Through the Rockies and into the Midwest we go!

So it has been quite a while since I have updated my blog. It has been an extremely busy week and a half. From Park City we entered Colorado going through Duchesne, Dinosaur, Craig, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Empire, and finally into Denver! There is so much I can write about so I will just hit on the big ones!

Craig, Colorado

Image In Craig, I met this little guy named Gustavo at the Boys and Girls Club of Northwestern Colorado. While we were there we performed our disability awareness program for kids, Kids On The Block! It was a hit as usual and after the show this little guy came up to me to ask me about my trip. We played basketball for about an hour and I attempted to teach him how to spin a basketball on his finger. We were caught on camera by a reporter and made the front page of the Craig newspaper! I’ll always have that memory with Gustavo of not only teach him about basketball, but understanding of people with disabilities.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

The next big stop was Steamboat Springs where we visited with the organization, Horizons. It is an awesome organization that serves people with developmental disabilities throughout all of Colorado. I was able to reunite with Bruce and Debbie who are just some of the most lively people you will ever meet. Bruce loves to wrestle, and he took down our biggest guy on the team. He wanted to be lifted up like the champ he is and I had the honors of lifting him up! Debbie was a flirt the whole time! She was on the search for her next boyfriend on the team calling all the guys “Baby!” It was so great to catch up with her and of course all the compliments that came along with it, apparently I’m good looking!

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Empire, Colorado

Our next stop was at an Easter Seals Camp called Rocky Mountain Village. We spent two days with all of their campers joining in on their daily activities which ranged from fishing to zip lining. The theme of the week was “Zombieland” and the disease spread quickly throughout the camp! We were all infected and the only way the campers could escape our fate was by dancing to keep us away, it worked and none of the campers were infected. Thank goodness we were all miraculously healed the evening before we left, so no worries, I’m good. While we were there, I met Heather and Emily there who were just so much fun. They were so funny and would ask you to watch them as they did a trick or to stay still so they could steal your nose! I dressed up as a fireman so luckily Heather didn’t steal my nose!

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Denver, Colorado

Denver is such a special place to the Journey of Hope North and TransAmerica teams. Our title sponsor KRG Capital is based there and we also have many of our other sponsors that are present at our arrival at the Colorado Capitol. On our day off, KRG Capital and Special Olympics of Colorado put on a large event called, Pedal for Pennies. It is a cycling event where our team cycles with Special Olympics cyclists around a lake to raise funds for Special Olympics Colorado. Last year I met Hannah and immediately we had a connection. We learned tons about each other and spent the night dancing and just having a blast. This year Hannah recognized me as soon as I walked up and greeted me with a huge hug! It was so good to be reunited with her, once again we spent the evening catching up on everything from how her school year was, swimming, and how cute she thought all the guys were ha! It was probably the hardest event to leave because I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again, but I’ll carry her memory and inspiration with me wherever I go!

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Fort Morgan, Colorado

Last night we spent the evening in Fort Morgan, Colorado for the 4th of July. It was a great experience to celebrate our freedom with my brothers and best friends in a small corner of the country that few people know about. What a blessing this team is and this trip in general. Although I continue to worry about where life is taking me next with a job, these guys put me at ease about it and constantly remind me that God has a plan for my life.

The Dive

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Today’s scripture came from James 13-15:

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

As the summer continues to near towards the end, I am continuing my job search for after August. “What’s next?” is what a lot of sponsors ask me when they find out that I am a graduate and this ends in August for me. A lot of the time I sit there clueless, what is next for me? Honestly, I personally don’t have an answer, but I tell them that my faith is what leads me through each and every day. For now, I focus on what is on the agenda for tomorrow, to make sure my cyclists make it to the next city, that they have the time of their life at the event, and that their lives may be better because of their experience. God has put me in this position to possibly make an impact in peoples lives and I believe He did it to fulfill one of my life goals which are 1.) Marry an amazing woman and raise a happy family, 2.)Be a God-fearing, hard working, honest, man, 3.) Change the world in one way. I believe that this is my opportunity to have an impact on the world in a small way. Although I do not know what tomorrow may bring, God always has a plan. Many times it is hard to believe that and to have faith, but without faith and trust in God, we are nothing. My challenge to you if you have read this far, with whatever you’re struggling with in your life right now, may you hand it over to God. Pray about it and trust that He will take care of you even when it doesn’t seem possible.

