Starting to run

4:55 a.m.

That’s the insane, awful time I set my alarm for four mornings a week during the summer.

The summer. You know, the time when I don’t work.

I started running in the summer in 2009. I conned my best friend to run a half marathon that following February with me. I think she was trying to gain her sainthood. I don’t know about her, but I had never run a mile in my life. A bear had never chased me, so running had never seemed necessary.

That summer, though, I had a lot of stress going on – one of the big ones being starting my doctorate classes. I was having trouble sleeping – which has been an ongoing process since I can remember – but running seemed to work. Running wore me out and helped me sleep.

Rindy ran with me. For our training, we would run a city block and then walk a block. We moved up to two blocks run, one block walk, but we never went any further than that. While we enjoyed the running (and frequently treated ourselves to ice cream after long runs), we enjoyed the companionship more. Whether it was a 6 a.m. run or a 10 p.m. run, it was a chance for us to talk, to visit, and to relieve stress. We groaned together about our sore muscles. We griped about our work. We laughed about inside jokes.

Eventually, though, it was time. Time to run our first official race. I’ll never forget our first 5k. Please remember that we were not runners before this. Ever. We weren’t even really exercisers. We were in our mid-20s with good metabolism, so why exercise?

That 5k was hard. SO hard. We started yelling in the middle of it because we’re generally loud anyway (or maybe just I am), and we had a mantra: “What are we running for? PANCAKES!! What are we running for? PANCAKES!” (Because we were going to iHOP – or is it iHOB now??? – after our race.)

No, seriously, we really did eat pancakes after the race.

We ran a couple of other smaller races – another 5k and a 10k later on – and then in February 2010, we ran our first half marathon in New Orleans. We woke up at what we considered the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. (this was obviously before we had children and recognized 5 a.m. as the golden hour before children wake up) and ran 13.1 miles. Thankfully, they were all flat.

Going to race — IN THE DARK! Who gets up at this time??!

We were exhausted at the end, but we did it. And I felt that runner’s high. I had accomplished something I had never done before. I felt successful.

We got prizes! And FOOOOOODDD.

So…I kept up running.

I like to joke that I run to eat, and that’s true a bit. I love to eat. I’m from Louisiana – how could I not? We have beignets, fried fish, bread pudding, crawfish, poboys. I don’t think I’ve ever said no to any of those at any time. But I also want to be healthy (to an extent, as I do love those fried foods). I want to be strong. Strength is emotional and physical, and, in the physical form, running helps me accomplish that goal.

Plus, one of my favorite stories to tell is about The Artist when she was about 3 years old. I had put her down for a nap (so I thought), and I started running on the treadmill. If she looks out her bedroom window, she can see the treadmill. Kyle heard her on the monitor and checked the camera. She was standing on her nightstand, watching me, and yelling, “Go, Mama! Run, run, run!”

She knows her mama is a runner.


Imperfect creations

We celebrate Sarah as the mother of nations, as a princess of nations. She was the wife of our Father Abraham, the mother of Isaac, the ancestor of our Savior. No doubt, she accomplished remarkable deeds. She survived her husband giving her to the Egyptian Pharaoh to save himself. She gave birth when she was 90. She was a hostess. But she also was a human.

When I look through Scriptures, I see a woman filled with determination – and jealously. A woman angered by her husband and her own actions. A woman who understood embarrassment and sarcasm. Sarah could have been an old, bitter woman.

I kind of get her.

We al have to make choices that dictate how the rest of our lives will go. Do we go to college? Do we study? Do we get married? Do we venture out on a new business?

And then there are the choices that we make daily that can add up over a lifetime. Do I wake up early to study the Bible? Do I seek to pray throughout my day? Do I spend time with my children or scroll mindlessly through Facebook? Do I focus on the task at hand or procrastinate?

We are so much like Sarah. I know we all are because we are human. We all experience jealously. We all experience anger. We all have made wrong choices and had to live with the consequences. We all have been embarrassed.

But we don’t have to be bitter.

Sarah could have been an old, bitter woman – if not for God. Yes, she made mistakes, and yes, she probably wouldn’t have been my choice to invite for dinner during those days, but Sarah experienced God’s glory and God’s promises. She didn’t always believe them – and she certainly made a mess of things when she tried to make God’s promises come to fruition in her own time – but she was loved by God.

