Saturday, April 28, 2012

Down 2 Dress Sizes....!!

...while that title sounds really exciting, I am having a hard time being rrrrreally excited about it. Why? Because my dress size went down 2 sizes, but my pants only went down 1/2 a size.

Digest that for a second.

Okay, see why I'm not a huge fan of that?

I like symmetry. This is not symmetric.

But, I will have to deal with it.

I chose the food I ate and the exercise I didn't do for years.

What I cannot choose is where the weight comes off, and in what order.


In order to try to add some humor to the stress that I am going to call, "Please, Jesus, don't let my body look weird after all this is done," I created this little illustration:

With the high-tech computer program that I used to draw this, you can see that everything is fairly realistic and to-scale.

Here is what I would like to point out:

Before: This is clearly exactly what I looked like before I started working out and eating healthier.

Outcome A: This would be okay. I could possibly lose weight mostly in my waist and keep chest/hip measurements. This is ideal, because women are supposed to have curves. I wouldn't want to lost my hips because they are useful for things such as carrying children and laundry baskets and dancing to music by Shakira (Hips Don't Lie, anyone??) My booty can shrink all it wants. There is no attachment there.

Outcome B: This can be a woman's worst nightmare while working out (and what happens a lot). You lose weight in your chest. You lose weight in your torso. Your butt? Stands firm. Hips? Still there. What the heck? It makes dress-buying harder because your top may very well be two entire sizes smaller than your bottom. Awk. Ward.

In all seriousness (which has been hard for me lately due to intoxicating excitement over THIS. It just makes me hyper and giggly.), I am quite content most of the time with what all the positive changes that have been taking place with my body. I do keep trying to motivate myself, and accepting encouragement from other people, because I don't want to fail. It's also because I know that I don't have to fail. There is realistic possibility of success, so why in the world would I give up? Finishing that race is going to make me cry and laugh and all kinds of stuff. And then I'll probably pass out. And then eat pancakes at IHOP.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Honestly Speaking...

Every time I start a post like this, I always have to talk myself through the fact that I make this blog 100% honest. It's not because this is my journal (It's not. My journal would scare the crap out of you with its mounds of honesty and raw vulnerability.), but it's because part of living in the broken world we are in is the bad stuff. When we ignore the bad stuff, it doesn't go away. It festers. And then it gets infected and affects other parts of our lives.

I don't like it when that happens. I also encourage other people to try to recognize that there is bad stuff out there and not everything about becoming a Christian is sparkling rainbows and prancing unicorns.

Just so we're clear, THIS is what I'm talking about. Christianity is NOT THIS.

Enter honest blog post.


So, here's some honesty that we should start with: I said a BIG "Yes" to God recently. I was asked to share a more recent part of my testimony with a larger sized group of women at my church (the group that I attend). This scares the crap out of me for various reasons, but I felt like it was what God wanted me to do, so I said, "Yes." I am being video-taped for it tomorrow, and it's being shown next week. I know that the enemy would love nothing more than to really jack up my confidence in Christ by slinging lies in my direction. I have been mentally wrapping myself around the idea that this week was going to be stressful for many reasons (the day that the video is shown, I am driving back to my hometown and I have a crap-ton of things to do before I can even go). I also knew that there would be some amount of spiritual attack, in light of me saying, "Yes" to God.


I'm just going to put this out there. I am in tremendous student loan debt. Saying that up front will keep me from having to talk in code and say "That Thing" or something similar like I have done in the past.

Ever since I started watching the bills from my student loans pile up, I have felt shame, embarrassment and guilt. This is because of words that have been spoken to me over the years, and how I have interpreted said words. Regardless of the intent of the person speaking (which have been both good and bad intentions), this is what I heard, "Student loan debt means that you are failing at life," or "How stupid of your to take out loans that you thought you could pay off quickly. Not only were you stupid then, but your are still stupid," or my favorite (which was actually said to me, not merely an interpretation), "Because you have student loans, you will be forever single. No man is going to marry you with student loans debt." Okay, so the forever part was added by me. But, you get the idea, right?