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Running Update: 45 miles

Here are some photos I have taken over the past week, enjoy!

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Rockies Game in Denver

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Stage Up at Sports Authority Field in Denver

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Red Rocks Amphitheater

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Rabbit Ears Pass

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View from Breckenridge, Colorado

Feel free to follow me on twitter @SpencerHaworth or on instagram @spencedigg

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Out of the Desert and into the Mountains!

The last time I left off we were going into the smallest town on the trip. It was a town of 25 people, yes.. 25. (I asked a local to confirm this). That community is one of the most amazing places we visit with. They all host us for an amazing potluck and want to know all of our life stories, such a special place. The town is at the base of the only National Park in Nevada, the Great Basin National Park! We went up to Wheeler Peak which is the picture to the left and the view point is at 10,000 ft. We were also able to tour the Lehman Caves in the mountain which is the picture to the right.

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The day after we made our way into Utah, which is such a beautiful state. So many different landscapes, mountains, lakes, and reservoirs!

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We made our way to the capitol of Utah, Salt Lake City where we had our first visit since the desert with the Children’s Tumor Foundation. The president of the Utah Chapter is the wife of my chapter brother, Scott. His son Travis has Neurofibromitosis and the little guy has a tumor that starts at his ankle and goes all the way up to his hip bone (half of his body length). It causes his left leg to grow longer than his right so he has a shoe for his right foot to equal out the difference. With this tumor also comes a lot of other health issues which cause Travis to constantly be in the hospital with different health problems. He is a tough cookie and recently was out of the hospital so he got to hang out with the guys. Here is a photo with him riding with the team.

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After the visit we had some time to explore Salt Lake City and made it up to the capitol building(left) and the Mormon Temple Square. It was really cool to explore temple square and see the Mormon Tabernacle and listen to an organ recital(right)!

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Yesterday we made our way into Park City and had the day off today and had an amazing sponsored breakfast by Whole Foods and also visited the Olympic Park and got to watch some ski jumpers do some distance jumping!

ImageIt’s nice to finally be in a bed for the evening thanks to the Yarrow Hotel for sponsoring our stay for two nights! It has been so nice sleeping on a cozy bed for the first time in weeks. We have a friendship visit with the National Ability Center tonight where we will do some cycling with their participants. Tomorrow we make our towards Colorado and into Duchesne, UT. The guys have a beautiful ride ahead of them! Looking forward to some more friendship visits soon!

The Dive

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Today’s passage comes from Job 26:5-14:

5 “The dead are in deep anguish,
those beneath the waters and all that live in them.
6 The realm of the dead is naked before God;
Destruction[a] lies uncovered.
7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
he suspends the earth over nothing.
8 He wraps up the waters in his clouds,
yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.
9 He covers the face of the full moon,
spreading his clouds over it.
10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters
for a boundary between light and darkness.
11 The pillars of the heavens quake,
aghast at his rebuke.
12 By his power he churned up the sea;
by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.
13 By his breath the skies became fair;
his hand pierced the gliding serpent.
14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works;
how faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”

As usual, these devotionals directly apply to me in one way or the other and my walk with Christ. As I read through this I can only think of the views I have been blessed with on this trip and how in awe of God I have been. This beautiful creation that He has laid out for us and so often I forget to take it all in. God is so much bigger than me and there are often days when I struggle with what plan He has in store for me. If He created this beautiful Earth, my life is apart of this beautiful creation and I just have to trust that He will provide the path for me. I constantly take a step back on this trip to just take in the views. My God is so awesome and I’m always learning to have faith in Him.

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Running Update: 36 Miles

The Never Ending Road…

 

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We have made our way into the desert of Nevada! Since leaving Lake Tahoe, we have made our way through Carson City, Fallon, Austin, Eureka, and today we are in Ely.

