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Encouragement July 20, 2014

I first started brainstorming this post last Saturday while running, but as with many other times when I get ideas for blog posts, I get them when I’m busy or away from the computer, then when I actually have time I completely forget about posting and instead waste time scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest. Something made me remember to write this one out.

Through many previous posts, I’ve talked about running, and how it has been my main tool for losing weight and becoming the healthier me that God wants me to be, my way of taking care of His Temple. Through running, I have met a lot of other runners.  And one thing I can say about Runners in general is how encouraging they are to one another.

I mean I’ve read in Facebook posts and whatnots about snobbish runners, those who are after their PR, who are totally serious about this running thing and if you’re not as serious about it as they are than you’re not a runner. But I haven’t met any of them. Joining group runs where my pace is at least a whole minute slower than the rest, but still get a “You killed it out there, Anna.” that is some major encouragement. Not even really knowing all that much about me, except that I’m into running, they have welcomed and accepted me. For a sport that’s all individualized, I’m part of the team.

And it’s not just the Run Group. I was running the streets of Danville one evening (with the Run Group) and passed another runner, one I’d never seen before. There was the smile and head nod of acknowledgement, but then there was also a “keep it up” or “great job”.

Encouragement doesn’t have to be spoken. The Saturday that this blog post popped into my head was while I was running the Riverwalk Trail in Danville. Don’t let the name fool you. By trail it means paved path a little wider than one car would need. It’s a very happenin’ place, cyclists, walkers, runners, skaters are all out there Saturday mornings and most other days as well. I was running, bebopping along to my music. I had decided to smile and speak a good morning to those I passed. I didn’t want to be like the frowny walkers I’d been passing downtown lately. There was a lady coming towards me at a slow run. I don’t like the word jog. If your feet are moving in a running rhythm, no matter the speed, you are running, not jogging. A walk is still a walk no matter how fast or slow you are walking.

Okay enough soapbox.

She dropped to a walk still a few yards out from me, but when she looked up and saw me she started running again. Now I’m not going to say I’m an awesome encourager and that my presence alone encourages others to do more, to push themselves, to have courage to press on. No, but in running, that is often the case. Just the presence of someone else encourages us to push ourselves a little harder.

Working out yesterday morning with some awesome ladies, one of the leaders shadowed me for short bit, using words of encouragement, pushing me to squat lower, to give more, to work harder. And while I am sore today because of that, the fears that usually keep me from doing more squats, lunges, etc. did not come to fruition. My knee has not bothered me once today as it has in the past (even just a few weeks ago) after kicking up a notch or two.

And while I guess a lot of this post was about the encouragement of new friends, I have received a lot of encouragement from those I’ve known for years as well. Not all of them always get me, but there aren’t many who completely get me anyway. I’m one of those weird ones. But I definitely want to work on becoming a better encourager myself, to push others to do more, to give more. Because if God is for us, who can be against?


Run November 2, 2013

Filed under: Christianity,Comfort,Friends,God,Jesus Christ,Spiritual Growth — Anna @ 11:29 PM

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  Hebrew 12:1b

The verse has so much meaning to me, especially lately.  Of course its true meaning is the race of life and the course God has set for us. Let us not give up because things in life happen that are tough or hard to go through. But as a runner (I run, so that is what I am. Add that to the other hats I wear.), it is so much more real to me. Perseverance and endurance means running through the rain, the mud, the dark, the hot, the cold. It means not giving up just because it’s a monster hill or staying inside because you’re feeling tired, the true word for that is spelled L-A-Z-Y, LAAYZZEE!!

We often do that with life. We give up on relationships because we’re tired of working at it or because we’re tired of this or tired of that. We didn’t know that friendship or that relationship would be so hard to maintain. God never said it would be easy. Now my head starts singing the song. Remember, the devil is a roaring lion trying to devour us. His way of devouring us might not be killing us. Honestly, I really think Satan’s favorite way of destroying Christians and roadblocking our work for Christ, is by making us feel tired. We have a tendency to get selfish in that tiredness and think someone else needs to take up the load we feel like we’ve been carrying. We pull out of things because it’s too much, we’re doing too much. We let friendships fall to the side, because we’re tired of always being the one to call or make things work. But what we don’t always realize is how much God wants us to be involved.

