Goodbye Birmingham.

 

 I’ve been living in Birmingham, Alabama since January 2013. I transferred mid-year during my sophomore year of college from Kennesaw State in Georgia(where I am from) to UAB where I ran XC and Track. That was my life. My whole world was my team and school and running.

Then, I graduated in Spring 2015 and was released into the real world where I stayed in Birmingham and started working full time in production while trying to juggle training full time as well.

When I realized I wanted more than working 40 hours a week in a cold dark building, I left after seven months when I got sponsored by Skechers Performance for running(who I am no longer under contract with).

I knew I wanted to run and keep getting faster and devote more time to my training. I really looked at work as a way of survival so that I could run and compete. I know I’m not super-elite yet. More like a sub-elite pro runner. But I have big dreams and live my life the way I want for a purpose.

I started working part time and training “full time”. I continued with the thought that I would sacrifice my broadcast career and dreams for a few years for my running for now while I could.

I started working at a golf course- Robert Trent Jones at Oxmoor Valley; little did I know what a great impact that place and the people there would have on me. Then I got certified through AFAA in personal training in the fall of 2016. This was a great way for me to use my own fitness and over eight years of being a competitive athlete to share with other people.

Personal Training became a way for me to be used to bless other people, not just with showing them physical training but showing them love and kindness. I really feel like personal training is a way I can use my spiritual gifts in one place mixing my physical strength, encouragement, kindness and communication all in one to shower people who need it most.

Now, I’m about three weeks away from moving to Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve honestly been praying about this move for a little over a year shortly after my first “elite” race at Gate River(which I ran injured and didn’t shine as much as I had hoped..) I felt called to Jax, similar to the way I felt called to Birmingham upon transferring in college.

I’ve been in Birmingham about 2 years post collegiate now. I’m not married, no kids, no contracted full-time job. I have friends in Jax, a new and friendly running community with others to train with, blessed with hopeful and exciting new job opportunities already in place for me, and an amazing living situation God provided for me just when He knew I needed it.

I love Birmingham and I know I’m not the same Lauren I was when I came here from Georgia four years ago. I know I won’t be the same as I head to Jacksonville soon. I’ve been through so much in this city and met some of the most incredible people in my life here. Birmingham has so much I will miss and so much I’ll be leaving.

 

Things I’ll Miss about Birmingham-

  • All of my FRIENDS. Especially my running family here, collegiate and post collegiate. I honestly don’t talk to many of my teammates anymore from college. Regretfully, we’ve grown apart quickly and life happens so fast and everyone has their own little world to tend to..But I’ve developed several close knit friendships with many of the local running groups here in Bham that I will miss.

    I also have many great friends from college that I still hang out with and am still close with who I’ve known since I transplanted here. I have other friends and acquaintances I’ve met along the way through my journey here that have been constant in my life. (Y’all know who you are..Kyle, Derk, Sara, Lynne, Jordyn,Porter,Eli..just to name a few).

  • My RTJ FAMILY- Okay, so my golfers..my regulars. You guys literally made it possible for me to pay my rent, save up for this move and I’ve made some awesome connections and friends at the course. You all make me feel so pretty and loved and special, even just kindness and a smile on a rough day meant the world to me. My bosses and co-workers at RTJ, y’all showed me what hard work really is and how to adjust to circumstances that aren’t always in your favor. I respect you all so very much(in every area of work..cart boys, f&b, pro shop, cleaning,cooks). Working with all different personality types and backgrounds teaches you patience, humility, the importance of trust and kindness. And Erin, you’ve become like a sister to me; not just a superior. We are so similar yet different but I am so glad we’ve become good friends.<3
  • My YMCA Greystone Family- Andrea Pindroh has to be the most compassionate, patient, understanding fitness director and person on the planet. I am so incredibly grateful to have come under her watch and leadership during my 6 months now as a trainer at the Y. All of the trainers at my branch are amazing people with such diverse and rich attributes. Don and all of the front desk staff, Leonard the director, all of the members, and of course my CLIENTS!!! You have all impacted me more than you know and I have learned a lot from each one of you. I’m so blessed to have started as a new personal trainer at such a caring and rewarding place as the YMCA. It’s not just a gym, it’s truly a family and a culture filled with intent on making people better beyond a healthy and fit lifestyle.
  • My Starbucks– Greystone, no one will ever make an iced-white mocha with 6 scoops of matcha like you do for me on a rainy-busy Monday Morning in between clients or notice when I wear normal clothes. Y’all constantly save my life.
  • First Watch– Literally has become a brunch/post workout addiction and I am so happy Jax has one of these. But you’ll be my favorite always.
  • Avondale and SATURN– BY far, my favorite spot to hang out, be a hipster and sip local craft beer and make new friends.
  • Railroads– OK, so Jax definitely has it’s own railway system too…but something about driving past Sloss, sitting on top of Carrigan’s at night or driving to the golf course and hearing the CSX roar by..is just mesmerizing to me. I absolutely adore it.
  • All of my running trails- Oak mountain, Heardmont, Veterans Park, Jemison, Railroad and downtown by UAB. All of my memorized routes, I’ll have to make some new ones now.
  • The People and the City- Most people in Birmingham are very friendly and I’ll miss the familiarity of the people here. Also, it’s easy to navigate anywhere within 30-40 minutes. Homewood, Vestavia, Mountainbrook, Avondale, Greystone, Cahaba..ect. All the little niches are easy to travel to throughout the city and have their own charm.

