I finished.

And that's no small task. For those of you who don't get on Facebook and don't know what I'm referencing, today, I participated in my first 1/2 marathon. The Music City Marathon. I walked 13.1 miles and it was HARD.

My HCA teammates...Nancy, Stacey, Farrah, Katelyn, Wendy and me!

This was probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about quitting. I thought about it. ALOT. And I kept thinking how I was going to have to come home and write on my blog that I didn't finish. And that's what kept me going. Part of it at least.

I started at 8:00. This is the time at the one-mile mark.

From looking at the web, it doesn't look like the final results are out, but I think I finished in about 4:30. And for those non-marathoners out there, that's 4 HOURS 30 minutes. :)

The view from my corral #32

I did great the first 3-4 miles. I felt good, pushed through the hills and the burn and actually jogged a little turning my 20 minute mile that I was doing in training into about a 17 minute mile. Somewhere around mile 6 my back started to really hurt. I always have lower back pain when I'm on my feet for too long. It was about mile 6 that I had to start stopping and bending over and stretching out my back. Mile 7 I stopped for my one and only potty break. About mile 10 I felt a HUGE blister on the bottom of my foot and had to stop and put on a bandaid. It was then that I really considered not going on. And I'm not talking about kinda thinking about it. I wanted to quit. And I didn't care that I was quitting. I just wanted to quit.

But I didn't.

I pushed through but had to stop and sit several times on the way and that cost me about 30 minutes in the end. When I had about 1.5 miles left, I decided that I had to sit and the longer I sat, the more I wanted to KEEP sitting. Thankfully, while I was sitting there contemplating whether I was going to make it and watching the girl next to me get loaded into an ambulance (wondering if there was room for me), my co-worker Peggy came around the corner.

Peggy was an answer to prayer. She literally pushed me (ok, not LITERALLY, but mentally) to the finish line where Steve and Jenna were waiting for me. When I crossed the finish, I almost burst into tears. It was very emotional.

As for the course, I started out taking pictures along the way. About mile 3, I stopped because there wasn't as much to look at and by the time there was more to look at I really didn't care.

I didn't walk with anyone until the very end, so there was lots of time for me to talk with God and I did. I thanked him for every breeze and piece of level land. I asked him for strength and positive thoughts. And I begged him to make this end quickly! I practiced my scriptures.

I will admit, I probably won't be signing up for another marathon (full or half!) in the foreseeable future. But I can't express how encouraging all the texts and messages on Facebook were. Might I suggest that you head out to next year's marathon and set up along the way to cheer on the participants? So many times I was thinking of giving up and there were people on the sidelines cheering for me by name (because my name was on my shirt). One guy walked wiht me for several steps telling me I could do it and to look at how far I'd come and how many peopel were still behind me. A woman on a street corner held a sign that said, "You Inspire Me". A church had a band playing Christian music and there were volunteers slapping your hands screaming "You can do it! You're almost there!" Not to mention the hundreds of volunteers that staffed the water stations like my friends from work Sherri, Susan and Cindy! So nice to see smiling faces cheering you on.

Anyway, here are a few shots from today. You can find many more on my Facebook account.


Music City Marathon & 1/2 Marathon

Tomorrow, I'm getting up at 4:45am. By 7:30-8:00 I will have started walking my first ever 1/2 marathon!

I'm nervous and excited all in one. Between 8:00 and about 1:00, pray for me when you think of me. I know I haven't trained as much as I should have, but I think I can finish. I'm not giving myself the option of anything else.

Me and some girls from work (Nancy, Katelyn, Farrah, and Wendy) went out to dinner tonight to "carb-up" before the race tomorrow.

If you are watching TV, look for me. I'll be in grey running capris and a bright orange shirt as part of TEAM HCA!

Wish me luck!

