While You Wait

Waiting is hard.

Sometimes it can feel absolutely overwhelming – especially when the waiting has been long.

You’ve prayed the prayers. You’ve shared your story. You’ve heard every well-intended word of encouragement about trusting God that you could possibly handle.

And you’ve heard all of the other comments about how you should move on, questioning your own heart and the whispers of “Did God really say?”

Waiting is exhausting.

And there are moments when you feel like if the waiting last much longer, you just might let go.

I’ve been there.

In the waiting my heart has ached so much that I could feel the physical pain of it. And I’ve had tears come in waves that I couldn’t seem to stop once that started.

Waiting feels hopeless.

I could tell you the waiting will be worth it, and that God has a plan. I could tell you that there are things happening behind the scenes that you can’t see now, but some day this will all make sense. I could remind you that I’m praying for you and for God to provide the answer, for the promise to be fulfilled, and for the healing to come.

And while I believe all of that to be true – more than that – I can stand with you while you wait.

I fully believe that prayers make a difference and it’s good to be reminded of the promises of God. But I also know how much the waiting changes when you have someone standing by your side.

What are you waiting for?

I don’t have the answers. I don’t know when the waiting will end. I don’t know if or when God is going to provide.  But I know the waiting is easier when you have someone to wait with you.

Waiting is hard.

Waiting alone is harder.

Today – brave hope looks like standing alongside each other – linking arms – while we wait.

 

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. –Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 

 

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I’m Not A Runner

I’ve been working out for a couple of months now. And when I say “working out” I would like to remind you that means I drive to the gym, walk at least a mile on the treadmill and I drive home. But even as I sit here and type trying to make light of my version of ‘working out’ I realize that even though it’s just a mile on the treadmill, it’s my mile. And since I started working out this time around, I have cut the time it takes me to walk said mile by almost seven minutes. For this girl who lives a mostly sedentary life, that’s huge.

Today as I was talking to a friend of mine about the incredibly long day I’ve had I ended it by telling him that I was about to have coffee and do some writing and then I was headed to do my mile and how that always makes me feel better.

His response: I’m proud of you.

I was confused for a moment until he brought attention to something I almost missed. I was going to go walk my mile because that always makes me feel better.

Wow.

That mile makes me feel better. I’m not running it yet, but I’m improving my time as the days go by. And it’s changing me. It’s changing my health as my endurance is increasing and my legs are getting stronger. It’s changing my emotions as I’m beginning to see a healthier way of working through an incredibly long day. I used to drive to the store and buy ice-cream because I deserved it or I would buy groceries and come home with things that comforted my soul but did very little to fuel my body. For the first time in this area of my life – I am seeing change.

I’m not saying that there will never be moments I decide to go ahead and have the food that does nothing for my health. (See the iced caramel macchiato and the slice of lemon loaf sitting next to my laptop right now). But I’m choosing the healthy option more than not.

Change is happening.

I’ve finally decided that my health is worth it. It’s worth the time and the effort. It’s worth driving to the gym and walking a mile. Even though it’s just a mile – it’s my mile.

Down deep inside I might even actually be a runner…. in spite of the sticker on the back of my car declaring otherwise.

You’ve seen the oval car window stickers that show the marathon or half marathon miles –  26.2  –  13.6  and such. Well I have one on my car that says “0.0 – I Don’t Run”. And I wish I had five dollars for every time I saw someone in my rear-view mirror laughing as they read the sticker. I even had one woman stop me in the parking lot one day because she like it so much she just had to tell me.

I’m not a runner.

Have you ever noticed the more you tell yourself something, the more you believe it? Good or bad, your words – especially the ones you tell yourself, have so much power.

For years I’ve been telling myself I’m not a runner. And so, I don’t run. And I’ve believed it so much I never thought it could change.

Until now.

What if I started telling myself “I’m a runner”?

No, I cannot run, or even jog a mile yet. But if I believed I was a runner, I wouldn’t give up until I could run that mile.

I am a runner.

Right now my mile is at 20.5 minutes – walking.

In three months I will be traveling out of state for a conference.

In three months I want to be running that mile.

In three months I WILL be running that mile.

In three months I’m going to peel that 0.0 sticker off the back of my car and replace it with “Runner”.

This…

…this is Brave Hope.

 

Remind Your Soul

There are some days when the ache in your heart is absolutely overwhelming. You’ve been waiting for God to move, for Him to provide, to heal, and to fulfill the promises your heart has held onto, and its hard. You want to yell, scream, cry, and shake your fist into the air, but you can’t.

You can’t yell at God, can you? I mean, this is God we’re talking about. Isn’t that against the rules?

So what then? What do you do when the disappointment is more than you can stand, when you’ve waited as long as you can possibly wait and you feel like giving up. What then?

I’m not sure about you, but personally I would drive myself to the store for some retail therapy. In no way, can I afford retail therapy, so don’t go thinking that I come home with a trunk load of new clothes and shoes and other things. My retail therapy looks more like driving myself to Walmart and buying a new top that goes with whatever color my hair is at the moment and then making my way over to the freezer section and buying ice cream. New top, and half of the ice cream later, nothing has changed, except I’ve numbed the ache a little bit. And instead of putting my trust in God, I’ve put it in something I can control.

