Being Mirrors

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Love is a difficult topic. In this world, it’s hard to find acts of ramdom kindness and expressions of love. Though perhaps we are also at fault for not looking hard enough for the positivity and beauty. Nevertheless, God calls us out to be His chosen disciples. Because the world is so lost, He chooses us to be His mirrors. When people look at us and interact with us, they should notice something different. I hope that in my interactions, people can see Jesus living in me. What does that look like exactly? Well, I certainly will be spending my whole life trying to figure that out, but the first step is to love. “Love thy neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31.

Here we may run into another problem with love…What if you don’t really love yourself? I’ve struggled with this my whole life, so I know how you feel if you are a victim of insecurity and perhaps self-loathing. I pray that God can free you of this. He designed you; do not scorn yourself or you scorn his very Creation as not being good enough. I know, this sort of attitude does not change overnight, believe me. But with God all things are possible and all things are made new. Pray for a clean heart; pray today for freedom from any thoughts of negativity. These thoughts are destructive to you and will keep you from furthering God’s kingdom. When we are trapped in self-pity, anxiety, depression…we are only consumed on theses thoughts. These are thoughts from the devil, not from God! I pray that today, you will just get a little farther from harmful thoughts and closer to God’s plan for you 🙂 It is only then when we can love ourselves that we can truly give love and share of His grace to others.

Have a great Friday!! Thanks for reading 🙂 xoxo

Blog’s Next Steps and Runner’s Thoughts

Your encourager and supporter in all things active :)
Your encourager and supporter in all things active 🙂

So I want to go about this in the best way possible! Thank you all for following so far; I really really appreciate your support and likes 🙂 I think what I’ll do with my blog posts is to do an every-other-switch between fitness and nutrition. So one day running, then it’ll be food. One day exercises, the next food. I’ll keep posting recipes as I make them and insert writerly tidbits whenever, but I think this will help give balance and provide you all with the MOST info possible on how to make your life active and healthy all the time 🙂 You can tell I’m pretty passionate about this!

I am imagining that my next few posts relating to fitness will be groundwork stuff, stuff you never would have even thought of before stepping into the gym and picking up a dumbbell. The nutrition I want to continue talking about the superfoods and how to cook with them because I am a strong advocate for those. Eventually, I will be testing out programs and supplements (Shakeology anyone?). That way, I can recommend those here or warn you about what to expect and so on. I am super excited to be here and to be continuing to motivate and help others!

Also, my little sister Katie is doing super well. I failed to mention that she is also an expert cello player 😉 It has been unbelievably cold here in Illinois, sub-0 temps, and ugh. It’s just awful. But we’ve been getting her out to the barn to ride her pony when it’s nice-ish. (And that’s about 15 degrees or higher). Katie doesn’t get as cold as I do…in fact I’m pretty sure she’s hot-blooded and I’m part-reptile. We also re-did her room so it looks VERY much like a country girl, horse-lover’s room. The bedspread she has now, she selected herself because she said it reminded her of a horse blanket they wear in the winter! She’s so cute. Anyway, as always, without her realizing it, Katie has been inspiring me. I get stronger for her, I get faster for her. There have been some recurring struggles that took place yet again while I was hurt. And of course, the struggles caused me to grow weaker, thus prolonging me to recover and build up my mileage quickly. And though the problems and “roadblocks” are a long backstory, I am getting past the backstory and focusing on the many goals I have for myself and Katie. These legs aren’t just mine; they’re hers too. Read my How I Became A Runner page, if you haven’t yet 🙂

From my Instagram, follow me for more inspiration and fitness action @ runrisa94
My photo from my INSTAGRAM, follow me for more inspiration and fitness action @ runrisa94

I live by this. I stand by this. And I will never get so low as to be weak again.

Have a lovely night everyone, thanks again for reading! xoxo

Late Nights Can Lead to Truth

Remember when we were little and would stay up until 5 am just so we could say we stayed up that late and to talk to our best friends about everything? We didn’t have work to get to, finals to cram for, bills to stress about, or obligations to think of.

We just had the whooollleee night. The whole long night with our best friends at a sleepover.

What I would give to have that again for just one night.

