Run Find Your Happy Pace

finding my happy pace in running and life

Motivational Monday – Walk to End Alzheimer’s

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For the second year in a row I am all signed up and ready to Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  This year I will be participating in the Monterey, CA walk on September 26, 2015.

As many of you may know my mother was diagnosed with early onset a few years back.  To read more about our journey click here.  Alzheimer’s changed my parents and my family’s world.  As devastating and heartbreaking as this disease is we were lucky to find a wonderful Alzheimer’s specialized nursing home unit close to my parents home when we were no longer able to care for her at home.  But what would be even better?  A Cure!

Did you know? 

With a donation, you can help the Alzheimer’s Association® continue to provide care and support to the more than five million Americans with Alzheimer’s and their over 15 million caregivers. Your generosity would also help to advance the research that will one day lead us to methods of prevention, treatment and, ultimately, a cure for the disease. Every dollar counts in this fight.

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death, and affects millions of people daily.

The Alzheimer’s Association® is committed to accelerating the global effort to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease and is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research.

So where is the motivation in the motivational monday you might ask?

Well the motivation needs to come from both you and I.  Would you consider donating or even walking in your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  I walk for my mom, my family and all those affected by this disease.  Together we can help provide the funds needed to make a difference today and look forward to a cure tomorrow!

 

Click here to donate:

Darlena’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s 

Fundraising Page

 

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One Month In Already? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of a Cross Country Trek

Has it really been an entire month since this?

I made it, I can't believe I made it!

I made it, I can’t believe I made it!

Apparently yes, yes it has.  We have now officially been in California for an entire whirlwind of a month.  So here is the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good. I drove well over 3,000 miles (see above photo)  Yes me, if you really know me this is a HUGE accomplishment for the girl who falls asleep when not driving if a trip is longer than 15 minutes.  I also learned that “endurance” driving is like doing a half marathon.  If you want the time to go by you need to be alert yet in the zone at the same time.  I thank my time spent distance running for helping pass 8-10 hours on the road each day.  Get in the zone, don’t think about how much longer you have, just get it done.  You see we drove both our cars from the east coast.  In the Mom-mobile my crew was both my sons and just for fun our 2 cats, because if your going to drive cross-country you might as well add a few animals into the mix.

Snickers.  Cat, dog or ferret?

Snickers. Cat, dog or ferret?

 

Puffabella

Puffabella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling is exhausting

Traveling is exhausting

For the first few days we had some pretty good (read: blinding) rain storms rain storms.  So on day 3 we replaced my wipers.  As you can probably guess….it never rained again, lol.   We did however get to see some really neat places on our travels such as this…

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That is salt NOT snow, pretty cool.

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And this.

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OK we have no idea what that is but it was cool.  We renamed it the tennis ball tree.

My youngest played the iPad (ok probably too much, but hey it kept the complaints to a minimum so don’t judge me) and cracked jokes along the way.  We played a couple of entertaining, if not slightly disturbing, rounds of “Would you rather”.  Side note: whoever wrote the cards for that game has some issues…just saying.  My oldest was a pretty awesome copilot, keeping me company and reading google news to me when I started to get tired.  But best of all we got to spend time together and I realized he an I have the same sense of humor.  We like to laugh at the same things and enjoyed spending quality time with squishy (inside joke)  I love you kiddos!

The bad:  We saw very few accidents (ok yes that is good) except for the day the SUV right in front of my husband and daughter almost flipped.  Two things here, I am glad my husband had taken a drivers defense course at one time and God had his hand on that SUV, it swerved, spun and even went up on two tires but never flipped or hit any other vehicles on this busy stretch of road.  Depending on which way you take, driving across country can be very boring.  Lots of road, not a lot to look.  Unless you like grass, sand, dirt and lots of tractor trailers.  Also apparently different GPS’s don’t always agree.  We only lost each other once.

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The ugly:  In true PCS style (ok wait for it here comes the whinny part of the trip) a bunch of unexpected events happened.  This time not broken appliances or lost household goods.  As a family we lost not one but two Uncles (on my husband’s side) God Bless you Uncle James and Uncle Michael.  As we were just arriving in Cali this made it impossible to grieve with family as they are now literally on the other side of the country.  I also found out one of my Brother In Laws has been pretty ill  (at the time) due to an unknown cause, don’t worry he is fine now.  Then within a weeks time of arriving in California my Dad was rushed to the ER and later received triple bypass surgery.  Again we are here he is waaaaay on the east coast.  A few days later my husband’s aunt lands in the hospital with a severe illness.  I swear to you we cannot make this stuff up.  My daughter fell in a freak accident after church and nearly broke her nose, it was a close call.  Apparently if you can sprain your nose that’s what she did.  Thankfully no black eyes and only minor swelling but a good amount of pain.  We had placed ourselves and all our family in God’s hands, even before we ever hit the road here.  God is good, we know he has everything under control.  Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t trust in Him.