Okay. Just stop whatever you are thinking and take a breath. A deep breath. Some of you may be thinking many, many things and may want to come to my rescue to save me from such thoughts.


Realize two things:

1) God is working on me in these areas. I used to be so ashamed of my debt that I wouldn't even talk to God about it. I didn't think He cared enough about me to provide a job that paid enough to help me pay the loans off. For the past nine months, I have been inviting God to be a part of this area of my life, which has allowed Him to begin healing from the lies I was believing. Work in progress, but I try to live day-to-day and just try to combat the lies as they come. Sometimes I just have to start of saying things that I know to be true until I am calm enough to see the truth in this specific area.

2) I have a family member that co-signed for a few of my loans, so there is an entirely different dynamic in there. It's not just about my credit and bills and debt. I am also named responsible for another person's credit and bills and debt. Something that I don't readily admit: Paying any and all bills in general stresses me out. Responsibility in general stresses me out. There is risk to responsibility. If you fail at responsibility, then you are considered by some irresponsible. I have insecurities and anxieties (that most people don't realize because of my cheerful demeanor) that go deep. Part of this comes from the pressure I felt at a young age to succeed at x, y or z. It wasn't because I wanted the praise. I think that I feared criticism from adults, peers, animals and random plants (a plant criticizing me would be it dying because I forget to water it).

This has happened to me so many times that it should be illegal for me to own a plant.


Enter grace.

God has grace for me. God has grace available for everyone. I know this. But in moments like this (when I am combating nasty words from people that go completely against what I know to be true) I have to try hard to wrap my mind around the fact that God has joy for me. He has joy and peace and forgiveness and grace and sappy moments when He makes it clear just how much He cares for me.

I think that a lie that I believed for a long time was that I wasn't allowed to experience joy or happiness until I paid off my student loans (I didn't come up with that idea on my own). The truth is that someday, I will be debt free. God has made it clear that He wants freedom for me in this area (not just me, though.... He wants freedom for everyone in every area of their lives). He will provide. I am not not trying.

Enter truth.

Is it okay for me to be depressed about how much debt I'm in? No. God wants me to keep my eyes on Him and follow Him to that freedom. Is it okay for me to beat myself up about how much debt I'm in? No. Seasons are seasons. This one is a big, long one. But, I know it's not forever. There will be a day when I will not be financially burdened in this area. I will have more options for ministry, jobs, countries to live in, etc. That is the big picture. "Big picture" Truth always trumps "what I think is true in the middle of a crisis" Truth.


Take that, satan!

Based on today's events, I may have a few more of these posts by this time next week.

I appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Mob Beats a Man and Calls it Justice

On Saturday, a man in Mobile, Alabama approached some kids that were playing basketball in the street. After the kids left, a mob of adults attacked him with anything they could get their hands on. What a great lesson for their children! "Hey kids, watch what you're allowed to do if someone tries to tell you what to do!" What horrible parenting!

The man is now in critical condition at the hospital. Did I mention that this mob attacked him on his own front porch and that his sister witnessed the entire thing? He was on his own property, where he should be able to feel safe.

Oh, did I forget to inform you that he is white?

And did I mention that the entire crowd was black?

As if the entire scene isn't awful enough, as the crowd was leaving, one of them had the nerve to say, "Now that's justice for Trayvon."


I'm sorry, violent black person, but attacking a white man because a hispanic man shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in a different state is NOT justice.

I'm going to go on a racial rant here, so just bear with me.

I am Irish and Native American. There is some generic European mixed in there too, but those are the main races that I am. Though I am considered "white," I do not at all feel that my race is superior. I do not feel that the English owe me anything because my ancestors were violently forced off the lands they lived on for years. I do not feel that anyone owes me anything because due to a famine in Ireland, my grandparents were forced to either stay put and starve or emigrate to America. No one owes me anything.

Slavery is something that is closer to us in history. What the Africans had to go through was awful. When I read or hear about stories of the abuse, negligence and degradation that occurred, I am often emotionally moved.

