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Rarely has my life been so eventful. And lucky for you, pictureful.

This weekend I went to Texas for Mother’s Day:

I love my mom.

I love my grandmother.

Oh, dear dog nephew. I guess I “love” him, too. :)

Then yesterday I BOUGHT A NEW CAR! Holy cow… I’m still reeling from that. :) But I’m very happy! Any good name suggestions? I pride myself in unique and clever names.

And tonight, thanks to the generosity of some dear people, we had our blood donor appreciation night at Incredible Pizza!

We even had a special sign to lead us to our room!

This is our INCREDIBLE group! Who loves blood donors… WE DO!

I love this baby! We are raising the roof here. Although not pictured, he did bust a few moves of his own.

One of my favorite things was the go-kart race! Let’s bump this taco stand! ;)

Fierce competition.

I got to wear these sweet, sexy racing shoes.

And then I WON, suckas! :) BOOYA!

But my favorite part was seeing so much of this sweet smile. I love this boy!

Last but certainly not least, my rock star office launched the new, re-designed today!!! I am so so so proud of my co-workers, and am so blessed in a million ways to work where I do with the people I do.

WHEW! Busy, busy few days. But I’ve had a blast. Hopefully life will calm down to a normal speed soon, but in the meantime, I am so grateful for the beautiful blessings God seems to be raining on me.

One of the reasons for my being much too busy lately is the fact that I was helping plan the QSYS Spring Retreat.

My idea for a theme was Spiritual Gladiators (including the joust and gauntlet… it’s all metaphorical, right?), but it never got off the ground.

However, I did invent a new game (patent pending): dramatic interpretations of Sunday school songs. Favorites included “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” and “Joy down in my heart.”

This year, rather than being a spectator at the OKC Memorial Marathon, 4 of my friends from church and I decided to form a relay team! I have to say that I had the best team in the world, and if you ever want a great activity to do with friends, a marathon relay is it.

In addition to my four sweet friends, I was part of TeamOC, which had over 400 participants in different relay events! It was so awesome to see our shirts wherever I looked!

I could say a lot about how much it meant to me to be there and to set goals and see them achieved. It’s incredible. God is so good. I will just say this. As I ran I saw a woman with a shirt that said, “The miracle is not that I will finish; it’s that I began.” :) Can’t add any more than that.

So without further ado, here are pictures!

Our awesome Quail Singles Ministry Relay team! This is the night before at the TeamOC pasta dinner. From right to left, Amy, me, Wes, Harrison and Rebecca. We’re in the order of our legs.

Me right after I finished my leg! Woooooooo hoo! This may be one of my favorite pictures of me, ever. It’s a good feeling to be proud of yourself!

At the finish area after Amy and I finally found each other! She has been such an inspiration to me!

Our fantastic team after everyone finished. I love these guys, and can’t wait to do it again next year! Time to set new goals! Woo hoo! Who wants to run the relay next year?

To view all my marathon pictures, click here.

Tonight I went to a concert I’ve been excited about for a while, featuring Shane and Shane and Bethany Dillon!

Bethany and her fiancee even sang one of my favorite songs. Here’s a snippet:

Shine on Me from Ann W on Vimeo.

And it was tons of fun to go with my friends, who have great musical taste and always make my life much sweeter.

This picture cracks me up. :)

Any group of people has a certain set of dynamics and personality. Our singles group at church is no different. One of the “tensions” we have is that there are certain people who like to eat very healthily, some to an extreme, and there are others who don’t like to be reminded that they aren’t eating very healthily. :)

This afternoon we helped with the senior ministry’s luncheon, which was catered by a culinary angel. Seriously, some of the best food I’ve eaten in a long time. This included an absolutely luscious chocolate cake. I’m not generally a chocolate cake fan, but this cake was seriously perfect. And she made three of them. Oh, sweet temptation. Watching her pour the chocolate sauce on the top was one of the most seductive things I’ve ever seen.

So fast forward the time for us to clean up. Several of us found ourselves just kind of loitering around the remaining cake… and it just so happened to be those of us who try and abide by healthy eating. The next thing you know… well, just take a look:

Untitled from Ann W on Vimeo.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta realize life’s too short to not eat chocolate cake. :)

I told you last week that I gave my testimony at church to help rouse some donors for the blood drive. Well, the Lord provides! I think they told me there were 43 units collected at the end of the day, including 14 people from the young singles ministry! I am just overjoyed. I have the best friends in the world. There were several who really didn’t want to give, but did. It’s such a good, easy, and important thing! Here are some photos, since the blog has been lacking color lately.

Dear Pete, such a trooper. :) (that’s iodine, not blood on his arm- he hadn’t started yet). And look at Lindsey back there smiling!

Amy says, “I love blood donation! It’s a game for me. Try and beat 4:32!”

Rebecca says, “Blood donation makes me happpppy!”

OBI Lady says, “^#%$ Why are you taking pictures?!”

I’m not just an advocate, I’m also a donor! Despite the blurriness, I assure you that it is me.