And if we are being wholly honest with ourselves, the best conversations come out after midnight, right? Or at least the truth does.

The truth came out some for me last night before I went to bed, though I’ll have to chew on it some more until I come to a full consensus. By the way, that phrase is cliched, but it is impeccable. “Chewing over/on something” really is the best way to say it. Because when we chew, we savor each different flavor of the food, feel the texture, sense if it’s spicy or bland, know if it’s salty or sweet– a lot goes on in that process. During the “thought chewing” process, I realized that a number of things need to happen.

  1. I need to pray. There’s so much swimming in my head right now, it’s crazy. I am certain you have all felt this on several occasions. Whenever I have become overwhelmed and up to my neck in thoughts, ideas, plans, obligations, worries…I pray. I pray hard, for extended periods of time, hoping I’ll hear something. Hoping I’ll know exactly what to do next.
  2. And listen. Being an active listener during prayer is tough. Being silent in everyday life is tough.
  3. And write some more. Writing helps organize the thoughts and mind. I have a lot of journaling to catch up on, and a lot of thoughts bouncing off of each other like pinball.

It’s a lot like meditating. All of these things occur only in silence. They do not involve other people. They merely involve God, the mind, and maybe pen and paper.

I am not sure what your debriefing, solitude, writing time looks like, but I hope that you all take the time to enjoy some this weekend. Because I look back now and see that we all did find out the truth in our youth and did a lot of active thinking…with each other at sleepovers talking for hours. Even then we needed the time to sort things out, make sense of everything we’ve been experiencing.

However, not just tonight do I need to pray and reflect, I have to make sure I’m making time for this every day. I typically do, but not for as long as I’d like. Even when I don’t feel like doing it after a long day, I need to remind myself that that’s when I need it most! I’ve had a long day; I should take time to digest it! Not for an hour, just ten minutes. I think I can always promise ten minutes of my day. And soon, this time will feel really, quite pleasant and soothing. It’ll be like having my massage at the end of the day, releasing all the knots and stress I’ve been carrying on my back 🙂

I hope you all do take some time out for yourselves and have some reflection. It certainly is cold enough to do so! And I hope you all have a lovely night tonight! Stay warm! xoxo

We Can Still Make It A Good Night

I live in the frozen tundra...but it's still home.

I live in the frozen tundra…but it’s still home.

My home has been Illinois for the majority of my life…with that comes a lot of frustration and downright turmoil. Of course Chicagoans are bitter and rude; it’s because we live with gusts of 50 mph wind in the summer, spring, fall, AND winter. So don’t get us started with the wind chill!!

Yeah we’re bitter about the cards we got dealt.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Location and happiness do not go hand in hand.

“So you’re saying that me moving to Florida, getting a steady job, moving into a new home…all of that wouldn’t make me happier??”

Yeah, basically.

When I said I have lived in Illinois for only the majority of my life, I am referring to the small periods of time when we moved to Nebraska when I was very young, and Tennesse, which was a move that happened just 2 years ago. We are clearly back in Illinois and back to our frozen popsicle-house, but we are amazingly happier here. And I’ll tell you why.

We wanted a change. Everyone in the house wanted a change, besides Katie. I mean, she was happy as a clam to stay back with her friends and cousins. Our grandparents also live just two hours away. But Mom, Dad, and I didn’t really care for all of those factors. We wanted to see the grass being greener on the other side; we knew it had to be true! There is nothing to lose when you go to Nashville!! Am I right??

But people are everything. 

And that is what makes all the difference. Do not think that you can re-create them somewhere else, because I have personally experienced that you cannot create those unique, dear, close friends who have been in-tune with you since Day 1. And when you transfer to a new school as a sophomore, people seem to already be pretty settled in their own groups. And when you get yourself in at a new job, the environment could be off. The boss doesn’t get your jokes, or your co-worker is lazy, strange, or just has a tendancy to drive you insane. I actually can’t really say anything for my sister because she was the one who actually did very well! Moving as a middle schooler?? Whoa. But Katie has just always been a success story 🙂

Katie, though, was thrilled when she was told of the move back home. Back to our Illinois home. Back to the home of the same town, same restaraunts that we missed in Tennessee, same cousins that never have a dull moment, and same friends that never leave our sides. Even when we’ve been gone! Everything clicked right back into place, it was like we had never left. We all just picked up where we left off.

