Monday, February 1, 2016

The beginning of something beautiful

I feel like I'm going to sound like some sweet older southern woman right now. (Hang on, we're going there...for just a second. Please laugh with me. I mean no offense.) His grace ya'll. Oh my gosh, how deep His love is for us! I wish you could understand! I wish I could understand! But what I'm feeling right now is absolutely incredible. He loves us so much that He comes into our mess and meets us right where we are. And He stays there and sits with us. And allows us to feel the disappointment and frustration and to question Him why a million times with tears streaming down our cheeks. But He just sits there and wraps His arms around us, holding us with a constant love. A love so deep it spans the depths of the ocean a million times. And He graciously lets us fall into this place, knowing the hurt we'll experience and the pain He'll suffer watching us go through it all and look at Him with tears in our eyes, knowing He could have stopped it all. He looks back at the tears streaming down our face knowing He can take our pain away right there. And knowing WE know He can take it all away. But He doesn't because He's our loving Father. And He sees all. And He KNOWS we will make it out, and not just make it out, but be stronger for it, and even thankful for it. So He graciously lets us fall. And then gently shows us how and why we got there and tells us it's okay. That we're forgiven. That He will help us back out. And He doesn't just say it. He does it. He saves us. Which goes above and beyond what He ever needs to do. He fills us with His peace and joy.

Okay. Off my soapbox. I swear to you though. This moment will go down in my history as one of the best moments ever. It took me 3 days to get here. (And yes, I'm well aware of how quick that is.) I sat and wallowed in my pity for those 3 days. Then slowly started being grateful and thankful for it all. Friday all I did was go to work. I went home, sat in my disappointment. And Saturday I just mostly sat in my disappointment too. There were glimpses of hope, but it was mostly just God delivering all of my sins on a silver platter. Gently. But it still hurts. I re-prioritized that night, like I said in my last post. I wrote my list down. And felt better, but was not "there yet" so I really really wanted to skip church and serving Sunday. (Not to mention the first meeting for a mission trip I'm going on. That I should be excited for. Hard when you're hurting inside.)

I ended up at church. (And btw, can I just say how on point Pete's message was with what God had just taught me? Confirmation much?) And I served. And it was kind of hard, but kind of great. I came home, ate, didn't DO anything (remember, slowing down), and left for my meeting. The meeting was fine. And then I came home. And looked around. And...there wasn't really a moment. There wasn't really a thought that triggered it. It was just life going on as it always does. I reminded myself of my list and decided that I wasn't going to "do" anything. I made some food. Then decided to clean up my living room and kitchen (because it was a DISASTER) and I actually was happy doing the dishes for the first time in a while. Because it didn't feel like the dishes were something that was "in the way" of me getting to the "important" stuff, to tackling my todo list. It was kind of nice. (It's funny how when we look back, we see so clearly all the warning signs.)

I sat down, read for small group on Tuesday, and I looked again at my 3 part list, (OH! I forgot to tell you what this list is...hang on. I'll get to it.) and went to bed genuinely HAPPY. I felt fulfilled. For the first time in... (embarrasingly) I don't know. Now I don't want you taking this as I wasn't happy. I was. It was just buried under the mountain of stress, todo lists, and really just life in general. But last night...that joy (HIS joy) was uncovered. That little list is going to be a life-changer. And here's why: because I made time, remembered, and prioritized what I care about most in life. It's so easy to over-look. We say we love our family, we say we love God, but much time do we actually spend with them, or talking to them on the phone if you can't be with them, or DOING something for them, or praying for them, or...whatever it is that puts them on that list.

Okay, the list... so, story... (I know. But my life is crazy stories.) So I had my 3 things from yesterday, the 3 big things that I learned in all this, and the first was re-prioritze. So being the crazy list person that I am (okay, fine I just like visuals), I decided to make a physical list of my priorities to remind me when I forget. TOTALLY MAKES SENSE! So I start. #1. Easy. God. Okay. #2 and #3 were easy too. People. (People in our lives are important!) And then I stopped. And I started drawing blanks. It wasn't that I couldn't come up with anything important to me, but it was that nothing even came close to touching how important the first 3 are. So I just looked at it. It was a clear cut line. One God had drawn long ago, but that I completely forgot. And then was like okay, let me draw that line. I'll draw a distinction and then continue. Except everything else kind of all swirled together and nothing stood out in any order. So I left my list at that - 3 numbers. Simple.

