Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Racer Pacer


I was a mile into this 5k race and to say I was on the struggle bus was an understatement. I was trying so hard to pace with others around me but I just couldn’t seem to hit my stride. People were passing me left and right and the girl in front of me seemed to keep getting further and further ahead-was she running faster or was I going slower?

Between the pollen and focusing on other’s paces, all the running I had been doing for the past month didn’t seem to make a difference. It wasn’t until the 2.5 mile mark I let everything else go. I got lost in my own race, pace, thoughts, and focused on my own stride, lengthening it out to my more normal cadence rather than the choppy race pace I had set. The last half mile flew by and with ease, I glided into the finish line. I was done. 

I was driving home reflecting. Frequently, I struggle hard when I race but during my normal runs, set a strong pace that feels natural. Why is there such a difference?It was an easy answer for a lesson I had already learned in high school. In cross country, I had periodically run with a pacer. A pacer is someone that teaches you to control your pace so you don’t come out of the gate sprinting, helps you hit the stride you’re best at, and have energy left for a strong sprint finisher. I had always been horrible at pacing, letting other racers and adrenaline affect my outcome. I was too focused on how others were doing, trying to do it their way, I lost sight of everything I had been working on and training for.

Then I thought about my life outside of races. I realized I’m incredibly guilty of doing the exact same thing. I look around at the pace that everyone else is at and try to match it, regardless of if it’s the right thing for me or not. See someone ahead of me? I’ll push myself beyond what is comfortable to try to catch up, sometimes succeeding, sometimes, not. 

Other times, I look behind me, seeing others taking a slower pace so I too, will enjoy a lull, even though what was right for me was to keep pushing on. 

They say to “take the blinders off” and see what is going on. I would argue I need to put the blinders back on. Not getting distracted by the shiny race cars next to me but running the race that is marked out for me. The individual race marked out for me, not for anyone else, not a pace others have set, but my race, my pace. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” 
Hebrews 12:1

Friday, April 6, 2018

Create

You are more than just a number. 

I’ve heard this statement many times in many different contexts. You have an employee number, but you bring unique value to the table. You’ve been labeled as a statistic to become _______(an alcoholic, divorcee, college dropout) but you won’t accept that. Your salvation is a number but your story means more to God and to others. 

As I reflected on what I wanted to get out of this year, I followed a tradition we’ve set in my church of choosing a word for the new year that we are claiming God to use and move through us in. One year mine was contentment. It was powerful. I prayed for God to let me be content with what I was given, rather than constantly lusting and craving things I didn’t have from money to love to a promotion. It was a tough year but through it, I walked away from dating to be content in my singleness and I took steps to love myself more the way I was, less the way society was calling me to be. Last year my word was on the opposite end as verb. I wanted to call into my life movement and action. I had walked away from physical activity and following through on promises I made myself to take action on different ideas. Last year, my life changed an incredible amount between the beginning of my journey towards weight loss, a new house, a new job, and renewed focus on what matters. 

For this year, I struggled for weeks on what God was placing in my heart. I was pondering deep, spiritual, meaningful words but none of them resonated in my heart. It was late one night as I was scrolling through The Giving Keys to pick out a gift for a friend that I saw the word “Create.” I froze. Create. Create what God? I asked. I’m not very artistic. In fact, even stick figures are often beyond my limits. I continued to stare and God spoke to me in only the way He can to make heard his voice so clearly. The year before, I had walked away from leadership in the church in small group settings. I had felt so drained that I knew I needed time off. I’ve written about struggles with relationships in many forms and this had seemed to be one more area I was failing in.

God spoke “Create community. Create boundaries. Create love. Create relationships. Create memories. Create change. Create good habits. Create more love for me.”

I was floored. It was all the things I knew I needed to walk towards but had created such solid reasons to say no to each of them, that I had in essence, created the exact opposite of what I wanted to create. As I write this, I’m actually chuckling to think of the irony. 

So I said yes. I said yes to God and yes to a different and more expectant 2018. When you ask God to show up, He will better than you even knew to expect. 

I’ve had the privilege of starting a young adult co-ed corporate Christians small group.  I’ve been able to open my home up to create community that others were apparently craving just as much as I was. I’ve said no to others and stuck to it to create boundaries. I’ve learned to better love myself and create positive healthy habits of change. I’ve asked God where he wants me, and he creates opportunities for me to say yes to create memories. As I write this, I’m about to embark on a crazy weekend across the country with a ton of people I don’t really know. It’s entirely outside my comfort zone and that’s awesome because I know with confidence, I’ll create some great memories and friendships. 

What are you going to create? 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Seasons of Relationships


They say that when you make it to the top, it’s lonely, it doesn’t keep you company in bed at night.

