Why Running Makes Me Brave

Running shoes
Because when my shoes hit the concrete, I can’t be stopped

What once started as a stress relief, an occasional hobby, soon became a way of life.

I used to hate running. I ran track in 7th grade. I sucked. Then one day I tried it and then I tried it again. A little ways down the road I tried even harder. My runs got longer, my body got stronger, and before I knew it I was a runner.

I used to struggle with running. I liked going on runs but I struggled pushing myself. I liked being comfortable. I liked running one mile and then taking a breather walk. I didn’t push myself because I liked feeling safe. I had to feel safe.

Running two miles without stopping? This was simply ludicrous in my mind. I didn’t think my body could handle it. The one day I just did it. All I did was start, and being the stubborn person I am, I refused to stop.

Once this happened, a ferocity ignited within my body. Once my shoes hit the concrete, I knew I could overcome whatever wrecked my mind that day – even if it was only for 20 minutes.

Yesterday, I accidentally ran six miles. Yes, you read that correctly, it was an accident. When I drove to Cameron Park to go run yesterday, I only planned to do three to four miles. A simple run to the suspension bridge and back.

When I finally reached the suspension bridge I had ran a little under two miles. This wasn’t acceptable because I wanted to run at least two miles without stopping. So I kept going. Then my watched beeped. I had hit the two mile mark but I still couldn’t stop. I looked up and in front of me was Baylor Law School and the pedestrian bridge to McLane Stadium. I guess you could say the ferocity within me took over.

In that moment everything I was worried about didn’t matter anymore. My body was on fire but that wasn’t important. My knee hurt but I didn’t care. In that moment it was only me. I couldn’t have stopped even if I wanted to. All the noises around me were suddenly tuned out. I ran along the Brazos River, dodging some ducks along the way, straight to Baylor Law School without a care in the world.

I reached the pedestrian bridge to McLane Stadium realizing I had just ran three miles without stopping. I reached a new triumph yesterday. In my few short years of running I had never done this before.

McLane

This is the same path where the last leg of the Bearathon took place last year. My dad tried to get me to run the final 3 miles all the way to the finish line, but after 10 miles I convinced myself I simply couldn’t do it. Yesterday that changed.

Bearathon
My dad & I finishing the Bearathon last March

Reaching McLane Stadium was a feat in itself. By the time I stood on the bridge I was closer to my house than my car. I had come this far and I still had to go back to the park. Any other time I would have been tempted to give up. I would have half-run/half-walked back to the park. Yesterday that wasn’t an option.

I left McLane Stadium and headed back to Cameron Park. Only when I was a little bit into mile three did I tell myself to take a breather walk, though I’m convinced I could have gone a little further.

This mind game happened the entire way back to the park. I would think I should take a breather soon but then I’d check my watch and say just another tenth of a mile. I’d reach that point and then see some defining point along the river and say I’d stop when I reached that point. I eventually reached the point I was forcing myself to stop and walk for a couple minutes so I didn’t completely kill myself.

I arrived back at the park only to realize I wasn’t ready to stop. I saw my car and I ran right passed it. I headed straight to Jacob’s Ladder before I decided to turn around and run back. This is how I accidentally ran six miles yesterday. (Also, if I hadn’t already ran so much, I probably would have decided to climb Jacob’s Ladder too)

This is why running makes me brave. Yesterday I had probably the greatest run of my life and I didn’t even mean for it to happen. I tuned the world out and just ran. I pushed myself to do more and try harder. I learned more about myself. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I wasn’t afraid of my knee pains, my ankle giving out, or the blisters I felt coming. I wasn’t afraid of falling in the river. I just ran.

Running makes me brave because the more I run the more I love my body. The more I run, the more I am amazed at what my body is capable of because it is certainly more than I ever thought possible. Running has never gotten easier, I’ve just gotten stronger.

Medals

 

Music Wednesday: Carrie Underwood Edition

So maybe this is something I haven’t been as vocal about. We know I love Josh Abbott, Cody Johnson, and Gary Allan. Yet I haven’t talked as much about the female country signers I love (Oops, sorry!).

