Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fasting from Fast

Well, everybody, it's that time of year again, it's the start of Lent. Today marks Fat Tuesday and in less than an hour the fasting will begin. Generally this time comes with different denominations giving up something of the Earth to grow closer to God. Traditionally those who practice Lent will give up meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and every other Friday in the Lent season. However Lent seems to be taking a more modern turn in which you simply, "fast," from something you commonly indulge in.

In previous years I have participated in Lent and given up things like television, social media, and even pizza (considering it was my freshman year of college, that one was surprisingly quite difficult.) After quite a bit of thinking I have made a decision on this year's journey.

For forty days I will be fasting from fast food and fast food restaurants.

Now I know what you may be thinking, what does fast food have to do with your journey with God?? This question is honestly pretty reasonable, I myself was wondering how this Lent would go. Seeing as to how I eat fast food at least once a day, I should probably lay off anyways, but I decided to take the fasting one step further.

As I'm fasting from fast food, I not only decided to lay off the food itself, but also the whole idea of quick living. We go through a drive through because we're too busy sprinting through our daily lives to truly appreciate the moment. On my journey through Lent I have decided to spend more time with God, and people, in order to live in the NOW and see things as they really are. Before each meal I plan on praying a simple prayer, I want to take the time to thank God for the food he has given me, the people he has given me to share with, and the time he has given me to eat a healthy meal. I'm hoping that this journey will open my eyes to my many blessings that God has given me, it will help me be present in life, celebrate with those around me, and it will help me find a new appreciation for all that God is doing every day of my life,

In addition to the more religious efforts, fasting from fast food was also a health conscious decision. God has given me a healthy body and a scholarship to run, I find that filling it with fast food every day has given me a lack of self confidence and a sort of disrespect for this body I have been given.

My end goals for this Lent season are to help my overall health, I plan to work on my mental health, my physical health, but most importantly my spiritual health. I'm fasting from the fast paced lives we live to be more present for God and myself. To finish this post off, before I go to bed, I'd like to leave you with a few verses.

Ecclesiastes 5:18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 
19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 

20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.

These verses, to me, are my mission statement for Lent, Ecclesiastes 5 talks about how everything is a gift from God, from our eating, to our labor, to our wealth, I plan to be more present with his gifts, as well as the life he's given me. 

Happy Lent Everybody!! 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Perfect Plan

I woke up today with one thing on my mind, race day, I had packed up my bags with shoes, socks, extra snacks, and even homework that needed to be done. I was anxious, to say the least. I always get nervous this time each meet day but somehow today was different. 

My Mom had texted me to ask if we were still going, the roads were pretty slick and 25 crashes had been reported on the interstate we were meant to be traveling. The road was down to one lane and traffic was moving very slowly. As far as I knew we were still going to the meet and would be leaving shortly. The last thing I remember her saying before leaving was, "be careful," and the last thing my Dad had sent me was, "Love you to the moon and back! Prayers for safe travels." I guess with the road being so bad they were both a little worried about sending me on my way. 

While it seemed we were still going to the meet, I couldn't help but worry myself about what would happen if we were to get caught in traffic or even worse, in an accident ourselves. It's so easy to get caught up in the what-ifs and show a little apprehensive for the unknown. However, I think God had a different plan for our day. 

Our bus was supposed to arrive at school at 9:40 and we were supposed to board the bus at 9:45. With bags in hands we were all waiting anxiously for our carrier to the meet. 9;40 came, and no bus had arrived. 9:45 came, and once again, the bus did not. At around 10:05 we finally hear something about the bus... the company had gotten our date wrong and ended up not sending the bus for our meet.

A few of my fellow teammates were mad and upset, while some were happy and relieved. Myself, I was in awe, a little shocked at what had just happened. Just minutes before my parents had been praying for safe travels and I had been worried about the roads ahead. I had no idea on what would happen if we were to travel today, but I do know that things happen for a reason.

Perhaps this was God showing us he had better plans. Maybe this simple mistake was actually God keeping us at home where we were safe. We will never know what would've happened if we were to travel today, but there's comfort in knowing that things happened exactly as they were meant to be.

Ephesians 1:11-12 says 
11: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12: in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (NIV)
What a reassuring touch God has given through those verses. God has a plan which he has predestined for us. He knows when things happen, why they happen, and whom they will happen to. It is with that reassurance that we must go forth without worry, we must trust in him, and he will provide us with safety and comfort, even in times when the future is unknown.