But enough of that!  This part of California is lovely, beautiful, breathtaking and like perfect running conditions EVERY day.  I am not kidding.  No humidity and partly cloudy to sunny.  Mornings start in the upper 50’s and go to highs in the 70’s.  I think we had one day in the 80’s, the locals were dying.  There are many misty mornings but hardly ever rains (both good and bad).  We had a thunderstorm last weekend which didn’t faze us being from the east coast, however according to the locals this was a really big deal.  Apparently they haven’t had a thunderstorm here in years.  Yes read that again my East Coast friends….years.  Who knew?  The downside for me at the moment is hills.  Virginia Beach is flat-as-a-pancake land.  Spending the last 5+ years running there makes one not well hill adapted.  I should have spent some more quality time at Mount Trashmore.  However I am determined to rock these hills….eventually.  Or at least climb them without dying.  If not at least I know if I am ever a flat lander again I should be speedy, or at least speedier than when I got here.

I have a feeling it will be hard to leave here when the time comes at least from a running point of view.  Luckily we have a few years here to enjoy it all.   Check it out…try not to drool.

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Oh and one last thing.  Never fear I have found a cupcake place here :)  Gotta have my cupcakes.

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On the Move (almost) Part 1 – Motivational Monday

Motivational Monday:  God is the same today, tomorrow and always

Hebrews 13:8 New International Version (NIV)

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

No matter what is going on in your life, God never changes.  Our lives change, our circumstances change and we let life distract us from Him but he never takes His eyes off of us.  Never.

What’s up with Finding My Happy Pace in running?   Well to be honest its been at a complete standstill but NOT BY CHOICE!!  Just about 3 weeks ago I had to have a minor procedure, I’m fine, no worries, but it did require stitches.  Stitches wouldn’t have been a biggie except they are on the side of my knee so the Doc said no running.  “OK I’ll just walk….a lot” I said.  “Oh no.  No walking for exercise either.” said Doc.  WHAT?!?!  The only good thing about no running or walking was the timing.

What’s up with Finding My Happy Pace in life?  We (my family) are getting ready for a big move. Moving in general is no fun, moving across the country, well that adds a whole new level of “fun”.  So no running meant more time for me to obsess over how much stuff we have and how much we don’t need.

Since we were fully aware of the upcoming move.  I have been trying to declutter the house since January 1 of this year.  My family on the other hand has not been too keen on the house de-cluttering process, its pretty much been a one woman show.  But I do feel like I made some good progress.  I even bought a book about de-cluttering, hahaha, go ahead and laugh (my hubby did)  I think his words were like “Sooooo, you bought a book about how to de-clutter?  Doesn’t that book actually add to the clutter in the house?”  Turd ;) ( I say that lovingly, really)  I actually liked the book a lot and related to a lot it was saying.  The book was Clutter Free by Kathi Lipp by the way, in case your interested.**  But I digress.  De-cluttering has been an awesome freeing feeling.  We still have a lot to go but its been a good start, for me anyway.

And now June has snuck up on us all.  This past week the packers have come and packed all our belongings (the amount of boxes is still unreal #firstworldproblems) , the truck came yesterday and the house is pretty much cleared out.  We shall be living on blow up beds and sleeping bags for the next week, I think its kind of neat and so far no complaints from the peanut gallery.  I am hoping to declutter more on the backend of the move.

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As far as my future running:  My stitches finally come out Monday wahoo!  My hope is to get a few runs in this week since the packing is all done.  I’m going to miss these routes I have mapped out the past 5 years.  You know the routes that you can run by feel anything from a mile to 10 but know exactly when to turn around.  And the shady routes you stick to on a hot summer day. Sigh.  I will miss you.  But I am also ready for some new and challenging running and life adventures!   Keep an eye out for all new adventures!

 

** I have no affiliation with Kathy Lipp or Clutter Free but I really did enjoy it.

 

 

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Thought for the Day – Give it YOUR All

Running about so much more than speed.  It’s about being the best you that you can be, and giving it your all.