Well…Those awesome ladies of country would be Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Kacey Musgraves.

In order to show these ladies some love, music Wednesday is dedicated to Carrie Underwood AND she will get 5 songs listed! I mean I did see her for my 14th birthday and she was AMAZING! She definitely deserves some love because man can she sing!

5. Before He Cheats (It’s just a classic Carrie hit!)

4. Just Can’t Live a Lie (I feel like it goes overlooked, but it’s one of my favs)

3. See You Again (Am I the only one who sobs at our amazing troops in this video?)

2. Something in the Water (I cried the first time I heard this song plus TRAVIS WALL IS IN THAT SWOON WORTHY DANCER IN THE MUSIC VIDEO!)

1. Just A Dream (Seriously, I bawl my eyes out every time I hear this song. I even cried at her concert)

P.S. I’m still mad I missed the dance auditions for the Something in the Water music video. I would have loved to be in it!

“Beyond Ordinary: No Ordinary Healing”

Job2310

If you have held on for this long then You. Are. Awesome. This is my final installment over the book Beyond Ordinary: When A Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough by Justin and Trisha Davis. I hope y’all have enjoyed this so far! As I said, I’ve learned a lot from this book.

Up until this point, we have seen Justin & Trisha speak on how it is possible for our lives to slip from extraordinary and into ordinary. We saw the couple turn against each other, suffer from using the other person to fill God-like holes in their lives, fall into discontentment, face an affair, and choose to find healing. They learned to never stop allowing God to work in their lives because the most important thing we can do is to pursue Him and allow Him to change our lives.

Looking back at the discussions in Part 5, we see the lives of Justin & Trisha take an interesting turn. After the affair was exposed, Trisha did not desire to see Justin. Justin was planning on pursuing a relationship with Trisha’s best friend. Trisha packed up Justin’s things and filed for divorce. The couple was close to going their separate ways. To choose to face their mistakes, live with the consequences, and simply find the silver lining in the process. Yet instead of moving on and living with the hurt and bitterness, the couple chose forgiveness.

Like all of us when we face distressing situations, Justin & Trisha had to acknowledge they had been wounded. They were placed on a path of brokenness they had never expected to come to in their lives. They had to learn to walk the path of brokenness toward healing. More importantly, while they walked the path separately they chose to find healing with each other.

No matter our distress, we all need healing in our lives. Your healing will probably look different than the healing of your neighbor, but healing it still absolutely necessary. Justin had to overcome the ways he hurt his wife but also understand how he allowed darkness to penetrate his heart. Yet Justin notes in the text that even though Trisha was completely overwhelmed with her own healing of pain, loss, and depression, she still daily chose to fight through her wounds to love her husband. This is dedication. This is what it looks like to love like Christ.

During the healing process, it is important to understand apologies do not make everything go away. Making promises to do better and be a better person cannot take the pain away, but this does not mean it is not possible to overcome the pain.

Pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.” I came to learn in the same way as the author’s that complete and utter destruction of the person I was and the life I had was completely necessary for God’s work in my life. As stated before, God does not desire to fix us or make us better, He desires to heal us, complete us, and make us new. The healing God worked in my life only came when I allowed my old life to die. The day I reach rock bottom, the lowest valley of my life, whichever metaphor you wish to use, was the day He picked me up and began to rebuild me. He brought me back to life.

I find it funny – while Justin was separated from his wife he met a friend at Starbucks one day. This man told Justin he was praying a Lamentations 3:16 prayer for him. Like Justin, I had NO CLUE what the verse said.
“He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust.”
An odd prayer to pray, right? But at a closer look, we, along with Justin, see what this man meant. For us to find true and complete healing in our lives, God has to destroy us first. Only when we face our destruction can God recreate us, for it is during the recreation we find the changes in our hearts (see how we’ve come full circle?).

