My Best Frienemy is Running

Running has been my best friend and my frienemy. My longenst on again, off again relationship thus far. Becoming a runner was not anything I had ever envisoned for myself over four years ago. It was by far the most convienent and accessable form of exercise for me. I only needed a good pair of shoes and a nearby park to do it. It also helped to have a buddy at the time also running alongside me, pushing me to run one more lap, then another. Running has taught me that so much, which is why it has become the habit I quite can’t quit. I go through phases of going hard at it, not quite the six days a week habit I had four years ago. Today it looks more like three maybe four days a week, but still I’m getting out there.

Other times it looks like ghosting. I ignore the reasons I need to run and end up doing nothing. There have been times when I have used my work schedule as a reason for not doing it, but the truth is I simply did not want to run. But I need it.

Running keeps me physically and mentally healthy. A good morning run not only starts my body off well but my mind. It helps to wake me up and prepare my mind for the day. Running for me can be medidative. In this I mean nothing else is going through my mind is getting through it.( That and the lyrics from the Hamilton musical and Mix tape).

It is cost effective. As I stated above all you really need is a good pair of sneakers to run. No gym membership fee needed. I can run solo or with a group ( something I haven’t been able to do yet but hope to soon) and those are free too.

I enjoy it. Despite how I sometimes dread going, I don’t want to get out of bed. Or after a long day the last thing I want to is go home to run or work out. If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it at all.

I’m also in a different state of mind about being healthy. For a time it became so all encompasing for me that I could think of nothing else. At some point it became too much for me mentally that I had to figure this out again. And again and again as my life has changed over time. I have less time for the intensive six day a week work outs but I can still get in a good run or a short but intense workout.

Tomorrow morning I shall put on my running shoes and clothes, turn on my app, press play on Hamiliton and go!

Ask and You Shall Recieve…

Last year was a long, hard year. Not only because of the stress of the election ( and its outcome) but also personally. For the past few years I have chosen a word to define the year and for 2016 I had chosen Stretched. What was I thinking when I chose this word ( or did it choose me?)! In years past I have picked YES, LOVE, and BOLDNESS as my words. While I encountered challenges in those years with them, always learning and growing with them, never have I been as challenged as I have been this year.

I liken it to praying for patience, I don’t know about you but when I have prayed for that in my life it shows my lack of patience! It’s like God is saying alright, you really don’t know what you are asking for here but I will answer your prayer. I have been challenged and stretched in various areas of my life, from learning how to work in a ministry, leading young adults at church, getting some kind of grasp on my financials and being pushed out of my comfort zones. I say zones because there is always more than just one isn’t there?

The biggest and most recent is moving out of my sister’s house. It wasn’t something planned but it had to happen when it did for the sake of my family and future relationships. This was hard and painful and for a most of last month I was in survival mode. In the end it has all worked out, I have found a new place to live, with friends whom I am growing closer in relationship with each day.

Another comfort zone I had was in ministry. For several years I have served at my church in the area of stage design. For many of those years it either myself or myself and one other person. Which meant I HAD to do everything otherwise things would not get done. Anyone who serves at church knows that this was not a healthy place to be in. This year I have learned how to delegate ( this has also become my new favorite word!) with my team. This has meant me letting go of wanting to be in control of how the church looks each week and trusting what my team is doing with it. It has meant placing others in charge in preparing for Easter and Christmas Eve services. This has been so freeing! Letting go of control ( when I believed I didn’t have control issues oops!) is the best gift.

The best way to put it is that God stretched me this year by having me see where I needed to also let go. It didn’t mean I needed to take on more but had to jettison what wasn’t helping me grow in relationship to him. Letting go doesn’t mean one no longer cares but also sees that others care as well. If I take on everything I am not allowing someone else to also serve God.

As I reflect on the words for each past year, I see a larger word behind them. Namely trust, in order to say YES, I have to trust. Same with LOVE, BOLDNESS and STRETCHED. I have to trust God and His providence, not mine.

As I prepare my heart, mind, body and spirit for the new year this is where I sit. In adoration of what God does all the time in my own life and in the lives of others around me. I am not sure of a word for 2017 as if yet or at all.

