Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jesus, Growing Up, Final Exams and SWAMP FEVER!!!

"The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the 
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the 
and to inquire in his temple.
 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.” 
 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the 
                                             -Psalm 27

I've been reading this passage a lot over the last few days. I feel like it was my theme this semester, especially the last 2 verses. I remember my daddy telling me that this year was going to be my year of break through and that many things in my life were going to take off. When I first started thinking about writing this post and what my "break through" year consisted of, I got discouraged. I couldn't think of anything. Then God said, "Why are you thinking so superficially? Have you not seen what I've done for you this year?" It's true. Now that I think about it, I have grown up so much this past year. I am handling things while keeping my cool, instead of getting overly emotional. Do I still make decisions off a pure emotion? Absolutely. I'm a girl. I shouldn't, but sometimes I do. There have been times where I've been stuck, had no earthly idea what to do, but God has continually come through for me. He has shown me everyday that He is in heavy pursuit of my heart. I've finally given it to Him, not just the parts I've wanted Him to have.... but my whole heart. He's wanted it for a long time. I've been so distracted over the last 2 years. This has been the year of heavy pursuit and growing up. Jesus has been so good to me.

So now I'm sitting here, starting my last week of college as a junior. Next Thursday morning I will officially be a senior in college. That is one of the most exciting yet scariest things I have ever said. Only a year left of doing what I've always done. Change is coming, thankfully God is teaching me about adjusting to change. I'm quite a hard headed (no, not hard headed, my mommy doesn't like that term), how about determined? Yeah, I'm a determined individual. Even with that, God is taking me by the hand, patiently, showing me that it's okay. He's got my back, my front, sides... okay, He's got everything. 

I'm not longer worried. I don't want to be in control.

"Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring."- Proverbs 27:1

I've always told people things that I have planned for the future. Not anymore. I'm not guaranteed tomorrow, so I'm going to take little by little what God has for me each day.
I was able to go home for almost a week to hang out with my family before final exams began. There is no place I'd rather be than my hometown. I don't have to do anything special at home to have fun, just being with my family is all that matters.

I was able to see my brother run track for the first time, and it was so much fun. My brother is a talented guy. If you don't know him, you should wish you do.

On a fitness note: Swamp Fever 5K is in a little over 2 weeks. That's right, I'm running my first 5K!! It's exciting! I've only run 2 miles straight so far, so I've got to practice running that extra 1.1 miles this week. I'm going to try to comfortably run 4 miles before the big race. I always said that I was never a runner and that I would never be able to run a race... well watch out people! Sarah Melton is running Swamp Fever! I've got my glitter shoes, spandex (yes, this lady is running in spandex) and pink shirt ready. It's gonna be good! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why I do what I do...

From time to time I'll get asked why I train or where my passion comes from. I guess it has a lot to do with my story. I've never really shared my complete story and I've got plenty of time today, so here it goes:

I grew up in a Christ-centered home. My daddy grew up in the church with God-fearing parents. My mom grew up in a non-Christian home and did not get saved until she was older. Now her entire family are Christ-followers. I grew up going to church and said a prayer asking Jesus into my heart on October 17, 1995. I was five years old. I did not necessarily understand the full concept of what it meant to be saved, but I knew that Jesus died for me and He wanted to live in my heart. (It took me a while to figure out how exactly He got in there... ) :D
I have always gone to church with my Nana and Papa, Memom and my daddy's sister's family. I'm blessed to have grown up in a wonderful, Christian home with family who always support me. My parents firmly believed in sending their children to private Christian school. The first time I went to a public educated institution was when I stepped foot on the college campus. I am grateful for the foundation I received in my years of elementary, middle and high school. 
One of the first defining moments in my life was when my Papa was diagnosed with cancer in 2000. I was only 9 years old. Something in me snapped. I have never been so angry at God. I didn't understand how God let something so terrible happen to someone who loved Him so much. What bothered me more is that my Papa was not angry. He was dying... and he wasn't afraid. I was terrified. 
On October 16, 2003, after wrestling back and forth with God for a little over 3 years... He showed up powerfully. He showed me, through my Papa's battle with cancer, that He did love me, my family and most importantly that my Papa was not fighting alone or for a lost cause. 
Papa went home to forever be with His best friend on June 17, 2004. Since then I have heard countless stories of how his life had impacted others. God knew what He was doing. He used Papa to further His kingdom. Now as his granddaughter I have the honor of carrying on that legacy. 