Hi. My name is Jessica and I love simplicity.

Perfect. So last night. I did everything I could think of around them for that day. And when I went to bed. I felt SO MUCH BETTER. I said "happy" before, but I could explain it this way too. It was like the weight of the world was lifted off of my shoulders. I did things I haven't done in a long time because I was just too "busy" and would "do them the next day." And it was just...I don't even know how to explain it. I was back to who I am. Who I am created to be. What my heart desires at it's core. Stripped down to the basics. Simple.

And it's so obvious now. Honestly, it's embarrassing how obvious it feels like that should have been. And I'm SO thankful that it's just me and God who truly knows about the details, because ya'll would just look at me and be like you're insane. What were you thinking? How did you even get there? How could you forget something so important to you? Sigh. Such is life. I don't know. If I knew, I wouldn't let it happen again. The sobering part is that this will happen over and over and over again in all sorts of different ways. But thankfully we have a God who will save us every time. In big ways and in small ways.

Can you imagine if He hadn't let me continue down this path and injure myself? I'd still be stuck in the crazy cycle I was in, unknowingly digging myself a hole and calling it amazing. Lol. Oh man. Life is crazy. And I'm all in.

So, I think I completely didn't write about what I wanted to write about. Oops. ... I'm kind of pumped for this race. I know a handful of people running and I'm totally going to be the girl dressed crazy, with an awesome sign, screaming and cheering on all the runners. It's going to be fun. I'm excited. And I'll run my half marathon. Probably under God's spotlight only. On a random day where He's the only One cheering me on. And I think that's the way it should be. It aligns with who I am. But I'm super pumped for the girls running the race. They're going to rock it. And I'm going to give them the biggest hug ever at the end. With a TRUE smile on my face. Because this is their moment. I'll have mine. I'll run that 13.1. And honestly, I have a feeling I might run the full 26.2 someday. But if not, I'll be okay. Because I've got my list. And 26.2 is not on it. 13.1 is not on it. Ever running again is not on it. So even if I was never able to run again, I know that I would be okay. But I'm pretty sure I will run again. And if you ever see me out there, I will have the biggest smile on my face ever. Because I GET to do this. I GET to run. I GET to workout. And that's amazing!

And for those of you who REALLY want to know my plan, or who really just like step-by-steps like I do, here's my thoughts:
- I'm taking an entire week off of working out. Okay, almost. 6 days. It's un-necessary because I can totally do upper body. That doesn't have anything to do with my knee. But I'm taking it off.
- I will ice and rest my knee. The first few days I did just that. Now I'm starting to incorporate some light knee exercises (3 positions, stand, sit in chair, sit on ground, and squeeze your knees/thigh muscles for 5 seconds, then off, 10 times - can you tell I've done physical therapy for my knee before? hahaha)
- This weekend, if I'm feeling up to it, I will do extremely light exercises that benefit my knee. I'm going slow. I want to do this right and I don't want to be injured. Meaning, no pushups because that puts pressure on my knees. (And yes, I'm actually, truthfully sad about this.) And maybe some light walking, to get my legs moving. All listening to my body and not being impatient.
- I'll do 3-4 modified upper body and abs exercises a week. Modified because you wouldn't believe how many incorporate pressure on your knees or movement of them.
- I'm going to throw myself a party (okay, fine, it'll all be in my head) when I go get fitted for new running shoes in a few weeks. (Again, when I'm ready.)
- I'm going to take a few weeks to build up to 3 miles. (BUT I WILL BE RUNNING! AND CELEBRATING THE FIRST TIME I RUN A MINUTE! =D) I think this is going to be the hardest one of all. 3 is my jam. It's my sweet spot. And I like to run "fast" and without break. Can't do that. We're going slow. Slow and steady wins the race. (If there were a race... ???)
- Then, I'll re-evaluate and maybe start training again. But I'm thinking this is about a month or even 2 out. So we'll see. Like I said, re-evaluate. I'm hopeful that I can hit big miles again before it gets too hot in the summer, but we're going to see. Take each day as it comes.

So...if you've stuck around this long, you're probably crazy... Go get yourself checked out. No really, thank you. I appreciate you reading my rambling thoughts. I'm well aware of how jumbled this whole post was. It's kind of like how this whole thing happened. But, what I was going to say, is that if running and how it applies to God, or just faith experiences, or whatever...I don't really know what to call it....if that interests you, I stumbled upon this and I loved reading it. It's a 2 parter, but it's Amanda Rego's "why I run"/faith story/whatever. She's an elite distance runner with a pretty interesting story that has really stayed with me.

