Thursday, October 11, 2012

Celebrate TODAY!

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12 NIV
After oversleeping this morning and rushing to get my three children fed, dressed and off to school, I stood outside on this crisp fall morning and remembered that today is special.  Today I have three healthy, vibrant, loving children to feed, dress and get off to school.  Today the sun is shining, my husband is off to work at a job he loves and I have my dad here on this Earth to wish a happy 65th birthday to.  

Two and a half years ago my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer.  After his surgery we received the gut wrenching news that the cancer was not contained.  It had spread to the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes and there was no cure, just treatment to prolong life.  At that time all we could see was loss.  Loss of health for our dad, loss of hope, loss of life.  No more celebrations to be had with him, no more vacations, no more Sunday dinners, no more Daddy.  All we felt was devastating loss.  

Today Dad is doing really well.  He has the same diagnosis, but instead of seeing loss, he sees gain in each day God blesses him with.  Every three months he goes to Sloan, with trepidation, for his bloodwork to see if the cancer is still being held at bay.  And regardless of the results, he rides his Harley, drives his dream truck all over the country and plans his next vacation with my mom.  He is living TODAY.

As I look back on that time of utter despair, I am amazed at how God has turned my view of life around completely.  Instead of robbing me of time with my father, he has gifted me time with him.  As I shared in previous posts, my nephew's 20 months of life came at the perfect time for all of us.  For each day with Carter, unbenounced to us, was a GIFT!  God sent us a real life message to "number our days".  Not count the years ahead, not think about the what-if's or the potential losses, but to be present in today and not miss a moment of it.  For aren't we all "terminal"?  Isn't this life here on Earth just a gift, so temporary; a breathe in eternity?  

Bad days will come.  Trials will weigh us down in utter despair, robbing us of the ability, at times, to see the life in front of us.  But praise be to God that He continues to hold us tight, carry us through those times and teach us, when we seek Him, to enjoy the days of our life and gain invaluable wisdom along the way.  Don't lose today seeing the loss in front of you, but rather, see life.  See the beauty, whether it be sunshine, a child's laughter, your health, employment, or candles on a cake.  Make your prayer today one that slows you down and helps you to celebrate today!

Happy 65th birthday, Daddy!  And thank you, Lord, that I can say those words!

If you have a moment, listen to one of my favorite songs, "Blink" by Revive, that echoes these reminders.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Unexpected Blessings

I wrote my last post with a peaceful acceptance of what I thought was the end of a long bout with unemployment for my husband, ending with a relocation to Ohio.  Little did I know that God had something else up His sleeve, in the works all along!

Three days before my husband was scheduled to leave for Ohio to start his new job, he got a call from a well-known, high-end fashion retail company in NYC.  He had interviewed with them six months prior and made an excellent impression and good connections, but the position they were hiring for at the time was not the right fit.  But the position they were hiring for this time was exactly right for him.  

With a new-found confidence of a man with a job, he told them that he accepted a position in the Midwest and was leaving for Ohio in a few days.  He could phone interview, but that would be about it.  A few hours after speaking with him, the recruiter called him back and said that the hiring manager really wanted to meet him and asked if there was any way to make that happen.  When she called, my husband was in the car on his way into NYC to meet up with his band buddies to say good-bye, so he told them that if they were willing to overlook his appearance, he could come that day.  

So, there he was, in the offices of this premier fashion company in NYC in cargo shorts, a t-shirt and a scruffy, unshaven face.  Every interview he had been on with various companies to this point my husband meticulously picked out his outfit, carefully groomed and prepped himself for the conversations.  There was no time for that; he came as he was, with all he had to offer in his personality, experience and intellect.  

And yet, this was the interview that was exactly right.  He left there feeling great because despite what happened, he already had a job!  So off to Ohio he went, following God's lead, accepting the path paved before him and in a sense, walking on water as Peter did in the book of Matthew.  He knew that the waters were not all calm, yet he knew that that was where he was being commanded to go.