We all may have her characteristics, but we can still be used by God. God still loves us, and we can still play a part in His magnificent rescue plan. We can still glorify Him. We can still praise Him. We can still serve Him.

Even when we make mistakes.

Even when we have been jealous, hateful, spiteful.

Even if we don’t see how He could possibly use us – that’s His specialty.

We are all imperfect creations living in an imperfect world created by a perfect Creator. And despite our imperfections, He loves us and calls us His own.

We don’t have to grow up to be old, bitter people. Sure, every day we get a little older, but I’d much rather be known as an old, joyful woman who trusted God.

Social media

Social media audit — a start

I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter.

As I conducted my dissertation research about Twitter, one might consider I have an affinity for it. Some days I do. Most days I don’t. After going through more than a million (and, no, that is NOT an exaggeration) collegiate tweets during one fall, I decided Twitter and I needed some time apart. Since then, we’ve reconnected, but I do not feel as loyal to it as I probably should be.

However, Twitter is one of my research topics still because, as I stated, I have a love-hate relationship. How can I teach journalism and communication courses and not be allured by it? Media outlets are using it to quote the president of the United States. KFC is using it to garner attention for its chicken. Kanye West and the Kardashians use it to make us believe they’re still relevant (don’t – just don’t). My college students use it day in and day out – and that’s where it becomes not just a research tool but a teaching topic as well.

I love to tell the story of a former student of mine, a Democrat. He wanted an internship with a Republican politician, though, so before he ever applied, he conducted a semi-social media audit of himself and changed all of his profiles to Republican red. He landed the internship.

Social media audits can be beneficial for everyone, not just students looking for internships or professionals seeking new career opportunities. Social media audits can help keep information private, locate individuals with similar goals, and expand one’s research and knowledge capabilities. And, even better – anyone can do it. No downloads or additional fees necessary.

I have my students conduct a social media audit in the SM class I teach, and here are the basics of what they’re looking for:

  • How many social media profiles do you have? (Think Facebook and Twitter for sure, but also remember any blogs you may have, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • How often are you posting on each of these sites? It may be that you use Facebook every day but haven’t looked at your LinkedIn site in months – which may indicate you need to remove that profile.
  • What is your audience engagement? Do people respond or like your status updates? What about pictures? Do you wish people commented more? Less? What kind of dialogue do you want to open up when you post information?

For everyone — stay-at-home mom, teacher, minister, etc – you can let social media serve you or harm you. Determine why you have these social media profiles. Determine why you post what you do on them. And make them work for you. Do you simply want to have a record of your vacations to look back through in a year or so? Maybe a trusty printed photo album would be better than to post your information online. Are you hoping to move up the corporate ladder or find a new job in the upcoming year? Maybe you shouldn’t post the political rant that you just really, really, really want to.

Everyone has a reason for choosing which SM to engage. However, make sure you know why you do.

Links to helpful templates and tips in conducting social media audits:
Sprout Social
Buffer Blog


An introduction to illness

I always have an internal struggle about talking about my struggles with the disease that eventually took my father’s life. Do I actually want to put this out in the open? Do I actually want people to read this? After that debate rages, then the more important question – how do I write about it? How can I address this still painful subject? How do I dredge up old memories that I would rather not? And why on God’s green earth would I even do it?

I write about it because it’s part of my history, part of my testimony, part of my identity. I continually remind people about it because if part of my story can offer encouragement or hope, I have succeeded with my goal.

First, though, let’s start at the beginning – or maybe at the end.

My father died April 23, 2016, due to complications from dementia. I was seven months pregnant with The Engineer at the time; The Artist was three.

My dad was a rock for my family. He was funny, he loved jokes, and he loved Jesus. Kyle once said, “You remember how Job was tested by God, but his faith was refined? And remember despite how bad it got, Job praised God? I bet God is saying to Satan right now, ‘You see my servant down there? See how he praises Me through all of this? He is a good and faithful man.’”

And that ended up being so true. Even when he was so sick, even when he knew something was wrong and he wasn’t sure what was wrong – he had his faith in God.

Somewhere in the spring of 2012, we noticed something was wrong. We couldn’t pinpoint it, but something was wrong. He was sleepwalking at times. When he would sleepwalk, he wouldn’t know where he was or who was around him. Tests were performed. SO MANY TESTS. Blood tests. Sleep tests. Scans. X-rays. Go to this doctor, see this specialist.

