My Run with Faith

I was at the gym the other night blasting my worship music through my headphones (literally songs we sing on Sunday morning, it’s fine). Don’t get my wrong, I love my pop pump up songs too. But some days I use my workout or run as a time to connect with Jesus. It’s my personal rejuvenation time. It’s stress relieving. It’s like my physical body and soul are all on this Jesus grind and I love it.

And as I was finishing my last rep, I looked around at everyone else working out. I wondered what their motives were. What kind of music were they listening to? What is their reasoning for choosing that music? What gets them hyped up to be at the gym? As you can tell, I’m a deep thinker and love to try to understand people. And as I was having these thoughts, it brought me back to a year ago when I decided to train to run a half marathon. I felt the need to share this story.

A friend of mine had ran one a few weeks earlier, and I thought it was seriously amazing that she pushed through 13.1 miles. I was instantly motivated. And to be completely honest, I still don’t understand why. It was October. I knew I would be training through the winter. I had never ran more than maybe 2.5 miles consistently and I struggled just running that. I think the challenge intrigued me, so I went all in. Minutes after talking to her about it I was looking up “how to train for a half marathon” on google.

I found a training schedule that looked good. I had no idea what “good” was supposed to look like. I had never been a runner, so I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I was discouraged by a lot of people. “Are you sure you want to do that?” “13.1 miles is really far.” “Maybe you should wait until the spring when it’s warmer and see if you’re still interested.” I. Did. Not. Care. I let the doubt fuel me. I started training and didn’t look back.

It’s very interesting how this challenge evolved. It started as something I really wanted to do. Then it turned into something I couldn’t not do because I had made it this far. And then it transformed into a way for me to honor my word to myself and reach for God’s help along the way. Literally (stay tuned for race day). It became an outlet for me to talk to God and deepen my faith through this quiet time.

As the miles got longer and the days got colder, I would use my runs as a time to jam out to my Christian music and find God. However, I didn’t start this way. I used to listen to the trap rap stuff. I rarely would listen to Christian music before this, especially during a workout. My mom always had it on growing up, so it seemed repetitive to me. But as my training progressed, I sought different kinds of music to keep my mind busy (running for an hour and a half can get boring and frankly lonely).

Running became so much more to me than it had in the past. It became a spiritual break from stress, from life, from problems. It was relaxing and comforting. It was my one on one Jesus time.

I could go on and on about the little things I experienced during different runs, but I want to get to the good part. The day I ran my race.

It was a Saturday in the beginning of February. I think it was about 12 degrees and it started at 8am. I. Was. Hyped. I woke up at 6am ready to go, lots of adrenaline, and carb packed beyond belief. There was one thing I told myself I wanted to do before the race. I wanted to pray about it. But as the morning went on, I completely let it slip by.

It’s 8am. I’m SO ready. The gun fires and I’m off. Until about mile 2. I got this feeling of complete exhaustion. COMPLETE exhaustion. Like I had no clue how I was going to run 11 more miles feeling like this. And I was confused. I had trained for months for this? I carb loaded like I was supposed to? To completely suck on race day? Not that I was trying to compete for time, but my goal was to finish it without stopping and I felt like there was no way that was going to happen. “This is punishment for not praying this morning”, I thought to myself. I had my Christian music on at that point and I thought “well maybe I should change the station to something more upbeat”. I talked myself out of it. I told myself God had been with me through this journey and He was going to finish it with me.

The race continued in that fashion. I dreaded it. It was cold. I felt slow. I wanted to be at the finish line with my family watching someone else do this thing.

Mile 11. At this point I was about ready to start walking. But I had told myself I was going to do it and I didn’t train for me to just quit. I looked up at the sky and started praying.

“God, you might think this is completely ridiculous. It’s just a race. I can just take a quick walk break. But I don’t want to. I promised myself I would do this and I want to stay true to my own word. My legs are cramping, I’m thirsty, and I can’t feel my fingers, toes, or face. I need your help.”

