To My Legs…I’m Sorry

I distinctly remember the first time I didn’t like the way my legs looked. Particularly, my thighs. During dance class in 7th grade I remember looking around the room and really comparing my body to the other girls in my class. The gut wrenching feeling I had in my stomach as I looked at my legs and realized my legs didn’t look as long and thin as some of the other girls.

I remember being in the dressing room at JC Penny trying on shorts and having to go up a size because they wouldn’t fit over my thighs. My mom kept telling me the size didn’t matter, that it was the fit that mattered, but I remember trying to hold in the tears because of this moment.

Once I started I didn’t know how to stop the comparison game. Looking back at pictures now it’s so hard to believe that I thought I was so huge. I wasn’t a stick by any means, but I had no sense of what my body truly looked like.

In college, I lost a pretty significant amount of weight. I spent many hours at the gym pounding away on the treadmill and the elliptical trying to make my body fit a standard of beauty that I was never going to achieve.

Ah yes, that ever dreamy thigh gap. The image of “perfection” that we see daily. Hundreds of times a day in fact, and I wanted it. And I tried and tried to get it. The smaller I became the more compliments that poured in.

“How are you doing that?”

“Have you been losing weight? You look great.”

“Yes thank you. I’m just eating healthy and working out.” I would smile and reply.

It fueled my fire. It fueled my thought that beauty and weight are equal. After all isn’t this what we are selling to every woman in America?

Get your bikini body in just two weeks.

Lose weight fast!

Buy x,y, and z to make your skin look flawless.

I’m calling BS. The American standard of beauty is BS. Diet culture is BS.

The world says we can attain these standards, but in reality the models who portray this standard can’t even attain it. They are photo-shopped and posed in certain ways to make us see this impossible perception of beauty and make us believe that we can have that body too. What’s funny to me about this is that we know those things. Almost every woman knows that advertisements are photo-shopped and yet we still strive to have that body that doesn’t exist!

My legs will never have a gap between them. I’m not saying if you have that body structure that it’s wrong, I am saying for my body that is something that I will never achieve no matter how much weight I could lose, because my hip structure isn’t meant to be that way.

My heart is heavy for the girls who are having those first moments of the comparison game. It has so much power and can suck you in tightly. Please don’t let it suck you in.  People have gone through life thinking that their weight, identity, and worth are all tied together and that breaks my heart. It could not be further from the truth. Our weight has nothing to do with our identity and worth. Our identity is that we are children of God. An all knowing, loving, and merciful God. He loves us no matter what number shows up on that stupid scale we have in the bathroom, and that is worth more than anything I can think of.

God gave me these legs. After many years of negative words to them, I think it’s time that they deserve some love. These legs are strong. These legs have run multiple half marathons. These legs have played with little kids at the daycare. They have stuck it out through trying to attain the “perfect body”.

So I want to say I’m sorry to my legs. I can’t say that I don’t have days where negative thoughts creep in, but it’s a lot better than it was.

Part of the reason I am running this marathon in September is to show myself that I don’t need to have a typical “runner’s body” to succeed at running marathons. These strong legs will help me get to the finish line. However, while all of this may be true there are so many other things that make a person beautiful other than any physical appearance. Kindness, humor, authenticity, love. Those make a persona beautiful.

So, next time you hear that little voice in your head say something nasty about a part of yourself, remember your mind and body are strong and can do a whole lot more than you think it can. Treat them with kindness and it will be kind back to you.

Run. Sweat. Do something that will help you reach your goal.

New Shoes = New Woman

A few weeks ago I set out on my first run with the marathon mindset. My actual training starts on the 29th, however, I have been trying to keep up a solid base of miles so I’m not starting from the ground up come day 1 of training. I was feeling great this day. The thought that I was going to run a marathon in a couple months didn’t scare the jeepers out of me like it has in last few weeks.

Let me set the scene for you.

It was a Thursday afternoon with beautiful blue skies and this big bright beautiful yellow ball of sunshine. This was the first day in a LOOOONNNNG time here in Seattle that the sun was out, so naturally my first thought was to put on my running shoes and hit the trail as soon as I got home from work.