While I may not have gotten to compete today, I have been humbled, I have been blessed, but most importantly I have been saved. I've been saved from my own worry, I've been saved from not knowing, and I've been saved by the grace of God, and for that I am thankful.

Today I am thankful for man's mistake which turned out to be a blessing.

Today I am thankful for God's continuous love and purpose.

Today I am thankful and I will give him praise; Praise for a purpose, praise for a future, and praise for a perfect plan which has been laid out for me.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Olympic Spirit

It has been a while since I have actually sat down and blogged about anything and I thought it was time to catch everyone up.

My message for the day comes straight from the 5K in the 2016 Rio Olympics. I'm sure many of you saw the now viral collision between America's Abbey D'Agostino and New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin during the first eight laps of the 5K semi-finals. This collision left D'Agostino with a torn ACL and Meniscus and Hamblin going on to compete in the 5K finals. But this collision didn't stop them. The two women helped each other up, and continued on to finish the race.
Being a distance runner myself I understand the turmoil that comes with running any distance race, whether it be 1500 meters, a marathon, or any distance in between. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be to run at top speeds with a torn ACL and Meniscus. This act of courage and resilience truly spoke to my heart. Not only was it inspiring to me, it reminded me a little of my own story.

This past track season I dealt with an acute injury to my IT (illiotibial) band. My injury wasn't really a season stopper but boy did it hurt. I took a few weeks off to rest it up for the conference championships which took place in  April of this year. Coach had put me in both the 10K and the 5K race and I was determined to run both. About 10 laps into the 10K, which consists of 25 total laps, my IT band began irritating me and began causing me pain. I would not stop for anything. I had my heart set on finishing for my team and giving it my all. Eventually I finished my race and I finished at just under an hour.

This is where our two stories collide; Just as I had been determined to finish my race, Abbey felt that same determination. Of course her injury was much worse than mine but her heart was just the same. Perhaps she and I share a certain level of insanity that only an endurance athlete will understand, or perhaps she and I share this will power to finish what we start, but to Abbey it was so much more than that. In a recent interview she was asked about the collision in which she stated, "I think that the qualities that people see as heroic and altruistic, those come from God, I’m glad he’s chosen me to be an instrument of that and react that way in that moment," which got me thinking about my own racing experience. What would have happened had I given up? What would have happened if I let an acute injury get the best of me both mentally AND physically? According to Abbey's statement it would've been me denying the gifts God had given me. God gave me the gift of perseverance, God gave me the gift of strong will, and God gave me the heart I needed to finish that race . It was in that moment that I shared those qualities with the rest of our conference. Qualities that not only apply to a race but could stand as a metaphor for life. These heroic qualities, "Olympic Spirit," you could say, need to be shared, and what a blessing it is to be the vessel in which God shares it.

If God gives you a gift or quality that may be beneficial to someone else, or would otherwise inspire them, do not deny people of that. God may be using you and your talents to show someone that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a finish line to be reached. Regardless of your pains in life you must overcome them and push on through because God has a reason for everything and will use you in ways you may never understand. Share your God given qualities with the world and the world will repay you as you begin inspiring those around you. God used Abbey to inspire me and used myself to inspire others around me. It is when you share these qualities that you realize what it means to be a true champion, and a child of God.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When your world is shaken...

A lot has been going on in my life and in the lives of those around me which has led me to a lot of anger and questioning towards God. My life has recently been all shaken up and I can't help but feel every emotion possible. You know EXACTLY what I'm talking about, you begin asking questions like, "Why did you let this happen, God?" "How could you possibly give me something so big to handle?" "If you're such a great God why would you watch me as I suffer?!"

Life as a Christian isn't always easy. Sometimes God gives us things we think we can't handle, he gives us pain, suffering, loneliness, depression, and sometimes he makes us act on these things. But why? If our GREAT God is so great after all then why would he put us through something that seems to shake up our whole world? It's because he loves us. Sometimes in life God will teach us a lesson by moving us two steps forward, one step back. These times when we're suffering, or watching others suffer, turn out to be some of the greatest learning experiences of our lives. While in the moment it seems difficult to understand, sometimes causing us to lash out on God and others, it always turns out that this was God's plan all along. It's pretty crazy to think that one, quick act could shape up your whole world in such a different way. We must remember that during these times we need to cling harder to God and the ones we love.