And after that prayer, my hand started to feel warm. I smiled. He was holding my hand. He was listening and He was with me. Little did I know, this was just the start.

Mile 12. In approximately the same spot I asked for help during the previous mile, I cried out again.

“God, I know you’re here with me. Im so close and I have no energy. My legs are in so much pain. I need you.”

And at that very moment, I literally kid you not, I saw Jesus. I’m tearing up remembering this because I was blown away. There he was, very faintly, running right next to me literally whispering in my ear. A winter hat, a warm smile, kind eyes. “You can do this. I’m right here. Run with me.” I had a smile from ear to ear and tears flooded my face (all while I was still running). He was running this race next to me, being my personal cheerleader. And holy smokes does it still give me goosebumps. The day you see his face the way I did that morning, it changes your life.

Mile 13. The last mile. It was the home stretch. One more mile left. God had held my hand, he had literally shown himself to me, and here I was praying for help one more time.

“God, be my legs.” That’s all I needed. That’s all I had left.

And as I’m coming around the curve of my last quarter mile, my legs were burning, cramping, and aching from hip to toe. When all of a sudden, in an instant, no pain. Nothing. I couldn’t feel a thing. My prayer was answered. My legs were His legs for the last stretch. He was running for me, 100%. Again, I started bawling as I had a burst of energy. He was being my legs for me when I felt like I had nothing left.

Right before crossing the finish line, I thanked Him ferociously. I was emotional. I was completely mind-blown. And after crossing that line, I fell into my Dad’s arms, shaky and achy once again.

Phillipians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. 

Literally.

The reason I share this story is to 1. Show you that God is 10000% real. And 2. Prove that He truly is with you in all things, especially times of trial. When you feel like giving up, when you feel like you have nothing left, turn to Him. Cry out His name. Make yourself vulnerable to Him. Whether it’s a financial rock bottom, you have no idea how you’re going to raise these kids, you feel like you just can’t finish your degree, or you’re running a half marathon.

Don’t let the enemy keep you from seeking Him. As dumb as it seems, I truly believe keeping that Christian music playing had a huge impact on my experience. I made a decision to keep Jesus close, when I really wanted to draw away and seek other ways to get through the struggle.

He is with you every single step of the way and He wants you to ask for His help. He loves each and every one of us so much. He wants to be your Heavenly Father and walk you through the trials. Mine might have been a half marathon that wasn’t a life or death situation, but it taught me how real and true His love really is. He used this small example to prove to me and possibly you too that when things hurt, when you are at your last straw and want to quit, He’s there. And prayer is how you call His name. It is tremendously powerful.

He knows your trials. He can show himself to you. He can be your cheerleader. You just have to humbly surrender yourself and ask. Give your struggles to the Creator and he will answer.

So let me ask you, what music do you listen to? Do you keep Him close to you? What are your motives for doing the thing you enjoy? Do you seek Him when you’re feeling drained? When you don’t think you can finish? He is your ultimate strength. He can be your legs too.

I hope this story inspired you the way it inspires me every time I retell it. I hope it encourages you to find your Jesus outlet. I can’t stress enough how real He is and how much He wants to have your whole self and your whole heart to transform your life into a beautiful story that He personally planned for you. He wants to be your shoulder to cry on, your best friend. We were made to rely on Him in all things.

Dear God,

Thank you for this amazing precious story that made me see you in a different light. I pray that you use this story to work on the hearts of those who read this. I pray that you show yourself to them the way you have with me. Show them your unconditional love and desire to be their strength when they feel they have none. Inspire others the way you inspired me. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

PS: if this blog impacted you in ANY way please please please share it so it can impact others too. This message is so true and I want every person possible to hear how real He is and experience what you or I have. Thanks loves!

Your Future is in God’s Hands

The single most important thing any human being can do is trust God’s plan.

