Riot

Ri•ot

ˈrīət/

noun

A riot is an unrestrained outbreak of passion for Jesus.

    
How many of us can truthfully say that our lives are completely and openly in riot for Jesus with what we do, where we go, how we approach people right now? What does that mean?
 I’m not saying you have to sell everything you own, go on a year long missions trip or only work in ministry. But maybe you do have to take some drastic measures if that’s what changes your heart to serve and pour life into others. 
I don’t. But it starts at your heart. Your purpose and the worlds for you will always be conflicting because you weren’t made to be of the world or to serve it. That void cannot be filled by people, things, money, success..ect. Believe me, it doesn’t. 
 You were uniquely made by God, for Him, to serve him, and to serve other people to bring them closer to Jesus; through your love, with your specific gifts and where you are at right now.
You don’t have to do anything “crazy” but most people won’t understand what you’re doing or why if they do not share the same heart filled with Christ that’s in RIOT for Him. 

For example- I got so internally salty and frustrated with a friend this week during a normal conversation because I felt like they really didn’t understand me or my heart.

 I’m a personal trainer at the YMCA. I chose that job now.

 No I don’t make all the money in the world and frankly most trainers don’t choose this profession for money. I genuinely feel like God equipped me with fitness as a spiritual gift to use for His kingdom. 

I’m using my athlete platform and fitness and communications and encouragement skills to do the best I can to lift up everyone there and to try and show them Jesus anyway I know how. 
That’s the raw, uncut truth from my heart and I take it seriously. I don’t say this for an “aww that’s so nice”, “what a sweet person”, that’s not my heart’s goal here.  

I get hurt when other people toss my purpose around as silly, insignificant or like it’s not enough. But to them it’s just what I “do”. I realized in my head during a convo with this friend that they honestly probably had no idea those thoughts were on my heart and over analyzing in my head. Most people WON’T and that is OK. Don’t get frustrated or hurt(internal monologue here).

Just keep being a light and a blessing and don’t get discouraged!! Live your purpose because that’s why you’re equipped with what you have where you’re at now! It took me a while to fully accept and embrace that thought too. That I needed to stop doing  things for other people’s approval or even my own because that’s not what this is about. It doesn’t matter but living for OTHERS does the most.

I remembered how many times Jesus felt let down by people in the bible and that he was often misunderstood on Earth. That made me feel better..whenever the world doesn’t approve..most of the time my Father in heaven is proud of me.
Ever since I ditched my glittery, promising broadcast career after college 2 years ago for “running” to focus on that for a few years and try to qualify for bigger races while being a personal trainer..something has always bothered me to the core. 

First of all, that answer I just said^^ that one’s for the world. 
That’s what I tell them to appease everyone and it’s socially acceptable but without a doubt- no matter what..it’s never enough. “Oh that’s a good gig for now”, “you’ll get back into a real career and climb up and make more money in a year or two right?”, “don’t you want to make more money doing this?” 
I am telling you again, no matter what you do it will Never be enough for them. No matter where you’re at now, what you do or say, you’ll never be fully content or at par with the speed or demands of the world because you are in Christ. It will Never be as “cool” either. But His plan for you is much different and much greater and it won’t let you down.

But lately I’ve felt convicted of that, like why should I have to..not necessarily “lie” to the world about why I do life the way I do, but I’m not letting them in on the whole truth. Why? Because I’m afraid they will reject me? Judge me? Disapprove? Jesus said that would happen and it’s okay!

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. (‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭11-12‬ MSG)

I’m really glad I’ve made the transition I’m in currently. This isn’t bashing 9-5 jobs or saying that I have some Devine purpose to save the world, that would be a heart of pride. I know I’m far from perfect but I’m extremely happy and humbled to know that the Man who chose to die for me chose me for the job I’m at here in Jacksonville right now and that he has a bigger purpose than me, than my emotions, fears,Mistakes, or what others around me say or expect from me. 
I know my heart is focused on what’s really important and what all of our purpose is- to use whatever gift, place, people you’re given now and to be a light there, to really have a heart completely open and on fire for showing people Jesus and letting them see what He’s done for you.
Again, I know I’m not perfect but I am baffled and grateful Christ has planted an increasing longing to serve the community he’s placed me in now and not be so consumed by what I am not or don’t have. 

 I’ve gotten a bit frustrated the last week or so though if I’m being completely real with y’all- sometimes my competitive pride does rule my thoughts until my Holy Spirit speaks in me and reminds me who I am. 

