Monday, January 25, 2016

Life lessons I learned from my first half marathon

Around the beginning of June 2015 a friend and I confessed to one another we had secretly wanted to do a half marathon. Being as unathletic as they come, I was certain this would always remain a secret dream. Somehow though, the two of us, barely able to run/walk a mile at the time were able to muster up enough will power to sign up and train for a half marathon. On November 1st both of us crossed that finish line. The feeling is like no other. During the training, running and completion of this race I have learned so many things, this is what stuck out.

I learned respect for my body. I gained an immeasurable amount of respect for my body as I prepared and ran my half marathon. The process was incredibly healing in I way I could never express. My teen years were plagued by debilitating hatred for my body. I struggled with eating disorders and unhealthy self-esteem. Any exercise either started out as a way to lose weight or morphed into an unhealthy measure for losing weight and micromanaging my body and caloric intake. I consistently pushed my body to unhealthy extremes. I expected perfection and peek performance without nourishing, resting or worst of all respecting my body. Somehow my body still managed to keep me alive and doing its job while enduring abuse from its boss. During my half marathon training I had reached a point in my self-care and self-esteem where I could healthfully train. I listened to my body and in return I was able to take it places I never imagined were possible. It was not always perfect and I stumbled occasionally but I grew tremendously.

A 12 minute mile is the same distance as a 6 minute mile. I have said it before and will say it again, I have not one athletic bone, or even cell for that matter, within my body. My race was a slow race. Something I was very self-conscious about at first. But you know what? My 2:47 minute half marathon was just that, a half marathon. It does not matter how long it took me to run 13.1 miles the point is I RAN 13.1 MILES. I have the bumper sticker to prove it.

It has nothing to do with athleticism and everything to do with commitment.  Athleticism helps, yes but I am living proof it is not necessary. Commitment to your end goal is all you need to cross that finish line.

Success is a choice. Saturday morning long runs were not my idea of a rocking good time. Giving up 3 hours to run when I had a million other things to do was not always easy or convenient. I did not achieve this goal by sheer luck. I made a choice and another choice, followed by a string of (mostly) good choices which led me straight up to the starting line of that race and which carried me across the finish line. Success in reaching this goal was not a gamble or a blind shot in  the dark which happened to work in my favor. It was a deliberate choice to succeed followed by re-choosing success more days than not from June 2015 until I crossed the finish line on November 1st.

Butt cheeks can chaff. So can armpits. And boobs. And holy heck YOUR THIGHS. Also, blisters, man. Blisters taking up the entire bottom of my foot. There is no moral or lesson in this point. Just know, your butt cheeks can chaff.

Have you ever run a half marathon or other race you had always wanted to complete? What did you learn? Any Suggestions on chaffing cream?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why I keep a prayer journal

On top of all of the ways I have grown spiritually during my college years, my prayer life has thrived the most. I still have room for improvement, I always will, but considering I am no longer praying half prayers quickly before I drift off to sleep 1 or 2 nights a week, I would say I am doing much better. Prayer is important and unfortunately, massively overlooked. Prayer is the opportunity to sit with our God and communicate with Him. We get to thank Him for His many blessings and share with Him our hurting hearts. There is no greater peace than that, in my humble opinion. My prayer life has been rather sorry throughout most of my walk with God and for that I am very regretful. A woman in constant communication with her creator is a force to be reckoned with. I truly believe prayer makes a powerful difference in the heart, minds and lives of those praying and being prayed for. There are certain people in my life that do not have perfect lives but have a gentle, kind spirit about them. They have this general sense of peace and protection over their lives. As I go through this list in my mind, you know the one thing that separates them from other people in my life who do not seem to have this same peaceful demeanor? These are my praying friends. They are the individuals who have thriving, consistent prayers lives. Their homes, families, jobs and lives are covered, showered and protected by their constant prayers. I believe with my whole heart the difference I see in their lives is due 100% to their commitment to prayer. I knew a while back I had to make a change in the way I was attempting to pray because it was not thriving, consistent or powerful. My heart was not in it and I was doing it out of a sense of obligation. I began to observe, ask, research and pray. Yes, I prayed about prayer. As a result I made changes to my prayer life which have tremendously changed my attitude and outcome of prayer. A major change I made to my prayer life was keeping a prayer journal. There are many ways this can be done, which I will cover in a later post. These are the reasons I keep a prayer journal and why I find it so important.

To remember. Do you dread saying, 'I'll pray for you' to another individual because you're 90% sure you won't? Not because you don't care, you actually care quite a bit but because you won't remember. Keep a list, journal, or doodle page of your prayers. When you make a promise to pray for someone write it down to increase your chances of follow through.