Many people that I know have heard that story. I've spoken in front of a bunch of people and shared it, but the story continues. 

High school was one of the worst yet best experiences I've had in my life. I was a secure girl, mostly because I was loved and reassured by my earthly father. But school was terrible. My freshman and sophomore years weren't so bad. I transitioned into high school fairly well, I was a varsity athlete, was involved with Christian clubs, had a great relationship with my teammates and had a great guy (even though we never officially dated) who supported me. 
My Junior year is when things started changing. I think that's a defining year in high school, you either go down one path or the other. I never really cared about being popular, I tried to be friends with everyone whether they wanted to be around me or not. It was extremely rare that I got picked on to my face, but I knew it went on. I wasn't skinny, didn't have the best complexion and I loved Jesus... a lot. There are two situations that happened my senior year that haunt me to this day:
1. I sat in the back corner of my English class. My assigned seat was in the middle of a bunch of male athletes. I walked in late for class that day because I was helping a teacher out. When I walked in and sat down it got really quiet and the guy I sat next to said "here comes Sarah Melton, weighing in at 185 pounds." I good and well knew that I didn't weigh that much, but he said that in front of me and 20 of my classmates. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me..." yeah, that's a bunch of bull. I've forgiven him...I forgave him a long time ago, but thinking about that moment hurts me. That's one of the reasons that if I'm ever late to a class, I hesitate and sometimes don't even go.

2. One of my teammates found out during my junior year that she had a cyst on her brain. She came into the lunch room in tears worried about the situation. I get up out of my seat, grab some of my teammates and we surround her in the corner and start praying for her. After we were done, I went back to my table to clean up and one of my classmates says loudly to her friends, "look at the Virgin Mary, praying for all to see." People say going to a Christian school is easy... think again.

I felt very alone during those years. I was in a dormant spiritual season. I didn't feel God and felt abandoned by Him, but I had nothing else to turn to. I remember begging Him to take all of it away and make it easy. I knew He was there and I knew my midnight hour was coming. Jesus was moving and He was not going to leave me.

I began training right after graduation. When I first began, it became very obsessive. I would constantly think about workout routines and nutrition. I was only doing it out of insecurity. I feared that if I didn't look the way a college girl is expected to look, then the teasing would follow me into college. It went on like this until about September of my freshman year at ECU.

During my first semester, I quickly learned what it meant to be accepted for who you are by true friends. I met many girls in my campus ministry who never once remarked about my imperfections. They always encouraged me and they wanted to be around me. I almost didn't know how to react. A girl named Alex noticed my obsessive training habits and confronted me about them. She told me that she was worried about me being obsessive and that I didn't need to measure up to anything because Jesus loved me no matter what. After hanging out with these girls I began to see myself through God's eyes. As soon as I started seeing myself that way, my training took off. I dropped 30 pounds and became stronger than I had ever been. I finally had found the right mindset and my relationship with Jesus grew deeper.
My passion now is to help other people find their identity in Christ, with fitness as a tool. 

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." -1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I was bought with a price. I am valued. I know who I am and I know Whose I am. I belong to the King of Kings and the Creator of the universe. Honoring God with my body is an act of worship. Some people feel tortured in the gym (and sometimes I do too), but amidst all that torture, He is with me. I know that sounds funny, but that's just me. 

That's why I do what I do and have the passions that I have. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bench Press, Genius Mommies, Groceries, Simple Recipes and Anti-Tanning

Second blog in a row with an interesting title. I'm on a roll! I guess I'll tackle this post by the order of the quite lengthy title.

