Just call me crazy….I do!

I am a runner. 
(Took me a long time to be able to say that.)
I write about it, I talk about it, I probably dream about it.  

These past 8 months have been miserably long as a foot injury has prevented me from running as I would like.  Running is my stress relief and without that I feel a little crazy.

This fall I started working with a chiropractor to help me with my foot issue.  Much of it I can blame on genetics and just the way my feet are made.  With a little help and some stretching and exercises, I am slowly getting back to normal. (That’s relative at this point.)

Thankfully today, I was able to run 11 miles.  It was warm and beautiful outside this morning, with the shining sun and the cool breeze.  A perfect spring day for a light jog.

Except I wasn’t just lightly jogging, I was running 11 miles. 

[The prideful part of me wants to wear a t-shirt for every other jogger that says “I am running 11 miles, you should clap for me.” Yeah….probably shouldn’t.]

Yesterday, I was telling my students that I had this long run to do today, and they look at me like I am crazy.  They even said, “Girl, that’s crazy, no way I’m ever gonna do that.” (I get that a lot from them. My random singing and dancing doesn’t help that either.)

I started describing to them why I do it and what it is like to run that much.  And then today as I was running I started reflecting on my thoughts every mile or so.  I thought I would share it, maybe you relate or maybe you just think I am crazy.
 Thoughts on every mile I ran today:
Mile 1: “Oh, it is a beautiful morning for a run. I am so ready for this.”
Mile 2: “Breathe, you have a long way to go. 9 more miles.”
Mile 3: “I am feeling pretty good, I am glad I ate all that food yesterday. ” “I am so thankful I have legs to run.”
Mile 4: ” 2 miles from the turn around point. Do I smell waffles?”
Mile 5: “I definitely should have eaten more yesterday.”
Mile 6: “I need energy beans and more water.”
Mile 7: “One foot in front of the other.” (Looks towards people sitting at a restaurant.) “Curse you smart people who don’t run.”
Mile 8: “Am I done yet….”
Mile 9: I begin to question all my life choices that have lead to this point.
Mile 10:  “I am strong, I am an athlete.” (Insert Kelly Clarkson song here.)
Mile 11: “Death, this is what you feel like. Are my insides going to fall out? I can’t do it, not one more step. I am really going to die.”

When I am finished: “Oh my gosh, I did it! What can I eat now!”  (Insert Endorphins here.)

Training like this definitely takes a toll, but what I feel at the end is definitely worth it.  The fact that I can eat pancakes and reward myself with an almond milk latte makes that run worth it. 

Running also reminds me that sometimes the process is painful and frustrating and confusing, but the end results are worth the struggle and the fight.  I do enjoy the running part a bit too. 

What about you, do you run or have something that might be thought as crazy, but you love the end results? Or do you think I am just crazy?

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Spring has Sprung

I opened my windows in my room last night before I went to sleep.  I had checked the weather, I knew it was going to rain.  I love rain.

Rain is the weather of my soul.  It is the type of weather that gives me butterflies.

In college, I loved to walk to class in the rain.  Of course, not the pouring down rain, but the light and steady rain.  I would pick my favorite music on my iPod and get out my umbrella. For a little while, under my umbrella, I felt like the only person in the world. 

Some of my favorite runs have been ones have been in the rain, like the time I realized I was a runner.  (I know that seems pretty crazy!)

Falling asleep to the rain is another favorite.  That’s why I opened my windows last night.  I wanted to hear the rhythm of rain when I woke up.  I wanted it to be the lullaby that put me to sleep.  A lullaby sung by my heavenly Father, with lyrics like this:

Rain…
refreshes
renews
cleanses
brings spring to life
is hope for new life.  

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 
he saved us, 
not because of  works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, 
by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 
whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 
so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to 
the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:4-7

Right now, rain is something I long for metaphorically in my life.  I long for refreshing, renewal, cleansing, and something to bring me to life. To fully grasp that I have hope of eternal life and do not have to cling to life on this earth. 

This morning, when I left my house, I noticed everything looked greener.  The weeds in my rock garden of a front yard were a little taller than yesterday. The blossoms on the trees where a little bit bigger. The brown of winter is beginning to fade away into a bright, lush green.

I have gone through a really tough season, perhaps I could say a winter, and I know it isn’t entirely over, but I am seeing glimpses of spring in my heart.

Those moments when I choose to be happy despite my to do list.
The smile on my face at the beginning of the day.
The ability to get out of bed even if I am exhausted.
Looking at the future with hope and not total despair. (I am prone to dramatics.)

Spring every year is a reminder of the renewal that God gives us in his spirit.  It is a reminder that we have hope in a better future, an eternal life. 

What does spring mean for you? What is something you find refreshing? Rain, sunny days?

Creating Space

In the midst of my busyness, I complain about not having enough time

I can’t hang out with you, I have no time.
I can’t go see my family, I don’t have any free time.
I can’t listen to your problems, I don’t have the time.
Go to a movie? Um, sorry, I have no time for you.