Let us not run away. Let us run the race marked for us, and run it with endurance. Because what’s waiting at the finish is so much better than anything they got up there. Under the sea… so much better than anything that we could try to plan for ourselves.

It’s going to be hard. We’re going to want to give up. Trudging and crawling through thick, goopy, suction cup-like mud today was hard, and I really didn’t know if I could take one more mud pit. That last one was tougher than any of the other obstacles throughout the whole race. I didn’t think I could do it, but I knew that finish line was just around the corner. All I had to do was make it to out of the mud and it was in the bag.

Keep going. Never give up!

DSCF3841                DSCF3842
DSCF3843                   DirtyDanDash 1


Perspective October 19, 2013

Honestly, so much has been running through my mind this past week, things I would like to blog about or on, but I’ve kinda been busy and haven’t had much time to blog lately. I guess it’s like most everything else in life, it’s not about finding time it’s about making time. But now that I am sitting here blogging, the question is what do I write about first. I find myself wanting to talk about how weird I feel using the word blog as a verb, but I’ll refrain as there’s no lasting value there.

I actually started writing this post with a different aim, but after the events of this evening, I felt just a bit more compelled to talk about perspective.  It’s actually been on my mind for a while. It was even something one of my focuses when speaking to teen girls last month. But in the last week, God’s given a new realization of it, and after watching Soul Surfer tonight with a group of beautiful young ladies, Perspective shouted out at me once again. So I’m pretty sure I should stop avoiding the topic and just hash it all out for all to read.

Perspective is individual. We all have our own take on everything. It’s something I try to teach my students. When there is a problem I always want to hear from all involved. Each story has two (or more) sides, those sides are perspectives. Perspectives can also often be limited to what we can see, to how we are looking, how we are feeling, etc.

The event I spoke at in September, held for teen girls, focus was be-you-tiful. It wasn’t just about finding beauty but on being you, the person you are. Speaking as a female, we as a gender have trouble finding beauty in ourselves. I’m still not sure how or when it started, but we are very self-critical and can rattle off a whole list of things that make us anything but beautiful. But it’s due to our perspective.

The Bible is filled with verses that speak of our beauty, as a daughter of the King, so if I believe the Bible is the Spirit-breathed Word of God, then I have to believe that I am beautiful, even if I don’t always feel it.

Last year, after reading Stasi & John Eldredge’s Captivating, I began to pray for Jesus to show me my beauty, for Him to help me to see myself the way that He sees me. And He has. He’s done it in little ways over the year, revealed things about my character, my body that previously I had seen negatively.

Somehow it really seems to have culminated recently. It’s like all of a sudden I see myself so much differently. I’m also realizing that certain people have been telling the truth for years, even though I didn’t believe them. For instance the boldness I spoke of in It’s Finally Happened.

My best friend in the world lives all the way on the other side of the country. Bummer, I know. But we keep connected with 3 to 8 page emails, and I still have one she sent me detailing things I had done that she saw as bold and brave and courageous, no matter how meek, timid, and shy I feel I am. Perspective. Those things she mentioned such as spending a summer serving God in South Carolina and again in Texas, I had never seen them as bold. To me they were just the natural course of action for what God had told me to do. When I went to Guatemala in March of this year, so many thanked me for being brave enough to fly to far from home. It wasn’t scary. I didn’t feel courageous doing it. It was what I was supposed to do.

Now I see that what I have seen as ordinary things, others see as something so much different.

So I pose this question for you to ponder. How accurate is your perspective?


Watch What You Say July 31, 2013

Last week a good friend of mine, the author of The Adventures of Samuel, wrote a new post entitled “Chuckling with Children”.  He told of his week working with his church’s annual VBS, giving an account of several comical anecdotes of his time with the children.  Let’s admit it:  kids say the darndest things.  The largest percentage of my time spent doing one thing, is spent working with young children.  I love it, especially during moments when they say or do something that would fall into the category of “the darndest things”.