Remember David, the guy who wrote much of the Psalms? He was referred to as a ‘man after God’s own heart’, someone who had a deep relationship with his creator. And yet, if you read some of the Psalms he wrote, he begins by asking why God has forsaken him. He questioned why God wasn’t moving the way he thought He should. Some might even say he yelled at God. Disappointment, fear, anger, sadness – he wasn’t afraid to express it all to God.

Except it didn’t end there.

Though David was frustrated and angry and he may have yelled at God because of the circumstances before him, he always came back to what he knew, Who he knew God to be, the faithfulness God had shown him time and time again. David may have been a man after God’s own heart but he was still a man, still human, with real emotions that sometimes came out at God. But he never forgot to bring his heart back to truth. God is faithful. And He is where David’s hope came from.

Maybe you find yourself overwhelmed by the circumstances in front of you. Life is not just hard, but it’s all you can do just to stand. You’ve talked to people, you’ve prayed every prayer you know how to pray, you’ve tried to numb the ache for a while.

God isn’t afraid of the emotions we think we need to hold back. He’s not going to skip over our prayers because they don’t fit into some cookie cutter mold we’ve come to believe all prayers have to be.

He wants to hear our heart, the deepest ache, the disappointment and desire.

Write it out if you have to. Write the real and raw of where you are.

And when you’ve gone through all of that – remind your soul of what you know – of Who you know God to be. Remind yourself of the times He’s been faithful and let your hope rest there tonight.

“God, don’t you see my heart is aching?!

How many times do I have to keep praying the same prayer?

Haven’t I delighted myself in You enough?

Why are You holding back Your promises from me?

My Lord, my God, when will the waiting end?

Have You really forgotten me?

And yet, I trust You.

You have shown Yourself faithful time and time again.

You have provided for my every need.

Therefore, my hope rests in You,

The One who breathed life into my very being,

The One who will fulfill amazing plans for my life,

My hope is in You.”

-Catherine July 13, 2018

My New Year’s Resolution…

 

Every year – somewhere between December 26th and January 1st we begin thinking of all the things we want to accomplish in the coming year. It’s the busiest season for gyms all across America, people signing up for just $1 in hopes to finally lose those fifteen or fifty pounds they’ve been putting off. And if you’re like me, you are among the thousands – probably millions of people who make a New Year’s resolution and by the second or third week of January, we’ve already given up on it.

But what if, instead of making a New Year’s resolution, we instead made a plan.

Today I went to the gym and walked a mile on the treadmill, with my fastest time yet. I’ve only been going to the gym for a week and already I’ve improved. And yes, I’m one of those annoying people on Facebook who post pictures and status updates every time they make it to the gym. It helps that Facebook keeps a record for you, and it’s always nice to have a cheering section when my friends comment with encouraging words.

Today as I posted the update of my 24 minute mile, I also wrote that in 6 months I would be running that mile. For those who know me, you know I don’t run. I even have the sticker on the back of my car to prove it. I don’t run. And as the saying goes, if you see me running, you should also run because something horrible is probably chasing me and I am likely running for my life.

So why in the WORLD would I post for all of Facebook world to see that I will be running a mile in six months?

Because without a goal, I will eventually give up.

A goal without a deadline is just a dream. – Robert Herjavek – Shark Tank

I could keep going to the gym every day and walking a mile on the treadmill, and it would get easier the more I do. But if I don’t have a goal I’m working towards, then things like a busy schedule, a bad day or just plain laziness and procrastination will cause me to quit.

So today, Brave Hope looks like this: Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I’m making a plan. By January 12th, I will be running that mile a day.

 

If A Tree Falls…

Philosophy 101 – “If a tree falls in the forest but there’s no one around to hear it, does it still make a sound?”

The question, first posed by Philospher George Berkely has been asked for hundreds of years – literally.

Perhaps the updated version would sound something like this:

“If I didn’t document my life on Facebook – and if there were no one to cheer me on, would it still matter?”

Lately I’ve been posting about my journey to better health, with updates about going to the gym and how long it takes me to walk a mile on the treadmill. And let me tell you, it feels pretty good to have people cheering me on when they see my posts.

But what if no one could see? What if there was no one to like the updated status of “Gym, day 2” or to love the photo I post of the time on the treadmill screen? If no one is there to see the progress I am making, does it still matter?

The bigger question is if no one was there to see it, would I keep fighting? Would I keep working on my own health simply because it’s mine, and not because I want to be married someday and want my husband to find me physically attractive. Am I losing weight because I want to live without the heart condition that runs in my family, or because I’m tired of being the overweight friend in the pictures?

Do I really believe that I’m worth the fight?

The answer will determine whether I give up easily or keep moving forward.