I was so excited to be in the sunshine that I had to take a picture…

shoes 3

It had been over a month since we had a day like this so obviously I had to selfie it out. #noshame

I’m not joking when I say not even 5 minutes into my run that I felt the worst pain in my shins, EVER. They were on FIRE!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Worst. Timing. Possible.

I started to think about what the possible problem was. Well, I did just kind of run out the door without stretching… maybe that is the problem. I pull off to the side, stretch out the legs, and make sure to really stretch the front of the shin.

2nd time is a charm, right? Nope. Not even a tenth of a mile later, the pain is back. Are you serious? Why couldn’t this happen on a day where it’s raining? Maybe I just need to rest a day. I rest up. Next time I ran the same thing happens.

Fast forward two weeks and nothing changes. The pain was coming quicker with each run. After many frustrating painful runs, I remember that my shoes are over a year old, meaning they are pretty much dead. This means one thing…NEW SHOES!!

Cue nerding out…

shoes 4

My love for shoes is a little out of control. Throw in the fact that I’m needing running shoes and I get waaaayyyy too excited to buy new ones. Phillip and I adventure to the only Fleet Feet store in Seattle (shout out to the best running store ever).  After working with one of their super friendly employees I got my new shoes. They are supportive, light, and fit my feet as if they were made just for me.

This morning I got up to try to run in my new shoes. I was nervous that the pain was going to come right back, but it never did! This was my first pain free run in over two weeks!! (imagine angels singing here). I was running on pillows all morning long.

Now I am officially ready to get training under way. Until next time friends. Run, sweat, and do something to get you one step closer to succeeding at your goals.

Why am I doing this?

Joe Vitale once said, “A good goal should scare you a little and excited you a lot.”

I ran my first half marathon when I was 20 and ever since then I have had a goal to run a full marathon by the end of my 25th year.  I committed to that goal a few weeks ago, and will run my first marathon the day before my 26th birthday.  As soon as I hit submit on the registration page I had a moment of panic.

Can I really do this?

If you don’t know me very well, I will tell you that self-confidence isn’t exactly in my top characteristics. I am the queen of self- doubt.

So, what really made me commit to doing this? I haven’t been great at sports.  I tried just about every sport out there.  Everything from learn to play hockey to softball to basketball and dance.  I was good at some aspects and terrible at others.  As I have gotten older, I have become more athletic, but that didn’t really help me in my junior high and high school days.

From about the middle of high school and on, running has been the thing I am good at. I feel strong and confident when I run. It’s a time for me to clear my head or for me to think up new ideas.  It is a time for me to pray, and have that one on one conversation with God.

There are so many things I love about running races. The atmosphere before, during, and after a race is indescribable.  Your adrenaline is pumping and there is an electric vibe hanging in the air.  Everybody wins because you are racing against yourself.  (Unless you are the elite runners who are actually running for the win)  Even if you run a big race alone, you will encounter countless other runners that will give you motivation to keep going.  I remember running my first 5K in early high school and wanting to walk about halfway through mile two when this older gentleman who was running behind me saw that I was slowing down and said, “Girl, this isn’t the time to stop you’ve got this last .6 miles!” and he cheered me to the end.  I have never forgotten that, and I try to cheer on runners who seem like they need a little boost.

People say that running a marathon changes you, so naturally I’m going to be blogging about my training experience, and all the things I learn along the way. I am a total rookie to this and really have no idea what I’m doing!  From every blog I have read so far, it seems that you can only prepare so much for your first one.  I will more than likely make mistakes along the way, but that’s how I will learn to be a better runner!  This is sure to be an adventure and I’m thankful to have my husband supporting me through these next few months.

I’m a little nervous, but very excited to start my official training! If any veteran marathoners out there have any advise along the way I would love to hear it!

Stages of a Marathon

I’m running a marathon.

Okay not really. Not yet anyway, that’s to come in the fall.

This year has felt like a marathon and right now I’m running those last two tenths of a mile with the finish line in sight. There are many stages you go through when running a marathon and they all seem to be stages I’ve hit in my internship as well.

