Valentines Date Night (with no pictures and a day late because I’m horrible).

Well… maybe just one picture.

Fun Fact–Ashlynn and I actually got married on Friday the 13th! February 13th that is, on the eve of Valentine’s Day. From the beginning, we made the decision that we would celebrate both our anniversary and Valentine’s Day, because why not?! For our anniversary, we went to a cooking class at Sur la Table and had an absolute blast!

Then, for Valentine’s Day, we opted for a night in with dinner and a movie. Pro tip–If you live in a big city, celebrating at home or on a different night can help you beat the crowds for an amazing date night!

Here’s what we ate–

Arancini di Riso (from Food Network)

Crispy Mushroom Carbonara (from Spices in my DNA)

Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Brownies (from Eat Live Run)

Notes:

For the Arancini (Risotto balls), I heated up store-bought marinara from Trader Joe’s for dipping.

For the Carbonara, I opted for Tagliatelle pasta instead of fettuccini.

For the ice cream, I omitted the peanut butter cups and just used the base. I picked up some mini-brownies from Whole Foods and scooped the ice cream on top.

5 things running is teaching me.

In early 2019, I had one main goal for the year… to take steps into becoming healthier overall–mentally, emotionally, and physically. The previous two years had been filled with unhealthy eating habits and long, stressful work hours and it had taken it’s toll on not only my physical body, but my mind as well. I knew a change had to be made.

As I stood looking at myself in the mirror on January 1, I knew I wanted a change more than anything. I was more miserable than I had ever been. It wasn’t just that I was at my largest weight I had ever seen though. What sparked something in me was how I felt overall. I was absolutely miserable and felt horrible all the time. I had knotted muscles in my lower back that hurt so much, some days I could barely stand up straight. I was exhausted all the time. I had zero energy, and I thought to myself, “Is this the life I want to live? Is the the type of person I want to be for my kids?” I knew the answer. So, I started making changes slowly.

When I first started, I could barely walk a mile on a treadmill at 3.5 miles per hour. So, I also started making changes to my diet. As weight came off, I began being able to do more and more and eventually began jogging.

I’d like to share my personal perspective on things I’m learning as I continue to (very much so) be an amateur runner.

1. It’s 80% mental/20% physical ability.

For me, running has always been more mental, and what I mean by that is simply believing in myself that I can run the race. Even now, I usually run about 10 miles on my long runs, and I literally have to tell myself every time I set my feet to the pavement that I can do it. With it being winter, I run on the treadmill because I hate the cold. Every mile, I still have to tell myself that I can do this. You may hear people talk about “running the mile your in” or “take it one mile at a time” and I couldn’t agree more. Don’t focus on mile 24–focus on the mile you’re in, putting one foot in front of the other.

2. What you wear matters.

Get yourself some good running shoes. I would even suggest doing some research to see what the best running shoe for you would be. I wear Brooks. Here’s a link to the Brooks Shoe Finder. It’s a great tool to help you get started. I also wear Under Armour compression gear and running shorts. What you wear can have an enormous impact on how your body reacts to running, so find something that works for you. Also, make sure you get some moisture-wicking socks. I learned this the hard way.

3. Running is full of breakthroughs and hard days.

For me, I still have good days and bad. I have days where I feel light, pain free, and seem to be able to run forever. Then, I have days where I struggle to run a mile. The only connection I’ve made that I’ve noticed that makes an impact is what I eat the day before. On days I fill my body with nutrient-rich food, I run better, and longer. I know that sounds like common sense, but the longer I do this, the more I’ve learned what you put in your body has a huge impact.

4. I get some of my best ideas while running.

There’s a ton of medical research to back this up, but when I’m running, it helps me clear my mind. I’ve solved many problems and had some incredible realizations when I’m running. Also, I feel close to God. I’m sure it’s a combination of endorphins and adrenaline that contribute to this, but running is the perfect time for me to think and pray.

5. Give yourself grace.

I would describe my running journey as a mix of highs and lows, and literally feeling like I’m fighting for my life some days. When I started actually running, I could barely run more than a minute. You’re going to have days when you can’t run as long as you wanted to. You’re going to have days where you choose not to run as much, but know you could have. Give yourself grace when this happens. You’re out there, doing the work, and your breakthrough is coming. What may seem as an impossible goal on Thursday can turn into a breakthrough on Friday. Listen to your body, do the work, and try to enjoy the ride.

Like I said, I’m just an amateur here, but I wanted to share my thoughts with you. Running and I have a love/hate relationship, but it’s mostly love. Running is teaching me so much about myself and life. I hope you find something that does the same for you.

my verse for 2020.

For the past few years, I’ve prayed and picked a verse that I would carry through each year as a sort of theme for my life. Each year as Advent arrives, I begin praying about the following year and what it may look like. My 2020 verse is Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG).

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

I want 2020 to be about God’s light–in me, through me, and reflected from me. That’s my prayer this year.

LOOKING FORWARD.

Friends! I’m pretty sure it’s unanimous… we can’t believe it’s 2020. My Dad told me when I graduated high school to enjoy every second because the older I got, the faster time would fly by, and there’s never been anything more true.

I’ve got some things up my sleeve for the blog this year and I can’t wait to see them unfold. But, I thought we could start my first post of 2020 with a list–a list of things I’ve found intriguing and am wanting to try this year.

I hope you are settling into a new year nicely. We’re grateful around here and I hope you are too!

A great reflection exercise as we venture into 2020 full speed ahead.

Adding this to our dinner rotation this month.

Reading through the Bible this year. Feel free to join.

I’ve been dreaming of doing this race for years. Maybe 2020 is the year!

Really want to take my wife camping in one of these this year.

Ashlynn and I are reading through this devotion this year. We’re 5 days in and we love it!

Speaking of… here’s a great interview with one of my favorite pastors, as well as one of my favorite authors.

Add this to your list of stops next time you’re in Nashville.

This record is carrying me boldly into the new year.

Working on the reading list for the first quarter. I’ve heard great things about this book.

A good read for anyone wanting to develop better eating habits this year (like myself).

Ready for this!

A Quote That Resonates as We Venture into 2019.

My absolute, without question, favorite book I read last year was Everybody Always by Bob Goff. I’ve been meaning to give it a proper review, because it opened my eyes to so much around me. I’ll get around to it one of these days, but I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes from the book that I’m taking with me well into 2019. Bob writes–

“What I’ve come to learn so far about my faith is Jesus never asked anyone to play it safe. We were born to be brave. There’s a difference between playing it safe and being safe. A lot of people think playing it safe and waiting for all the answers before they move forward is the opposite of dangerous. I disagree. If our life and our identity are found in Jesus, I think we can redefine safe as staying close to Him. Don’t get me wrong. Playing it safe and waiting for assurances in our lives isn’t necessarily bad; it just isn’t faith anymore. Playing it safe doesn’t move us forward or help us grow; it just finds us where we are and leaves us in the same condition it found us in.”

I hope this encourages you the way it did me. I played it safe for so long, and that’s just not the life for me.