Learning to Love

Recently my church has started a new series in the book of Jonah titled Called To Love. The timing of the start of this series could not be more apropos in my view. As a Christian I have been taught by Jesus and others in my walk that we are called to love. It is after all it is the commandment that Jesus says we must follow.

Matthew 22: 37-40

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and the first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

What I see is  discomfort at being called to love, to love God and to love others. Because it is easier to not love everyone and choose to love a few. But we aren’t called to love just the few but all we encounter.

It’s easier than saying that at the end of the day all of us struggle. [Tweet “All of  us have a need to be loved and to love. To feel like we all matter, to be heard and cared for. “] All of have a need to be loved and to love. One life is not less valued because of differing views or circumstances. It saddens me when I read comment sections and people demand  deaths or bodily harm of others because of what exactly? A shared post on social media?

We must choose to love others because God loves us. God loves me through the darkness and my straying heart. We must love the person who chooses to sit out or kneel during the anthem, not call for harm for them. Love the person who protests police abuse, Love the police officer on the job. By loving them I mean to see beyond the surface, to see their soul that God too loves. To sit down and have a conversation, to listen to them. Listening to someone can at times be the single biggest act of love.

Love others by listening. The art of listening has fallen to the wayside. Too quickly we are simply waiting to say what we have been waiting to say instead of hearing the other person ( often, this has been myself). By listening to others, learning their story and what they have endured and why they are where they are in life. Before anything can change, we must first love without placing requirements upon it.

It takes work.  It is hard to love another who perhaps has far different views that we can hold so dear. In loving others is not about making people believe as you do. Or that only those who wholly agree with everything you believe are worthy of your love. I am learning how to love people who can be frustrating or not easy to get along with in the first place. I have had to admit my failings here and seek Jesus’ strength to love as I have been commanded.

Love is not easy, can often seem a far out concept and hurts. In the end, love is worth the effort.

Still Learning Healthy Skills

I was uncomfortable in my body when I was unhealthy and that did not change once I was healthier. My mind had to catch up with my body. What I did not know yet was that it would take time. Even though I was at my thinnest ever in my life, I became obsessive about two things. How flat other women’s stomachs seemed to me and counting my caloric intake. Seriously, the majority of my thoughts focused on that alone. I would sit in a room during Bible study and instead of paying attention, I would find myself staring at other women and their stomachs.

[Tweet “Were theirs flatter than mine? I need to sit up straighter so mine doesn’t poof out as much. If my stomach was flatter that guy would want to talk to me….”]

Were theirs flatter than mine? I need to sit up straighter so mine doesn’t poof out as much. If my stomach was flatter that guy would want to talk to me….

Then there was the constant counting of calories in my head. Constantly going over in my head and My Fitness Pay how much I ate and when I ate it. Calculating how much of my workouts negated the calories I had consumed.

I was exhausted. I had gone from binge eating to binge thinking about food. How much I ate, when I ate and what I ate. I spent more time on the food app then anything else.

A huge motivation during my journey to getting healthy was that it would lead to my believed fairy tale ending. I was blinded by the idea that it would be my turn, finally my turn and nothing was going to move me away from this idea! But (and there is always a but with God isn’t there), God was showing me something more. He placed people in my life who continue to cultivate the idea of His love in my life. People who challenge me and force me to really take a look at my motivations behind my goals.

I also had to grow comfortable with how my body. The key for me was coming to terms that my stomach will never be flat no matter how many ab work outs and sit ups I did. That no matter how much I count calories, there will be times that I am off or just don’t care enough.

I have gained weight since meeting my weight loss goal four years ago. Today, I am in a healthier place mentally and no longer desire to try to fit into some mold that doesn’t work for me. Meaning I still strive to be healthy, working out and eating well ( for the most part) but not freaking out as I once did when I do not. Accepting my body for what it is, for how God has made me has been so freeing.

I encourage those of you to strive for your goals, to be healthy and see the amazing things your body can do! Also learn to accept the reality of what your body will look like. There will be a time when the choices you make will be to not work our or to eat that “forbidden” food. Just try to be kind to yourself during those times. You are not less than because of these choices. How you come back from them is what will define you. Gaining health is not about getting it right all the time. It is learning skills in order to be healthy. To live a well rounded life.

