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Category Archives: Inspirational

View the Uphill from Under the Hill

under-the-bridge-2

In Florida, we don’t have hills, but we have bridges. On my out and back 5 mile training run, I began the tackle of the bridge and was at the peak when I hit mile one. I could say it was smooth sailing after that, or all downhill from there… but I hate cliches. I felt great though. Sure, it was humid, but the temperature was a good ten degrees cooler than my usual Saturday morning runs, so I considered that a win. The path I chose had small rolling hills, but nothing I couldn’t handle that morning. I guess I was in the right place mentally and physically.

I did the turnaround at 2.5 miles and headed back towards that bridge. I knew I would hit mile 4 right before I got to the peak. The run had felt exhilarating and I figured I’d just blast up that hill, er…bridge and be done with it.

The thing is, though, that for some reason I saw the bridge looming ahead, and it seemed more intimidating from this side. The incline is steeper headed inland, and my legs suddenly hurt. My breathing got out of whack. I was floundering. For about ten seconds, my mental battle just about clobbered me physically. I thought I would throw up. I began to fear being able to run over that bridge twice the day of the half marathon I am training for.

But I wouldn’t let myself quit. I wouldn’t allow myself to walk. I hated myself for those ten seconds, but I knew that I could do it if I just kept moving my legs. I had the strength. I was almost to the top, and I only had one mile to go. Downhill would be so much better, if I could just make it to the top. And then I did. I wanted to have a Rocky moment, but that would have held back my time if I stopped to jump up and down with my arms in the air at the top of the bridge, so I just smiled and kept plugging.

That has been my life for the last couple years. I have scaled, hiked, crawled, and run hills I thought would defeat me, but I have tried to remember that I am not in it alone. Peter walked on water. Maybe not for long before he doubted himself, but Jesus was there to catch him, and when I feel like I cannot crest the next hill, and it hovers over me, I remind myself I have never really been alone. Jesus is always there when I cannot do it by my own strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I want to picture myself running into His waiting arms at the top of the hill.

under-the-bridge-1

Then, when I completed my run, I stretched and walked along under that bridge that had almost defeated me, and I saw it from a different perspective. I saw its height and vastness, and I knew I had made it over the top, and I now rested in its shade. Getting over our hills can be a mental, emotional, or physical challenge, but once we make it to the other side, we can rest in its shade.

The Quiet Hours

sunrise-florida

In the quiet hours, only I stirred… or so I thought. But the sky began to wake as well. Subtle, yet colorless, rising light began to peek above treetops and between branches, but even the clouds were still lazy and refused to move out of its way. The once eagerly twinkling stars seemed to fade as the sky phased from deep midnight blue to cornflower blue, while cotton candy pink streaks reflected onto the dissipating clouds and played in the growing light. Purple and fire-yellow seeped into the masterpiece, and I realized I had lost all my other senses in those moments. Now, silence fled as birds began to sing and flit about in the trees, anxiously awaiting a new day. I finished my coffee.

Being a Hero

I know nothing about being a hero. Really. Until I became one unintentionally. I would confess here that I’m not a cape-wearing superhero… but sometimes I actually do wear a cape. Or I did last weekend anyway (three if you count my socks). Seriously.

supergirl and wonder woman

My family participated in the second annual Superhero 5K in support of the little one’s previous school (VPK) and her teacher from last year. She got to see old friends, and give Mrs. Natalie some big hugs, and run her own kids’ race. My husband announced the 5k runners as they crossed the finish, including me.

I used to run quite a bit, but life happened and I have had a really hard time getting myself committed to it again, so I declared a little over a month before the race that I would do it because I knew I needed a reason to run. I still had a hard time making time to train, so more than two miles was a challenge. My goal going into the race was just to finish. I felt that might be attainable.

I felt good at the start of the race, and I began thinking about the little girl waiting for me at the end and how she seemed more excited that I was running the race than I was to be running the race. Then I started thinking, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if I actually placed in my age group and she could see me get a medal?” But 3.1 miles began to kick my butt,  and my next goal became not to throw up.  As I crossed the finish, I felt I had not only let myself down, but let down my little girl. I was fourth in my age group, just out of medal ranking.