Church of the Highlands- I started attending Church of the Highlands when I was at UAB and became a member and completed the growth track this past winter. I love Highlands and Pastor Chris Hodges is so down to Earth and is a great speaker. Highlands reminds me of my home Church where my family goes in GA-12Stone Church. I discovered my spiritual gifts and grew in my faith at Highlands. My only regret was not fully devoting my time and focus to serving while I was here, and not getting involved as much as I wanted because I was so “busy”..that’s something I’ll be talking about in my next post-“A Promise to Jacksonville”. One of my top priorities will be to get connected at Celebration Church and start intentionally planting seeds and impacting wherever I’m placed.

Being fearful to go all in or to not get too attached to people or put yourself out there because you’re too “busy” is a lie. I admit I did that a lot the past year and a half in Birmingham because I was afraid to get too close to people because I didn’t want them to hurt me like I had been hurt before or what if they let me down or didn’t like me?

I realize that’s hard for me to actually admit. It took some reflection and handing that fear over to God, because I know now that he can’t use me and work through my gifts to reach other people if I’m not willing to trust Him with that. That’s probably my biggest lesson going foreward with this move. Which brings me to the next topic!

What I’ve Learned from Birmingham-

  • Rely on yourself and God– Trust God and go where He leads you first. Trust me, just do it the first time and don’t look back. It will save you trouble, second-guessing and heart ache. Do things yourself and handle each day for what it is. Life can seem overwhelming if you look at the whole picture all at once. Take it hour by hour and conquer each day. Breathe.
  • Friends come and go– You can still love and care for people that come and then go out of your life but you don’t have to let it break you if they disappear on you. Everyone has a purpose in your life and some weren’t meant to be there the whole way. It’s okay, accept it for what it is and move on. The important people will stick around and be there in the end.
  • Be ambitious and don’t get wrapped up in what’s expected of you– If i’ve learned anything just from being a human for 25 years now it’s that EVERYONE has an opinion and will always have something to say about what you decide to do with your life. So..live in a way that pleases you and God. Anyone else’s opinion isn’t yours and it doesn’t matter what they think. I think that if you do something that goes against the norms or “cookie-cutter” societal preferences for today, that’s totally FINE. As long as your lifting others up and chasing your dreams and using your gifts, why does it matter how or what or when or where you do it?? Dream big and just DO IT already. It doesn’t matter what Bob on Facebook comments or what Linda gossips about. Don’t even be bothered as long as your focused and driven.
  • Don’t be afraid and don’t wait- I waited almost 2 years after graduating college to pack up and move to a different state because of new opportunities, prayer, a new adventure and because I was too comfortable and “afraid” of the unknown. Life is too short to wait for something you want. If you’re able, go for it. Tomorrow isn’t promised and good things don’t come to those who wait..you have to make moves and get after it if you want it, Now.
  • Don’t take people or anything for granted- Like I said, Life is a “mist”..don’t ghost your friends all the time(I know I’m horrible at returning a text). But seriously, you’ll miss your friends always bugging you to hang out or the casual acquaintances you make small talk with during the week or all of your normal people that are placed within your circles each week. They’re there for a reason, how are you leaving them..?

Things I’m Leaving in Birmingham-

  • Toxic Relationships- I’m not in any right now, thank the Lord. But I have been, and those scars I’ll have. The people, the hurt..those are in the past and I’m leaving that part of me here to stay.
  • My Friends and home- Well for my friends-Physically at least for now!! But my home will no longer be here, I’ll be making a new one. I am both nostalgic and frightened.
  • All the amazing food and local breweries!! Melt, Mugshots, Avondale, Urban Cookhouse, just a few of my fav cheat spots. 😦
  • Experiences- the good, the bad, the heartache, the scares, the victories, the defeats.

Overall, my four years in Birmingham, Alabama have been the most challenging, growing, and wonderful years of my life. I met some of my best friends here, had the most heart-ache, transitioned from a student to a full-blown struggling millenial “adult” here, fell in love with Running more here and became more independent and secure in my identity in Christ here, even alone at times.

Goodbye for now Birmingham.

 

 

 

Glorious Ruins

   
 A few of you know what this picture is.July 3rd, 2016 a day after I moved to my new apartment with my best friend. I set out for my long run on a new trail, I frequent it almost every week now. 

Before that day I was half broken like many of us,spiritually. (Half-way surrendering our hearts,minds & bodies to what God has called us to.)

For me, I masked the pain of broken relationships(the last year & a half) putting faith in others & myself, ending college torn between career paths & a desire to continue competitive running. 

I was pretty much living to please myself & mask my own hurts, uncertainties, not really overly concerned with serving or intentionally living to fully trust God w/ “my” plans. I’m not saying I was a bad person, I was & am a Christian. I didn’t have some sort of big “crisis” or unhealthy spiral but I guess I was having a severe spiritual battle for my heart. I lived with the lie that many people do in my generation,that it’s okay to give half of your self committed to following God & the other half making quick mental justifications for worldly actions. I feel like God had enough of that and wanted me to choose, he wanted my whole heart.

Sometimes we’re blind & don’t see a need for Christ until we are caught in a storm. 

When I was running that day alone, I fell & slipped between concrete slabs.