The couple explains they had to learn to be healthy again. How a truly healthy relationship isn’t a relationship void of all conflict, but instead a relationship void of unresolved conflict. They had to learn how to trust each other again. Justin had to go back to the college kid who took on the challenge of wanting to date Trisha. Trisha learned to stop viewing Justin as someone without human weakness. The couple chose to pursue each other mutually and fight for each other. This led to extraordinary.

Healing is a process. While God recreates us, we have to overcome the darkest things in our hearts He will undoubtedly dig out. Speaking specifically about myself, I have spent the past couple years overcoming two major fears in my life – the fear of never being good enough and the fear or losing my ex, followed by a multitude of other things. God showed me how overtime I allowed these two fears to overtake my life and become the driving force for who I was. I became what priest and author Brennan Manning would call an imposter. I lived in fear, became preoccupied with my acceptance and approval, and attached value to things that in hindsight REALLY did not matter at all.

God refined my heart to submit my fears to him and let go. I realized along the journey while I loved God, I was not living in the fullness of his love. As the author’s state – When we do not live in the fullness of God’s love, we are incapable of loving others fully. This is what became applicable to my life. I did not live in the fullness of my Father’s love and because of this I was incapable of loving myself and showing true love to those around me.

While fear still likes to creep it’s way back into my life in lots of different disguises, I came to realize my identity in relation to my Father is the only identity that matters. We are transformed to the image of Christ as God continually transforms us into who we can become. Transformational change requires surrender, vulnerability, and transparency, but it is possible. While my transformational change along the path of brokenness was not the one I desired for my life, it is a journey I will always smile upon and be thankful for.

Over the summer I read the book A Warrior’s Faith by Robert Vera recounting the transformational life of Navy SEAL Ryan Job. In the book, Vera often quotes the verse Job 23: 10 “But he knows the way I take; When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” This verse deeply resonated with me. I immediately wrote it on my bathroom mirror and even included it in a letter to a friend undergoing a truly transformational summer. Justin & Trisha as well chose to use this verse concerning their journey. God will always refine us so we can come forth as gold.

God is still writing our stories (just like I learned when I chose not to start my blog because I wanted God to finish my story first). This is not how it works. He is ALWAYS writing our stories. God fights for our minds and our hearts so we can reach extraordinary. Don’t stop fighting. Don’t stop praying. The best is still ahead and every day is a day to find joy in our journey.

Extraordinary is daily choosing to become who God created us to be.

Check out the entire series:
Beyond Ordinary: No Ordinary Battle
Beyond Ordinary: Part 2
Beyond Ordinary: Part 3
Beyond Ordinary: Part 4
Beyond Ordinary: Part 5

Music Wednesday: Josh Abbott Band

Alrighty folks, we all know I’m head-over-heels for Josh Abbott. It was only a matter of time before a music Wednesday was dedicated to him. However, since I love him so much I couldn’t pick only one song (it was simply WAY too difficult).

So, this music Wednesday will feature my top five Josh Abbott songs.

And sadly…I still feel like I’m leaving songs out. I’m sorry! I can’t help it!!

5. Let My Tears Be Still (A BEAUTIFUL tribute to our troops)

4. She Don’t Break (The Chimy’s Sessions version because it’s better)

3. She Will Be Free (AKA anthem for my life)

2. Ghosts (#AllTheFeels)

1. Electric Skies (Unparalleled and forever my favorite)

P.S. Don’t forget JAB staple hits like “Oh, Tonight” “She’s Like Texas” “Taste” “Touch” and “Amnesia” Okay, I’m done! 🙂

 

Beyond Ordinary: Part 5

As Justin & Trisha would reach the climax of issues in their relationship, they both knew things were wrong. A getaway reminded them how much they loved each other, but it was merely a break from the ordinary life they were living. Life for Justin did not revolve around God, but around his responsibility to the church. Trisha knew she was depressed and hurting, but when she heard God speaking to her to confess, she ignored Him. In efforts to not create conflict she kept quiet.

There were not loud arguments and fighting that broke the relationship, but the little things they both did along the way in efforts to maintain control. These little things would become the ways they hurt each other. They became passive-aggressive and passive-aggressiveness will eat us alive.

