Journeys & Writings of Paul

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blessed and broken

I don't know about you, but I definitely go through certain periods of my life where I just feel so incredibly blessed. And it's not necessarily just during the best of times either. I don't really have much to complain about, I live quite comfortably, but everyone has their share of rough patches in life; big or small, rough is rough! Life doesn't have to be a peeing contest where we try to settle who has it worse off. Let's just love each other through the messiness.

The thing that I love about those rough patches is that God is so present there. I have come to realize through prayer, Scripture, and just living and interacting with others some deep issues that are inhibiting my growth as an individual. Working through these inhibitors has been painful, enlightening, freeing, and not without a fair share of tears.

The Lord is so patient with me and I thank him often for not giving up on his work in progress.

I have been especially blessed by Scripture lately. It seems that no matter what page I open to in my Bible lately I have just been so blessed by the words and they target my heart in just the right way. God is so wonderful in that way.

This goes for prayer as well. I don't really know what it is, but certain times more than others it just feels like I am known, heard, understood, and that my prayers will be answered. Even at those times when I have a lack for words, I feel like my heart is connecting with the heart of God. Lately my prayers have devolved to, "Lord help me." And he does. Daily.

There are an overwhelming number of verses that deal with the Lord hearing cries for mercy and answering them.

                Psalm 116:1-6
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
  he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
  the anguish of the grave came over me;

I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
   “LORD, save me!”

The LORD is gracious and righteous;
  our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the unwary;
  when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,
  for the LORD has been good to you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give [thanks]

What are you thankful for?

I think about this question often, but on this particular holiday of Thanksgiving Day we are especially encouraged to reflect on those things that we are thankful for. I am not going to write out a detailed list, as I have much to be thankful for and it would be a long list. I will however reflect on what I have learned in the past several years about giving, gratitude and the like.

One of the most profound things that I have learned in the past five or so years is that you should give from what you have. This may not seem profound, but it totally changed my perspective on giving. On a particular day I felt bad that I could only make a certain contribution and thought to myself, "If only I had more money, then I could really give something that would make a difference. I'll aspire to make a lot of money in the future so that I have a lot to give away." Upon having this thought I was immediately convicted about my motive of giving and why it had to be a larger sum to really matter.

From that point on I told God that I would always give from what I have, no matter if it is big or small. It's a silly notion to wait to give a "meaningful" contribution until you can give a certain (and might I add arbitrary) monetary amount. Remember the story of the widow's offering in the gospels of Mark and Luke? Jesus tells his disciples that she has put more into the treasury in the kingdom of heaven with her two coins than the many rich people present who threw in large sums of money.

On the subject of giving, I ran for my second consecutive year in the Run for the Turkeys 5K race this morning! I really like this race because it raises money and canned food donations for a good cause, stocking the West Ohio Food Bank to feed hungry families right here in our own neighborhoods.

Here is the food I gathered for my contribution to the food bank.

Pre-race photos with Rachel and Chris. We were the barefoot running gang! It was quite a chilly morning for VibramFiveFingers!
And we're off and running!
 Eric was my photographer today and captured this amazing shot of me right as I was crossing the finish line! (Thank you The Little One!)
I was pleased with my time of 27:22 minutes! That's a three minutes faster than last year's 30:11, and only about 30 seconds over my average 5K time. I have been running technology free since coming back from my knee injury this summer because I knew I would either: 
a) become discouraged at how slow I have become due to my time off
b) push myself too hard, too fast
c) both of the above
So I really had no idea how fast or slow I would run today. Not my fastest, but I'll take it! I'm excited to continue training through the winter to get ready for some races coming this Spring as my knee slowly but surely continues to get better.
Traditional post-race picture with Anna
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I encourage you to give. Give thanks. Give of yourselves. Give in times of plenty. Give in times of need. Simply give! And always give thanks. I leave you now with these words from the book of Colossians:
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Colossians 3:15-17

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The best job ever

Some of you may already know that I am a Resident Assistant (RA) this fall at Goshen College. It has proved to be one of the best decisions of my life! To say that I love my job is an understatement. This is the most enjoyable paid position that I have held thus far in my short career.
I mused over whether or not I should be an RA for quite some time. Those of you who know me well will know that I don't enter into commitments willy nilly, and this was no exception. I spent many weeks in prayer over this decision last year. In all honesty, I didn't want the position, but felt that God was putting it on my heart to prayerfully consider. I interviewed for the job and told the Lord that if I was accepted that I would carry it out to the fullest of my capabilities, and if not, then someone else was better suited for the job and that was OK too.
Even after I had been interviewed and informed that I had been accepted for the position, I had second guesses. All throughout the summer I was praying for the girls that I didn't even know yet who would be living on my hall, for my boss and co-workers, for wisdom, grace and guidance for myself, and for our GC community.
I did a bit of fretting over the idea of this job, especially toward the end of the summer as the school year approached. Among my thoughts were (some are maybe too honest for a blog): Am I really cut out for this job? Do I have what it takes to fulfill this role? I am an introvert and am worried that I will get burnt out. I am almost 24, do I really want to live with freshmen? Will I be able still stay connected to my friends from last year? Will I be able to devote the proper amount of time toward my studies and my girls? Will the girls on my hall like me and will we be able to relate to one another?

I am pleased to say that at the 1/3 mark in the year I am so glad that I made this decision! I have a genuine love for all the girls on my hall. I am privileged to share this space with them and contribute to their lives in one capacity or another. I feel so in my element. God really knows what he is doing, and has calmed all of those fears and insecurities I had coming into this job.
There are many other great things that I could share, but perhaps in another post. I leave you with the admonition to trust the leanings that you get from the Lord and believe in the strengths you have been given. God loves to use his willing servants to make himself known.

