“I’m Going Ahead”

I went on a bike ride today.

It sounds like an excellent start to a Sunday and it definitely was, but it was an 11.46 mile bike ride.

I checked and the last time I went for a bike ride was about two months ago so I was a little rusty (read: slow). It was a perfect morning for it, though, sunny and low 70s with lots of shady spots during our journey (obviously I had my honey with me–I wouldn’t undertake something ridiculous like this on my own). I really enjoy bike riding; it’s good exercise but also enjoyable. I’m not like panting and wheezing just to get a sliver of oxygen in my contracted lungs the entire time.

Eddy is a beast so obviously he was able to go a lot faster than me. He was patient and stayed with me during all the sections of road side riding. Around mile six or so, we came to the “secret sidewalk” that cut back towards the direction of home–a wide strip that passed behind gated communities and retirement homes. After making sure I was alright with it and reassuring me he’d meet me at the end, Eddy sped off so he could actually get a serious workout and I continued on my own.

It wasn’t very long–honestly out of over eleven miles, the “secret sidewalk” probably lasted a mile and a half, maybe two miles. Despite that, it was considerably more difficult to keep myself pedaling without having him next to me, or even in eyesight than it was when we were going along together.

I was thinking as I rode along how easy it is to become tired or fatigued during the periods that we must go our journeys alone. Even when we have the promise of someone going on ahead and meeting us there, it’s easy to lose sight of that and feel suspended in the moment.

How many times has Jesus told me to keep going and maintain my consistent pace because He is going ahead and will meet me there? How many times have I allowed discouragement to cloud my vision and slow my progress because I couldn’t see Him next to me?

I made it to the end of the stretch to find that Eddy was exactly where he said he’d be: waiting for me at the end, ready to go the next stretch of the journey together. It was a poignant parallel to how I feel Jesus deals with me most of the time and I felt a great deal of peace in my spirit as I meditated on that for a while.

Happy Sunday from me, my now very sore legs and the One who either goes along with us or goes ahead to meet us at the end.

new things & thankfulness

There are two different definitions for the word new. 
New (n(y)o͞o/)
1. not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time or 
2. already existing but seen, experienced, or acquired recently or now for the first time.
So what is new with me?
As of October 15 my sister Christina got married to the man of her dreams and has a new last name of her own, but I also gained a new brother-in-law! It was a beautiful celebration and such a special time for our family. I definitely ugly cried three times, especially when Christina danced with my dad to Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”. I’m thankful for new beginnings and for our growing family.
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Mom, Myself, Ryan, Christina, Snugz (Sarah) and Dad
As of November 9th I’ve moved from Executive Assistant to Director of Administration at Wings of Shelter, which I totally love. I’m thankful that I got the chance to work alongside Hillary for a few months before moving up because now I feel like a have a much better understanding of what is required of me and how to do the best possible job in this role. With this newness, comes the need for a more official home office. I’ve been working off my bedroom and kitchen table for the past several months and I’m feeling pretty stoked to have my own little cubby to comfortable get my work done.
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I still need to center my world map, but this is more or less the gist of it.
As of November 11th I have a new hair color. I’ll probably realistically be a brunette until I die (unless I turn into a lovely silver fox) so this is just warmer with more red tones for fall (because apparently going “warmer” for fall is a thing?).
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Also pictured: My little green baby ‘Stang
As of November 24th I have a new car! My 2003 Ford Mustang that I bought exactly seven years ago (2008) has finally reached the end of her journey. The whole two-door sports car with somewhat lagging pick up and scary noises when I accelerate on the highway has become a bit difficult during all my commute time on the highway for work. I’ve been more blessed recently than I’ll ever deserve and it’s given me the chance to get something nicer than I’ve ever imagined I would have.
As of November 25th I’ve spent the past two months with a wonderful man that I’m enjoying more and more with each passing day. He came out of nowhere and when I wasn’t looking (just like every well meaning middle aged already-married woman has told me for years). No one is more surprised than me or more thankful. It’s definitely a change for me and it’s been so much fun and has melted me out of my frosty snow queen defenses. I’m thankful for this guy!
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Look at that smile!
I don’t understand why I’ve been so blessed, but I’ve heard you aren’t supposed to apologize for your blessings. I’ll be thankful, humbled and stand in awe instead and hopefully I can be an equal blessing to others. Thank you Jesus for your kindness towards me–I’m overwhelmed.