Ironically, I do have the time to read about your life and problems on Facebook. 

I’ve never actually calculated the amount of time I spend daily on FB (mostly because it hurts my head to do math), but  it probably would amount to something to significant.

Just an estimate of my FB time: 
5 minutes when I wake up in the morning
5 minutes when I am waiting for students to come into my class in the morning.
5-10 minutes during lunch and plan time
10 minutes after school to distract myself after the chaos
5 minutes during my warm up at the gym
15 minutes while eating dinner
20 minutes while I avoid doing homework
20-30 while I am watching TV (supposed to be falling asleep)

= (ouch, my head hurts/getting out calculator) 1 hour and 40 minutes

WHAT??  

…..seriously, I spend THAT much or more time on Facebook!!! 

Okay, this is not a rant against social media or anything, because there are some obvious perks…keeping up with relatives, long lost friends, or friends that move away.  However, this points out something significant in my life. 

I do have the time.  
I am not using it well.
 

Going through struggles of anxiety and feeling weighted down by my many responsibilities, I realize that I need to simplify my life in someway.  I am at a restless spot in my life and I need space to know myself and process things with God.

For me this was stepping away from Facebook for a while. 

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about a longing in my heart. A longing for something more.  I want that to be a longing for Jesus.  Part of Lent is fasting from something to create a longing for something that is more satisfying.   I am fasting from FB to create a longing and create a space in my life and my heart.

[I know people that fast from things because it is a cool or popular thing to do, and I promise I am not doing this because of that. I usually don’t fast because everyone else is doing it, and I like to go against the grain.  I know, that’s messed up!]

In the process of creating space and processing things, I have figured out a few things about FB. 

Besides sucking away my time, it also feeds other things in my heart. There are 4 significant things that are fed by Facebook.

1. The longing for affirmation from people.
Anytime someone likes my funny post or Instagram picture, I get this little bit of joy, this food for my hungry heart.  It’s like that little thumbs up is a way of saying: “Larissa, you are the most humorous person!” or “They like you, they really like you!” It feeds that desire to be cool and well like by others that never happened as a kid.  As great as that is, I find myself only posting when I know that other people will like it. (Kind of like how I thought being Emo in high school would make me cool.) I only post things that I think will gain affirmation from people, which presents a false identity, or representation of my life.  So if people read my posts, they might think everything is great, which enables me to hide things easier in my life.

2. The need to be significant,  important to other people.  
When I have conversation with people and they bring up something they saw that I posted on FB, what that says to me is that they care about me enough to read what I wrote or they take time out of their day to read about my life.  This can be extremely dangerous sometimes when I comes to my guy friends.  It feeds that need to be significant or worth of other peoples time.  It feeds that sinful pride that I have in my heart to be greater than I actually am.

3. The need to be included or in the know. 
I hate being left out, I hated as a child, and I probably hate even more as an adult.  I am just better at hiding it.  However, FB, feeds that part of me that wants to be included.  I can know about others’ parties, birthdays, life events, friendships, relationships, or lack there of.  FB informs me on those former high school classmates and college crushes.  It makes me feel powerful and in control.  Not knowing, being left out makes me feel not in control.  This points out my lack of trust in God to have everything in control, even the things that I don’t know about.

4. The need for relationships without the work.
Being extroverted means that I love spending time with people.  (I am continually re-examining this because the older I get, the more I like my alone time.) I love having lots of friends.  My only real goal when I went to college was to make friends.  I base how well I am doing in life on the state of my realtionships.  FB causes a misperception.  We can know about a lot of people, and a lot of people may know a lot about us, but the relationship is only that.  It doesn’t always mean that we are doing the work we need to to maintain those relationships.  I can be a bad friend, a jerk, really selfish and not even realize.  I think I am being a good friend when I know what is going on in their life or tell them Happy Birthday or invite them to a party, but that’s not what friendship is, is it?

What I am praying for during this time away from FB is that I would look to God to satisfy those longings and needs that I have been fulfilling with social media.  Also, I am praying that I would use the time and space that FB took to do things that really satisfy. (Suggestions, welcome!)

If not Facebook, what places in your life do you waste time and energy thinking that it will satisfy needs of yours? If you observe Lent, what do you fast from?

Rest

 In these last couple of months it has becoming painfully apparent, is that I am not very practiced in resting. 
I am very good at being busy, 
at saying yes to things, 
filling my schedule to the max,
 and just to keeping running.

Today is the first day of Spring Break and I am under the weather (that is a weird idiom for sick….), and I am laying on my couch. I don’t have much energy to do anything, and I don’t really have anywhere to be.

AND I feel guilty.

I should be doing something, like my laundry, like cleaning my room, writing, and maybe even homework.  I have been given this time, I should really use for productive things, right?

Recently, I have been sick and injured. Sadly, I pride myself on having a pretty great immune system, however, I am realizing that lack of sleep and my busy lifestyle is catching up with me.  During one of the bouts of sickness, I told a friend that I felt bad that I wasted a whole day and wasn’t very productive.

