Thursday, February 28, 2013

Big Things

Something big is happening in my life this weekend. 

In Western Oregon, on Friday, I'll  be gearing up to run my first outdoor track race of the year – a 10k. It will be run under the floodlights at Linfield College on Friday night (and hopefully there will be NO rain.) There is a lot of pressure on me to perform during this race - various coaches will be watching, I have a time to live up to, and let's be real... it's a 10k. It's a tough race. I am definitely nervous. I'm doing my best, however, to focus on the task at hand and to enjoy myself. To give it to Jesus. 

Like I said, this is a pretty big deal for me. And it should be. But it's way too easy  to get caught up in "my own little world" and think only about the things that are happening within it. 

Big things are happening all around the world right now. 

In Ohio, one of my best friends Christi Avery will be running the 60 meter dash at indoor nationals – she’s the epitome of a sprinter, I like to run 10ks. We make quite the pair :)

Across the ocean, my dad, my little sister, and about thirteen other wonderful people are going to be stepping onto Chinese soil
for a two week long missions trip.
(I’m unbelievably jealous… don’t get me started.)

In Seattle, Pastor Judah Smith’s new book Jesus Is ____ just came out. And Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez endorsed it. Check it out: 

In Iran, Pastor Saeed is still in prison for his faith.
You can read a little about him here

His words on joy in the midst of trial are reminiscent of
Paul’s letters in the New Testament.

Looking at all of these big things happening worldwide, I'm able to keep everything in perspective. My race this weekend is important. But there are so many important things happening. There are so many other amazing things to focus on and be excited about and pray about.

It feels like life just has crazy momentum right now!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Here's to Hoping...

I think it is safe to say that "hope" is pretty much the theme of my life. 

It's my middle name. 
It is something I try to live by.
It is included in the title of this blog, for goodness sake!

But last night, I realized I don't really know what hope means. 
What is hoping? Is it simply believing there is light at the end of the tunnel? Or is it something more? 

Modern day people equate hoping with wishful thinking.

The dictionary defines hope as "A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen."

But what does the Bible have to say about hope? 

In the bible, hope is a "confident expectation". Confident. That one word makes all the difference. 

The Bible also says that hope applies to things we do not see:

Romans 8:24-25 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

So, if I truly live with hope, what does that mean? 
That means I am living in confident expectation that God will fulfill his promises. 
That I am confident that my dreams will come to fruition. 

I want to live out hope - not just claim it. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Religion According to Siri

Siri is the best. 
Or so I've heard. I don't actually have an iphone. 
Or any kind of smart phone, for that matter. 
But my little sister Liberty does. And she loves to have conversations with Siri. 
About what she should wear. About the weather. About religion. 

This is what happened when Liberty asked Siri if she believed in God last week:

Apparently iphones don't have religion. 

But humans do. Religion is a man-made entity, in fact. A social institution. Man's attempt to get to God. Religion can do a lot of good. It can provide solace for the broken hearted. It can organize food drives and mission trips. 
It can offer a sense of community.
But because religion is man-made, it is also often corrupted. 

I am planning to double major in religion and broadcasting, and I am fascinated about the many religions that exist and have existed. But it also breaks my heart to learn about some of the emptiness that has stemmed from religion without a relationship with God. A man-made attempt at righteousness.  

In my sociology class this term we have been studying religion, 
and I read some things that I wanted to share. I am not trying to make any points at all. I just find this all so interesting and I truly enjoy studying it. 

Apparently, people who attend religious services at least once a week have 25 percent fewer deaths than people who don't go to church. That's straight out of my textbook. Lifestyle and social class were adjusted for to produce these results... before that, the number was 30 percent. Moreover, people who attend church services live 
an average of 7 and 1/2 years longer that those who don't. 

From a sociological standpoint, these numbers are difficult to explain. 
Sociology simply studies the affects that religion has on people's lives - it does not attempt to verify a higher power or to support one religion over another. 
Therefore, sociologists cannot claim 
that these low mortality rates are due to a god.

 They theorize that perhaps the low mortality rate is due to good psychological health. Prayer (or meditation) has been proven to alter brain activity in a positive way. Additionally, most religions practice forgiveness, and this practice helps eliminate depression and feelings of anger.

My textbook also addresses the future of religion in regards to the internet. A vast majority of people today do not attend church - they listen to a message online when they get a chance. Others pay money for someone to pray on their behalf at a Hindu temple in India  - "food offerings to Vishnu included in the price". You can even attend a virtual mosque with an avatar!!! The institution of religion appears to be shifting somewhat I'd say!!!

I am excited to continue to learn about religion.

I'll probably have to learn from a different source than Siri, though. 
She may not have all the answers after all ;) 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


My great grandmother Mommy Kay (as she was affectionately called by my mother and grandmother) used to have a little notebook in which she would write her thoughts throughout the day. She called this book her "skipalong" book, and it accompanied her everywhere she went (or so I'm told). The lovely thing about a skipalong book is that there does not have to be order, rhyme, or reason to the thoughts it contains. Simple, random thoughts. 

I feel like writing some skipalongs tonight. 