And I know we can’t do that with everything in life, so I am very grateful for this experience that I got to share a fraction about. So don’t be like us and spend all your time wondering when you could be experiencing the best moments of your life right where you are. Because I know all of my best memories come from this state and this town.

Make it a good night. If you had a fight with someone, see how you can ammend it. If you’re growing pessimistic, stop and reflect on all that you have and also how far you have come. If you’re feeling stagnant with your life….well I could help you there! Go running! Sort of kidding. If you are feeling stagnant, set up extra time for devotions, time with loved ones, time for hobbies. It seems that we can’t slow down enough these days to do one simple thing: love.

“The one thing we can never get enough of is love; and the one thing we never give enough of is love.” –Henry Miller

Have a good night everyone 🙂

The Darkness Cannot Stay When There Is Light

In my news feed, I came across The Blacklight Candelabra’s post asking writers to respond with a story of simultaneous creation and deconstruction.

I am a strong, level-headed realist. I wasn’t always that way, but for good reason, I sure became one. I have seen and have personally experienced a lot. One of my family members had a horrible first marriage, changing her own life and the lives of her children forever. I have seen my friends fall head over heels for men not worth the heartache that would follow. I have seen some of my friends stay in the wrong relationships, not leaving when they should, giving someone a 100th second chance. There’s so much heartache in this world, that it makes it hard to see the light. I certainly have had my own share of turmoil, despair, and so I chose quite some time ago that I wanted to be single. I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, I have far too many plans. I want to do so much with my life, why would I want anything holding me back? And besides, a family? Lord have mercy, I was far from thinking that that was in the realms of my future. If I even got married, I didn’t think a nice guy would ever find me. All hope for that was lost somewhere around sophomore year in high school. True love in marriage is a myth (besides with my own parents). This world has gotten lost; people don’t believe in love anymore. People believe in convenience, quick remedies, easy pleasure, and guilt-free pleasure at that. Families? Families are broken; children are mistakes that happened unexpectedly. Yes, this was my mindset for about 6 years. And just two years ago, I sunk further into those beliefs.

Spring 2013

I walk into his room, and something still doesn’t seem right. Did I forget to bring him something, was my hair askew, my outfit all wrong– did he just not see the same woman anymore? I sit at his bed. I let my fingers trail his back, trying to smooth over whatever remnants remained. My fingers move to his hair as I try to smooth out whatever is being brought back to surface in there.

Am I still his darling? Have I ever been his or was this just a mirage seen by a lone, lost soul aimlessly looking for love?

My. I certainly had put a fair amount of trust in him. Though he had never given reason for me to do otherwise. Why, he wanted me with him everywhere. He wouldn’t go anyplace without me, wouldn’t want to spend a single day without me. Certainly, we had our share of fights as does any couple. And they were getting a little less common…

We don’t talk much that night, but I lay by him. I promise my presence, when he needs it. This could be the greatest gift he’s ever received, a dream come true. Turning to face me and smile, he acknowledges the silent promise I have given. I would come to the know the days I wouldn’t see him at all or even hear from him. I would come to know the days when I would see him and absolutely dread it.

“Why do you ridicule me in front of everyone?”

“Babe, I’m not trying to make fun of you. We’re laughing with you! It’s cute when you don’t know something!”

I look around at my teammates all seated at the dinner table, laughing and looking at me, waiting for me to laugh too.

Days later. 

“You don’t practice with me anymore or throw with me. Is something wrong?”

“Can’t you understand I don’t have the time?!”

I sigh angrily, “You never tell me anything; I have no idea what goes on with you!”

He sighs, staring directly ahead, not for once meeting my eyes, “You wouldn’t understand. None of this.”

Oh just the age gap argument again, is it?

Days later.

“You said you knew the way back!”

I am about ready to lose it, “We were both talking and distracted. You and I are both in the wrong here. We weren’t paying attention to how we got here! And I told you, ‘let’s try that direction’. We should have just used the GPS!” I brace myself for his response.

