Monday, May 17, 2010

Running in Circles

It's funny how sometimes God lets you run around trying to figure things out on your own, when in reality you're running in a circle and you'll end up right back exactly where God wanted you in the first place.

For instance, all of this nonsense about me worrying about what's going to happen with a job in the fall and where my life is headed. I started out a few months ago firmly following the statement of "Possessing the promises of God begins with the unshakable certainty that God will never forget what He has promised you." I love that quote because it reminds me of 2 things: 1) God has promised me an amazing future and plan for my life; and 2) that He won't forget about that promise IF I firmly believe that He will come through. I gotta hold up my end of the bargain, because why would God want to bless me with these amazing things He's promised me if I don't have faith that He will?

Well, I haven't really been keeping up my end of the bargain lately. Unshakable certainty has been more like luke-warm hope, and that's not what He's asking for. He's asking me to have undeniable faith in His word and promise to me (Oh hey there Blind Faith...we meet again) and I've really been struggling with it. I've got family and friends constantly telling me to have faith and pray because God will come through, but it's going in one ear and out the other. Until yesterday. At my mom's church, a woman who I have never met before or talked to came up to me after the service and introduced herself. She said "I know we've never met, and I don't even know your name, but God has been talking to my heart all through this service and he wants me to tell you something. God has an amazing plan for your life, and he wants you to remember that." My jaw could have hit the floor. How did this woman, who I have never even seen at this church before (although I haven't really been there since I was home for she could be new) know that I needed to hear that exact message? It's got to be God, without a doubt.

It just meant a lot more coming from this woman who I didn't know. I know my friends and family are always going to say things like "have hope!" and "keep praying, it'll happen!" because they support me and that's what they do (not that there is anything wrong with that, but after a while you start to wonder what's genuine and what's said out of obligation or to make you feel better) but this woman had nothing to gain from saying this to me. And because there was no motivation beyond "God wants me to tell you this," I felt like it meant so much more (sorry to my friends and family who read this; I hope you can understand what I mean here-- I honestly do appreciate everything you say and do in support of me!) to hear it from this complete stranger, especially because if God has started to use other people who I don't even know to talk to me, His message is probably pretty important.

So once again, I was reminded of this promise from God. And as I'm driving to Parma last night to visit H, I have my usual "long car ride talk with God" (I like the privacy of talking to God in my car-- we have some great conversations on long car rides). And He gave me the revelation that I need to just have that blind faith, that unshakable certainty that He hasn't forgotten what He has promised me and that He's working on His plan for my life if I would just trust Him and let Him do it in His own time. He doesn't want me to sit and worry and doubt and question, He wants me to just believe without doubt that He is taking care of me. Which is what I was trying to do just a few months ago.

I totally came full circle on this one after running around like a chicken with my head cut off, all thanks to a stranger at church who God used to talk to me.

So. Now I'm just going to do my best not to worry or doubt, because God really is going to take care of me and open the next door of my life and my future. And all I had to do was run in circles for a while while I waited for God to show me this.

Totally worth the exercise. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Update: Feeling Discouraged

Okay, it's rare that I post more than once a day (in fact, I think this might be the first time...) but I've had 2 really great things today that have made me feel a little less discouraged, so I wanted to share.

1. I still worked out today. I did some weight training, which really didn't feel that great on my muscles, but I worked through it. And then I ran half a mile, which felt really good to get some cardio done. Even though I'm still feeling discouraged about not seeing a lot of progress yet, I feel good that I didn't give up today and that I still worked out and pushed through the discouragement!

2. I've been stressed about how I was going to afford to make my loan payments this summer while I didn't have a job. I've been doing a lot of praying about it, and trying to have blind faith about God coming through. Today, my loan company called me and offered me a 3-month grace period on my loan payments, meaning that I wouldn't have to make my first loan payment until almost 2 months after starting a permanent teaching job! Thank you God for coming through and answering 2 prayers: helping me figure out finances, and showing me the product of having blind faith!