Here's the thing though:

In 1865, Slavery was abolished.
In 1870, all races were allowed to vote.
In 1920, all genders were allowed to vote.
In 1971, anyone eighteen and older was allowed to vote.

I am well aware that there were set backs. I know that towns and schools remained segregated for some time, even after slavery was abolished. It takes time getting used to something new. For a long time, Africans were seen as "less than" in some areas. You can't change a way of thinking over night. Those laws were a good start to change.

It is sad that that group of blacks found solidarity in beating a man on his own front porch. I'm sure Martin Luther King Jr. would be so proud.

Link to the story of the beating can be found here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

This Place.

Homesick: (hom'sik') adj. Acutely longing for one's family or home.

I've been so busy the past few months diving into a few different Bible Studies and Celebrate Recovery that I haven't had much time to think about being homesick. I knew it would sink in and I would miss everyone and want to go back home.

I am going to be home in 10 days (squeal!), and I think that is making me more and more anxious to see people that I love and miss. 

Enter being homesick.

So, beyond seeing people I love, here is why I am stoked to be headed North in just a few days:

This couple.
My friends Allison and Sean are getting married!!! I knew Allison before she even met Sean, so it's really cool to have watched their relationship from the beginning, and to be able to go back home to be a part of their celebration :)

This Dress.
Allison and Sean were brave enough to give me the role of "emcee" at the reception. Basically, I'm going to have a microphone (which can be dangerous) telling people what is going on and trying to get them to dance (which no one seems to want to do at a wedding). I promised Allison that I wouldn't let any inappropriate jokes slip out. If you know me, you know that sometimes my filter is paper thin. Other times, it seems to not exist at all. So, this is going to be a challenge.

The goal is to have fun, and help other people have fun too. I think I can manage that!

So, the countdown begins. I leave the 2nd, right after work, and will arrive late that night, ready to party, decorate, and hugs lots and lots of people.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dan River 5k.....check

Two weeks ago, I was walking in the park with a few friends and we encountered a guy that used to direct the VA Ten Miler. When he and I started chatting about my training and where I was, he told me, "You should run a race in a few weeks." Up until that point, I was on-track to do my first of a series of races on May 12th. That would be right at the end of my "Couch-to-5k" training. So, when he suggested I run without being prepared, I laughed it off. Then, I thought, "Why not?"

I mean, I didn't have to win. That's not the goal. But, doing it. Trying to cross that line. That really would help my training. It would take my confidence from, "This is hard," to "I can do this. I just did it a few weeks ago."

So, I found a race that I would care about and committed. This race benefited Autism Awareness in Danville, VA. I am not autistic, but I have a nephew who is. He is one of the smartest, most honest and spongiest kid that I know. He just happens to have autism. So, I ran for Colin.

They had everyone running write why they were inspired to run. It was legit.

This is Colin. He has a brain like a sponge and a charming wit. Love him!
Two weeks ago, My training partner and I were only worked up to running two miles- in intervals. So, I knew that this run was going to be a challenge in more ways than one. What I wasn't expecting was to develop Bronchitis eight days before the race. It sucked all by itself. It meant no running for a bit. Since allergies and asthma caused my cold to advance so quickly, I had to be careful and rest up so I would be able to heal. Needless to say, before today, the last time I ran was ten days ago, which is when the cold started.

Last night, I was so excited that I had problems getting to sleep. I needed to get up at 6am, so I knew I needed to be all rested up. I popped out of bed this morning with excitement after only five hours of sleep. I knew that would come back to haunt me, but what was I going to do? I was in bed by 9pm. I just didn't fall asleep until 3 1/2 hours later!

The drive to Danville was about an hour long, and was fairly quiet. Neither Jaime nor I are morning people, so just the fact that we were awake made us a tiny bit grumpy. I managed to keep positive in spite of being fairly grumpy, and no one attacked anyone else :)

This is Jaime. I was a little camera-happy. She was tolerating me and my excitement.

