Thursday, June 30, 2011

But I would walk 100 miles . . .

I did it!!! I logged in 2 miles on the track this morning and that put me just over 100 miles that I've walked (purposefully for exercise) since the beginning of April!

The Walk 100 Miles with the Mayor challenge was a good motivator for me to get miles in this spring (even though I didn't ever actually walk with the mayor at any of the organized events). I mainly walked in my own neighborhood and on the school track across the street. I am proof that miles add up . . . 2 + 2 + 2, etc.

My next big huge goal is the Nashville Women's Half Marathon in September! I've thought about walking a half marathon (that's 13.1 miles, in case you didn't know) for a while, but was hesitant for several reasons (for one, I don't want them to have to come looking for me at the end when the race is over and I haven't crossed the finish line!). After some encouragement from friends, I decided to take the challenge and there are some other women from church who will be walking with me. It's not too late to join us, either, since the training schedule hasn't started yet and registration is still open!!

*By the way, the song I kind of referenced in my title is a "one-hit wonder" by The Proclaimers, made famous in the movie, Benny and Joon, back in 1993, called "I Would Walk 500 Miles."

The Proclaimers - I Would Walk 500 Miles by nex3uk

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I'm a camp girl!

Most everyone who has been in contact with me lately knows that I got to spend a week at camp with our church youth group last week. It was honestly a refreshing and energizing experience and I have been missing being there this week.

From the first night we were at Jonathan Creek, I felt like I was back in my element. I have had so many positive camp experiences in my life and those experiences have truly shaped who I am as a person and as a Christian. Now that I'm home, here are some of the reasons why I love camp so much:

  • Camp makes me happy! Like I said, as soon as I got to camp, I felt like I had returned to a happy place in my past. I'd never been to this particular camp before, but it was organized in a similar way to other camps I've been a part of, so from the minute that we drove onto the camp property and were greeted by enthusiastic staffers, I just wanted to jump up and participate whole-heartedly.
  • Camp songs! I love to sing and I'm not afraid to do silly motions to songs. I also love to worship and the songs that were used in the worship services at Jonathan Creek were very vertical and led us to the throne of God. I wasn't the only one who appreciated these songs, because most of the youth group, including my son, have been posting lyrics on Facebook and have been downloading them since we've been back home.
  • Relaxed schedule and change of pace. Obviously for me, as an adult going to camp, I experienced a completely different schedule from my normal routine and work and at home. But for everyone who goes to camp, it's a chance to get away from things that distract and spend time focusing on having fun and learning more about God. While I did have some limited access to the internet and my cell phone, I definitely benefitted from spending time "unplugged" during the week.
  • Hearts are changed at camp. God has used the camp experiences in my life to draw me closer to Him. I think it's the fact that many of life's normal distractions are not present at camp, plus much time is spent reading and hearing the Word and in worship. Whether as a camper, staffer or adult leader at camp, God has spoken to my heart during camp experiences. It was also very moving for me to see God working in the hearts and lives of the kids from our youth group. I have known some of these kids since they were babies (including my own), so to have a front-row seat to watch God work in their hearts was one of my favorite things at camp last week.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lessons I learned from my Dad

**I had intended for this to show up last Sunday, but for some reason, it did not.**

I was reading in a magazine recently and there was an article that was talking about the most important lesson your dad ever taught you. After thinking about it for a little while, I have come up with some lessons I learned from my dad.

1. I realized that the greatest thing my dad ever taught me was to have a relationship with God. From the time I became a Christian, my dad would give me a yearly plan to read the Bible and encouraged me to have a daily quiet time with the Lord. Sadly, I didn't really pay attention to his advice until I had gone off to college, but I am so thankful for my dad's quiet, loving leadership in my life that has influenced me throughout the past decades.

2. My dad taught me how to love the city. He was born and raised in Oklahoma City, where he rode city busses to school and church and would go downtown to shop or to work and rode his bike along sidewalks to throw newspapers on his paper route. He was a summer missionary during college in two even more urban areas: Detroit and Chicago. During those summers, God grew his love for the city and for people in the city who needed to know about Jesus. He went to seminary in Ft. Worth, and then moved to Long Island, to begin his life's work as a pastor and church planter and missionary. After a couple of other moves, he spent 21 years as Director of Church Extension for the Metro NY Baptist Association, where he commuted daily into "the City" and learned about the demographics and dynamics of the "city that never sleeps" and its outlying areas (NJ and Connecticut). Today, he is a member of First Baptist Church in downtown Nashville. He loves the city and he taught me about loving the city. Some people might hate city living and long for the quiet and peace of the country life (and I agree that it's a nice place to get away and relax). But I love the excitement and opportunities that come from being close to a city and I will always be a "city girl" because of my dad.

3. Dad taught me how to be a parent and how to relate to my son:  with love and time together. I remember always being a "daddy's girl" when I was growing up. He tells stories about me coming into his office (or study as he called it) when I was a preschooler and would tell him things and have him write things down. Or I'd draw him pictures. I just liked to be near him. I loved going into NYC with him, even though he'd walk so fast, I had to jog to keep up sometimes. But I knew I was always safe with my dad and that he knew what he was doing and where he was going (most of the time!). Once Daniel was born and Dad was retired, he spent countless hours with his grandson, playing any manner of pretend games (school, office, construction, sports games), just being with him and loving him through time together.