However this week, I was horrified at what came from the mouth of a student.  No, it wasn’t a curse word, those don’t frighten, nor surprise, me.  It wasn’t even a child telling of something shocking that their parents did.  We had just finished getting wiggles out before our Learning Circle, and one of my girls said, “My legs are ugly.”

Her Legs Are Ugly?!?!

What preschooler thinks that way?  I mean, we kinda expect teenagers to say things like that, young women, older women.  I’ll be honest, I enjoy being female, wouldn’t want to trade genders for the world. But women as a whole, at least as I’ve noticed in our U.S. culture, are terrible self-critics. There is a constant degrading of something about our own physical body.

I’m sick of it.  I can’t stand it.  This is something that I can honestly say that I abhor. Maybe because it takes my mind back to my most insecure years.

I love doing missions, serving others, loving on children.  Not just telling kids of God’s love but showing it to them because you don’t care that they haven’t bathed or brushed their hair/teeth recently, you hug on them and let them sit in your lap anyway. But I have to say my 10 weeks serving as a “Critter” with Mission Centers of Houston was not one of my best experiences, and it had nothing to do with the work we did or the people we served. It more or less boiled down to the 15 high school and college girls I shared a bedroom with. It was like the bedroom from Madeline, beds lining both walls, everyone sharing two bathrooms. What made it so difficult for this 200+ pound, recent high school grad was listening to much thinner girls saying “I’m fat”, “My face is too round”, “I hate my butt”, “Oh look at my bat wings”. Hearing these young women, who to my eye were much more beautiful than my fat self, berate their own body, my thoughts remained along the lines of, “Heaven knows what they think of me” the entire summer.

And I’m sure they never even considered the damage of their words, the effects it could and would have on others around them. Which leads me back to my beautiful, bright-eyed 5yr-old who said,

“My legs are ugly.”

This is not something a child just decides on her own. It is conditioned, and I highly doubt someone told her, “Those bug bites make your legs ugly.” No more likely a mom, grandma, or aunt made a thoughtless comment about the status of her own legs, something maybe along the lines of “Ugh, I hate these veins; they make my legs so ugly.” And my student’s mind connected the imperfections in the other persons legs to the blemishes on her own and equivalated that her own legs must be ugly as well.

Maybe this is just a continuation or rant of In the Pursuit of Happiness, but whereas that post was more or less geared towards changing our own thinking about our appearance, which is extremely important for our own well-being, we have got to start watching what we say out loud. Others are listening.  We never know what the person across the room, who is well within hearing distance, is struggling with, and when we make careless comments, such as “I’m so fat, I wish I could lose fifteen pounds,” you may not only be publicising your own poor self-image but also inlfuencing another’s.

Please make an effort to encourage and uplift one another, and also to encourage yourself.

And please know that You are BEAUTIFUL!!


Smile, Jesus Loves you! August 2, 2012

Filed under: Christianity,Friends,God,Jesus Christ,Love & Life — Anna @ 8:31 PM

“Smile, Jesus loves you,” is something I used to say a lot. It was one of my many catchphrases, along with ‘God spoke and bang it happened,’ always say a prayer, and ¿Qué hay en tu pescado? (whether they were actually catchy, many never caught on, but they were fun to say anyway). I remember trying to figure out how to translate ‘Smile, Jesus loves you’ into Spanish; I finally got it, but it didn’t sound as great as it did in English. But these are some thoughts on smiling that’s been running through my head.

It always got to me, when people would say “smile more” and then quote how many muscles needed to smile verses frown. I’ve a great-aunt that’s notorious for making me mad (not madder because despite a possible frown, it does not mean that I’m mad) for telling me “smile, you sour-puss.” But a frown is the natural position of my face. It takes a conscious effort to smile. I always thought it would be better if the lips would be in a straight line unless you made the effort to frown or smile, you know, have a neutral, emotionless kinda state unless you wanted to emphasize happy or upset. Maybe I’m just weird.

