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Anything & Everything I Feel Compelled to Share with the World!

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?

 

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!!