 

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”          2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV

 

 

I’m Just An Introvert…

What started out to be a surprise gathering of friends, ended up being a thirty-year reunion of my old youth group. Friends I hadn’t seen in years all gathered together in one room. So many memories, so much history in that one room. Crazy stories revisited in between catching up on life and families made for an absolutely beautiful night.

And to think, I almost didn’t go.

A week ago I posted a blog about how my weight is the highest it’s ever been, even typing the exact numbers from my scale. I’m not a fan of how I look in photos right now and I’m much heavier than the last time I saw most of the people who would be there. Of course this would be the week of the reunion. Combine that with my introvert nature and pretty soon I came up with a handful of reasons why I shouldn’t go.

“You were the youngest so you weren’t really a part of the group.”

“You are so overweight right now.”

“You have crazy-pink hair.”

“This is another thing you have to go to alone.”

“You are so awkward in large groups of people.”

“No one will miss you if you’re not there…”

Except most of those excuses that were running through my head, had nothing to do with being an introvert. An introvert, in my personal experience, is someone who needs a significant amount of alone time to re-energize. I am okay with large groups of people, but I definitely need time alone to decompress.

More than the thoughts of an introvert, those excuses were the very real battle I have come to recognize as fear. Fear that would try to convince me that I’m not an important part of whatever group I’m in and that my voice and my opinion don’t matter.

Have you ever noticed how fear does it’s best to be louder than any other voice in your head even when you KNOW the truth to be different?

The truth: These were some of my closest friends in that season of life. Friends who taught me how to get from Burger King to my parents house in seven and a half minutes, how not to take a hill at 80 mph, and how to properly play a game of sardines. They also taught me what it means to love God and how it felt be a part of a church family and a valued part of the group. I was one of the youngest in the youth group at the time, but I never once felt looked down on or less than. Whether they know it or not – each one of them poured into my life at an age when I was just beginning to find who I was.

And last night I was reminded of that crazy-beautiful season of life.

To think I almost let fear keep me from being there.

No, I didn’t suddenly recognize the voice of fear yesterday and walk into the room full of old friends with confidence. I didn’t become an extrovert overnight and talk to every person who came. I went in spite of the voice of fear. I did it afraid.

And I’m so glad I did.

How many times have I let fear control my steps, knowing the truth but letting fear paralyze my feet?

Today, brave hope looks like overcoming fear, one scary step at a time.

Do it afraid – move your feet in spite of fear that tries to scream louder than the truth you know.

I promise you, it’s worth it.

Just a Mess of Numbers

Why in the world did I buy a digital scale? As if knowing how much I weigh wasn’t bad enough, now I can measure it down to the tenth of a pound. Awesome.

346.4

This is the highest that number has ever been, and the last number I ever thought I would be sharing with anyone.

Before you tell me to throw the scale away and that my health isn’t measured by my weight because…. muscle weighs more than fat …. you are big-boned…. you are beautiful inside and out…. etc. etc. etc., let me say this:

I KNOW this number does not define who I am. But it does, however, indicate that something is definitely out of control. And right now it feels absolutely overwhelming.

346.4  is like a hole I’ve been digging for the last twenty or so years, and if I don’t find a way out I might actually die here.

I’ve tried pulling myself up out of the hole before, only to fall to the bottom again and end up deeper than before. I gave up fast food for two weeks, and then my schedule got hectic again and the drive through once again became my go to. I’ve had a gym membership for four years and I’ve probably only used it for a total of three months, and that’s being generous. And different times I have justified my weight, saying to myself, “At least I am not as big as that person…” Forgive me, God for judging someone else to make myself feel better.

As hard as I try, I cannot get myself out of this hole.

I recently heard a friend of mine talk about the moment that it “clicks” for people. Like there is this moment when something just clicks inside of you and you finally make the changes in your life that bring about a healthier you. I thought that moment was a few weeks ago when I saw myself in a photo with a friend. I was wrong. Although the photo definitely made me see just how much more there is of me lately, it didn’t change anything.

346.4

“I can’t do this anymore.” I stepped off the scale, finished getting ready and repeated to myself as I drove to work. “I can’t do this anymore.”

That’s when it clicked.

I’m done.

I’m done trying to pull myself up out of this hole.

I’m done.

God, I can’t do this anymore on my own. I need your help.

I’m done, but I’m not giving up.

I’m surrendering.

My weight and my health are out of control because I’ve been the one trying to control it. The part of my life, my heart that I refused to surrender.

But this is where that changes. Line in the sand – crazy, ridiculous number on the scale – I’m letting go of my control.

God, I can’t do this anymore on my own. I need Your help.

God never intended for us to do things on our own. Even when we get ourselves into a huge mess, He wants us to come to Him for help. Sure, we will still have to deal with the consequences of our actions as we clean up the mess. And I have to work through the health issues that have come with that number on the scale.

But God isn’t afraid of our mess. As a matter of fact, He’s willing to sit with you right in the middle of it and speak hope. But we have to ask Him. We have to let Him into the messy places, the ones we’ve tried so hard to control.

Today, brave hope looks a lot like surrender…