She promptly told me that life…. wasn’t all about being productive.  

This wasn’t the first person to tell me to rest.  My family, my friends, my trainer tell me continually to get more sleep.  Every article I read about stress and anxiety, it talks about the need for a proper amount of sleep. I was also reminded by one of my favorite bloggers, Ruth, who talks about glorifying busyness.

Somehow in my mind, I think that if I push through, if I use these 2 extra hours tonight, I will cross off more on my to do list.  I think that I can stay up later to write this paper or grade these papers.

What really happens is this: I spend 1.5 hours watching TV, or eating, or browsing the internet.

Seriously, I don’t really have the brain power at 9pm to do any work, I just think I do.  Those extra hours that I think I need to stay up are actually wasted rest hours because I think I can use them to be productive. 

Even more so, with a foot injury, I continue sometimes to push through, even though I should really stop and let my foot rest.  I think that I am just being a wimp or weak.  I am just injuring myself further and making my recovery much longer. 

Welp, it seems that I am actually not excelling at resting or being productive.

Machines only run when there is gas in the tank.  So what I really need to learn first is to rest well, to fill my tank, to use my rest time wisely, then….I can actually be more productive and fruitful with my life.

Yes, the Lord is concerned with our fruitfulness, but he has created us to need sleep.  We need rest to remind us that we cannot do it all, we cannot alone do everything ourselves.

We need rest as a reminder of our dependence.  
Our dependence on the one who gives rest, energy, and strength.  
As I have 5 more days of Spring Break ahead of me, I am going to work on resting and filling my tank, reminding myself of who I am actually dependent on.
How do you feel you are doing at resting? When do you feel the most spiritual or physically rested?

On the eve….

Here I am on the eve of my 28th birthday, usually a day that I love.  Birthday freebies, time with friends, cards in the mail, Facebook greetings, and cake. (Freebies, if you haven’t signed up for freebies…do it!)

What is not to love?

But if I am honest, I am struggling.  My struggles come with the reality that as I have been reflecting on my last 10 years of adulthood, I am frustrated.  I am not where I want to be.

This is where I usually spiral down into a full panic that I am never going to amount, my life is going nowhere, I am a loser…*nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.* (Anyone else familiar with that song??)

What do I do to combat that pity party feeling on the eve of my 28th birthday?

Think about all that my years of being an adult of have held.
Think about the gifts and the blessings. 

Lets calculate all that I have accomplished in the last 10 years of adulthood….just kidding…. I won’t go through all of them with you, because well that is sort of boring for you.

Not for me….it makes me feel special, the same sort of feeling after I get off the phone with my mom.  She thinks I am special! 

However, sometimes thinking about all the negative things are going to make you feel extremely negative about the future, about the present and about the past.  Thinking about the good, the positive, brings to mind all that is possible in the midst of struggle. 

That is what I need to think about.  And to remember that my joy doesn’t rest in the good or bad or my circumstances, because these things change quickly. What doesn’t change, Jesus, he is the same, today, tomorrow, and 10 years from now? 

Ya know….. this post didn’t start out to be a message about how we all have things to be grateful for, it was actually going to be one giant pity party. 

I am grateful though, for my life, for the good, the bad, the blessings and the struggles.  I know that I don’t live for myself, but for glory of the one who loves me and knows me more than anyone on this earth ever could.

So here is a praise for all the years that I have blessed with, and praise that He is kept me here because he isn’t done with me yet. 

Perspective

Sitting at the table with a couple of other teachers talking about our jobs, I was reminded that it is all about perspective.

There are many frustrating things about my job, my living situation, and perhaps even just my life. However, when talking with a couple of teachers who are experiencing some hard things in their jobs, I realized that I have it pretty good.

Many times my married friends express jealously of my single life.

My first response is to scoff at them and express disdain for them. From their perspective, they believe that what I have is better.  I shouldn’t complain about my single life, I have it good. I have time, extra money, less responsibilities, I am unchained. From my perspective, I have uncertainty, I feel untethered, I have no one there to help with those life responsibilities, I have loneliness, on the outside of all the life has to offer.

It feels like they are trivializing my struggles.  By that statement it feels as if they view my problems as small. 
However, this isn’t just my problem it is everyone’s problem.  Whether, single, wanting to have kids, searching for a job, being in college, having a crappy job.  We are always wanting something else.

We want what we don’t have.  

We think that next thing is going to satisfy us
….to make our lives more complete
….to answer all of our prayers.

This is a conversation that I have with my friends, married and single all the time.  What are we wanting next? If I could just do this or that? Perhaps then I will find what I am looking for.

However, I don’t want to live a life like that.  I want to live a life of contentedness.  I want to be joyful with what God has given me and not continually long for more.

Nice thought isn’t it.  Easier said than done.

It starts with real conversations with people. 

Those people that express jealousy about my life, perhaps need to hear about my struggles, need me to be real with them.  Perhaps, it means that I need to listen to them, and receive their outside perspective of my life. 

Who do you need to listen to?  What can their perspective show you about your life?