Cheering For the Underdog- Even When That’s Us

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Celebrating the Underdog

People love it when the underdog is successful.

What About When We are the Underdog?

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Finding Purpose and Making Meaning


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Massive Volcano Eruption

Without Volcanic Activity There Would be No Hawaii

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

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Finding a Way to Use Difficult Elements to Your Advantage

Against the Wind

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Take Off Against the Wind

Add Resistance as a Resource

Like trying to run or bike into the wind, what we are up against, might feel like an impossible wall.

What’s Going Against You Will Help you Soar

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When the Opportunity Looks Crummy

Learning When to Say Yes

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What If The Opportunity Looks Differently than Planned

Wanting to become a great aviator, Amelia Earhart couldn’t make her living as a pilot so she took a job as a social worker.

One day, however she was offered a pretty offensive opportunity. It went along the lines of, “We have someone willing to fund the first female transatlantic flight. Our first choice has already backed out. And, you won’t be able to actually fly the plane, and we are going to send two men along as chaperones and guess what, we’ll pay them a lot of money and you won’t get anything. Oh, and you very well might die while doing it” (Ryan Holiday).

Focus on The Overall Goal

While the opportunity sounds unacceptable by many people’s standards, Earhart focused on her overall goal and how to move forward and make it happen. Energy comes from getting started.

Rather than feeling sorry for herself she said yes, and took the opening. Just because the conditions are less than perfect, doesn’t mean you say no. Sometimes the best opportunities do not look very good at first.

or we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at

2,130 Games: Showing Up Matters

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On April 30th, 1939, Lou Gehrig played his last game with the Yankees.

While his career came to an end as a result of his illness, one of the things he is remembered for is putting in the work and showing up.

One Day Becomes One Year

It is a streak that offers evidence that we showed up, even on the days when it wasn’t easy.

Perseverance Can Be Built

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The Past Is Gone, and there a Million Possible Futures

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“The most important shot in golf is the next one.” — Ben Hogan

Mistakes are made. Setbacks occur and some days are difficult. But, the past is gone, and there are a million possible futures. And, they all begin with the next shot. Whatever happened ten years ago, 24 hours ago, five minutes or even seconds earlier is complete.

An Opportunity to be Better than Before

It might not be what you originally planned, but there is always an opportunity to be better than what was done before. The most important thing to do is set your eyes on what’s next.

Sometimes that is easier said than done, but Philippians 4:13 reminds us, I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at

Why I Can Believe In Myself

Maybe I Already Have the Ability Within Me

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I Did Some Digging

What If I Didn’t Understand What It Meant?

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What if I Set My Mind to Automatic

Cheering Myself On

How Tomorrow Will Be Different

Miles 1 and 2- will be run with my head.

Miles 3 and 4- will be with my legs and training.

Miles 5 and 6- will be with my heart.

Mile .2- will be with my spirit

A Wise Runner

Win the Match Before You Get There


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Tennis is mostly mental. Of course, you must have a lot of physical skill, but you can’t play tennis well and not be a good thinker. You win or lose the match before you even go out there.- (Venus Williams) 

Not If, but When

The question is not if there will be difficult moments that have the potential to throw you off your game, but what you will do when you notice them? 

Taking the time to visualize, write out ahead of time or mentally consider what you will do when you are exhausted, frustrated, feel beaten up, scared, anxious before it actually happens.  

Make the Choice to Win the Match Ahead of Time

Strengthen your body, mind, and spirit before you begin the “Match” or the day.  Anticipate a few of the struggles that might arise and take control by deciding how you will respond ahead of time. 

Decide to win the match before you get there.


The Quest to Run a 100-Mile Week

A Distance Runner’s Challenge

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The Dream of 100 Miles

With the wind at my back, and three kids and a golden retriever by my side, I extended my arms to give thanks for the ability to do what I had never done before.  I completed a challenge that had once seemed impossible. I had completed a 100-mile week.  

Where the Idea Started

Flashback to March 19, Brandi, a running club friend of mine sent me a message that would alter my spring for the better.  She said, “You know if there was ever a time for a 100-mile week…” I quickly typed back, “100? No way, do you really think it is possible?”  She suggested that it was only a few more miles per day than what an 80-mile week consisted of.

I was really excited about the idea, but a few days later, after I let it spin around in my mind sent her a message saying, “Do you really think I could do this?” 

Planning for 100

Brandi assured me that I had what it took to run 100, and that the only limitations are the ones that I place on myself. I kept spinning the idea for a few days and talked to her husband, Marvin, a pretty extreme distance runner. He said that I absolutely could do this, and believed 100 percent it was attainable.  But, advised me to wait another week and be smart so that I didn’t wind up injured. I also talked with my husband, an extreme runner as well, pitched my idea, and he said, yeah, you can go for it, but you have to run low mileage next week. No more than a 45-mile week so you are rested. 

He also advised me to not wait until midweek to start ramping up the mileage. Monday, he said, needed to include a high number of miles.  

It was Go Time

And so on March 30th, 2020, I set out on a quest to start a 100-mile week. 

I Enjoyed Having a Teammate

Marvin decided that he was interested in running a pretty high mileage week as well.  I didn’t know how far he was interested in running at the start of the week. I was hoping his goal was similar to mine.  We talked back and forth throughout the week about how the run was going and how many more times we would hit the street. It was really awesome to have someone going through the same experience with me.  Even though we did not run together, I loved the feeling of knowing that we were crossing the same streets and on the same mission. I used to think that being part of a running club was unnecessary since I am a pretty solo runner. 

