What a Fitness Class Taught Me

About 18 months ago I walked into a group fitness room at the Y scared out of my mind. It’s a source of anxiety for me to try something new like that alone. But I thought that January was a good time to try something out since there would more than likely be other people checking out group fitness classes.

If you know anything about me or have read this blog any over those last 18 months I have made mention of that fitness class, because it’s been a constant since that time. I have been doing POUND for that long but even more than that, I have developed friendships that go beyond a class at the Y. Female friendships y’all. Which you know is a struggle for me in many ways as well.

 

But these women, well they motivate, support, challenge and encourage like no other women I know. We talk all kinds of life stuff when we can catch our breath, we choose to spend time with one another outside of the gym, and we yell at each other when we don’t show up at the gym (hi, I got a barrage of poo emojis sent to me because I skipped last week).

But most of all, walking into that class has brought me confidence in being me. In seeing that I am more than an elliptical hugging introvert. That my body can and will go further than I set it’s limitations to be. That it does not matter what I look like when I enter, but how I feel when I leave (except for last night and “hot POUND” as we called it). It’s about knowing I can show up and do, or sit back and complain. It is about opening up myself to more by just showing up and being willing. It’s about looking to others to join you on that journey, and wanting other women to know what it feels like to be welcomed.

So this is my ode to POUND today, and the people it has brought into my life, and the ways it’s made me stronger beyond just a physical means. It’s the Rise of the Rebel, and boy are we about that rebel life ’round here.

Points of Change

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Do you ever find yourself at a different point in life than a friend or family member, even though you have had similar experiences or upbringings, both been exposed to the exact same things? Does it make you wonder how that happened or even a bit jealous of their current situation?

About a month ago I caught sight of the trees above on my way into work. I pass by them daily on my commute in, but often it’s dark out so to see them with the sun coming up I was caught a bit off guard. Do you see it?

They are each in their own state of changing. Various degrees of change all on display there together.

It struck me that we are often in various degrees of changing, even if we are being hit with the same elements, rooted in the same Scripture, and completely in the light. We may all be the same, but we are all vastly different. This right here was proof to me that no matter how level it all seems to us, each of us grows and changes at various rates…some still producing and blooming while others are going through seasons of dying off.

I think we want to rush seasons of change because they are difficult or we feel that we are the only ones going through them…so we push and prod, wrestling all the way so that we can just get it over with since no one else is dealing with it. But I think that we are all at various levels of change, whether we like it or not, whether we want to be or not.

Change can be slow and gradual, and we can watch as others navigate it ahead of us, learning and gleaning from them while also realizing how we are to do it in our selves being led by God. Change can be sudden and ahead of those around you, ones you were tracking with. So you forge out ahead into the uncharted waters, knowing He’s with you in it. He’s leading it if you let Him and you are on the path which He knows leads right where He wants you.

So we are each at our own point of change, and as we start this new year, it’s good to recognize it that we aren’t needing to keep up with the others even in our same sphere because we have our own pace…whether we are in a season of falling away of current self or producing more than ever of the fruit we bear. Or we’re somewhere in between. Know that change is inevitable, but we get to recognize it in our own lives and then lay it before Him to lead us through.

 

I have a black thumb. Not from banging it on something or in a door. No, this is more of a metaphorical black thumb. Anything that is in a pot or needs planting, I tend to kill. I can keep them alive for about three good months, then whoosh something happens and everything dies.

Even the simplest of veggies to grow in an urban environment, I have killed.

This spring I was determined that I would grow something, giving it time and attention. So after several long months I have one big ol dead tomato plant and these beauties.

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Oh they are small, but when you urban garden you get smaller plants from a smaller pot. I had just picked these the night before I read this passage in Mark.

“The kingdom of God is like this,” He said. “A man scatters seed on the ground;  he sleeps and rises—night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows—he doesn’t know how.  The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the head, and then the ripe grain on the head. But as soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29 (HCSB)

As we enter in to a new season of school starting, fall coming in and many harvests coming to bear out their final fruits, I cannot help but look at the life of the church. It’s a season of growing, of planting seeds, of doing the work of the sewing even in this time. We are working night and day with the seeds, unsure of whether something will sprout…

But then months later someone understands a passage, someone hears a Word of Truth and it springs up for their life specifically. They are introduced to Christ in a way they would never have done had we not taken time to seed. To nurture and place time and effort into caring for the ground it was planted in.