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Motivational Monday – The Historic Half – What I Learned About Me

Quick Motivational Monday and Historic Half recap in words and pictures:

 

Things learned from a truly hot and hilly half marathon.

  • Hills are tough, I am tougher
  • I need more hill training in my life
  • Take Gatorade at the water stops on a really hot day, even if you hate it, you need it (done)
  • You can accomplish much more than you think.  Less doubting..more doing
  • Challenges are good and make you a better person & runner
  • HRT (heart rate training) truly does improve your endurance
  • I finished and it wasn’t about my time it was about my effort
  • When conditions aren’t ideal, run smart
  • Marines are good motivators
  • Bring on the next one!
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Done!

 

God is good, life is good  :)

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Not the first or last but, the biggest hill of the half

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Making our way up Hospital Hill

 

 

 

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On course entertainment – downtown Fredericksburg

 

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Mother’s Day and Mom’s Journey with Alzheimer’s Disease

Mother’s Day was bittersweet for me this year.  As I stand here hundreds of miles away from my own Mom I am brought to tears.  Yes I am lucky to be my age and still have my Mother and I know that, but this weekend marks a year since my Mother lost her ability to walk, feed herself and for the most part effectively communicate.  My Mom has Alzheimer’s Disease.

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What exactly happened that weekend a year ago no one really knows.  You see my Mom had suffered from early onset for years.  At first we noticed the usual things like repeating herself and becoming confused, we eventually insisted that her doctor send her for testing.  Our fears and hers were confirmed, Mom was diagnosed with early onset in her mid 60’s.  Thru the next few years the forgetfulness progressed which led to my Dad becoming her main caretaker.  Eventually we could no longer allow her to continue to drive for her safety and the safety of others on the road.  Not soon after that she could no longer venture out alone because she could not remember simple things like her name, address or phone number.  Depression ensued and all the other trappings of this terrible disease.

As the years and the disease progressed my Mom stopped calling me by name  During my trips up North , she knew she “knew” me but never really used my name to reference me anymore.  Then 3 years ago while visiting for Christmas, my mother no longer knew who I was.  You see I am the only one of my siblings who, at this time, lives out-of-state.  I was the first child to be lost in the haze of Alzheimer’s.  The first time it becomes reality it hits you like a Mac truck, it’s heartbreaking.  You never want to think your Mother could forget who you are.  Even though I had seen it happen to my Mom with her own mother, it doesn’t make it any easier.  I was helping with organizing my parents house and getting rid of things they would no longer need, my Mom turns to my Dad and asked “Who is that?”  “That” person was me.  She still smiled at me and we were able to converse but it was more like acquaintances.

Thankfully through the progression of the disease my Dad has had help from my siblings.  They took turns between their own families and lives to help with Mom.  I also have a friend with experience caring for the elderly who was able to take Mom on a few hours a week.   I am eternally greatful to my siblings and I don’t think they will ever know just how thankful I am for all the did and continue to do.  Distance and family of my own prevent me from spending the time I wish I could up in CT

As the years have passed Mom now no longer knows my siblings, her siblings or her grandchildren.  We all realize she knows us in her heart.  I pray for her and to her through Jesus and I ask that he gives her a simple warm feeling in her heart each time I think about her.  For I know although her mind and body are weak BUT her soul and her love for Him and He for her are still alive and well within her.

Joshua 1:5  No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Fast forward to May 2014 and my Mom was now in adult day care most days during the week.  She needed help with everything from dressing to eating and everything in between.  But she could still walk (in fact she walked up to 20 hours a day, since she rarely slept, another effect of the disease), although her gait was now hunched to the side and more of a shuffle.  She could still feed herself with encouragement and reminders.  But then something went terribly wrong and my Mom lost all ability to care for herself.  An infection had consumed her body and treatment/tests at the hospital did not go as planned and we believe contributed to her downward spiral.  So last Mother’s Day myself, my Dad and all my siblings were sitting in a hospital with my Mom who was barely able to lift her head.  Frail, confused, no longer able to walk or move she lie at what very likely could have been death’s door.

Flung into a system not equipped to care for someone of her age/condition she ended up in a mental health facility.  You see she couldn’t go back home and yet there was nowhere else for her to go.  Since this facility wasn’t a “regular” hospital or nursing home we were only allowed certain hours for visitation.  We did all we could to stay on top of the staff to make sure they would at least attempt to feed her.  Like I said they were not staffed for someone in her state of health.  Heartbreaking, frustrating, devastating.