write about finishing: day 31

“This is it, day 31! You’ve done it! Congratulations. Write about what it feels like to finish something, to be victorious in a goal. This was a marathon, not a sprint. Who cares if you missed a day here or there, or if it took a little longer than you expected? The point is that you finished and that’s worth celebrating. So write these last 500 words with joy, knowing you’ve run the race and done the work. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”

I like that the prompt today encouraged me to celebrate, even though I took roughly a ten day hiatus with blogging after consistently writing for about 26 of the scheduled days. It was just the amount of grace I needed to feel like I actually accomplished what I set out to do with this challenge.

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Challenges and goals are funny things, because I think we all go into them with certain expectations on how we want things to go. I wanted to write every single day, come hell or high water, and only then would I feel accomplished. I might as well be consistent with things every day since all I do is work; my free time should be solely dedicated to accomplishing goals.

I’m pleased to report that my daily writing, which I was doing based on an abundance of alone time, was hijacked by a surprisingly busy and social few weeks. For the first time in a while I was actually going out and spending time with people instead of pensively clacking away at my keyboard. It’s good for me to be relationship oriented instead of always measuring myself with goals; that goes for my interactions with writing as well.

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When it comes right down to it and I have a chance to write, if I’m looking at it as a goal that only needs to be accomplished, I miss the pleasure and joy that I usually find in just naturally and candidly expressing myself. I don’t want to spend time writing, I want to check it off my list; I think that attitude doesn’t bode well for my writing career any more than it would in any other sort of relationship.

I haven’t spent enough time in recent days meditating on where I want to go from here in my writing. I have this idea of twice weekly topic blogging, but have yet to really hash out what I want that to look like. I think re-reading the prompts from the past 31 days to see what really made me come alive and just unapologetically focus on those things for my bi-weekly blogs. We’ll see!

Meanwhile, I really do celebrate getting through this. I started strong, lagged off and came back at the end, and for my personality that’s a really difficult thing to endure. I’m fighting the perfectionist in me that’s trying to control my every movement in life. A job well done is one thing; refusing to finish a job because you stumbled or stressed along the way is another and that’s not the kind of legacy I want to leave behind in life.

For now, I am here. I finished! I made it. And I am thankful. It’s a small accomplishment, but I appreciate the relationship I’ve developed with writing more than anything else. It’s something good, so I celebrate that.

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write about innocence: day thirty

“Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun.” – Pink Floyd

Write about childhood. Write about ignorance. Write about dreams and hopes and when you still believed in Santa Claus. Tap that part in all of us that remembers what it was like to be innocent. Don’t speak to the jaded adult; communicate with the child within and help us find that person again.

Greetings from the slacker; suffice to say, I’ve put these last two blogs off long enough. Thanks to some encouragement I’m back on track for the moment.

I feel like I’ve touched on innocence a bit in a previous blog in this challenge (write a letter to your younger self) but I feel like I could go on and on about the innocence of my younger years.

Throwing it waaaaaay back to 2000
Throwing it waaaaaay back to 2000

I was raised pretty conservatively (not on the level of the Duggar family though), heavily involved in youth group, home schooled, seasoned with the purity culture movement and didn’t start listening to mainstream music until I was about fifteen or sixteen. I didn’t hold a boy’s hand until after that. I don’t think I even looked at Victoria’s Secret, let alone walk in, until after that because of some sort of well meaning, but misplaced ideal about modesty. I never really felt afraid to be anywhere because it never really occurred to me that anyone would have less than honorable intentions towards me.