Things would undoubtedly worsen. Justin no longer wanted to spend time with his wife. Trisha would shut down her innermost struggles from her husband. I am willing to bet we have been in these situations before. We know things are wrong, but how to we address them? Once we do address them, where do we go from here?

Sure, we can say we’ve asked our Father for help. I know I “did.” But when we ask for help, are we asking because we truly want help or because we want the situations fixed as we think they should be fixed? There is a difference. These are difficult questions. This goes back to selfishness or selflessness. Do we want God to be at work in our lives or do we merely want this nuisance of a situation to go away?

Speaking specifically about Trisha, I completely understand her situation. This is not me defending her, but instead me saying I have been there. She made Justin her idol. She looked to him to fill voids only God could fill. Even though she knew she loved him, her life was a battlefield of those crossroad decisions. God was very much alive in her life, as in mine, but He was not where my identity was found.

My situation, as Justin & Trisha’s had too, grew beyond my control. No matter how hard I tried to manipulate situations and people around me, nothing would change. I can recall very specific moments where God told me it was time to relinquish control, but I refused. Circumstances had to escalate far beyond my control for me to finally learn to let go. When our circumstances grow beyond our control, the only option is to turn to God and allow him to work in ways only He can. Relinquishing control requires more than we think we can give. Relinquishing control requires more dependence on God than we think we have. God used destruction in my life to realign my heart with His.

I had to learn I did not have to control. As my reliance on God would increase, my ability to control situations would decrease.

Once Justin confessed his affair to Trisha, he believed they were beyond repair and redemption. He had an affair with Trisha’s best friend and all he wanted was to be with her instead. Trisha felt as if she had lost everything. She feared if he let Justin go then he would choose her best friend, but the problem was he already had. As many of us do, they had asked for help and then not allowed for the transformation to follow.

As a whole, Justin & Trisha became so blinded by their own sin and struggles, they believed it was impossible to repair the damage. What’s done is done so it’s better to simply live with the consequences, right? Wrong.

God’s desire is to refine us. He wants nothing more than for us to look like Him. This can only come when He breaks us, for when God places us on the path of brokenness we are led to a new life with Him. Brokenness requires us to surrender everything before the throne of God and understand awareness of Him is our only hope. As we walk the path of brokenness, as we walk through the wilderness with only God, we become a new creation. It is an individual decision. It is our choice.

While it is easy to point the finger and Justin & Trisha and say we would never have these issues in our lives, if we are honest with ourselves, then we know the truth is we already have. Even further, we probably still do. These issues of lust, passive-aggressiveness, and control thrive in all of our lives. We want to be rescued, but we look to things other than Christ to rescue us. We look to the other party we’ve created in our discontentment to rescue us. Christ is the only one who can rescue us from our situations.

Trisha described her situation as having to allow God to break her heart so she could trust Him for who He said he was. Justin said he had to start over in his relationship with God.

Like us all, the author’s of Beyond Ordinary had to find forgiveness. Forgiveness from God, forgiveness from themselves, and forgiveness toward each other in order to find full and complete healing. Confession to God and forgiveness from God are useless if they do not lead to a transformation in our lives.

We cannot forgive and expect to receive something in return. This conditional forgiveness will only lead us feeling void. The forgiveness we desire is only found in Christ.

Painful situations are hard to overcome. Looking past the hurt is difficult. Yet we cannot make up for whatever we did or whatever was done to us. We cannot redeem ourselves because when we try we will only rob God of the work He is doing. The redemption we desire is only found in Christ.

Forgiveness is choosing to grieve. We have to acknowledge we have been wounded. With brokenness comes healing and with healing comes freedom.

Sometimes things are more about our relationship with God than anything else, even if that means losing everything we hold near and dear in the process. We have to allow God to work. We have to allow Him to break us and transform us. We have to choose to become a new creation. This is what puts us on the path to extraordinary lives.