 I fell back,hit my back,head and neck & tailbone bruised. I blacked out. When I came to, I was in so much pain, bleeding, confused and had no idea where I was. I was scared and staggered up and just ran. I made it to my car and then the shock hit.

I still can’t remember much about that day because I blacked out & hit my head & got a concussion. I’m not sure how long I was unconscious but I somehow got back to my car bleeding & aching. 

I unlocked my car & the shock hit & I called Kyle, my Roomate because he happened to text me just then.

 The rescue team came to get me, took me to the hospital & I spent the day recovering w/ friends & loved ones watching me. I know it may not seem that bad to some of you but it really could have been much, much worse. 

I did lose my short term memory for a few days and kept repeating the same questions to my Roomate and his girlfriend on the way to the hospital. I still can’t remember every detail, but other than a little physical ruins that went away, my spirit was completely rebuilt.

My parents got the call in church that day & thought all the worst cases like most would.

Jesus is a similar rescue to us in distress and when we realize we need him. He meets us where we fall and he’s our rescue.

  Pastor Chris talked about resurrection tonight at the Good Friday Easter service. But he talked more about just the cross and how Jesus died for us. He talked about that power being able to resurrect us. Like Jesus, we can be resurrected from the death we live everyday. 

What does that mean? 

Well, I feel like when I had my fall and I woke up and recovered..I had my own resurrection. 

I could no longer go back across the bridge and live the same way I had before because I wasn’t the same. When you have a relationship with Jesus and fully trust him and go all in, everything is different in that your heart doesn’t need or desire the same things. In that way, you’re set free of any doubts, fears, insecurities, shame our guilt. You live knowing God loves you so much no matter where you’re at. You trust that he will take care of you and you don’t worry about things as you used to because you’re resurrected in Him, in his hope. And it is so much better. 

That day, I made an internal choice for eternity. I wouldn’t go back across that bridge again,(metaphorically) I couldn’t even look behind. It was sort of like my own hearts resurrection from that water there. 

That God was wiping clean the hurt & sins I had masked from him. Jesus, the ultimate rescuer for all of us-He picked me up from there & took me in his loving arms. beaten down, bruised, imperfect, knowing I wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend the weight of his sacrifice for me in this life. Jesus loves us and He’s always on our side, no matter what side of the bridge we find ourselves on today. He only asks that we follow Him with all of our hearts. 

God gave me a choice that day, like he gives all of us. Follow Him where you’re at now. Like PC said today, Jesus won’t leave you like he found you.

For me, I knew Jesus but I wasn’t following Him the way He calls us to, & it’s always better His way, trust me. I left it all there & I’m incredibly glad I had that fall because it woke me from the sleep i’de been living in my drifting faith. Jesus has never not been there & I feel blessed to know Him & know his love. I can’t imagine doing life without His rescue and I’ll never settle for anything less because there is nothing better.

I loved that tonight the highlands worship team absolutely CRUSHED “resurrecting” my favorite song by elevation worship! 🙂

PC’s How to’s from my notes(how to resurrect your glorious ruins)-

1.stop dying 

2.start rebuilding 

3.stop doubting(slowly workin on this one!)

4. Start living!! (Be fearless in your pursuit and faith, don’t give up)

Isaiah 61:1-4

Ephesians 1:20

Download this song:

Elevation worship-resurrecting 

A stoic heart and a call to Love.

Few things will make me more passionate than my relationship with Jesus or my love for running. One of those things that I’ve been innately blessed with is my protectiveness for others who are considered lesser or can’t or don’t defend themselves. 
Maybe it’s because I’m a twin who is one minute older than my brother. I’ve always been like a prowling mother wolf toward anyone I find out hurts or upsets my twin or anyone I’m close to for that matter. I know when something’s bothering him too, I can hear it in his voice even when I’m miles away in Alabama when we talk on the phone. I would drive to Georgia and happily take care of any problem Zach had if he told me to. I feel like it’s my duty in a way because I feel like I am strong and have been given a gift of discernment (spiritual gift we talked about at Highlands, growth track the church I now attend). 

Anyways, I wanted to write a little post addressing the heart of our society today and the disturbing level of desensitized hearts everywhere today that is shamelessly growing. 

With Valentine’s Day approaching, a day our culture has deemed a hallmark for celebrating “love” for one another and creating unfair expectations for both male and females.. I think this post is rather relevant for opening up our hearts and minds to what’s really in there. 

I would encourage you to be open when reading this and think about your own hearts and what your current pulse says. Are you a stoic heart? Do you feel empathy for others who are hurting? Do you care about others hearts or even think about what your own is saying right now? What’s it saying to you? Be real with yourself if not with anyone else.

The topic that inspired this-Body Shaming.

has to stop. 

I’m not trying to be overly sensitive and I know there is a fine line between “just joking” and going beyond that in a way that makes another person uncomfortable, or hurt. But sometimes a joke to you may not be funny to the person next to you. Maybe someone who hears or interprets what you say as hurtful or careless is going through something you can’t relate to or empathize with. Then it’s not a joke them, does that still make it OK because it’s just a joke for you? 

 I know my generation gets a lot of flak for being “snowflakes”- those of you who like to categorize everyone in the millennial generation or anyone who stops to think about another persons heart or feelings too. 

And that may be true, a lot of us are super sensitive and overreact due to being sheltered or helicopter parents or those kids that failed to launch and moved back home or live at home and don’t contribute at ALL to society.(NO, I’m not talking about those of you with financial difficulty or circumstances beyond your control).