I’ve stayed focused on what other people say or give their two cents on what I’m doing so much so that I’ve let it bother me when I should be focused on pressing forward what I’ve already began here in my new life in Jax. 
I’ve started attending celebration church here and go to the young adult group- Sub30 which is AMAZING by the way!!! We kick butt at beach volley ball too and worship is off the chain. 

This week has been “Riot Takeover Week”, which inspired this blog title. Seeing my generation and the ones to come with such authentic, raw worship and hunger for the Lord and his presence is awe inspiring to me..I love it and I want to be a part of this. I really see myself being planted here and leading the next generation in the future.
 Being in a Riot is the most amazing thing you can do with your life now. When you finally let go of the daily mask, whatever is holding you back from chasing Him with your whole heart, other issues seem so small and you gain clarity on what you should say, who you should pour into and you find strength because it’s not your own. You ALSO start to abandon things that used to occupy your attention and time. They aren’t the same focus as your purpose so they don’t matter. 

I seriously pray that it would be my mission for everyone I know or encounter to know the freedom in Jesus and feel his love and abandon whatever thing is in his place that’s not worthy and can’t fill what they’re chasing.

One LAST thing, basically summarizing this- all of our purpose is the same its just given to us differently, at different times, and we’re given different methods of accomplishing it but ALL equally important! This it here–

“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭28‬:‭18-20‬ MSG)


That’s where I’m at now. I’m hungry and I’m ready, and I’m not stopping! I took some notes from yesterday’s service at Celebration Church-(that are relevant to this “Riot” topic and you might see some themes I touched on in my list above.)


God is on the move- generational (Riot takeover week)

-Genesis 5(God is a generational God)- every name has a meaning 
“You want to experience a move of God but we aren’t willing to move with God” 

God wants people that are True & move for his calling

-you just have to be willing(John 17:16), not have it all together 
Your faithfulness determines the next generation of fruitfulness
Values:

*We’re all about Jesus 

*We’re passionate(with a purpose)

(So many people have the form but not the function) filled W/ hot air not the Holy Spirit

-be genuinely filled with his spirit 

*we’re authentic(we offer real relationships) we will never out-fun the world but authentic love, fun won’t be there in the end/ when your lonely, going thru a storm 

* we’re relevant-whatever we need to do to reach people! We care!

*we are together because we will reach this generation together not alone. It’s so important to have people around you to speak into your life, and pouring into younger ones 
-Invest into generations!! Be a leader for them, commit to being a worker and serve them

-a movement requires work, prayer, faith and for you to move 

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Encouraging Loneliness

  

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud“, a line from one of my favorite poems- Daffodils by William Wordsworth.. came to my mind instantly upon writing this topic.

The last few weeks have been nothing short of exciting, stressful(in a good way!), uncertain, scary and challenging. Along the way(moving to a new city only knowing a handful of friends here), I’ve had my own bouts with loneliness.

I’ve been on my own, single, adulting for about two years post collegiate now. I’ve learned a lot about myself in that time, grown, made mistakes, and picked myself up off the ground after failure and discouragement or feelings of “unworthiness” because of how I felt about what I wasn’t gaining or accomplishing; OR because of how someone treated me.

Life is not easy, no not at all. But..we weren’t ever promised it to be were we..?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”-John 16:33

I think that sometimes it is extremely easy to accept the lies we internally feed ourselves about who we “feel” we are at a moment of loneliness or taking on an identity of untruth because of the way someone “makes us feel”.

I can relate to being lonely too and fully understand those unhealthy, inaccurate thought patterns that we fall so easily into at times..

I know that most of the time I am described as- bubbly, happy, kind, outgoing and cheerful. I am an encourager and I am certainly all of those things and actively try to be that for everyone in my life daily!

However, SPOLIER ALERT: I am also human and I have very real emotions that I own just as much as the positive ones. I’ve dealt with loneliness at times especially during the past year and a half. It sucks and it’s tough I know! BUT- there’s a way to escape that and It does not have to define you or consume you.

WHY/HOW Was I lonely?

A few reasons, I’m glad you asked.

I focused on work and my own training so much so that the last year and a half after graduating college, I found myself really isolated. I did some of that on purpose yes, choosing training over relationships or sleep over going out. But, that’s not all.

I decided that(subconsciously) maybe at times..it would be better for me to “ghost” people, or not let them in or get too close to me because I was so afraid that they would hurt me or fail me like I felt I had been before. A few relationships I’ve experienced in my young adult life have really wrecked me at times and I was so consumed by that fear of something like that hurting me that I didn’t let anyone get “too friendly” or too close to me, even normal friendships.Keeping people at arms length was best.