Time for another Blog Review-10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe

I am just about done with this book and I'm pretty impressed. Written by Larry Osborne, this book addresses 10 of the most common beliefs Christians hold but aren't scripturally based. And let me tell you...some of them very much stepped on my toes. Things that I was taught since I was very young, but to my surprise are not found in scriptures anywhere! A few common misconceptions:

• Faith can fix anything
• Christians shouldn’t judge
• Forgiving means forgetting
• Everything happens for a reason
• A godly home guarantees good kids

You'll need to read this book with an open mind because I almost put it down because questioning our deeply entrenched beliefs is a hard thing to do. But I assure you, it will be well worth the read. The chapters are not long and you can read them in any order you choose.

Just Because “Everyone Believes It” Doesn’t Make It True

People don’t set out to build their faith upon myths and spiritual urban legends. But somehow such falsehoods keep showing up in the way that many Christians think about life and God. These goofy ideas and beliefs are assumed by millions to be rock-solid truth . . . until life proves they’re not. The sad result is often a spiritual disaster—confusion, feelings of betrayal, a distrust of Scripture, loss of faith, anger toward both the church and God.
But it doesn’t have to be so. In this delightfully personal and practical book, respected Bible teacher Larry Osborne confronts ten widely held beliefs that are both dumb and dangerous.

If you are interested in this very FABULOUS book, I have 2 to give away! If you want to enter into the drawing, leave me a comment here or email me at Sandras_junk@charter.net and let me know. I'm going to draw Friday, May 1 some time in the evening. If you really can't wait that long to read it, you can find this book here, here or here!


Semper Fidelis

[sem-per fi-dey-lis]
Always faithful: motto of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Today, this phrase became meaningful to me.

Chase joined the Marine Corps Reserve.

And I find myself feeling really...well, the only word I can think of to describe it is bittersweet. He joined the Marine Corps Reserves because he really wants to go to college. We can't pay for it. Him mom and stepdad can't pay for it. And he has realized that he does NOT want to spend the rest of his life at a $10/hr job and that's all he's really eligible for if he doesn't get SOME kind of education. He actually realized this quite a while ago, but he's just figuring out a game plan. Basically, if he joins the Reserves, after all his training etc., they will pay for him to go to school to learn to be a diesel mechanic which is what he really wants to do.

So, I'm absolutely positively the MOST PROUD I have ever been of him. He said he looked at his options and this was the only feasible way he could figure to be able to go to college to do what he really wanted to do. He didn't ask for my or Steve's input and I don't know that he really asked for anyone's. He just decided himself. There's not too many 21 year olds that are that forward thinking about their future. So, part of me is about to BURST with pride for my boy.

The other part of me...well, I feel like my heart is breaking. That might be a little exaggerated, but I am very sad. In a little over a month, this boy who I have known and loved since he was 6 years old will go away to Parris Island to boot camp for 3 months without any communicative devices. I know he'll be back but the thought of not being able to talk to him for that long is disturbing to me. I know, KNOW that this is going to be a great investment in his future, but the selfish part of me doesn't want him to go. I will tell you I'm surprised at my reaction. I never really imagined either of my grown kids leaving the area, but I would have never guessed I would react this way. But I've said it here before, I love Steve's two kids like they are my own. When I met Steve, I loved them instantly and while the relationships were not always easy, I didn't think I'd ever love kids that were not my own flesh and blood as much as I do Micah and Chase. It's a love that was given to me directly from the heart of God.

I digress...so I'm a bit surprised at my distress over the thought of his leaving. I don't know if he reads this blog (probably not...by his own admission, reading isn't his "thing") but I'm sure he would be as surprised at my heartache over this as I am. When we first met, it was no secret that Micah and I were instantly close. We are still close now, but in a different, grown-up way. Chase and I....well, our relationship grew much more slowly. Maybe it was because he was a boy. I don't really know. What I DO know is that once he grew up, I found that we had slowly gotten closer. I found myself enjoying his company and missing him when he wasn't around. And so now, I'm very sad to think of him not being around for 3 months. Anyway...

He will leave for boot camp on June 8. That begins his journey. I know by then, I will have gotten used to the idea. At least I hope I will have!

So that's the exciting news from the Taylor family. Remember Chase in your prayers as he embarks on this new adventure. Pray for his safety, physically and mentally and that he will use this time away from all he's used to to grow closer to the Lord. I think this is something he really desires but has eluded him thus far.