Still not feeling great (it's this crummy weather, I'm telling ya) but at least I had 2 things go really well for me today to turn my discouragement around!

Feeling Discouraged

Maybe it's this crummy Ohio weather, with the rain and the wind and the 50 degree weather in May, but I'm feeling really discouraged today. Not just "don't want to do anything productive and pout" crummy, but full-blown "stay in bed watching bad Lifetime movies while eating leftover pizza" crummy. Not okay. I just feel like I'm putting in effort (not just in weight loss, but in other areas) and I'm not getting any kind of progress out of it. It's driving me crazy and it's making me feel like giving up.

Disclaimer: I'm about to get whiny.

First, there is my weight loss plan. I'm working out every day doing what H has put me on. I know that I'm making progress. Correction: I know that my muscles hurt and that I've stopped eating lots of my favorite foods. I think that means I'm making progress, but I don't feel like I've lost any weight, or that I'm actually doing anything to make me skinnier. I'm not giving up, because that's what I've always done when I got into this kind of rut, and that's why I'm now 35 pounds heavier than I want. So I'm going to keep working out every day and I'm going to keep eating healthy and I'm going to keep praying that eventually I will fit back into 90% of my closet/dresser that I currently can not wear... UGH!!!

Next, there's the fact that I feel like my relationship with God isn't as strong as it was 3 months ago. I don't feel like I've gotten further from God, but I feel like I'm running in place and I can't seem to connect with Him and get any closer. And it's not only that, but I also feel like my faith and trust in God isn't as strong as it was just a few months ago. I haven't lost my faith in Him, so please don't think that at all. But as I get closer to August and still don't have any kind of teaching prospects for the fall, it's harder and harder to trust that God will provide. I hate this feeling. I hate doubting Him, because I can sit here and quote verse after verse about having faith and waiting on His timing, but right now it's like it's going in one ear and out the other. I know that God will provide for me, even if it's not necessarily what I had planned, and that in the end it will be perfect because it's His plan for my life that matters the most (Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord, "plans that will not harm you, but will give you a hope and a future.'") but as it gets closer to deadline time, it's harder to remember that and truly believe it. I used to sit here and have such strong belief and faith that I didn't have to worry about anything because God would provide and come through for me if I just had faith in Him and followed His plan for my life. But now, it's like I can't get back to that true blind faith, and it's really upsetting me (to the point of tears, as H found out last night on the phone). What am I supposed to do? I keep praying and asking for more faith and for God to take away my fears, but I feel almost like God's not listening (I know He is and that this is just a test of my faith, but it's absolutely killing me and I'm scared I'm not strong enough). I honestly feel like I'm running on a treadmill and I can see Gd in the distance, but I just can't press in and get closer to Him...

Finally, there is the whole job thing. This is mostly in reference to the fall, but it applies somewhat to the summer, too. I keep sending in applications online, and trying to check up on my interviews and applications that I've already sent in, but there is still absolutely no leads. Well, I guess I shouldn't say "absolutely no leads," because FHS wants to hire me but they have to wait on whether or not another teacher is going to retire. And as of yesterday, he still hasn't decided. It's just becoming so discouraging to hear about friends who are getting interview after interview for teaching jobs, and I haven't even heard back about my first interviews yet. What am I going to do if I don't get a teaching job for the fall? I have loan payments to make that I will not be able to afford without a full-time job. And if I am making any less than $30K in salary for the fall, I can't move back to BG into the apartment that H and I have been putting together, which is just heartbreaking. We have been planning this lifestyle together for the fall and for our future together, all of which is dependent on me getting a teaching job in the BG-area. I know I've still got a couple months before I really need to start freaking out, but I guess this all goes into the whole "blind faith that God has a plan" thing...