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In Carson City we performed our Kids on the Block puppet show which was a huge hit at the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Nevada. The puppet show is a disability awareness program for children that teach them that people with disabilities are not so different from them. The show we performed was about a red-haired boy named Mark Riley who has Cerebral Palsy. In his performance he talks about his daily life with Cerebral Palsy and how he just does things a little different than the other kids.

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After the show was over one of the children came up to me and hugged me. She said “thank you for doing that”, I responded with “for doing what?” She told me how the other kids tease her and don’t have patience with her because it takes her a little longer to speak and do things. She was in tears as she wrapped herself around me again and her aid told me that she has been trying to get this point across to the other children for a long time; our show was the message she was trying to convey.

 

 

In Fallon, we had a friendship visit dance with Humboldt Shredders which is an organization that serves people with disabilities by preparing them for employment in the community. We had a delicious potluck provided by the community and then we danced until it was time to go.Image

 

Austin and Eureka were small towns where the community made us amazing meals and we spoke to them about our mission of building leaders of tomorrow by serving people with disabilities today. They are in awe every year by the team’s passion to serve people with disabilities and that our hope is to change the way society views people with disabilities.

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After the visits that we have had this week, it has made me so proud to be a part of such a great organization like Push America and Pi Kappa Phi. Thinking about the little girl who hugged me for a puppet show, the friends I danced with whose parents thanked me for what we do mean so much. It’s nice to receive the thank you’s, but what truly makes this so special, is the moments I spend with the friends I make. Their stories, smiles, and laughs always remind me of how lucky I am to be hanging out with them. Society tends to judge a book by its cover (which I am guilty of) but once you get to learn about these people, you learn what their true abilities are. A lot of the time, their abilities are more impressive than anything I am capable of.

The Dive

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Today’s passage is Ephesians 2:1-8. 

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

When reflecting on this I looked back at myself a few months ago. I was lost when it came to my walk with God. I had forgotten the role that God has played in my life, and I was left wandering and empty. When I went home for Easter, I went to church with my family, which most families do. This time was different though, I felt God embracing me and making me thirsty for him. God’s mercy and grace brought me back into a walk with him and I am so grateful to have the feeling of being whole again. I was brought to a church in Charlotte with a good friend of mine, Nick Breaux, who I grew closer with as a brother in Pi Kappa Phi and in Christ. I have been able to continue my walk with Christ on the road and I am so grateful for all of the blessings that I have received.

Prayer Request!

Last night I received a text from a fraternity brother asking for prayer from my team for this little girl named Teresa. She is 6 years old and had a heart transplant last night.  I received an update this morning about Teresa. She took the heart and was doing well until early this morning. She has extremely high pulmonary pressure which was causing the right atrium of her heart to work too hard. At 6:15 her right atrium stopped pumping and the doctors began chest compression’s. She is now on Life Support and once on Life Support the doctor’s have 3 days to find a heart that can handle the increased demands. Please keep Teresa and her family in your thoughts and prayers. I pray that this little girl can live a full life and that God will provide a heart for her.

Running Total: 26 miles

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The Journey continues from the Golden Gate to Lake Tahoe

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These past few days have been so busy but so rewarding. We have made our way from San Francisco to Napa, Sacramento, Jackson, Lake Tahoe and today we made our way into Carson City, Nevada. As we continue to travel this great country with our mission of raising awareness for people with disabilities, I am constantly reminded about how great this trip is. There is so much beauty with every place we pass through and every organization we visit with.

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In Jackson, California we visit with an organization called the Arc of Amador. At this visit I met my friend, Nicole. She is an amazing woman who is getting ready to celebrate her 33rd birthday this weekend! She will be going to the country fair to celebrate and is excited to ride her favorite ride, the ferris wheel. I don’t know what her disability is, honestly I really didn’t care because she didn’t have one in my view. She was so intelligent and we reminisced about the Pokemon days and told me all about how she is playing through the games again. She wants to be a Poke master again.. I know she’ll do it.