I never understood that statement. In fact, I thought it utterly ridiculous. I was hungry to climb that ladder. Being lonely, has never been foreign to me.

You see, while I’ve always loved romance novels, I’ve loved the feel of a gun in my hand more, starting at a target 10m away, pulling the trigger and seeing the highest score pop up (prior competitive shooter, don't worry!).

I love the feeling of dressing up, makeup perfect, little black dress hugging my curves for a night out but the feel of baggy jeans and an oversized sweatshirt as I sit around a bonfire of guys with a beer in hand has always felt more natural.

I didn’t speak the language of girls as a child. Barbie dolls and dress up any better than now, fancy manicures, couture fashion and expensive red wine in hand. I’d prefer toy cars, wooden trains, naturally ripped jeans, bare nails, and $6 wine.

Loneliness is a place I’ve coexisted with for years. It wasn’t until recently I looked around and realized, my queen-sized bed might be too big just for me.

There have been seasons of my life that I haven’t been the greatest friend. They say that true friends stick it out through it all and while that may be true, all relationships aren’t meant for life but some of them for a season. A fact I am all too familiar with at the moment.

I got tired of looking at my phone Thursday nights, wondering what I’d do for the weekend and realizing, if I didn’t plan it, no one else would. Or, if I didn’t invite a friend to dinner or an activity, I’d be home alone. As I looked around, I realized I was pouring all the effort into relationships that at the end of day, those people didn’t have a clue what was going on. They weren’t the ones to have my back when someone wasn’t treating me well. Or the ones to invite me to do something. And it hurt. It hurt when it happened in 7th grade, in 10th when I still had few friends, and in my twenties after I built an entire friend group that I realized didn’t invest in relationships the same way I did. I found myself exhausted. Not the kind a weekend in bed could fix but one that involved me walking completely away from most of the relationships in my life and walking back to the one who has called me to be.

Walking with God isn’t something he ever promised would be easy. He does promise us through that since he got through it, so could we (John 16:33).

On the Friday nights I look around and stare at my dog (and a pretty dog she is!) I won’t try to act like it’s the best feeling. However, the best feeling is realizing half the energy I was putting into relationships everyone else took for granted was pouring it into something that was 100% me. That’s okay.


So I’ll go to a movie by myself. Put extra time into the gym and meal prepping. Walk my dog and go for a hike just her and I. Write in my journal, seek out God, and just be. Everything is a season a time for something in each of our lives. When your season comes, I encourage you not to fill it up with empty hook-ups, large bottles of wine, meaningless tv. My time and talents are better than that and so are yours.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

^Change^

_^ Change _^

A definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, expecting to get a different result.

If you don’t change your exercise habits and eating plan, how do you expect to lose weight?

If you feel stuck in your job, evaluate what you’ve done differently to earn the job change.

If the only action your Bible is getting is as an ornament on your bookshelf or nightstand, why are you still calling out for help when your life plan is sitting right there?

If you’re still single or unhappy in your relationship, what are you actively changing and working on yourself to be the best version of you that someone else would want to partner with?

This has become such a personal topic in the last few years and even more so in the last few weeks. I’ve often looked around and felt all the emotions I’ve described above. I wondered what was wrong with me that as hard I was grinding, I couldn’t find the success I was desperately craving in all areas of my life. I was guilty of the Marsh Land Trap.

What’s the Marsh Land Trap you ask?

It’s where you try something, thinking you’re getting off on the right foot only to get stuck. It might be right out of the gate, the very first step you take or it might be further along, when you’ve taken just enough to have developed this false bravado, confident you can handle it that you take the wrong step.

You immediately start flailing, unable to hoist yourself out of the mess. The only way to get out was to ask for help. I was hunting recently in an area that much of which is land I have access to roam is marsh land. I try to avoid stepping on it. For those unfamiliar with marsh land, it can be very dangerous for a couple reasons. Marsh land is often covered with tall stalks of different plants so that you can’t really see what might be on the ground if the vegetation hasn’t been maintained. Alligators love marsh land. I’ll leave that one right there. Second, marsh land is unpredictable in its sturdiness to support weight. Some of it is baked hard from the sun, allowing you to jump around. Other and even more dangerous parts are like quicksand; with wrong step, you’ve been sucked down in. The weekend I was down while we were sitting around one evening, I heard stories of marsh land attacks. In one story, the guy that had been sucked in, used an oar he had from having been paddling in the water to pry himself out. The second one was in so deep, he had to be levered out by two guys and an ATV.

In the first, he used the resources he had at his disposal while the second one was in so deep without resources to be self-sufficient he had to ask for help.

