Monday, September 5, 2011

Hidden Treasures

If I were a cat like my little (okay, fat) Fanny I would be stretched out on the floor purring with contentment. What an incredible morning! :)

Of course it's Labor Day, so I am not at work today, which means I got to sleep in. And because the temperatures have dropped so much, I could do so without worrying about beating the heat for the run.

I went out at about 9:00 this morning, and it was like stepping into runner's Heaven. Gorgeous!! Not a cloud in the crystal clear blue sky. Sun shining. Birds singing. Cool breeze blowing. And 60 degrees!! In early September!! You have GOT to be kidding! hahaha! :) It was the most wonderful experience. :) I went a nice 8.5 and kept a killer pace, which was highly encouraging since the last two runs had been so disappointingly slow. This reassured me that my speed wasn't defunct. :) And that's always nice. :)

So, I have to blog about the amazing weekend. I tell you what, if you are ever feeling discouraged about life, hold a book-signing and invite all the people who influenced you in the past. That will make you feel just about as encouraged and loved as you can possibly get. And, make sure that your Mighty Man comes along with you to put the most wonderful icing on the cake of the experience. (MM, having you there was unreal. Thank you for making the trip!)

Saturday, my friend Jerry at The Well in McPherson, KS--which is home to some of the finest coffee you can possibly taste--set up an amazing book-signing event for me. It was so first-class! :) He and Jenni (the store manager) had a great display set out, plenty of books, and a great set-up to where people could sit and mingle and hang out. It was fantastic!

Right away, I knew it was going to be a blast when the first person through the doors (after my family) was my 5th grade teacher. I LOVE THAT WOMAN!! :) :) She's such a ball of energy, and truly was one of my favorite teachers of all time. :) (btw...SU, you don't look a day over the age at which you taught me. How the heck do you do it? Kind of thinking it's the hair. You look amazing!)

After that, the day just unfolded like a dream. People like that from my past kept coming in and hugging me and telling me how proud they were of me. And, because my spiritual gift is encouragement, I had a BLAST encouraging them back and telling them how much they'd made a difference in my life. That was probably the highlight for me. How often do I get to tell my high school business teacher (who taught me how to type) that she was one of the most positive influences on me during very formative years? (B, that's so true.) How often do I get to hug my FCA Huddle Coach that he was one of the first men to truly model Christ to me? (SL, that's so true.) How often do I get to see the young woman I babysat and her fabulous mother and tell them how much I loved the summers I spent with them? (IO and KM, that's so true.) And to everyone else who came out, especially folks like Cameron and Kim who shocked the pants off of me by being there, thank you so much!! I want to thank each of you individually, but I'll probably use Facebook to do that. Just know that you were SO loved and appreciated. And you truly made Saturday one of the most special days of my life.

And, to my Mighy Man...Words, hugs, gifts--I don't think there's anything I can say or do to tell you how much it meant to have you there. You are my good thing. :) :)

You know what else rocked about that day? My family. . . My Momsy, my Jamus, my second mom, the Commander in Chief and First Lady. They were my crew. First ones there. Ready to support their girl. Family is so key, you know? I can't thank God enough for the arms in which He placed me. All of them. :) :) I love you guys so stinkin' much!

Where was Papa Bear, you ask? Well, he was manning the grill! haha! Exactly smack dab in the middle of his element. :) Being a servant to the family in a very different way. Which leads me into my next blessing of the weekend...

Every Labor Day weekend, we have a massive family reunion for my PPB's family. This year, instead of everyone invading a local restaurant, PPB decided to grill a TON of pork and beef brisket for everyone so that we could all just eat together and hang out at the hotel. And it was so much fun! :) What a great change of pace. It allowed us to eat some AMAZING food (PPB, you rocked it!) and just relax around tables in our own big room, mingling as we could and enjoying the company of each other.

You know, I don't know what it was about this year's reunion, but I had the best time I'd ever had there. I think I'm starting to learn the true meaning of family, and this group TOTALLY gets it.

My family dynamics were a little different growing up. There was a lot of divorce and remarriage that made for some very interesting separations. I didn't exactly learn that family was made to stick together or that it was supposed to be a blessing. I, quite honestly, learned that family was an obstacle to be hurdled and that most holidays were to be dreaded. (Now, not always. If my family is reading this, know that I'm not saying I hate you. I'm just saying what I think we all feel sometimes.)

When Momsy and PPB got married, I really wasn't excited about having another family that would require additional time on Christmas and Easter. I was already stretched pretty thin. So, I think I tried my best to keep them at arm's length. But you know what's weird? That's changing. I'm regretting that I'm 31 when I'm learning this, but I'm starting to understand that family can be full of love and joy. It's a little bit awesome. :)

Part of this is definitely God's timing with the number of different situations going on in my life. First, my Might Man comes from a solid family who really does love each other. I think since I've started dating him, I've started to open my eyes to see my own family as blessings as a result. Does that make sense? MM's view of his family and their view of him (and now me) has opened my eyes to consider that the people in my family might just be blessings, as well.

If that doesn't make sense, it's because I'm still processing it. That's what blogging is about, right? Writing it all out and making sense of life. (Unless you have a food blog like that Julie & Julia woman. Then it's for sharing inticing photos and recipes and make us all wish we were brave enough to cook duck.) :)

Anyway, so the PPB family reunion turned out to be a truly wonderful afternoon. For the first time, I actually made an effort to talk to the people in my family. And you know what I discovered? They're awesome!! :) :) I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations, the jokes (the guy cousins are ornery!!), the hugs...the LOVE. :) So, to the family, I want to say thank you. Thank you for teaching me that family is a good thing. I do love you all!

And MM...Thank YOU for being a part of the day. I know it was a whirlwind, but it meant more than I can say that you were there. :)

Today's blog is nothing but praise to the Lord for what He's teaching me. I'll be completely honest. Last week at work was TOUGH. I didn't know if I had the strength for the book-signing and the reunion, but as always, God knew so much better than I did what I needed. He knew that the events would be the blessings I needed in order to rebound and be refreshed. Thank You, Father.

So, because my of my encouragement gift, I will leave you with some, um, encouragement. :) If you are feeling blue or discouraged, just trust God and keep going forward. He has your steps ordered and knows how to bless you if you just say yes to Him. And truly, the bigger lesson I want to share is this: If you have ever viewed your family as anything but good gifts from God (which I am 100% sure that we all have at some point), I want to ask you to consider looking at the good things they bring to your life. Yes, of course, there are actual negative situations in family that are not positive, but search for the hidden gems that are certainly there waiting to be discovered and treasured. Family is God's gift to us. It's full of indespensible relationships, and it's our joy to discover the beauty of each one. :)

Thanks for the time today, all! :) Sending you big hugs. :)
- Jill

P.S. If you missed the book signing and live near my folks, I would be happy to sign one for you next time I'm home! Just order a copy online at (Sharing the Victory: Being Your Best for God) or pick one up at The Well. Let my Momsy know, and we'll hook you up with a signature! It would SO be my pleasure to write some encouragement in the inside cover. :)

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