Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: August 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A State of Hope

Since coming back to Butler last weekend, I've been a whirlwind of emotions. But in the aftermath of the excitement and loneliness, I've finally settled on a state of being that transcends simply "feeling." I am hopeful. Some moments, I am worried and I choose hope. Other times, my smile radiates and I bubble over with hope that fills my soul. But whether or not it is easy to pinpoint: I live in a constant state of hope. Maybe that's because I can now see how far Christ has brought me. Perhaps it's because the reality of the cross doesn't hit home until your heart desperately grapples with the sacrifice that brought us grace. Perhaps it is because I am redeemed in a more tangible way that I could see in the past, I am repurposed and replanted in the environment God has willed for me. 

I have come to know that the Lord of the universe does not leave it forsake His children. No matter what. He does not watch from a distance and He does not scrap His plans for us when we go our own way, ending up in a heap of tears and pain. And no matter how you and I have deviated from His plan, we cannot escape the love of the Father that pursues us.  His mercy that never fails to rescue us when we cry out. 

This is my room in my new apartment.
So as the doctors and athletic trainers have greeted me with smiles this week, I've soaked in the sweet goodness of the Lord- the goodness that has brought me back to life- because I wouldn't be here without it.

 And they have asked: What did you learn? How have you grown?  So I've mentioned the coping skills and the accountability. I tell them I've been surrendering control and coming out from isolation.

But then, I segue to my faith.   I confess that my progress thus far has been one prayer after another, as God has held me and stretched me during these seven months in treatment.  At the end of the day, what I've truly learned through this trial is that the Lord's loving kindness provides His children with hope.

Hold on though.

I don't want you to think, for even a second, that this is a blanketed statement of naivety. Because it's not. "Hope" is not just a fancy word for "wish" as we so often think. It is based on a firm understanding of what is true, founded on the character of the one we put our hope in.  I've walked through the fire and I've seen how the Lord delivers, there's no "wishing" involved.  I don't aimlessly throw up a prayer as a wish on a shooting star.  No. I've seen how He pursues us even when we turn our backs on Him in favor of our own will, so I confidently hope in His presence in my life. 

And by this point I feel like I'm rambling. I feel like I'm saying something that's already been said a dozen times- on this blog alone.  But isn't is such, that the more we learn, the more we see there is to learn.  This time last year, I thought I understood God's mercy and sovereignty, but I truly didn't until my life was in shambles and the hope of the Lord was all I had to turn to.

Maybe that's you today.  You're exhausted; you're lonely; you feel like it will never get better.  Well I've been relying a lot on Isaiah 41:10 this week, which says:

"So do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

He will hold you.  And having the support of the Sovereign God is more than enough reason to hope.  And you'll keep stumbling along and learning and finding out there's more to learn, but that's part of the journey.  Keep your hope in the Lord, choose it even when your emotions say: "No!" The Lord is faithful and He will never forsake you.  Never.


Sunday, August 9, 2015


As I sit in my bedroom in Ohio, it's hard to imagine I'm going to be leaving just five days from now.  Sure, the big pile of stuff in the corner would suggest as much, but it's still a bit surreal.  For the past seven months, I have worked harder than I knew I could.  I have surrendered more than I thought I should.  All in all, it has been God's grace that has brought me to this point.  Only the Lord could take a broken, isolated heart, and make it new (RELATED: No Longer Stuck in Motion).  At times, I haven't truly believed it was possible.

But now I'm getting ready to return to college and run DI cross country.  I'm healthier than I have been in over four years.  I am so excited to take on Butler with the joy of the Lord- run with all my heart, make friends and study hard!  

Me at the fair last week (P.C: Heather Dugan)
I'm not naive enough to think it'll be a simple transition, but I've set up the accountability I need to be successful in this step.  And when the enemy tells me that I will be lonely or fail or spiral downward, I remind Him that God has given me wisdom in these seven months.  I remind Him that I have been freed from my chains, and I am moving forward from all that was.  I remind Him that God has already gone before me, and is preparing the way.  And then, I remind myself.