Bench Press
Today was a big day in the world of fitness, well for me that is. I had a post-max test at the gym. I know what you're thinking, in order for there to be a post-max test then there must have been a pre-max test. Guess what, there was a pre-max test but I don't think that I talked about it on here. So I'm going to tell you about it now. :) Earlier in the semester (around mid-January) Drill Sergeant Billy came to class with that little smirk on his face telling us about our pre-max test. Basically each student got to choose one thing to do a max on, but it isn't your typical max. It was the heaviest amount of weight I could do with repetition. So what do I do? Bench Press, why you ask? I have no stinkin' clue... by far one of the dumbest things I've ever done. I go for the bar (45 lbs) but after I hit rep 30, he made me add weight. So I threw two 5's and two 2 1/2's on the bar to make it a grand total of 60 lbs. (shut up, boys! I don't care what you say, 60 pounds makes me tough). I was extremely nervous, but I start the exercise and end up reppin' it 10 times. WOO!! Yes, I did do a happy dance in the middle of the gym.
Today was the glorious post-max test. The rules of this test are: you don't improve your reps, you fail. Pretty simple, huh? Well, I was nervous because last week I tried practicing for it and could only lift it 3 times. That definitely presented a problem. Today I ate my oatmeal and prayed... hard. (Not that I don't pray hard on a regular, I'm getting side tracked easy today). I put the weights on the bar and was trying not to think about my class surrounding the bench, along with the big weight lifting dudes who were on the next bench over, or Drill Sergeant Billy who was staring me down making sure I did everything right. The first 6 reps were a breeze, then I hit 7 and feel like my arms are going to fall off. I knew I had to at least get 11 but I pushed and ended up getting 12! WOO!! I passed my test. I was so happy that I forgot to do a happy dance! I'll have to put that on my list of things to do tomorrow!

Genius Mommies and Simple Recipes
My mommy is pretty much the smartest lady I know. When I cook, I get real fancy. But unfortunately, there's no time for fancy in college. I can cook about 2 recipes that are simple, healthy and take hardly anytime. Those are the same 2 recipes I have been eating non-stop since last August. Needless to say, I'm getting really tired of eating the same things. So who do I call in this time of simple recipe distress?! My mommy!! She saved the day (she does that quite often, it's her thing)! She gave me a small grocery list of things to buy and a lot of different recipes that I could make with those few things. I will have to post some recipes on here at some other date. I just thought I would take this paragraph to honor my wonderful mother who is a recipe genius! :)

I went on a grocery store adventure today. I usually shop at Harris Teeter, surprisingly it's a lot cheaper than Food Lion here. Today I decided to go to The Fresh Market. It is a really cool place to go to! Especially if you are a big healthy food buff. I really did not find their prices unreasonable at all. It's comparable with Harris Teeter and their products are fresh with no preservatives. Basically that means it'll do your body good! :)

Everyone here is on a "tanning spree" because summer is just around the corner. I think this year I have decided not to use any kind of tanning/bronzing products. I have extremely fair skin and last year was the first year that it really began to bother me. I felt like I needed to be tan, so instead of going to the tanning bed (which is pretty much death, if you do it... I dare you to stop. Oh and I can't do it cause I'm at risk for melanoma), I got spray tans. They actually work fairly well but who knows what kind of toxins are in that junk.
Tonight I sat down and thought long and hard about why I wanted a tan. I know that sounds really dumb, but sometimes it's the simplest things that complicate our way of thinking. The reason I wanted to do it was because that is what everyone else is doing. I think society has a huge message that everyone needs to be tan to be pretty. I don't think being tan makes anyone pretty. It makes everyone the same. There are plenty of fair skinned, beautiful women out there. Look at Nicole Kidman and Anne Hathaway. They are two of the most popular actresses in Hollywood, they're fair skinned and absolutely gorgeous! I believe beauty has a lot to do with how you carry yourself. So this summer, I'm going to carry myself in my bikini with fair skin. Booyah! Jesus made me fair skinned for a reason, so I will rock it because that what He wants me to do. Plus, some dudes like fair skinned ladies. :D

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I squat, you squat, we all squat...

Interesting title makes for a good blog. Actually, the interesting title is only in hope that this blog will be good. So many things have happened since I last updated spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. Heck, it was like extreme makeover!

I feel like God is bringing me back to being content in my singleness and all that He has for me right now during this season. I am by no means ready to entrust my heart to a man right now. I was able to go back to my hometown this weekend and spend some time with my family. One of the greatest parts of the entire weekend was getting to spend some one on one time with my daddy. Sadly, I don't get to do that very much anymore. With me getting older, I realize that those times are going to become extremely rare... even more rare than now. I want to cherish these sweet memories with my daddy. He is the greatest man I know. Over the last two years or so, my heart and head have been clouded with so much that I never really took the time to listen to my daddy's heart. Yes, I heard him and all that he was saying, but I never truly listened. The biggest thing that I was reminded from him on Sunday morning (he stayed at home with me because I was exhausted and needed rest) is his heart for his little girl. I don't care how old I am, I will always be my daddy's little girl... his first little girl. I've always known my daddy has loved me, he shows me that in so many ways. He is one of the main reasons why I am so secure, content and confident. Hearing him talk to me about the way I deserve to be treated brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I will never get tired of spending daddy/daughter time with him!
When I think about the love that my father has for me, I can't understand how much he truly does love me. I won't understand until I am in a hospital bed some day, holding my own child for the first time. I've heard it's indescribable. Then I think about how much my heavenly Father loves me. He loves me even more than my own earthly father loves me. That's something that I will never be able to understand. I am so loved!