Then recently I caught a bit of the movie Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. In the scene of the date that Rosalee won with movie star Tad Hamilton, she asks him how he smiles like that all the time. Of course, he’s got that big, Hollywood smile. She tries it for a brief minute, then gives up, says her cheeks hurt. It got me to noticing. We as a whole don’t smile much, not unless we have a real reason to smile. It started noticing the people that I drive past or looking through the rearview mirror at the people behind me, people in Wal-mart, those in the choir loft. So many frowns, though I guess they may not have been consciously scowling, but there were definitely not smiling. So many that did not look happy to be where they were.

It made me start thinking more about what’s on my own face. Of course giving a wide bubbling, cheesy grin would probably get more strange looks, maybe cause concern over the state of my sanity. But it really doesn’t take much just to turn the corners of your mouth up, just a barely there smile.

But remember that reason we seem to need for a smile, whether it’s a funny joke, a pretty sight, seeing a friend’s face, etc. We seem to need a reason to smile, otherwise we’re stuck in that frowny state of being. What better reason to keep a smile on your face than the simple pleasure of knowing that Jesus loves you!


Valentine’s Day In A New Light February 8, 2012

Filed under: Comfort,Friends,God,Jesus Christ,Love & Life — Anna @ 6:47 PM

All right, so Valentine’s Day is coming up, a day I seriously have no love for. Maybe it’s because I’m always single. Or it could be because I absolutely abhor the color pink, with the exception of the right combination of hot pink with lime green or black or orange.

But this year feels different for me. Nothing has changed. I’m still single; I still hate pink, but this year I’m looking at the day differently than previous years. It is known as the day of love, the day everyone does a little something extra to show their love and appreciation for those people in their lives. Generally, it is the day for boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives, but they are not the only ones who can benefit.

I guess the difference for me this year is that I have my own classroom. I’m in charge of the lessons and get to decide what we study and how we study it. I teach preschoolers so the more I can discourage ‘boyfriend/girlfriend thinking’ the better, so Valentine’s Day in the class is definitely not about that. Instead I’d rather focus on friendship. Friends, you know those people who put up with your weirdness, who listen to you complain about your job or the jerk who just cut you off. They are the people you lean on during those tough times. Sometimes they have other labels, too, like mom, sister, brother, daughter, husband, or wife, but no matter what a friend is someone we need very much in our life.

So the question is: What have you done for your friends to show them how much they mean to you?


Long Time No See February 5, 2012

Filed under: Friends,God,Jesus Christ,Love & Life,Writing — Anna @ 7:02 PM

It has been way too long since I’ve written in this blog. See, there’s no point in me trying to make resolutions or commitments to writing everyday or even every week. There’s this thing that gets in the way every time. It’s called Life. Let’s just take a brief look at what has happened since my last post. Not that I’m trying to brag or that I think it’s all important, but I don’t always have time to keep up with my good friends. So the last time I wrote on this blog at August 31, 2011. It is now February 5, 2012. I started a new job in September as Pre-K teacher in a private child development center. Moved back in with my parents, nursed my dog back to health after he was hit by a truck. In January, I began working on my Master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill as they were the only college that took my work experience into account and would allow me to work for my teaching license and masters degree within the same program. (Note to sports fans, just because I attend UNC does not mean I am a Tarheel fan, I still think that is the most putrid color blue in existence and will never be seen with a UNC sticker on my car). And I am also in the process of moving once more, into a house with one of the best friends a girl could ask for. So mix in constant minor family drama, trying to keep in touch with old friends, writing a little fiction, attempting to be a better daughter of God, and watching way more movies than I really should, and it’s clear to say that I’ve been busy.

I was just reminded by a dear friend that I haven’t written here in far too long and was also touched that she had missed them. It’s good to get feedback from my writings. It lets me know that there is a purpose for it, and I’m not just a waste of hot air, or rather since I’m typing it and now speaking it a waste of cyber space.