I am still learning how to be healthy, and some lessons take longer than others. The biggest lesson I have learned is to keep going, that life can get in the way. Or like me one can just want a break for a time from the work out grind. And that is just fine…

 

 

In A Place of Learning

1 Corinthians 15: 58

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast,immovable,always abounding in the work of the Lord,knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Recently I learned that I have a lot to learn. It was during a during a breakout session while attending a conference  for Youth For Christ. We were discussing what works in doing ministry in the city. I am new to working with a ministry serving in my city. I work for Miami Youth For Christ as a tutor for elementary school kids in the KIX program ( Kids in Christ).I have served at church leading small groups, organizing the young adults and helping lead setting up each Sunday. But this is a different kind of work.  While I have volunteered over the years with this organization. Last fall I was offered a position as staff. All of it is work for the glory of God.

I struggle with not feeling qualified to do this work. That somehow I need to do have done more to be here. To help kids with their homework while showing them the love of Christ. That I don’t know enough to do this work. But then I remember that God qualifies me. He is the one who created me to do this kind of work. In the talents and abilities. In creating a patience within me that I have doubted was there. Most of all recognizing that I have a lot to learn is a good place to be at. It means I am open to learning more, being able to forgive mistakes I may  WILL make during this school year.

I look forward to what this year will bring. Hanging out with these kids during the week. Helping them play, learn and understand who they are in Christ. Getting to be a part of this is a huge blessing. God is at work in this place, in the community we serve. He is there during the games, laughter and learning. He has provided this safe place for the kids to come and us to love on them. The scripture at the top of the post is an encouragement from our staff training. To see the bigger picture of what God is doing in this place as we do this work in this mission field.

If you would like to learn more about this ministry, visit the Miami website of Miami Youth for Christ.

Would you pray for this school year? This community in Miami and this ministry to serve God well. For His love and truth to shine through their lives. I would appreciate such prayers!

 

Blogging Blues

I have been posting here sporadically for the last few months. The truth is I just don’t know what to write about anymore. Or that if anyone is even reading my posts. It has been nearly three years since I started blogging consistently. In reality I am not sure of the direction I should take right now with it.

This began as a place to document my weight loss and journey to health over four years ago. A journey that has taken a few detours as I have gained and weight and lost motivation to eat well or work out as often. My heart has turned more towards the world of advocacy to combat human trafficking locally and globally.

How these two aspects can be a coherent blog is what has been in the back of my mind for months. Focusing on both has not felt right to me. Or does it need to be one or the other. Does my voice really count out here in the vastness of the internet. A place that is becoming more ugly of late.

All  in all I am just tired. I feel I have not been as genuine as I could be or that I have repeated myself over and over. So for a bit I will not be posting as regularly, which means I won’t be posting to my regular schedule. But instead posting once a week if at all.

I also need to focus on my novel more and trying to get blog posts in each week has been distracting. Plus my day jobs are about to fill up my time even more. I hope my regular readers are patient and also look for updates on my FB page as I will utilize that more in the coming months.

Mid Week Motivator : Over All Health

What is over all health? To be it looks like a balance in different areas of life working together as one. It looks like this for myself.

Mental Health: taking time out for myself. Sometimes this takes the form of a quiet day away from people. Or going for a workout, especially when I don’t feel like it. Other times it means allowing myself to feel my emotions, face them head on.

Spiritual Health : When I am distant from God, not praying as often or seeking His word my soul feels it. I am darker, more pessimistic and prone to anger. I don’t want to engage with people. Not in a self care kind of way but in a selfish way.

Physical Health: By working out and eating well, I feel good. I feel energized and ready to take on the day or task. I sleep better when I am consistent. My disposition is better when the food I eat is healthy and nutritious.

I can only be healthy when all three of these elements work together. When I lack in one area, the others suffer. It is important to be aware of my needs, recognize when I need more of one in my life.

 

Making Do, Making It Through

A few months back our dryer broke. For the time it was broken we made do. Washing at home and drying either at a nearby laundromat or hanging things up in the house. Both ways got the job done, clothes were clean and dry. However it just was not the same.

There was a subtle difference between using the dryer and not using it. In making do, we can get used to anything. We learn to do without because there is no other choice.