If any of you have ever been in the position of looking for work while currently unemployed, you know the feeling of sheer desperation.  Even though the hiring company needs you, you need them more.  Every day feels like an eternity as you sit and wait, at their mercy, for something, anything, to give you even a glimmer of hope, or at least allow you to move past this potential and the mind games that occur all while "what if'ing" everything.  It is a miserable web to be caught in, and no matter how hard you try, it seems you cannot escape its grasp.  Yet you cling to God's lead, desperately holding onto your faith in knowing God is leading, and you keep trudging forward.

Throughout the fifteen months that my husband fervently looked for a job, he wrestled with so many ugly emotions; fear, anger, doubt, rage, envy, despair.  There were days, weeks, months when he would hit a low, so lost in this endless cycle of ups and downs, highs and lows and constant uncertainty.  As his wife I hated seeing him so broken and filled with such emotions.  I desperately clung to my faith and with God's help, kept my eyes on Him, reminding myself that we would be okay.  Even when he accepted the position in Ohio we were filled with fear, but we knew that we needed to follow God's lead, despite the stormy waters or the unknowns in front of us.  

John Ortberg says, in his book If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat,  "The choice to follow Jesus-the choice to grow-is the choice for the constant recurrence of fear.  You've got to get out of the boat a little every day."  

By now you are probably wondering where this story is going, so I will cut to the chase.  On August 1st my husband started his second new position of the summer, in NYC, doing exactly what he wants to be doing in his career.  They continued to pursue him and interview him while he was working in Ohio and again, he continued to allow God to lead and trust that no matter what, we would end up where He ultimately wanted us.  I am still in awe and have not quite absorbed all that has happened in the past few weeks, and am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the opportunity to really grow that God has provided us with.  

The Lord has blessed us tenfold over the past year and a half.  Throughout this trial we have learned to truly wait on the Lord and know what it is to trust Him.  John Ortberg says, "We have to wait on the Lord to receive power to walk on the water. We have to wait for the Lord to make the storm disappear.  In some ways, 'waiting on the Lord' is the hardest part of trusting.  It is not the same as 'waiting around.'  It is putting yourself with utter vulnerability in his hands."

Waiting really is the hardest part.  But like every storm, it too shall pass.  It is the fight to strengthen ourselves in that storm instead of get sucked in and drown that is the real battle.  But oh, what a battle it is worth fighting for growth is priceless.

Thank you, God, for revealing yourself to me, over and over.  For never letting go, for carrying us through when we could not carry ourselves.  Thank you for teaching us how to trust in you and for growing and deepening our understanding of You and our faith.  Thank you for leading us to exactly where you want us right now.  Please do not ever let us stop growing.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Grow Me, My Lord

I remember the day all too well in March of 2011, when my husband received notice from work that his position was being eliminated.  For months there had been talk of cut backs and re-organizing roles, but he was assured by his boss and others not to worry, that he was most likely "safe".  Little did his boss know that she, along with thirty others, were on the list to be cut,  as well.  

Dante and I just sat, looking at each other, in such shock. 

People all around us had been falling victim to our declining economy.  Why were we any more protected than anyone else?  Yet, as humans, we live with an ignorance that we are more protected somehow.  That "that" (whatever "that" might be) won't happen to us.  So when it did, we were frozen in shock.  I remember quickly figuring out how long we could float financially and feeling a sense of relief that we could make it the rest of the year.  Never did I think we would have to stretch and stretch the way we have, for again, ignorance is bliss and "that" couldn't possibly happen to us.

Dante sat wrestling with the beginnings of emotions that were provoked by the elimination of a position that defined him for so long.  He was the provider for our family; his paycheck represented his role as a husband, father, and bread winner.  The recognition he received at work validated his intelligence.  With that one notice that was all stripped away from him.  

As his wife, I battled with the guilt of not bringing in a paycheck.  I stepped away from my career as a teacher to stay home with our three young children, as well as support Dante in the advancement of his career, absorbing many of the household duties and chores.  I loved our life and the balance that we had created.  This notice threatened that balance as well, and stole from me what I ideally wanted for my family.