Sometimes, we get so hooked on the ordinary that we stop listening to the voice of God.  We think we have it all figured out and don't need or want anyone else's help.  That's where I was last year, that's where I'd been for most of my life.  But that's not sustainable.  We all need love.  We need grace and mercy and freedom.  This time at home has allowed me to listen to the voice of God and realize that my "ordinary" was killing me, and that the things God wants for my lift are even better than I can imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

So this is me, unhinged.  Unhinged from an eating disorder, unhinged from what has become comfortable, unhinged from fear and unhinged from isolation.  This is me proclaiming the glory of the Lord as I head back to Butler, a new person entirely.  I'm still on the road to recovery, but I look forward with hope because I know where I've been and I know just how powerful God is, to have brought me out of that place.  All I need to do is listen for His voice to guide me.

In all honesty, that's all we can ever do.  Hard work and planning certainly have their place, but when it comes to issues of the heart: Only He can provide the answers, motivation and plan that we need.  I hope this isn't just a dismissible rant.  I hope it serves as a testimony of the goodness of God.  I will be praying for all of you, that you too may tune your ear to hear more of God and less of your own fear and condemnation.  I would also appreciate your prayers for me: That I may continue in transparency, drawing nearer and nearer to God, and letting Him lead me to freedom.

We are all on this journey together, and for that: I am most grateful.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Unforgettable Runs: The Trails of St. John USVI

A novice runner might remark that it's best to stick to the treadmill when vacationing on the tropical island of St. John.  But if you are passionate about running and are up for some hills, then this post is for you.

The incline running on St. John is no joke.  Think I'm kidding?  Click HERE for a peek at Jacob's Ladder, the name of the hill that I started most of my runs with last week (we stayed at the Westin, which is shown in the video as well).  The video goes on to show the hills that I ran if I decided to turn left out of our villa- and running up that hill is no less of a feat.

My point?

Get ready for some fun!  It's a challenge, but the running is gorgeous and the views are spectacular as your rise and fall with the landscape of the island.  The most unforgettable runs I had on the island were all via Cruz Bay.  I headed that way (up Jacob's Ladder) and made my way through town to the seaside.  It's important to note that you cars drive on the left on St. John.  That means you run on the right side of the road when there's no sidewalk.  The sidewalks can be pretty spotty, and nonexistent in the residential areas, so I stuck mainly to the roads.  Keep in mind, however, that if there is a sharp or blind turn, you should get on the side of the road that will give a car the most visibility of you approaching.  Keep alert and try to run early in the day (before 9 a.m.) to avoid the crippling heat, as well.

There, now that the moms out there- including my own- are breathing a sigh of relief, let's move on to the fun stuff: The actual trails!  There are an abundance of them on the island.  Just past Mongoose Junction in Cruz Bay, is the entrance to the national park.  Trail heads pop up frequently from that point on, but it was easiest to hop on the trails at the very first sign directly past Mongoose Junction on the right hand side.  From there, I scrambled up the roots and rocks for a very hard couple of miles before reaching Margaret Hill.  The vista from the top is absolutely worth the climb!  I was in awe, breathless as I whispered a prayer of thanks for the experience.  From there, you can choose to continue straight and make your way down, or come back the way you came.  If you turn back the way you came, definitely branch off a few minutes down.  A short trail will lead you to the road and right across the road is a short trail down to Solomon Beach and Caneel Bay Resort.  This particular series of trails is actually pretty flat, so that's a definite reprieve for the legs.

The 400 meter loop on the resort
was how I warmed up for my runs each day

 Directly to the right of this building, is where you'll find the trailheads for the national park

Another awesome area to hit is Chocolate Hole, which has some really neat views of its own.  I loved the trails, but I also hit the countryside a bit because I'm also a real-estate nerd and can't pass up the chance to see some wicked awesome houses during my run!  I will warn you though: No matter which direction you go, wild chickens; iguanas; donkeys and deer are fair game.  That's just part of the adventure!  In the direction of Chocolate Hole, if you're wanting a stretch of flat before you tackle some more altitude, turn right on Roman Road, right past the Westin on Southside.  It's a great 800ish meter loop that is gravel and relatively flat.  It was my "reward" at the end of some of my runs.

Whichever direction you go, you are bound to encounter some amazing scenery, wildlife and hills that will stretch you as a runner and individual.  Don't be afraid to get at it and explore the island!  The locals are extremely friendly and I felt very safe during my runs- aside from some chicken encounters.

I still miss the views, but I sure do love the memories.  I hope you all get a chance to visit and run on the island of St. John.  It is unforgettable, for sure.  And if this post leaves you itching for a run, check out some of my other Unforgettable Run reviews.

Live with joy!