“You know what, this is ridiculous. You should have known this didn’t look right. None of this looks like what we saw on the way up, I was trusting you,” he spits the words out like venom, hoping each word leaves an impact.

“Why is it only me?! Just why? Why am I the one at fault here?”

“Because you told me to go this way!”

“You could have double-checked! I even said that I didn’t know!!”

The remaining twenty minutes were spent in silence broken by his single question, “So you’re just done talking now?”

Weeks later

My friend asks me, “So are you two doing better?”

“Oh much so,” I say with as much enthusiasm as I can manage.

She smiles at her phone, “Gosh, Aiden just told me that I looked gorgeous last night. I didn’t really try that hard, but I mean, when he takes us out, I kind of try–”

“Wait. You guys just went out.”

“No, that was like a week ago. It’s been a little while.”

I stare at her confused, “A week ago? Only a week ago?”

“What do you mean ‘only’? When was the last time you guys went out?”

I bite down hard on my lip and pinch my wrist to stop any tears. Valentine’s Day, which was nearly two months ago.

Instead, I ask something else, “You said he called you ‘gorgeous’?”

“Well yeah, and I mean he told me last night too, but he likes to tell me again. Kind of a thing with him; he always compliments me on the dumbest things,” she laughs as if it’s so absurd, but anyone can tell it lights up her whole world.

I smile and nod and decide to confess about my own boyfriend, “He’s never called me beautiful.”

Days later. 

I ask him to meet me that night, that we have a lot to talk about, and it just can’t wait. I settle into the passenger seat of his car as I’ve done so many times, usually for stolen kisses, long talks before his shift, a chance to warm up in the middle of the day between classes. I imagine how many times our hands were held just there by the clutch. I also see us singing ridiculously to the radio, but not him singing to me. I see his eyes fixed on the road, but not because he’s being a cautious driver. I see his gaze and that face–that face I’ll never understand–that mind I know is never fully here.

“I’m leaving,” I said.

“What?”

“I’m transferring, and we’re breaking up.”

Liberation, sometimes, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Spring 2014

Much more had happened between May 2013 and February 2014, but most importantly, nothing got any better. I had imagined leaving would solve everything. But running from situations tends to only leave you in the same mindset, just in a new location. Hiding out  tends to make the person you’re hiding from seem gone forever, but it doesn’t actually make that person go away. Hiding does not stop communication, and a new location does not promise all you’ve ever wanted.

When I returned to Illinois and Olivet in December, I made a promise for the Lent season. This is a season of the Catholic church, but I as a Nazarene still choose to take part in it. And this past spring, I chose God, not men. I prayed for renewal and healing. I prayed for a security like no other. Most of all, I prayed for forgiveness.

My ice castle I had created had started to melt that spring. The fortress surrounding my cold heart was starting to crumble, pillars of marble bitterness and towers of frozen fear began to crack and break. My fortress that I had worked so hard to preserve was coming down slowly. Though my ice castle was being destroyed, a soft heart of gold was taking its place.

Ezekiel 36:26- “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

This was not easy for me by any means. But to relinquish yourself– well who ever said that feels easy? We are creatures of control, we like to have control and order of our own lives. But this is not what Christianity is about. If you cannot give up your old ways, then you cannot accept the new life being given so freely. I realized that I didn’t want the path that I was creating for myself. It looked bleak and miserable, a tightly-wound, vicious cycle.

I am still a realist today, and I am by no means completely transformed. But I no longer hold a heart of ice, but now hold a heart of flesh. Because there are traits of me that will never go away, which I am perfectly okay with. However, the shattering of the ice in my heart, the disassembling of old, bitter memories, and the eradication of old fears have allowed the creation of this new heart.

I am now hopeful again.

I don’t see the world through pessimistic lens anymore. I have regained the vivid, optimistic, and brighter version of myself in my younger years. Though I am so uncertain of what lies ahead, I am open-minded, trusting in God every step of the way. It’s a much better way to live. Do not stay in the darkness, but seek renewal of mind and spirit. It takes time, but I think our generation needs to learn to have a little more perseverance and patience anyway.