A year later, I sit here so grateful for God's amazing hand in my life.  If my husband had not been laid off from his job, I would not have discovered just how strong my God created me to be.  I would not have dug as deep as I have to TRUST in Him, use the skills and work ethic He instilled in me to work to pay our bills, creatively finding ways to make money, stretch a dollar, and humble myself to accept the generosity of others.  God showed me that money does not define a person and that in His eyes, we are all His.  Dante would not have had this priceless year to spend with our children, being such a presence in their everyday lives.  My relationship with my husband would not have reached the depths it has if it had not been tested, stretched, and beaten down.  Together we wrestled with our faith and ever so slowly started letting go of our false sense of control over the situation and turned it over to God.  We began to really test out our faith and walk blindly, allowing God to lead.  Instead of working to have more we began to live to enjoy what we had.    Most importantly, I learned to appreciate everything that is truly important in this life and find my real joy in the Lord.

A few weeks ago Dante received a job offer from a company in Ohio.  We wrestled with this and its "imperfections", even though in the end, he had little choice but to accept since unemployment can not go on forever.  It would mean moving away from our dear friends and family, a church and community that we love, and moving into unknown territory.  Yet we have prayed for the Lord to lead us where He wants us, and so often that does not always adhere to the parameters that we, as humans, define.  

Maybe this is one more gift that my sweet nephew, Carter,  taught me in his short life: God defines the parameters in this life, not man.  And when we learn to completely sink into His divine providence and TRUST that He leads us to where He wants us, real joy is discovered.  

Our 7 year old son said it best when he responded to the news that we would be moving with, "I am not sad to move, I will make new friends.  I am just so happy that God answered our prayers and Daddy has a job!"  Wow. How right that little boy is; God has answered our prayers!

So off to Ohio we will head! 

I am excited to see what God has in store for us, even though I wrestle with fear of the unknown.  About a hundred times a day I have to remind myself that my God is in control, and always has been.  When I start panic about selling the house, being apart from my husband until the children and I can move out there, finances, separation from my parents and siblings, or a million other things that find their way into my head,  I remind myself to STOP; "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 43:10).  I am armed now with the knowledge that change, discomfort, pain; they all GROW you.  That alone, my friends, is exciting stuff.  

So grow me, my Lord! I am all yours.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I have been thinking a lot about what hope actually means and how to integrate it into my life.  A month ago my youngest sister's 20 month old son unexpectedly passed away while taking a nap.  Carter had contracted a rare virus at 6 days of age that caused global brain damage.  The doctors, at the time, offered little to no hope that Carter would even live, let alone live a life with any value.  At the time, while that little baby was still in PICU and on life support, they suggested to my sister and brother-in-law that they take him off of life support, extinguishing any and all hope for Carter.  Matt and Emily prayed that God make that decision for them, for that was not a decision they could ever make on their own.  Within two days Carter miraculously started to show signs of improvement; hope of life!  He came off life support ON HIS OWN!  At that point, the doctors still offered little hope that he would ever eat without a feeding tube, breathe without oxygen, see or hear.  Again, within days Carter proved them all wrong as we all prayed that God define Carter's life, not man.  For 20 months Carter defied all expectations for life set by doctors and specialists.  He nursed again at 2 month, came off a feeding tube and ate baby food with a spoon, laughed, smiled, picked up his head, rolled and lived a life filled with joy.  It was a life lived without expectation, just plain hope.  God defined the parameters of Carter's life, not man.  And through this little boy, we all began to see God Himself.  In Matthew 18:3 Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  For the first time in my life, I understood what Jesus meant by this.  Life is not to be lived with expectations set by us, parameters drawn by man, but lived as a child.  A child filled with pure joy, accepting all that comes their way with open hearts and minds.  

As I watch my own children grieve Carter's death, I am in awe.  They do not carry the heavy burden of expectations for life that we do as adults.  The rejoice in his life, sweetly cry as they remember him and miss him, but are so excited that he is with Jesus.  They believe, without doubt, that God took him to be with Jesus because it was his time and today, he is laughing with Jesus in Heaven, and why should we be sad about that?