And Chase, son, if you ARE reading this (I'm impressed!), I know I don't say it often, but I love you...more than you could possibly EVER know. I'm going to miss you like crazy for 3 months, but will be praying for you each and every day.


Praying for Stellan

Prayers for Stellan

Stellan is having heart surgery today. Please pray for him. The surgery can be very risky. If you haven't, click over to their blog at http://www.mycharmingkids.net/. It will be well worth your visit.


The Meanest Mom give-away!

OK moms...if you want to enter to win a FABULOUS Mother's Day contest....go here. I started reading this blog a few months ago and I'm telling you, this woman is HILARIOUS!

Check her out, have a good laugh and enter her contest!


Link to our family pics

Check it out...


Aren't they amazing?

And when you are done and want to find out more about Jadie and her photography, you can visit her here.


Saturday Fun

We had to get up bright and early this morning to get to Downtown Franklin for our first professional family pictures in several years. God blessed us with really nice weather. It was not so bright that we were all squinting, but it was NOT raining and it wasn't freezing cold either. We were done in an hour and I think they will look great! Stay tuned and I'll let you know when the proofs are ready for viewing.

Once we got home, I had to walk in preparation for next week's Music City Marathon. I don't know if I mentioned this, but I signed up a while back to walk the 1/2 marathon. If you are interested in donating to me (I'm raising money for the HCA Hope Fund), just email me and I can send you the link to my fundraising page. I digress.

Once we got back home, I changed clothes and took off walking. I intended to do 6 miles but after 3, I swung back around the house and JG was waiting on me wanting to go for ice cream. So we did!

After that, we played for a little while outside and I got laundry going. I tried to make a new recipe tonight for dinner and that didn't work out so we went to Sonic. :)

That's about it. Steve went and got a $1 movie from the rental cube at Kroger. I'm feeling quite tired, so I think it will be an early night for me. We have lots to do tomorrow and have to be back at church at 2pm for a video shoot, so we are going to go to the evening service. I'll finish the laundry and get groceries in the morning. I might also try to knock out another 3 miles if I have the time.

So, that's our weekend so far. More to come.


My Farmer's Favorite!

Each week at school, a "Farmer's Favorite" is selected from each class in each grade. The teacher selects the lucky student based on some very nice work they've done. Once selected, the students are announced during chapel on Thursday, given a little "gift" and basically just made a big deal over. Only 1st-5th grade are eligible, so this is the first year for Jenna Grace.

Must to my surprise and excitement, Jenna Grace got the first Farmer's Favorite this year. The problem is that because the teachers try to honor everyone in the class at least once, it was a long wait after the first one. But then, just two or three weeks ago, she proudly came home displaying the #2 beloved Favorite. We had waited so long that we were VERY excited.

But it gets better...tonight when I got home, she ran down the stairs (in itself the favorite part of my day!) and hands me yet another surprise! Check. It. Out.But I'm not proud. :)

Happy Birthday Mom

Today would have been my mother's 72nd birthday. Wow. She's been gone for 16 1/2 years and not a day goes by that I don't miss her.

Happy birthday Mama...

We got an answer...

Many of you have asked about the status of Steve's diabetic service dog. For those of you just tuning in, we had asked permission of Steve's employer to bring the dog in and he refused. We wrote and sent a rebuttal and asked for reconsideration. He responded he was meeting with his legal/HR staff and would let us know. But then, there was no response. We contacted the EEOC who told us we needed to write a formal letter requesting accommodation (as diabetes is considered a disability by the ADA), which we did. We asked for a response no later than April 15 (which ended up being a little over 2 weeks for him to respond).

Yesterday, we received an emailed letter basically saying that the dog would be allowed on site, but Steve would be relegated to a back office where he would be required to stay except for lunch, breaks and coming and going to work. Oh, yeah, but when he just HAD to get up, the dog had to stay in the office. And while in the office, the dog would have to be in a cage at all times. Unless he has to go out to you know...relieve himself. And when he does relieve himself, Steve is responsible for "neutralizing" the spot and replacing any grass or plants that might be harmed or damaged because of the dog. Oh yeah, and if it's determined that Steve was misdiagnosed those 40+ years ago and turns out he doesn't have diabetes, then the dog has to go. Um. OK. I'll make a note that if a miracle occurs or a cure for diabetes is found that we'll keep the dog at home.