Leaving Jackson  kirkwoodthe team took on the 12,000 feet of climbing, 3 mountain passes, 95 miles, and 12 hours of cycling. Our guys represented the four pillars on this day, Abilities, Empathy, Teamwork, and Integrity. They had the ability to complete the difficult day, the empathy of being in the shoes of someone with a disability

by taking on the challenge of the day, the team work to keep pushing each other to the end, and integrity to stand strong with what they said they would do, and complete the ride. They were treated with a beautiful view of Lake Tahoe.Tahoe

“The Dive”

Today’s passage comes from Psalms 119:105:

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

This passage is a big part of my life recently. I have noticed that when I am not diving into my relationship with God that I tend to feel lost and empty, but when I am keeping the flame lit, I am lead in the right direction and feel whole. As I have been reflecting daily on God’s Word, I am finding myself happier and closer with God in general. I am able to find the answer that I am seeking with my future in all aspects.

As we make our way into the desert for the next week, we will start to grow closer as a team because there will be no distractions. There is no cell phone service, no wifi, no McDonalds, just small towns, us, and the desert. I’m looking forward to watching the team dynamic unfold this week.

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Running Update: 20 miles

It would be amazing to get some love from back home through a postcard, letter, or even a package. I haven’t been home in Michigan or Charlotte in a very long time and a physical piece of it always makes being away for so long easier. If you’d like to send me something, here are the list of the next 2 mail drops. Thanks for continuing to read, if you’d like to contact me just shoot me an email or text!

2. Arrive By June 18, 2013
Mr. Jeff Perlman
2730 S Forest Spring Way
Salt Lake City, UT 84106-2240

3. Arrive By June 29, 2013
Mr. T.J. Sullivan CAMPUSPEAK, INC.
2280 S. Xanadu Way Suite 300
Aurora, CO 80014
Attn: Journey of Hope
(Team Member Name)
Mail received after this date will not make it to the team due to July 4th Holiday!

Embarking on a Journey of a Lifetime

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Since the last time I left off, we have made it through the Redwood Forest, down the Pacific Coast Highway and into San Francisco, CA. We said farewell to our brothers who are continuing to travel down to Long Beach, CA to prepare for their cyclists to come in. With the departure of our South route brothers, we welcomed our cyclists who arrived a few days ago from all around the country. We have been busy with training them and refreshing our crews of our policies and procedures. It’s been a lot of work, but these important details will pay off when we are on the road and are actually having to use them in real situations.

The best part of orientation was our friendship visit with the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center which is an organization that serves people of all disabilities to help keep them active. We had a basketball game, and they sure know how to play! The Wildcats beat us 65-5.. no joke, they’re good.

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Two days ago we took some time in the city and took the team down to Fisherman’s Wharf and took a tour of Clif Bar HQ. Here are some of the photos I took!

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The Dive

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Yesterday’s passage was from Psalm 23, which fits perfectly with my team kicking off from the Golden Gate Bridge this morning.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2     He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3     he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

What lies ahead of us is 4,000 miles, tough terrain, heavy traffic, the elements, physical and mental battles, and sometimes ourselves. I had a handful of mothers last night come up to me and hug me and thank me for all of my hard work for organizing this trip. They followed that by asking me to keep their son safe this summer as I help guide them day to day. This trip is not easy, it’s tough and thankfully due to all of our safety management plans, we can make this trip as safe as possible to get them back to their mothers and families. This responsibility of caring for 33 other men across the country is huge to all of us on the crew and we will do our best to get our brothers across this great nation.

Psalm 23 hits home for this long journey ahead, God will guide us through each and every day, he will be with us on the tough days and the easy days. As my team cycles through the valleys, mountains, and dessert, we will fear no evil as we know we are safe due to God’s protection. Please pray for my team as we kick off this morning from San Francisco and make our way towards Washington, DC with our first stop in the beautiful city of Napa.

The Team

I am blessed to be traveling the country while raising funds and awareness for people with disabilities with this amazing group of men. This team is made up of amazing and unique individuals from around the country who have proven themselves to be the top caliber of men, leaders of Pi Kappa Phi. These men have each individually raised a minimum $5,500 each and have committed themselves to cycling 4,000 miles across the country for the most amazing mission of all, serving people with disabilities. I can’t wait to watch these guys continue to grow into leaders and for them to enjoy the best summer of their lives.

