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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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?

7 reasons I love my life for what it is in this moment

Posts about lists are all the rage. In my browser right now, the tabs read:

We love lists.

I have a list of the top 7 reasons I love the stage of life I’m in right now (late 20s, single, working):

  1. I get to live with 2 of my best friends. When we first decided to move in together we were not best friends and everyone questioned how well we’d work out as roommates. People kept asking how it was going with a grimace on their face, knowing we were about to admit to the drama happening in our house. Wrong, we have had a completely drama-free spiritual community full of love, acceptance and grace. If I had gotten married right out of college, I would’ve never had this experience.sing
  2. While my job wears me down most days, the kids I work with have very redeeming moments of funny and innocence. They are mean (they hit, kick, bite, curse, throw things), they are mad, they are violent, but they are also still kids. I love giving them hugs, being the one to show them unconditional love. I have one who loves to rip me apart and I love to tell him every time that, “I still like you, no matter what, and I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be right here when you’re done to hug you.” He doesn’t hear that in his life, and I love that I get that opportunity. 
  3. I have lots of time to do the things I love. One day, if I’m blessed to have a family of my own, I won’t be able to leave work early and go run because it’s beautiful outside. I might not be able to spend all day Sunday in my pajamas eating pancakes and drinking coffee. One day, my life will have different priorities, but right now my life is about pursuing things I love. This does not give me a free pass to be selfish with my time, I’m adding more and more volunteer/giving experiences, but I am able to adjust my schedule to my own interest and my own wants and needs. I get a lot of workouts in because it’s something I love, but I know one day I won’t have that time. I spend a lot of time watching Netflix, but one day I’ll have to watch cartoons with my kids. And that too will be okay because one day my kids will be the things I love. get-lonely.gif
  4. I get to travel for cheap. I am only one person so if I want to go somewhere, I can do it for a relatively reasonable price. I can also not feel bad about crashing on friend’s couches because most of them don’t have a whole herd of children yet, and I’m just one person who won’t take up too much space.
  5. I’m learning so much about who I am in Christ. This time of unknowns and unfulfilled dreams is really becoming a dream come true all itself. I didn’t know I wanted this time in my life, but now I am so thankful for it. I have the time to read, listen, and pursue ideas about God that take thinking and quiet. Again, when I have a family that quiet time will be hard to come by. Today, however, I ran 10 miles while listening to some podcasts that spoke to fear – exactly what I needed to hear. Not only do I have free time to do these things, I have a lot of unanswered questions that require faith. I also have a lot of unfulfilled dreams that require patience. God is working in this time.
  6.  ephesians
  7. I’m learning so much about who I am in general. Throughout these years of being single, I have dated a few men and I have had a lot of friends. Throughout all these relationships I have learned who I really am because I have noticed the things I have only done because of another person, and then the things I have done because I truly enjoy them. I have picked up new hobbies with a boyfriend because it was something he loved, and at the time I did too, but once that relationship was over I learned that I no longer loved that hobby. I have had time to become the person I have wanted to be, no matter who is in my life. I have had the time to let God shape and mold me into who He wants me to be, and have been able to stop letting other people shape me. There are habits and characteristics that have come and gone with the people who have done the same; then there are those that have endured and grown stronger – those are the ones that identify me as an individual.

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Single – for those that are and those that aren’t

There are two types of people in this world – single people and not-single people.

Too simple? Ridiculous, I know.

The other day my friend and roommate sent a couple articles about singleness in the church:

Then there are these others articles which speak to the truth about singleness and using this “status” as a way to glorify God:

There are so, so many more. What I’ve found since my college years, is that no matter my relationship status, I have always been single, as in unmarried. And while we unmarried folk need you married folk just like we need older and younger folk, we need each other, too. I think there is great growth that can come from those unlike us but also from those in similar seasons as our own.

I think my church overlooks the young single in our church and I think that is unfortunate. I went to an event recently where the speaker talked about the great opportunity single people have, and I agree. There are so many less obligations – your schedule is your own and you can form it to be whatever you’d like. That might not always be the case.

This season of being unmarried is nothing new – maybe it’s a season, maybe it’s my life forever, I have no idea. But I do believe those unmarried need to rethink how they view singles and treat them, especially in the church. I also think those of us who are unmarried need to embrace this time and relish it in.

Lies.

There have been lies you have believed in your past, and there may be lies you are believing right now.