As I reflect on both scenarios, I have to ask myself, in what parts of my life am I the one with the paddle and in which do I need to go as far as to ask for an ATV lift?

It’s not shameful to ask for help. Our society has taught that we have to be independent, self-sufficient, learning how to do things on our own. While that’s great, it’s created this shift of mentality that asking for help can be a sign of weakness. It doesn’t have to be. The first step is recognizing the need for change. Step 2 is actually implementing change and the third is accountability. That accountability might involve asking for help when you’re stuck. That’s okay. Just be specific and choosy when deciding who to ask to be that person. They will be the one to speak reason and reassurance into you. I have some thoughts around that but for now, I encourage you to be strategic in who is speaking into you and ensure what they are saying speaks truth and life, not doubt and discouragement. In reality, it’s much easier to pull someone down then lift someone up.

Change doesn’t start tomorrow. Change starts today. It’s active, constant, and requires discipline. No one will say it will be easy. No one will say the right path will always be evident. Recognizing if you need help might be the first step though. Ask. There are people in your life you know will support you if you just turn to them.


At the end of the day, we all have a desire to improve, grow, and learn. We all have those opportunities. What are you doing to take advantage of them?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Advice from an Insomniac


Insomnia

I’ve often found that advice is like the Christmas presents from the grandma you see once a year that has no true grasp of your age or interest; well intentioned but often misses the mark.

What frequently makes it golden is when it’s unsolicited. Really, please. Share your expert opinion on a topic you’ve never personally dealt with that I did not truly want. Oh, you thought I was asking for it? I think you either need to join Sheldon on a lecture on sarcasm (Big Bang Theory, c’mon please somebody) or ductwork please because I was just venting. No, really you didn’t see the steam rising from me?

If you don’t mind (really, I don’t care if you do, the back button is located in the top left corner for your ease) I just want to share a few thoughts for those that don’t suffer from insomnia.

1. Don’t tell me the couple restless nights you’ve had suddenly make you understand.

While I love our friends at webmd because really, who else would be able to tell us that the small light cough you’ve developed that you (unfortunately) felt the strong urge to google is in fact, actually, the start of the bubonic plague and beginning of the end of all civilization. I decided to go with the Mayo Clinic on this one. By definition, insomnia is habitual. Not occasionally, not once a week when you’re stressed. Not, oh yes!  Christmas is tomorrow and I can’t sleep I’m as giddy as a little kid problem. Habitual.

Insomnia: “Insomnia is a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep. With insomnia, you usually awaken feeling unrefreshed, which takes a toll on your ability to function during the day. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.”

2. “Yeah man, I stayed up late last night too playing Pokemon Go! So I totally get that tired thing.

No, you got the stupidity gene that first allowed you to play that game and second to lose precious sleep over it while the rest us wish we could just take your hours you clearly don’t care about while we stare at the ceiling for two hours trying to fall asleep. Or four hours. Just depends on the night.

3. Why don’t you try drinking warm milk?

Yes, all the world’s problems can be cured with a good cup of warm milk or soothing tea. This isn’t England and I don’t have Mary Poppins floating around. You think I haven’t tried that? For several nights straight to set a rhythm?

P.S. Warm milk is gross.

4. Perhaps you need to change your environment.

I bought a $1,000 mattress, blackout curtains, sleep with ear plugs, no clock, and my phone is face down on silent. What else you got? Not feng shui.

5. Well, I read this article that being on your electronics before bed is bad for sleep.

You mean because it can disrupt the melatonin that is released by your body which is the chemical that signals to your body time to go to sleep. And were you referring to the article from doctor’s weekly? Or the one in readers digest? Perhaps you meant the 10 page scientific article recently published in cambridge’s website on the topic of insomnia that came out last week that briefly mentioned this? You see, while you snore away at 1 .m. I’m busy reading articles only on how to not have to spend another night reading articles at 1 a.m.

6. You should really see a doctor about that.

Gosh, why didn’t I think of that? Silly me, was thinking Joe Schmo could produce miracle advice over here but really asking a professional never crossed my mind.

Oh wait, I already tried three different ones about it. Let me ask my doctor about the ongoing problems they are treating me for. It’ll probably only the umpteenth conversation I’ve had with them about this. Solid advice.

7. Just drink some coffee in the morning, you’ll be fine.

Band-aid, meet gunshot wound.

8. Well, I’ve heard alcohol can be relaxing. Maybe you should try a glass of wine before bed.

Alcoholism. I’m just going to drop that one here and walk away.

9. Perhaps you should see a therapist.

And that my friends, is like the Christmas I received a universal size bathrobe. Finally close to the mark. And that was fun.