I Don’t Mind the Solitude of Running, but Enjoy Being on A Team

I don’t mind the solitude and crave the opportunity to be by myself on the open road, but there is something about having teammates. The opportunity to connect with like-minded people who are equally as excited about your goals as they are their own is something so amazing, it can hardly be described.  This week I felt like a teammate in every sense of the word.  

How I Broke the Mileage Up

I made sure to start the week out strong.  I also consistently did the math, so that I was doing at least the minimum each day.  I did not want to wind up with 20 miles left to run on Sunday.  

Monday 3/30 – 10 miles in the morning and 8 miles in the afternoon

Tuesday 3/31- 13.1 miles in the middle of the day, and 3.35 miles in the late afternoon

Wednesday 4/1- 9.07 miles in the morning and  6.54 miles in the afternoon

Thursday 4/2- 14.32 miles middle of the day run

Friday 4/3- 5.13  miles morning run and 7 mile afternoon run

Saturday 4/4- 4.2, 4.04, 4.10 and 4.07 mile loops throughout the day.

(My husband was running the virtual backyard ultra race that consisted of 4.2 mile loops)  

Sunday  4/5-6.10 miles on my own and then a final mile with my kids and dog. 

Sticking to the Plan

A few times during the week I felt a little exhausted after my second run, but there was something addicting about sticking to the plan and committing to a final outcome no matter what. 

On Wednesday evening, I remember thinking to myself, “Do I really want to do this? Does it really matter?”

I Was Overcome with Gratitude

Thursday, I decided to go for a longer run.  About 4 miles into the 14-mile run, I could not help but be filled with gratitude.  I was incredibly grateful that the legs that had carried me so many miles this week were the same ones that had crossed the finish line of 29 marathons, chased after my kids when they were little, walked up the stairs to a Spanish class in college where I met my husband, triumphantly walked up to the stage to get a diploma, carefully climbed a waterfall in Jamaica, boarded a plane to study in Mexico, walked into a title company to buy our first home, almost collapsed on my way into the hospital as I miscarried, triumphantly crossed the line of my first 5k, walked out of an interview as I received my first job, ran up to see the list of freshman who had made the junior varsity softball team, and staggered through several difficult long runs.  Through the good and bad, my legs had been there.

When I was younger, I used to wish they were stronger, thinner, and more of anything else I could think of. Today, I realized that I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else’s. They were mine, they were perfect and I was blessed.  

My Teammate Had Finished

Sunday morning, Marvin sent a message that he had finished. As I saw the proof in his screenshot from Strava, my eyes filled with tears.  He had done the impossible. He had finished the 100-mile week. And now he was cheering me on, and telling me to get out there and finish mine.  

The Final Day

And so, I laced my pink Nike’s up, turned on my music, and tapped the screen of my phone so Strava would record my second to last run of the week. And a few miles in, all I could think about was how grateful I was to be running! I was within a few miles of finishing a 100-mile week.

The Second to Last Run

6.1 miles later, I had completed 99 miles.  It is tradition for my middle son Luke, (11 years old and my dog) to run the last mile with me of a lengthy mileage week. 

And, to my surprise, when I stopped to get Luke and Prince (my golden retriever), I discovered that my other two kids were interested in joining me in the last mile!  We took off.

The Finish-line

As we rounded the last corner and had about two-tenths of a mile to go, I put on my oldest son’s favorite song, “We didn’t start the Fire” by Billy Joel and we picked up our pace as the finish line came into view.  

The Impossible was in My Reach

The finish-line which consisted of my husband cheering and taking pictures with his iPhone, marked the beginning of a new mindset. 

My impossible was within reach. If I could run 100 miles in one week, what couldn’t I do?


A Letter to Parents From a Teacher

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School is Closed for the Remainder of the Year

Last Thursday, on April 3rd, our Governor made the decision that schools would remain closed for the rest of the year. As a parent of three kids (ages 9, 11, and 13), I decided to write an email to the parents of my students. Even though it is awesome to have time with your kids, and be able to be a big part of their educational process, it s overwhelming when it happens and you were not necessarily expecting it.

A Letter to Parents from A Teacher

Good Morning:

This email comes from me as a parent as well as a teacher. I am not sure what the district has in mind for us as teachers, and the direction that education and daily life will go in the next few months. But, what I do know is that this is figuroutable. We were made to thrive. Over the next few months education will look different, but it will be okay.

First- Take Care of Yourself

First, make sure that you as a parent or guardian take care of yourself. Give yourself space, your children will benefit from seeing you make it through this time, and how you do it.

Secondly- Your Best is Perfect

Secondly, try your best. Nobody can ask for more than that. Your effort is what they will remember.

Thirdly-Less is More

Thirdly, less is more. Focus on doing a few things well. Focus on what went well. You can do everything, but you can’t do everything at the same time.

Fourth- Don’t Compare What You Didn’t Do

Fourth, don’t compare what you and your children are not doing to another family. Education and life in general looks very different for each house. Be proud of what you accomplish.

Fifth- Timeouts are a Good Thing

Fifth, it is okay to get frustrated, timeouts are not just for toddlers. They are great strategies for parents and teens. It is okay to walk away from work and come back to it.

Sixth- Focus on 3 and 4

Sixth, focus on 3 good things about each day, spending intentional and quality time with each family member weekly, and aim for 4 out of 7 good days each week.

The unknown is tough. Focus on what you can do. Lean into your strengths as well as your children’s strengths. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Stay Connected And Be Filled With Hope

 If there is anything I can do (whether it is the subject area I teach or not) please don’t hesitate to contact me. Sometimes it helps just to run a strategy or idea by another parent or teacher.

Stay connected. Be filled with hope. You are amazing.

Sincerely, Laura McDonell