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I think especially as a college student, it is SO difficult to try to figure out what the heck we want to do with our lives. We are told one path is the most job security and highest income. Another path we might enjoy the job a little bit more, but the pay isn’t as good. Another job might be a good fit because it’s what our parents did. And another one might be a good route because our teachers told us we were good at it and could be successful in that subject. But, what about the job that God created you to do? What about using God’s gifts he gave you in a way that brings you the utmost joy, fulfills your desires, and also serves Him? What about your sole purpose that only YOU were put on earth to do?

This is something I have SO struggled with since starting college. The world tells us to do the job that you can get by with that brings in a sufficient income to live that you think you’ll like for the rest of your life. Society wants us to pick one thing when we’re eighteen years old and settle on that as your life’s work. At least in my experience that’s the pressure that I’ve felt and I think a lot of college students can relate.

I started college dead set on graduate school. Nothing was going to stop me and I was ready for the challenge. I thought I wanted to go to school to be a physical therapist. I did some shadowing and realized it was a bit too slow-paced for me. So, I looked for my next option. I shadowed an occupational therapist. I figured it was similar to PT, but maybe there was something about that that would spark my interest. I enjoyed it to an extent, but it didn’t click for me. I shadowed a couple of different therapists, but it still didn’t feel right. So by this time I was about to be a junior in college still not really sure what I was going to do with my degree that I had planned around graduate school. So, I decided I thought for sure I wanted to be a physician’s assistant. I was going to have to take extra classes for prerequisites and it was going to be a long process but this had to be what I was made to do. I shadowed a PA for a whole semester and I truly was interested in what I was seeing; however, again my burning passion to fulfill that career wasn’t there. I tried to put myself in that setting for forty hours a week and it just didn’t sit right with me.

So at this point, I’m like what the heck is wrong with me. Why can everyone else just know what they want and I’m sitting here with no idea what my future will be. I’m a junior in my second semester freaking out because I don’t have my life mapped out anymore. I was involved in a health program in high school that gave me the opportunity to explore the hospital and various careers. My mom was a registered nurse. I thought for sure I was designed for patient care in some area. I struggled. I didn’t know which decision was the right one. I know I have a big heart for people, but why didn’t I just have this motivation to be a nurse, or a physical therapist, or a physician’s assistant? Or any patient care type of job? I was lost and couldn’t understand myself.

I had been praying and praying about this for quite some time. I think I had so many thoughts and feelings from so many directions I never allowed myself the opportunity to really hear God. And one day, I was sitting in my living room in my apartment on a winter morning and God spoke to me so clearly.

“Why are you chasing after worldly success? I have something so much bigger for you.” 

I bawled. He was SO right. I was 1000% chasing after 1. job security 2. a substantial income that could buy me things 3. the letters behind my name 4. all of that “success” and pride. And I’m not at all saying that being a physical therapist or a physician’s assistant are prideful bad careers. We need those kinds of people who have a passion for it, love what they do, and did it because it was what was meant for them. They’re fantastic careers. But, I’m saying the reason I personally was going after those was for those four wrong reasons. I tried to make myself want to do them. All reasons that would have left me miserable and empty had I chosen those paths.

From that day on, I made a choice. I made a choice that was very difficult for me to make. A choice that a lot of people probably did and still think I’m crazy for. I left those paths behind and chose a new one. I chose God’s path, a path that was complete fog. And let me be the first to tell you not having a plan has been the best and hardest thing for me. Not having a post-graduation plan with a degree that you’re not entirely sure how you’re going to use appears “unsuccessful” to a lot of people. Which is something I NEVER used to want to appear as. I have always been the girl with a plan who was motivated and would do big things. But, God has humbled my heart tremendously.

The past ten months have been full of uncertainty. I’ll be graduating in April. Whenever people ask me what my plan is I tell them I honestly have no idea. I have some general ideas, but not a real plan. I don’t need one. And why? I know God is testing my trust for Him. He wants me to trust Him fully in whatever He has set out for my future.