I am still processing all that I have learned from Carter's 20 months of life.  I think the lessons will continue to come, and with each one, I receive a deeper understanding of what hope really means.  There is one lesson that  I learned very early on in Carter's life.  The day we all gathered in his little PICU room in August 2010 and prayed that God make the decision for us, hope entered that room.  I experienced, for the first time in my life, the peace that surpasses all understanding as I placed my hope in Christ alone.  

I would like to share with you something that I wrote on the long plane-ride back from CA a few weeks ago, as we brought my sister and her little family back to the East coast for Carter's funeral and memorial.  The word "hope" was resonating with me so loudly that I pulled out my I Pad and wrote what was on my mind and heart.


The word hope alone resonates with such assurances and comfort.  But when it is all you have left to cling to, it becomes a life ring, so difficult to hold onto as the waves keep crashing down, loosening your grip, knocking you under, leaving you gasping for air.  You cling to the ring with faith that it will keep you afloat, for what other choice do you have?  Yet exhaustion seeps in, over and over. When will the storms calm, the waters still and the rescue come?  You cry out for help, over and over, trying to believe you are heard by the One who sees all, the One who is our Hope.

In no way can I say that keeping my Hope alive is easy.  It is quite the opposite.  My faith is often one of the hardest choices I make each and every day.  In the eye of the storms of this life, as I gasp for air and feel my life ring slipping away, it is then that my Lord tightens His grip, gently securing me in Hope; Hope that I am never alone, that He will not fore-sake me, that despite the value I place in the things of this world, I am not OF this world.  He reminds me that HE is all I need and that in His grip I will not drown.  He quenches my thirst with His peace that surpasses all understanding, just as I feel dehydration sinking in.  He brings laughter just as the tears begin to flood my vision.  He brings joy in the present, allowing the weight of the past and future to escape me for that moment.  

He is my Hope.  The One who can calm the raging seas around me, keeping me safe, in His arms, safe and afloat.  Oh my Lord, tighten Your grasp, keep me secure in the life ring, carry me through these storms.  Grow me my Lord.  Make me your servant, strengthen my faith, keep my Hope alive.  Amen.

It was Carter's passing that finally pushed me to start this blog, a blog I had been talking about writing for a long time.  Too many of us wander this life without hope, without knowing where to place our hope.  This is my attempt to share with you where that hope can be found, in Jesus Christ alone.  I am praying for all of you who read this.  Please share my blog and share with me your stories and HOPE.  

Jesus said, " I am the Way the Truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, 
but by me." 
 John 14:6

God bless you,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Be Still

Anyone who knows me well, knows that being STILL is not in my character.  I can hardly sit for 5 minutes without my leg starting to anxiously bounce.  Recently my four year old excitedly said to me, "Mommy, look, I can bounce my leg just like you do!"  Great...just what I wanted my daughter to notice and then model!  

It's funny how God repeatedly hones in on our weaknesses, bringing opportunity after opportunity to break us of what haunts us the most.  Actually, I just said that "it's funny".  When I am in the midst of one of His attempts to break me of my inability to be still and know He is my God; to relinquish control, trust Him and cast all of my anxieties and fears upon Him, the last thing I find is humor in it.  Looking back on those times I can laugh, for it never ceases to amaze me at how my Creator really does know me inside and out, so perfectly!  I will focus on those times because looking back gives me strength to trust in the trials of today.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am a control freak.  I would much rather try and figure out how to do something myself than let anyone do it for me.  I want all of the control, whether that be in the little things (like my obsession with doing the laundry "my way") or the big things like my health, children, or relationships.  Control is my nemesis.  We have a love-hate relationship.  Control keeps me from being still.  Ever.  Yet my God keeps on working on me.  And I know that is out of love for His child.  Out of hating to see those chains that constrict me from being all that I can be in this world.  He is answering my prayers when I cry out to Him to release me from my anxieties and fears.  He whispers to me, and often shouts to me, "Be still and know I am God."