This song by Chris Tomlin has meant so much to me this week. I have no idea why, but I love it! It's on his new CD "And if our God is for us." You need to go buy it right now! :D

This last week I learned a new definition of the term "sore." I thought I knew what sore was, then good ol' drill sergeant Billy decided to re-define it for me. How thoughtful. I get to class on Monday thinking, "it's Monday... he was tough on us last Monday, surely he'll give us a break..." Whew buddy was I wrong! He introduced me to an evil practice called "ladder sets." Word of advice to all you folks out there, as soon as you hear the term "ladder sets"... RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!

Aren't you dying to know what a ladder set is? I'm so glad, because I'm gonna tell you! :)

The point of a ladder set is to work out a specific muscle group until you reach muscle failure.
What is muscle failure? Basically it's a term that means there is no possible way for your muscles to do anymore. They are shot, finished, done.
You grab a partner or two who are around the same strength level as you. Then you pick an exercise, decide on a weight that is heavy enough for all of you because you do not change the weight throughout the reps. My group consisted of myself and two other girls. We decided that we wanted to do squats (squats are by far my favorite, but a max out squat is probably one of the most torturous workouts to do). We used the smith machine to spot us just incase our legs gave out and we fell. (It happens). We put 25's on each side and went to work (without a spot, it would be a 95 lb. squat, but with assistance I would say it was around 50-60). Each person starts out doing one repetition (rotating people after each rep), then 2, 3, 4 and so on. You keep going until someone's legs finally give out and you can't do anymore. (Which was me, I was done after 13 rounds...which in total equalled 91 squats... ouch!)
After that was done, we had to do an opposing muscle group. Since squats work mostly quads (and some hamstrings) we did deadlifts as our opposing muscle workout. Deadlifts mostly stress hamstrings, but it's also very good for your lower back. Everyone in the group successfully did 8 rounds of 50 lb. deadlifts!! Girl power!!
Then I woke up the next day... there are no words to describe that pain that I was in. I have never been so sore, nor do I ever think I will be that sore again. I'm competitive, especially with something I'm passionate about, so I was not going to be behind in the lifts. I certainly paid for it the next day. Then Wednesday rolls around and I can still barely walk I'm in so much pain. I arrive at my class again... and there's drill sergeant Billy, with that awful smirk on his face. He separates us into two teams and decides we were going to have a relay and strength competition and guess what kind of strength competition we had... SQUATS. I wanted to cry. The girls had to squat 100 lbs. as many times as they could. I successfully did it 5 times. I was definitely a little disappointed because I could've done more if I wouldn't have been so sore, but I still got more than any other girl in the class! WAHOO!! So yes, that was my extreme week at the gym. I challenge you to push yourself to the max one day in the near future. Go out to GNC and buy some glutamine powder and take it at night before you go to sleep after a hard workout. I recommend mixing it up with orange juice.. yum! (Not really, griny O.J. really isn't that great, but your muscles will thank you the next day). Glutamine really does help with muscle soreness, sadly I did not think to buy any after my two crazy days at the gym. (Thanks, daddy for the reminder) Hopefully this weekend my legs will feel normal, function properly and I will be able to go on a run!

To top off a crazy week, tomorrow I will be participating in the Relay for Life. It's a cancer awareness rally that goes on once a year. I am teaming up with my fellow Exercise and Sport Science Club members to be a part of the rally. The event goes all night long. During the 12 hour event, 2 members from our team will be walking around the football stadium at all times, raising support for cancer patients and survivors. I'm not sure who we are representing, but tomorrow night I am walking for my Papa. He's my hero and he deserves to be remembered at this event. He may not be what everyone considers a "cancer survivor," but he was to me. He fought till the very end and he did win. He got to go hang out with Jesus... sounds like quite a win to me!!

I miss you Papa, this is for you.