Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Season of Gratitude

"I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." ~ Psalm 121

This is the verse that keeps pushing me through my training for a half marathon a mere 6 weeks away.  I've been training since mid-August and my excitement and passion for this has only grown during this time.  I have been lucky enough to partner with Team in Training to prepare for this challenge.  While I prepare to run 13.1 miles, I also have the opportunity to raise money for a great cause, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  What sparked my interest to start training wasn't what LLS does through Team in Training, in fact I had no idea they even existed until after I decided to run the half marathon.  What sparked my interest was out of pure selfishness and a deep desire to press on and push through an unexpected loss in my life.  It wasn't by death, but rather by reality not meeting expectations or rather a hope and a dream.

I've watched from the sidelines as the enemy has come in to steal, kill, and destroy the areas of my life that made me so uniquely designed.  I've allowed the Devil to steal my confidence, kill my dreams, and destroy my hopes.  And all it took was the closing of a door... literally.  And that was over two months ago!

But then something cool happened yesterday, however the details will remain undisclosed because if I told you then you'd think I'm absolutely crazy!  Plus I believe that there are "ah-ha" moments from God in which that is where they stay... strictly between you and God.  Besides, it's really irrelevant except that I truly believe it was a moment in which not having to know or understand something finally made sense.  When I went for my 6 mile speed training run this morning "Praise You in the Storm" came up on my playlist and my eyes were focused, my head was in the zone (despite my legs feeling like rubber), and it hit me... the reality that's been missing is just being.  The just being okay with not having it all together, the just being that even a counselor needs a counselor sometimes, the just being in the midst of change and having no idea how to navigate through it.  The just being of in the now and not having some perfect little cookie cutter future mapped out.  Do I have hopes and dreams of what I'd like my future to look like?  Why yes, of course... but I'm learning that it might take several more puzzle pieces to see that come together... if at all.  For all I know my future looks very different and the path to getting there is much more detailed with God at the driver's seat.  The key is letting HIM take the wheel (insert Carrie Underwood song here).

I'm grateful for what got me here... it's a bittersweet reality.  But I'm starting to see through the fog, I'm starting to see what I couldn't see 3 months ago.  I'm realizing that because someone took a chance on me, I took a chance on change.  I'll fight it, don't get me wrong... I'll fight change till I'm blue in the face and on my knees pleading through the tears for things to go back the way they were.  But I know that's not what God wants and that is not what I want either.  I want things to be smooth, easy, and understandable... but that's not what He intended and so I trust that His plans are greater than mine and when all is said and done I will look back at my silly 'ol plans and just laugh.

Click here to watch Casting Crowns perform "Praise You in the Storm": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ype1xE0wzsg

If you'd like to donate to Team in Training and help raise funds for cancer research click here:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Open Letter to A Girl's Broken Heart

Precious Girl,

First, watch this.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orc4TuIO56s

Has anyone told you how beautiful you are?  No?  Oh my goodness, but you are and it's more than just what you portray on the surface.  It goes deeper than mascara, eye liner, blush, and a pretty outfit... it's what I see in your heart.  I see a young woman growing in her faith and love for Jesus Christ.  I see a lady desiring to honor her Heavenly Father in all that she does.  I see beauty in how you love others, the BIG love that you show, the grace, compassion, and understanding.  I know you get frustrated at this life, at others sometimes, but unfortunately that is still part of our nature.  We are not perfect, yet we are perfect-able.  God wants you to turn your eyes from the things of this world and fix your eyes upon Him.  He loves you with that BIG love that you try so hard to show others.  Remember, we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).  I know you feel you've been hurt but the truth is your expectations just didn't meet reality and that does stink.  However, I know you, I can see you down the road and the unexpected joy that you will find just around the corner.  The smile that slowly finds its way back to your face is illuminating and inspiring.  You have feared your own strength for so long and now it's time to reconcile that with God.  To remember it is not a strength you came to find alone, by yourself, but rather a strength that God has placed in you and has been growing over time.

You are confident... intelligent... beautiful.... funny (and this one is okay, don't try to hide it, it can be a rarity)... you are a wonderful creation of the Heavenly Father and I'm pretty sure He doesn't make mistakes.  If right now you cannot grasp on to the truth that is spoken here, I pray you at least grasp on to the truth that God is FOR you!  That cheerleader you've been praying for to come along side you in life... that's God.  He's your biggest fan!  I pray that God shaped hole that you've rediscovered in your heart would be filled with God, and God alone.

You will survive this and remember... you always come out stronger than you were before.  I've seen it, I've seen your life unfold and I cannot wait to see what else God has in store for your precious heart and the life He has given you here on earth.  Hold on to Him, for He NEVER lets go of you.

In His Love,

You restored me to health and let me live.  Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. 

~ Isaiah 38:16-17

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Who Will?

I've found myself resting quite a bit in a song recently... it's entitled "What Love Really Means" and is by JJ Heller.  Such an amazingly gifted artist and leaves so much for one to ponder.  I stumbled across the YouTube video for this song a couple weeks ago and it reminds me of what I believe God is calling me to do and what it means to truly love another.  I've said it before (at least in my quiet times with the Lord) and I will say it here... love is more than a feeling.  It's an action, a lifestyle, a choice.  I wrestle sometimes with myself as I've been told I love with a big love.  There's no sorta love from me... when I'm in, I'm all in.  This appears to be a weakness at times, especially when that love is not returned.  But it's in those moments that I remember what I stated a couple sentences back... it's not just a feeling.  I choose to love others, I choose to love them sometimes despite what they say or don't say to me.  Why do I do this?  It's a calling, a commandment from God.  In Matthew 22:39 it states that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself, the first being to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  I strive to follow both of those, but also know that I fail miserably sometimes.  I often take the second great commandment to such a length that I love others better than myself and it's only after I am sick and rundown that I realize I am terrible at caring for myself.  The point I make in all this is who will love others when they feel unloved?  Who will stand in the gap and pray and believe for the impossible or unbelievable when someone else doesn't have the strength?  Who will show this world what love really means?  Is it me? I hope so, at least I know that is what God is revealing to me in this season of life and through the love others have shown me.  Is it you?