In her book, Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You, Stasi Eldredge writes about the lies she had to address from her past, that were hindering her in her quest to become better, in her attempts to overcome issues with food and overeating. She recalls a certain idealic childhood but when she prayed for God to help her change, she realized there were parts of her childhood she had forgot to remember. While praying that I’d realize things from my past I failed to remember or to attribute to my current situation, I was a bit frustrated. I looked back and prayed over my memories of my childhood and could not remember many negative things. What am I supposed to be forgiving, then? What am I supposed to be remembering and re-evaluating so that I can move on today and get over these hurdles that hold me back?

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My lies began in high school. I started to believe lies about where I gained my worth – other people, especially men. And men were letting me down left and right. Men were breaking my heart and ending relationships with me, starting in high school, peaking in college and continuing after graduation. Every time a relationship ended subconsciously I was believing I was not good enough for them, that it was all something I did or didn’t do that ended the relationship. I realized, no matter what I thought of them or how much I knew (or didn’t know) I shouldn’t be a part of that relationship, I let their words and their actions dictate my worth.

I am so glad God brought me to that realization. I let go a whole waterfall of tears. I was shocked to realize the extent of the lies I had believed and how they still affect me today, years and years later.

At various times, I think I knew this, I was conscious of the fact that I look to others for my worth. But I don’t know that I was ever aware of exactly how much this spoke to my current worth.

So, I’m on a new journey – going through the painful process of asking God to reveal lies I have believed while also teaching me he Truth.

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breaking up [and moving on].

Catch up with the part I and part II of this breakup series.

I talked about breaking up and allowing yourself to feel during the season post-breakup.

Moving on begins the minute the relationship ended. As I mentioned in part II, you have to allow yourself to at least acknowledge your feelings before you can move past them. Again, do not allow yourself to sin as a result of your negative feelings, and don’t get stuck in them. But DO allow yourself to feel them, if just for a moment, and then choose joy and hope.

The moving on process is on-going and it is so beautiful, especially when hope starts overwhelming all the ugly feelings. Almost immediately (thank you Lord) I started feeling hopeful and joyful about what God had planned for me. I knew that if that relationship wasn’t for me, there was a reason. And although I believe I was the cause of the pain (I shouldn’t have dated this man in the first place and I definitely shouldn’t have gotten so involved) in the first place, I also saw how God had pursued me and never let me go even in my disobedience. Therefore, I knew He had something great planned for me! And He does for you too!

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So, again immediately, I decided to grow and become better through the experience of dealing with the breakup and moving on. For starters, I began this blog to share what I was learning in case it could benefit someone else. I spent my new free time reading and spending time with God. I thought about how I wanted to change and how I wanted to grow and who I was becoming each day. When you break up you get the chance to redefine yourself. This was my chance to figure out who I am (again, but at a new stage in life) and figure out who I wanted to be. I needed to define somethings for myself so that in any future relationship, romantic or otherwise, I would not compromise or try to change but that I would know I was loved just because of who I was.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou

Make a list of your weaknesses and your strengths. Make a list of things you want to do and the qualities you want to have. Choose this time to pursue your dreams and to do good for others.

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source

Breaking up isn’t easy. Let’s be real, it sucks. But when you choose joy (shout out to Amy and Bobby from the Bobby Bones Show! #pimpinjoy) you will find hope and you will grow. Growth is good!

related posts: Holding Patterns, Beauty no Matter the Season I, Beauty no Matter the season II, Lessons in Waiting

breaking up [the good part].

In the first part of this break up series I just barely talked about it being hard, even though I called it the hard part. Breaking up will almost always be hard because it is a change – no matter whether or not you wanted the breakup. Like I said, the last end of a relationship I had, I wanted. But I also hated it because I was losing a best friend and a adventure partner, I was losing someone I loved.

There is a hard part I didn’t touch on, but to me I’m learning it is the good part. When you go through something painful (whether it’s breaking up of a relationship or some other kind of loss) there are often a variety of feelings you go experience. In no particular order, I have felt the following over the time I’ve gone through post-breakup:

  • Anger (why’d you “stop loving me?”)
  • Joy (this is where I am supposed to be, I’m so glad God has a plan for me)
  • Peace (this is where I am supposed to be)
  • Relief (I’m glad God is leading me through this and I’m not alone)
  • Bitterness (why’d that man pursue me and then stop?)
  • Sadness (oh that place and that thing remind me of him)
  • Longing (I want to be loved and pursued)
  • Loneliness (I miss my partner in life, I enjoyed sharing things with him)
  • Regret (why did I waste so much time? Why did I allow myself in that relationship?)
  • Doubt (did I make the right choice? I really wish I hadn’t allowed myself in that relationship)
  • Excitement (whoo!! I wonder what it is God has for me that this relationship had gotten in the way of!?)
  • Hope (there is more to come, after winter always comes spring!)