“Light overcomes all darkness, for where there is light, the darkness cannot live there.”

https://blacklightcandelabra.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/illuminating-the-darkness-with-a-second-blog/

#15in2015- My Comeback from a Stress Fracture

So I never knew this was a thing….shows how involved I am in the world of creating hashtags and events termed by hashtags. Regardless, yeah I’ll do it! I just race; I find them as they come, but I can accept a specified challenge. I know I didn’t run 14 races last year (due to being sidelined by my first stress fracture), so I would love to make 2015 my year of races 🙂

So how many of you have actually had a stress fracture? Horrible isn’t it? I can’t even begin to tell you how angry and frustrated I felt from the beginning of September through mid-November. I made it worse all on my own, which I am notorious for doing by the way! Being an athlete and cross country runner, we want to ignore the injury, pretend we don’t actually have it. So what do we do about it? Run through it! Haven’t we all heard that? Just run through it; it’ll make you feel better.

But it didn’t.

Yeah, Coach, not this time. He claimed my shin was just inflamed. So, naturally, I did not stop running on my stress fracture since I thought it was only inflammation. Thus, I prolonged my own injury, running on it until it became excruciatingly unbearable. Running on it until I wanted to cry and at the same time, chop off my own shin. When I get mad at my legs for not working properly…I tend to want to chop them off. I feel as though that’s the best solution, like another shin, or hamstring will grow in its place. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Regardless, we discovered that, oh gee, this isn’t just inflammation at all. I described how it was hurting and where, and Coach realized it was more serious. The pain really felt like it was inside my bone, like I had broken something within it and the two parts were rubbing against each other with each step. Walking became painful. Going down stairs is the worst with a fracture!

So I began cross training…A LOT. Swim, swim, swim. That’s all I can say. Bike, bike, bike. I guess I can say that too. Elliptical made itself available within a few weeks, but we wanted to keep as much pressure off my shin as possible for the bone to heal. This was like my IT band syndrome all over again (which that story is another post, another time). I had to cross train around twice a day, but what was even all the more frustrating was knowing that my fitness would slip. This ate me up entirely; I knew this would backtrack me so much, the thoughts were unbearable. I had just had an incredible summer of races (see my gallery of pics on my sidebar menu) and now I was going to have to rebuild?! Build my base back up?! Come on!! I felt like I was just getting into the swing of things then

BAM! Sidelined again.

But like previous injuries, this one is no different. I learned a lot from it.

  1. I learned that I need to stay and keep with my freakin strength routines. (runners hate doing strength, we just want to run. Can I get an Amen?) Consistently having and executing a solid strength routine is CRUCIAL. I can’t stress this enough, especially if you’re a skinny, tiny distance runner like me. I have horrible hips. They constantly need strengthening and attention. When I neglect strengthening my key joints, problems happen. Like stress fractures and IT band syndrome. (well that’s overtraining too)
  2. I learned that I can still be happy for others and their running. Some of my friends were training for their first half, and I’m over here like, gee, isn’t that fantastic. You probably won’t ever have to experience what I have. But I learned to push such very negative thoughts out of my head and focus on being happy for my friends and their new accomplishments. We all have our rain, but we don’t need to rain on those who currently have the sun. Let them have their time to shine.
  3. Above all, I was humbled again and learned to appreciate every single run. Being injured is one of the most humbling experiences there is. You can’t go and go and go without experiencing road bumps. And because I am a follower of God, I also see injuries as a time when He’s wanting to scream something at me that he’s been trying to say for a while. Running is a gift; it is a tremendous gift. Be grateful for your legs, that they even work properly and you are able to do this. Be grateful for the miles and miles you can go, because there are thousands who are physically unable to go one. I learned to also be grateful for EVERY run, EVEN the slow ones. Again, every run is a gift. Do not take any one of them for granted, even when coming back from an injury.
Isn’t it incredible?

You and I are allowed to come out of an injury and setbacks without detrimental and permanent repercussions (unless you had your leg amputated or something). But the point of the matter is, even when we do have the rain, we still have the sun. Because we can shine again. Because our clouds shift eventually. Because the sun has always been inside of us, waiting for its chance to break through.