You need pushers [community].

The other day, I went for a very difficult bike ride with a group of people much more advanced than myself. The first hour was fine, steep hills and all. But on the return ride, I got very tired.

I mean, like, can I just put my bike in the trail car (Side note: trail cars are awesome! They follow you on the rode so other cars don’t accidentally hit you. I’m sure there’s some metaphor there too) and ride the rest of the way home? No, but seriously, can I?

The leader of the ride is this man who races often and has been a professional cyclist prior to owning this cycling studio I attend. He is pro. He exudes pro. He was giving me all kinds of great tips the whole ride, and for the most part I appreciated them.

And then… we hit mile 22ish. I was just done and I started to get frustrated with him telling me to push harder or go faster or catch up to the group. Have you ever been there? Someone telling you something you know you need to hear but just not wanting to hear it in that moment? Have you ever wanted to tell someone to go away, to stop talking, and to stop pushing you? I sure have, and not just in this cycling adventure. I do, however, notice this most when I’m working out. I need someone to yell at me and to make me keep going or I WILL stop, because I’m just so tired. But at the same time, it gets really annoying to have someone who is not struggling telling you to push harder. “Easy for you to say,” I always think (along with some words I maybe shouldn’t think, but don’t say out loud).

As I was riding and fighting all these inappropriate and negative thoughts towards my “coach” God began speaking truth into my heart (because God knows I learn so well through metaphors!). We need people like this. We need people who are willing to push us, to tell us the hard things, to not let us give up. If we didn’t have these people, how often would we stop and never make it to where God is calling us?

Then, something really cool happened. He came up right next to me and put his hand on my bike, all while we were both riding our bikes. He told me he was going to do what was called a “pro push” and he had me start pedaling the same speed he was going (which was too dang fast for me to do on my own). We did this for about 30 seconds and then he simply pushed me forward, giving me the momentum I needed to reach the rest of the group.

Do I even need to explain that metaphor?

I needed that push. Yes, I was frustrated with him for telling me to keep going and to go faster, and to work harder. But he wasn’t just speaking those things to me – he came along side me and gave me the push I needed to DO those things.

Oh, friends. How we need people like this in our lives! I am reminded of a time I had unplanned surgery. Everything just felt so confusing. I didn’t understand what had happened and why I found myself sick in the hospital. I didn’t understand why I felt so terrible and didn’t seem to be improving once I was home and resting. I gave up on God a bit. I told Him I couldn’t keep praying because I didn’t know what to pray for and I didn’t even know what was going on. Shortly after I received cards and calls and messages from people telling me they were praying for me.

This is what community is all about. We cannot do it alone – we cannot do anything alone. We NEED people pushing us, intervening for us, and carrying the burden for a bit for us.

I’m not saying just let other people fight all your battles, but don’t do it alone. Find a friend, find someone to pray with you, to go with you, to stay with you.

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be strong and courageous [community].

A week ago, I finally completed what could have been the hardest physical feat I’ve had to date.

I did my first half-ironman distance triathlon.

70.3Throughout the training, I wanted to give up many times. I hated swimming, I never felt like I was improving, and the whole process took so much time. Throughout the race I continually asked myself what was wrong with me for thinking this was a good idea. It was long. it was slow. It was hot.

But you know what, I had to keep going – in training and during the race – because I knew there were people waiting for me. People cheering me on. There were people on the sidelines fighting the good fight with me.

And, like so many times in my life, I learned from this metaphor. I am unable to do anything on my own. I need Jesus, first, but I also need those He has placed in my life to push me. I need them to challenge me and pick me up when I am struggling. I need their words of encouragement. I simply need their presence to know I am not alone, even in the loneliest times (and believe me, when you’re traversing 70.3 miles, you sure are alone a lot).

Are you engaging in community? I heard part of a sermon today where the preacher talked about getting out and engaging with people, loving on people, learning from people, serving people – and this, this is where you find the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you.