I was excited. I convinced myself that 76 was a lucky number. Plus, it matched my shirt!!
We got our racing packets, put on our numbers, and walked around for a little bit to get loose. In hindsight, I should have been more intentional about warming up. Jaime and I were chatting, and I was taking pictures of the park (which was super-pretty). So, I was a little distracted.

We were hoping that our run took us down this path. It didn't.

Cute little shaded area. Perfect for fishing or wading :)

We stood here for a while watching the ducks and decided being a duck would be pretty cool.

Ze Ducks (Geese)
Okay, so here's the synopsis of the race:
  • The race started
  • I started at a slow-but-I'm-gonna-finish pace
  • I stayed pretty much with the pace of Jaime
  • I felt my right leg cramping
  • I slowed down a little bit, but kept a steady pace
  • People passed me, and I got a little discouraged
  • I started to get really irritated with the playlist on my iPod. (Sidenote: While Gaelic music is usually good to work out to, it is now officially crossed off my "things I want to run in the sun to" list.
  • I felt the cramp in my leg go from the outer part to the hamstring.
  • I made it to the first mile before I had to slow to a walk and rrrrrrealllly stretch out my leg.
  • Once I started running again (about 1.25 miles), I started having breathing issues as my chest started to feel tight, mimicking the early part of an asthma attack.
  • I continued through mile 2 doing a walk-run-jog interval.
  • At mile 2, I decided to push through some of what I was feeling.
  • I started talking to myself. Out loud. Luckily, no one was that close to me. Things I said included, but were not limited to:
    • "YOU CAN DO THIS!"
    • "Just push a little bit more!"
    • "You can slow down when you get to that tree!"
    • "You don't have to run for your life. You just need to jog!"
    • "Stop trying to win. Just finish."
    • "This is not going to kill you. This is just exercise. People do it everyday." (I said this one frequently.)
  • I got to mile-marker "I," which meant I only had 1/2 a mile left. This was encouraging.
  • I told myself that I would run hard and finish the last 1/4 of a mile.
  • I came closer to the finish line and saw my time (enter discouragement and beating myself up)
  • Jaime was waiting for me at the finish line and came and ran the last 100 yards with me. Love her!
  • The closer I got, the more distinct everyone's cheers were. "You can do it, 76!" "You're almost there, 76!"
  • I realized that I was number 76 and started pushing harder.
  • I finished.
 In my head, everyone in front of me finished forever ahead of me. But, it was really only a minute or so. I'm glad I pushed that last bit. Plus, I told myself a few times, "Just try not to be last. That's not setting the bar too high." Well, I wasn't last. There was a kid way behind me that decided he wanted to try to win a 5k. He started out sprinting. When he lost steam, he walked. Then, he sprinted again. Then, he walked. I caught up with him at the halfway point. By that time, he was walking the whole time and looking like that was even strenuous. I high-fived him and walked with him for a bit to help him feel happy. (I don't know if that made him feel happy at all. My gesture probably lost it's effect once I peeled out and jogged away from him. Poor guy.)

This is what we looked like about 15 minutes after I finished. Apparently, this Irish girl's face was pretty red!
 We did it. For a good cause. We finished the race.

And we're (or at least I'm) doing it again in three weeks.

Monday starts the training up again. I've heard that a recovery run is pretty hard, so hopefully my body doesn't protest too much. :)

P.S. I've lost 12 pounds so far!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Just a little anecdote...

If you've read my blogger profile, you will know that I have four different blogs (three of which I actually write on regularly). I like to compartmentalize. I like the division. So, I have one to document my journey trying to figure out what they heck God wants me to do with my life, I have a second one that follows my training for the VA Ten Miler, another that I write on when I'm feeling opinionated (I rarely write on this one, and have actually considered deleting it), and this one. This blog, I use as an edited-version of my journal. It kind of walks you through things God is teaching me, showing me, and leading me through.