You are never alone in life, while it may seem like it, especially in a fit of rage or depression, God is always by our side. So that's the WHY, the HOW, the IFs of Christianity. Sometimes these are the question we ask the most, yet somehow the answer is right in front of us. Being a Christian doesn't make life easy, however, it does make life seem more bearable. When you're down for whatever reason you must always remember that you have a family full of Christians to support you, a God who is bigger than whatever you're gong through, and most importantly a God who listens and loves regardless.

Phillipians 4:6-7 states:

"6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your mind in Jesus Christ."

Just read that verse. Read it again. The third time is the charm. Verse 6 on its own is a very powerful message, do not be anxious, simply pray, and hand your situations over to God. This can be the most difficult thing we have to do, especially when it seems like one situation has put your life on halt. It's in these moments that we must turn to God, present our needs, and patiently await an answer. It's there where the emotions come in to play, waiting for God's answer. Sometimes we don't understand why God would give us a situation to deal with, or why God would make us wait so long for answered prayers. But it's as simple as this, when God gives us a situation, he expects us to hand it over to him, God is our leader, our lover, and our Lord, he has a plan for each and every one of us, regardless of a little pain and suffering along the way. Instead of asking the WHY, the HOW, and the IF questions, we should be saying, "God, I don't understand what you're doing here, but I'm going to let it happen anyway." This is where being a Christian may be difficult for some, handing one's life over to God regardless of the pain and suffering that may come with it. While that pain and suffering will ALWAYS exist, it doesn't have to last forever. Verse 7 mentions the, "peace of God," which will guard our hearts and our minds. Regardless of how much our mind wanders, or how much our emotions seem to waiver, God's peace is always left in our heart. You must reach out and grab it, and say, "Thank You, God," or "I'm sorry God." Let your hearts and minds focus on him and there's nothing you can't handle.

Whether your situation seems small or shakes up your whole life, God is always there taking it one step further. One step, two steps, and eventually three, straight into his arms. Let your emotions run free, but at the same time understand that these things you are feeling are all part of a bigger plan, a plan which will eventually lead to peace and love through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Race for Grace

Lately I have been hearing a lot of talk about winning races and coming out victorious. One of my teammates made it to the national competition, the rest of us have been breaking school records on the weekly, and in my own life of racing I have been breaking my personal records in multiple distance events. All of this, "winning," and, "victory," have got me thinking about what the victory in life actually is. I have run many races but I've honestly won very few. Does that make me a loser? Does that mean I have failed my talent that was given as a gift from God?

1 Corinthians 9:24 says:

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."
This verse, on its own gives us the dedication we need to win a race, however, if you read one verse further, 1 Corinthians 9:25 says:

"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." 
This verse, to me, lets me KNOW that I am a winner. Others are competing to prove to themselves they can. I'm running my race to thank God that I can. The same goes for life. A lot of people are living their own day to day competition in work, politics, even churches. These competitions allow us to grow and allow us to provide God's will in our lives. As a competitor you must do it for the right reasons, you must race for the Grace to be proven successful. When your focus is on God, rather than selfish wants and needs, you will prove to be much more successful than those who don't. By success, I mean receiving the ultimate prize of life, being saved by Grace and being given an eternal life. Once you have run your race with those goals in mind, THAT is when you become a winner. God is the ultimate form of victory, once he places that crown on your head, you KNOW it'll last forever.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Book of Blessings

Dear God,

I come to you today to ask that you give me a better day tomorrow.


I often find myself praying this prayer as bad days come and go. Sometimes we have a bad day, or a bad week, and we wonder why. God would never intentionally give us a bad day, right? What about those times when God stacks one bad day on top of another? Those types of weeks seem to drag on forever. I recently found myself in one of those situations. 

It all started on Monday, I was working on a gift for these ladies at my college when I dropped the mugs I was working on and broke them. I ended up not finishing their gift and I haven't gotten to fix another one, since I've been too busy.

Tuesday was the day that got to the bad part the quickest. I was getting ready for 6 AM conditioning as I started fixing my hair. (By fixing my hair, I mean straightening down the cowlick that sticks up in the back of my head.) Everything was going fine until 1,) I burnt the entirety of my finger which I would then have to lift with, and 2.) I dropped my hot straightener in a sink of running water.