Here, however, is the good part: ALL OF YOUR FEELINGS ARE OKAY!

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Did you get that? What you are feeling is okay!

I am bad about getting upset with myself for feeling some of those things at times. I feel like I should be over it, or happy about it, and most of the time I am, but I get mad when I feel I’m back pedaling.

Here’s the important part about all your feelings being okay: do not let get hung up on the negative ones and allow yourself to relish the positive ones. For example, I found myself bitter towards the man who had pursued me for some time and then stopped. As I talked to a mentor about this, she pointed out how bitterness is a natural feeling, no matter how good he was and how good the relationship was. If I allow myself to wallow in the bitterness and to wish him harm because of the bitterness, that is not okay.

I think the point is this when you have what you view as a negative feeling: do not push away a feeling. Feel it, consider it, think about it, but do not wallow in it and do not sin because of it. And then… move on. 

read on to the final post.

breaking up [the hard part].

Phew. This is a tender and tough post for me to write. The rough season I’m coming out of is the result of a fantastic relationship I probably never should’ve been in, and the falling apart of that relationship. It is still fresh and new, and as I write this post about a month post-break-up, I’m not sure when I’ll be posting it.

To begin, I started the relationship on cloud nine. He and I were so happy, so excited to be together, pursuing each other and pursing adventure together. We had three solid months where I felt like the only girl in the world, looking at the only man I ever wanted to look at again. There was one major problem – he was not a Christian, I considered my relationship with Christ key to my life. But, I started negotiating this fact, thinking if I just kept praying for him and eventually asked him to come to church with me, our relationship would one day be shared with Christ and everything would be rainbows and butterflies.

Wrong. First of all, I never gathered the courage to ask him to church with me. Okay, what relationship is really a life-time relationship (like we talked about ours being) if you are scared them to ask your other half to participate in something that you claim to be so crucial to your existence? Easy to say now, tough to think about in the midst of the relationship. Second, this man who pursued me and treated me so well during the start of our relationship slowly started slipping away. We would have these conversations about our relationship and the words he said told me he wanted me just the same as the first day he saw me. Oh, but his actions. His actions showed me other things were starting to become more important to him than me and our relationship together. He continued to state his desire to love me forever but he continued to show me he wasn’t so sure anymore, mostly without him claiming to even realize it. Just writing those words is still tough.

So, the last half or three-fourths of our relationship I unknowingly was grieving the loss of our relationship while still fighting for our relationship. So, when we broke up it was very, very difficult but it was also mutual. We both knew we had lost something that was needed to sustain this relationship. We knew it had finally come to an end. It was heart breaking and tough, but so quickly after the conversation to end things I was so full of joy and peace.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been through similar situations before. Maybe it’s because I’m older and more mature. Maybe it is because the breakup was mature and without any nasty actions or words. Or maybe, it’s because months earlier God had prompted me to start praying He would open and close doors in our relationship.

Like I said, I started noticing a change awhile back. I would bring it up and my boyfriend and I would talk about it, and I’d see him make an effort for a day or two, and then I’d feel unloved once again. While it seems like such a good reason to get out, it was hard because we also had so many good things about our relationship. But God prompted me to pray, and I didn’t even know what I was supposed to be praying for. Eventually, it became clear and I needed to move out of the relationship, no matter my feelings for this man. God was pulling us apart. God was pulling us apart because He had more planned for me. 

Hear that! God had allowed me to stray away from His plan for some time because that is what He does. Freedom, people. But He beckoned me back because He had more for me! He had a plan! He had something beautiful for me and He didn’t want me to miss out.

Oh, my heart is overwhelmed thinking about HIS pursuit of me! Even when I had given up on Him, He never left my side and never stopped pursuing me.