To be strong and courageous, we need the Lord’s power. And sometimes He shows that power through those He has placed in our lives. Don’t miss it.

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Deserts of snow.

Deserts and snow make no sense together, I know. Essentially, they are complete opposites. But I find myself feeling deep within a valley dry and alone. Yet, I look outside right now, staring at the snow, and there’s such a peace. I was out this morning shoveling the snow from the driveway and there were birds chirping. The sound of spring, yet in the deepest of winter. All of these things that don’t seem to go together…

As I sat here watching the snow quietly fall with nothing but the sound of those birds outside I began to cry. To weep. Im not sure what the reason was besides just a release of a number of emotions. Mostly frustration and confusion, some anger, some joy. I tried to pray but admitted to God that my mind felt so confused and I had no words to pray. I sat in the quiet, crying, but knowing full well God was with me. And He reminded me of the words to the song “Come to Me.”

And as I listened to it, the tears became the set of thankfulness and joy.

“I am the Lord your God, I go before you now

I stand beside you, I’m all around you

Though you feel I’m far away, I’m closer than your breath

I am with you, more than you know”

So just know, dear friend, whatever the state of your mind, your reality, your past or your future – He is standing beside you, He is all around you. Be at peace in His presence.

submission vs. wishful asking

You know, I realized something today as I was taking a little hike and doing some praying.

I was praying “God, if this is your will then just orchestrate the details.”

And I just felt Him responding, “If it is My will, why would I not be orchestrating the details? If it is My will, it is bound to happen, so stop worrying about how or why or when or what.”

Duh. I know in my head that if something is God’s will then it will happen at some point, in some way.

What I realized was that often when I pray “if it’s your will, let it work out” is that really what I am saying is “I really want this, and I want it to be your will, so figure out how to make this happen. Please?”

I think, when we are given the example, “yet not my will but yours be done” in (Luke 22:42), the Will is already known it’s just the heart and mind that is not 100% in agreement. But the plan is made clear. When we are praying in this way I think we are giving up control – your will be done, not mine. But, in the way I was praying, it was more like going to God as a wish-granter, which I try so hard to avoid.

So, if the thing I am praying for is God’s Will then I don’t need to worry about the details. And if it is not God’s will, then again, I don’t have to worry about the details. I can just pray “Your Will be done in this situation,” and leave it at that.

doing single well.

I just turned 28 and I am still single.

This weekend that was made abundantly clear to me. Not by one individual pointing it out.

I just felt the loneliness in full swing this weekend. It started as I was browsing all my social media looking at picture after picture of someone I know’s baby, kids, family, wedding, baby/wedding shower, kid’s birthday party, kid’s sporting event, etc. Then there were posts about anniversaries and dates, and, well, you see what I’m saying.

I felt bombarded. Not one post did I read saying, “today’s my 1 year anniversary of being single! Let’s celebrate!”

And I just lost it as I was driving around doing things alone. Again. I cried and I told God how much the loneliness hurts sometimes. And here it is again; just typing that statement brought tears to my eyes.

That’s a really vulnerable statement for me to make. You see, for the most part, I try to hide the fact that I don’t like being single. I try to be strong and put on a happy face, because I have this idea that this is what I am supposed to do as a single Christian – I’m supposed to be joyful and cheery, and be okay just how my life is, because obviously this is what God has for me.

Right?

I don’t know that I think so anymore.

I have prayed and prayed that if God does not will for me to have a family or to be married, that he would remove that [strong] desire from my heart. I don’t want to want what he doesn’t want for me.

But here I am, and the desire seems just as strong as when I first prayed that many years ago.

And here I am still very single.

I have a confession: I haven’t been doing single well.

You may have ready my last post about online dating. So I’ve tried that. I have also dated a lot of people (okay by a lot I mean probably a handful. Whether or not that is a lot is a matter of opinion, I suppose) who really I knew I shouldn’t be dating. I spent money on frivolous things because I had the money to spend. I have been very selfish with my time, because, well, there is no one else I should be giving it to… right?