Back to the shaming-

From all the lady gaga super bowl comments about her being “fat”..or Beyoncé’s weight gain recently-(who is in fact pregnant with twins);

 I’m a twin and I don’t know what kind of comments my mother may have had to ign or roll her eyes at when we weren’t born yet.

But body shaming can target any body size- big or small, male or female, famous or not.

 I’ve dealt with body shaming as a runner too from crude comments or scoffs on the trail, looking me up and down while I’m running or asking if I have an eating disorder just because I’m slender and look different than some people running or walking by. 

The fact is- you don’t know what the other person you’re ignorantly judging is training for. You don’t know anything about them more than your shallow comments so why project your own opinions onto someone because of the way you think they look? 

This makes no sense to me but I just wanted to say, be confident in your own image and if you’re happy, great. If not, change. But don’t let anyone’s comments or opinions of you change how you view yourself or what you do. Your body is yours, it’s a gift and you don’t live to make others happy with how you look. 

Also, I’m sure that someone with an actual eating disorder or body image problem might not think its funny or cute either.

I’m much more focused on how someone’s spirit looks than just how their physical appearance is..maybe that’s just me but shouldn’t we as a human race see each other for what we really are rather than the flesh we parade around in daily??
Bottom line here intertwined with body shaming being highly unintelligent, is that this culture we’ve bred has created a stoic heart if you will.

We walk around complacent, insensitive and unaware of what’s really going on in our own hearts. Then we call anyone who opposes this kind of mentality all kinds of names, filling them away as silly, insubordinate or discarding them from our circles of importance.

Labeling someone as a “snowflake” because they bring up a relevant issue that you deem as unimportant doesn’t make them weak or lesser in my opinion. Just different and that’s okay to disagree.

But importantly, how can we ignore our own hearts so long and forget what the spirit is speaking into us so much and then expect to connect and cultivate real, loving, lasting relationships built on trust and care for each other? It simply doesn’t work that way. 

Stoic, heartened hearts don’t see the damage they inflict upon themselves or others because they’re incapable of empathy. You know that thing that allows you to know what someone’s been through or just a “hey I know how you feel, I’m with you” pat on the shoulder or word of encouragement someone may vitally need to hear? 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭4‬:‭23‬ NIV)

If we don’t stop all of this senseless, meaningless mockery of one another it’s going to be too late. Words matter. Words either lift someone up or tear them down. There’s no grey area. Choose to be a light. Don’t say something just to say it because it’s amusing to you. That’s what a fool does. Be wise and loving! 

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭12‬:‭18‬ NIV)

I know this may have gone off in a different direction, but after reflecting and having great conversation with some friends today; I thought this would be a good post to remind us to love one another freely, without expectation, judgement, guilt or shame. 

Even if you think Valentine’s Day isn’t a real holiday, use this time as a refresher for your own heart. The biggest “gift” you can give someone/ anyone at all, is to love them unconditionally like Christ did and does forever for us. 

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, (‭Colossians‬ ‭2‬:‭2‬ NIV)

We are called to Love. We are to love everyone, even those we don’t like, who have hurt us, who it’s hard to love. This isn’t easy, we make mistakes and it takes some time to come around to that. I’ve learned that so much this last year more than ever but if you accept and place Gods love in your own heart, that becomes so much easier because of the love you share through that relationship. 
Nurturing your own heart with the truth of the spirit and protecting your heart first allows you to love others. Until you get that right, you literally can’t love another person truthfully. 
You won’t be able to love honestly or freely the way God intends for us to or be able to accept his love- not the love that we “deserve” but the love that we need. Love was never about give and receive, it’s a choice we must make like Jesus did for us. You can’t do anything to earn it and don’t deserve it, but you can chose it and then you can share that with everyone you meet in how you treat them, what you speak into them and how you live. 

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (‭John‬ ‭13‬:‭35‬ NIV)

2017-Prudent..we awaken from the ashes

Driving back to Birmingham Tuesday after a much needed Christmas vacation at home in Georgia , I reflected on my 2016. 

The good, the bad, the ugly, and the ugliest swirled around my thoughts as the rain tapped against my windshield.

 I began to break down in my head some categories of things I felt/experienced in 2016 and how I felt going into a new year with so much to look forward to.

As I stepped out onto the soft gravel, matted down after the shower; I felt like so much stress and weight had been lifted off of me. Joy flooded my legs moving back and forth as my mind toyed with all of the hopeful emotions surrounding the new year and what it means.

What I learned in 2016

  • Trust God. His plans are perfect, they may not be your plans or your timing, but trust Him and you’ll be rewarded.
  • Fear isn’t real. Fear is an irrational emotion. Choosing to not act or go after a dream because you’re afraid you’ll fail or won’t be good enough is robbing yourself and wasting your time.
  • Waiting never gets you there faster. Putting something off won’t make it go away, especially if it’s something important. It just brings anxiety
  • Doing things to please others is good and should be done, but not at the expense of your dignity or your dreams/desires. Don’t live to please someone who doesn’t value you or respect you. Leave them behind, even if you “like” then. Weigh your true pros/cons. If it doesn’t add up, leave and don’t turn back.
  • Good things take time. It took me a year basically to save enough money, have enough time, & to fully commit to my career change to become a personal trainer. Guess what, I got it done. Stay focused and don’t give up it’s important to you, you’ll make it happen sooner or later.
  • Grit. You gotta have some grit and backbone because life won’t always be sunshine and butterflies. When you’re tested, hurt, fail, betrayed, left, depressed or lonely- you need to be strong because sometimes you only have yourself and a God who is that strength. Get back up and don’t cry.
  • Believe in yourself.Sometimes, you’re the only one who does and gets you.  At the end of the day, who are you really trying to please?
  • Be confident in your abilities and never stop growing or learning. Life isn’t meant to be comfortable. That’s called surviving. Do more.
  • Do it yourself. Don’t depend on anyone but yourself to get you where you need to be. People aren’t perfect and neither are you, but you know you’ll be there for yourself.