Here’s what I want to say until we get to part 2 of this breaking up part:

If you are pursuing God’s plan for your life, sometimes things will hurt. Sometimes, things will not make sense. There will be times when you feel crushed under the weight of all of the trials of this life. You will experience pain, you will mourn, you will question, and you will probably even doubt. But oh beautiful one, there is more. Spring always follows the winter. God always pursues His children, and He will guide you through. Do not try to rush the process or to rush to forget the hurt. Learn from it, grow from, become better because of it.

go on now to part 2 or to part 3 of this series!

lessons from the week [february 2 – february 9]

Last week, one of the lessons I mentioned learning was how the enemy will work you hard when you are growing in Christ. This is the lesson I have been continually learning throughout the past week. Yesterday started out fantastic and as the day went on and I met some unexpected challenges, I became discouraged and frustrated. I could feel the attack full-force. I started noticing myself slipping into ways I had been working so hard to get out of. My weaknesses and my struggles crashing full-force. When this realization hit me on my way home from church, I turned off the radio and prayed out loud. I claimed my position as child of Christ and asked for His help. But I don’t think we should stop at asking for help, we need to do something. All I had to do at that time was worship and change the focus of my thoughts. I spent the next 10 minutes home singing my heart out in praise until I arrived at home. And then, instead of canceling plans and sitting at home all night (which is what I wanted to do because of how I felt) I resolved that I would keep my plans and enjoy time out in public with my friend. And I am so glad I did.

I’d chalk that victory up to Jesus.

I am reminded today of Hebrews 12:4-11:

In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. (Message)

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I am NOT saying that God gave me the temptations and the heartache and the struggles of yesterday. I am choosing to believe it was an opportunity for me to develop my weapons for the battle and to make the choice to choose Jesus. I am realizing every moment of the day that choosing Jesus has to be conscious in order to grow in the discipline God is giving me as his child.

Naomi

Women of the Bible (Ruth Chapter 1)

The other day I prayed for someone to study in the Bible. The first name that came to mind was Ruth. So, I turned to the book of Ruth and read it straight through. Oh yea, all 4 chapters. Then, I began scowering the internet for information to help me understand the book and the person of Ruth. I came across a Bible study on the book that really taught me a lot – not about Ruth, but about Naomi. Mind you, I’ve only read 1/4 sections of the Bible study, but it really spoke to my current life season.

The story starts telling us about a man and his wife – Elimelech and Naomi. It describes their family and where they were. But what Gordon writes about in this particular study spoke to me – Naomi and Elimelech started looking for prosperity in the world, they came to the point wher ethey had to trust God or return to their former lives. They chose their former lives, and as a result after 10 years of living this way, Elimelech died and Naomi was left without her husband and two sons. She was left with two daughters in law (1:1-10). Gordon points out how Elimelech and Naomi likely thought they had a lot of good coming to them as they went to enjoy Moab for a season, but this wasn’t so. Gordon relates this story to that of the prodigal son who learnt his lesson the hard way, returning home once he realized the world of prosperity he was pursuing left him empty and void. What a lesson we learn – the way of the world looks full of promise and prosperity but leaves us disappointed and empty.

I too have tried to find prosperity and promise in the world. Only recently am I returning home from doing things my own way, because I lost my trust in God. I thought he was taking too long, that He was not giving me the desires of my heart quickly enough. So, I figured I better do it my own way. Mistake. Naomi asks her daughters-in-law to call her Mara (1:20) which means bitter. I too was bitter coming out of my own journey to be filled by the world, but the bitterness was my own fault. I have felt like I lost a lot on my sojourn to my own ways and straying from the Lord’s. Isn’t this what the enemy does? He makes the ways of the world look so beautiful and delicious, much like the fruit Eve chose to eat in Genesis. Once we take a bite, however, we are left empty and void – likely more so than before.

In my search to learn about Ruth, I learned a valuable lesson from Naomi. She and her husband went out in search of a better life, and he ended up dying and Naomi ended up alone and she blamed God (1:13b).  I do this. I get tired of waiting around, seemingly stuck, imagining God has moved on to help someone else and I go off on my own to do things my way. But it never fails, after searching for sometime on my own, God starts beckoning me home (mind you I’m not aware this is happening) and I return to Him empty and full of regret.

Learn from Naomi – the way of the world often is inticing and seems bountiful, but at some point it will leave you empty and returning to your Heavenly Father like the prodigal son returned to his father.

But, good news! God is excited about your return and He will carry you through the disappointment and right back to the path He has set before you. Take a lesson from Ruth who goes with Naomi – go wherever God goes.

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