1. My first race of the outdoor track season is only eight days away - a 10k. I'm excited because I love the 10k... but then again, I have only run it twice. It's a monster of a race. It requires loads of mental preparation and concentration. I will likely not be able to feel my legs for the second half of the race. But I love the feeling of running a consistent pace, lap after lap. 
I love feeling like I can hold the same pace for so long. 

This was at my first ever 10k last year.
I'm nervous, too. There is a lot of pressure to perform as well as I did last year, and I have no idea where I'm at compared to then. We have been running a lot of 10 x 600 meter repeats and 16 x 200s, but almost no 400 meter repeats like we did last year. I guess I just have to believe in my coach, believe in my training, and believe in myself. 

2. I'm beyond stoked for tomorrow night. My church is putting on a huge event called Compel. They rented out the Egyptian theater in downtown Boise, flew out a guest speaker from New York, and invited every college age student in the Treasure Valley. I'm driving a few of my friends out to Boise after practice. Could not be more excited!!!

3. The decision about where I'm going to transfer next year has not gotten any easier to make. I'm still overwhelmed and still praying for answers. Letters of intent are beginning to float my way... and they have expiration dates. I know that I am SO BLESSED to be given such wonderful opportunities, and I am grateful that I get to choose. But I need help choosing. A lot of help. 

4. Right now in my sociology class we are studying religion. My two favorite subjects combined. I literally am geeking out about it. I have been telling everyone I know all of the interesting things I am learning, and I just had the best time writing a five page paper on whether or not I believe religion is functional for society. Sometimes, college is fantastic. 

That's all for now, folks. 

Faites de beaux rĂªves!!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The "Why" Behind the Workout

After two years of almost daily practices, long charter bus rides, and a few deep conversations, my track coach knows me pretty well by now.

He knows, for example, that I like to know the “why” behind the workout.
Every time he gives us a new workout to do, he turns to me and begins explaining the science behind what we are doing. He explains why we are going the pace we are going, the reason for the specific recovery time assigned, and the goal of the workout.

He has learned that it helps me to know, and he accommodates me graciously.

I think that often times, in life, we want to know the “why” behind everything.
I am always asking God why.
Why, God, would you want me to do that?
Why would you want me to go there?
How will this benefit me? How will this benefit the kingdom?
Why on earth would you allow me to feel this way?
Why why why.
I want every little detail explained to me.

Unfortunately, God doesn’t work the same way my coach does.
God’s ultimate goal is a relationship with us. A relationship of trust.

He doesn’t always explain the why behind things.  

God simply wants us to trust him. To know that he is the ultimate “coach” and that his plan for us has a purpose behind it. This is a difficult concept for me to grasp, but I know that if I trust him, I will be able to run forward with confidence. I will be able to make it through the rough times, knowing that I will benefit in the end (even if I don’t know exactly how I will benefit).

The Bible does not say that everything happens for a reason.

But it does say that God will make all things work together for the good of those who love him according to his purpose.
That’s enough assurance for me. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Let's Get Real.

After you taste something as authentic as a relationship with God, 
everything else seems artificial by comparison. 

So many things have been striking me lately as completely - fake. 

Take money, for example. It is a constant source of worry. Kings have gone to war over it. People have taken their lives over it. Others claim that it is the source of their happiness. 

But money doesn't even really exist. It is fake. Just a concept, really. I go to work so that money can be directly deposited into a bank account that I immediately use to pay my bills with. I never once touched something tangible... and even if I had cash, all it would be is a piece of paper. The economy is just a system man created. And it rules our lives. 


And what is the point of racing? Of competing? Sure, I'm a collegiate athlete. I dedicate hours of every day to training so I can be the best runner possible. And I can't believe I'm even saying this.... but it's sort of meaningless. I'm going to get on the starting line and try to beat everyone else. And if I win, I'm happy. If I lose, I'm not. It's just a game of comparison. 

Don't take me the wrong way, please. I still love to run and to race, and I don't think there is anything wrong with it at all! I just am realizing that it is less fulfilling than I initially thought. 


Day to day life is so full of fake things. Like houses, for example. If you really stop and think about it, they are just boxes we use to store all of our stuff. Boxes that all look the same.
And yes - boxes that keep us warm in the winter. Yes, boxes that protect precious children and are the center of cherished memories. But mostly they are boxes that store all of our stuff. 


I don't exactly know where I'm going with all of this, but these thoughts have been running through my mind like a wildfire today. There is so much more to life than the empty, artificial things that rule the everyday. I don't want to be consumed with worry or idleness or comparison or greed. 
I don't want to pursue things that are fake. 

I want to pursue the genuine Creator of the universe. 
I want to purse the way, the truth, and the life. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Are You Listening?

You know those days when you cannot seem to formulate the right words? When you try to make a joke and end up tripping over the punchline? Or when you mean to give someone a compliment but it comes out more like an insult?

Sometimes writing is like that for me. Sometimes my thoughts come together perfectly, and I can articulate everything I want to say... Other days I cannot seem to write a coherent sentence.  This whole last week I have felt like that. I had so many thoughts swirling around my head, and I felt like God was speaking to me , but I couldn’t seem to put any of my ideas together.

