time, this month is proof we don't. We went out to eat a couple of times and had family in town a couple of times so even though I can't say we had "technical" dates, we still had a blast this month. 


1. Sonic shakes are 1/2 priced after 8pm. Need I say more? If you start noticing that I'm getting chubbier in my pictures it's probably because I am. I blame the Oreo Caramel delicacy that I'm slightly obsessed with. 

2. Hobby Lobby by myself is dangerous. Especially when all their wall hangings are 50% off. I had self control and only bought one decoration for myself. 

kitchen style; kitchen decoration
{That "Eat" sign is the only one I bought for myself}



"31 Days to Becoming A Happy Wife" by Arlene Pellicane. Though the title may be trite, this was one of the best books I've ever read on marriage. I would actually say it's in my top 3 books I've read on marriage. I've been working through it since January (I clearly don't read it every day), and it's been wonderful for my marriage! The thoughts she shares are simple yet motivating. I would highly recommend this to any wife, and have added it to my list gift list for newlyweds. 


Insurgent. This was the second movie in the Divergent series and I enjoyed it a lot. I would say that I liked Divergent (the first movie) better, but this one was quite entertaining as well. Have any of you read the books?? 

Furious 6. Alright, so I like all these movies. I realize that they're all unrealistic but this one seemed especially unrealistic. For that reason, I didn't like it as much as the previous five. And seeing Paul Walker made me sad. 


1. My first half marathon ever! It was an exciting weekend to have all my family up and watch me. It was a gloomy day but I landed up pretty much hitting my goal time which was awesome, and now I don't have to be so strict in my training plan (which is probably a bad thing). For a full recap of the run, head over here.

{These are my people who rock...minus a couple people that aren't pictured}

2. Alex shaved and only left a mustache. He kept it for the weekend and even got a couple compliments on it. I, however, made him shave it off before I was seen in public with him because I don't like to be associated with child molester lookalikes. I am 100% serious. 

{100% pedophile status}

3. Easter (spent with my in-laws) was awesome. We relaxed, ate good food, and played our fair share of ladder ball.

{I sunbathed on Easter. Now I haven't seen the sun in two weeks}

4. My younger 21-year old brother (who has been traveling the world since December 2014) happened to be in Nepal when the earthquake hit April 25th. We didn't hear from him for three days after it happened, and though I am incredibly grateful we didn't have to wait longer than 3 days, I do know that those 3 days were some of the longest of my life. I honestly surprised myself in the fact that I was able to stay calm and trust in the Lord. But I definitely broke down and cried when we heard he was okay. He's supposed to be home in a week to walk in his college graduation and I get teary every time I think about picking him up at the airport. 

My heart aches daily for the Nepalese and I still don't know how to help such a hurting nation. I feel useless even though I know prayer may be the best thing I can do. I hope you'll join me in praying for the families of the 7,500 dead, the 14,500 injured, and the many that have yet to be found. 

{My brother pictured on the right, me, and my husband on top of a 14er last fall.}


Miles run: 56

New recipes tried: 2. This orange chicken recipe that I'd been looking forward to turned out totally weird and lemon, parmesan, and ricotta pasta with grilled chicken sounds like a way better dish than it actually is. Bummer dude. 

Number of Sonic shakes drank: You don't even want to know. 

How was your April?? Are you seeing the sun in your part of the country?
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How to Run Without Getting Hurt- Part 1

how to run without getting hurt

I recently shared my first half marathon experience. Though I wasn't a blogger back then, I also ran a full marathon in 2010. Though I am not an expert on running by any means, I have learned a lot about running through my own experiences and by reading a lot of books and articles. I ran track in high school and suffered from terrible shin splints. Later in high school, I cross trained for tennis by running 6-7 miles at a time, and ran without any pain. I successfully trained for both my full and half marathon without injury, and I'm a firm believer that almost anyone can successfully train for a long distance race. Below are the main tips that you should follow in order to successfully be able to run long distances without getting hurt. 

good shoes are a requirement to run without getting hurt

A good quality pair of running shoes is crucial to being able to run without getting injured. If you're starting to run consistently, I would invest in good pair of running shoes right away. I have a hard time spending money on clothes or shoes, but running shoes are one thing I will splurge on because I know how important they are. You are not only protecting your feet with a good pair of shoes- you're protecting your knees, your hips, and your back. Buying good shoes will save you from a host of problems later in life (think knee/hip replacements or spinal fusions).