I stayed as long as I could up in CT, and when I returned to my own family the plan was to have her put into the first available bed at an Alzheimer’s equipped nursing facility .  That was a Saturday morning.  By Sunday I was on the phone with my family and they were talking Hospice care.  Mom had now stopped eating and drinking all together.  She was put on hydration IV and things were not looking good at all.  Only by the grace of God only did she start to take liquids on her own a few days later.  Soon after God also opened up a bed a Nursing Facility very close to my Dad’s house.  My Mom has lived there ever since.  The facility, though small has been an absolute blessing to my family.  Close to my Dad, with no “set” visiting hours my Dad and family can visit any time, any day.

My Dad is there twice a day everyday.  He loves her as much today as he ever has, probably even more.  He feeds Mom lunch and dinner.  With his help she eats like a champ and has recently gone for 95 lbs to 106!  This is a huge victory for her.  My Dad has also become a friend to all those who reside in the facility.  He knows each resident by name, how each likes their coffee and can often be seen serving others other than my Mother.  I am so proud to call him my Dad for his heart is big and his ego small.  He is doing the work of God each time he steps foot in that nursing facility, for all those he comes into contact with.  He can often be seen chatting with the residents and their families.  The nurses love him to pieces.

As for Mom She still smiles when she sees him and sometimes even calls him by name.  They were able to spend their 50th wedding anniversary together last summer at surrounded by the entire family.  We have been able to take her out of the facility for every major holiday so far.  She will never regain her ability to walk or take care of herself on her own again and that is the reality of the situation, she seems happy, and is well cared for..

 

I am lucky to still have her and that she is doing as well as she can.  There are definitely times that I have to stop being selfish about the situation and how I feel.  Although I still struggle with the “Why” of this situation I must remind myself that everything happens for a reason.  God’s got this, He is trying to show us all something, and we need to be open to learn and grow.  He will reveal his plan to us all someday and it WILL make perfect sense.

Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

 

So what can we do?  Open your heart to the less fortunate, serve others first, fight for a cause.  And always, always do what is right in the eyes of God.  As a runner I use Charity Miles to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Association, I have participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and hope to continue to do so.  Not just for Mom, not just for me, but for all those affected by Alzheimer’s.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, I love you!

 

 

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Be a Loudmouth! Headsweats Loudmouth Visor Review

** Please note:  I was given one Headsweats Visor in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own.  I receive no monetary compensation for my review.  I am honestly a fan of the Headsweats brand.

OK for a loooooong time, like too long.  I ran sans hat.  No hat, no visor, nothing.  Why would I do that?  Well I had run a really, really hot race in Virginia Beach with a baseball type hat and thought I might die.  No joke it was hot, it was June, in the middle of the day.  (and did I mention it was hot, because it was hot!)   My hat did not make me feel any less miserable in fact I would say just the opposite.  I felt like it was just holding the heat in.  Anyway I digress.  Like I said after that race I did not wear any type of hat for a very,very long time.

Not good, gotta keep that sun off your face peeps!  Sunglasses are fine but the older I get the more I am finding I really need to keep the sun off my whole face.  Thankfully about a year and a half ago I found Headsweats visors and fell in love.  I started off with your standard white one.  I still have it and still love it.  It does the job very well, I don’t get sweat in my eyes, its lightweight, comfortable and breathable.  Then about a month ago by chance I got to speak with someone over at Headsweats who offered to let me review one of the newer Loudmouth Collection visors!  Um yes please!!!  Check it out.

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“Betsy Ross” from the Headsweats Loudmouth Collection

Not only is it comfortable and lightweight but the Loudmouth Collection is also colorful and fun!!!  So me :)  And it was the perfect fit for my Petersburg Half Marathon outfit.

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The Petersburg Half was also pretty toasty, but I didn’t get that “Oh My Gosh get this freakin’ hat off me” feeling like I did that horrible race back a few years ago.  In fact I loved it so much that since then I have purchased their Jolly Roger Loudmouth visor to add to my collection.

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“Jolly Roger” for the Headsweats Loudmouth Collection

Headsweats still offers multiple solid color options for those not ready to take the Loudmouth leap.  Below are just a few examples of both the Loudmouth and Standard Visor Collections.

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If you’ve been on the fence about trying a hat or your just not happy with the one you have, you might want to consider a visor from Headsweats.  Lightweight, comfortable and now colorful too!