Twelve years ago I had my first 'breaking' when I decided it was time to have a child.  I had suffered from stage 4 endometriosis from the age of 20, having had two surgeries and four years of Lupron shots.  So it came as no surprise to anyone (but me, of course) that my cycles were irregular and pregnancy just was not happening without extra assistance.  This drove me insane.  I obsessively read every thing I could find online about getting pregnant.  If there was a supplement out there, or a fertility diet to be followed, an acupuncturist or chiropractor insisting they could help, I did it.  No baby.  My first IVF cycle I was an anxious mess.  Even on the day of transfer I was far from relaxed.  I remember the doctor actually saying to me, "Relax and just be still."  I laid there willing that embryo to stick, listening to my crazy meditation CD where you visualize pregnancy and talk to the embryo.  I was far from still; far from turning it over to God.  I WAS IN CONTROL!  Or so I thought.  Well, that cycle failed.  Looking back, I can see why.  First off, what would I have learned from that if I had gotten pregnant when I dictated it to happen?!  I would have catapulted myself into a pregnancy with my attitude that I could control it all.  Weight gain, bleeding, stretch marks, labor, you name it.  God, He had other plans.  "....plans to prosper (me) and not to harm (me), plans to give (me) hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

9 and a half years ago I had my first tangible experience with God stilling my soul and allowing me to cast my anxieties upon Him and relinquish control.  I went through that IVF cycle with a peace that I had never experienced.  To this day God was not only answering my prayers, but the prayers of many others, for that was not ME that brought the peace, that's for sure.  I stayed off the internet that entire cycle and prayed every day as I got ready for work, had injections and blood-work and all else that my day would entail.  I can still remember sitting in my little bathroom, blow drying my hair, reading a devotional a friend had given me and marveling at how odd this feeling was; peace.  It was foreign to me and I questioned whether or not I was loosing my mind.  It was so more familiar to me to be anxious all of the time, to busy myself with controlling my life, than to just "let go and let God."  

I did get pregnant that cycle.  And if I hadn't, I actually think I would have been okay with it, because throughout the entire thing, right up until the day of my pregnancy test, I was at peace with allowing it to be in God's hands.  Actually, both my eldest daughter and my son are of that cycle.  Baby number two was my frozen embryo that we conceived two years later (yes, technically speaking, my kids are twins as far as modern science is concerned!).  I wish I could say that from that cycle on, I have been peacefully turning IT ALL over to God.  That I have now mastered "Be[ing] still and know[ing] that I am God."  Psalm 46:10.  

The breaking and making from my Lord has occurred again and again since then.  Sometimes in small ways, like with colic-ally children, broken furnaces, and viruses ruining plans.  And other times, with much more pain and angst entering my world; cancer, loss, death, unemployment.  

Currently, as I write, my husband has been unemployed for a year.  I NEVER thought I would be here, a year later, having more days where I am still than anxious.  I started off this journey a year ago having full blown panic attacks.  But my God loves me and knows me best.  He continues to break me in order to make me the woman He wants me to be.  He stills my soul and reminds me, over and over that He is enough and all I need is to "Be still and know I am God."

With that said, I will now go do my workout, spend the day cleaning out my mother-in-law's house in preparation for her move (for my abilities to NOT be still and move with some maniac speed have been called upon), cook and clean for a party at my home tomorrow night, do 5+ loads of laundry and pass out at some ridiculous hour, I am sure!  But through it all, my soul will remain still today.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Endurance for the Race

Barring really horrific weather, every Sunday morning, after I get my kids' breakfast made and clothes laid out for church, I run.  I run not for the miles or the exercise, although a few hundred calories burned always balances out my weekend indulgences (at least I tell myself that), but I run for the sanity.  I run to clear my head, to think and pray.  I run to cry, laugh, blast music on my I Pod or be silent and just listen.  Some mornings I do all of the talking to God,  or just to myself.  Other days I just absorb the world around me, marveling at how God's beauty is everywhere, ever so perfectly changing with the seasons. 