Yoder Hall Staff 2011-12

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Joy in simple things

There are some that say I am easily amused. This is true. I was contemplating the things that bring me great joy. They are often times not externally very profound, though sometimes they are.

Among the many simple things that bring me joy, not in any order or by any means an exclusive list: sunshine, being barefoot, having my head rubbed, laughing with friends, laughing by myself, writing letters, receiving letters, the feeling of having just showered after getting really dirty, purring cats, flowers, gray rainy days, thunderstorms, deep conversations, running, drinking water, thinking, solitude, listening, baking, learning, people, manatees, books.

There is joy in simplicity.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Better is a four letter word

Well I just got back from my doctor's appointment to recheck my knee and I told him that I am better but not as better as I had hoped to be at this point.

He felt around and told me I have three options: 1) get a steroid shot in my knee 2) go back to therapy and have them apply a steroid cream to my knee 3) continue with my stretches and exercises. I told him that I really don't think it is serious enough pain to require steroids, so I told him I'd go easy on my mileage and continue with option number three. He thinks that's a good idea and he's sorry I'm not at 100%. So am I. But hey, it could be worse, he didn't tell me I had to stop running. :)

Basically what I have going are the classic symptoms of runner's knee. My tendon is snapping over the bone from overuse, and thus the repetitive motions of biking and running cause it to flair up. Continuing to strengthen the surrounding muscles (hamstrings, quads, glutes) will help with this. I have a good number of exercises up my sleeve from physical therapy, my Runner's World magazines and their website full of wonderful injury prevention solutions.

So you'll find me stretching out my ITB four times a day and exercising twice per day those surrounding muscle groups. I'll also be out hitting the trail or road, enjoying the miles that I'm allowed to run per week, soaking up every ounce of enjoyment from them!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Up and running!

OK, for those of you who didn't know this I sustained my first real running injury this summer after five years of blissful injury-free running.

Here's the back story: I started running in March of my senior year out of appreciation for my functional legs. Prior that I had nine months of being on and off crutches for what started out as a sprained ankle. Through repeated injuries, including a range of things including a group hug gone wrong to marching band of all things, I ruptured my peroneus brevis tendon in my left ankle thus requiring reconstructive surgery in November of 2005. I started running four months later in March of 2006 and haven't stopped since.

Running is my drug, my love, one of the simple pleasures in my life.

tendon rupture


graft jacket, repaired tendon 

Thanks to my fantastic podiatrist I have these amazing pictures (and a few more, all of which the nurse took) and a fully functional ankle that is as good as new!

Fast forward to this May: I sprained my ACL this summer right at the start! Literally, I was home from college for a total of six days. Mind you I didn't know that I sprained my ACL. 

Quickly, here's what went down: I was running down the road that fateful Tuesday morning, and already at 8am it was already pretty muggystickyhumid and 77° F so I decided to take some water along with me. As I was still in my first mile, I took a swig and with my head back and swerved off the road, stepped off the curb, rolled my ankle and torqued my knee pretty badly. My aforementioned left ankle. After a brief few seconds of panic, I realized I was fine and that my ankle still worked, so I continued on but decided to go only 3 miles that morning due to the heat.

Strangely enough my ankle felt fine. I had a bit of a high sprain in my ankle that I actually felt midway up my calf. I ran again on Thursday then competed in a small 5K race that was a fund raiser for Temple Christian Schools that Saturday and finished 1st Place Overall Female! That was a HOT day and not my fastest 5K time ever, but a great run!

First Place Overall Female - 26:55 minutes

The strange thing was that as I continued running over the course of the next days, weeks, and months, it was not my ankle that hurt, but my ITB, and not while running, but while sitting or laying down. So of course since I was experiencing pain I backed off. Wrong! I continued, for two months, then when the pain because extremely unbearable went to see a doctor. Diagnosis: sprained ACL, tendonitis in the ITB, and edema (bruising) of the bone. Prescription: 6 weeks of therapy and NO RUNNING. :(

The long and the short of the situation with my physical therapy is that it helped but didn't completely cure me. I still have a bit of tendonitis and will be revisiting my doctor this Tuesday since I'm on fall break.

However, I have begun running again. After 9 agonizing weeks of the most perfect running weather known to mankind that I haven't been able to take advantage of, I hit the trail last just over a week ago on October 4th. My mood spiked like you wouldn't believe, I feel great, and believe it or not, the pain in my ITB decreased! I have still been doing my therapy and stretching to make sure that nothing is reversed. An especially exciting part about my renewed running are my newest and second favorite possession, (second only to Richard, my MacBook Pro) my Vibram FiveFingers.

 Vibram FiveFinger BIKILA

You should read their website about barefoot sports. I have done a lot of research before purchasing these shoes, and I love them. I love barefoot running. It's not for everyone, but it is definitely for me. Also, you should check out this interactive ad for Vibrams. Click on the different words and pictures and learn! (disclaimer: there are two models wearing only the Vibrams and standing with strategically placed hands)

So, not only have I reached a new appreciation for running after this knee injury, but I have discovered the joy and love of barefoot running.

Do what you love, love what you do. I am so thankful to God for the ability to run and move and jump and play. Thank you Lord for health and well being!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Here goes nothing!

I have several friends whose blogs I am a devoted follower of because I love reading about the the exciting,  the mundane, the anything and everything about the lives of those that I care so deeply about. I however, do not blog because 1) I don't have the time and am good enough already at creating things to do other than the task at hand already and 2) I am hesitant to put myself out there in such a way that people can read my not so eloquent thoughts. But here I am, going out on that limb, trying something new.

Thanks for reading, I hope that you get some enjoyment from this, insight into my life, or anything that is in some way edifying and worthwhile to you. I should really do some homework now, but I have a lot churning within me, so a real post is forthcoming.