4. My dad taught me how to drive a car. There were times when I was really small that he would let me sit in his lap behind the steering wheel and "drive" with him. After I got old enough to reach the pedals and once I had my learner's permit, Dad was my primary driving instructor in the family. He patiently told me what I needed to do and how to back out of our driveway with the looming tree by the street. He helped me to gain confidence behind the wheel and then demonstrated his trust in my abilities by letting me drive solo on the night I got my license (in the snow!). He also taught me my example how to "talk" to traffic, which is a lesson I'm unfortunately passing along to my son by example. As Daniel told me a long time ago, when I was wishing for a megaphone on top of my car, "that wouldn't be a great idea, Mom." It's a good thing for me and Dad that we can drive with the windows rolled up!

There are many other things that my dad taught me and is still teaching me, and I'm thankful that God gave me an earthly father who loves me and has shown me characteristics of my Heavenly Father. I'm so thankful for DeLane Ryals, and that I get to celebrate him as my Dad all throughout the year, not just on Father's Day. I love you, Dad!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

2011 Scripture Memory #12

Wow! With this verse, we're halfway through the year! Like the saying goes, "time flies!"

The verse I am choosing this time is:

"A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken."
Proverbs 15:13, NASB
Lately, I've been doing some thinking about joy and what it means to be joyful. I think it definitely involves happiness and peace and gladness, but joy goes deeper than that. Also, joy is not dependent on circumstances. Sometimes we might think that we can't be joyful because everything around us is crashing in or falling apart, but that's not the case. We don't have to be jumping up and down or celebrating when hard things happen, but it doesn't mean we can't have joy.

I have learned (and am still learning), that my joy comes from the Lord. It not only comes from Him, but my joy is in the Lord. I can be anxious or sad or feeling lonely, but if I turn my focus to Christ, He helps me to remember that He gives me joy (along with many other blessings).

Joy is not something I can conjure up on my own. It has to come from the Lord, by His Spirit. I can ask for more joy, as well as the other fruit of the Spirit (love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control) and He will give it freely and fully.

Joy comes from a thankful heart. I can choose to focus inwardly and dwell on things that are not right in my life or in the world, or I can choose to find things to be thankful for and to even thank God for the hard things. When I am able to do that, I find that my heart can't help but be joyful.

I don't want to come across as trite or uncaring about things that people go through that are very hard and sad. I've experienced grief and sadness and there are seasons when our hearts are just broken and sad. My prayer is to have a truly joyful heart that makes my face cheerful. I want to have a joy that flows out of my heart and onto others and that reminds them of the source of all joy.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


It has been a beautiful thing to watch the body of Christ serve and love the family of Emmett Stallings this week, and ever since he was diagnosed with cancer in February 2010. And today was the culimination of that love in action, as we came together to have a celebration/memorial service of Emmett's life on earth and his life in Christ.

Here are some of the beautiful things I have seen from my vantage point:
  • A memorial service planned by close friends and family members (with input from Emmett himself before he left this earth).
  • A reception, as well as a separate dinner for the family, were planned with people signing up to bring food, set up, clean up and organize the two events.
  • Within 24 hours, childcare volunteers were in place, ready to care for young children so that their parents (Emmett's friends and peers) could attend the service.
  • Technology was implemented to make it possible for people who couldn't attend the memorial service, whether because of miles separating them or other restraints, to watch a live video stream.
  • Hearing the gospel clearly explained, at the request of Emmett's family, and partly prompted by little Quinn's question of his mom when he found out that his dad was in heaven, "How do we get to heaven?"
  • Being able to worship the Lord with a group of people gathered to honor Emmett's life on earth.
  • Seeing the people on the worship team who sang or played with tears in their eyes and on their cheeks because they had played on worship teams with Emmett in the past.
  • The quiet hush that came over the entire chapel as approximately 400 people filed out to go down the hall to the reception. It was a collective, unspoken tribute to a man who had touched so many people during his life on earth, and who will remain in our hearts and minds now that he is in heaven.
  • Hearing the stories and seeing pictures and remembering interactions that I have witnessed of Emmett's love for his wife and his son. He loved them in a beautiful way.
"How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ." --Twila Paris

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Weeping with those who weep

I am dedicating my blog to the family of Emmett James Stallings IV, who went home to the arms of His Savior early this morning, after a long, hard fight with cancer. Please pray for his wife, Wendy, their 4-year-old son, Quinn, his parents, Jim and Debbie, and his other family members and countless friends who are grieving today.

We do not grieve without hope (1 Thess. 4:13-18), and for that I am thankful. But I, and many others, are "weeping with those who weep" (Romans 12:15) today.

If you are interested in the Stallings' story, you can read their blog here.