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Motivational Monday – Humble Yourself

How often do we ask for things from God yet do not humble ourselves daily to Him in prayer?  I often get caught up in life and miss taking the time to pray and seek His face.  Yet he has told us how important it is, and how much he loves to hear our prayers.

Take your time and pray…thank God for each day.

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Recap – Inaugural Petersburg Half Marathon

History meets Half Marathon.

Saturday, April 18, 2015, I participated in the Inaugural Petersburg Half Marathon in Petersburg Virginia.  I have been excited about this race since it was first announced.  Petersburg itself has a lot of historical significance and the theme of the race was based upon that.  A good portion of the movie “Lincoln” was actually filmed in Petersburg.

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The race course ran not only through historic downtown but also the beautiful and hilly (wink, wink) Petersburg National Battlefield.  As an added bonus the course also featured Battlefield re-enactment inside the historic park.

Pre race "selfie" with my friends and some of the re-inactment crew  and yes my friends photobomb very well :)

Pre race “selfie” with my friends and some of the re-inactment crew

 

I was very pleased that the sponsors of the race had done an excellent job relaying information via their Facebook page since the announcement of the race.  Info was easy to access, they responded quickly to questions and keep all the racers well informed.  Inaugural races can sometime be a little un-nerving because you don’t know what to expect.  I did not feel that way with this race.

The course itself was a challenge compared to the flat races I am used to in Virginia Beach, and admittedly I was a bit nervous about the course.  The only other “hilly” race I have ever done was back in November in CT at the Manchester Road Race which features one very L…O…N…G hill.  And Petersburg was hilly, not super tall hills but there were plenty of rolling hills along the course.

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The hills helped me prove to myself that I am much more capable than I have led myself to believe.  The week before I had a rather not-so-hot race at the Dismal Swamp Stomp, a flat-out and back half.  I started out too fast and had a hard last 5 miles.  Not a great feeling heading in to a more challenging course.  My goal for Petersburg was to finish well.  I did that and more.  I not only finished well but only 4 minutes slower than on the totally flat course the week before.  #winning

Here are a few pics from the race course as it traveled through Petersburg National Park and beyond.

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Post race featured a large finishers medal for the Half Marathoners, pizza, drinks and music.

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All in all the race was well planned, challenging and fun.  The sponsors have been wonderful about taking feedback from the runners and next years race is already open for registration.  The sponsors have also promised more entertainment as far as the amount of participants in the Battle re-enactment and possibly even cannon fire!

 

 

 

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Motivational Monday – Thank you Morgan

This is going to be a little bit of a different Motivational Monday post for me.  I hope you will read it, take it to heart and let your kids and families know how very much you love them.

Last week a friend whom I graduated from high school with lost her young daughter in a terrible car accident.  I never meet her daughter in person, but watched her grow up throughout the years in Facebook posts and pictures.  Morgan was a beautiful vibrate young lady, with her Mother’s winning smile that could light up a room…even through pictures.  A daughter, sister, dancer and friend to all who loved her.

An unimaginable tragedy, yes.  A parent’s worst nightmare, yes.  It shakes the “normal” order of life and breaks the hearts of not only those who loved her, but all of us who have kids of their own.  It’s one of those things in life we will never be able to explain, ignore or wish away.  A time to pray for the family and for us to turn to and to trust in God the Father.

But what would be worse would be to let her death stay just that a tragedy.  Instead I will use her memory to take a look at my own life and my children.  To surrender myself and everything I love to the sweet mercy of the Almighty.  Am I sure my children and family know how much I love them?  Do they know above all things in life they are my treasures?  If not I better get it right and fast.

Morgan although I didn’t know you personally I thank you for reminding me about putting my life in perspective that the most important thing in life aren’t things.  I know you rest in the kingdom of our Father and I can’t with to meet you there someday.   You shall not be remembered by me for the loss but for the smiles you shared, the love you brought to your Mother and family and this important reminder to me.

So I beg each of you to take the time to step away from the things in life that consume us so much more than they should.  All the “small stuff” that we sweat over.  All the time that could be spent on the most important things in our lives, our kids and our families.

Psalm 46 (NIV)

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

I found this quote on-line by Tony Dungy who had also tragically lost his son back in 2005.  I thought it was a perfect for today’s Motivational Monday.  I hope you have a blessed week.  Make sure you take time for the ones you love, especially your children.

MMMorgan

 

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