If you haven't already, I strongly encourage you to go to a running store and have them film you running. You run on a treadmill while they video just your feet, and they're able to slow the video down to see how you run (whether you land on the inside of your foot, outside, or pretty flat). Depending on how your feet land, you'll need a different type of shoe. Running shoes are not all built the same and I can tell a huge difference in a shoe that works for my type of stride versus one that doesn't.

Most (if not all) running stores do this analysis for free even if you don't land up buying a pair of shoes. Don't be intimidated by this process! I know I was nervous the first time I did it, but people at running stores are usually super friendly and want to help you get in a good pair of shoes.

I've also found that most running stores are pretty respectful of my budget when I tell them my price range. A lot of times you can get the same shoe but the previous year's model for a big discount. That being said, I would realistically expect to spend  between $60-$120 on a good pair of running shoes. I usually spend around $80 and that is getting the year's previous model.

One last note- I usually try to shop at a store that has a good return policy. Usually this means a full refund within 1-2 weeks of returning your shoes, and I look for stores that are okay with me running in the shoes on my normal running surface to test them out. It's really hard for me to decide on a pair of shoes in store because I don't normally run on treadmills. Obviously, I wouldn't abuse this policy- I usually run a maximum of 5 miles in the shoes and that's usually enough for me to tell if the shoes will work for me or not. I recently returned a pair of shoes before I got my current ones because after just a couple of runs in them my shins started hurting- a sure sign that I wasn't in the right shoes.

I can't emphasize this enough- if you only get one thing out of this entire post it would be this point. A lot of people think that starting slow means going from not having run in years to running 3 miles a few times a week. This is not slow. Before I started officially training for my marathon, I completed a couch-to-5k training plan that had me work up to being able to run 3 miles. Before I started training for my half marathon, I was consistently running 1-3 miles about 3 times a week for two months. 

The slower you start, the less likely you are to get injured. It can feel long at the beginning when you're barely increasing your mileage, but taking your time in the beginning will pay off later when you're able to run 10+ miles a week without getting injured. Starting too quick is a surefire way to get injured and doom your training before you even really begin. 

do not over train; avoid getting injured while running

A lot of people think that they have to run 5 or 6 days a week to be fast. This may work for some people, but I know that for a lot of people, this much running can quickly lead to overuse injuries. I believe that my running injuries in high school were directly related to running for 2 hours 6 days a week. 

Thanks to Amanda (that link goes to her AWESOME page of running resources), I learned about the Run Less Run Faster book. Back in December, I checked this book out at the library and though I didn't read every single page, I read enough to understand the premise. By having fewer but more focused runs, you'll still be able to get positive results. 

This book and methodology is precisely why I chose this half marathon training plan . This plan only has you run 3 times a week and cross train 2 days a week and rest 2 days a week. This plan was perfect for me because I work three 12-hour shifts a week and there is no way that I am working out after my shifts. That leaves me four days to work out- 3 days of running and 1 day of cross training.  I'll be honest- I was consistent with my running, but my cross training was doing yoga maybe once a month.  

I'm a huge believer in only running 3-4 times a week (I ran 4 times a week during my marathon training). I think this frequency really lowers your chance of getting injured or even getting burnt out on running. The plan I followed for my half marathon is adaptable to whatever pace and goal you're shooting for. Do your training runs and do something different on your off days- yoga, hike, or one of my personal favorites- dance on the xbox. 


What other tips do all you runners have for running without getting injured? What questions do you have about these tips? 

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