I will come back in a day or two and share some of my memories of Emmett. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to be blessed by his life on earth.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Thursday and Friday were emotionally difficult days for me because of hard things that some friends and fellow church members are going through. I know it's not about me, AT ALL, and I am thankful that I have a job where I can serve people during times of sorrow and in times of joy, by praying and getting information out to others. I'm thankful that I work with people who will stop everything and reach out to those in need. I am thankful for the body of Christ that I get to see in action as they mobilize to bring comfort and care and meet practical needs. It's still emotionally draining, though, because I'm human and finite and lack the "big picture" perspective that God has.

The verses that kept running through my mind, along with a song that is based on them, were from Romans 11:33-36:

 "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."

We sang the song at our Corporate Prayer & Worship service last Sunday night:


Unsearchable, His wisdom.
Untraceable, His ways.
Who can know the mind of the Lord Most High?
Who could ever give Him counsel?

Everything is from Him,
Everything is through Him,
Everything is to Him,
To Him be the glory
In everything.

The final chorus ends with "Forever and ever, Forever and ever, Amen."

I can't even begin to understand the whys and what fors about the things that happen in this world. But I pray that we will all be able to rest in the knowledge that God is sovereign and that He is Forever. And may He receive the glory through all the hard things and the easier things in my life and in the lives of my friends and family.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Favorites: Magazines

I love magazines! I've gotten more selective in recent years, and for budget and time constraints have cut way back on my personal subscriptions, but I love it when I have a "fun" (in my mind) magazine and a leisurely afternoon to read through it.

Here are some "fun facts" about my love for magazines:

  • My mom shares my love for magazines, and probably is my main influence in developing that love. I can remember her having a subscription to Good Housekeeping when I was growing up and I'd love to read through it on lazy afternoons. She gave me my own subscription once I was out on my own.
  • My mom, sister and I have a magazine sharing system that works pretty well for us. We try not to subscribe to the same magazines and then once we finish reading the ones that we buy, we make a checkmark on the front with our initials, letting the others know that we're finished with it. For the record, I'm "NRR" and my mom is "NBR" since we both have the same first and last initials. My sister gets her very own letters: "JRM".
  • I used to save every issue of certain magazines, mostly the scrapbooking ones, and just recently got rid of a huge stack of cooking magazines (can you say, "scanner," for the recipes I wanted to keep?). My sister had to have a mini-intervention and stood beside me at the recycling bin when I got rid of all the scrapbooking mags.
  • I don't usually do it this way anymore, but my favorite way to read a magazine (there is more than one way, you say?) was to start at the beginning and turn through every page, just to see what was in that issue. Then I'd go back and thoroughly read every article, using those pesky subscription cards as bookmarks.
  • And speaking of subscription cards, those are one of my pet peeves (both the ones that fall out and the ones that are stuck into the spine of the magazine). Why do we need so many cards to get a subscription to something that already comes in our mailbox? Now, I have been to a printing plant and saw how magazines were printed, so I know that they are put in there for both the mags sold in stores and sent out to subscribers, but they still annoy me to no end!
  • When I was working in the publishing industry, I actually worked on some specialized magazines (including Sunday School materials). I like the longer deadlines of working on a monthly or quarterly publication, even though you have to keep your head in multiple years at the same time.
So, there you have it. It's not just a passing fling with magazines . . . I've had a long relationship and plan to continue it. Hey Mom, Sis:  got any mags you need to pass on this weekend? :-)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Someone's Having a Birthday!

On June 2nd, a little more than a few years ago, a sweet baby girl was born.

She grew up and married a man who started out as this cute little guy.

They had two girls. First this one . . .

And then this one

And when those girls grew up, they had some sweet babies of their own.

Happy Birthday to our wonderful Mom and Grandma!
We love you!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2011 Scripture Memory #11

Happy June! It's a new month and time for a new scripture memory verse:

"God’s way is perfect.
All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection."
Psalm 18:30, New Living Translation

I have been pondering some truths of the Bible and about God this week. One of those is that "His way is perfect." In the New American Standard Bible, the word "blameless" is used in place of perfect, but in the notes, it listed "perfect, having integrity, complete." So if His way is perfect, then it is best, even if my finite, human, imperfect mind can't understand it. His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).
Another truth that I've had a recent "A-ha!" moment about is the promise that God does not withhold good from His children (those who follow Him and walk according to His ways). Again, His definition of "good" and mine sometimes don't match, but it gave me comfort to realize that since God does not purposefully keep good things from me, so if I don't have something (right now) that I think I need/want, then it must not be good for me (right now). "A-ha!"
And since this post is about what scripture I'm going to attempt to put in my brain and meditate on over the next couple of weeks, I wanted to share a link to some creative ideas for memorizing scripture (or helping others to do so). I'll admit that when I read this post, I felt kind of guilty that I a) hadn't done as "great a job" at memorizing scripture this year as I want to think I have and b) that I have somewhat failed as a mom because I didn't encourage scripture memory with my son when he was young. But that guilt was pointless and not from the Lord, and I was thankfully able to switch over to being thankful that each day is a new day and that it's not too late for either me or Daniel to put scripture in our heads and hearts. And it's not too late for anyone reading this either.