Then again we may not see the sprouting, it may not be ours to pull fruit from the vine they produce. But others will see the seed in which is planted today, in the next week or the next month. But we plant anyways. We water regardless of what we will or won’t see. We do it all as a means of the kingdom work we have been called to do. We don’t kill the seed, or choose to hold it only within ourselves. That’s not what seeds were meant to do, and not what we are used for.

So in this new season of fresh perspectives, rest and investing in groups may we support and nourish the work of seed-planting. May we diligently work towards gardens planted across the community that ignite feasting on His Truth. I think that’s a garden I could be fruitfully planted and working in.

 

 

 

The Week I Couldn’t DeThaw

The entire city shut down this week. Nashville doesn’t handle bad weather well. I am not sure if it’s because we’re in the South (I am a Southerner, so I can say that fully) or if it’s because so many people that live here are from elsewhere, where they may never see weather like this. Whatever the reason, when we got a mix of sleet, ice, snow and freezing rain this week the city flipped out. 10999900_10102866496130665_6212275999966148498_n 10995656_10102866495806315_5455224881107460534_n(1) Across the nation everyone’s been dealing with this winter weather in one way or another, so you can all commiserate. this week proved to be too much for us all though it seems. No one could handle it well, least of all me. It turned from a calming peace of a couple of days off, to the week which wouldn’t I couldn’t dethaw. I kept finding myself in this place of bitter icyness. I simply could not dethaw from the weather, from my head and from my heart. Have you ever encountered that? Where all you could see what the growing hardness but could simply do nothing to stop it? I found that I kept climbing back into this igloo this week after poking my head out. All I saw was bleakness running on for endless miles ahead and I welcomed it. Things were abounding where I would see winter’s firm grip on my heart and situations. A frozen state of mind that simply could not warm to anything. It’s sad to even type those words but that’s where I have been. I think we too often don’t talk about when we feel closed off, hardened by life. We instead only want to point it out in others and move along. Telling them simply to “straighten up and get over it” as if those words are helping a situation or season of life. I am thankful for friends who allow me to be in this season without judgement or harsh words, but instead words of encouragement, of support. Words that affirm that this is a season and not forever. Prayers of perspective instead of gossip and whispers. Friends that take time to understand rather than pass the buck of fault, seeking healing rather than wounding. I am also so very thankful for this season of life. While difficult, trying and tense it has show me that springtime is coming. That I have to navigate the icy paths of winter in order to get new life springing forth. I hope that breathes hope into someone else today, as it did me. Instead of an icy chill of demeaning words or judgement, let the warmth of the hope of spring blow into your heart as it did mine. You don’t have to be strong for tomorrow, simply in today. You merely only need to grasp today as you were created for it, and it was made for you to live fully in. 10173578_10102531468843035_8725455831267033928_n Soon enough spring will be here.

Trees of Change

I love the fall, especially in the South. No where else can you go and see the beauty that explodes from a season change quite like the South in the fall. It truly is stunning.

The other evening I went for a run in the neighborhoods surrounding campus. I could not help but notice how different the scenery looked, and just how varied each tree and plant seemed to be. I had to stop a couple of times to snag the photos below of those two trees specifically.

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The reason I was so struck by these two in particular was the way in which they were progressing in their change. They were in degrees of change, at different areas of their tree life. It was stunning to behold because I don’t think we, as people, take the beauty of change into account.

I think we look at either the whole entire tree of change, or see nothing at all. The degrees of change in both of those trees above was fascinating to capture.