What I’m leaving behind 

  • Stress,anxiety,worry, fear- that I’m not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, won’t have enough money, impress the right people, please everyone, do what God has planned for me. I know I will still have things that cause those emotions but I’m going to react and handle them differently by completely trusting what God has for me through prayer and just being joyful throughout everything.
  • “Too busy” for family, for friends, for being kind and taking time to show that every #Onematters I regret that I was too busy this year for some of my friends and family who needed me or people I could have impacted more if I slowed down a little.
  • Negativity!!! Not gonna invite it or entertain it. That’s that.
  • Excuses– for anything. Own it.
  • Putting myself second for any man or friend that doesn’t value me and treat me with the same level of respect and dignity.
  • Debt. I don’t have much & I am poor right now but once I start having a more stable income and actually saving money, I want to make sure I invest it in the right places.
  • People. Anyone that doesn’t have the same heart for being a light to others, any unhealthy human leach.
  • Doubt. Of myself or my faith.

What I’m taking with me to 2017

  • Faith in ChristI’m not perfect but I serve a God who sees past that and loves me the same every day. I need to be closer to His word and to spend more time in prayer & the word to become more like Him & show other people I interact with His love and joy he’s blessed me with. 
  • JOYI’m going to be joyful when I wake up, if I’m sick, if I’m well, if I’m at work, running, running late, sad. I know there will be struggles again but I’ll remain joyful and know that I can still be used to shine light and love despite my circumstances.
  • Being presentactually being engaged in conversation with people when I’m with them. Not being impatient or flaky with friends, family, clients, or anyone I’m with. I want people to know they matter and to bless them. That means being there for them! 
  • LaughterI want to LOL and smile more than ever this year and have fun and enjoy life no matter what this year brings 
  • NEW CAREER!!!! Did I mention I just got a job as a personal trainer at the YMCA greystone campus?! Woohooo!!! I’m so incredibly extatic and I’m going to devote all of myself to being the best personal trainer I can be for my clients and constantly keep learning and growing! 
  • New FriendshipsI’ve made so many new, inspiring friends this year and I am so blessed! I can’t wait to plant more seeds and strengthen bonds I’ve made this year and make new ones. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. 
  • Serving I know my new career is a way for me to serve others and I want to be more of a servant leader in all aspects of my life. I really want to make this year more about others and less about Lauren. Putting myself second for someone else to grow and be blessed is actually winning. 
  • Openness– to learn more, to say yes and go out and have some fun(not crazy drunk fun) but to new experiences and to travel and learn more about people.
  • RUNNINGduh. But really, who knows where running will lead me this year..hopefully heathy!! & currently flirting with the idea of bumping up to the half marathon race this year competitively!!!

Okay, I know that was a lot . But 2016 was undoudbtedly the most difficult year for me on all levels. That’s set me up for a very pivotal, exciting and hopeful 2017.

I’m stronger, wiser, more patient, more obedient in my faith and more proud to be a female than I ever have been.

No, I don’t have a husband or any children to brag about  yet-but I’m content with that for now.

I’m not lonely or bitter or searching at all actually right now. I honestly feel that at this point in my life right now that God is using me to do other things with the gifts I have.

I know and trust that when God’s ready for me to be with someone who loves Him more than me and values my heart above my flesh, I’ll know.

Right now, if 2017 goes without a single date I don’t think I could be much happier. lol but seriously..

 I know some people can’t fathom that or cringe at the thought! but you can’t be happy with anyone if you’re unhappy alone. & I’m pretty happy with my life going into the New Year now! Dating just isn a goal for me right now.:)

Back to the female comment

In 2016, I became surrounded by a lot of new female friends and coworkers(more than ever) because other than teammates in college, I have a lot of guy friends.

No, I’m not a hoe. Chill. I just grew up with all brothers and I’m sarcastic and kind of a “bro” and not a “typical female” as some say.

Anyways, I’m excited to be surrounded and inspired by so many incredible women lately. I am certainly a proud feminist and I have a feeling that for some reason 2017 will be a great year for women!

 Women empowering other women and promoting equality instead of unjust, oppressive comments or actions is true feminism.(no not men bashing. That’s not what feminism is! I’m sure I’ve already lost the egotistical shovanist a few paragraphs ago anyways)

My Goals for 2017

  • Grow/excell in my new personal trainer career & be the best I can be for my clients! Learn more each day
  • Become financially stable & save money & no debt!
  • Be a better servant leader in my community
  • Empower women
  • Spend more time growing in my faith in Christ and acting on that
  • Be a better listener and supporter of my friends and family
  • Be more patient & show everyone they matter
  • Bump up to the half marathon in my running career and get to the next competitive level! Handle more pain..
  • Break 17 in the 5K!
  • PR for my road 10K!!
  • Stay healthy running!!!(injury free)
  • Learn new recipes and maintain healthy lifestyle
  • Make new friends!! And go out more!
  • Travel and enjoy LIFE
  • Relax and know what rest is!