I think all of those ways I have been living my life were wrong.

I’m ready to doing single well. To do single with intentionality and purpose.

To give my time to those who need my time. To give my money to causes that could benefit from it well.

It’s not my time nor is it my money. If I claim my life belongs to God then why am acting as the God of my own life – dating or otherwise?

I’m still processing all of this. I’m figuring out what intentional and purposeful singleness looks like.

I’ll keep you updated.

related:

single – for those that are and those that aren’t (another post I wrote with some good links regarding singleness in the church)

elevation church – meant to be sermon series

Online dating: you’re doing it wrong!

So… It’s 2014, let’s all stop pretending, if we are single, that we haven’t at least toyed with the idea of joining the thousands of online daters. I mean, I don’t know how many people are “doing it” but I do know when I joined one of these sites the amount of people I was matched with led me to believe that just about every single person now a days is trying it.

So let’s stop kidding ourselves.

Go ahead and tell people, I think it’s WAY more common than we think.

And now here are some tips for those of you that are thinking about giving it a go. These come from my own experience; usually these are the things that make me instantly remove you from my matches.

1. All of your pictures are selfies.
2. At least one of your pictures is a gym selfie or you flexin in the mirror.

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3. You spell words wrong, use poor grammar, or capitalize words that you shouldn’t.

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4. You have numerous pictures with non-family members of the opposite sex. And they’re not the same person.
5. Or they are all the same person.
6. You’re wearing a wedding ring.
7. Your only picture is of some landscape or animal.
8. You talk about how into crossfit you are (maybe that’s only a deal breaker for me…).

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9. You throw out how much you like to “have fun” numerous times.
10. Dropping the phrase “soul mate” in your responses one too many times.

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11. Giving an extensive list of very materialistic things you look for in a partner.
12. Getting too specific, as in you only date brunettes.

27 Things that Happened at 27

Tomorrow is my 28th birthday.

27 was good, but dang am I ready for 28! It is going to be MY YEAR, baby! I don’t say that every year, don’t worry.

Here are 27 things that happened at 27:

1. I moved into my first place by myself – no more roommates, no more parents, not even a pet to keep me company

2. I mutually decided to breakup with my boyfriend – no drama, no big argument, no he-said, she-said – it just wasn’t working. hey, adulthood.

3. I stayed at an all-inclusive resort

4. Saw Yosemite.

5. Saw The Redwoods

6. Did my first relay race (that is if you’re not including the 4×4 I did in middle school track)

7. I started this blog!

8. I actually fasted from food for at least 24 hours

9. I picked up a new hobby – road biking – and by picked it up I mean I just began.

10. I colored my hair 4 times, which is 4 more times than the past 5-6 years.

11. I started teaching a cycling class!

12. I rode a mechanical bull (thank you dear friends for your persuasion on this one…)

13. I ran across the Golden Gate Bridge

14. I went to my first Big 10 (or any college) football game

15. I briefly mastered the deadlift… then stopped doing it for a couple weeks and now need to work on form again.

16. I created a list of bills with their due dates, minimum payment amounts, a box to mark how much I paid and what date I paid them (we meet again, adulthood).

17. I started to understand what grace from my Heavenly Father truly looks like. I haven’t totally figured it out, but I’m getting there.

18. I started practicing hand-stands on the wall

19. I did a WOD

20. I played 18 holes of [mini] golf and made 3 holes-in-one

21. I stayed at my first all-inclusive resort.

22. I went to my first Ohio State football game

23. I watched an Iron Man in person, in Mexico.

24. I rode in a Tesla, and got to see a Tesla being made.

25. I ate more pancakes total throughout the year than I have in my whole life (this is a guess, but a very, very good guess)

26. I did my own wine and paint class, and then did it again.

27. I weighed the most I ever have. That’s what happens when you get older, right?