God wants us to fulfill the calling He has for our lives. He places desires, passions, talents, and things that bring us joy to our hearts all for a reason. I am a firm believer that every single person should utilize these gifts that God gives us and calls us to use for His glory. Whatever humbles your heart, fires you up, and utilizes these special elements that He placed in you is what I truly whole-heartedly believe you should be pursuing lifelong.

And how do we hear these callings? By drawing closer to the Lord. The more time you spend with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, spending it in His word, in podcasts, whatever works for you and brings you closer to understanding His will for your life. He opens and closes doors when you ask Him. He leads you when you ask Him. He unravels the uncertainty when you’re ready for it.

And by the way, your calling can be at any point in your life and your calling can change. Maybe you’re in a career that you don’t like at all and know it’s not what you were meant to do. Well, it’s not too late. It might seem like it’s “too hard” to follow God’s will, but the real question is how bad do you want it? How bad do you want to follow Him and feel true joy in what you’re doing? He didn’t intend for us to live life and our careers unhappy.

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 

He wants you to do what he created you to do. Don’t let worldly success blind that beautiful vision for your life. You have passions, desires, gifts that He has specifically instilled in you for a special purpose that only you can fulfill. Don’t be ashamed of them. Don’t think doing something with them is impossible because they’re there for a reason. Trusting in God’s plan for your life is the best and hardest decision you might ever make. But ultimately, if you follow His ways, you will find the greatest joy, satisfaction, and happiness doing what know you were made to do.

And as for me, I’m not sure what that is quite yet. My plan is God’s plan and I’m praying and waiting for whatever He wants to use me for. I suggest you do too.

And just a side note, I was completely set on studying for hours tonight. But, I felt a nudge to write this post that I had already drafted the title for. So what I’m trying to say is, I truly hope someone reading this tonight desperately needed to hear this because the good Lord had your back. This post is for you.

Dear God,

Thank you for the gifts you have given each and everyone of us. Thank you for blessing us with uniqueness that makes us all special. Thank you for having our futures in your hands. I pray that you touch the hearts of those struggling with this like I did and still do. I pray you hold them tight and give them some guidance. Help reveal those special gifts to them so they can fulfill their purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

PS: I HIGHLY recommend downloading the app “Chip Ingram”; it’s a blue square. Chip is a pastor that has some awesome helpful sermons. I listened to “Answering the Call” that was unbelievably helpful and targets your purpose and gifts specifically. Other than that, my door is always open 🙂

Do What You LOVE, LOVE What You Do

Too often, society forces us into doing things we don’t like, we don’t enjoy, and that make us miserable. Society gives us expectations about who to be, how to be, and basically what our lives should look like. Society defines success and if you don’t have the big job, big money, and ideal lifestyle, you’re labeled as “sucking at life”. We feel like failures. And for what? To make everyone else think we have it all together when we still feel like we’re failing? It’s an awful mess that our culture has allowed to become so normal.

I honestly truly believe this is a huge part of the vicious cycle with depression. We think we’re finally “succeeding” by doing what culture says we should and something else comes up that we find ourselves “failing” at.

But the truth is, who cares what everyone else thinks. Let me repeat this, WHO CARES WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS. We were not created to live up to worldly expectations and impress people around us. We were created to do what God intended, and to enjoy the plan He has laid out for us.

I think all too often we get caught up doing things in our lives that “get us through the day”. We do things we don’t really enjoy and just get by. We load our schedule up because that’s the “norm” and find ourselves burnt out and unhappy. But, that’s not how life is supposed to be. We were meant for more. We were meant to love life and spread that love and joy to others too.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. I went through a stage in college where I was so miserable. I would get up everyday automatically in a bad mood because I hated going to class, going to work, doing homework and having no time for myself. I was going through the motions. I craved that personal growth time that I couldn’t find time for.