2016 as my last post detailed- was the hardest year across the board for me as well as many of you too. 

2017 offers us HOPE & excitement for chasing down our dreams and becoming better versions of ourselves. 

Let’s leave any negative emotions, circumstances & people that don’t line up with our visions for this year in 2016.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5‬:‭17‬ NIV)

I wish everyone of you nothing but courage, happiness and blessings for 2017!!<3

2016-“Bye Felicia” Year.

I think it’s safe to say on everyone’s behalf…what an absolutely braggadocious, dreadful year it has been for many, many reasons. Literally every time we thought it couldn’t get much worse, guess what? It did tenfold.

Across the board, most of my friends, family, and anyone I’ve personally talked to are glad to have made it to see the light of the hopefully approaching year 2017. Seriously, the glimmer of 2017 can’t come soon enough. We need it like yesterday.

This year has been the most incredulous struggle for us all. Starting from the joke of a political race we had that painfully dragged on this year and ultimately got us NO WHERE headed into 2017, to the constant worry of freaking WWIII starting around the globe between crisis rising in Syria, ISIS threats, China being sketchy AF and Russia-well being Russia. And of course here in America, we’ve had our own dramatic problems exploding so much over the top this year that it feels like we can barely stand each other anymore!

And nothing is safe to have an opinion on anymore or a civil disagreement because someone will no doubt, be offended beyond the point of reconciliation(on either side).

I know that things could not have gotten much worse and I checked out mentally early on this year. 

I hate to sound so jaded or like a careless, typical millenial but I’ve just gotten tired of alllll of the BULL SH*T. And in the midst of all of the political, global BS I actually had my own personal tsunami wave of crashing BS to deal with. “Wave after wave”, as it felt this entire year.

Here’s a link to remind yourself of all of the world’s problems too:

2016 year recap in photos from USA Today

There has been more complacency, lack of regard for human life, lack of genuine kindness toward others, killing, racism, sexism, selfishness, and overall corrupt human behavior from across the globe shoved into one year..More than I think we could handle.

Now I’m not saying we all need to have a pity party or cry or freak out and keep spreading negativity and hate. NO.

Let’s Be Better. Let’s do something. Do something where you’re at NOW with what you have and your heart. Kindness, empathy, compassion, selflessness, love?? Those things are all free and guess what?

YOU ALREADY HAVE THEM. You choose to use those tools everyday. Don’t wait to start waking up on the right side of the bed on January 1st in a week. Start NOW!

Set up positive habits and a loving mindset wherever you are now!

Even if 2016 is almost done going down in flames for you; it is for most of us and that’s okay. Don’t burn with it. Watch your problems fade and move on, focus on the good you’ve been blessed with and carry it into 2017.

I don’t know about y’all but 2016 has been the most “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” kind of year in my young-adulting/millenial life so far:

  • I left my “safe” 8-5PM fulltime/salaried but underpaid job- huge risk. Uncertainty for income going foreward, what would I do now? More time to train and RUN? Yay!! What will society/my family/friends think or say about me?! *gasp* doesn’t fit the mold.
  • I got sponsored by Skechers Performance & started training more and truly devoting myself to my Running..then I got INJURED for the first time ever(like seriously take time off injured.) Depressed, out for over 6 weeks, scratched races, setback in spring/summer training.
  • Finally accepted being single and not needing/wanting to talk to my ex who I was hung up on for the longest time. It hurt to accept that sometimes people won’t respond the way you do or love you or treat you the same just because you do. And it’s not right to respond with negativity or hate, that’s immaturity. Move on & be happy(is it better to settle and have anyone at all just to be..? Not for me sorry.) 
  • I started to change careers and really believe all of the encouragement I got to become a personal trainer to help others believe in themselves too and to help them train their bodies and reach their goals!(so incredibly excited and it took me almost a whole year to get certified and pass my exam between running 50-65miles a week, being a poor adult, and working my butt OFF but I did it and landed my new job I start in January at the YMCA! Praise God)
  • I moved into a new, nice apartment with my best friend Kyle!(easiest decision of the year, hardest financially on me working the majority of the year part time!! While I invested my time into my training and prepping myself for my personal trainer career)
  • I fell and hit my head, passed out, got a concussion and lost my memory on my first long run the day after moving into my new apartment in the summer. Welcome home bitch!
  • Oh and this waste of time guy I was “talking to” for like 2 weeks in the summer-lied to me and said we never dated after I lost my memory and was concussed. Real f*ck boy. 2016 was full of those and fake friends too. 
  • I became the poorest I’ve ever been.literally paycheck to paycheck, struggling the most and having anxiety not because I’m bad with my money but I just don’t have a lot right now but I know with my new career I’ll be fine. This year was really hard on me financially learned a lot and grew up and faced new responsibilities. Sink or swim!
  • Ive had more car trouble in the span of 2 weeks thank anyone I know. I’ve had to buy a new tire. Bought a new battery after being stranded at work. Not one human offered to help me at the summit as they went about shopping. Cheers mankind thanks. Then a week later, discovered a tiny nail in my left rear tire. Had to buy new breaks and get all of this fixed Christmas week before coming home to see my family in Georgia. 
  • Regretfully lost touch with some close friends and found out the hard way who is actually there for me. Really hurt by some friends who totally dropped the ball on me but I grew up from that real quick this year.