EXCITEMENT – When I first found out where I was going, standing in front of 200 people in the chapel at Concordia, I was so excited to finally know where I was going! After the initial shock of it being Washington and meeting my supervisor, I was so excited to start this new journey.

NERVOUSNESS – As with any race, when you walk up to the starting line there’s this sense of anxiety and heart pumping adrenaline that makes you shaky and impatient to just start running. This same feeling came about the week before I moved. I was feeling like I was in limbo just waiting to start this year off. After getting off the plane, I realized this was real, and that made me even more nervous.

APPREHENSION- “ What have I done? I’m not ready for this!” I can say with honestly that these thoughts have flown through my mind a few times, but each time the Lord said, “No. You are ready for this. Just trust me. You’re supposed to be here.”  And boy was he right!

EAGERNESS – It was easy to jump in with both feet. I couldn’t wait to finally put into practice everything we had been talking about in classes for two years. I was eager to get involved, to feel at home, to build relationships, and to be working!

COMMUNITY- I don’t know if you know this, but runners have this unspoken community. Having that one interest brings so many people together. It’s part of what is so awesome about running races. You see how many people share a passion for the same thing. The community in my congregation is awesome. We are smaller in size, but not in heart! These people went out of their way to make me feel welcome and I could not be more thankful. There have been times where being so far away has been really hard, but I always have people ready to take me in and show me that I have family here as well.

QUESTIONING OF SANITY – This usually comes in at around 4 AM during a lock-in with the youth.

FEELING DEFEATED – Ministry is hard man. Sometimes things don’t go the way you plan. Something you think is a good idea is actually not the greatest. In those times, you just gotta remember that Jesus matters most and the Holy Spirit is always at work. Something that you think didn’t go well might have been just the thing that someone else needed that day.

PRAYER – Be on that lifeline EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

DETERMINATION/WILL POWER – By this time you’re probably on mile 20 and just keep telling yourself to keep putting one leg in front of the other. The 3rd quarter of internship had felt like a time of having to power through. There has been so much going on and sometimes I just felt like a chicken with it’s head cut off. But hey…ya fake it til ya make it!

GRIT/TOUGHNESS –I’m in the home stretch now and I finally feel like I have a grip on what’s happening with life. For this week anyway. There are days where you have to tell yourself, “Tomorrow is another day” and have a better attitude the next day.

ELATION! – Friends, let me tell you there are many things I’m elated about. I got the call to stay at Epiphany and I got engaged to the love of my life in the same night. My parents came to visit me for a week. The sun has been shining for 2 weeks. I get to work with the MOST AMAZING kids on the planet and I get to go home to St. Louis in a month and a half.

But nothing beats the Joy and happiness that comes with knowing that God has had me in his hands during this year. That his love has always been there and will always continue to be there for me in the upcoming years. The joy of knowing that even on the hardest of days God is right there in the trenches with me, and you! On those days remember that we have every reason to be joyful because Jesus came and took our sins upon that cross and overcame death! We are free from sin and alive in Christ and that my friends, is something to be truly elated about!

God’s peace.

Woooaahhhh, WE’RE HALFWAY THERE

Woah, we’re half way there

Woah, livin’ on a prayer

Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear

Woah, livin’ on a prayer

My apologies if that song is stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but these Bon Jovi lyrics are ringing with truth as the halfway point to internship is here.

6 months gone and 6 months to go.

The start of January marks many things. An old year gone. A new year started. Month 6 of my internship. New goals to reach. Activities to plan. Trips to prepare for. The list goes on and on. I find myself thinking that this year is going to be gone in the blink of an eye and I’ll be crossing the stage graduating before I know it.

I didn’t think I’d be one of those people who look back and sappily reflect on the past year…who am I kidding, of course I am…so sorry, but here it is. The past few months have been packed with many emotions. Excitement, fear, anxiety, peace, some sadness, joy, happiness, and love. There have been countless unknowns. There are many more unknowns to face as the next few months go on, but time and again the Lord has shown his faithfulness in all situations.