UGH! So discouraged and frustrated today! Honestly, I realize that all of this would go away if I could just really focus on having stronger faith in what God's plan for my life is, but that's so hard when I have no idea what that plan is. I guess that's the definition of blind faith.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Summer Project 1: T-shirt Quilt

I realized that if, for some terrible reason, I was unable to find a job for the summer, I was going to need something to keep me busy so I don't go stir-crazy being in Farmtown, USA. So, now that summer is here and I am still unemployed, I've begun working on some of them. My list includes things like stripping down the dresser my parents gave to H and me and refinishing it, sewing new curtains for our apartment in the fall, and creating a quilt out of the t-shirts from my sorority and Dance Marathon activities in college. All three of these are things that I have never really attempted before (I've sewn a few things here and there, but never made curtains or a quilt, and I've never tried stripping and refinishing furniture) and will give me a finished product for something I can use at our apartment and in the future.

This week, I started working on the quilt. It's not done yet, but it's going better than I had expected! I cut up 35 t-shirts from various events in Phi Mu and Dance Marathon that I collected throughout college. I have a t-shirt from DM's 11-15 (2006-2010), the core committee's I've been on, my Swimmy shirt, and my steering polo from DM, and various recruitment shirts including the one I wore when I went through formal recruitment in 2005, my bid day shirt, shirts from formals and socials, and even a senior bar crawl shirt from Phi Mu. I really like the idea of turning these shirts into a quilt because it's not like I'm going to be wearing them anytime soon (sadly, half of them are size small from my thinner days and I couldn't fit into them even if I wanted to) but I don't want to throw them out, either--they are tied to too many memories. Rather than throw them into a box in the back of my closet or in storage, I thought I would put them to better use in a way that I can still keep all the memories close by. It took me 3 hours, but I cut out all 35 shirts and then figured out what pattern I wanted to put them in. I've spent the past 2 days sewing strips of panels together (which was definitely interesting, since I got into roughly 4 different fights with the sewing machine, and which is why I gave up sewing today after sewing together only one strip of panels... if the sewing machine and I were Facebook friends, I would totally block them right now!) and still have more to go, but I'm pretty impressed with how well it's coming so far.

Here's a picture of it before I started sewing it together:

It's going to be big enough to cover our queen-size bed when it's done! I'm impressed with myself, that's for sure--not only am I working on getting in shape and eating healthier, but I'm also working on improving my crafting skills, too!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Skinny Me: Day Three! and You Gotta Have Faith

Well, I haven't given up yet! I actually feel really good after today's workout. Yesterday, I woke up so sore from working out the day before, but today I woke up feeling good. I didn't hurt as bad, and I was actually looking forward to working out today. I did my Cosgrove circuit (7 exercises done right after each other for 1 circuit, and you do one less rep of each exercise each time you do the circuit until you're down to 1 rep) and then moved into my abs exercises, which I did as a circuit today, too. I was sweaty and hurting by the end of my workout today, but I guess that's how you know you've actually done something productive with a workout! :)

So today, I got up, did my exercises, and then decided to go pick up a few groceries so that I can start making healthier meals. I'm eating 5 to 6 smaller meals a day instead of 3 bigger ones so that it keeps my metabolism going. I'm also trying to include more protein and less processed foods into my diet (good bye fast food, tv dinners, pizza, and all my favorite sweet treats...but hello skinny me!) so I needed to pick up a few things to eat. I got turkey bacon, fresh veggies, low-fat cheese, yogurt, fruit, and whole wheat bread. After day 3 of working out and picking up some yummy, healthy foods, I'm feeling really good about all of this! I'm not giving up yet! Just need people to keep encouraging me on a daily basis so that I feel like I can do this.