In life there are times where making do means getting through the day. It’s not that we don’t what it is to not have it. But it means we know how to get along without it.

After a few months the dryer was fixed. Being able to use the machine again felt great. I had forgotten how nice it was to use it. The convience of using it, I had missed the warmth from a just finished load. I had even missed cleaning out the lint trap.

Why is cleaning out the lint trap so satisfying?

In making it, getting through the day we can forget so much. Putting one foot in front of the other can take so much out of us. Just thinking about how awesome what we once had is painful. Hoping to have it again can physically hurt.

Instead we focus on what is before us. It is what allows us to even make it through the day. Until the money comes through to repair the dryer. Then its safe to hope, to believe, to remember once again.

Mid Week Motivator : Sleep

I have never had problems sleeping. I am also a deep sleeper, it often takes a lot to wake me up.

Sleep is important but it may also not come easy for everyone. If you have issues sleeping please seek professional help. This article is aimed towards people who choose to sleep less.

There seems to be a contest in this country about who can sleep the least. Bragging rights belonging to those who get “by” on X number of hours. The X usually being the least amount.

Getting the sleep we need is vital to overall health. Our bodies and brains need the maximum hours of rest each night. Without it our bodies work hard to compensate. One is food. The body is lacking energy, food creates energy, which leads to overeating.

Another is getting sick. By not getting enough sleep, the body has not had time to repair itself. Cells have not been able to repair themselves.

 

 

Missing Hershey, Loving Nala

A year ago, I said goodbye to my Hershey boy. It was a strange moment for me, losing him. Part of me had expected that the be the end result of our visit to the pet emergency room ( which I chose only because my friend worked there at the time) which was comforting for me. Part of me was also hopeful that day, that all he would need was some medicine and he would be just fine.

But the poor little guy was not fine. He was old, losing weight due to not being able to eat or keep much food down. He was in much pain and discomfort and so I had to make the hard choice. I asked the vet if doing further blood tests would do him any good. In her gentle way she told myself and my sister no, no it wouldn’t. I didn’t want Hershey to spent a few days scared and alone in the hospital, though well cared for by the compassionate vets and vet techs. Especially since in the end the result would have been the same. I had to say goodbye.

That night when I got home, I threw out his food, litter box and favorite toy. I was dealing with the loss by being practical. I didn’t need these things anymore after all. Might as well get rid of it all. I have kept his bed though. That I washed and placed inside my closet. It is still sitting in there as I write this post.

Those first few nights of falling asleep were hard without him. Hershey had been such a cuddle bug, I held my pillow tight to my body that night and for a few nights afterwards. Coming home with his mewing chastising me for being away was a tough adjustment. I had friends ask me about adopting another pet and I was not sure about doing so just yet.

Until

Until one day while scrolling through Instagram I came across a post asking for someone to take in their cat. At first I scrolled past it, then back again, then past it again. I exited the app and then went back in. Looking at the photo of the cat, I knew she was mine. I messaged her mommy, a mutual acquaintance about taking in the cat. By the end of the week I was meeting Nala and taking her home after an hour or so.

Poor cat had no idea what was happening, meowing the entire drive home, finding various hiding places at the house. I knew to be patient as she adjusted to the change, there were a few hissing incidents during the times I overstepped her boundaries. But, as time went on she became comfortable, allowing me to pet her and even sleeping on the bed with me.

I put out Hershey’s bed for her but she never used it. Perhaps she could smell Hershey’s scent despite all the times it had been washed. She preferred instead the couch in the living room or my bed to sleep. Still I kept the bed, even though it is not being used.

Nala is different from Hershey, more independent at times. She likes her alone time wheras Hershey could not be alone for too long. I wonder though how the two of them would of gotten along, how long it would of taken for them to learn to live with each other companionably. I still miss my Hershey boy but I also love my Nalalulu too.

That is what grieving does. I have lost family members and I remember when our beagle Pumpkin was gone. But she really was not my dog. Pets are an important part of our lives, we care for them and love them and they care for us too. Not only because we feed them either, though that is a big part of it.

It is learning that it is alright to miss the ones we have lost while having new joy and love in our lives. Learning to care through pain. That has been the biggest lesson in this year for me.