Here’s one of the greatest things about our girl: she is an encourager. She didn’t care if I won a medal. She told me I won my race because I finished. In fact, she spent the rest of the weekend telling people, “My mommy ran a 5k, and I ran the Super Loop. We both won.”

We teach her not to give up,  the importance of committing to something, and knowing it may take hard work to get there. Character is a strong value in our home, and I am so proud of our girl’s. We both ran with our capes on last weekend because she is a young superhero in training, and she thinks I am one already.

I very often just feel like a regular woman who constantly makes mistakes and struggles to get it right, but a little girl who CHOSE to call me her mommy, even though she understands she didn’t get her actual life through me, said to me after the race last weekend, “Mommy, I want to be you when I grow up.” I told her she can be better, but what a compliment.

never give up

Our girl makes me always want to be better and inspires me daily. Running is just a part of it, a sort of symbol of the race we call life.  But I plan to run more and win medals, both literally and figuratively, because someone important is watching, and she wants to be me because she thinks I’m a hero.

My Story

If you’ve been in a church, you’ve probably heard about peaks and valleys. Life is full of them. About a year ago, I was checking out a pretty great view on my own mountain peak… and then was shoved from behind into a canyon. Every time I think I’ve found some hand and foot holds to start to climb back up, I slip.

The thing is, as miserable as this experience has been, I know I won’t be down here forever, and what I do while I’m down here matters.

Because one day, I am going to have an amazing story to tell.

I am a writer; however, God is the author of my life. All truly good stories have several intertwined subplots, and as the reader, we don’t always see how all those subplots fit together, but the Author and Creator always sees how it will all connect in the end.

I am learning that I am not the author of my life. God is. I cannot get out of this valley on my own. I have to trust He is working behind the scenes to pull me up. He is giving me an amazing story to tell. He didn’t knock me down here, but He knew I would fall. He already had a plan to raise me up.

My story is not finished yet. One day I can share the story and the happy ending of eternal life.

(I had this post fermenting in my mind as the first of 2016 over a week ago, and then my pastor gave a message last Sunday that confirmed this was the right thing, right down to the video I had already decided to include. God is funny that way.)

Play Like a Girl

World champs

I should preface this post with the disclaimer that I am not an expert in anything athletic, least of all any sort of organized sports. I have discovered that I can actually sit through a soccer game though, and my mind not wander too much. This discovery was made because my husband is a huge soccer (real football because the players primarily use their feet to engage the ball) fan and I got pulled into it through the last several World Cups.

This was the first time I watched women play soccer. I had heard it was boring and slow to watch, and since…squirrel… I didn’t really want to lose precious time watching that.

I was missing out.

I watched all the USWNT matches and a few others throughout the tournament and I was impressed. They had skill, control, fancy footwork, and sportsmanship, or I guess sportswomanship. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch the men play too, but they can be such divas, rolling around on the ground every few minutes. When these women fell down or crashed into each other, they helped pick each other up and kept going. (Ok, so the men sometimes help each other up too, but usually they are too busy yelling in the ref’s face). These women were tough, and I have mad respect for that.

One disappointment: the way our team changed their play every time Abby was put in the game. I never watched her in her prime, but I understand she is a legend and earned it. However, even when our ladies were doing fine already, every time Abby came in the game, they started playing long ball to get the ball to her, when they should have been keeping it close and following through themselves.

It comes down to confidence. I don’t think they realized they had it without Abby. They figured it out in the final…within the first 16 minutes of the game. The energy they began with was incredible. By the time Abby came out, our women knew they had it, and her playing was more of a nod of respect to her years of hard work as this would be her last match. She must also be proud to see that her team is strong and finding their way on their own now, no doubt partially through her expertise and guidance. The moment when the captain’s arm band was handed over to Abby was special.

If our little one wants to play in any sports as she gets older, I hope she plays like a girl.

It’s a Pride Thing

I am not really a competitive person, unless it’s with myself…that is, until it comes to others doing well where I am not but really want to be. It’s a pride thing. For instance, when I see other writers I know who are having any degree of luck while my book sales seem to be in a “dry spell,” I want to be happy for them, but I’m secretly thinking, “My books are just as good. It’s not fair!” (even though it mostly comes down to my getting lazy, which is obviously my own burden).