Ahh, the tween years (2003)
Ahh, the tween years (2003)

It’s interesting–when it comes to innocence I find myself automatically measuring it based on the lack of knowledge and experience during my early to mid teen years. I know I was uncommonly unaware in many ways for my age, so it’s an easy reference point. There’s more to innocence than the absence of immorality, though. There’s this whole other wonderful side to it that gets overlooked because we spend so much time defining things by their negatives.

Hi there, you little baby, you. (2007)
Hi there, you little baby, you. (2007)

I played with Barbie dolls until I was thirteen years old and no one made fun of me because I was the oldest of three girls and it was normal for me. When I was I was fourteen, I would have sleepovers with my besties and we all wore t-shirts and jeans and giggled over boys from youth group together. When I was fifteen, the same friends and I went to Driver’s Ed at school and celebrated at the end of it all by getting a hotel room and staying up late watching M. Night films and getting sugar hang-overs. When I was sixteen I started community college and I wore pink cardigans and baggy jeans; boys never looked at me and I wouldn’t have even known how to spot it if they did. When I was seventeen I spent all my free time between jobs down at St. Matthew’s House with dad and all the homeless guys and they were kind to me and treated me like their own little daughter. I didn’t understand the stigmas that people had for the “down and out” people–I only ever saw people because that’s what my dad saw. When I was eighteen I felt real love and heartbreak for the first time and I didn’t even know how to protect myself because I hadn’t developed a hard exterior yet.

Posing for thoughtful museum photos (2009)
Posing for thoughtful museum photos (2009)

The list goes on and on.

I was allowed to experience my innocence to the fullest; I was given permission to let it flavor every area of my life and it wasn’t taken away from me at the upsettingly young age that it is from most people these days. I was a giant dork, but I cherish it because I was allowed to be and was surrounded by people who accepted me as that. I wouldn’t trade that for all the cleverness and self preservation skills in the world.

write what you know: day twenty-nine

Currently laying in that stillness that comes from being the only one in the dark living room, wrapped in the faint light of the TV screen. David Bowie is peering at me from behind the word ‘Labyrinth’. The fan has a steady and low hum. I can hear the dogs stir on the floor every so often. Dad was out here earlier; I could hear him crack open a Mountain Dew (his favorite) from my nest on the couch. I can hear the rain, gentle and soft outside the window. 

I love couches–I think they’re the most lovely places in the world. I find so much comfort in a good stretching-out, couch rest. 

There’s been so much going on behind the scenes for me lately, which so many new things and things up in the air that it’s a wonderful change of pace to sit still and just wonder at it all. 

My dance showcase is this Friday, which is amazing to me because I swore up and down that I’d never do it. It also means it’s almost been a full year of lessons, so who knew that casual trip would amount to this journey I’ve been on. 

I’ve almost made it the full 31 days here, which is exciting and now I just need to get my game plan together for the future of my blog. 

I’ve reconnected with some people this past week; I’ve been so social I almost don’t even recognize myself. But it’s not bad–I’m excited about things again. Maybe I’m not as big of an ice queen as I thought. That’s all I can say for now, but it’s been very, very good. 

There are a lot of options for the future too. And really, if I’m being honest, none of them are bad. I know I feel like things have to be a certain way, and I have to do certain things, but I’m surprised by how much I’ve grown to like things here. It’s all sort of vague, but maybe we’ll expound on it later. 

I guess all I’m saying is that right now I’m enjoying this really excellent balance of excitement for the future (whatever it is) and a calm contentment for how things are now. I’m blessed and I’m in a season (eat your hearts out, I’m using Christian-ese non-ironically) of knowing that I’m blessed and being able to see it. It’s not forever, and there will be more dips to come on this road, but right now-things are looking pretty lovely. Everything is temporary, though, so I’m going to glean whatever I can while I’m here. 

So this is an “I’m thankful for right now” post. I know Jesus is behind it, as he always is. It’s just so much easier to see it right now–and I say those words because it’s usually so rare that I get to say them. Remind me of that next week or next month when that belief is challenged by circumstance because it will be. 

Thank you, Jesus. I’m deeply appreciative of the fan mail this week.