Basically not the answer we wanted, but to be honest, it wasn't far off from what I expected. However, Steve was pretty upset. Well, that isn't true. He was more than "pretty" upset. Infuriated. Enraged. Really pissed off? You get the point.

So. Here we are...again. We have another call into the EEOC to determine whether what they are offering are truly "reasonable" according to the ADA. Up until now, I've kept the blog pretty free of what we are doing because it is a public blog, but now I feel is the time to put it all out there and let you know where we are. We aren't interested in suing and taking the company for all it's worth or anything like that. We just want to be treated fairly and I personally want to STOP living in the fear that my husband is going to die from an accident caused from low blood sugar!

Needless to say, yesterday afternoon was very unhappy for the Taylors. It was near the end of the day and so I decided to go out and read Beth Moore's blog that I'd been saving. I knew it was the 15th which means it was time for another memory verse and I wasn't ready to decide which verse I was doing, so I hadn't read her post yet. This is the verse she chose:

"In my anguish I cried to the LORD and He answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; He is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies." Psalm 118:5-7 (NIV)

Could a verse have spoken directly to my spirit any more? I think not. I actually texted Steve right then the entire 3 verses. I can only hope it brought him peace as it did me.

What can you pray for? Pray that...

*Steve's boss would have a change of heart and decide that this is a GOOD thing.

*Steve would have peace. He is SO angry and I understand. He has to work in this environment where it's clear they don't want him around. Pray that God will surround him with peace.

*We would have wisdom in this situation. We want to be sure we are doing the right thing and in the right way.

*This would be resolved quickly. Steve is due to leave June 28 and there are many plans to be made that hinge upon this departure.

*We will be open to accepting the Lord's answer, whatever it is, and whenever He chooses to deliver it.

Thanks to all of you. We're waiting to hear back from the EEOC and once we know more, I'll let you know.


The Winner is...

Oops...I said I was going to do this on Friday and I completely forgot! The winners of The Treasure Principle books are...

Victoria and Teresa! YAY!

I will email you both to see how we can get you your books.

For everyone that did not win or enter, keep on trying...I have a great book that I'm reading now about common myths that Christians believe! Stay tuned...


Happy Easter-A little taste of heaven...

Today I believe I got just a little taste of heaven at Brentwood Baptist's Easter service. There were 3 services...7am, 9am and 11am. We went to the 9am and the auditorium (which holds about 3,500?) was full. Not to mention the choir loft. And to hear all those voices singing in unison with a full orchestra....well, when I closed my eyes, I'm pretty sure God gave me a tiny glimpse of what heaven will be like. It was unbelievable.
Because Steve and David had to serve at all three services, they carpooled in together very early this morning and Rachel, I and the girls went later. The girls were SUPER cute in their Easter dresses!We didn't have plans for after church and didn't feel like fighting the crowds at the restaurants, so we just came home. Jenna and I played around, took quite the long walk (JG rode her bike) and then just hung out some. I hid some eggs for her to find and then she hid some for me to find. It was a good afternoon.

Yesterday, we spend the afternoon with Steve's niece and her husband and Jenna's cousin, Hannah. I boiled eggs and took them and they colored them while we were there. I think they enjoyed it and the eggs really turned out cute!All in all, it's been a great holiday. Hope you all enjoyed it as well.

"He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." Matthew 28:6a


I know, I know...

I know it's been a while since I've posted about what's going on with the Taylors. Truthfully, not much (other than regular stuff) is going on and for that we are ETERNALLY THANKFUL! We have had such a crazy year right up through January, that we have been happy with the quietness.

We've had a bunch of questions about the Service Dog...Steve is still "ON" to get the dog...he has to be in MO on June 28, so he'll probably leave the day before. It will be a long 3 weeks for Jenna and I.