Another reason- I filled my free time, whatever little I did have..with shallow/ meaningless endeavors. Whether it was scrolling social medias, trivial conversations, or pursuing people that didn’t have the same purpose-driven spirit as me; I tried to fill that loneliness with people, “not relationships”, shallow things because deep down I knew that couldn’t possibly touch my heart and I could be safe “not having any feeling” attached. But ultimately the joke was on me, it did hurt because I do have a heart and a purpose and a God who knows that and knows ME.

All along, even when I couldn’t fully accept my worth, Jesus did. He does. He sees yours, and everyones even through whatever “thing” you’re trying to mask or fill your loneliness void with right now.

Isolation is the root of loneliness and it cannot protect you, it’s such a false covering.

So, to recap: The last year and a half, I focused on my own work, training and self instead of building relationships, fully nurturing the one’s in front of me, and being in community! Mistake.

The very things I was rejecting are actually just what you should seek if you feel lonely. We are called to be in community, we are not meant to be alone. I am so glad the Holy Spirit has my heart aligned with His now and here in Jacksonville now has filled me with purpose!! 🙂

One quick point I want to mention briefly before telling you all HOW to ENCOURAGE- Loneliness is this- AGE or circumstance does NOT determine loneliness or times of depression.

Everyone feels lonely at times in their life, you pass by people everyday that “fake it until you make it” face on and greet you with a smile. You don’t know what they’re dealing with internally. That’s why it’s so imperative that KINDNESS is key. If you’re given the spiritual gift of encouragement, let that SHINE. Blind people with it!! That’s what i’m really trying everyday now at least.

I am far from perfect and do not have my life “all together” or figured out, no one does..some people just have fun/fancy, shiny titles that portray that. BUT I know we ALL have the same purpose- to spread love and encourage one another and to honor and glorify Jesus who gave us all of these gifts to begin with. We are all just equipped with different tools, “jobs” if you will, to do that. You feel me? Ok, sorry off topic>>

HOW you ask..do I conquer my loneliness?

Well, I packed up and moved to a new city, started new work, plugged into a new running group, started attending a new church, met all new friends(mostly through Celebration Church!), found a new roomate, and started saying YES to Holy Spirit prompts to put myself out there and SERVE and be in Community and take time to ENCOURAGE and have real conversations with other humans!!

Alright, I know a little drastic…LOL

You don’t have to relocate, but maybe you might if you’re situation is super unhealthy and you can’t rid yourself from that environment any other way.

BUT here’s a checklist:

  • LET GO OF WHAT’S FILLING THE VOID-whether it’s people, drugs, drinking, unhealthy self talk, emotions, whatever, it isn’t God. It cannot fulfill you. TRUST me. break the cycle instead of playing the same song on repeat.
  • BE IN COMMUNITY- Join a small group, say YES to that buddy that wants to grab lunch, take a weekend trip, be around other like-minded friends and find an accountability partner or mentor you trust and TALK about what you’re feeling.
  • PRAY- Sometimes we neglect the fact that God wants and likes to hear from us. He’s not some distant judging diety. He loves us, HE adores you and He is in your corner. Trust His promise and His purpose for you, it’s greater than what you’de ever hope for. If you can’t trust that yet, try! What do you have to loose by going all in with Faith and putting your trust in Him when you’ve felt like you’ve failed or someone has failed you? He never will I promise.
  • KNOW YOUR WORTH!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot express this one enough, if you don’t get anything at all from this post, please meditate over this. I’ve interacted with several new friends and acquaintances this past week who I’ve felt a God prompt to let them know this and Pray this over them. It’s also been a huge affirmation for myself and reassurance of God’s love for my own heart and reminder that even at times when I look back and play in my head when I was seeking worth in others or things, that Jesus is where my worth comes from. Please relish in that! It is true and that is the biggest thing that will ultimately set you free from loneliness or any lie that you don’t matter. YOU DO.

Also pretty awesome that this was a topic at the ladies small group this week at Sub30 I attend now. (So I took notes and I’m gonna post a picture below for you guys to take!!) 🙂

   

   

I hope this post helps some of you all and know you’re NOT alone and you do not have to obsess over or be defined by false sense of worth. En-couragement (IN-COURAGE).

A New Place called home.

  
A recap of my first week living in Jax after moving from Birmingham, Alabama a week ago today. My thoughts, observations, emotions & explorations.

A week ago today I packed up my things and headed down with my twin brother and dad to move to Jacksonville, Florida. I had been living in Birmingham since 2013, attending college at UAB and stayed about two years post collegiate before making the leap to move away.