Wednesday wasn't too bad except for the fact that it rained... a lot. Our town actually flooded a bit and they had to cancel school for the local public school children. It wasn't bad walking to class until I stepped in a huge puddle and got my pants wet. Later that night my teammate and I ordered a pizza for dinner, which didn't arrive until an hour and a half later.

Thursday, oh Thursday, how could I forget you? I began by doing some last many preparations for the first official nursing test of the program. I was SO excited, I knew the material and I was ready for this test. I began taking the exam, 50 questions, multiple choice, and online. I noticed myself flagging a lot of questions for review, meaning I was unsure of the correct answer. I went back. reviewed my answers once again, and submitted the test. Just like that I had FAILED the first test of what would be the rest of my college career. 

Friday, the last day of the week, and also the first Indoor track meet of the new season. I was nervous, but boy was I excited. I had high expectations for his meet just to get there and let myself down. My times weren't great, my placement was even worse (last place in both events,) how could this be possible?? I couldn't decided whether I wanted to cry or to just laugh at how dumb I had been by getting my hopes up. But then I took my shoes off and noticed something... the socks I had just bought earlier this week.

"I am blessed." 

Three little words that changed everything. I am blessed. Looking back on the week I had, I can find individual blessings from God each day. On Monday I was blessed with a small college and staff that know and care about me. On Tuesday I see that I have running water and an opportunity to do the sport I love, even if it is early in the morning. On Wednesday I am reminded of the times when my Mom and I used to play in the puddles just to see who could get the muddiest. Wednesday also showed me that I have been given food and teammates to make memories with. Thursday showed me that I am blessed with the opportunity to further my education and learn new things on topics I enjoy. Then Friday, that final day, I was blessed with lungs and feet that would take me on a journey, regardless of the speed I was going.

God draws out plans for our days before they even occur. Good, or bad, he knows what we will be doing and where we will be going. Each day comes with a blessing in disguise. God's book is full of them. You've got to take a moment to reach out to him and say, "Thank You, God," rather than, "Tomorrow, God," because sometimes while it seems like we're falling apart and our days are full of rain, we have to look for that rainbow, God's promise to the world. 

Psalms 139:16 says:

"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book  before one of them came to be."

God saw us before we were born, he wrote our days out before any of them even occurred. It's reassuring to know the blessings we have in life are from God himself and his book is full of them. We must take each day as it comes, for that's how God intended it to be. Blessed are we to be children of God, Blessed are we to be pages in his book.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

God Gives

God gives to us each and every day. Recently God has been giving SO much to me and I am overflowing with gratefulness. Just this month I have been accepted into the nursing program AND celebrated my favorite Holiday, Christmas. Of course God's giving at Christmas time was spanned across the whole world as he gave us his son to save us all. While these things are pretty great I think it's the little things God gives us that we need to be most thankful for.

My Church and I recently went on a trip Christmas Caroling, which is normally something I would be all for, but this year I was feeling a bit apprehensive. I had some things going on in my personal life that were affecting my emotions and unfortunately affecting my Christmas spirit. Little did I know that God would be giving me an experience that would get my mind off of the negatives and onto the most important thing, himself and the birth of his son, our savior. We had stopped at two houses and were on to the third, a little house just off the beaten path with a tiny gravel driveway. We finished up our rounds of Silent Night, Away in a Manger, Oh Beautiful Star, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas and we hopped back on the vans. We weren't sure how to get out because we were blocked on one side and would've had to back out on the other. Nonetheless we attempted the latter. As one van began to back out we heard something that wasn't so pleasing to the ear. The church van had gotten stuck in the mud. While for most people this would've been a negative experience for us it was a good laugh, a test of teamwork, and a time for silent prayer. We all began pushing and praying and eventually got the van out. God gave me that moment to not only spend time with the ones I love, but he gave me that time as a learning experience and a way to get the negatives off of my mind. While we had gotten stuck at one house, that didn't stop us. We went on to go caroling for three more hours. This is definitely one night that I will never forget as long as I live. 

While God gave me a gift that night he hasn't stopped giving since. God has given me great memories with my family and great blessings of love, friendship, and happiness. During this season of giving the greatest gifts have come from God. James 1:17 celebrates his giving by saying:

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation of shadow due to change."
God is always giving, he is never changing, and he is constantly blessing us. Even the little things are gifts from God, be thankful for your gifts, for they are good.