Okay, I'll stop now. I have a million more thoughts but they're all a really big jumbled mess in my head. And I'm hungry... Food wins. Peace out. (???)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

That time I thought I was Invincible

The title of this post should probably be "that time I thought I was REALLY invincible" because let's be honest, I think I'm invincible every day...

This is the hardest thing I've ever had to write, so will you please pause for a second and open your heart while I get vulnerable?

Wait, let me get a joke out first... Cassadee Pope may be invincible, but I am not. And I sang her song one too many times, because, dang, did I think I was invincible. Not invisible. I'm pretty good at that. My specialty is hiding. You didn't know I was a super hero? Yes I am. But my power is invisibility, not invincibility. And there's a HUGE difference.

Okay. I'm done. Now lets get real.

There is very little chance that I will be running the half marathon in April. The one that I'm registered for. The one that I've been training for. And by "very little chance" I mean, if I end up running it, it will literally be by the grace of God. Literally. I don't want to say that I won't be running it, but I'm pretty sure it's off the table. And I have gone through every emotion associated with that statement. Every emotion. I am sad. I am disappointed. I am frustrated. I am embarrassed. I am humiliated. I am thankful. I am angry. I feel like a failure. I feel like everything I do from here on out is going to fail. I am hopeful. I am filled with peace.

I present to you my Friday, my Saturday, and every day in the foreseeable future:

Let me explain. On Thursday, I had scheduled a run after work. So I got ready and drove myself out to the trail. I started walking, and then started running. I made it an entire 3 minutes before completely stopping running. My right knee hurt. And it wasn't one of those, my knee hurts because I'm running, putting stress on it, working it out, and it'll go away in a few minutes kind of "hurt." This was a "you can't do this" hurt. So I stopped. Still hopeful. I walked a bit and then started running again. This time I made it .3 seconds. I was down and out.

Being the stubborn person that I am though, I kept walking. I walked my route. I "ran" a few times. (Aka: went through the motions of running, but really I was inching along at basically the same pace I was walking.) For 30 seconds. And then kept walking. Defeated. Completely defeated. Walking back in the freezing cold. Dressed to be running. Watching other runners go by. I was about a minute away from my car, a minute away from tears, when I saw a guy running my way. Usually, runners don't look at you. They're focused. (Or just don't want to look at you.) He smiled at me. And it took everything in my to force a smile back. Because I wanted to cry so bad. I knew this was not one of those injuries you bounce back from a week later.

I needed to get some groceries and was right by Target, so I stopped and let me tell you, it took EVERYTHING in me to not buy myself a pizza. To not drown myself in bad food. To not do some major retail therapy. And that's not really saying much, because at this point I pretty much had nothing left in me, so really it was all God helping me out. I made it back Thursday night and I don't even think I could really process what it all meant, what was all going on. I've been through Friday, and now Saturday (as I sit and write this). And I have gone through every emotion you can think of. And so while I don't have the words yet, and still really can't understand this whole thing, you get a list of all the fragmented ideas:
- This has everything to do with my knees, and yet nothing at all.
- I should have bought shoes with more cushion.
- I should have paid attention to my knees, iced them, and strengthened them.
- I should have did my knee exercises...10 years ago when I hurt my left one (not the same injury or the same knee).
- No more crossing my legs twice.
- I need to run more often, less mileage, increasing less.
- I actually DO love running. I just didn't realize it. And now I miss it terribly.
- I am so blessed to be able to workout. I GET to workout. ( this time, GOT.)
- I unknowingly made running/training/working out my #1 priority. That's wrong. God should always be #1.
- I fell into comparison. I fell into doing it for me. And thinking I could do it by myself. I can't. I am not strong enough without Him.
- I put off the things in life that matter most.
- I made THIS race an idol, putting pressure on THIS race. I WILL run a half marathon, it's just most likely not going to be THIS one. And that's okay.
- I forgot where my heart truly lies in this world, where I feel my calling is, and put running ahead.
- I was looking in the mirror analyzing my body, picking it apart. (Heck, I'm still doing this...)
- I have yet to experience disappointment like this. Any disappointment I may have had in my life was all hidden in front of people, but this was laid wide open.
- I felt like I failed and was embarrassed. I had 2 friends tell me they signed up for the same race right around this time. One a few hours before. One a few hours after. They still don't know (as I write this) because I still want to hide.
- I was in awe of what God was allowing me to do in the moment, but then forgot the enormity of it a second later.
- I grumbled about running. I talked WAY too much about how I didn't like long-distance running and how ironic that was and how I would never run another half and how I loved BBG and higher intensity workouts more. (Come to find out, I kind of love running, long-distance included.)
- I am extremely thankful that God stopped me in my tracks or allowed me to be stopped. Looking at the above list, and the list that's even longer in my heart. This was the right thing for Him to do. Had He not stopped me, I probably would have never seen it.
- I am so blessed that He is sitting with me through all of this, opening my eyes, being there, and just showing me where I went wrong.
- I am still hoping this is all in my head and I will wake up tomorrow perfectly fine and I can take what I've learned, apply it, fix my heart, and get back to running.