My goals in the move to Jax:

  • Fresh start
  • New job opportunities 
  • Personal growth out of my comfort zone 
  • Meet new people and make friends 
  • Running, better training, new trails & more training partners and community 
  • BEACH
  • Friends already here 
  • Tired of bham, love it but too small and I outgrew it
  • Most importantly, I’ve been praying for this city for about a year now and felt led to come here to use my gifts, communication skills and connections to be a light to serve the community here for Christ. However that may play out!

What I’ve accomplished so far in a week here:

  • Started training at the PGA TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra(my new job position I am STOKED for!!)
  • Met w/ my new fitness director and started the process of getting my personal trainer schedule at the YMCA Ponte Vedra branch set where I’ll be a part time trainer to the community here 
  • Found a church home at Celebration church and found a small group and many sweet, fun new friends, future serving opportunities and Sub30 worship night for young adults like me.
  • Reconnected with my friends who live here too including a high school cross country teammate and good friend!
  • Jumped in a 4th of July race and connected with the running community and plugged into a like-minded training group. We are coordinating runs and training and races in the future! 
  • Stayed on my training schedule despite the grueling temps!
  • Explored many niches like-avenues mall,town center, San Marco, Jax beach, Ponte Vedra, Neptune beach, Manderine(where I live!), julington area, baymeadows & many more to come.
  • Didn’t get lost, use my GPS for everything!!! 
  • Mapped out easiest routes for grocery, coffee, gas, work, beaches & running trails and track.

What I felt and learned:

At first, it was hard. After my dad and twin brother left me on Sunday afternoon I finished unpacking my boxes and met some of the neighbors who are very nice and watchful of each other. I live in a nice community and it seems very safe and quiet here. 

Even though I am 20-30 minutes from everything where ever I want to go, it’s not a bad deal. My Roomate though hasn’t been home since I moved in a week ago and the first few nights were lonely and I couldn’t fall asleep right away.

I have adjusted to the slow speed limit here(most roads are only 45mph) with highways being 65ish and there are cops everywhere!! Not like Atlanta where everyone goes 10-15 over and gets away with it. 

I’ve also learned to be patient in going places that it will take you 30-45min to get out to one side of town to the other. Traffic isn’t too terrible in the summer now but the roads are long and Jax is very spread out. You just have to plan out your day carefully and fill up on gas!!

Things are a little more expensive here like food and gas. There are many places to eat and a Publix or Starbucks on every other corner. 

Most people have been very friendly and helpful to me upon meeting them and welcoming. 

I’ve made so many new friends in just a week and had some interesting conversations and I’m excited to keep exploring every area and nurturing my new friendships while establishing more.

This week has been rewarding, uncertain, scary, fun, exciting, HOT and wonderous.

Speaking of HOT…no more candid middle of the afternoon easy runs…I learned my lesson the hard way this week by attempting to run in mid-afternoon because I wanted to sleep in. 

Trust me, here it’s worth it to suck it up and get the training done EARLY before you bake.

I definitely have my work cut out for me starting over in a new city with dreams, goals, tasks and a more open heart toward people and serving than I’ve ever had.

I’m hopeful and determined going into my second week living here in Jax. 

Now I start both my position at the PGA, starting a new client base for personal training from scratch, plugging in at new church groups, coordinating training with new running buddies, meeting my Roomate finally!!, and juggling adjusting to a new routine for the week and maintaining a balanced FUN social life!

My goals going foreward here are:

  • Stay in community- with my church, my friends, running community, friends 
  • Train smarter and believe in my goals & don’t make excuses and encourage  my group here 
  • Excel in my PGA position and as a trainer at the YMCA for my community and use my skills to help be a light in everything I can do here 
  • Make new friends and be open and not ghost people bc I’m afraid they will hurt me. Put myself out there and be a GREAT friend! And listener, be dependable for everyone
  • Explore new eats, craft brews, art, culture of Jax 
  • Be a beach bum and learn to surf!! 
  • Have fun being a 20’something!!

I know that’s a lot to digest, I’m still processing all of the sights, sounds, feelings and conversations and connections from this week. It will take a little while before Jax feels like home but my first week has been very successful, I’m happy and I know I’ve already crossed off a lot of immediate goals in my book. 

I’m beyond thankful and blessed and I can’t wait to see what the next weeks and months here hold!

Until my next post, comment anything you want to know about my move or Jax and I’ll do my best to answer! 


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.

 

 

 

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.