On a side note, I still haven't heard anything back about any teaching jobs. I checked the Ohio Department of Education website today for new job postings from all over the state, but it seems like no one needs a high school English teacher right now. I'm still waiting to hear back about Fostoria, but right now that all seems to hinge on the retirement of another teacher. I know it's still early, and most schools don't require you to put in a notice that they aren't returning until mid-May anyway, so there is still time. I'm just really worried about not finding a placement for the fall. And for some reason, I haven't been relying on faith as much as I had been a few months ago. It's like I need a faith-check for all of this. I know that God will provide for me (Jehovah Jireh - God provides) and that in the end, He will put me exactly where I'm meant to be. But right now, I'm just really having a hard time connecting with God on that level. In fact, I'm having a hard time connecting with God on a deeper level, period. I don't feel like I'm getting further from God, I just feel like I'm having a hard time getting closer. It's like I was on fire for Him and I run fast enough to be closer to Him, and then all of a sudden *BOOM* I hit a wall and I can't get past it. So how do I break down that wall? How do I get past it and move closer to Him? Again, I don't feel like I'm further from Him or that I'm moving away from Him, but I feel like I'm running in place right now.

God, I need to be closer to you. I won't be satisfied with running in place and watching You from afar. Help me focus on breaking down this wall and being even deeper in Your presence. Don't let me forget that You have a greater plan for me, and that everything will work out according to that plan, and that as long as I commit myself to following Your ways and seeking out Your presence, You will fulfill that plan. Thank you for all the blessings that you have given me and that you have transformed me into a strong woman of faith. Continue to develop and grow that faith within me. Amen.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Skinny Me: Day One!

Ugh, I have never felt so overwhelmingly discouraged about my weight. It's gotten so bad--I've gained 35 pounds in about 2 1/2 years... I look at pictures of myself from fall 2007 and I don't know what I feel more of: frustration that I've let myself get like this, discouragement that I can't seem to drop the weight again, or encouragement to lose it all and look hot again (although I get the feeling it's less of the third option, or else I'd be svelt again). I've always had a bit of a weight issue, but during my junior year of college I REALLY cracked down and dropped almost 35 pounds, and was the skinniest I've been in years. It felt good-- no, actually it felt GREAT! I felt good in everything I wore, I could go out and feel confident, and I was wearing a bikini for the first time since I was like 5! And then I got comfortable in a relationship and we went out to eat a lot (thanks, Chipotle, I totally owe you for these awesome love-handles you provided me with...) and next thing I know, I've got from a size 8 to a size 14. This sucks. A lot.

I've tried a lot over the past few months to find an eating routine or a workout plan that I can stick to, but nothing seems to stay for longer than about a week. I get discouraged quickly, and I make excuses about why I need to cheat, and in the end I give up. It's a bad, bad cycle that I've gotten myself into and seem to be unable to get out of. I've shared this concern with H a lot, and he feels that he needs to lose some weight this summer, especially to get into Army shape. Nutrition is something big that he likes to research on (such a biology major/nerd) so he put together a great workout and eating plan for the both of us for this summer. Hopefully, it's one I can stick to! It involves getting the majority of processed foods out of my system, eating smaller meals that are built around protein that will help build muscle and burn fat, and doing workouts that challenge all the muscles in my body--granted, that workout title involves the word "evil" but maybe that's what I need to kick my butt into gear! He swears I'll be addicted to the workout in just about a week, when I can feel the results.

So today was day one. I immediately got frustrated with the workout because I felt like it wasn't actually going to be doing me any good since I wasn't using much weight and because the online videos wouldn't load, so I had no idea how to even do the exercises. I called H, almost in tears, because I know that if I can't even get through day 1, there's no way I'll make it through the summer. After calming down, he went out of his way to help me understand each video, and then proceeded to send me notes of encouragement to keep me going. So I made it through my first workout! It ended up being a little harder than I expected, but not so hard that I felt like I needed to give up after one set--in fact, I made it through all 5 sets! I'm really actually feeling encouraged by that, so maybe this will work out. It also helps to know that H is also doing the workouts, too, so I'm not totally alone in this. Maybe doing this together (well, not physically, since we're currently 3 hours apart, and after next week it'll still be 1 hour apart) will bring us closer and help us strengthen our relationship; the family who gets in shape together stays together? Hahaha! I hope so!

I just need to know that I can stick to this, even when it gets discouraging. I know once I see some progress (dropping a few pounds, feeling healthier, etc.) then I'll keep going with it. It's just getting to that progress that sucks...

I just want to feel confident again!!