Today, I want to mix it up. If you don't adjust well to change, just roll with it. This is just a blog. It's not going to ruin your life (hopefully) to read something a little different. :)

Okay, so have you ever had one of those moments where you feel like an introspective genius? This can come in many forms, depending on what you are "realizing" about yourself. In the past, I have had moments where I say to myself, "Wow, self! I didn't realize that you used humor as a defense-mechanism/form of coping." Another one is, "Wow, self! I know now why you get so upset when people copy you! It's because you feel the need to feel special."

In case you're wondering, yes, I do actually think, "Wow, self!"

So, I had a "Wow, self!" today. In fact, it was just now. So, I decided that instead of sticking to the regularly scheduled program, I would share this.

I had this "introspective epiphany" while reading one of my favorite blogs, Hyperbole and a Half, The author (Allie) touched on something that I have struggled/wrestled with and tried to overcome since I became and appropriate age to start acting like an adult.

This is a slip-n-slide. I want one. Now.
I want to be a 20-something forever. For the rest of my life, I want to live in an apartment with a job that pays just enough for rent/needed expenses and some fun. I want to always be able to forget to do my laundry until I run out of underwear. I want to live a relaxed life in the summer and not take things too seriously.

Don't get me wrong. I do want to "settle down" and maybe get married and have a few babies. But, I think I don't want responsibility anymore. Is that bad? Is this adulthood? Just counting down days until you can take another vacation to escape life?

I don't think I want that. I think that I want to live a life that I'm content in. That way, if I never get a huge vacation, I'm just a-okay with being where I am and making the best of it.

So there.

Confession: I was on an actual vacation from March 9-March 18. Then, I worked for two weeks. Then, both my bosses went out of town with the girl I nanny. I am in the middle of that second "vacation," that I am lovingly calling SpringBreak2012. I have two more days of "freedom" (as if my job is that hard) until I get to play with and take care of the most adorable girl ever (And no, I'm not saying that because her parents read this. I'm pretty sure they don't know this blog exists). So, maybe I'm just enjoying my looooooooooooooooooong vacation and want it to be forever.

Either way, I don't really want responsibility.

Here's the blog post that made me feel that much more normal. That me sprinting from adulthood is not crazy or immature or freakish. It is just part of growing up.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I've got this...

... or maybe God does. Probably the second one.

You know how people say that you shouldn't go on a diet, that you should try to change your lifestyle?

Well, that is what I am trying to do with running.

I am listening to my body. If my body is restless, I go for a run (or a light jog if I did my training that AM). If I am in a bad mood and can't shake it, I put on some worship music and do running intervals until I don't feel so crappy anymore. I do the same thing if I am feeling depressed or down.

Instead of eating my emotions, I am going to be seeking Jesus while I.....wait for it.... run.

Don't tell anyone, but sometimes when I am upset about something, praying doesn't always fix it. Sometimes, after the "In Jesus name, amen," I still feel icky and selfish and sinful. It's up to me to do something about it in the meantime. Choosing joy. Choosing to get my eyes off myself. Changing things up. Taking time to listen to a friend in the middle of my complaints in order to try to get some perspective. Does it work? You bet.

Running allows me to work through the negative emotions while exercising while worshiping. It's a beautiful thing.

Running: the lifestyle I am choosing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Climb Every Mountain... every stream. Follow every rainbow 'til you find your dream...

Don't tell me you don't have this song from the Sound of Music stuck in your head. You do. And I'm not in the least bit sorry! ;)

So, today was Day One of my second vacation of the year. I have decided that this is my Spring Break. My bosses went out of town, so I have 10 days to ponder Jesus, catch up on my laundry, go on some adventures, and hopefully stay out of trouble.

Today, I celebrated SB2012 with a three-hour hike up to the top of Sharp Top in the Peaks of Otter with my friend. I admit, I was intimidated. I hiked once in Colorado, but that was years ago when I was younger and in a little bit better shape.

We started out confidently

... but that didn't last for long.

My friend had hiked Sharp Top before, so in her wisdom she told me that it would be worth it.

Huffs and puffs...

A few breaks sometimes in the form of "Hey! I'm gonna stop and take a picture of this..." here and there...

And then 2 hours...

953 calories...

and a mile and a half later...

We made it!

She was right.

It was worth it.