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Running Total: 12.5 miles

The long and winding road…

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“My God, I pray that I may awake realizing that you are beside me in tomorrow’s journey.” In memory of Todd J. Porterfield

Todd Porterfield was a brother from the University of Washington who was struck by a vehicle on the Journey of Hope and passed away. This memorial is at Camp Stand By Me where Todd dedicated a lot of his time to serve the camp.

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It’s been a couple days since I have posted but it feels like weeks. These past few days have been crazy busy and my life has been focused on all the logistics and finally, as I lay in this bed in Portland, Oregon, I have some time to reflect on the past couple days.

Friday we returned to Seattle where we finished up our Leadership training with Pi Kappa Phi leadership staff member, Rachel Marsh. She is a very talented individual and I am excited to see what this new leadership curriculum will do for our trip this summer. While we were going through our training we came up with our vision statement for what we hope our route will accomplish this summer.

Image“We will foster an atmosphere of compassion, energy, and accountability through our shared experiences on the Journey of Hope”

I believe that our route will be successful because of this. We have an amazing crew this summer with a diverse group of individuals and I can’t wait to meet our cyclists in a couple days.

Today we made our way to Portland, Oregon. It is an extremely diverse city with so much going on. As you can see below, we were sure to buckle-up as we entered.

ImageWe were given a tour of the Nike World Headquarters by a Pi Kappa Phi brother from Washington. It is such an amazing campus where the greatness seems never-ending. We were in awe the entire time.

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“The Dive”

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

Today’s passage came from John 13:5-14. Instantly this passage stood out to me and what I am doing this summer. “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” In my job I am taking a back seat this summer after organizing the entire trip. I love to be the team leader but this position allows me to get a new view of the trip and just pass on all the information to the Project Manager who will interpret it to the team. I didn’t quite grasp this at the beginning and it often times frustrated me, but now that I have been doing it for a week, it’s really good that I don’t have to manage a team on top of managing the logistics.

This passage also plays into my future with a job. As previously stated, I don’t know where my income will be coming from after August, it is really scary with bills, student loans, rent, food, etc. to pay. I know that my patience is so important because God has a plan for my life and for where my next step will be. He has always provided for me in one way or the other. God does things that we sometimes don’t understand right from the start but in the end it all makes sense. I can say this with almost every single part of my life from dating to work. I pray that I will find a job that makes me so happy and that I can continue to work with a burning passion.

Hope you are all well! I miss my family and friends back in Michigan and North Carolina. Feel free to comment or email me for any questions or encouragement, Spencer.K.Haworth@gmail.com

Also follow me on twitter! @spencerhaworth

Running 

Total Mileage: 8 miles

Be Still…

 

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These past few days at camp have been really great! We have been training at a camp called Camp Stand By Me which is a Easter Seals camp that serves children with disabilities. While there are no campers currently here, the facilities are amazing. Every part of the camp is accessible to people with disabilities from the cabins to all the paths. The camp is located on the Puget Sound, which is a waterway that opens up to the Pacific Ocean and is connected throughout most of the Seattle area. 

Last night we had an amazing sunset which is pictured above where all of the crews sat around a bonfire, making s’mores and telling stories about our hometowns. Learning about my fraternity brothers from around the country is a great experience. 

The Dive

This morning I sat by the water and opened up the daily bread devotional and Mark 4:35-41 was the passage and once again it hit home with what is going on in my life, specifically verses 39 and 40. 

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The section “Quiet, Be still” really is what stuck out to begin with. I normally am the type who loves to talk a lot, I tend to have an opinion about everything. I have been learning through my work, that I need to sometimes just sit back and listen. Being quiet and taking my environment in, can has proven to be very beneficial. I have been learning to be more humble and through sitting back and letting others take control of the situation, I have been able to be still. It has been a relaxing learning experience, instead of always being go, go, go, I can just enjoy the moment for what it is instead of missing it.

The next verse talks about man with little faith. I have been learning to grow in my faith, by waking up every morning and just reflecting on God’s Word. I have also been learning to have faith because at the end of this summer I do not have a job lined up. I am scared that I may not have one come August and so I am putting my full trust and faith that one will be provided for me. I have always been provided for and I believe that will continue to be true. I am asking for prayer about finding a job after this summer is over.

Running Update

Total Mileage: 6 miles