To sum it up, this injury was a complete storm, physically and spiritually. Physically, there are things I knew I should have done to prevent this injury. There are things I should have done in hind-sight. There are things that I was up against physically that I have absolutely no control over. Spiritually, there are things I should have recognized. There are things I see in hind-sight. And there are things (many many things) that have taken me completely by surprise.

I wrote a simplified list of take-aways:
1.) Re-prioritize. God first. Love people. THEN workouts. You shall have no other Gods.
2.) This is not a competition. You shall not covet anything of your neighbor's.
3.) SLOW DOWN. (This is aimed at life, not speed in workouts.) Be intentional. Pay attention.

I'm still processing. (Have I said that yet.) This is a big one for me. It's changing my plans and my heart. So Lord, please be patient with me. I'm trying to work this out, but I desperately need Your help because I'm just me. I AM hopeful. And I AM thankful. But I'm also still sad and disappointed.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sometimes you just need a break...I mean, God

Today is Sunday. I worked out today. I did BBG Week 15 Abs + planks and a circuit of standing ab exercises. Yesterday I did BBG Week 15 Arms. And before that, I worked out....last Sunday.

And I haven't ran for a solid 10 days.

And I'm not "scheduled" to run for another 4 days.

I KNOW. I fully remember that I'm training for a half marathon. I KNOW. But I am honestly not worried about it. I believe it was all part of the plan. His plan. I needed a break. I knew that I needed a break. But I fully under-estimated how much I needed a break.

{Insert forced break.}

Except this break was not just a physical break. I was not just physically tired. Though I was well past physically tired. I was also mentally tired. I have a LOT on my plate right now, and I got WAY overwhelmed. Like WAY past overwhelmed. And I was spiritually tired, almost empty. I was filled because of all that was going on, but the weight of everything was dragging me down and I just simply needed God. Not God's dreams. Just Him.

And so there was a snow storm. A forced break. No running. And no driving. So naturally I camped out on the floor in my living room. True statement. It was amazing. (Hi, my name is Jessica and I go with the flow and sometimes that has me doing really strange things. Like camping in my apartment.) I slept on the floor. I didn't even use a blowup air mattress. It was straight up old school, just a bunch of blankets. Just me and God and blankets. And it was exactly what I needed.

Here's some things I learned this weekend:
* All I want is God. I need time with Him. A lot of time with Him. And that's okay. We're all different.
* I won't die or get fat by taking a week-long break from working out. (Because clearly dying and getting fat are in the same category. I hope you're sensing my sarcasm...)
* I need to work on the strength in my knees. Side lunges are going to be my friend.
* I will be absolutely fine not working out for over a week while I'm in India a few weeks before the half marathon.
* I can NOT handle the weight of God's dreams. Thankfully He shoulders the weight until we're prepared. Read more here.
* I have vision and passion. And that's rare. I honestly never thought I would have that, but I think I might...
* I still need God. After all His teaching, after all the rest this weekend, I still need God. Desperately. Every second. With every breath. I need Him.

So...point is... go camp out in your living room with God. And lots of blankets. Just kidding. You don't need the blankets. =) Sometimes, when you think you need a break, you REALLY need a break. But actually, you really just needed God. And you always do.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dare To Be You

Oh my gosh. I still can't get over this article. Go read it here. You can come back. I'll wait.