I know I just highlighted a lot of what may seem like negative experiences from my 2016 and I’m not saying that the whole year was bad and I didn’t have any blessings. Of course I did and I’m even more thankful and hopeful going into 2017 for that. 

Because of the immense amount of stress, uncertainty, fear, physical pain, relationship turmoil, emotional struggle and change I went through this year; I’m more confident and assured of what I’m doing now and ready to go after 2017 with everything I got!

God has a great way of showing us that we are capable of much more than we feel. Just when I felt like I couldn’t take much more this year, something would happen that would challenge me, frighten me, piss me off or just flat out depress me.

I often just sat there not knowing what to pray or even feel like talking to God. But I know He knows my heart.

Then, I would remember every time before when I thought it was too much. God always made a way for me and strengthened me.

I was tested in so many ways this year and made the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been. But that’s how God grows us and we’re almost there. We have a few more days left in 2016. Let’s turn it around and make them count.

New Identity- Running With Giants!

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This week has been nothing short of hectic, busy, tiring and a little overwhelming to say the least.

I’m at a cross roads of sorts and at a moment of pivotal change with big decisions very soon.

I’m still healing a running injury that has put me out for almost a month now and I have often felt a little lost and anxious the past few months.

I went to Highlands Church this morning, a church I regularly attend now while I’m living in Birmingham. Those of you that know me, know that my home church is 12Stone<3 in Georgia where my family lives.

Today, Pastor Chris started the second message of a new series- “Running With The Giants”; which I am SO EXCITED ABOUT!

He referred to the greats we will be talking about as, “Bible Hall of Famers”.

Today, we discussed Jacob and your identity and letting God take control of your life.

This really spoke to me as I have once again, been trying to do my own thing and really spreading myself thin in everything I’m doing and planing on doing..

It’s not like I’m doing anything unhealthy or “bad”, I just have dreams and goals and I haven’t taken the time to really offer those things to God and seek his wisdom until recently this past week.

Mother Theresa said, “You will never know God is all you need until He is all you have” -PC

For me, hearing today’s message from PC really hit home with me because I know that’s exactly where I am at right now. I know I need to let God totally take what I’m doing and give me strength because I can’t do it by myself.

PC mentioned that sometimes God will allow “crisis” in your life at times to get your attention, whatever that may be. HE said sometimes that can be physical.

Well, up until my injury I was working so hard at work and training myself into the ground and honestly something was missing and I wasn’t happy.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.
25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man
-Genesis 32

Sometimes, it takes something a little drastic to get our attention for us to snap out of it!!

Since I’ve been injured, I have done a lot of reflecting and I felt like this morning was clarity for me and the final confirmation to submit my running, my current and future job endeavors, my relationships and myself as an “offering” to God.

Not that I wasn’t trying that before, I just wasn’t fully.

In Genesis 32, God gives Jacob a new “identity”. When we choose to follow Christ, we receive a new identity too. It’s our choice whether we decide to live in that daily.

7 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
-Genesis 32
Let me say this- because you are a Christian, you’re not instantly perfect, you’re not better than anyone, and you’re not going to have a perfect life without hardships.
BUT, you can have joy and love in the midst of chaos and pain as PC said it well today.

Someone who I used to be close to, who I sacrificed much of my own faith to please and make happy said something to me that I chose to believe for a while, it was a lie-

It was something along the lines of, “you’ve already sinned and messed up. What’s the point of even trying?”

Basically, this person planted a seed in my mind that I believed to be true, something many of us fall for a lot.

And that is the lie that it doesn’t matter what you do, if you do “bad” things or things not pleasing to God because you’ve already done one. What’s two more??

It’s your Heart.

When you try to do it your way, it’s never as good or fulfilling as God’s way. Trust me.

I was conflicted for a while with that thought lingering in the back of my mind and I was trying to please myself with making all of these plans for myself I wanted to do.

Then, I was trying to please others. I love doing that, but not at the expense of my faith or focus on God. That’s extremely difficult. Even when some people really do have “your best interest”, we’re human and we’re imperfect.

But, I’m telling you, don’t stop the race just because you tripped and fell!

One race I had during my sophomore Cross Country season, I was still at KSU and we were in Tennessee for a short 4k race I think, (or 2 mile). The Gun went off and within 100 meters out of the box, a girl spiked me in the calf and knocked off my right shoe.

I knew I had to finish the race with only one shoe, on uneven terrain with the chance of twisting an ankle, someone spiking me again or getting seriously hurt.

I dug in and gave it all I had and I finished second place overall, steps right behind first place.

Don’t let people, or circumstances in your life distract you with a lie that you can’t finish your race or that because you aren’t perfect it’s not worth it.

“Running With The Giants” means exactly this- letting go of yourself completely and fully trusting God with what he’s set out for you.

This week, after the dust cleared and I finally had thinking time to myself, I realized that’s what God’s been whispering to me the past few months.

In my running- healing my injury, trusting him with my future running career

In my relationships- letting Him be the center, letting go of things that lead me away from that

In my career- letting him direct me in the way that I can be a light & serve others with my gifts.