What I found was, like many people, I was doing everything I thought I was supposed to do. I would load my schedule up to the minute. I was too involved, exhausted, and burnt out. I was trying to be a “successful” college student by getting straight A’s, being involved in clubs, trying to get volunteer hours, working as many hours as I could squeeze in without losing my mind, all while trying to have a personal life with friends and my boyfriend. I felt that I had zero time for working on myself and giving some time to deepening my faith. Whether you’re a mom, working individual, college student, or any other person on this earth basically, I think a lot of people can relate to this.

But one day amongst the craziness, I heard the whisper, “slow down, this is not how it’s supposed to be.”

First, I have to say I’m still working on this. I find it very difficult to switch my mindset from go go going to finding time for me. I find myself again and again lost in the busyness. Society (or should I say the devil) constantly throws things back in my face that make me think I need to be hectically barely making it by.

The biggest thing I started to do was say no. I put my faith in God’s plan and I started saying no and cutting things out of my life that weren’t truly important to me. I started asking myself why am I doing this? Because I really enjoy it or for a resume builder? Because it brings me true joy or because I feel obligated? I know God has a plan and part of that plan requires me to take time for me and to take time for Him and to do that some things had to go. I realized I was doing things for earthly rewards when in reality, does any of that matter when we get to heaven? To be who I was made to be and to get to where God wants me to I have started to really work on giving myself grace and slowing down. I’m learning how to truly enjoy and love life, with the good Lord’s help.

That’s not to say that there aren’t times where obligation does play a role in how you or I spend our time or that we shouldn’t do things we don’t enjoy for people we care about. These occurrences are a part of life. Those special situations happen and perhaps we should look at those events as a time to be joyful because we’re helping someone we love and maybe spending time with them (if you don’t particularly enjoy giving your time to that situation). But I’m speaking in general, most of the time, when you’re dedicating your time to things you don’t enjoy and find yourself miserable as a result, something’s wrong.

I encourage you to question what you’re putting your time and effort into. Do you love 80% of what you’re investing time towards? Then that’s pretty good in my opinion. Or do you find yourself miserable, overwhelmed and burnt out? YOU are the only one who can change that. And it starts by prioritizing your time and forcing yourself to do what you truly LOVE. Whether that means changing jobs for a potential pay cut but enjoying it, spending extra time with your family, or taking the time to do something you’ve been wanting to do. Whatever it is, it’s up to you to make the time for it. Get up earlier, say no to that volunteering you don’t want to do anyway, stay up a tad later than normal, skip your workout today. God didn’t create you to be miserable and follow what everyone else does. He has your WHOLE life figured out and He wants you to truly enjoy it.

And one last thing. You might be thinking well she’s just a college girl, how does she really know what it’s like to not have time? She doesn’t have a full time job, kids, or five different schedules to manage. And you’re right. But, what I do know is it’s very easy to fall into the “busyness trap”. It’s easy to load your schedule up with anything and everything because we feel obligated. No, I don’t have kids, but I still feel the pressure. I still feel the devil pushing me towards what society tells us is “normal” and finding myself feeling the overload. The devil pushes all of us in that negative direction in any way he possibly can. Kids or not, college or not, he finds a way to make us feel not good enough and like we need to add and do more to be “happy”.

But, that’s the farthest thing from the truth. Think about things that make you truly happy. Think about what your normal day looks like. Think about where you can exchange some of those obligations for a little bit of joy. Think about how you can truly slow your life down just a little bit to “take the time to smell the flowers” as my mom would say. Take some time to spend with Jesus. I promise you you’ll find yourself in a happier place when you do. And God will be smiling much bigger and brighter when you take the time to do the happy things He placed on your heart to enjoy in the first place.

Dear God,

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences on this topic. Thank you for the words to express this exactly the way You want for Your glory. I pray that You lay this on the hearts of anyone who needs to hear it. I pray that You speak to them and show them how to change to do what they love, and how to make more time for You so you can help them. I pray you help whoever reads this to find that extra time for joy. In your holy name, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

PS: please do not hesitate to contact me if this is something you’re struggling with and want to chat more. I’m more than happy to grab coffee, email, or whatever works for you. We all struggle with this. My door is always open 🙂

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