On top of that, I ran into one of my favorite teachers of all time at Food Lion last night. We may not have always seen eye to eye on every topic, but he never made me feel like bad for my beliefs. I have a much higher opinion of New Yorkers because of that (Upstate New Yorkers, that is), which was a good thing to have since they overpopulated my hall freshman year. Smile

Then there’s this storyline I’ve been working on for awhile. I started it back in July and have worked on it sporadically since. It’s amazing how I’ve started stories with no intentional uplifting goal or spiritual journey, stories that I’ve started in times of my life where I was not seeking God like I knew I ought to, but as I continue to work on the story God changes them. It has happened several times before; I’ve started a story because I had this idea, because I was bored or needed something to entertain me, because that’s what fiction is, a way of being entertained. And that’s really my main reason for writing, for my own enjoyment, but despite the ideas I have for where I think the story should go, God has given it a different spin. This has happened at least seven times. And people say God is not actively working in His creation today.

I love the way God has been working in this story, in the main character of this story to be most specific. There’s still a lot of details to work on before I can think about sharing it, and I’ve got to fill in between key scenes. SIDE NOTE: Sometimes I think I should write movie scripts rather than books because I’m more dialogue oriented than scenery details or mental narration. I also have a bad habit of writing scenes as they come to me no matter what order they appear in the story, which then leaves the problem of filling in the gaps.

But I’m asking for some help. Titles are even harder for me than filling in the gaps. I’m serious. If you were to look in my ‘Partials’ folder, you would see document titles like Julianne & Charlie, Diana & Darien, Kristina & Tyler, Nicaragua Adoption, Parker Hayes, Christmas Story, The Baptist & The Catholic, and Mystery Novel. Can you get any lamer? I submit that you cannot, or at least not much. They are plain and state the obvious. Most hint at being a lot more romantic than they really are, but I’ve no other ideas for what to call them.

This one in particular is the Julianne & Charlie one, though the story revolves a lot more around Julie than Charlie. It is mainly Julie’s story. It starts with an invitation to her 10yr high school reunion. Unlike the clichéd dreaded anticipation, she’s excited to go. She’s nearly certain she’d get the title “Most Changed” since high school graduation. Even she has a hard time recognizing her senior yearbook picture as herself, having gone from the fat insecure girl who was always getting picked on to a thin/healthy woman with opinion and the guts to speak her mind.

As the story begins, Julianne believes her life is completely under control, things are just as she’d like them to be, great job, great friends. She doesn’t live too far from her Dad, who she still enjoys a close relationship with. A boyfriend would be nice, but there wasn’t too much empty space in her even without one. Then of course because it’s one of my stories and there has to be a romantic part to the story somewhere, she runs into a guy (Charlie) she had admired in high school & he lives in the same city she also currently resides. Not so pretty bits of her past is brought up. Things she thought she had dealt with and gotten over are dredged up, and it turns out she doesn’t have it all together.

So, I’m hoping for some ideas on story titles. If anyone is really interested I could email the parts of the story that have been written thus far.

Until next time, stay blessed!

<>< Anna


You are beautiful February 25, 2010

Yeah, that’s right. You heard me. You right now, reading this blog post are beautiful! You are a thing of beauty. Okay for the guy that’s reading, you are handsome.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Who am I to judge? How can I know what beauty is when I haven’t studied Fine Arts or whatever it is you think would qualify me to say such a thing. But I don’t need I four year degree in looking at pictures/paintings/sculptures to know beauty when I see it. My eyes work (thanks to contacts I’ve got 20/20 vision. And I’ve definitely seen my share of beauty. Thanks to my new job, I get to see the sunrise almost every morning on my drive to work. I’ve seen sunsets and rainbows and even a rainbow in the sunrise

But beyond that. I know you are beautiful because God told me so. My coworker uses the phrase “God don’t like ugly” a lot. But God don’t make ugly either, the Bible tells me so.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

“All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11(a)

Everyone longs to be told they’re beautiful. Everyone needs to be told. So tell someone today how beautiful God made them!