This sounds a lot like jealousy, but it is also prideful.

And then I witnessed something that should change my entire outlook, and it does, except my human flaws are going to cause me to forget this from time to time, and so hopefully posting it here will help me remember a little better.

musical chairs

A couple weeks ago, our little one had her class end of year party, and we went. The kids were playing a rather intense round of musical chairs and our girl was the second one out. She didn’t get upset, but immediately took her place on the outside while she and the other child out became spectators. The other girl was chanting the name of one student, so ours joined in. This was sweet as it showed they were not sore losers and were able to cheer for someone else. After a few more kids joined them on the sidelines, our sweet girl began to chant, “Everyone! Everyone!” to which one child still circling the chairs yelled, “Not everyone can win, you know!”

Not everyone can win. It’s true, and a lesson I want her to understand; however, I loved her reply, “Well, I know, but I just wish they could.” Even though she was already out, with no opportunity to get back in the game, she wanted to see everyone else do well. That was where she was finding her joy in that moment. It’s easy to scoff at the successes of others when we aren’t feeling exceptionally successful ourselves. It is equally hard to cheer others on when we feel we’ve lost our way or our opportunity.

She went on the play other games, and won a few. That’s usually the way of life. You know that old saying, “You win some, you lose some,” has some merit. When we lose, we need to realize there will be other games. So go ahead and cheer for the successes of others. One day they will also cheer for yours, and you will feel much better if you can focus on and take joy in the good.

Swirling Vortex of Life

We have one of those amazing and entertaining new washing machines with a window on top. There is no agitator, but it sure does spin, scatter, and swirl the clothes around so they cling to the edges, like those stand up spinning rides at traveling carnivals- you know, the ones that make you want to vomit and leave you feeling as if you are still spinning even after you flee the ride?

standupwhirlride called life

This has been my life this last year. Every time I feel I may be gaining control and pulling the pieces together, everything starts spinning chaotically again.

When my life spins out of control, my writing habits spin out of control. I like- no, I NEED- to have a plan at all times. I’m a bit of a control freak. Don’t get me wrong. I do not need to plan every minute detail in life. I can respect and even enjoy some spontaneity, as long as I can still do what I already planned.

A year ago, I was publishing my second book in the Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl series, preparing for a mission trip, and enjoying a whole lot of freedom.

During the summer, my whole world changed as my husband and I took in a 4 year old family member with no time to prepare. We had only ever had cats and dogs… now we had a human.  Along with that came many personal and family conflicts and issues, so my writing took a back seat to it all. I always tell aspiring authors/writers to write at least a little every day to keep up in the craft, but I was no longer able to do it myself (of course, that’s partly because I need huge chunks of time to write). What a hypocrite I’d become.

Finally, I was at a place where life was gaining regularity and I could see writing on the horizon again… until another life-changing event took place. I began to feel hopeless in ever being able to write again, and even though it’s always been an outlet to me, I just wasn’t able to do it, even in the moments when I had time. I couldn’t feel it in a way where I could make the right words.

My protagonist, Drew, is a bit of an inspiration to me (and oddly she is a good deal of a younger me). The book title would have readers believe she is ordinary, but she is the hero because she is actually anything but ordinary. I don’t think anyone is truly ordinary, but she is relatable, because she struggles with issues we all struggle with. It’s her personality and how she reacts and views these struggles that make her extraordinary.

I’ve had a tough year, and I’m still learning to deal with everything as it comes, but I found time recently to write a couple posts on this neglected blog, and I’ve gotten back into the planning phase of Drew’s sophomore year of high school, with a plan in place to start writing it out this fall. I began to lose hope and just give up my passion and my dream, feeling like maybe it just wasn’t important in the midst of my current struggles, but I realize I need to hold onto that part of myself, no matter what. You should always hold onto your dreams and your passions, even if you have to put them on hold from time to time; when you do achieve them, they will be that much sweeter. Most people will never know what you will go through to get to where you’re going, but you will.

Life happens around you and to you, and there isn’t always much you can do about that; it’s how you react to it that counts.