I have felt that way alot recently, as I see marked changes in some areas of my life, but struggle with realizing it fully for the stunning picture it is depicting. I focus too much on the overall that I miss the top or underneath having change, because I am focused on the larger picture. Minute changes and adaptations are just as significant.

and just as beautiful…

Fall is a time to remind us of the change we experience throughout our year. I firmly believe it’s God’s way of reminding us of the beauty in change, in some things dying off in order to bring about newness in our lives in another season. It marks a time for us to be grateful for change while remembering the beauty it’s brought us throughout the year.

While change may not be dominating your life, glimpses of it are still worthy of our awe. After all, we are thankful for the beauty it brings even in the trees.

Construction Zone

I drive past the same area on my way to work each day with little focus on what’s around me. I am usually listening to the radio or running through my morning in my head. Sometimes I am on the phone with my family as it’s a good time to chat with them with the commute.

Two weeks ago I happened to notice they had torn down a building along the route. The bulldozer was there taking heaps of rubble out of the now vacant lot. As traffic crawled by the spot I saw a man pouring over plans spread out on the back of a pickup truck.

For me it resembles how I think God’s been at work in my life this last year. I didn’t expect to see a bulldozer roll up about this time last year and completely demolish me. But it did. You know what? I am better for it.

I am a better person. A better believer. A better woman.

Why? Because He had the plans spread out all along. He waited to get me down to the foundation. The foundation I had decidedly tried to build on myself. He sat and waited. His plans long since been laid. He waited for me to get to a point where I would allow the demolition. The sight of the bulldozer carting off things I clung to, memories and beliefs I had scraped together, was gut-wrenching. Seeing life laid bare, picking through rubble to find some semblance of a foundation. Realizing I had built on my own plans, constructing what I thought was best for me…what I had mistakenly thought was what He deemed for me as mine.

But it wasn’t…

All the while He is standing at the back of the pickup, with His plans rolled out. Pouring over the grand plan He has, and where the building will first start to be constructed once more…under His guidance. There’s a part of me that wants to rush over and peek at the plans, as if I have some right to them. Then I remember, as I look at the last of the rubble carted out that in fact I have no rights to ask of anything…to think I deserve to know what comes next in His plan. I simply must be willing to have the faith that what’s next is best.

Now there’s a corner going up on the vacated lot. It’s been cleared and construction is well underway, showing signs of a framework, with precise and firm layers going in, building on a foundation that was laid by His hand. A foundation that won’t be covered up or built shoddily upon.

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NLT)

Tending the Fruit

I have managed over the last few weeks to not kill a plant I bought. That is saying alot as I am prone to having a black thumb. As a part of my One Word for 2014 (GROW) I chose April to work on growing something physically. I grabbed a plant and off I went. Saturday I re-potted the plant along with a new one I purchased to go with the one I was currently tending to in the container it came in.

Maybe it’s not until you hone in on one thing that you begin to notice it all around you. In tending the plants, I saw how others were caring for theirs as well. I was intentional when I picked out marigolds to plant, that I get the ones which weren’t at full bloom but were still sprouting up, so that I could get the most of them for this spring/summer. I watched other budding gardeners pick out their plants and found I felt quite accomplished.

Buying plants isn’t just a one and done thing. You cannot just plant them and walk away. There is a commitment to care for them, as there would be for any other thing that is alive and growing in life.

It is true for my own life as well. Recently there has been alot of hurt and pulling inward. I was finding much of it relatively difficult to understand and navigate through. Then as I considered the parallels of my life with my new interest in gardening I could not help but see John 15:2(b):

“and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

For myself, I bear fruit for a season, but it is necessary to go through pruning after bearing fruit in order to grow and produce more. Do I enjoy the pruning? Absolutely not. Do I recognize it as pruning? Most often, no. I see it as circumstance happening to me, instead of for me.

Part of the reason one prunes a tree is to shape it for design purposes. While it is a difficult, and all too often painful process, pruning allows me to be shaped for His design. Something that I forget when I am in my circumstance, in the mire of emotion and doubt. His pruning is ultimately for my good as a fruit-bearer. Because as I bear out the fruit He receives the glory, as I cannot bear fruit alone.

In what areas is God pruning you back to bear fruit? How can your circumstances be seen differently today through your perspective as the tree/vine?