Need to catch up? Check out the previous posts here:
1, 2, 3, & 4

 

Beyond Ordinary: Part 4

Discontentment. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines discontentment as the condition of being dissatisfied with one’s life or situation. Discontentment will always convince us we need just a little bit more. Discontentment will always push us to compare ourselves to someone else. As Justin and Trisha will argue, where discontentment lives, brokenness thrives.

The problem with discontentment is we can never satisfy it. When discontentment enters our lives, we begin to believe we would be happier with something new and something different. We entertain thoughts that if this one egregious situation in our lives would change, then everything would be better. When discontentment enters our relationships, we think everything would be better if the other person would be a little bit more like someone else. Once these thoughts begin, they are difficult to stop.

When discontentment enters our lives we have two options – we can either entertain it or pray about it. The author’s of Beyond Ordinary argue when discontentment enters our lives and we make comparisons to other people, the situation is not about the person or situation we wish we could change but our own hearts. We are broken people and as long as we allow our discontentment to live, brokenness will thrive.

While we entertain the discontentment of our lives, what we are really doing is telling God all the things he ISN’T doing in our lives. To state it plainly from the author’s – we stop focusing on the presence of God and start focusing on the presents from God. Concerning relationships (since this is what the book is about), we take our sights off the gifts our relationships are and focus on the gifts the person isn’t giving us.

Discontentment changes our teammates into opponents. While our desire for better relationships with those around us is good, the desire stems from a self-centered problem which is bad. Why is it bad? Because changes will not come from our attempts at changing someone else’s behavior, it comes by allowing God to change our hearts (I really hope by now you are noticing a theme).

Discontentment leads to ordinary in our lives. We picture our situations differently. We picture a new relationship with a different person. We create a world we perceive we want only to find we are never satisfied in it. We can’t love or receive love unconditionally. We only ever see the negativity around us.

God has a vision for our lives and it goes beyond simply existing. This vision is fulfilling. God wants us to have 1 Corinthians 13 relationships. He wants us to have relationships that never give up, never lose faith, are always hopeful, and endure through EVERY circumstance. We can only have this if we follow His vision and not our own. We can only have this when we allow Him to work in our lives, even if this means stripping our lives of everything we use to find security, identity, and value in so he may bring us closer to Himself (as he did for me).

A struggle many of us face is equating our own desires as following God’s will. We ask ourselves is it really discontentment or is it what God wants? This is where discernment between God’s will and our hidden impulses is of the upmost importance. This is where we pray (and never stop praying) because God will answer this prayer for us.

As a whole, we can become more concerned with what we accomplish than who we are becoming. The couple notes our lives are a culmination of crossroads and decisions we have made. When I say crossroads, I don’t mean when I’m running the bear trail and I have to decide whether to turn on 3rd street by the library or run a little further to 8th street and run by the dorms. Justin & Trisha speak about crossroads that can change our lives. Usually these crossroads will look like two “right” possibilities. The difference between an ordinary crossroad and extraordinary crossroad is found at the center of selfishness or selflessness, but we cannot have both.

Pastor Andy Stanley says “Our direction, not our intention, determines our destination.” This is a tough quote to comprehend, but basically he is saying as good as our intentions may be, they could actually become the enemy of realizing our potential in life. Consistent choices in a single direction will undoubtedly determine our destination. While major choices at crossroads such as moving or changing jobs will determine our destination, the small, incremental choices to pursue selfish desires could sacrifice our potential.

The couple uses the example of Samson. He was undoubtedly gifted to do great things for God, but his entire life was a series of crossroads where he chose what he wanted as opposed to what God wanted for him. Samson was to live by the Nazirite laws and instead followed his own desires. While Samson still did great things for the Lord, the consistency of following his own selfish desires prevented him from reaching his full potential for God. Selfishness will never bring the relationship with God, or with others, we desire.