I have seen the Lord put my unease to rest. I didn’t think I’d make it through the first month without breaking down, but I did. I didn’t think I’d be able to do a children’s message without having a full on panic attack, but I have. I didn’t think I’d connect with the youth as much as I have. Seriously, the kids I work with are some of the most amazing people I know. I know that I don’t have to worry about the unknowns because God’s got it! So that is my goal for the rest of this year. I’m not going to let my anxiety take over as the second half of internship is starting. God is good. He is faithful. His love is forever and that is all I need to know. It’s all I need. Period.

Cheers to the second half of internship y’all! We’re halfway there!

Where Your Treasure is…

Thanksgiving has come and gone as today marks the first day of December. How did that happen so fast? I feel like it should still be October. Wishful thinking on my part I guess.

This thanksgiving was my first holiday ever away from my family. It was hard, but I have seen more than ever that God gives you family wherever you are. One of the biggest reasons I was so scared to move here was being 2,000 miles away from the people I love the most. In the gospels it talks about where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:34) My family is a BIG chunk of my heart.

I thought moving would take away my family, but it turns out moving added a whole bunch of people to it! While I didn’t get to run the traditional 5k turkey trot with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law, or eat my aunt’s amazing Jung family mashed potatoes, I had a great day with my family here in Washington. I got to take a beautiful walk on the water front looking out at the breathtaking mountains with a boy I love more than words can say. I had a delicious meal with a family who has made me feel like an insider in their family since the day I got here. And as always I watched football. Apparently there is no getting away from a whole day of football games no matter which home I’m at.

So what I’m thankful for most this year is my family. Both of them. My main family back in St. Louis for always being a support, always answering my phone calls, always willing to listen to me complain on the days where I’m really homesick, for talking me through really hard situations when you can’t be with me in person, and for being willing to fly 2000 miles to come and see me. And thanks to the family I’ve gained here. For helping me adjust to life without seeing my parents every day, for taking me places all the time, for picking me up when my car overheats and I’m freaking out cause I don’t know what to do, and for always thinking to include me in things. There aren’t enough words to say how much these people mean to me. So, here’s to family and the love and support they continually give!

Comparison: Ugly Lies in My Mind

I just had one of the most amazing weekends in my short time of doing full time ministry. A weekend retreat with middle school confirmation kids at a place that was like the summer camp in the Parent Trap. (The Lindsay Lohan version if you’re really wondering.)

Over the weekend I realized a few things. First of all, adults don’t give middle school kids enough credit for how intelligent they are. These kids were asking deep questions about Jesus and their faith. Questions I didn’t expect on topics that I had no idea middle school students were even worried about in this point in their lives. Second thing I realized after I got home was that ministry is fun! However, I almost missed out on how fun it can be. Let me explain by backing up to the beginning of the week…

Monday I was on the hot mess express. I let my anxiety get the best of me and shoot through the roof as I was preparing everything for the weekend. As I’ve stated in earlier blogs I am a planner so I had my checklist of all the things I needed, the things I had done, and what I still needed to do. Anxiety, the ugly monster that it is, started feeding my brain all these little lies.

You’re never going to be as prepared as you want to be.

Someone else could do it better.

Other youth leaders are more fun.

Other youth leaders would do the lessons a different way.

These kids aren’t going to get anything out of this weekend.

So those thoughts made me start to doubt my own abilities. I started thinking things like “Maybe I should try and do it like ________, they always have a good turn out with their youth.” Or “I wonder how so and so would teach these things.”

By Wednesday my brain was fried with lies and doubts. After a lot of prayer I realized that I was being ridiculous. The Holy Spirit is the one working in these kids’ hearts. All these lies and thoughts were distracting from the real purpose of the retreat. The whole goal for the weekend was to talk about their faith, talk about their identity in Christ, and the love that Jesus has for them. There are a million different ways that you could go about doing that. Now looking back I know that another leader would have done it completely different then the way I planned it, but friends, do you know how boring it would be if we all the same gifts and talents and interests? It would be SO BORING. God made us all different for a reason. The Holy Spirit works through all our gifts that are given by HIM to show his love to his children. We don’t all learn the same and we don’t all show love the same, so why should we all teach the same. Embrace the gifts you do have and throw those lies of comparison out the window! If you don’t, you might just end up missing all the fun!