I wasn't always this type of a runner.  I picked up running again after my third child was born out of a mere desire to loose the baby weight.  I hated every step I took, loathing the burn in my legs and lungs.  I used to tell myself that I could not do more than 2 miles without stopping, and ONLY on a treadmill.  Then 2 miles became a 5K and it was within my comfort zone, so I pushed it a little further.  My runner friends pulled me (literally!) off of the treadmill that I had become so accustomed to and dragged me along with them outside on longer runs.  I would whine and tell them I just wasn't cut out to run.  I hated it.  My knees hurt.  I couldn't do it.  They would just laugh and tell me to trust them, I could do it.   They would bring me on runs where we would get lost in conversation, moaning to each other that we couldn't make it back to our starting point yet knowing we had no choice, so together we would make it, cheering each other on.    Every time I made it another mile without stopping, I silently cried with joy, in awe at what my body could do.   Could it be possible that I was becoming a runner?!  Was trusting in a training schedule all you really needed to do; that and a good pair of running sneakers?!  

Two years ago I ran my first half marathon.  Yup, the same woman who said I could not run 2 miles without stopping and was NOT a runner.  Hated it.  Knees hurt.  Couldn't do it.  Ironically, as I look back, it was that same year that God started changing not only my physical endurance, but my endurance for life.  The fall before I decided I would even give 13.1 miles a shot, my mom slipped into a dark depression.  My mom, who had always been the one, in my eyes, to have such spiritual strength and faith in God, could not get out of bed.  Being the oldest of four and a Type A, take-charge, control freak, I jumped right into trying to "fix" this crisis.  This was the first tremor of trial my family had really had to face, the first quake that life doesn't always go as planned.  Yes, my brother's divorce from his high school sweetheart was rough, but we moved on.  Tragedy had never really fallen upon the Geng family, and we lived in ignorant bliss that it never would.  But to see mom not being able to cope, or even get out of bed for that matter?!  Shaky ground, when I had gone 35 years depending on my parents to be my rock.  Not to mention, I could not understand how if you had such a strong faith, how could you get so depressed?  Couldn't you just pray your way out of that?!  We were a good Christian family.  Wasn't this kind of depression for the lost and faithless?   Now, I am no stranger to depression and anxiety.  Zoloft had kept me even-keeled for years, but I surely did not have the faith my mom had, so that was understandable to me.  Hmm...little did I know God had a lot of work to do in me to change that viewpoint on faith!

Anyway, back to the year God started training me for life.  That Christmas season mom's depression had gotten so out of control that we decided, as a family, that we had no choice but to check her into a hospital, for the first time.  Anyone who has ever had to face depression on this level knows how ugly and gruesome it is, whether you are the one caught in its ugly grip or the one watching someone you love suffer in its hideous chains.  My mom just seemed so broken, and with that, I felt so broken; our family was broken.  

It was right about that time that my running started to shift and settle for me.  I started to wake up craving a run, needing the physical and emotional outlet, wanting to tie my running shoes and see just what I could accomplish on the pavement that day.  I started to talk to God on my runs.  My prayers were not just confined to words lifted up as I drifted off to sleep or blessings said with my own little family before meals.  He started to call to me and meet me on that pavement that spring, placing a longing within me to get out and run.

That spring, as I trained for my first half marathon, slowly my body began to endure the miles, my lungs and legs could take me further and faster and I was DOING IT!  I will never forget the day that I went to go for a run one Sunday (back then more because it was just one of the days I could schedule in the miles) when I found my I Pod dead.  I panicked.  I couldn't run.  I couldn't do it without music!  Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, JZ....they all fueled my body and made me run!  I sat there, unsure of what to do.  Something (Someone!) whispered to me to get my shoes on and just go.  I told myself that I would just do a few miles and then come home.  In the silence I had no idea what to do; I could not "Be still"!  But just as I was about to turn around, I started praying.  I started talking to God in a way that I never really had before.  And when I was out of words, I was silent.  I listened and looked around at what surrounded me.  I had never really noticed how pretty my little corner of the world is, how blessed I was to have such a gorgeous trail to run on right by my home!  I ran 8 miles that day.  With no music.  Yup, same woman who had told herself that she could not do it.  I started, just started to think that maybe, just maybe I was not broken and that everything was going to be okay.  Mom was coming out of her depression.  We had endured it.  That alone drove my feet to move.