As far as his work...well...as you know we asked for reconsideration a while back and even at the first of April, we put this "request for accommodation" in a letter to make it more formal. We have heard nothing as of yet. We have some things in the works if they either don't respond or respond in the negative, but of course, I'm not at liberty to put that here on my very public blog. :)

I don't think I posted, but Gage turned 2 several weeks ago. I have pictures from his party, but I just haven't had time enough to sit down and post them. I plan to buy myself a card reader (if you don't know what this is or don't have one, YOU NEED ONE!) and then uploading will be much faster. I am taking some photography classes at our local Wolf Camera and they have been very helpful in many respects. But I digress...

So, that's about it. I wish there were more to say. And there is. I have some things on my mind that I want to share. Especially with this being Easter weekend. But that will have to come later.

Right now, I'm about to get a shower. We are going to spend some time with Steve's niece who is keeping HER niece, Jenna's cousin. I got in bed early last night so that I could get up at a decent hour this morning and get some stuff done before we had to leave. So far I've had breakfast, read my devotional and started my new Bible Study (Stepping Up by Beth Moore). I've checked Facebook, caught up on my blogs (there's a whole blog coming on that) and am now updating my own blog. I'm going to get a shower and get the laundry sorted and then it is going to be time to start waking up the rest of the house.

I'll be back soon....I promise!


Book Review-The Treasure Principle

OK, seriously...Satan must be after me. I just wrote this REALLY long book review on this book "The Treasure Principle" and as I went to copy and spell check it, it deleted the whole thing. This is the second time this has happened to me and it's really frustrating.

So, this will be an abbreviated post...

"Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn...this is the guy who wrote "Heaven"...if you haven't read that one, DO IT. It's unbelievable. Both of these books are absolutely 100% scripturally based.

To make this a little shorter than my original post, I have always been the financial one in the family. After Steve's accident and the slump in the economy, our finances took a pretty big hit. I found that doing this all alone was very stressful, so Steve and I decided to do this together and a few months ago started paying bills and doing our budget TOGETHER. But our finances were in such awful shape that I was frustrated and angry and so I just decided to quit tithing and put our tithe money toward bills that needed to be paid.

And then I got the "Treasure Principle" to read and review. And I was convicted. One of the teachings is that my money really isn't MINE. It's God's. And if we were really understood that this world is not our home, we wouldn't be so caught up in material wealth. That's not to say we can't have nice things, but we would really put our heart in all things eternal.

One scripture from the "Treasure Prinicple" that stuck out to me and that I have committed to memory is Malachi 3:10 which says, "'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test me in this' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'"

TEST ME. He tells us to test Him and just see what He can do. And so, I am. We are. We have begun tithing again...though not as much as before. I do think God understand baby steps in our faith.

I don't know where your heart is on tithing. I can tell you that God wants you to trust Him with your finances. And we have to teach our children...do it. Test Him. And watch Him work. I'll be right there with you. :)

So, if you want a quick, easy read (this is a tiny little book), then either leave a comment or email me at sandras_junk@charter.net. I've got 2 copies to give away. I'll draw this Friday some time after 5pm...


Flip-Flop Your Concept of Giving!
Bestselling author Randy Alcorn introduced readers to a revolution in material freedom and radical generosity with the release of the original The Treasure Principle in 2001. Now the revision to the compact, perennial bestseller includes a provocative new concluding chapter depicting God asking a believer questions about his stewardship over material resources. Readers are moved from the realms of thoughtful Bible exposition into the highly personal arena of everyday life. Because when Jesus told His followers to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” He intended that they discover an astounding secret: how joyful giving brings God maximum glory and His children maximum pleasure. Discover a joy more precious than gold!

Story Behind the Book
After years of writing and teaching on the theme “God owns everything,” in 1990 Randy Alcorn was sued by an abortion clinic (for peaceful, nonviolent intervention for the unborn). Suddenly he had to resign as a pastor and was restricted to making minimum wage. Legally unable to own anything, Randy gave all his book royalties to missions work and need-meeting ministries. He and his family have experienced the reality of The Treasure Principle—that God really does own everything, takes care of us, and graciously puts assets into our hands that we might have the joy and privilege of investing in what will last for eternity.