We ended up at a neurologist who practices three hours away from my parents’ house. He diagnosed Dad with Parkinson’s – but a more mental part of Parkinson’s, as Dad didn’t have tremors. So we went with that diagnosis for about a year, but nothing seemed to be getting better. He was tired all the time. He felt bad. “I just feel so tired,” he’d say over and over. His voice was so soft.

Nothing got better. Things only got worse.

We ended up seeing a Parkinson’s specialist, who also worked three hours away from my parents’ home. We went through several diagnoses over a three-year time period, but the last diagnosis ended up being dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s.

Two years after we noticed something was wrong, we started dealing with more noticeable symptoms: paranoia, lack of judgment, and balance problems. As the disease progressed, it only worsened his motor skills and speaking ability.

Several years ago, a friend of mine asked me why a good God would let her father die, and, in the moment, I couldn’t answer her. Not only did I feel that any platitude I could say would be ineffective, but how could I possibly comfort her during such a loss? Nothing I said would bring her father back. And I refuse to state empty words.

It’s not wrong to question why God allows some things to happen. We’re made to wonder, to have a natural curiosity. When bad things happen to good people, we want answers. The problem is we expect answers.

Sometimes answers don’t come. Can I explain why my friend’s father died? No. Can I explain why my own father died? No.

But I’m not focusing on the why. I focus on the how.

How do I show love to others?

How do I get through this?

How do I display my faith while dealing with this?

How do I give God glory in the bad times as well as the good?

None of these answers come easy. Showing love and affection is probably the easiest one, because I have easy answers for that (cards, phone calls, taking my really cute kid over for visits, etc.). But the others are a little trickier to navigate. These are almost daily questions I ask myself. But I do stand strong on a few facts:

God loves me, and He loves my family. He has not forgotten us.

I didn’t blame God for this illness. I still do not hold any negativity toward God. I don’t understand it, and it still hurts me to the core, but we don’t live in a world with sunshine and roses all the time. We live in a world where bad things happen all the time.

God will sustain me. When my girls slowly learned to walk (and, yes, it was precious), they both were terrified of letting go of my hands. Just like they squeezed my hands as they learned to walk, God still is holding on to me. I’m not alone, and He’s helping me walk.

I see the blessings. Isn’t it crazy to see blessings in the midst of hurricanes? It seems so to me. The wind may be howling, the rain may be pouring, but I can see bright raindrops on spring flowers.

I don’t have all the answers. And that’s ok. I’m going to live abundantly through the storm.



When Kyle and I chose names for the girls, we didn’t look too much into the meaning of those names. We wanted to make sure their names didn’t mean child “of shame” (Here’s looking at you, Ishbosheth) or child “of my trouble” (Rachel’s last son), but we didn’t specifically pick their names because of what they meant. My parents didn’t pick my name based on its meaning (which is “woman of Judea,” in case anyone was wondering).

Americans mostly now pick names that they like for various reasons or have familial significance.

Our names, whether or not meaning is predominantly attached to them, define us in a way. We all have that name that we don’t want to name our children. When Kyle and I were picking out names for The Artist, I suggested one and he said, “Oh, no. I know a girl with that name. She’s going to burn down a school.” So maybe not that name. Additionally, because I teach about a hundred individual students during a school year, I had a short list of names that were definitely not for consideration.

We don’t get to choose our names any more than we get to choose our family. But our names have profound meaning for our reputation.

When someone says your name – when someone “name drops” you in conversation – what is the reaction? Why is your name being brought up? What is the emotion conveyed when your name is said? Is it joy? Is it a fond memory? What does your name mean for other people?

Whatever our names mean – whatever our reputations have become – God has also named us. The Creator of the Universe has called us His own with meanings to our names.

We are children of God.
— But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name — John 1:12

We are Jesus’ friends.
“I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.” — John 15:15

We are heirs.
We are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:1

We are chosen.
For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. – Ephesians 1:4

We are free.
For freedom, Christ set us free. – Galatians 5:1a

Throughout the Bible, God has renamed His own people. He renamed Sarai to Sarah, a princess of nations. Abram was renamed Abraham because he was the father of nations. Saul became Paul after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Our names are significant, our names hold meaning, and God knows us individually. He knows us and He loves us, and we are His treasured possessions, his children, and His friends.