Today, however, everything clicked. The things that I have been trying to figure out how to say finally came together. I felt as if I had seen the light. And I realized something:

When you can’t figure out how to articulate a thought or an idea, WAIT. God is probably not done speaking revelation to you. He probably wants you to listen – not speak. If you wait on Him and listen, he will reveal things to you and whisper in your ear. But don’t expect to receive revelation if you always want to do the talking…

Here are some things God has been speaking to me: 

There is no such thing as a perfect theology. There is, however, a perfect God. Pursue Him. Don’t ever think you have it all figured out.


Don’t think too much – unless it’s about God’s love. Thinking too much can be a serious trap and can lead to depression. But meditating on His love is refreshing and encouraging.

Like I said, these are things God has been teaching me and things that I have been learning, but I hope you all can benefit from them as well.

What is God speaking to you today? Are you paying attention? 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On Comparison

Let's talk about comparison. 

It's a trap that so many of us fall into. So many of us, in fact, that I would almost label it a spiritual epidemic. 

It's contagious, and if left unchecked it flows 
through the bloodstream attacking life. 

Comparison is embedded into American culture. Young girls and boys alike pine over magazines and idolize the figures that cover them. They wonder why they can't look like that or be that talented. 

Aspiring business associates obsess over outcompeting their co-workers. They think that satisfaction will come with success - and that success will come when they are the best of the best. 

I'm sure that even philanthropists would admit that they feel a sense of inadequacy when someone gives a larger contribution to a good cause than they themselves are able to give. 

Comparison is a direct attack on identity

And I am becoming increasingly aware of the negative hold 
that comparison has on my own life. 

Let's take running, for example. This week has been full of strenuous and challenging workouts. And I have made it through them all. I have hit all the times my coach told me to hit. I have surprised myself by how in shape I am. 

But I have not finished one workout completely happy. Why? Because I spent the entirety of those workouts comparing myself to the other girls. Was I ahead? Right on track (even if I didn't go my fastest). Did I get out-kicked? Terrible (even if I did my best). I realize that it's difficult not to compare yourself when you are competing. But that should not be what drives me.

I fall into the comparison trap in other ways too. 
When people have more friends than I do, are nicer than I am... 
heck, even when people seem to be "better" Christians than me!!!

It has taken me years to realize what poisonous thinking this is. 

God never meant for his children to compare themselves amongst each other. He created each one of us unique to his heart. 

Psalm 139:13 says that he "knit [us] together in [our] mother's womb" and his thoughts about us "outnumber the grains of sand on the shore". 

He created us each for a purpose. To worship him and love him in a way that only we can. He doesn't want us to find our identity in our failures or our accomplishments...
He wants us to find our identity in him. In his love. 

That's the cure. 

His love for us is so extravagant and so personal. There is NOTHING any of us could do for him to love us any more or any less. He created me a specific way. With a unique face, and specific talents, and funny quirks, and certain desires. And He loves me

John 15:9 says that we should "abide" in his love. 

To abide: to dwell; to await in expectation. 

Our identity needs to dwell in the love of God. 
Otherwise, we will dwell in comparison. 

We will be fragile and easily broken. 

Comparison is the enemy's tool to distract us from how much God loves us.
 To distract us from the unique call
and mantle that God has placed over each of us. 

I'm sick of being sick. Are you? 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mile Markers

Today my coach sent us out on a fartlek type workout. 
It involved running up a long, flat, go-on-forever country road.
This is how it went:  

There were sign poles along the road. We were supposed to begin at a steady pace. When we hit the next telephone pole, we were supposed to increase are speed. At the next telephone pole, again. And then recover for one telephone pole and start all over again. Make sense? Yeah, it was confusing to us to. The point is- hit a telephone pole, speed up!

We used these "markers" to guide our speed for a solid sixty minute run. 


I was thinking about it, and I feel like life has a lot of markers - or in this case, randomly placed telephone poles - that give us direction. They change our pace a little bit. 

This weekend at Generation Unleashed Conference in Portland was one of those mile markers. 

I won't even begin to try to go into detail about everything. There were more significant moments packed into three days than I can even explain. And my life was changed.

And it was more than just a fun weekend away. Although it definitely was fun. I went to Powell's Bookstore and wandered around for hours looking at books. I got absolutely no sleep and drank way too much caffeine. I went to Voodoo Donuts and experienced downtown Portland on a Saturday night.
I bonded with wonderful people and made new friends. 

But most importantly, God showed up in a big way. He made it very clear I'm not supposed to worry about my future. He spoke confirmation to me about so many things. I met amazing people who inspire me to live a faith-filled life. And my perspective shifted.

I talked to so many people and listened to their stories. So many homeless people. So many lost people. So many people from so many different backgrounds. I went outside my comfort zone and outside my agenda. And I opened up my eyes a little bit. 

I'm so filled up with love right now. 

I know it's all kind of nonsense, because summing up a mile marker in life is difficult to do. The point is: When you reach a mile marker in life, you can't keep running along at the same pace. You have to speed up. Something has to change. And something did.