After donating we went to lunch at Texas Roadhouse to regain our strength. Look how cute we are and how much we love each other!

Lindsey and Tiffany

Angie and Rebecca

Ann and Amy

Pete and Wes

Today was a big day! I was asked by our church’s blood drive coordinator to give my testimony to the congregation at both services. I was pretty nervous, but this is something I’m quite passionate about and have wanted to do for a while. The Lord opened the door, so I walked through!

This morning as I was trying to psyche myself up and calm myself down, I listened to “Something to Say” by Matthew West on repeat. The words seemed VERY applicable as I thought about what the Lord has done in my life through the gift of blood donors.

You’ve got something to say
If you’re livin’, if you’re breathin’
You’ve got something to say
And you know if your heart is beatin’
You’ve got something to say
And no one can say it like you do
God is love and love speaks through you
You’ve got something to say

It went well, and I have to give so many thanks to my fantastic cheerleaders who encouraged me through. Thanks of course also to all those who donate blood! This Valentine’s Day truly give a gift from your heart! Not to your loved one, perhaps, but to the greater whole of humanity. :)

Here is the text of my testimony:

About two years ago, I went through a long illness that included in major surgery. A few days after being released from the hospital my parents had to rush me back to the ER. Apparently I was bleeding internally. Due to one of the complications of my illness, my blood wouldn’t clot. I was in very serious condition, having already lost a substantial amount of blood and my body was unable to stop it.

I remember the overwhelming pain and fear of that night, and crying in desperation for God to please help me. And did help me that night, in the form of the 20+ donors whose blood I received. The doctors were able to give me enough whole blood and blood products until my bleeding stabilized. Those donors didn’t know me, nor will they ever, but for whatever reason, they felt compelled to give. And because of their gifts, I’m here today.

I hope that I can put a face on blood recipients for you. I know blood donation is a pretty thankless job, but I want to thank you for the work you’ve already done, and encourage you to keep giving. You never know whose life you may be able to save.

Just a few things.

I am a proud member of the Family of God at Quail Springs.

I have never been more excited about the future of the church than I am now.

I am thankful for the gifts the Lord has given each of us and hope we will find ways to glorify Him through those gifts.

I celebrate the freedom found in Christ and His church.

I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store!

For the past month or so, our small group from church has been using Sunday nights to tell our stories. Those denominationalists might call it giving testimonies. :) Anyway, last night was my turn.

It’s kind of a strange thing to have a captive audience listen to you tell about your entire life, birth to present. The only way in which it can work is within a supportive group who truly cares about you. All those who’ve already told their stories have shown incredible vulnerability and openness, and God has really been glorified through their triumphs and struggles.

So last night was my turn! Even if you’ve just read the blog over the past few years, you know that my life has had some ups and downs. It was difficult to remember and recount many hard memories, but also very healing and therapeutic to see how God has provided and worked throughout my entire life. The best part of all is that I’m so excited to see what lies ahead. :)

In case I haven’t mentioned it, I’m so grateful to be surrounded by such an amazing cloud of witnesses who cheer me on and encourage me to follow the vision and paths God’s put before me. Many thanks to all of you who have been part of my story.

Team Nickerson! Mr. and Mrs. Nickerson, me, Pete, Amy, Jen

Well we did it! Saturday I got up long before dawn and my buddies and I made our way downtown to Race for the Cure, although I called mine “Walk for the Cure”, because I sure wasn’t racing anybody. :) I was ok with my time, averaging a little over 15 minutes a mile. I was at about 13 or 14 before I got sick, so I’m alright with that. My friends really rocked it; both Pete and Amy beat their goals. We had fun, and I’m glad I went. I’m hoping I can be much more participatory and competitive the next time I’m in a 5k.

Finish line! (that is not any of our times, by the way)

Then last night was quite a treat. My beloved Bible class from church wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate my new job (oh, I haven’t mentioned that yet, have I? heehee…). I got to choose the place, so we went to Cracker Barrel. I have been craving southern cooking!!! I am so blessed by such an amazing Christian community. These guys have cheered for me and encouraged me and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. And now they’re so sweet to celebrate with me. :) God is good!

Sherry and Bob, two of the most servant hearted people you’ll ever meet

Me, Auvrey, Kris

Tiffany, Amy, Rebecca

Tara and Ryan (in the baby rocking chair)

My cup is truly overflowing right now. God has been so gracious to me throughout my life, but especially now I feel just overwhelming gratitude. I believe I’m in a “daytime” of life– when things are good and peaceful. I’ve been through enough storms to know that life was not meant to stay perpetually in times like this, but I’ve also learned to praise God and relish them.

Hold on love, don’t give up
Don’t close your eyes
The light is breaking through the night

Step out into the day, all the clouds and all the rain are gone
It’s over now
Step out into the sun, for you have only begun to know
What it’s all about
As the hungering dark gives way to the dawn, my love
It’s over now
–Bebo Norman