You're back. Okay. Good. Because I want to tell you exactly how true this is. I spent 27 years of my life trying to be someone else, trying to be someone who I was not created to be. I looked to everything and everyone and wanted what they had, what they were doing, their entire life. And I chased money, fame (yes, I'm admitting it), and everything in this world you can think of. (Except illegal things. I have my parents/upbringing and God to thank for that.) You name it, I wanted it. And I wanted to BE everything. I literally have a document sitting on my external hard drive entitled, "Who I Want To Be" and let me tell you, it includes about 20 different "jobs" if you will. And each of them can be pin-pointed back to a single person or shall I say..."inspiration." I wanted to have a blog (hey, look-y here!); I wanted to have a YouTube channel; I wanted to be an interior designer, and a fashion designer; I wanted to own a wedding shop, have my own clothing line. Are you starting to get the picture? I wanted to be EVERYTHING I wasn't made to be. (The blog might be an exception, though this is WAY different than what I was envisioning.)

I loved reading the part where she's says "I'm messy and loud, a hugger and a crier." I laughed and smiled so ridiculously because, well...I'm messy. I don't keep a clean house because I'm busy and it's not #1 on the priority list, so sometimes I don't clean for a few weeks. No one dies, so it's all okay. I'm not loud. That one I CAN'T relate to, but apparently I'm a hugger. Lol. Anyone who knows me is truly LOLing about that one. I "blame" my church. They're huggers. The first time I hugged someone in a scenario that I normally wouldn't, I was completely surprised by it. I remember backing away thinking, did I really just do that? Wait, what just happened? But it just happened naturally - I just did it. It flowed out of me. It's who I was created to be. (Alright, I'M still giggling at that one.) And finally, I'm a crier. I don't hold my emotions back. I used to. I'd hide it all, telling myself that I needed to be strong, afraid of what people would think or that they might see a weakness. But now, I feel everything. I let myself feel everything. When something hurts, I let it hurt. And I cry. Heck, I cry when I'm happy. I cry when I don't know what emotion I'm feeling. (Makes you want to hang out with me, right? haha) But really, it's just who I am. I'm made to feel everything, be affected by everything, hug people, and be messy(?). Okay, maybe not the last one, but you get my point.

When we fight who we are made to be, we end up unhappy and looking to everything else and everyone else to "fix" us, when all we need to do is just simply be us, be ourselves.

Yes, I know, easier said than done.

It makes me really sad when I see people playing a part. Taking someone else's rules and trying to fit themselves into their box. You know another thing I've learned about myself? I thrive in an environment that's constantly changing. Apparently I'm NOT a planner. Though I constantly TRY to be.

I'm running a half marathon at the end of April. (Like, what?!?) And I get asked what training plan I'm following. Well here's the truth. I'm not following a plan. At least not in the form of a traditional 12-week scheduled plan. My plan is to increase mileage up until the actual day. Everything in between is in God's hands. No plan. Because I know myself. If I try to follow a plan, I will completely fail. Completely. So I'm making it up. Week by week. And allowing it to change within the week, so far that I'm often changing my plan for the next day. That's my plan. The plan is, I've got no plan. That's what my mother used to say and quite frankly, I hated it. (Planner!) But I have no plan because I've seen how much better my life can be when I let go, let God be in charge, and just go with the flow. (Now I've really lost everyone who knows me...) I don't have a plan, and that's okay. I'm not following someone else's rules, and that's okay. And you know what? If I miss a Monday, that's okay. If I have a bad run, that's okay. If I only run twice in the week, (hello, last week!) that's okay. Just because a traditional plan tells me I need to be running at least 3 times a week (or more!) doesn't mean that that's the right thing for ME. I find (right now, so don't quote me because this could change tomorrow) that more resistance workouts are better for me, better for my running. I'm happier with less running. (I think I've learned I actually don't even care for long distance running. Ironic, huh.) And my body is happier with less running. And so, I'm running less, and doing restistance and higher intensity workouts more. I'm doing what is right FOR ME. I'm doing what I was created to do, being who I was created to be. (No wonder I always failed at following the infamous couch to 5k plan!)

Now I'm totally not saying, go run a half marathon and don't have a plan. Because you might be someone who needs a plan. Maybe that plan is one you've written out specifically for yourself. Or maybe it IS one of the popular training plans. Do what YOU need to do and don't do what works for everyone else, just because "it works for everyone else." Because you're not everyone. You're YOU. You're unique. Be who you were created to be. Because it's there that you will SHINE. It's there that you will see AMAZING things happen.