The day that I ran without music strengthened me.  If I could run outside of the comfort zone I had created, I could cross that finish line come May.  I was in training and I was enduring.  Something had shifted in my world, and the first trial of many over the past few years shook me just enough to start to see, feel and hear God, even if it was just with my running shoes on.  

I know you are all wondering where I am going with this.  In my head I see all of the connections between the events in my life, all leading me to sit here and write this blog, tell my little story and share how the Lord has created an endurance in me that far exceeds my ability to run miles.  But the story cannot be told in one sitting.  For I am still in training.  Training for life.  Training for a Christ-filled life.  Two years ago I was not where I am today and God, I pray I am so much further along in my endurance and strength for life every year that passes.  You see, I didn't realize that year that I started my first half marathon training that God would start to break me in order to make me the woman He wanted me to be.   That He would meet me on those running trails and shift me into a life where I would let go of control, little by little, and trust the process of training; let go of the "I can't"'s that I so comfortably would spew out when I really didn't want to push myself or endure.

Running has become the perfect analogy for me in my relationship with Christ.  Today, I crave my runs just like I crave time alone with God.  I have confidence in my ability to put on a pair of sneakers and run anywhere, in any kind of weather, in the same way that I have confidence in God's presence in my life.  I get cranky when it has been too long between mind-clearing runs, and get cranky when it has been too long between my time spent with the Lord.  Don't get me wrong.  I have yet to run more than a half marathon and I still have the voice telling me "I can't", just the same as I have many, many days when life is just downright ugly and hard and the same voice says, "I can't".  I have days when I do not feel the energy I need to get out and run, and days when I do not have the energy to even meet up with God.  But I am stronger.  I can endure, and I will endure.  I just have to train and trust that with each day, with each run, I am one step closer to crossing that finish line with ease.  I just have to put on my running shoes and hit the pavement and God will take care of the rest.  I make the choice; I will endure.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  Hebrews 12:1

Friday, April 13, 2012

Taking a Leap

I am doing it, finally.  Blogging.  Putting my thoughts and words "out there" for more to read other than my very close friends and family.  I don't know whether I should thank my cheer team, who have not ceased to encourage me to WRITE, or curse them.  But more than those telling me to get this going already, I cannot deny God's nudges, whispers, and SHOUTS to put it all out there; let the world know who I am and what drives, fuels and sustains me.

For those of you who don't know me, I look forward to getting to know you through this odd cyber world that defines so many relationships in this modern age.  For those of you who do, well, you already know that I am an all over the place, passionate, sometimes scatter-brained, laugh one minute, cry the next type of a gal, so you will follow along with this blog and get some extra insight into those crazy ups and downs of the life of Jen! And hey, you were the ones who told me to do this in the first place, so here we go!

Life is not easy.  It is downright painful at times.  In the past few years I have had more moments when I want to RUN away, yet I never could figure out where to run to, so instead I stick around and keep on keeping on.         In doing that, I have discovered a depth to life that I never thought I could experience.  I feel more than I have ever felt.  With intense sadness also comes intense joy, yet it takes seeking that joy out.  Trusting in the promises God has made to reveal our joy in Him.  Trusting that the tears will pass and laughter will come.  Trusting that my soul will grow through it all.  

For tonight, I will end there.  My stories to share will piece it all together, one at a time.  And thrown in, you may even get some random recipes, crafting or gardening tips.  It's what us girls do; tell our stories, share our secrets, cry together and laugh together,  making this life a little easier to bear and enjoy.  Praise God for it all.