Discontentment pushed Justin to compare Trisha to her best friend. Discontentment pushed Trisha to always want more from Justin. Discontentment cannot allow for a 1 Corinthians 13 relationship to survive. Through all the good times it’s easy to say love endures through every circumstance, but the moment the crossroads come is the moment we have to move beyond simply saying it and act on it. Every circumstance is what makes relationships extraordinary and we have to fight for extraordinary. The discernment between God’s will and our desires will ultimately lead us to extraordinary.

Check out the earlier pieces:
Beyond Ordinary: No Ordinary Battle
Beyond Ordinary: Part 2
Beyond Ordinary: Part 3

 

On this day…Hillsboro became home

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different?” -C.S. Lewis

I have a challenge for you – think back to your life six years ago. Do you remember it? Do you remember how tall you were? What kind of music you listened to? Maybe what kind of hair style you decided to rock that year? Who your best friends were? What about who you were dating?

Some of these things you may be able to remember vividly as if they were yesterday. Others maybe not as much…

For me, six years ago I was 15 years old. I was a sophomore in high school, secretary of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), chairman of student council, and lieutenant of the school drill team on track to be captain my senior year. I was 5’2 (I still am), I listened to tons of Breaking Benjamin and other artists no one has ever heard of, I had short hair, my best friends were Hannah, Madi, and Meghan, and I was single.

What about on this day six years ago? This one is a little bit tougher and I am willing to bet you probably don’t remember what you did on January 17, 2010. For me? On January 17, 2010, my life would change forever.

On January 17, 2010, my dad accepted the position to be the new pastor at First Baptist Church of Hillsboro. I remember the day so vividly, yet other parts are just a blur. A culmination of trials throughout my sophomore year would peak on this day. I would travel back to Orange, Texas knowing that life would never be the same again.

IMG_2353
My parents and I on my dad’s first Sunday as pastor

On January 17, 2010, God answered my prayers. While I never really opened up about it because I knew I had a blessed life in Orange, I was beyond ready to leave. I am positive this is the reason I was perfectly okay with my dad talking to the church in Hillsboro. They say when it comes to the person you should marry when you know, you know. This was me except with moving. Whether I wanted to admit it or not, I knew at some point in the future I would start a new life. My new life blessed me beyond belief and was far greater than anything I ever imagined.

On January 17, 2010, I got to meet the people who I would begin to form new relationships with (along with about 200 other people). I met my new church family, my new classmates, and my new best friends.

I’ll never forget standing in the front of a line of people and having a blur of faces come shake my hand and welcome me to Central Texas. I’ll never forget Sarah coming back in and asking my parents if she could take me to the youth group dinner. I’ll never forget sitting on the floor of a house I had never been to before, owned by the man who is now my doctor, and talking for what felt like forever with Cameron and Patrick. I’ll never forget this guy named Ryan talking about how good of a cook our host was. I’ll never forget some loud kid in a black and gold letterman jacket named Jared telling me bye.

These people became my friends and my support group. I would go back to my house knowing it wouldn’t be my house much longer. I would walk the halls of Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School wondering how different life at Hillsboro High School would be. I attended church at North Orange Baptist Church on Wednesday nights trying to make the most of the time I had left with my friends. I dedicated myself even further to Ms. Pam at Ingram School of Dance knowing that my journey as a ballerina would soon end.

I started living two lives. During the week I built up to saying goodbye to my life in Southeast Texas while on the weekends I embraced my new life in Central Texas. My friends in Orange would learn about the people I was meeting in Hillsboro while the people in Hillsboro would learn about the life I was leaving behind in Orange.

Six years ago today my life changed forever. Although some people cannot bear the thought of moving during high school, I would never change my circumstances. If I had the opportunity to go back and do it again, I would every single time.

To say God knew what he was going when he sent my family to Hillsboro would be an understatement. So many things in my life began to make sense when I moved. Pieces of the puzzle were put into place and I saw His plan at work in my life clearer than I ever had before. In 2009, Hillsboro was just a town my family would occasionally pass through on our way to grandma’s. People I can only imagine to have crossed paths with before finally collided into my life, never to leave the same as when we found each other. On January 17, 2010, six years ago today, Hillsboro became home.