To reflect. I appreciate more than I could ever express having written proof of the evolution of my prayers. Keeping a consistent prayer journal or log gives you the ability to reflect on his faithfulness at any given time. I have consistently kept my prayer journal since June and it is amazing to see how many of my prayers, big and small have been answered. It is also amazing to see how my heart and desires have been changed in accordance to the work he is doing in my life.

To recognize. In the quick moving pace of life it can be difficult to recognize God's hand in both the big and small. I love having what I prayed for available to look over and recognize the divine answers in the midst of ordinary life.

There are many ways to keep a prayer journal and many other reasons why they rock. In future posts I will be including more creative ways to improve your prayer life. I would love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Resolutions vs. New Year's Prayers

New Year’s Resolutions. A familiar story, we know all too well. January 1st comes around and we have the best of intentions to start off on a new leaf. At this point I feel a general consensus that we have all pretty much given up on New Year’s resolutions actually being a thing that we do. Yet, every year I feel the temptation to set them. To give myself some credit, I get more realistic in them each year but somehow I feel I am going into it with the wrong mindset.

I have come to realize, they are less resolutions and more goals. Albeit, goals that I should feel free to set at any point but for some reason don’t. This year, I have goals. I have a money saving plan, goals for blogging and goals for my walk with God. Yet, this year I do not want to start off with resolutions, I want to start off with prayers. I will spend time writing out my goals and analyzing how I will achieve them but before that, I will spend time writing out my prayers for this year. These goals are planted in the deep desire of my heart to live better. To love better. To live deeper and live fully. These goals are rooted in the fact that above all else, in 2016 I want to end the year more radically in love with Jesus and closer to the woman he wants me to become than when I started the year.

My goals for 2016 are to

-          Save money.

-          Blog once a week, for the entire year

-          Spend time in the Word. Every day.

Those are my goals, the things that I want to achieve. Before anything can be done in his name, I believe prayer needs to happen, communication with Him, including him in the decision and asking His Will to infiltrate mine. Those are my goals, these are my prayers:

Lord, I want to honor you with my finances. I desire to follow you without the burden of debt. I pray to be released from unnecessary worry about financial concerns and lay these at your feet. Loosen my grip on my money, help my heart remember that no material possession is entirely my own. To follow your word fully, I should freely offer help to those who need. I should serve with my money whenever I feel you urging me to do so. Guide my financial decisions as I seek to honor you in every area of my life.

God, I choose to honor you through sharing your stories of love, hope and endless grace upon grace in my life. I feel you pulling my heart towards the written word. I see you move through my writing when I least expect you to. I pray that in all I do, whether it be writing, blogging or teaching, you are the focus, you are the center of it all and all of my actions are pleasing and acceptable to you.

Father, I want to begin each day in your word. I want scripture to penetrate my heart and leak into every aspect of me.  I desire to begin and end each day worshipping you, loving you and learning more about you. Give me the continual desire to be in unbroken relationship with you, to be with you every day. I pray to grow in wisdom and in faith throughout this year. As I embark on new adventures I pray that I never lose sight of the rest I find in your shadow. Speak to me through your word and through my prayers. Guide my steps as I seek to honor you in all that I do, every day, for all of my life.

Above all, Lord, I pray that this year is entirely honoring to you and your great name. I pray that when I stumble, I do not resist your correction. I pray that when I fall, I fall at your feet. I pray that no failure or pain can pull me away from the peace I find in you. If I achieve nothing else this year besides my heart drawing closer to yours, I will be satisfied. Amen.

I believe prayer is far mightier than we acknowledge. I truly believe prayer holds the power to change lives. When people, relationships and families are covered in prayer there is a protection covering them. I have seen it with my own eyes. This year, I want to achieve goals but I above all I want to seek Christ. My ultimate ‘resolution’ is to hold the power of prayer sacred. My goals may morph and change, as life often does but I am committing myself to praying over my life, my goals and His will daily.

If you are setting resolutions this year, I encourage you to follow those goals down to the roots. Figure out why you want to achieve these and how they honor God.

Ask yourself:

Why do I want to achieve these goals?

How do these goals honor God?

What areas of my life do these goals stem from and how can I cover these in prayer?

Bring these goals to God, ask him to align your goals and heart with his. Write out prayers over these things and be committed to praying God’s will over every area of your life, every day. I would be happy to join you in prayer as well, feel free to drop me and e-mail, comment, or message.


What are your goals for this year? How can you be intentional about praying over them and inviting God into every aspect of your life?