Thursday, January 16, 2014

My favorite hoodie.

It's so ratty and stretched out, I have to roll the sleeves up instead of push them up. All of it's soft, fleecy material on the inside was eaten by the washer machine years ago. The white screen-printed lettering of my sister's alma mater "Roger Williams University" is all cracked. I was given it before I could even drive a car.  The memories I have wearing this sweatshirt could comprise their own novel.  You all have one of these lying around your closet, or you wore it last night and it's sitting in a pile of the floor next to your side of the bed, or maybe you're even wearing yours right now, like me.

Today is just one of those days I wanted to put on my stretchiest, non-restricting, so-comfy-they're-like-a-part-of-my-body leggings and my favorite hoodie. And oddly enough, yup, you guessed it, God spoke to me as I was putting it on.

God has been speaking to me a lot over the past 15ish hours.  Last night while at youth group, we sang this new-ish-to-me song called "Oceans" by Hillsong United. And while I was singing it, God gave me this bigger picture in my mind of what He's doing with me. In summary, He said, "Alaska is NOT going to fix you, Amy. It's not even the problem.  The problem is that you don't trust me with your life.  You think you have the answer to what will "make it all better" when the answer only lies in Me and My love for you. I have a plan, a purpose for you. I am your purpose. Serving me, Loving me, striving to be like me, and loving my people... those things can all be done no matter where You are. So get it out of your head that going backwards is going to heal You. Only I can do that."

The lyrics to the song we were singing were:
"You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now"

You know when you hear a song over and over again and suddenly, you hear something new in it? That's what happened to me last night. While it's still a kind of new song, we've sung it a lot at church over the past month.  But last night, God pointed out to me that Virginia and our life is my "ocean"... this great unknown... a mystery. And His grace will abound here, He will guide me here, He's never failed me, and He. won't. start. now. 


Then I get home last night to receive an email from a friend who reminded me of Matthew 14 and Peter's story of walking on the water.  Peter had faith, but a lack of focus.  Peter had to step out onto the water in faith, but because his faith was out of focus, he sank. In the email my friend reminded me that my purpose will not be in what I do for a job, or where I serve, but that JESUS IS MY PURPOSE.  And I just have to step out in faith to let Him carry me.

Whoa again. Right?!

I find it amazing that the Holy Spirit can both speak to me the same message He was putting in the hearts of my friends thousands of miles away. 

So back to the hoodie... I guess what God said to me this morning as I was putting it on was that it's okay to seek comfort in familiar things even when I need to move forward into the unknown.  I have walked with Jesus for almost 9 years, and it's important to remember all the ways He has carried me through in the past. Not to dwell in the past, but to seek comfort in His provision for me, and that He's never failed me, and He won't start now.

I have nothing left to do but to listen, be encouraged, put on my favorite hoodie, and step out of the boat.

Monday, January 13, 2014

"I was ruuuunin'!" (if you don't get the reference, you live in a hole)

I decided to kick New Year's resolutions in the butt this year and started mine at the beginning of December.  Well, it wasn't really a "resolution," but more of just a goal I set for myself.  I decided to run my first half marathon in March. 

"Woo hoo!" some of you may be thinking ever so sarcastically... "how original!"  Yeah, I know it's something a lot of you guys out there have done before. And it's probably not a huge surprise as most of you know how much I love running, but I've never really challenged myself to go past like... 6 miles... (ok, I lied. 5 miles) So the idea of running 13.1 is very scary and challenging and motivating and just. plain. crazy (especially for someone who's realistically only run like 4 miles on her best day... to be honest).

Anyways, so I'm running. And running. And running.

A couple wonderful things are already coming out of this goal I set for myself:
1. The endorphin rush has really helped lift my spirits after such a sad year.
2. I feel stronger and proud of myself!
3. I've made a new friend who is also running the half marathon with me.
4. I have great reason to shop the athletic clothing section of Target!

Also, while I hate giving Virginia any credit at all for being any bit more awesome than Alaska... it does win in the weather department. I'm able to run outside all winter long in 40-60 degree weather on flat ground.

So, while the rest of life still doesn't feel particularly amazing right now... running the streets of Hampton is where it's at right now for me.

Yup, this is January. Sunny and warm.