An article I read this week about one of my favorite pro Golfers, (following the Masters Week naturally) said it best about Bubba Watson-

http://qpolitical.com/1-bubba-watson-shares-the-heartbreaking-story-that-led-to-his-faith-in-jesus-christ/

“Watson doesn’t claim to be a perfect Christian. In a recent interview, the two-time Masters Tournament winner admitted to many shortcomings and personal failures throughout his life and career. Watson shared that many of his life’s deepest struggles are what caused him to turn to Christ.”

Maybe as an athlete myself I look up to such pros like Bubba who show us that it’s not about being perfect but a willingness to have a real relationship with God and seek him with your whole heart everyday; despite our short comings.

Like Bubba and many of you I’ve made some stupid mistakes. I’ve believed the lie that it doesn’t matter how we live or what we do as long as we’re “happy”.

Let go of that immediately. RUN from it. Drop it. FLEE.

That’s what I’m doing now. You’ll get to the point where, enough is enough and you just don’t have the strength on your own.

You don’t have to be perfect to follow God, you just have to focus your heart on him and ask him to be there. You’ll start to notice he’s been there all along, even when you’re “alone”.

I’m super excited for the weeks and months to come as I start “Running” with the Giants in my life too. And also actually running again as my tendon slowly heals!

I feel so relieved and joyful just typing this and knowing whatever God has planned for me is going to be Great! (And I can’t wait until we talk about Jonah!! There’s a cool story with that part of my testimony. He’s one of my favs besides David.)

If you need a song that could describe this message I would recommend- “Arms Open Wide” By Hillsong<3

Which Way is Up?

  

Have you ever been so stressed, confused and filled with anxiety that you just don’t know which direction to go toward at the cross roads?

That’s basically where I’ve been for the last three to four weeks.

I’ve been working extremely hard in my current job balancing that with my aggressive training increasing the past few months. But in the midst of me chugging along and pushing harder daily, I sort of lost sight of my overall goals I had set for the year ahead.

 

No, I didn’t forget them. I simply put what I was doing everyday ahead of my overall goals and really obsessed over perfecting certain  areas in my life. But..I am human and I make mistakes, everyone gets that.

But when I don’t get the results I want or the answers I want on my time or in the way I want, well I’m very hard on myself and I get frustrated!

That’s why I kind of dropped off my blogging the last few weeks and I am sorry!! 😦

I’ve been dealing with my first running injury ever, stressing over some very BIG, adult decisions soon, emotional uncertainty in relationships, and impatience with my progress.

A few weeks ago after a race I ran and won first female and 4th overall with a decent time, I realized and had to admit to myself that I might be..Injured.

That’s the one word any athlete doesn’t want to admit is true when it happens. We work so hard for what we want to acheive and when an injury occurs, we pretend it’s not real.

That’s what I did at least. Until I literally could barely walk without pain. So I’ve been emotionally and physically(obviously) dealing with that for the last few weeks.

I’ve decreased my training load and started rehabbing my Post tib(posterior tibialis tendon) and arch. I’ve seen a doc and got new orthotics which are helping..but this injury is slowly healing and I’m training through it for now.

It couldn’t come at a worse time too as I just got officially contracted with Skechers Performance for running and being an ambassador for them to race a few weeks ago AND the GATE RIVER RUN USA 15K Championship is this weekend.

I’ve been planning for this race for months and it’s a BIG one for me and to race for Skechers and try to nail a good time. Then..I have to deal with this “injury” so I won’t be 100% and I have all sorts of stressors any athlete would have going into such a huge weekend(not only for the race but some of you close to me know what else I’ve been praying for in the future for Jacksonville and me)…

Needless to say, there has been a LOAD of things on my mind lately, good and bad stress.

But, one thing I’ve had to remind myself constantly is that I can only control my attitude and effort and do everything I possibly can to prime my body and mind for this weekend and whatever happens ahead.

And, I KNOW I have. My Dad is the one person who knows exactly what to tell me when I get all freaked out and have a panic attack and one day seems like it’s all over and I can’t do anything right.

He reminded me that NO one has done what I have done in my position or worked harder that I have for the things I am working at in my circumstances right now. He told me to have a little more faith and patience. And he’s right.

Sometimes, in the midst of stress, we tend to magnify our problems. But when the smoke clears, you realize that there is a way out.

I know I won’t be injured forever, I will heal and I will get back to race shape soon and God will direct me wherever I need to be when I’m ready.

My new coach talked to me today and he knows how nervous I am for this race. But he told me to relax,

“Don’t panic. This is not your Olympics. Your best days are ahead of you”.

He’s absolutely right and no matter what happens during the race, even if I run a sub par time for what I expect of myself, I will always know I didn’t give up. I’ll freaking hobble through the finish if it means finishing.

The thought of going into a race knowing I am not going to be 100% healthy or race ready terrifies me to say the least. Especially knowing the extremely elite quality of athletes I have the privilege to race against..

But, I’m running this race. I’m going to do everything I can to race the best I can for myself and for Skechers Performance. And after the race, I’m going to reevaluate my healing foot and get better.

For now, I just wanted to share a little of why I dropped off the blogging world! I love writing but when something personal is distracting me, especially dealing with my gift and love for running I am consumed by it.

I’m still not entirely sure which way is up at times, but I never give up and I’ll keep going until I get there.